Here's what I promised. Tag's rewrite... Well, not exactly a rewrite, since it doesn't share many elements with its predecessor. First thing, this Naruto, like the one in No reading will not be from an alternate future I created, but from a precise point in the manga's time-line. Second, the die-hard fans already understood where I was going with Naruto's set of powers. That has been changed too. Finally, the time-line of Naruto's insertion in the DC world has been moved into the past a bit, for a few reasons, the main one being that I wanted to insert Naruto's world into this one since the early parts of the story, even if not right at the beginning, unlike what has happened with No Reading.
Without further ado, I invite you to look at the stars and then at the screen again, to enjoy the prologue and first chapter of Spectrum.
"Damn it..." Naruto was currently venting his frustrations on a training log, and from the dents in the hard wood, he had been working on reinforcing his body with chakra. That day had started like any other, but it had taken a turn for the worse very soon after that.
Sakura had come to wake him up and had told him that Tsunade wanted to see the both of them. She had news for the both of them.
"Information has been coming in from the other countries... I wanted to discuss it with you." She had begun, and that immediately got him thinking. He knew little of the inner workings of the work of Hokage, but he knew that a leader of a ninja village didn't usually share information with its ninja out of a whim. That meant that it concerned him... Them.
"What is it?" Naruto said, a suspicion nagging at the back of his mind.
"Orochimaru is dead." Tsunade shocked them right away, but it wasn't over. "And it seems that it was Uchiha Sasuke the one who killed him."
That took his breath away for a few seconds. He regained his bearings again, though, along with a feeling of overwhelming relief and joy. Joy that his friend had finally come to his senses. "... R-R-Really?"
"It's definitely true. My most reliable sources confirmed it." Jiraiya cut in the conversation, giving Naruto the confirmation he wanted.
"That's... Then..." Small tears had gathered in the corners of Sakura's eyes, while Naruto was much louder in his expression of contentment.
"Heheheh! I knew that freak wouldn't be able to take Sasuke down!" That was a blatant lie. His worry that one day or the other Orochimaru would take over his friend's body had always been alive in his heart. "So Sasuke's coming back to the Leaf Village now, right?!"
Tsunade lowered her gaze, her face deadly serious and sad. That cut short their happiness. "Doesn't look like it." Jiraiya said. It all went downhill from there.
"Why do you have to be so hell-bent..." Naruto gritted his teeth and pulled back his left arm, his hand clenched in a fist, and he struck at the dummy. "On revenge?!" He smashed into the wooden construct, snapping it in half, the material not able to support any more abuse.
The half he had struck flew across the field and bounced on the ground a few times. He observed it lazily, then he groaned and sat on the ground, observing how not even the chakra had protect his knuckles from bleeding, with that last blow. "... Is revenge really that important to you, Sasuke? To the point of leaving everything else behind?"
He had proposed to work on a hunt for Itachi Uchiha. If they managed to get to Sasuke's target before him, the would be able to lure him out, to them. ... But then what? We capture Itachi, we make Sasuke come before us... Then what? Naruto had always been someone to think everything on the spot, no matter what. It was the first time he was worried before hand about something, except maybe for his fight with Neji a few years before.
"... Ahh! Get a grip of yourself!" Or so it seemed. His worry was short-lived. He slapped his face with both of his hands twice. "Sasuke is coming back, and you're going to bring him back! At the cost of breaking every bone in his body! You already said so once, right? Then that's what you're going to do!"
He got back on his feet in a flash, raising his head to the sun, defiantly keeping his eyes open. "You're going to be Hokage, right? What kind of Hokage loses courage in front of... Well, anything?! Instead of worrying, train! Become stronger!" He nodded to himself and looked at his bleeding knuckles, already healing thanks to his 'guest'. "Hmm... I think I will practice a little more. Wind manipulation, this time. I will..."
"Namikaze Uzumaki Naruto."
"Uh?" Hearing his name called, even if he didn't get the sense of the first word, Naruto turned around, only to be blinded by light.
"Dammit! I said, how do I fire you?!" The soldier didn't give the choice a second thought as he put the ring on. He was wounded, the only survivor of his squad. The Thanagarian soldiers were coming from all directions. The 'most powerful weapon in the universe' had appeared before him, telling him that he had been chosen to wield it.
"I am programmed to execute your mental commands..."
"Then incinerate those Thanagarian vultures!" He shouted as he shot out of hiding and the ring flashed brightly with green, the same light enveloping the weapons of the winged soldiers coming for his head, overheating, melting them.
"...providing they do not conflict with the code of the guardians." The voice ended, and he gritted his teeth as he launched himself at the soldiers.
"I said kill them, dammit!" He shouted, as the winged soldiers all around him let go of their weapons, not able to hold them anymore. He had grabbed their commander.
"What are you waiting for, Rannian? Do your duty!" The winged alien said as his opponent grabbed him by the throat. "Kill me, or, by the seven devils, I shall surely kill you!"
"I will. I..." Before the could deal the finishing blow, the hand with the ring floated upwards along with his whole body, taking him to the sky and then to the stars.
"This war is no longer yours, Vath Sarn. Your duty lies elsewhere, now."
"My blade! What stopped..."
"Isamot Kol." The reptilian alien was surely the most surprised of the whole group assisting to his execution as he didn't feel the ax cutting into his flesh, intercept by something that resounded with a clear 'knng' sound. "You have the ability to overcome great fear."
That's something obvious, coming from someone who managed to stay calm and collected and basically ask for his own execution, confessing a crime that saved the lives of the rest of his comrades in his army squad, even when he could have hid the fact easily.
Right now, though, his thoughts were all about slipping the ring on by simply trusting his now free arms upwards, materialize a blade out of solid green light and smash through his executioner and the other guards' weapons, before taking for the skies.
"Hey! Take me with you!" Another of the ones on death row pleaded to him. He had shared the trip to that place with him.
"You?" He snorted in anger, turning his head downward. That man had told him how he had raped and killed a woman, not even good at covering his own lies. "You deserve all you got coming. Hope you rot in the seventh hell."
"I am not going anywhere. I have a life to..."
"Doctor! The ancillary brain is off-line! We're losing him!" It's things that happen when you get distracted by something while you're in the middle of a brain surgery and your patient is lying with his brain exposed for all to see still.
"Dammit, power on!" The young red-skinned woman, alias the chief surgeon, ordered. Her assistant pressed a few buttons on his control console, only to get an error message.
"It's not responding!" She cursed, but then the nagging voice that to her had felt like a death penalty echoed again in the room.
"I am programmed to execute your mental commands, providing they do not conflict with the code of the guardians." She acted on instinct and logic. She had heard of the capabilities of the ones wearing those weapons.
"You... Listen to me..." She grabbed the small object out of thin air and slipped it on her right middle finger. "I need to filter the blood into his brain and divert synapse activity from the pain centers. Do you understand?"
"Doctor Soranik Natu of Korugar..." She raised her clenched right fist in the air, and out of thin air a construct of emerald solid light appeared, immediately around her patient, born out of the ring's power and her knowledge, imagination and willpower. "Welcome to the corps."
Under the fearful gazes of her assistants, the construct drained and cleaned the blood in the patient's brain and then continued the operation, various utensils and machinery of emerald green appearing and disappearing, cutting and stitching and cleaning. In a few minutes, the operation was over.
"I saved him." She stated, observing the steady heartbeat of her patient on the green monitor.
"Yes..." Her assistant conceded as she removed the cap covering her head and the mask covering her mouth, revealing short black hair, a stark contrast with her dark red skin. Everything was, though, covered in the green light emanating from the ring. "But you've damned yourself."
"Ahhh!" The light wasn't that strong, but it was in his face. For a few seconds he just saw green spots. Then he rubbed his eyes and took a few steps back. "What's the big idea, blinding me with a green light?! I should... Eh?"
When his vision cleared, Naruto found out that he was shouting at a ring. A green ring floating in front of him, shining with a light of the same color, with a strange engraving on it. He blinked some more, remembering to have clearly heard a voice calling out his name a few instants before. "You have the ability to overcome great fear."
"Ahhh!" He jumped one step further back, and the ring followed, much to his surprise. "T-The ring talks?!"
"I am a power ring sent by the guardian of the universe." The ring continued, and Naruto while scared no more, was wary and confused.
"The guardians of what?" Naruto scratched the top of his head, regaining his bearing. He had never heard of any guardians, apart those of the fire country. "Listen dude, I can't follow you. You're not making any sense to me..."
