Too Many Long Boxes!
   
   

End of Summer
 

JUSTICE LEAGUE: ARMAGEDDON
by Matt Fusari

Foreword

I REALLY CAN’T TAKE CREDIT FOR ANY OF THIS NOVEL. Sure, I wrote it and the events described in this novel come from me, but I’m not really entitled to say its mine because it’s based upon the various adaptations of characters belonging to DC comics. This work is inspired by the works of many talented writers, artists, and animators. Among them are; Andrew Helfer, Kevin Dooley, Frank Miller, John Byrne, Julius Schwartz, Jim Aparo, Paul Dini, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.

  The only possible exceptions to this are the primary hero and villain of this Justice League elseworlds, though this falls into a gray area because I created those characters as part of the DC heroes role playing game that a good friend of mine got me into back in 1991.

 Yet, it’s a novel I needed to write. For a long time now, I’ve had a story in mind for DC heroes that I wanted to game with my friends. Because of time constraints and the constant assault of reality on my senses, my friends and I were never really able to get the game off the ground. This really bummed me out because I was planning the mother of all games. This game would not only incorporate the clearly lined good v. evil Superfriends cartoons I loved (and still love) from my childhood, but against the backdrop of current events it would also blend in the intricacies and grit of the modern comic book.

 Using my friend’s continuity as a guide, I created a timeline based upon some of our earlier gaming sessions and wove in other elements from television and the comics. In this reality, the events of the cartoon series Challenge of the Superfriends, are part of Justice League history, though the moniker “Superfriends” was given to the JLA by the tabloids. These events happened in the mid 1980’s, not in the 70’s when they aired, though with some minor differences. In this reality, Lex Luthor was the unseen power behind the Legion of Doom’s exploits, though his connection to them was never proven. The events of Batman: The Animated Series, and the Batman related titles are also part of my continuity, as are the events of the comic Green Lantern, series 1&2.

 The Justice League International is still intact under the guidance of Max Lord. It is an amalgam of the issues edited by Kevin Dooley, when the League was done for laughs, and the Frank Miller influence of The Dark Knight Returns. The League’s roster consists of characters from those issues and the roster from my DC heroes timeline, Superman, Batman, Hawkman, Flash, and two Green Lanterns, the Golden Age GL, Alan Scott, and a Green Lantern I created named Marty Lynch.

 Marty Lynch, one of the featured heroes of this story, was born because of my discomfort in playing Hal Jordan, my favorite Green Lantern. When I first started playing the game, I had overdosed on collecting Green Lantern comics. You see, Green Lantern was one of the first comic books I owned when I was a kid, and other than Batman, he was the premiere comic book hero. I thought he had the coolest looking costume and powers, which were almost without limit. The only weaknesses he had were the color yellow and his need to recharge his ring once every 24 hours. Other than that, he was mortal, and I used to fantasize what it would be like to have his ring. So when I had the opportunity, I played Hal Jordan in the DC heroes role playing game.

 It wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I had some trouble playing Hal. For one thing, my GM and I had two different interpretations on how to play Jordan. At the time we started the game, it was during the first issues of the current Green Lantern series, when Hal Jordan was going through a mid-life crisis. The Green Lantern Corps was gone, only John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and an alien squirrel named Ch’p kept their power rings after the Central Power Battery imploded in issue#224 of The Green Lantern Corps. Hal was in his wandering phase, trying to redefine himself as a man and leave the superhero he was to posterity. My GM, Steve, had a different scheme in mind. In his continuity, the Guardians of the Universe had returned from their interdimensional sanctuary and restored the Green Lantern Corps, with Hal reestablishing himself as one of the DC Universe’s greatest heroes. Our ideas clashed.

 Then, there was Emerald Twilight. In this story, because of the death and resurrection of Superman, Hal Jordan went insane and usurped the power of the Guardians to became Parallax, who wanted to erase reality as we knew it (comic book reality, that is) and make everything the way he wanted it. Steve, being a diehard Green Lantern fan, could not accept Hal Jordan going insane, that it was completely out of character. “Hal is one of the most stable heroes in the DC Universe,” Steve said. “He would never do anything like this.”

 I had a different view. I thought that it was not only possible for Hal to go insane, but I could cite many examples, beginning in Green Lantern/Green Arrow#76, which would put him in direct violation of the Guardians directives. Also, if you’ve read Emerald Dawn, Hal was a borderline alcoholic. Why couldn’t he snap?

 The one thing Steve and I did agree on was that Emerald Twilight could have been given the epic treatment of the death of Superman. I thought it was wrong that DC Comics threw out one of their core characters without giving him a proper send off. In response to this came a story called “Whose Nightmare Is It, Anyway?”, which we gamed. In this story, Hal was stripped of his power ring when it appeared that he was going insane. This turned out to be a plot by Darksied to get rid of him, the Guardians, and the Corps. While I planned to have Hal regain his ring in another story and lead the Corps in a war against Darksied, for the time being we were without a Green Lantern. Temporarily at least. A short time after the loss of Hal, a new player to our game expressed an interest in playing the golden age GL, Alan Scott.

