RINGS AND LANTERNS
by Mitch Wells -- firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a day just like any other day. The rocks were in their usual
jagged positions, the stars were black, and there were screams from a
nearby village. Power Ring turned to that direction and smiled.
Ultraman must be givin' them a week's worth of pain, he thought to
himself. He also knew that, when it came to Ultraman, pain meant a lot.
Power Ring breathed in the polluted air and kicked one of the rocks on
the barren soil with his boot. He loved life on Qward. Being in the
center of the Universe made him feel that Qwardians like himself were
important. Being in the Crime Syndicate made him feel important, too. It
was the highest dream of the greatest rulers of Qward to eliminate
Justice and order. Ring had always felt he was part of that dream in
some mysterious way, but didn't know what to do about it until Volthoom
gave him that talsman. Ring remembered the old monk's last words to him.
"Here! Take it! It will give you power over everything known! You must
use in opposition to the law and to Justice! You will be matched only by
two others and they don't even exist in this Universe!" Ring rememered
wondering what the mystic meant by "this Universe" and who those "two
others" could be. Well, thought Ring, the old man WAS a little loose in
the cranium. Volthoom must have been dreaming. Then again, he WAS right
about the powers Ring now had. He would have been unmatched on Qward, if
it weren't for those other four super-busy-bodies. Well, thought Power
Ring, I guess I'd be otherwise lonly.
The Crime Syndicate was busy. They were spending the afternoon
disposing of a tank turrent and convoy that had been sent by the Qwardian
resistance to elliminate them and oppose their martial law over them all.
Ultraman, the Qwardian Man of Steel, laughed as the army's feeble
weapons bounced off his body with no effect. He then gave the tank a
mighty shove with his great strength.
"They don't make freedom fighters
like they used to," he said to Superwoman. The Quardian Amazon simply
shrugged, wondering why she put up with him as she caught a bundle of
troops with her near Ultraman-class strength and Magic Boa. The Fastest
Man on Qward, Johnny Quick, was busy disarming the troops that were, one
second ago, surrounding him. After the "clean up", the Syndicate looked
and around and saw what their actions had caused. Homes were destroyed
and people were panicking. Of all the Syndicators, it was Ultraman who
felt the greatest amount of satisfaction. This had been a fine day for
"Hey," shouted Johnny Quick, "where's Owlman?"
"Oh, he's off
trying to mentally control the leader of this bunch into surrendering to
us," said Superwoman. Just then, Owlman appeared with a satisfied look
on his face and the resistance leader. The leader was brought to
Superwoman and, on his knees, begged to the Amazing Amazon of Qward, for
forgiveness for trying to thwart the will of the legendary Crime Syndicate
of Qward. Johnny, who was the hardest of the villians to satisfy, seemed
content until he remembered someone else.
"Hey!" Quick said again,
"Where's Power Ring?"
"Ring took the day off to 'find himself'," said
"Well," said Ultraman with a smile, "he sure missed out on a
lot of fun!"
Power Ring was now walking across the barren Qwardian countryside.
Of course, there were no crops being grown since all food on Qward was
manufactured. "Countrysides" had been vacant for thousands of years. In
fact, to most Qwardians, naturally grown food was a myth thought up by
their ancestors. Ring knew better. He accidently discovered these
ancient lands when he was a kid. He almost wish he hadn't though. He
hated learning useless knowledge.
The only thing he wanted to learn about now was himself. He couldn't
figure out why he was feeling bored lately. Had destroying Qwardian
villages and smashing resistance camps losing its thrill? Being the most
powerful member of the Crime Syndicate next to Ultraman himself had its
benefits, but it also had its moments of dullness, moments only someone
in his white boots would know about. When you had the most powerful
weapon on your planet, powered by MAGIC no less, what could stop you?
What could challenge you? Nothing, thought Ring, answering his own
question. Absolutly nothing.
Something then appeared in his mind, namely a question. Where did
Volthoom get that magic talsman anyway? Did the old wizard make it
himself, or did he just find. Come to think of it, why didn't the madman
use it himself? Why let someone else have this baby to torture a few
innocents with and rob entire village treasuries?
Then Ring remembered that the old man was crazy. By Qward, he even
thought that there where two other guys who could match him. Even
Volthoom admitted that they didn't exsist...