"We will now travel to Oa." Naruto had stretched forward his right hand and index finger towards the ring as he 'admonished' him, and suddenly the object moved. "There you will be trained as a member of the Green Lantern Corps."
"H-Hey!" It slipped onto his not completely clenched middle finger. Naruto opened his hand again and shook it. "Get off, you... Psycho ring! You're hot! And yo-Why am I floating?"
Indeed, Naruto had noticed that his whole body was floating above ground, and not only that. It was now cloaked in a thin layer of green light. He began to sweat as he saw the ground becoming more and more far from his feet. "W-What now... HOLY...!"
His body was suddenly thrown to his right at high speed and turned around forcibly. At first it had been his hand which had pulled him in that direction, but now his whole body was moving as one. Naruto's skin completion became white as he crossed the training grounds at high speed and reached Konoha. Also, he had noticed that his trajectory was aiming higher and higher, and he recognized the object he was aiming for. "W-W-Wait a minute! That's..."
"... Sake from the wind country." Tsunade grinned as she opened the bottle she had taken with her, a prized member of her special reserve of alcohol. She poured herself a cup and turned around, observing the village out of her large window. "Say what you want about the job of Hokage, but if it lets you get sake of this quality so easily, it's not..."
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" She froze as she saw what looked like a yellow, green, black (t-shirt) and orange (pants) blur of Naruto-ish shape and dimension shot in front of her window, heading up towards the sky.
"..." She slowly settled the cup on her desk and opened her window. She looked up. She looked down. She looked right. She looked left. "... Alright." She took the bottle and poured everything out of the window. "This time, I stop for real."
"AHHHHHHH!" Naruto hadn't stopped screaming the whole way to the Hokage tower and beyond, as his trajectory had become completely vertical, and all he could see was the sky and the clouds which he rammed into and through. He now could see just the sky, becoming darker and darker, and he swore he was starting to see stars. At mid-day. "W-W-WHAT THE HELL?! WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU TAKING ME?! WHERE ARE WE?!"
"Currently leaving planetary atmosphere." The ring replied, and Naruto's forehead twitched.
"THE WHAT?!" Suddenly, his whole body turned around, and Naruto stopped breathing. No, it was more like his breath had just been taken away. By what he was seeing. "It..."
It was a painting. A very realistic painting of the night sky, on top of which someone had drawn a bigass globe. He couldn't describe it otherwise. A globe which had the motives of a map of the elemental countries and other continents he had studied but couldn't remember. Very realistic colors and details too. He could make out mountains, seas, the clouds, everything. All enveloped by a blue halo of light that lost itself in the surrounding darkness lighted by stars soon after.
"... Is that... I mean, I can make out, but... Just what..."
"Unnamed Third Planet of Solar System 7 of Sector 2815. Home to the Green Lantern of Sector 2815." The ring spoke out loud, but Naruto didn't understand, too entranced by the vision and also because he didn't know the meaning of the words 'planet', 'solar system' and 'unnamed'. "Preparing for hyperspace jump. Estimated time before arrival: 9 hours and 11 minutes. Initiating Lantern's Stasis."
"Eh? A-Arrival? What do you..." Before Naruto could finish his sentence, his body turned around again and then shot forward again, towards black and white shooting in his vision and then black again, as suddenly he felt his body grow colder and his consciousness fading into sleep. If one looked up in the sky at that moment, at night, he would see a green shooting star traveling towards the center of the universe... And its destiny.
PageI: Welcome to the Corps
"I've always wanted ta ask ya something, ya know..."
"Do not hesitate to ask, friend." The red giant slowly moved among the foliage, following the sound of flowing water. He had taken a break for some R&R before the next flood of rookies to train would arrive, keeping him occupied till kingdom come, probably.
"How ta hell are ya able to always monitor and search for rookies while at the same time be ta universe's best psychiatrist?" The large alien finally arrived at the spot he was looking for, the waterfall adding beauty to the whole scenery.
"Quoting the words of one of our earthmen comrades... 'Size does matter'." In a flash of light, ghostly figures appeared in the middle of the clearing, familiar to the massive alien. "Be assured that it doesn't require all my concentration to find and guide the new Lanterns back to the headquarters. I will always have time for helping friends."
"... We would lose a piece of ta Corps' souls if we lost you, Mogo." The red-skinned alien smiled as he walked slowly towards the emerald green ghosts of his family... before another ghost of green light appeared, this one projected out of his ring.
"Kilowog, the first batch of recruits has arrived, and Rayner and Gardner are incoming." The massive alien bit back a loud curse. If there was something Salaak had to him, it was his timing.
"Nnngr... I'll be right there," Kilowog grumbled and palmed his face, sighing loudly. "I should have come here earlier."
"Duty calls, friend. It is what drives us, after all," the voice in his mind said, making him nod in reply.
"Yeah... that, and the cafeteria's food. Later, Mogo. Stay bright!" Raising his arm to the sky, a loud sound like the one of a cannon shooting out, Kilowog departed, reaching hyperspace speed in a matter of seconds.
"I swear, those little aliens felt me feel even bigger than what I was, compared to them." Two more Green Lanterns were heading for the same location as many others of their kind, even if they themselves didn't know that yet. "The respect they gave me because of this uniform... I'm not used to immediately earning that kind of gratitude and admiration."
The lantern with reddish hair sighed and turned around as they still moved towards a planet in the far off distance, putting an arm under his head, as if he needed to hold the weight of it. "Maybe we get that out here, but on earth we're just another couple of guys in spandex with 'super powers'." He sighed as they started entering the atmosphere of the planet designed as their destination. "Once there, were thirty-six hundred of us. Now? Between you, me, Hal, John and Kilowog... That only makes..."
"Whoa." The black haired one wearing a green mask over his eyes as part of the costume expressed his surprise as they entered Oa's atmosphere and flew nearer to the ground. Near enough to see that the guardians had been busy with building and working on the environment, as proved by the many buildings of various shapes, colors and the layout. They had also been busy recruiting, judging from the many individuals wearing the corps' colors.
"Guess the guardians have started recruiting," the red-haired lantern said, a smile on his face, as they flew through the buildings in the city. His smile grew toothy when he noticed a few familiar faces. "And got some of the old guard back, too. Hey, Brik! What's up?"
"Guy Gardner. Good to see you." The two approached the muscular female alien, one of the senior lanterns now that the corps was being rebuilt.
"So they dragged some a' you vets back in, huh?" Guy Gardner grinned and Brik replied with similar humor.
"The Controllers couldn't keep me away." She then 'moved', even if it was more floating because of their permanency in the air, so that Guy could have a visual of the other two lanterns accompanying her. The nearest one being some kind of cyborg. "And you know Stel? Lantern 3009.1..."
"This here's Rayner. We're both 2814. Or we were." Guy shook the metallic lantern's hand while Kyle Rayner shook Brik's, introducing himself.
"Earth lanterns. Please. Meet 2828." Stel introduced the third lantern, a very big alien without hair of any kind, with a prominently pale green complexion.
"Vega system, eh?" Guy immediately said, recognizing that number. The 2828 was the only sector comprehending a single solar system, the Vega System, being the only solar system in the whole universe where the Green Lantern Corps could not patrol.
"Yes. I am partnered with Stel," the stoic alien replied.
"You got a name, Green Man?" Guy didn't know, but he had just found the name by which the lantern would go by.
"No. On Uxor, all are one." Since, as Green Man admitted, he didn't have a real name of his own. That was when the rings talked as one, all repeating the same sentence.
"All Lanterns to Corps Hall." Guy chuckled a bit darkly, knowing what was to come in a few minutes.
"Time to scare the babies. Let's go, amigo..."
"WHERE THE HELL DID YOU TAKE ME, YOU STUPID PIECE OF GREEN... WHATEVER YOU'RE MADE OF?!"
A few seconds before...
"Entering Oan Atmosphere. Disabling Stasis."
"Mmmn... Uh?" Naruto groggily opened his eyes; his eyelids felt really heavy, like he had slept for hours. Thing was, he had. He just didn't know it yet. As he opened his eyes, he realized that he was descending, since things were becoming bigger under him, and as his brain rebooted, he remembered what had happened. "Ah?! You! Where... Ah, you're bringing me back down? Good boy, you got it. You... Geh."