 But I still wanted to play Green Lantern. So, on a hot, mosquito infested summer night, we came up with a new character for me, a Green Lantern named Marty Lynch.

 Marty is also an amalgamation. He has a lot of my anxiety, Guy Gardner’s anger, and intelligence of John Stewart. Just for laughs, I adopted the oath of another Green Lantern, Jack T. Chance, a small time alien hood. Marty, at the time of the story, he was an out of work, computer programmer who just lost his apartment. The ring and a dented power battery were dropped on him one day, and an attempt to get rid of it brought him to the doorstep of the Justice League. A loose cannon who constantly questions his contemporaries motives, the 25 year old Lynch was a different sort of Lantern. Unlike Hal, John, or Guy, he didn’t want the ring or the responsibilities that came with it, and maintains a shaky relationship with the other members of the JLA. He’s a young man prepared to break ranks to satisfy what he views as justice, even if it clashes with Superman. Unlike Guy Gardner, can hold his own with Batman whom he has called “fascist” more than once. This story is his coming of age and the expression of my childhood fantasies.

 I hope you like it.

JUSTICE LEAGUE: ARMAGEDDON
by Matt Fusari

Prologue

“Six hours ago, we lost all contact with Justice League Antarctica,” Max Lord said quietly, as he flicked the ashes from his cigar into an ashtray on his desk.

“It’s probably just a communication’s failure, Max,” said Wally West, a.k.a. the Flash. “I mean, what really happens in Antarctica?”

“Even so, I want it checked out, Wally. After someone successfully managed to hack our computer network and infect it with a computer virus, we can’t be too careful — even if Justice League Antarctica is a bunch of idiots.”

Wally’s eyes rolled under his winged, scarlet mask. He had a feeling where this discussion was leading. Naturally, he was the one who was going to have to check out the League’s most inept and least popular outpost for problems.

“And you want me to check it out, right?” Wally said, not wanting to delay the inevitable request.

Surely enough, Max smiled wryly at the Flash.

“But — but I have a date with Linda,” Wally babbled halfheartedly, trying to get out of the assignment. There was no way he was going to Antarctica.

“So take her with you.”

“Max, you said it yourself. They’re a bunch of idiots.”

“True,” Max broke in, “but they’re our idiots. And like you said, it’s probably just a communication’s failure. Besides, with your speed, the most it’ll take you is a half hour.”

Flash sighed bitterly. There was no way he was going to get out of this one, or so he thought, until Marty Lynch barged into Max’s office with yet another personal crisis.

“Max! Accounting screwed up my paycheck again!”

And sometime later, Marty Lynch was in flight over South America, in transit to the Justice League International’s most inept and least popular outpost.


“You had to open your mouth, didn’t you, Marty?” the rookie Green Lantern said angrily. Upon his arrival in Lord’s office, Max immediately relieved the Flash of the Antarctica assignment and gave it to Marty, seeing the perfect opportunity to get rid of him for a few hours. Unlike his predecessor, Hal Jordan, Max had no patience for the young Green Lantern, thrust on the League in the aftermath of its strangest and most disturbing mission. In the seven months that Marty had wielded the ring, Marty had done little to inspire Max’s or his teammates’ confidence. With the exceptions of Flash and the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, Marty’s interaction with the team had been at best uneasy, and at its worst Marty was a royal pain in the ass. Justified or not, Marty complained just about everything, and when he wasn’t complaining, he was an opinionated, loose cannon who was bound to embarrass the JLI, or worse, Max, if he didn’t keep Marty under control.

Not that Marty cared. To him, whatever craziness happened he wasn’t concerned about. Seven months ago, no one asked him if he wanted to be Green Lantern. The ring and a dented power battery were forced on him, and if Marty embarrassed Max, big deal. The ring didn’t come with instructions, and to this day, the seemingly all powerful Guardians of the Universe never bothered telling him what he was supposed to do. Even worse, Hal Jordan, his great and legendary predecessor, didn’t see fit to show him what to do. Marty was on his own with the ring since day one. Though Alan Scott helped him with the rough spots at first, as a Green Lantern Marty Lynch was a solo act.

“This really sucks,” Marty sighed bitterly, as he departed the Earth’s lower tropic zone. He heard about JLAnt from the Flash. It was the worst assignment in the JLI, where heroes who screwed up or heroes who were screw-ups were assigned, and Marty didn’t want to spend a relatively relaxing Saturday down there. Worse, Marty didn’t want to fly down there and find out ever so suddenly that this was his new assignment. G’nort, the outpost’s Green Lantern, had also departed Earth to join the Guardians armada against Apokolips, and there was an opening.

About 20 minutes later, Marty arrived in Antarctica. The League outpost was but a scant three miles away now, and to save himself some time, Marty reached for his communicator and called JLAnt. Maybe he could establish contact with them and head back home.

“This is Mar- Green Lantern calling Justice League Antarctica,” Marty said, still not out of the habit of giving his real name when contacting other heroes. Unlike the other Justice League members, Marty didn’t want his true identity to be public knowledge. What little family he did have, that he got along with, didn’t need the aggravation or the potential danger of having a superhero in the family.

Besides, it might be better to sound official. To this day, Marty had not met any of the members of JLAnt. How would they react to someone who sounded like some punk kid?

