CHAPTER 6 – New Recruit
Thaal had awakened in his bedroom much in the same manner he always awakened. He followed the same routine as he always followed. From an outsiders' perspective his routinely behavior would seem dull and without life. But Thaal had no problem living a life so strictly. It gave his life order, and if there was something he valued above anything it was order. He took the same route to the Institute, passing by the familiar square remembering that moment well over a year ago.
It had all felt so surreal. A Green Lantern, come to their planet? And she had been looking for him! He had been looking forward to a new life, to find a greater calling. They had completed a mission and he had thought to make up whatever blunder he might have done to upset her. But he had awoken the next day to find that his ring had vanished from his finger. Thaal had never removed it, even in his sleep. He searched his room and the entire manor frantically as his father looked upon him worryingly. When his search was fruitless, he held out hope that she would return, even climbing and sweating up the same peak each week. But Jewelius never came back.
And so, it was a year passed and Thaal found himself back at his old life. Not that he resented his old life. He very much enjoyed searching through documents, digging for ancient artifacts, and reading history. However, the past few months have sapped any joy he once experienced in his work. The work on the mysterious carving yielded no results, and he had to abandon it. Frool was quite glad to drop the assignment, and he had quickly latched onto another project. His excavation team had unearthed a village that added tremendously to the Institute's study of the area. In the past few months, he had published a paper on his findings, presented a lecture at a conference with some the greatest academic minds in three star systems, and appeared to be on his way to achieving the most prestigious academic award on the planet.
Thaal had to endure his gloating every day since then. With nothing else on that scale of success to his record, he hadn't much to argue with Frool. Fortunately, the head of the Institute was a considerate man. He had always treated Thaal well, and because his father, Tigue, helped fund most of their programs, Thaal was given some amount of leniency. Although, Thaal truly wished he hadn't. It would only encourage others to think he had achieved nothing based on his own merit, and he hated that. The Institute's head had expressed his despondence as well when Thaal's original research came to a halt.
He sat upon his arm chair, skimmed over the report Thaal had given him, then looked at him and said, "I'm sorry it had to end that way for you Thaal. You are incredibly diligent. But truthfully, your recent work has been… less than remarkable." He hesitated at the last words.
The words had hit Thaal with a pang. Frool had heard of the meeting and had taken to repeating the words, "Diligent but unremarkable" at every opportunity he saw him. Afterwards, Thaal had been given another assignment. This one was to restore a small portion of an ancient temple. From then onwards, Thaal had worked extra hard on his new assignment, determined to shut up Frool's gloating face.
It had been a bright and sunny day. The good weather raised his spirit somewhat, and Thaal gazed proudly upon his work. The temple's restoration was nearly completed. He thought to capture a few good photos of the temple before continuing, until a great crash stopped him in his tracks.
Thaal let out a shout of frustration and grief as he ran towards the wreckage. He was nearly complete, but now all his careful labors had been undone, reduced to ruin by the impact. A cloud of smoke and dust had risen above the wreckage and when it dispersed, a crater had formed. Thaal held his breath, his eyes widening. There in the crater, sprawled amid the rubble, he saw a Green Lantern.
He slid into the crater, carefully as he could, so as not to cause any further harm. This Lantern was different from Jewelius. He was smaller with squat legs and tentacle fingers. Great blue eyes opened to stare upon Thaal.
Broken but clinging to consciousness, he beckoned for Thaal to come near. Thaal crouched beside the small Lantern, cradling his head in one of his hands. The Lantern clutched at him, drew him near, and in a singsong, sibilant whisper of his voice, warned him, "Time is short… The danger grave." The Lantern coughed. Thaal held him close, to better hear. "Please… Be worthy… Of this ring." Then he pressed upon Thaal his symbol of authority. The familiar green bands of light wove around Thaal like a comfortable article of clothing he might have worn once or twice long ago.
"What is the dan—" No sooner had he began his question, a bright yellow light greeted him. Thaal laid the Lantern down gently and turned to meet his opponent. He was confronted with the fallen Lantern's pursuer—a man dressed in golden armor stood just several meters away in the crater. In his right hand, he held a golden shield and the left a bolt of lightning. The fearsome man made no point to give his name. Immediately, he hurled his bolt at Thaal. It had been so long since Thaal wielded the ring and the swiftness in the attack caught him off guard. He reacted instinctually by raising his arms.