Yes, he really said 'Geh' when he realized that the shapes on the 'big map' weren't the same as before, and as he got closer and closer to the city, he realized that there was no way in hell he was still in Konoha. A large vein popped on his forehead, and he started shouting at his ring, ignoring the various other figures floating in the air or walking on the ground. "WHERE THE HELL DID YOU TAKE ME, YOU STUPID PIECE OF GREEN... WHATEVER YOU'RE MADE OF?!"
"Sector 0, Oa, Planetary Citadel of the Guardian of the Universe, Headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps. The Power Rings' materials are..."
"AAAAAAAAAAARGH! SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!" As Naruto flew by cursing loudly at his 'driver', an amused group of lanterns watched him go. The most amused one being Guy Gardner.
"Heh. I like that one! He's got spunk!" the earth Lantern declared, much to Kyle's annoyance.
"Let's... just go," the 'Torchbearer' suggested, holding the bridge of his nose. "He's a rookie, that much we can see. We'll see him again in the hall."
"Stupidringstupidgreenlightstupid..." Naruto had started angrily mumbling to himself as the ring kept on dragging him forward. He stopped only when he noticed that he had slowed down considerably and had started floating down. He ended up sitting down on a very large step of he didn't know what. He looked around and he almost screamed. "Holy flying..."
It wasn't the building. It reminded him of one of the academy's classrooms, actually. What had almost made him scream was the variety of people and clothes in the room. The biggest one looked like an oversized pea green stuffed toy with chubby arms. Another one was an overgrown blue insect. One was a cluster of crystals. There was a huge lizard. One thing he noticed was that they were all wearing a ring identical to his own one. He swallowed, grabbed his head and slowly lowered it so that he would only see his feet. "Where... the hell... am I?"
Suddenly everyone quieted down. He raised his head again and found himself looking at the far end of the room.
On a raised podium, there were a group of people as variegated as the one sitting with him; however, these all had something in common. They all wore some kind of uniform which, while still different from person to person, held a few similarities. The colors green and black with a touch of white were present, along with the symbol that he could see engraved on the rings each one of them wore.
One of them stepped forward, and Naruto almost jumped in his chair as he laid eyes on—while not the biggest—surely the most intimidating person he had ever seen. Not even Yamato came close... Well, that was probably exaggerating it, but the person in question was big, red and bulky, and his gaze was saying 'no nonsense'. Then he talked, making Naruto swallow instinctively.
"Welcome to Oa, poozers. I'm Kilowog. I'm gonna be ya new best friend... and ya new worst enemy. Back on yer home-worlds, some of you might'a been hotshots. Some of you might'a been nobodies." Regaining what little was left of his focus, Naruto began to listen intently, convincing himself that what he needed to do at that moment was to understand just what was happening to him. Even if it didn't seem like he was at any risk, it was still confusing as hell.
"And right now, some of you might think you've been chosen to be gods. Well, lemme put you straight," Kilowog continued, arms crossed behind his back, chest puffed out, gaze stern and focused. "You're all just rookies now. Rookies who've been chosen to serve, protect and obey. You been recruited like others have for millennia cuz you all have ta potential ta overcome fear."
"Overcome fear?" Naruto blinked, remembering that the ring had said something similar when it had appeared in front of him.
"After I'm finished with you, some o' you might even be able ta do just that..." The red giant then slowly turned around, stretching his left arm to point at the people dressed in the same uniform he was, with the due variations. There were only two among them who seemed similar to him. "And some of you might learn ta really use those power rings. Some of you might even get ta be one of the seventy two hundred who will protect the universe as agents of the Guardians."
"... Universe?" Yes, what bothered Naruto was the concept of the universe. His world lacked basic astronomy, it seemed.
"Yep. Some of you might become members of the Green Lantern Corps." Kilowog suddenly returned his whole attention to the crowd of rookies in front of him. "Then again, you might not. Questions?"
"... Alright. Let's resume." Naruto was thinking so hard that his head hurt. From what he could understand, he had been chosen to be trained as a rookie and possible member of something called the Green Lantern Corps, which were agents of some guardians to protect something called the Universe... Smoke was filling the space in his head and went immediately out of his ears, much to the annoyance of the alien sitting next to him.
"There's something wrong with my ring. It doesn't work on yellow," he heard a voice say from the crowd.
"Mine either," another one said, and Naruto just stared at the ring. Doesn't work... Just what does this thing do, anyway?
"It's a rookie thing." Kyle grinned as he answered the question, confident that Kilowog would instruct them further during training.
"Any other questions?" the massive lantern continued.
"Yes. I have a question." He saw a figure rise from the first row. It was a girl, with black hair and dark red skin, dressed in white, her physique, again, similar to his own. "How do I get out of here? I do not want to be a Green Lantern."
"You don't want-?!" From the gasps and the stares Naruto could understand that the 'red giant', as he had mentally nicknamed Kilowog, wasn't the only person shocked by the statement. Himself, he was burning his brain again.
But what the hell is a Green Lantern?!
"Allow me, Kilowog." Someone else had taken word, and Naruto saw another figure appear, this one descending from above, surrounded by projections of green light. He was the total opposite of the red giant, to Naruto eyes. Slim, not as tall, and bug-like in appearance, as opposed to the vaguely canine maw of the former. He also had four arms. "I am Salaak. I'm the Guardians' administrative liaison and the new keeper of the book of Oa. There are three ways out of this organization, Soranik Natu."
Naruto observed as the newly named person named Salaak put emphasis on his words with gestures of his arms and fingers. "One: as a failure. You may leave now if you choose that path. Two: as a corpse. The path of honor. Or three: as both of the above. The path of the fool."
"I choose my own path, Salaak of Oa. The path of life. My home-world needs me more than a faceless space sector," she replied, defiant, and then raised her hand with the ring, clenched in a fist. "Ring, take me home!"
"Training has not yet been completed. I advise against-"
"Now!" she shouted, and then, Naruto observed, went through the same process he had. She got enveloped by green light and then started flying away. "You lanterns can think me a failure if you like, but you do not understand what this Corps has done to Korugar. And what it may do to each of you."
In a few seconds, she disappeared from the room, under the stares of all of its occupants, making Naruto even more confused than before. Out of everything, he had understood that being a Green Lantern was considered a big, good thing, but that girl had just dismissed being one saying that it was a bad thing. He grasped his head hard and rammed his feet on the floor. When Kilowog's voice said 'Any other questions?', he just decided to do it. He got on his feet in a flash, had his hands raised. "Yes! I do! What the hell is a Green Lantern?!"
If Natu's statement had shocked many of the people in the room, Naruto's words had caused everyone's eyes in the room to threaten to pop out of their sockets. The blonde pretty much ignored them, used to being the pariah of the situation ever since the transformation tests. "No, seriously! I don't know! This damn ring suddenly appeared in front of my face, latched onto my middle finger, put me to sleep and brought me here! Also, what the hell is this 'Universe' you're supposed to protect?! And the guardians?! What do they guard?!"
Salaak palmed his face. Loudly. He suddenly had a strong headache mixed with a strong sensation of déjà vu. Most of the hall burst out into laughter, much to Naruto's embarrassment and anger. One of the loudest ones was Guy Gardner, of course. The blonde would have none of it, though. "Hey! What's so funny?! Want me to kick your ass?!"
"Let's... see." Salaak 'lighted' up some more screen, searching for information on their newest, loud recruit. "Namikaze Uzumaki Naruto. Lantern 2815. Home-world... Ah. That explains a lot."
"What does, four-arms?" Guy stopped laughing only to turn his focus on Salaak, and the whole room seemed to mimic him.
"Namikaze's planet is what you'd call... a backward world. Their technology is limited, but it is to be expected. The dominant race of the planet has a relatively young age." Salaak made one of the screens disappear before turning to Kilowog again. "It's like Lantern Jordan all over again... Only, 2815's race has not even left the surface of their planet, and has limited if not nonexistent astronomy knowledge."
"For the love of..." Kilowog groaned as the room exploded into laughter again, and Naruto was seriously thinking about multiplying by one thousand and go ballistic on the whole room. "Alright, poozers! Quiet down or I'll make ya! Your rook comrade just knows a little less than you about space travel! Big deal! You're still all equally worthless in ma eyes! He's just a little more ignorant than ya, but by Oa, he will be taught!"
"... He's going down first." Naruto settled down along with the rest of the room, sitting down and grumbling obscenities under his breath.
"Ahahahah! Darn, Salaak! Sign me up for a teacher job, 'cause I'd love to watch that kid's training!" Guy laughed again, and Salaak just kept on tapping green screens of light.