Marty released the send button to hear static on his communicator.

“This is Green Lantern calling Justice League Antarctica,” he repeated, and again heard static.

“Okay, sparing myself a trip is out,” Marty sighed, as he sped up his pace. A few seconds later, Marty arrived at the compound for Justice League Antarctica.

Or rather, its remains.

Marty arrived at the compound to see smoke rising from its decimated ruins. The vicinity looked like it had been bombed back to the Stone Age. Whatever complaints he had about the mission quickly faded into concern for teammates he had never met. Without thinking, Marty scanned the area with his ring for signs of life. It found none.

Marty’s tension began to mount. Maybe something yellow that I can’t see in the immediate area is blocking my beam, he told himself, but as Marty physically walked through the ruins, there was no possibility of that. Everything in Marty’s sight was a blackened cinder.

“Hello!” Marty called out. “Can anyone hear me?”

No one answered.

Marty was getting scared. In his time as a Green Lantern, he had not witnessed destruction on this scale, nor did he expect it.

Nothing ever happens in Antarctica, that’s what Marty heard Wally say just before he barged into Max’s office.

“Hello!” Marty called again.

No answer, and frantically, Marty searched for any possible signs of life. There had to be someone still alive!

There wasn’t. Mere seconds into his search, Marty stumbled onto the first of several bodies. It was a large, stupid looking man in a tattered purple costume. Beside him were several others, whom Marty didn’t know. Some were burned beyond recognition, others beaten to bloody pulps and thrown about like rotten meat.

“Oh, my God,” Marty choked, and he as he reached for his communicator, he violently trembled.

Back in New York, at JLA headquarters, a bored Blue Beetle stared blankly at the monitor screen in the communications section of the building. Again, he dealt with another assigned round of monitor duty with his usual disdain, next to what Marty Lynch was doing for Max, this was the worst League assignment. He couldn’t wait until his shift was over so he could pop in front of the TV and watch Nick at Night. The Odd Couple was debuting tonight with an “odd night” marathon, and he didn’t want to miss it.

He softly started to hum the theme to the show to alleviate his boredom when Marty Lynch called in, demanding to speak to Max.

Max sighed bitterly. “I knew it was too good to last,” he said, extinguishing his cigar. “Put him through, Beetle.”

Marty’s voice cracked on Max’s desktop communicator. He sounded uncharacteristically discomfited, almost like a state of shock.

“Marty, are you in Antarctica?”

“Yes,” Marty whispered.

Max was starting to feel uneasy. “Marty, is there something wrong?”

“That doesn’t even begin to describe it, Max.”

Max’s tone became more grave.

“Marty, what’s wrong?”

“They’re dead, they’re all dead!” Marty responded, unable to contain his emotions any longer. “Max, they’re-!”

Max’s jaw dropped in horror.

”What?!”

 Marty’s voice dropped to a bereaved whisper. “They’re gone, Max. Justice League Antarctica has been wiped out.”


Major Disaster. Clock King. Big Sir. “The Mighty Bruce.” Their names didn’t inspire confidence, but the feelings they did inspire were genuine. Sorrow was in the air for these fallen Justice Leaguers, despite the fact they were a bunch of second string villains turned second string heroes.

And for Captain Atom, the division’s leader, the weight of his death was considerably heavier, particularly for the members of Justice League Europe. Several hours after Marty called in, Power Girl, J’onn J’onzz, the Elongated Man, and Rocket Red gathered along with Justice League America to investigate their comrades murders and return them to their next of kin for burial. Power Girl looked at his corpse, desperately struggling to keep from falling apart. It was horribly burned and disfigured, the only thing separating it from the other incinerated remains was a set of charred dog tags, bearing the name, rank, and serial number of Nathaniel Adam, Captain Atom’s real name.

J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, stood by Power Girl, his head bowed in solemn memorial.

“I can’t believe he’s dead, J’onn.” Power Girl whispered. “I … I …”

“I share your grief, Kara. I’m also at a loss for words.”

“For Cap, maybe,” the Elongated Man broke in. “But for the Injustice League? These guys were-”.

“That’s enough, Ralph,” Max Lord interjected, as he covered Captain Atom’s body with a blanket. He waved on the medical team to take care of the bodies.

“Bring them back to New York. Let me know the minute you find out how they died.”

“Okay, Mr. Lord,” the chief technician said, and his crew went to work.

“I know we didn’t think much of this team. But still, they don’t deserve our ridicule. Especially now.”

The Elongated Man turned his eyes downward.

“I thought something might be wrong, but I didn’t expect this, J’onn,” Max said to the Martian. Right now he could use his counsel, as he did when J’onn was team leader of Justice League America.

“Death on this scale seldom is,” J’onn replied, not surprised that thoughts of his homeworld filled his mind. Death consumed Mars in much of the same fashion. Swiftly, and without warning. “I know.”

“Yes,” Max agreed.

“Max, who the hell could have done this?” Power Girl asked.

“Obviously, someone extremely powerful. But either way, we are going to get whoever did this.”