In this Universe, thought Power Ring, stopping his walk. Could there
have been... OTHER Universes, with other planets BESIDES Qward? It
seemed maddening. It seemed to be an impossable thought. After millons
of years knowing that THEY were the only beings in exsistance, who on
Qward WHOULD accept such nonsence. Oh, sure, there where the
countrysides, and the super-powers of the Crime Syndicate, but other
Universes, other WORLDS...
Then again, thought Ring, he was right about the talsman. He desided
to give it a test. "Talsman," he announced, pointing it in front of
himself, "show me the 'others'." A green ray came out of the talsman,
opening a round window. In that window he saw a world with a BLUE sky!
Blue, a color Ring thought only exsisted on Ultraman's costume. Also in
the strange vision was a fellow who reminded Power Ring of himself,
except he a costume that was more green than his, had a differently
shaped imblem on his chest, and...HAIR! It was a man with HAIR! On
Qward, only the woman had hair, and even then it was almost always black
hair with a ponytail. This stranger had hair...that was an even darker
shade of brown than Owl-Man's cowl! After the shock of noticing how
alien this man was, Power Ring than noticed that the man was
literaly FLYING...and wearing a green ring on his hand shaped like the
symbol on the stranger's chest. Then the vision changed. Now Ring saw a
BLOND haired man in a red shirt, green pants, and a purple cape and mask.
This guy ALSO had a ring like his talsman, except it was on his left
Ring stood there thinking. There WERE other worlds, other people
with powers like his own. For a moment, Power Ring no longer felt unique
like he always had. Come to think of it, no one on Qward would feel
unique if they found out about this. Then he had an idea, an inspiration
that quickly got his ego going again. He would go to that world, take on
those guys, whoever they were, and be that world's most powerful being!
It was a beautiful thought in Power Ring's mind. He decided not to let
the rest of the Crime Syndicate know about this. Why conquer the world if
you have to share it? That's what he had BEEN doing since he met those
guys! He was now far from the village his "buddies" were pulverizing, it
was safe to try it. He pointed his talsman and willed harder than he
ever did before. Aportal opened up in front of him, showing that newly
discovered, bizzare world. Power Ring turned around and smiled, thinking
of all the fun his partners in crime would miss. Ring than turned to the
portal and jumped in. The portal closed behind him.
It was a scorching day in Coast City, California, but it usually
was. At the Ferris Aircraft Company, Hal Jorden, number one test pilot,
was fixing his personally designed flightless trainer...again. It had
been almost a year since the last time he fixed this thing...or almost
did. He had been busy with his life as a test pilot...and as Green
Hal smiled at himself, thinking of the adventures he had after
receiving his power ring and battery from the late Abin Sur, a patrolman
from space. Hal knew he was right for the job since Abin said he needed
a fearless and honest successor, but Hal never knew he could adapt and
even enjoy the role of being a hero so much.
Hal had sometimes heard of other heroes before him. From the 1940s to
the 1950s, there was a team of heroes called the Justice Society of
America with members like the original Atom, Flash, and... Green Lantern.
This was something that had been puzzling Hal. Who was the first
Green Lantern? Was there a connection between them? That guy didn't
dress like Abin or himself but his powers were so similar to their own.
Well, maybe it was chance that they were so similar. Then again, when he
thought of the new Flash and the new Atom...
Hal figured he should forget about it for now and get back to his
trainer. It was a good thing that the company gave him a lease on it,
knowing he was busy on their other projects. What they didn't know was
that he was spending an equal amount of time saving the world as Green
Soon, the task was done. The trainer was fixed. Hal hoped that he
wasn't hindering the space program in any way by having this baby stalled
in production. Well, at least he can rest...
Then Hal remembered and checked his watch. "Time for the Justice
League meeting," he said to himself.
Hal headed back to the hanger. Along the way he passed a plane his
Eskimo pal, "Pieface", was working on.
"Hey Hal," called Pie, "You going
on patrol?" Hal smiled, Pie and police scientist Barry Allen were the
only people in the world who knew his other identity.
"Not quite, Pie,"
he called, "I just need to keep an appointment." Pieface went back to
what he was doing.
"Well, whatever, but you know what the boss thinks
about your departures." Hal never really saw Carol Ferris as his
boss, just a woman he had a crush on who was placed in a position of
power that put him in the most awkward of positions.
"Oh," said Hal to
Pieface, "all she needs a push in the right direction."