"Be wary what you wish for, Lantern Gardner..." the four armed alien said, earning the redhead's attention. "The Guardians have contacted me via my ring and relayed their orders. You are to train the rookies under Kilowog's direction."
"I'm to what?!" Guy turned around and slammed his arm through Salaak's constructs. "We just flew halfway across the damn universe to babysit?!"
"Guy, maybe we should talk to Kilowog and..." Kyle tried to calm Guy down, but before he could even finish his sentence, his friend flew off. "Guy!"
"The Guardians do not want to be disturbed!" Salaak said, but the earth Lantern pretty much ignored him and kept on flying away. Kyle flew after him, seeing no other option but to stop him directly. Kilowog and Salaak groaned.
"Alright, poozers... Over with the questions," the red giant declared, and then stretched his arm to the 'door' on the right of the room. "I'll see ya tomorrow morning. Your orders till then are ta get acquainted with the place, bunk together with ta other rooks, dine and get a good night o' sleep... Because it will be the last peaceful one you'll have in a long time!"
"... Just great." Naruto grumbled and started to follow the crowd out of the room. Salaak followed him with his eyes, and he guessed that in that recruit's case, they would have to state the obvious.
"If you have any further questions or you can't find your way to the dormitories or the cafeteria, your ring can give you directions... or answers." Naruto stopped in his motion, somehow getting that that last tidbit of advice was all for him. Salaak just moved out of the room along all the other Lanterns via another exit, by flying.
"... Ask the ring, huh?" Naruto started walking again and stopped right out of the door, as a crowd of aliens of various colors and shapes walked past him, some flying away. Naruto raised his right hand clenched in a fist to his face, observing the object that while not shining brightly as before, still held some kind of perpetual green light to it. "Uhm... Ring? You there?"
"Silent mode deactivated."
That made Naruto curious. "You mean when I told you to shut up you actually shut up?"
"Affirmative. I'm programmed to execute your commands, providing they do not conflict with the code of the guardians." Naruto scratched the back of his head with his free hand, a bit confused. No one had ever been this respectful to him and his wishes, even if it was a ring that was showing him that respect.
"Ehm... alright. So, I have a few questions for you..." Naruto thought about it. He had understood that he was on a place called Oa, home to some kind of guardians and the Green Lantern Corps, but he still didn't clearly understand. "What are the Green Lantern Corps?"
"The Green Lantern Corps are an organization made of the agents of the Guardians of the Universe. They follow their code and primary directives."
"Ehm... the dumb version, please," Naruto said, holding the bridge of his nose as he felt the next big headache already incoming.
"Informal language pattern activated." Naruto sighed, thankful for the change. "The Green Lantern Corps are an intergalactic police force created and led by the Guardians of the Universe."
"A police force? You mean, cops?" Naruto raised an eyebrow. He shook his head. "Who are the Guardians of the Universe?"
"The Guardians of the Universe are the oldest race of the universe, first wielders and controllers of the Green Light which powers the Corps, and creators and current leaders of the latter." He nodded. He finally understood. Now, there was the word he didn't understand the meaning of.
"What's the Universe?" A couple of rookies which were passing by him at that moment snickered. Naruto just glared at them until they turned a corner.
"The Universe comprises everything perceived to exist physically, the entirety of space and time, and all forms of matter and energy." Naruto scratched the back of his head again, confused.
"I... I didn't get it. Like... when we left the elemental countries, you brought me to this Universe?" he asked, trying to get to it by tries.
"Negative. The home-world of Lantern 2815 is comprised in the Universe." Naruto groaned.
"Alright... so... my... home is in the Universe? I..." Then, he remembered something. The four armed alien was seeing things on screens made of emerald light. The same light those rings projected. "Let's do it like this. Can you show me my home town?"
"Affirmative." Naruto instinctively shot his head back as the ring suddenly projected a screen of green light in the air in front of his head. The image projected on its surface was an aerial-sight photograph of Konoha.
"Yeah... that's Konoha. I recognize the Hokage Mountain," Naruto said, nodding to himself. It was working. "Now... show me the Fire Country. Slowly," he ordered, fearful and still remembering the speed with which he had left it.
As ordered, the ring began to zoom out. In fifteen seconds, Naruto found himself staring at the Fire Country from above. "Now, the Elemental Countries." Again, the zoom out brought him to stare at his continent from above, and it took a bit more than before. A good half minute, if not more. He remembered then a term the other lanterns had been using. "Now show me my... home-world."
This time, the zooming out took a full minute. Slowly, the elemental countries became smaller and smaller till Naruto found himself staring again at that ball surrounded by blue light against the night sky, even if it was now all of green color. "That... that is..."
"Unnamed Third Planet of Solar System 7 of Sector 2815. Home to the Green Lantern of Sector 2815," the ring said, and Naruto remembered that it had said the same thing the first time he had seen it. He was starting to understand. Like a town was part of a country, like a country was part of a continent...
"Show... show me my... I mean, that solar system you said." Immediately, the ring obeyed and Naruto could only stare as the zoom out took even longer till the ball that had been Naruto's home-world became smaller in the middle of black with white dots and similar balls, other 'planets', if he had understood. What caught his attention was the one in the middle. "That's... the sun?!"
"Yellow sun of Solar System 7 of Sector 2815." Naruto instinctively put a hand on his forehead, which was starting to sweat. He was no mathematician, but he could do proportions, and his brain was telling him that the sun was a ball in the night sky and that it was that much bigger than his 'home-world'.
"I..." Naruto was feeling uneasy. A part of his brain was telling him to stop asking questions for the sake of his sanity, but Naruto never took the easy way out of anything. "S-Show me... Sector... 2815."
The zoom out took even longer, before Naruto found himself staring at strange shapes that he could define only as large spiral of lights, but again, his brain was telling him just how much bigger than Konoha they were. He was sweating profusely. "This... I mean... it's so big... This is a Sector?"
"Sector 2815 of the known Universe." Naruto felt his legs getting wobbly.
"How... How many sectors are there?" He just had to ask.
"The Universe is split into 3600 sectors, each one patrolled by two Green Lanterns." He felt sick, and his legs were about to give out.
"Alright, I need to sit down... Ring, is there somewhere I can sit and catch my breath?" The ring obeyed and transported Naruto to the middle of one of the green zones of the citadel, gently dropping him on top of a bench.
Naruto started breathing in and out deeply, thankful for the occasion to focus on not losing what he had eaten at breakfast. He looked at the sky, and then back down, understanding that it was maybe a bad idea, considering the circumstances. "... Geez, way to make me feel small..."
"I'd suggest a visit to the medical bay in case of any symptoms of sickness." Naruto dismissed the ring by shaking his right hand, instinctively.
"Nah, it's alright... Just a bit overwhelmed. I mean... it's big! The universe, I mean! Also..." He then realized something, recalling a basic piece of human knowledge. The bigger the distance, the longer the time needed to cover it. "Hey! Just how far is this... planet from my own one?!"
"Distance between Oa and Unnamed..."
"Don't tell me! Show me!" Naruto said, knowing that there was no way he could understand numbers that big. Again, a screen of emerald light appeared. This time the zoom wasn't that big, but enough to show the distance between the center of the universe, sector 0 and Naruto's own one, splitting the path in sectors on the way. "That much?! How much did it take?! I mean, how long was I asleep?!"
"Hyperspace jump still not possible because of lack of monitoring. Travel Time in stasis sleep: 9 hours and 11 minutes." Naruto's eyes went wide.
"Only nine hours?! Damn, you must be fast!" he shouted in awe, much to the amusement of the other people who happened to be nearby. He then put a hand to his chin, remembering how fast, indeed, they had flown. "So... about flying... Do I always need to tell you where I want to go?"
"Autopilot mode is suggested only for long-distance space traveling." He rubbed his chin further.
"What was that thing you said about mental commands? You mean, I just have to think something and you do it if you can do it?" Naruto's grin was growing bit by bit.
"Affirmative." Naruto's grin had grown completely toothy.
"Alright..." Let's see... I want to fly up... "Woah!" The ring obeyed and Naruto shot up in the air, almost hitting another passing lantern in the process, who shouted a torrent of insults after him. "Slowerslowerslower!"
Just as that, Naruto's flight diminished in speed till it arrived to the speed he normally had while ninja jumping. "Alright, this speed I can control..." Now, let's stop. He stopped moving and he floated at mid-air, looking around himself, observing the various buildings and patches of green and blue all around the citadel. "... Heh. Eat your heart out, gravity... Ah, by the way, I saw other rookies with a uniform on. Where..."