“Or they’ll get us,” added Marty, who walked in on the tail end of the conversation between Max, J’onn, and Power Girl. Still visibly shaken up over what happened, the young Green Lantern wiped his mouth with his sleeve, removing any traces of leftover vomit from his overwhelming nausea.

“Are you all right, Green Lantern?” J’onn asked sympathetically. His confusion and horror over what happened radiated outward, and touched J’onn telepathically.

“I’m fine,” Marty said, trying to keep himself composed. “It’s just that I’ve never…”

Marty shook his head nervously as he spoke. “… had to deal with this before.”

“You’ll get the hang of it,” Kara said, uncertain if she really meant it. She had years of experience on Marty, but seeing death, especially on this scale, was always an experience. To this day she wasn’t sure what was the right way of handling it. She just coped for the moment. Whatever grief she felt she would let out in private.

“I wonder,” Marty responded, after a brief silence.


For a poet, the setting sun is a beautiful sight, and with the right words, a spiritual experience.

For the average resident of Gotham City, it was a time to dread. Now, at the day’s end, the vermin would emerge from their hiding places to prey upon those who dared to come out after dark. Barely moments after nightfall, a woman was being raped in an alley off 9th Avenue, and just up the street, a liquor store robbery was in progress.

A flew blocks away, an old man was being mugged by a boy not yet in high school.

It was just another night in Gotham, and already Bruce Wayne was in the Batcave dressing for work.

Tonight however, he would not immediately patrol his city and prey upon the vermin that plagued it. Instead, the Batman would travel to New York to find out what happened in Antarctica. In the past 24 hours, it had become a media frenzy in New York. Someone at the morgue had leaked out what happened to some eager young reporter who milked it for all it was worth. But instead of bothering with the often conflicting news reports, Batman thought it best to find out what happened directly from Max Lord. Though part time, Batman was still a member of the organization, though he despised its association with Lord and the United Nations.

The Batman would not. No sooner did he finish suiting up for work, did Batman hear Alfred’s voice crying out in terror, from the top of the stairs leading to the Batcave.

Batman charged up the stairs and returned to the manor, where he found his friend and butler, Alfred Pennyworth, trembling by the phone. Something was terribly wrong for Alfred to lose his composure, unlike his employer, Alfred always had his wits, rarely did Bruce Wayne ever see his butler in such a state.

“Alfred, what’s wrong?” Bruce said, pulling back his cowl.

Alfred sucked in a breath, not certain of how to tell Bruce the nature of the phone call. Never in his wildest dreams did he ever expect this to happen.

“Commissioner Gordon just called, sir.”

“Gordon? What did he want?”

“He had some rather, disturbing news.”

“What do you mean, `disturbing`?”

Alfred’s mouth started quivering violently.

“It concerns … Master Jason.”

Bruce’s eyes widened with an even mixture of surprise and horror. Jason Todd, the second Robin, had been murdered by the Joker several years earlier. Although Tim Drake was now his partner and superior in skill, Bruce Wayne and Batman never quite recovered from his loss.

“His — his grave — Oh, dear God … “

”Alfred, out with it!” Bruce shouted, unable to contain his emotions. He had a terrible feeling he knew what Alfred was going to say—

“His grave was found desecrated earlier this evening, Master Bruce. And a Robin costume was left inside it.”

Bruce’s jaw dropped.

”You’ll get the hang of it,” Power Girl had said, but Marty remained unconvinced. On top of the roof of the JLI Embassy in New York, his favorite place to think, Marty dwelled upon yesterday’s events and came no closer to understanding why or how it happened.

He also couldn’t shake the feeling of imminent doom. The tests of the bodies of the fallen Leaguers were incomplete, which left the young Green Lantern and his colleagues to jump to all sorts of conclusions.

”You get the hang of it.”

 Marty didn’t immediately notice, but his hands were trembling again.

“No, I have no comment at this time. Thank you!” Max Lord thundered, and slammed the receiver back on the phone,

“Who the hell let that call through?”

“Take it easy, Max,” Oberon said, trying to calm him down. “It was bound to happen eventually.”

“I would have preferred later,” Max said bitterly. He lit another cigar, his fourth in about two hours.

Oberon coughed as the stogie’s stench filled the room. Smoke flew into his face, and he choked on his words. “Yeah, me too.”

Max extinguished his cigar in the ashtray. “Sorry, Oberon.”

“No problem,” Oberon said, as his voice gradually cleared. “Still no word from the lab, huh?”

“They should be calling back anytime now,” Max answered, and sighed bitterly. His patience, like the other members of the League, was beginning to wear thin. But thank God for Oberon, his one time right hand man made the waiting game a little more bearable. Oberon had seen much in his fifty plus years. While the events of the past day had been tragic, Oberon wasn’t as discomfited as some of his super-powered colleagues.

Then again, none of them accidentally stumbled into Darkseid’s private quarters and lived to tell about it. The League had to rescue Mister Miracle from Apokolips, and while the League slugged it out with Darkseid’s para demons, Oberon made his way through the Lord of Apokolips fortress and came to this surprisingly comfortable room that resembled a winter cabin in Vermont. Inside was Darkseid, reading a copy of Mein Kampf. Terrified, Oberon froze in his tracks and expected the worst.

