"What happened here?" Kyle asked. "Don't tell me the ring just called us in for a forest fire."
He and John were flying over the smoking remains of a forest. The fire had apparently been so hot that many of the trees had been burned to white ash.
"No," John replied, "it said a 315. That's a hostile alien life-form. Ring, trace the source of the disturbance."
John's ring lit up for a moment as it scanned the area. Locking onto the energy signature, it let the pair towards the source. As they approached, they could feel the air getter hotter, even through their force-fields. Suddenly, they spotted the blaze.
"There it is!" John pointed. "I don't know what we're dealing with here, so stay –"
A bolt of fire tore through the air and slammed into Kyle, sending him sprawling backwards!
"Kyle!" John shouted, before immediately having to dodge a blast himself. Then another, then another.
John maneuvered through the sky, jackknifing between fireballs as he worked his way closer to his attacker.
In the heat of the storm, John saw the man. His pale, ghost-white body seemed to manipulate the mounds of fire around him as he smiled at John, his eyes dead and lacking any mirth.
John recognized him instantly.
"Oh, damn…" he groaned.
Concentrating, Effigy withdrew all the random fires from the area, bringing them back into him as his glow intensified. Suddenly, he motioned to John, and four giant dragons, made of living flame, roared at the Green Lantern as they came for him.
John Stewart gritted his teeth and stood his ground. He was prepared to fight until the end.
But just then, four medieval knights, composed of green energy, appeared out of nowhere and sliced off the heads of all four dragons!
John turned to see Kyle, slightly burned with his suit smoking in places, but otherwise fine, directing the actions of the knights.
"What the hell is that thing!" the younger man yelled.
"It's an Effigy. A living fire creature from beyond the 3600 Sectors. Their very presence has been outlawed by the Guardians!"
John and Kyle both dove at the fire-wielder, dodging and attacking simultaneously.
"So what's it doing here?" Kyle shouted.
A look of realization washed over John's face.
"This must be what he meant…"
Instantly, he was standing opposite the cell on Oa, staring at Sinestro's superior smirk.
Earth is such a lovely planet, John Stewart, he had said. Enjoy your trip back home.
"Sinestro must have left this thing here as a time bomb!" he shouted, deflecting yet another fireball.
"Well, let's put it out!" yelled Kyle as he aimed his ring at Effigy.
Suddenly, standing above the fire-creature was a giant Smokey the Bear, with a water bucket the size of a pool, which he quickly poured over Effigy, in hopes of putting out this blaze.
A second later, Effigy's flame erupted again, shattering the bear and blasting back John and Kyle.
"What is the deal with you and the cartoon characters?" John howled.
"I'm an artist, what do you want? It's what I see when I use the ring. Why do you only use it to fire lasers and fly?"
Is that why the Guardians are so interested in this kid? John thought. Because he does things with the ring no other Lantern has thought of before?
"How do we beat this thing?" Kyle called, breaking John's train of thought.
"It's a parasite!" he answered. "It needs its host to survive. If we can take out the man, the beast will lose power!"
"But we can't kill him!" Kyle cried.
"We don't have to," John said, launching himself into the sky. "We just have to lure the monster out of him!"
Effigy sent another few bolts after him, following him higher and higher into the sky.
"He doesn't have an infinite amount of fire," John explained to Kyle over the ring's communication system. "He IS the fire. And if I can draw enough of it out, I can weaken the host enough for you to clobber him!"
As the trail lengthened, the strength of the flame seemed to fade, and the man at the bottom began to wobble on his feet.
"I think it's working," Kyle called. "It looks like he's getting tired."
"Then hit him!" John shouted, still running. "And this time, no cartoon characters!"
Kyle charged up his ring and flew at the Effigy-possessed man, whose power was quickly leaving him.
"Okay," he smiled. "I've got this!"
Kyle took a swing at Effigy, his ring-hand surrounded by an enormous amount of green energy, in the shape of a large boxing glove.
The crack of power was almost deafening, at the poor man was hurled away from the blast, knocking loose his connection to the Effigy.
The trail of fire that followed John Stewart into the sky quickly diminished and fell back to Earth, turning into nothing more than a small spark, which Kyle quickly contained like a firefly in a jar of energy.
John wiped the sweat from his forehead. "Whew," he sighed.
A little while later, John Stewart slung the unconscious man over his shoulder and shook Kyle's free hand.
"Give that little fellow to the Guardians when you get to Oa," he was saying, "You'll probably get a promotion. I've got to get this guy to a hospital."
"Thanks for everything, John," Kyle said. "I couldn't have done it without you."
"I think you probably could have," John smiled. "You make a hell of a Lantern, kid. But seriously, no more cartoon characters."
"Alright. But only if you promise to use your ring for more than just lasers!"
"Hey, I may not think outside the box," John said, "but I am Hell inside the box!"
With that, Kyle laughed and flew off. "See you around. I hope you like living on Earth again."
John rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, maybe if I find something worth sticking around for," he sighed and flew off in the other direction.
A fair distance away, his going was observed by a sharp pair of eyes as a woman transmitted the image on her screen to her superior.
"Opening assessment complete, sir," she said. "It seems the rumors are true. The Guardians have sent in one of the Honor Guard to replace the rookie. Together they managed to defeat the Effigy easily. Awaiting further orders."
"Continue with the mission as planned," a voice crackled over the radio. "Observation only. Contact will have to wait until this new threat can be assessed. Over and out, Commander Hol."
"Very well, sir," Shayera Hol answered, closing communications.
She fitted her helmet to her head, and picked up her mace. Looking towards the heaves, Hawgirl spread her wings and rose into the air to explore her new world.
Well, that's it. Hoped you all enjoyed reading it.
I've hade a lot of these ideas for a while, about how Kyle and John switched places before the Justice League cartoon, and mentioning why John only used the ring to fire lasers in the first few season. And I always wanted to write them up. Hopefully this was an entertaining story on its own.
Thanks for reading and let me know what you thought.