"Materialization of Green Lantern Uniform." Naruto let out a sharp cry as green light suddenly enveloped his body starting from the hand with the ring. His forearms and shins were covered in white, his torso, stomach and pelvis in hot green, the rest of his body in cold black. A white circle appeared in the middle of the green on his chest. It was all over in a few seconds.
"... Wow. It's like... Damn, I don't feel my old clothes anymore." Naruto observed his new uniform from toe to finger, and then grinned, turning to the open sky again. "Alright, ring... Let's see what you can do!"
He thought. He shot forward at the speed he was familiar with. For the next four hours or so, every time one of the inhabitants of Oa looked up at the sky, they would see a green lantern flying around, changing speeds and directions every so often, and each now and then, bumping into someone else. Hard.
"What?" The human lantern stopped, not that he could go far, the construct of a chain materialized by Kilowog keeping him from adventuring further into the night sky.
"Where are you going?" Asked Kilowog rhetorically, already knowing the answer, if he had to judge from Guy's reaction to his 'assignment' and his current face.
"Back to earth. This is a crap assignment, Kilowog." The Corps' official trainer narrowed his eyes at his companion.
"It's my job." Guy groaned and decided to stop trying to float away.
"I mean for me. I'm not a teacher." Guy threw his hands in the air and his face contorted in a mocking sneer, eyes looking at the sky included. "And I sure as hell am not gonna sit here and give lectures on 'willpower' and teach these aliens to memorize that lame-ass oath. I got a life..."
"I know. But there's more to it than that, poozer." Kilowog dispelled his construct, seeing that Guy was willing to stay put. "The Guardians..."
"Screw the guardians!" But not to listen, it seemed.
"Shut yer trap for a second." Kilowog said in a low, but firm voice. "We've got over three hundred ringslingers signed up and we're looking for nearly sixty-nine hundred more. But they won't be worth a bucket of oan slime unless they're trained by the best." That got the attention of Guy, since Kilowog was probably the last he would have heard compliments coming from. Not because he was an ass, but because the Corps' trainer knew how easily they went to one's head. "They need ya. I need ya."
"... What's goin' on, pal? You're..." The way Kilowog was talking made him think of one thing only. "You're actin' like you're afraid."
"Yes. For the first time in my life," Kilowog admitted, as they turned their attention to the numerous small lights departing from the grounds to the stars. Rings looking for their bearers. "Because accordin' to the Guardians, the whole damn universe is about ta change."
"... What do you..."
"Make waaaaaay!" The two senior lanterns reacted on instinct and broke apart, giving space to the incoming third member, prospective member, of the corps, who stopped in midair, upside down, a few meters after passing their previous position. "Ehm, sorry. I still have to get the hang of flying at this speed."
"... You're..." Guy immediately recognized him by the hair. "You're the rook who didn't know what Universe meant!"
"Ehm... That would be me, yeah..." Naruto got into a proper vertical position, scratching his left cheek, still a bit uneasy. "Name's Uzumaki Naruto, from... Well, my planet doesn't have a name, the ring said. I just know it's in the solar system 7 of Sector 2815."
"Ahhh, you're my neighbor, then! I'm Guy Gardner, 2814! Ask anyone around, they will tell you I'm the best Green Lantern ever!" Guy boasted, crossing his arms over his chest. It always felt good to impress rookies.
"Hmmm... I'll try to remember that." Only, this time it didn't work, it seemed. The boy just kept on grinning like a loon. Guy was about to tell him off...
"Rook!" But the big man intervened, and that seemed to earn a big reaction from Naruto, if his stiffening were any indication. "What in Oa's name were ya doin'?!"
"Ah! P-P-Practicing my flying!" The speech from that morning had had at least the effect of making Naruto learn the 'red giant''s name.
"Add 'sir' at ta end of each sentence when talking ta me as long as I'm teaching ya how ta breath!" Naruto nodded energetically, jerking his head up and down. "Ma orders had been, and I quote, ta get acquainted with the place, bunk together with ta other rooks, dine and get a good night o' sleep! Which one of the four did ya accomplish?!"
"J-Just getting acquainted with the place! I don't know what bunk means, I'm still not sleepy and I'm just now getting hungry! … Sir! Sir!" He had almost forgot again. Guy was struggling to keep his laughter in, for once.
"Bunk means finding where you're going to sleep after training and with who, rook! If you end up sleeping with someone who breaths farts, don't come crying ta me!" Naruto blanked, not knowing himself if it was for Kilowog screaming in his face or the prospect he had described. The two senior lanterns let him think about that for a while before Kilowog straightened his posture and crossed his hands behind his back, standing tall again. "Jokes apart, since your bunk-mates have already been decided, it's important to get those that could become your future comrades. One of them could become your future partner too. Lanterns patrol in groups of two, now."
"Ehm... Alright, sir. I'll... I'll socialize." Naruto nodded, and Guy finally burst out laughing and put an arm around his shoulders, shaking him around.
"Ahahah! Damn, boy, you're too much! Maybe being a teacher will not be that annoying!" Naruto went from stiff because of Kilowog's lecture to confused by Guy's easygoing attitude. "Guess what, this evening you dine with the best! You're going to be the envy of the whole cafeteria! What do you say?!"
"Great! Now let's go, I'm starving, even if I bet that the new cook hasn't managed to replicate earth food either..."
"... So many different people..."
"The word you're looking for is extraterrestrial or alien, boy." Guy had noticed that Naruto didn't know how to refer to the people around him, so different from him and each other. After arriving at the cafeteria, they had put themselves in line with the rest of the people there. "They don't get offended. Like Kilo always says, everyone is someone else's alien."
"I guess it makes sense." Naruto was still looking around when something got splashed into his tray. He had three places where to put things on his tray, and all three had suddenly been filled with three different kinds of... paste. He didn't know how to call it. He only knew that one was blue, one green and one red, and the green one was bubbling. "... What... the..."
"Alien food. Don't know, it's not poisonous for your methabolism, and they kinda taste like gravy and cheesecake." Naruto just kept on staring at his tray while following Guy automatically.
"... What about water?"
"Geh." Now I understand the reason for the straw... The senior and the rookie began searching for a free table, only for Guy to find one already occupied by a friend, who was motioning at him to come sit there.
"Well, you're lucky, rookie!" Guy almost pushed him in his seat, nearly making him spill everything, and he found himself sitting in front of the other Earth Green Lantern currently on Oa. "You have the honor of sitting with me and the Corps' Torchbearer!"
"Torch-what?" Naruto raised an eyebrow at the nickname, making Guy snort at his reaction, while Kyle just shook his head.
"Long story. You'll hear about it sooner or later, or you can just ask the ring." Kyle got up from his seat before Naruto sat down, extending his hand to him. The blond hesitated a little and then shook his hand gently. "Kyle Rayner. Green Lantern from sector 2814."
"Uzumaki Naruto." Naruto nodded and shook the hand a bit more firmly before letting go of it and finally sitting down normally. "So... 2814... But you're probably the people more similar to me. I mean... we could be mistaken for being from the same planet, right?"
"Comes with being from neighboring sectors," Guy replied. "So... your planet really is that backward in technology?"
"... I guess that not even knowing what the universe is was a pretty strong piece of evidence, hn?" Naruto scratched the back of his head, embarrassed, while taking a sip of the red paste. It tasted like yakitori and sweets.
"Hehehe. Yeah, but don't let it bother you. As long as you have that ring on your finger, you're entitled to the same amount of respect as all the others," Kyle reassured the embarrassed Naruto, while Guy shrugged his shoulders.
"Meh... there are some who have done more than the others. Just saying..." Kyle groaned yet again. He had lost count. "But yeah. As long as you have a ring, the other lanterns aren't entitled on giving you shit... Well, theoretically."
"We are mostly on the same boat... just a little better off than you. We at least reached our moon." Naruto grumbled something inaudible under his breath, much to the earthmen's amusement. "Just wanted to tell you that you can expect some attitude from some of the other rookies."
"Hmm... attitude, hn?" Naruto took a sip of the blue paste, this time. It tasted like pepper, bananas and tomatoes. It didn't bother him, though. He was thinking about some kids in the academy who had tried to give him shit as well. His lips morphed into a carnivorous grin. "Well... I have a way or two in mind to take it down a notch."
"... I like the way you think, kid, but try not to do anything in front of Kilowog. If the big guy's something, that's strict," Guy said with a large grin of his own. Naruto nodded, confirming that he would remember that.