In the hanger, Hal found his locker. After opening it, he pointed
his lantern-shaped ring at an apparently empty space. Then the
invisibility shield that kept the green, lantern-shaped Power Battery
unseen by all except Hal Jorden, lifted. As the ring touched the
Battery, the young test pilot's uniform transformed into a green and
black costume with white gloves. It was the same suit that Abin Sur
wore, but with one exception. On Hal Jorden's face appeared a green
mask. It was added to the suit to keep the resident of Coast City from
being recognized. Now, as the hero known to all of Coast City as Green
Lantern, Hal recited his oath. "In brightest day...," Hal remembered
being blinded by a magnesium flare by criminals, "in blackest night," he
remembered having to trail crooks despite a cover of darkness, "no evil
shall escape my sight!", the memory of "impossibly" trailing crooks loose
on the Ferris Arcraft grounds came back to him, "Let those who worship
evil's might beware my power--Green Lantern's light!" After the Battery
had charged his ring, Hal let an envelope of energy cover and then
propel his body into the air.
Hal couldn't be happier. He always did like flying. The thrill, the
adrinaline rush, the just plain 'propulsion', this is what he loved. He
always thought that he loved flying more than most people. That was the
whole reason he got his job at Ferris Aircraft Company. It was also one
of his favorite parts about being a Green Lantern. The other favorite
part of the job was the fame. However, there was one thing he loved
about his role that he knew was more important than flight or fame, the
opportunity to do something for his city. He remembered saving Coast
City from the nuclear fury of the "unreal" Invisible Destroyer. Green
Lantern had wondered since that day about what would have happened if he
hadn't stopped that nuclear explosion...
Lantern shook it off. He didn't want to bring himself down. He
wanted to be his usual optimistic self at the meeting. Later, at a
secluded cave near Happy Harbor, Rhode Island, Green Lantern landed and
the energy around him dissolved. By now, inside that cave were people
like himself, individuals given strange powers by chance and then
dedicated themselves to help those in need. It was Lantern's home away
from Coast City. It was the Secret Sanctuary, home of the Justice League
Green Lantern entered the Justice League Mountain, also called the
Secret Sanctuary. It seemed like a normal cave in a mountain near the
city of Happy Harbor, but it was actually a silica macrochip, a device
that was storing data. GL walked in and saw the conference table. As
usual, the Flash was at the head of the table, which was an awkward thing
to say since they had a round table. "Well, GL," said the red-masked
speedster, "ready to start the meeting?" "Seems like an awkward
meeting," said Green Lantern, since we're the only ones here." "Now
don't get me mad," said an unseen but familar voice, "You know I have the
strength of a guy several times my size." Lantern looked down and saw,
in a six-inch chair imbedded in the cavern wall, the blue-masked,
six-inch Atom, the World's Smallest Hero.
"Sorry, Atom," said Lantern, "I'm sort of used to seing you sitting
on someone else's shoulders." "I haven't been in this game quite as long
as you two," said the Atom, "but I've been around long enough to get my
own seat." The Atom relaxed in his chair as GL took his. Atom was
right, though. Lantern had heard that the Mighty Mite had started his
crime-busting adventures a year after himself and Barry Allen. Barry
Allen was, of course, the Flash. The two of them were best friends in
the crime-fighting business and kept the secret of each other's identity
from most of the world. Lantern couldn't figure Barry out sometimes,
since he was always so logical and passed for a guy who could run at the
speed of sound. As Barry, Flash was a police scientist who was always
slower than others until a freak lightning bolt hit him and a chemical
cabinet and somehow gave him super-speed. What GL couldn't figure was
why this guy still acted slow when he was out of his costume and into his
lab coat. He knew this guy had an identity to protect just as he did,
Actually, GL was secretly a little jealous of the Flash. Barry
Allen got engaged sometime before the accident and the guy didn't tell
his fiancee the speedy secret yet, but planned to someday but not soon,
because she loved the normal Barry Allen and not the Flash. GL almost
hoped that a situation like that could happen to him. Carol Ferris
loved Green Lantern and not Hal Jorden. Lantern had always hoped that it
would be the ringless Hal that would win her heart at the end. Still, GL
didn't let any of these feelings show as the Flash, as the Justice League
of America's chairman turned on the radio in order to hear any and all
To Be Continued...
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