Then he remembered he could give himself protection in the form of a shield; and so a shield was conjured before him. But when he pulled up a shield, no sooner did it shatter when it met with the bolt.
Thaal fired a round of blasts as he flew further away from the wreckage. But strangely, the blasts proved ineffective. Not even the slightest scratch could be seen on the shield. Faced with the realization that his ring was useless against his foe, Thaal followed the course logic dictated. If I can't use my ring to defeat him… Flying far above the rubble, he headed into the deepness of the temple ruins. The golden helmed man promptly followed.
It was complete darkness in the inner chamber, save for Thaal's glowing green body. Wanting to lay a trap meant he mustn't be seen, so Thaal instead found a space enough to cover his distracting light. A great stomping of feet entered the chamber, along with an echoing shout, "Come out and die, Lantern!"
Thaal couldn't be sure of the position of the enemy. He didn't want to raise his head to see and risk giving away his position. Gripping his ring tightly, he decided to take a gamble. He raised his hand to the ceiling and sent out a pulsing light, but before it hit the very top, the light separated into numerous bands that flew across the room. Each band of light attacked the very pillars that held up the temple itself. The golden man let out a yelp of surprise; he had been lured into his own tomb. The exit was much too far from him. He tried instead to shield himself from the collapsing structure, but it proved to be feeble protection. Thaal too raised a shield above himself, but unlike that of his opponent's, Thaal's shield was made from the most powerful source of energy in the universe.
When the ruins completely fell, Thaal flew out of the even larger rubble, to survey the destruction he caused. Still beholding the destruction, he returned to the side of the fallen Green Lantern.
"I, Prohl Gosgotha… give you… my sincerest thanks," he said in slow, gasping intervals. "Now… I will require… my ring. It will prolong… my life… for a while, until… help arrives." He stretched out his tentacle arm towards Thaal.
Thaal held his ring hand, gazed at the insignia closely then stared back at Prohl. He had waited so long for this moment, and to have it elude him once more was not something he could accept.
"I must… resume my duties… as Green Lantern!" Prohl stated. Perhaps he could sense the desire in Thaal, because Prohl's pleas began to sound more desperate. The Lantern's big blue eyes stared pleadingly at Thaal. His gasping became more severe. Before his last breath, Thaal kneeled in front of Prohl and said to him, "Don't worry, I'll take over your duties. I will be Green Lantern."
A slight jerk of his body made him turn over and he was completely still. The green bands of light dispersed from his body. Thaal looked for a moment longer at Prohl's dead body, and then the ring at his hand began glowing anew. It spoke to him, the only words he wanted to hear: "Thaal Sinestro of Korugar, of Space Sector 1417, you have the ability to overcome great fear. Welcome to the Green Lantern Corps."
A thought had occurred to him. I can accomplish so much with this… Apologies my predecessor. It had to be done. He surveyed the area again, and just as he done earlier—the action that reduced the site to rubble, so he did again the reverse. Gathering every piece of the ruins that his ring located, he pieced them together, rebuilding the temple to its former glory. So pristine was the image of the restored temple, a passerby might have believed it to be a recent construction.
The abnormal events of the day haven't ended yet. Yet another flash of light introduced Thaal to another very powerful being. A small blue man appeared before Thaal. Upon his red robe a Green Lantern symbol was emblazoned; he was certainly an ally.
He noticed Prohl at Thaal's feet and sighed sadly, "It is always terrible to lose a fine officer." Then his gaze turned to Thaal. "But we have earned a new recruit. I am Ganthet, a Guardian of the Universe. Tell me young man, how you came to have that ring…"
Thaal told Ganthet the story completely. For a moment, the Guardian contemplated the temple, then, "The death of the Qwardian is unfortunate. But if there was no other choice, then the result is understandable. As for Prohl's death," he paused, looking squarely at Thaal, "it is the complete truth?"
"He was beyond help." Thaal stated firmly.
"Very well," Ganthet said finally. "You have proven yourself against one of our greatest foes. The Qwardians won't stop until we and our corps are eliminated. Therefore, it is best if you return to my home planet for training purposes."
"We are truly going to Oa then?" Thaal inquired.
"All new recruits deserve a proper induction." And with that note, the two set off to Oa. A new light shined for Thaal that day. A new dawn awaits him for his emergence as the greatest.
The story continues in Green Lantern: 1417!
The entirety of this chapter takes place in Secret Origins of Super-Villains #1 (Dec 1999). It does however, have several embellishments made by me.