"Ah. I had a question... I mean, now that I think about it, I was pretty much kidnapped from home," Naruto said, narrowing his eyes, making Guy sigh.
"That's the way they do it. 'Whatever you're going through, it pales in comparison to the safety of the universe' and similar yadda." Naruto relaxed his eyes, hearing that it was a common occurrence, but he still wasn't completely calm.
"What I mean is... I have stuff to do back at home. Important stuff. So, am I going to be here for life or something? If that's the case, I'm going back right away." The blond crossed his arms over his chest, his eyes not angry but firm, showing that he was serious.
"Ah. No, not at all. Actually, they need you to go back home as soon as you finish here." Naruto relaxed a bit more at those words from Kyle. "You see, Green Lanterns get brought here to Oa at first for their training. You have to learn how to use your ring. After that, you receive a badge and you go back to your home-planet and your sector, which is the area you're assigned to patrol."
"... Ah. So, that's that?" Naruto was honestly surprised. Kyle just nodded. "As long as I 'patrol my sector' and intervene when it's needed, I can live my life?"
"Pretty much. As long as you don't do anything that goes against the guardians' directive." Naruto brought a hand to his chin and fell into thought, squinting his eyes.
"Hmm... I thought it would be more complicated..." Then, he grinned. "But hey, if that's all for having a cool ring that lets you fly, count me in."
"Heh... you're going to think about that twice in the followin' days," Guy intervened, making Naruto's grin stop cold. "First, because being a Green Lantern isn't all fun and games. We risk our lives out there. Second... well, flying isn't all that this baby lets you do."
"Risk my life? Oh, well, no big deal. I pretty much did that on a daily basis back home..." Naruto shuddered, since half of the occasions he had risked his life involved pink hair. The two senior lanterns just stared at him confused. The blond suppressed his shudder for the sake of asking questions. "So, how long is this going to take, by the way?"
"Depends on how fast you can reach an acceptable level of ring-slingin'. So, it's all up to Kilowog, in the end."
"In line, poozers!" Strict and very efficient as a trainer, if the fact that every one of the rookies immediately obeyed and got in a straight was any indication. After dinner, Naruto had found out that he wasn't bunked with 'anyone'. Every rook had his own room, but they were in the same location.
Then, that morning, after yellow, blue and purple pastes as breakfast, all the rookies had been brought to an open space in the middle of the citadel, which comprised mostly of a large circle filled with mud. Upon asking, Naruto had been told that it was called the 'mud marsh'. Fitting...
"We will now begin your training! Ya will learn ta be passable lanterns! That's why as first exercise..." Kilowog held up his ring, and green tendrils removed the rings from all the recruits, and stuffed them in a green emerald sack materialized by Guy, who—as 'promised'—was there to help train the rookies. "Ya will show how you fare without rings! We will see on what ya have ta improve!"
"We'll put you into couples and let you slug at each other a couple good ones. First couple: 2815 and whoever wants a chance to hit him." Guy took the ball before Kilowog could say anything else. Naruto just stared at him strangely, but then grinned and cracked his knuckles before stepping into the mud marsh.
"Fine by me. Come on!" Naruto declared, which seemed to irk some of the other rookies.
"I will fight the caveman." That comment annoyed Naruto a little, and he turned around to observe an alien who looked like he was made out of a rock. It was like a big rock had been sculpted into a statue and then covered with a sleeveless Green Lantern uniform.
"Heh..." Naruto suddenly substituted the frown with a grin, the one that promised mischief. "Hey, 'teacher', can I use everything I know?"
"Yeah. Rule is: loses the first ta end up back first in the mud. Gardner will be referee." Naruto nodded and lowered himself into a guard while the 'rock-man' slammed his fist into his palm.
"... Alright." The blonde nodded, thankful that it wasn't going to be only about physical strength. He was really fit, more than any civilian, but ninja are able to do most of the out of normal things they do thanks to chakra. He guessed that the alien's body was as hard as it looked, so this might not be an easy fight.
"Aaaaand... Begin!" The rock-man decided to take the initiative as he charged at Naruto like a bull. Naruto reacted immediately with practiced ease. First, he sent chakra to his feet and surfaced on top of the mud, then gathered more chakra to his legs and jumped over his opponent, dodging the attack.
"You know, rushing in like that is never a good idea!" Naruto taunted, landing a few meters behind the rock man, his index and middle fingers already in the position of a cross. Better take this slow... "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!" With a various puffs of smoke, the alien turned around and was met with six other Naruto appearing on his sides on the mud marsh, and he didn't miss that the boy was walking on the mud, rather than sinking into it like he was.
"Hmm... That's a nice trick ya got there, kiddo." Kilowog commented from the sidelines, observing—as it was his work to get a general overview of the rookies' abilities.
"Guys, forward!" The troop of Naruto replied as one man, which they technically were, before three of them shot forward, attacking the opponent, who was a bit taken back by the sudden presence of more than one enemy.
They attacked each from one side. The rockman instinctively lashed at the nearest one, missing him as the copy dodged. Then, they all hit him with their fists from different positions. "Ow!" And disappeared soon after, having tested just how hard the alien's body was, while looking for potential weak spots.
"Hmm..." Naruto flexed his right hand as the memories of his clones came back to him. "That's quite the hide you got there..." Damn, it's hard... If the point was to injure him, it would be a problem to do so without using weapons or the rasengan.
"... So, you noticed! Also, I happen to be quite heavy!" The rockman rushed at him again, and the remaining Narutos crouched down, preparing to attack.
"Yeah! I noticed that from how slowly you're moving!" They all jumped forward, and the real one suddenly crouched down and slid on the mud, passing between the alien's legs and dodging a punch by a hair's breath. He stopped right after and got on his hands and knees. "Heads up, ugly!"
"Huh?! Ah!" The three remaining copies, this time all sending chakra to their legs and feet, slammed both of their lower appendages in the face and torso of the alien, who staggered back just enough to trip onto Naruto's body and start falling back.
"Annnd... down you go!" Naruto jumped off just in time to avoid getting crushed by the alien as it fell back first in the mud, under the stares, most surprised, of their audience. He grinned and dispelled his clones, before walking over to his defeated opponent. "So, who's the caveman, now?"
"You... you cheater!" The rock alien got out of the mud and back on his feet, a snarl evident on his face. Naruto just grinned even more.
"Cheater? Come on, all was fair, big ol' K said... OW!" A hammer made out of green light suddenly smashed into Naruto's head from behind and sent him flying forward into the mud, face first.
"Lesson number one, keep yer mouth closed when you land in the mud." No one laughed because being manhandled by Kilowog was sure to hurt. "Lesson number two, admit your defeats gracefully. And three, no nicknames for me, poozers! Am I clear?!"
"... Iewf, zir." Naruto cursed, still face down in the mud.
"Put back on yer rings and clean yerself up. Next couple!" Guy opened the sack and let the rings fly back to the hands of their owners, who were obviously in a bad mood.
"Lantern 2815 shows signs of foreign substance covering his bodily structure. It's suggested..."
"Just shut up and do it." Naruto spat some more mud and growled lowly, all under the amused stare of Guy. He was starting to like the teacher job.
"So, this morning we've acquiesced just how far the line is for the whole lot of you." After a morning of battling in the mud and lunch, the rookies and the teachers were assembled again around the mud marsh. "Now, it's time for ring-slinging basics. As in, what the rings ya hold can do in the right hands. Hope yer hands are right for the job, poozers." Kilowog then turned to Guy and pointed at him. "Senior Lantern Gardner, here, will show you how it's done."
"If I must..." Guy shrugged his shoulders and stepped forward. "Alright, you all! Watch, listen, and learn, and maybe some of my skill will rub off on you in the process!" He slowly raised his right hand, and a ray of light shone out of the ring, turning itself into an emerald green... scantily clad human waitress, much to Naruto's blushing. That skirt was just too damn short. "For those still on their feet, listen up. You're going to ask yourself, why the hell did I do this? It doesn't have anything to do with battle or anything, right? Well, that's exactly the point."
Naruto heard someone fall on his back with a loud 'thud' as the waitress bent over, showing everything underneath the skirt. He put a hand over his nose just to be on the safe side. "The ring has a lot of functions, but what I'm going to make you focus on is its main one: it can make whatever object you have in mind out of solid, emerald light, mimicking its properties perfectly or even adding new ones to it. Whatever you have in mind, it can create. Energy beams, force fields... waitresses." Said construct disappeared with a simple thought from Guy. "Of course, there are limitations. You can't create life; so, if you create images of people, that's just that: images. The other limitations are your imagination, your knowledge, and mainly your willpower."