Also to his surprise, Darksied treated him like an honored guest and cooked him a roast beef dinner. That day, he had no interest in destroying Oberon or the League; instead Darksied simply opened a boom tube and sent them all back to Earth. To this day, Oberon wasn’t sure what he was more frightened of: Darksied trying to destroy them or being merciful. Either way, anything after that meeting with Darkseid was definitely anticlimactic for Oberon.

The phone rang again, this time Oberon picked it up. “Max Lord’s office — Hold on.”

“Max, it’s the lab guys.”

Oberon glanced at Max and handed him the receiver. He nodded in acknowledgment and spoke into the receiver.

“Okay, what did you find out?”

Max rose from his chair as he listened to the technician, and slowly began to pace around the office. His eyes widened, and for the first time in years, Oberon noticed that Max, who had the slickest tongue in the world, was actually keeping quiet.

“I understand. We’ll see you in an hour.”

Max hung up the phone and glanced back at Oberon.

Get everybody together, Oberon. We have a lot to go over.”

Chapter One

 “THE VICTIMS SUFFERED VARYING DEGREES OF BURNS,” said Dr. Charles Munson, who performed the autopsies on the fallen Justice Leaguers. In the conference room of Star Labs, New York City Division, the middle aged, heavyset scientist spoke to a group consisting of all the major members of the League, Superman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, and Green Lantern Marty Lynch. Max and Oberon were also present.

“ … with Captain Atom and Major Disaster suffering the most.”

“We already know that, Doctor,” Max said, irritated. “Do you have any idea what may have caused them?”

“I’m getting to that. On each body, I found these fibers that we identified as gauze strips.”

“Gauze strips?”

“Yes. Like what would be used in bandaging someone’s wounds.”

“Jeez, Doc,” Flash interjected, “What were they attacked by, the mummy?”

“Enough, Wally,” Max said with an annoyed glance. “Continue, Doctor.”

“The fibers themselves were charred, as if some form of energy burned right through them.”

“What kind of energy?”

“We don’t know,” Munson answered, taking a seat at the table. “But our best guess is that the burns were caused by some mutant. There were minute traces of human skin on the gauze fibers, and they weren’t from Captain Atom or any of the other victims.”

“Or metahuman, maybe,” Max said, thinking about Munson’s hypothesis. “But why?”

“Maybe he was after their powers,” Marty suggested, and immediately Max chastised him. The last thing he wanted right now was Marty sticking in some wild conspiracy theory.

“Not now, Marty.”

But true to form, the Man of Steel, who silently listened until this point, gave the young Green Lantern the benefit of the doubt and lightly criticized Max. Marty was surprised, because in the time he had worked with Superman, he and Marty had clashed on a number of issues. Since day one, Superman and the rookie Green Lantern hadn’t gotten along well. Like the other members of the League, Superman regarded Marty as a loose cannon, yet their conflict was much deeper. It began when Marty suggested that he and Alan Scott reprogram the mind of the Joker so he would not only give them some vital information on a case they were working on, but also be cured of his insanity and perhaps no longer be a threat to society. Superman viewed this as an even greater crime, and argued that no one, especially anyone with powers, had a right to reprogram Joker’s mind.

“He could be right, Max. I’ve had experience with metas with that ability.”

“The Parasite,” J’onn said thoughtfully.

“Yes.”

“Captain Atom and Major Disaster did suffer the most, Max,” Oberon interjected, and Lord quietly thought about it for a moment.

“They are two of our most powerful members. While Major Disaster was a bit inept in the end, his powers were still quite formidable. And Captain Atom-”

Max’s voice trailed off as he further considered the possibility of a metahuman like the Parasite bearing responsibility for the annihilation of JLAnt. Major Disaster was a powerful member, but Captain Atom was JLAnt.’s most powerful member, and considered to be one of the most powerful metahumans on Earth. He was only a member of JLAnt. as a punishment for causing a very embarrassing international incident which the League as a whole still felt the effects of from time to time.

“Superman, where is the Parasite now?”

“Currently, he’s serving a sentence in Metropolis Federal Penitentiary.”

“Is there any chance he could have escaped?”

“No. Ironically, before you contacted me, I brought him back to prison a few days ago, not to mention that the burns Captain Atom suffered are inconsistent with the Parasite. From experience, I can tell you while they were extremely painful, they left no visible scars.”

“Then,” Max said gravely, “There’s someone new in the game.”


“It is a masterpiece, a mechanical masterpiece!”

“A mere reproduction of the original,” the red skinned man said dryly to the diminutive mad scientist standing beside him. “But nonetheless effective.”

“A superior version of the original, Sinestro,” Doctor Thaddeus Sivana replied contemptuously. Once awe with the original Hall of Doom, the scientist regarded it as obsolete once he added some of his deviously inspired inventions to it.

Sinestro, however, remained unimpressed. Despite twenty years worth of technological enhancements, it was merely a copy of the original, as were the others currently under construction. The original headquarters of the Legion of Doom had been destroyed by the Justice League in the aftermath of their trial of Lex Luthor. He also wielded one of the most powerful weapons in the Universe on the second finger of his left hand. It was an effective reproduction of a Green Lantern’s power ring, and powered by the same yellow impurity which was the ring’s weakness. Sinestro, if he wanted, could level a planet with it, as he did with the home planet of the Green Lantern, Kilowog. This new Hall of Doom was nothing to Sinestro, on the other hand his ring was power incarnate.

“You have no taste!”

Sinestro ignored Sivana’s obvious insult, he had more important things to do than waste his time with him. Some time in the future, Sinestro would deal with the annoying little scientist in a most creative fashion.

“Just get on with your report, Doctor.”

Sivana looked at Sinestro with disdain. He sighed bitterly.

“Construction is complete on Halls of Doom 3, 6, 7, and 8. Halls 2, 4, and 5 are have run their final pre-launch tests and are now operational. Lord Oblivion will be pleased.”

“That remains to be seen, Doctor,” a voice said from behind Sivana and Sinestro. It was a regal voice rich in culture and weathered with age.

“Lord Ra’s,” Sinestro said with a touch of sarcasm. “It is an honor to see you again.”

Ra’s al Ghul stared at his two compatriots, with the same amount of disdain they had for each other. His olive colored face was rigid and his eyes narrowed to slits. He stood in sharp contrast to Sinestro and Sivana, he was neatly dressed in a dark green suit and cape while they wore their disheveled polyester and spandex. Even Ubu, a large, muscular man with Arabic features, looked better than they did. He stood beside Ra’s, ready to kill the first person who dare lay a hand on his master.

“I’m fear he’s growing impatient. Now that Halls of Doom 2, 4, and 5 are ready, we shall begin the next phase of our plan.”

Sinestro dropped all pretenses of civility as Ra’s spoke.

“He’s mad! Our first strike against the Justice League has blinded him. We won’t be ready for Phase Two at least for another month!”

“Tell that to Oblivion,” Ra’s said coolly, and Sinestro remained silent. He remembered what happened the last time he opposed Oblivion. Though the wounds had physically healed, Sinestro remembered very vividly Oblivion’s dreaded touch and the extreme pain it caused.

Sivana giggled contemptuously at Sinestro, a gesture the renegade Green Lantern did not find amusing.

“Speak for yourself, Sinestro,” Sivana said, and dismissed his rival’s fears. “I relish the thought of confronting the Justice Fools again … and wiping the rest of them out.”

“Then you’re more of a fool than I thought you were.”

Sivana’s wrinkled face flashed with anger, and his eyes narrowed to slits under his thick, black rimmed glasses. His fists clenched, and in an almost stereotypical gesture (for a mad scientist, that is) he raised one to Sinestro. It trembled violently as he spoke.

“I don’t have to take that from you, you red skinned alien!” Sinestro laughed, crossed his arms and turned his nose up at Sivana.

“Oh, cease your senseless prattling, Sivana,” he said, and with a thought his words became reality. A beam of bright yellow light emerged from his ring and imprisoned the scientist in a soundproof bubble of energy. Inside it he angrily jumped up and down and cursed at Sinestro, but to the outside world there was silence.

“Well done,” Ra’s said, paying Sinestro a rare compliment.

“A temporary solution, but effective nonetheless.”


“No, please … don’t hurt me …”

“Shut up,” the monster said to the woman clad in the harem costume, then brutally slapped her across the face. He had grown tired of her whining, it had ceased to give him pleasure hours ago. Torturing her was exquisite, but it came to bore the monster as well.

So finally, almost mercifully for the woman, the monster called Oblivion killed her. He sighed bitterly, killing the woman had also not given him pleasure. It was like eating one’s favorite food too often.

Bored even with the murder of the helpless woman, he easily hurled her body out of his throne room in Hall of Doom 1. She slammed against one of the titanium walls outside of the throne room and dropped to the floor a bloody mess.

Ra’s al Ghul was not pleased to see the battered woman. Moments earlier, he left Sinestro behind and with Ubu by his side headed towards the throne room. He saw the woman being thrown out and as he came closer, a wave of disgust overcame Ra’s.

He stopped and touched the woman’s neck. He felt no pulse. He looked inside the throne room, where he noticed Oblivion walking up the marble steps leading to his throne, and stared coldly.

“Barbarian,” Ra’s whispered. It was such a waste. While Ra’s al Ghul had little moral inhibitions when it came to the use of force or violence, what Oblivion engaged in was senseless cruelty. Worse, it was against one of Ra’s servants. He would never give them ill treatment unless they broke his rules or showed disloyalty, which was seldom. Among his people, Ra’s was feared and beloved.

Ra’s turned to Ubu for a moment. “Ubu, see that she is given a proper burial.”

“Yes, Lord Ra’s.”

Ubu obeyed his master; once the woman was cradled in his arms he retreated into the shadows with her, leaving Ra’s alone to confer with Oblivion.

The monster returned to his throne when Ra’s walked in. At first he said nothing to Ra’s, for a moment Oblivion appeared as dead as he looked. The tattered bandages that covered his mouth remained motionless, and his cold gray eyes showed no signs of life.

“Lord Oblivion,” Ra’s called softly.

Oblivion remained silent. He did not want to speak to Ra’s. His intercourse with the woman brought only more emptiness, which only could be alleviated by solitude. He needed time to contemplate his purpose, only this could give him pleasure now.