"Example: ya can create a functioning syringe even if ya have no idea what a real one is made out of, the ring has ta knowledge for you, and it even has a certain degree of knowledge in many areas, but it has limits. You'll never be able to cure someone as good as a real doctor," Kilowog added, making Naruto scratch the top of his head, getting a bit confused by all the explanations.
So, like... Well, it's like everyday life. Feeling the school mood, Naruto raised his right hand before speaking. "But then, what's the use of the ring? I mean, it's like everyday life. If you have the right tool but you have no idea how to use it, it's useless."
"Good question, rookie. Well, that's only a rule for the specialized uses of your ring, a way to ease up what you already know how to do. Like, if you're a doctor, you can be an even better one," Guy replied, as his ring shone again. "We're going to teach you some specific techniques you'll need in case of big things, like planetary-wide crisis, but the basics are two: force beams..."
Guy turned towards Kilowog and a stream of green light shot towards the red-skinned alien, who reacted by using his own ring by enveloping himself with a bubble of similar light. "And force-fields. So, let's practice, poozers. It's time for force-field practice," Kilowog finished.
"Hmm..." As the two trainers put the rookies into lines, Naruto's gaze fell onto the ring. Any object... So, if I... The blond shinobi focused his eyes on the ring and thought about the object he wanted to materialize, and in a fraction of a second, a floating kunai made out of green light materialized above his fist. He observed as it floated and rotated on itself slowly, just as he was picturing it in his mind. He grinned. "Cool..."
The ring's first words to the new Lanterns are at the same time very few and perhaps the greatest of compliments. 'You have the ability to overcome great fear'. Men overcome fear each day of their lives, do they not? It's the 'great' that sets the Green Lanterns apart from the others. When one finds himself facing great problems, great choices, as such one can fall prey to fear.
"I'm not afraid..." Soranik Natu was currently in a situation where she surely was doing her best to overcome great fear. Having been swallowed by a dark hole, only to find herself in front of the mummy-like corpse of her Green Lantern sector predecessor, surrounded by darkness lighted only by her ring, and strange viscous ropes constricting an already narrow—or so she thought—space. She couldn't tell as she was looking all around herself for anything coming from the darkness. "... I'm not... I'm not afraid."
"Alright, poozers! That's it for ta first day!"
Naruto was panting for the first time in months. It was incredible how taxing it was, using the ring. He had forged the emerald kunai almost effortlessly, and summoning a force-field had taken just a little discomfort. But keeping it up against Guy and Kilowog's rays of light? Projecting a light of his own?
He was lucky to be only panting, it seemed. Many of the other recruits had fallen to the ground, not able to even stand anymore about fifteen minutes earlier. Out of two hundred recruits, just twenty five or so had resisted all the way through the whole exercise. He had also noticed something else; the ring's light had gotten progressively weaker as they exercised. It was almost imperceptible, but it was there.
"Alright. Before sending you to get a shower, since you still have to learn how to clean yourself up with the ring, last lesson of the day." While Guy talked, Kilowog shot his hand up, and hundreds of green tendrils shot up in a precise fashion. Naruto regained his breath and looked up, and he saw the tendrils come back carrying something.
Something that he had to then catch, barely avoiding from letting it fall to the hard ground. He observed it; the object wasn't very heavy, and it had a handle for holding it better, it seemed. It was as big as his head, and green light could be seen flowing out from the holes on its sides. It was a lantern. "Some of you may have noticed that your ring's light started getting weaker as you exercised. That's because your rings have a limited charge of that green energy you use for everything. The more powerful the things you create and the longer you use them, the shorter the charge lasts."
"Also, you may be wondering why it's been so taxing on ya holding up that shield. That's because ya still aren't used to keep it up for so long; willing something in existence." Kilowog finished handing each of the rookies their lanterns and began speaking again. "I've said that creating something with your ring concerns knowledge and imagination, but it all comes down to willpower. The more willpower you have, you pour into the ring, the more powerful things you can create, and ta more taxing it gets on ya and your ring's charge."
"Every twenty four hours or so or when your ring's charge is about to go empty—just ask the ring for the level—you've got to recharge, using your personal Power Battery." Guy held up his own battery that he had retrieved previously, and all the trainees mimicked him, Naruto included. "Now... you listen, and listen well. This is the first thing you miscreants will learn and the last thing you will ever forget in your life."
"The oath of the corps. It's a ritual to speak it out loud every time ya recharge your ring, to remind yourself of your mission and the principles of the corps. It also covers the time necessary to completely recharge the ring." Kilowog held his own battery in his left hand as he moved his right one, ring first, inside the lantern. "Repeat after us, poozers! I want to hear whatever's left in your lungs come out! In brightest day, in blackest night!"
"I-In brightest day, in blackest night!" Naruto mimicked Kilowog's actions, and he felt a warmth enveloping his whole hand and focusing on the middle of his right middle finger's falanx, around the ring.
"No evil shall escape my sight!" the senior lanterns continued, and the rookies repeated every word. Naruto felt the warmth getting stronger. "Let those who worship evil's might beware my power!" Finally, the heat became as strong as it could and a bright flash of light erupted from the battery. Naruto, on instinct—and mimicked by everyone around as they copied Kilowog and Guy's actions—took their hands out of their batteries and threw them up in the air, their rings shining bright and a green flame still around their fists, shining brightly, but quickly fading out. "Green Lantern's light!"
"... I hope I can remember it... Ah. Hey, ring. Can you..."
"This ring has a recorded version of the Green Lantern Corps' oath." Naruto could swear that he heard the ring sigh as he spoke those words. He then observed as Kilowog and Guy excused the trainees for dinner and the night.
"Good... to know..." Then, something came to him. He was going to stay there for a little while, after all. He bet the others back at home were worrying about him. "Hey, ring. Can you record a message for me?"
"What do you mean he's disappeared?!"
"We can't find him anywhere, Hokage-sama," Yamato confessed, while Sai just stared at the ground and Sakura grasped her jacket hard, almost breathless. Kakashi just watched, uneasy, but hiding it well enough. "His apartment was closed from the outside, and all his gear was still inside. It's like he's disappeared in thin air."
"... Maybe..." Tsunade thought back of the 'flying Naruto sake incident'. She shook her head to clear her thoughts, realizing the stupidity of the thing. "He can't have just disappeared!"
"... Naruto... you..." Sakura was grasping her clothes hard. The first thing she could think of was that Naruto had decided to go after Sasuke all on his own, or he had been kidnapped by Akatsuki. Both were cause of great distress for her.
"Hokage-sama, may I suggest—" Kakashi got cut off by the sound of something smashing through the closed window of the office. All the people in the room turned towards the source of the sound and were met with a strange sight: a green floating ball made its way through the office and dropped on the desk right in front of Tsunade.
"... The hell..." Tsunade had half an idea of punching the thing to kingdom come, but she was stopped when the sphere talked.
"I contain a message from Green Lantern of Sector 2815, Namikaze Uzumaki Naruto, addressed to Senju Tsunade." That confused everyone in the room, and made Kakashi widen his eyes at just how the sphere had addressed Naruto. "Do you wish to view the message?"
"Erm... yes, I wish to... view the message." Tsunade was trying to wrap her head around the strangeness of the whole situation, so she decided to just go along with it. The sphere suddenly projected an image in thin air.
"Hello? Is this... I mean, are you on?" Everyone gasped when the sphere suddenly started projecting green light that formed itself into a flat screen in the air, only for Naruto's face to appear on it. "Good. So, hmmm... Hey, baa-chan! How's it going?"
"... HOW'S IT GOING?! YOU STUPID, IDIOTIC..." Tsunade breathed deeply and massaged her temples, reminding herself that it was just a message.
"Ehm, sorry for disappearing on you like that... but believe me, it's not my fault! I didn't have a choice! Well, now I have..." Kakashi palmed his face as he observed Naruto making a fool out of himself even on a record. "Well, the point is, I'm going to be away for a while. They say a month at most, unless I really suck during training. So, I'll see you very soon. I'm fine, really. The only thing that sucks here is the food... Oh, ramen, I miss you so!"
"Alright. I'm sure he's telling the truth and this is really a message from Naruto, now," Sakura declared, a vein bulging on her forehead and her hands making scary squeezing motions. Sai was actually sweating a little.