Ra’s was not going to oblige.

“Oblivion.”

Oblivion’s eyes lit up as he spoke, much in the same fashion that Captain Atom’s did before the slaughter. It did not intimidate Ra’s the way it did the other members of the Legion of Doom, instead he smiled for a moment. Unlike the others, Ra’s could always provoke a reaction in Oblivion.

“I told you not disturb me.”

“And I told you not to abuse my courtesans,” Ra’s responded. “I provided them to you as a gesture of goodwill, Oblivion, and I expected them to be returned to me in the same condition in which they were offered.”

“They can be replaced.”

“With your appetite, I think not.”

“When this planet is mine I shall have all the concubines I wish, including the Amazon I have heard so much about.”

“Perhaps. But then again, Wonder Woman is not one of my courtesans.”

“She is nothing!”

“You underestimate her, Oblivion.”

Oblivion fell silent again. He was angered by Ra’s flippant response. When he spoke again, his voice was a cold, deadly whisper.

“I trust you have informed our compatriots of our change of plans.”

“I have conferred with Sinestro and Doctor Sivana. They will inform the rest. Three more of our Halls of Doom are ready for launch.”

“Good. I look forward to our endeavor. Soon this world shall suffer for all of its sins against me.”

“Of course,” Ra’s replied without emotion, at least on the outside. From within, there was contempt for the decaying husk that sat a throne the throne before him.

“What of your mission in Gotham?”

Now, it was Ra’s turn to be silent. It was with great regret he carried out his mission against the Batman, his enemy and once his heir apparent. He regarded the Batman as his only worthy successor, and the only one worthy of his beloved daughter, Talia. But Batman had refused Ra’s one too many times, and now he would have to be eliminated before any new world order was to be achieved.

“I’m waiting for an answer, Ra’s al Ghul.”

“The Batman,” Ra’s said, not without some sorrow, “will no longer be a problem after tonight.”


Only one other time was Bruce Wayne in a state that could best be described as extreme rage, and that was the night in Crime Alley so many years earlier.

Bruce violently trembled over the desecrated grave of Jason Todd. A dank, foul smell rose from the grave and filled the chilly air. Police Commissioner James Gordon stood beside Bruce with a comforting hand on his shoulder, a gesture Bruce Wayne could not ignore. As furious as he was, some clarity remained and it kept him focussed. Whoever did this to Jason knew that Bruce and Batman were the same person, and immediately endangered his secret.

“You didn’t have to come here, Bruce,” Gordon said sympathetically. “We could have done this back at Wayne Manor.”

“It’s all right, Commissioner,” Bruce said, choosing his words carefully. Upon his arrival, the millionaire had been swamped with questions by the press and by Gordon’s men, some of whom already pondered this possibility of Bruce having a dual identity. The Justice League’s problems could wait; he had to keep up appearances.

“I had to come. Has anyone-” Bruce choked on his words, and it wasn’t entirely an act to keep people’s doubts in tact. By now, the coffin that once held Jason’s body had been returned to the surface, and immediately the people in forensics started their work and removed the coffin, still containing the Robin costume, from the crime scene. “- found Jason?”

“No. When the caretaker came by this evening, all he found was the casket and a Robin costume inside. My men have combed every inch of the cemetery, and there are no traces of his body. I’m sorry, Bruce.”

Bruce stood silent for a few moments.

“It’s a sick world we live in,” Jim added as Bruce stared into the grave. “The dead aren’t even safe.”

“No, I suppose not, Commissioner.”

“Who in God’s name could have done this?”

“I don’t know, Commissioner.”

But heaven help the scum who did when I find out who you are, Bruce thought.

Bruce turned away from the grave and looked back at Gordon.

“Let me know if you find out anything, Commissioner.”

“I will, Bruce.”

Bruce walked away from the grave and back through a mob of reporters towards his limousine, where Alfred patiently waited for him. Fortunately, Gordon’s men kept most of them away and provided a semi-clear path to the limo. As soon as he was safely inside, Alfred drove off and out the gates.

Alfred was uncharacteristically silent. Normally, he his sarcasm would be his defense against the crime Bruce dealt with in his Batman activities, but this was beyond sarcasm. He overheard Gordon’s words, and it sent a chill through Alfred.

Bruce felt the same way, though already he was making the internal switch to Batman, even though he would wait until he returned home to get into uniform. In his head, he was already forming a list of suspects. Who among his enemies knew his identity, and who would dare desecrate his partner’s grave?

Hugo Strange, Bruce thought. No, he’s dead. Dead for years. The Joker? He’s killed Jason and he’s insane enough to do something like this. And I’ve always wondered if he knows who I really am, especially after that UN fiasco with Iran.

 A few words from Alfred distracted Bruce then, and Bruce looked up front.

“Yes, Alfred?”

“I’ve taken the liberty of contacting Master Dick, I thought perhaps you would want his assistance.”

For once, Bruce didn’t argue with his butler. There was something about tonight that filled Bruce with such a sense of foreboding that it made him think twice about going solo on this case, even though he had already forbidden Tim Drake from getting involved.

“Thank you, Alfred. I think I’m going to need him.”


Somehow, it didn’t seem right anymore.

“You who are wicked, evil and mean, I’m the nastiest creep you’ve ever seen! Come one, come all, and put up a fight, I’ll pound your butts with Green Lantern’s light! Yowsa.”

Marty finished speaking his Green Lantern oath and once again his ring was recharged for another 24 hours.

The words were more hollow than usual tonight. For as long as he was Green Lantern, Marty had never taken the oath seriously. Like the job it represented, it was thrust upon him, and until yesterday’s events, he didn’t think much about it except that it was better than using Hal Jordan’s oath, “In brightest day, in blackest night,” et cetera.

Then, Justice League Antarctica fell, and some lunatic was out there somewhere. Marty found himself thinking about it, again, with more questions coming up instead of answers.

He even pondered the possibility of being a target, or at least, his ring. Next to Superman and J’onn J’onzz, Marty’s ring made him one of the most powerful members of the entire Justice League.

That loony might be after me, next, Marty said to himself.

Marty stared at his power ring for a few moments, then without having a need to do it, at least not a technical need, Marty pressed the ring against his lantern shaped power battery and charged it again, this time uttering a different oath.

Marty stuttered at first, but as he spoke them the words gained clarity and purpose. He remembered the words and how much they meant to the man whom he looked upon like a father.

“And… I will shed my light over dark evil. For the dark things cannot stand the light of the Green Lantern.”

I’ll be damned before I’m your victim, Marty thought, whoever the hell you are.


Click.

“In other news, President Clinton will address more allegations of improper conduct in his State of the Union address tonight live from the Capitol — “

Click.

“ … Master Po, what is the difference between the path of the grasshopper …”

Click, click, click.

“57 channels and nothing on,” Blue Beetle said, bored with this night’s usual assortment of reruns, commercials, and first run television shows. He flipped around the dial about two more times before settling back on the news, which he didn’t really concentrate on.

As he channel surfed, Marty Lynch entered the JLA Embassy Lounge. He had a few moments before he had monitor duty, and he wanted to catch the news. He would only catch a sound bite about some local insurance scam before Beetle flicked the remote again. Marty was annoyed. It was rare when the young Green Lantern watched television, most of the time when Marty wasn’t winging it as a superhero he read books. In the time he had been a member of the League, his room in the Embassy became a mini library of sorts, with barely enough room to walk. Beetle on the other hand, was a couch potato. It was almost hard for Marty to believe that he was Ted Kord, one time multi-millionaire inventor. Now, Ted was just another slowly going out of shape crime fighter who only stayed with the League because he had no where else to go.

“Hey, I was watching that,” said Marty.

“Oops, sorry,” Beetle replied, and stopped back on the news. “Not much going on, really, that we don’t know already.”

“Yeah,” Marty replied dryly. His beeper sounded off then.

“Well, gotta go. Monitor duty.”

Marty didn’t bother waiting for Beetle to respond. He walked out of the lounge, into the hall, then into the communications room, where Ice was waiting.

“Hi, Marty,” Ice said sweetly. Of all the members of the League, aside from Alan, and Wally to an extent, Marty got along fairly well with the young woman from Norway. To Marty, Ice … Tora, he was allowed to call her, was a rare gem. Not only was she beautiful to look at, Tora was probably one of the nicest people he had ever met.

It came as complete shock to him when he found out that she had a boyfriend, a Green Lantern named Guy Gardner, who was lower on the list of the JLI’s least favorite members than he was. Tora seemed too innocent to be involved with someone like Gardner, whom he had met only once and immediately disliked. But, love was blind, and as sweet as Ice seemed on the outside, she was far stronger a person inside than anyone thought.

“Hey, Tora. Anything new?”

“No,” Ice answered. “I don’t know what’s worse. Finding out something else has happened or waiting for something to happen.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Marty hesitated a moment before he spoke again. “I don’t mind telling you, I’m scared.”

“I am, too.” Ice admitted, and she had greater reason to worry. While not really close to any of the fallen Leaguers, the ones she was closest to were in the field, searching for any signs of the ones responsible for the slaughter of JLAnt. Among them was Bea DeCosta, a.k.a., Fire, her best friend. And Guy, she wished he were here instead of out in space fighting the war against Darksied.

“I have a bad feeling about all of this,” she said softly. “Between the war with Apokolips, and then the Legion of Doom.”

“I know,” was all Marty could say. He sighed bitterly.

“Well, my turn,” he said, gesturing Ice to leave her post at the communications station so he could take over.

“I hope I’m wrong, Marty.”

Marty nodded in acknowledgement and took his place at the station. Ice walked out then, and left Marty to the most boring of tasks in the JLI: the dreaded monitor duty, in which he would sit at this communications console and keep tabs on all the world’s activities via the Justice League satellite. He would do his own bit of channel surfing; starting with a general global scan to find anything that may have looked out of the ordinary. He found nothing, then moved on to more specific scan of any potential hot spots on the globe, where political and social pressures were ready to explode to check if there was anything the League could do to help. Nothing.

With that, he began to monitor the communications of the world’s major nations.

TO BE CONTINUED

 
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