"I suppose this delays our plans of going after Itachi a bit, huh? Oh, well... I'll try to finish this as soon as possible! Bye!" The message ended and the screen disappeared, leaving again the only foreign presence in the room, a green orb.
"Do you wish to vision the message again?" The ring asked, and Tsunade sighed and shook her head. "Do you wish to record a message? It will be delivered to Namikaze Uzumaki Naruto, Green Lantern of sector 2815."
"... Yeah, I have a message to record. Also, could you answer some questions?" Tsunade crossed her arms over her ample chest.
"I'm sorry. I have limited functions." The Hokage rolled her eyes, already anticipating something like that.
"Alright. Start recording..."
"Happy birthday, kid." It had been a day of confusion and blind rage, and Cassandra had noticed it. In the end, he didn't tell her the reason for why he felt this way. He just decided to show her. They ended up in front of a grave at dawn. There was a fine sculpture on it depicting an angel. It had a simple pedestal was with an engraved sentence: 'Here lies Jason Todd'.
Cassandra kept her silence for a few seconds, unsure as to what to say. She had been brought in front of the tomb of the second Robin. The failure. The dead one. Apart that, she knew nothing about him. "No one talks about him," she began, turning to Bruce while he kept his gaze on the tomb. "All I know is... he was the second Robin. And that the Joker kil-"
"He would have been eighteen today," Bruce cut her off. "He loved cars and girls and getting into fights... Neapolitan ice cream and the color green... And most of all he loved the thrill of being Robin." He would never forget how he seemed to always put himself into a danger that to him was just a challenge of his skills. A challenge for Robin.
"But he was brash. Impulsive. Headstrong. Never looking before he leapt... I knew that, but I didn't stop him because he wanted it so badly." Bruce took a pause, allowing Cassandra to take in everything, even if he was pretty sure the girl had already memorized it all. "He wanted too much to prove something."
"Just like... Spoiler." Stephanie Brown. Tim Drake's girlfriend. The description was perfectly fitting.
"Yes," Bruce admitted and raised his head to the sky. "Maybe if I'd put an end to his attempts, he'd be getting ready to go off to college... Or just having a normal life..." He lowered it again and looked at Cassandra in the eyes. "But he'll never have that. Maybe it's not too late for Stephanie."
It wasn't, but it would be. Stephanie would meet her end at the hands of Black Mask in possibly the biggest and longest gang war Gotham had ever faced. Just like Jason, she had met her fate because of her stubbornness.
"Oh, god." Of all the times he had talked to someone about Jason, he had chosen maybe the most recent, on instinct. Everything else came flooding back on him as he observed the red helmet, the 'Red Hood', falling to the ground, revealing the face underneath.
"No." He was familiar, but he was older. As old as he could have been, had he not died; a year less, maybe. Eighteen. The small mask, covering only his eyes was red as the hood, different from the ones he usually wore. But everything else... "Wanna guess again?"
"You... you cannot possibly imagine that I believe this... this ruse." It wasn't possible. Logically, it wasn't possible. He was dead. He had retrieved his lifeless body from the wreckage of a building. He had buried him. He assumed a guard stance, in case he decided to start their tussle again.
"Yes. I think you know it. I think you feel it in your gut," the young man in front of him said, and he was right on that point. "I think you've known it for weeks... longer, really. You knew it when we fought in the graveyard." The 'Hush' incident. "C'mon... You felt it when I switched with Clayface... That fight began with me, but ended with him. But now..." His opponent slowly raised his arms on his sides, as if exposing himself better to the rain and to Bruce, a small smile on his lips. "You know I'm standing right in front of you."
"It's not possible." Again, he stated the logical conclusion, abiding by his principles, his intellect; all his notions.
"No. It really is..." the young man said, like he was guiding him down a path. A path to make the Batman remember that it had happened time and again. People coming back from the dead. It had happened to Superman, it had happened to Green Arrow.
When Bruce's eyes widened ever so slightly, he knew he had finally hit home. "... Jason."
"Yes." He smiled, happy, content with himself.
"How did this happen to you?" Bruce immediately tried to get information. After accepting a seemingly impossible fact, he had to understand the reasons, the procedures. He had to know. Or he had to find a flaw in the logic, in what his 'gut' was telling him.
"That doesn't really matter much, does it? Not to me." Jason took his right glove off, and then knelt down to retrieve one of the batarangs Bruce had thrown at him, always keeping his eyes on his former mentor. "Here. That's fingerprints..." He then brought it to the back of his head, and made a cut with its point, getting some blood and hair on it. "And here's blood... and even tissue..." He then got back on his feet and threw the throwing weapon at Bruce. "Check it all. You'll find out that it is me."
"It won't make me believe," Bruce retorted.
"No. It will," Jason said, his tone firm. "You are a creature of logic and science. You'll have to know what I am, Bruce." He stuffed his hands in his pockets and assumed a carefree posture. "But if I'm a ghost... or a zombie... or a clone... That's not really what this is about."
"Then what is this about?" Ever since resurfacing as the Red Hood, Jason had taken upon himself to declare war on the gangs and criminals of Gotham City, only, his methods were far more ruthless than they used to be. He didn't count out the lethal option. He preferred it for some of them, actually, and he wasn't bothered by also going against any vigilante on his path, as Onyx had discovered at her expense.
"You, Bruce. What you are... and what I'll be," Jason went on.
"Which is what?" Bruce decided to listen.
"You. I'll be you. The you you're supposed to be." Jason raised a hand to his face and pointed at Bruce. He lowered it again as he looked at the walls around him, at the skyscrapers he could see in the distance. "If you had killed Joker... years ago... Beyond what happened to me... You know what? Hell, you would have saved this world. But no. His murder is a long list of sane acts you refuse to commit. You never cross that line." He returned his gaze to Bruce, a placid smile finding its way to his lips. "But I will."
"Death will come to those who deserve death. And death may come to those who stand in my way of doing what's right." His smile faded as his words took a turn for the serious. "All of your adult life you've fought to save Gotham. Save her from herself. But you never, ever, have understood her." Again, he returned his gaze to the buildings around them, as he stuffed his hands in his pockets again. "She's evil. And you have to fight her where she lives. I live there. I'll be the one who finally brings peace."
"No. You won't," Bruce stated. It was a promise. He wouldn't.
"The saddest part..." Jason closed his eyes as he took one of his hands out of his pocket, holding something in his left hand. "Is that you really believe that." There was a loud, echoing beep as he pressed the button on the control switch in his hands. A lower beep was emitted by the helmet he had previously discarded, right before it exploded.
It was enough warning for Bruce to dodge the explosion, along with the fact that it wasn't that powerful. Not powerful enough to kill him. Jason knew that. Bruce knew that he knew. As the smoke and flames cleared, thanks to the rain in an even smaller lax of time, Bruce began looking around, only to find out that Jason had gotten better. He had disappeared. Again. This time, though... He would be back.
"Darn. If dinner was bad, breakfast is even worse..." It was the second breakfast he had had on Oa, and he already had memorized his disgusting taste.
"Heh. Don't worry. I'm sure that Greet will soon learn something more appetizing... Oh?" Guy was the first to notice the floating sphere entering the cafeteria and finding its way to Naruto's face. "Hey. You got mail."
"Uh? The sphere came back?" Naruto blinked. He had sent a message to Tsunade the previous evening, but he believed that the construct would have just faded once his task had been done.
"Yeah. The recipient can record a message of their own once they listen to yours." Kyle explained, making Naruto nod in acknowledgment.
"Ah... I see." The blond turned to the sphere again. "Ehm... play... the recorded reply."
"NARUTO! I SWEAR TO GOD, I'M GOING TO KILL YOU WHEN YOU COME BACK!" The enormous volume of Sakura's voice made the entire cafeteria stop whatever they were doing and turn to Naruto as the message went on and on, his pink-haired team-mate berating him even at distance while other voices tried to calm her down, and Naruto was sinking further and further in his seat while becoming paler and paler. Guy just laughed at his expense.
"Ahahah! Straight out of the second Potter movie!" Kyle raised both eyebrows at that, turning to Guy with a mocking smirk on his face. The red-haired lantern noticed this and turned to his companion. "... What?"
"You saw the Harry Potter movies?"
"... Damn it!"
To be continued...
In the next chapter...
After two weeks of training, because of his particularly high performance, Naruto gets the occasion to 'graduate' early from Ring-slinging 101, via a practical exam: a field mission. But will he be in for more than what he was led to believe? Stay tuned!