Too Many Long Boxes!
   
   

End of Summer
 

Green Legacy

by Dannell Lites

A Green Lantern Elseworlds

In awe he stared down at the lantern shaped ring on his middle finger.

At his side, his fellow Green Lantern, Alia of vanished Proxima Prime, smiled and embraced him lovingly, her wide eyes full of gladness and pride for his sake.

"Oh, Lar!" she cried, "I'm so happy! Just look at you! A Green Lantern!" Smiling in return, Lar Gand pressed her close, sweeping back her massive mane of light brown hair.

"Who would have thought," she breathed, "when we met in that awful place that this would happen? A cell on Starlag II wasn't a very good beginning was it?" With one slender finger she traced the outline of the lantern symbol of the Corps emblazoned on his new uniform. "Green is your color!" she chuckled.

"Alia," he murmured the name like a benediction. "Alia ... I've been looking for someplace like the Corps for a long time, now. A really long time. Too long. Ever since I - I was fired from L.E.G.I.O.N by that bastich Vril Dox. And now I've finally found it. And you ." She caressed his cheek.

"You know," she couldn't help but tease him, "for someone who thought I was a noisy old guy when you first met me, you sure changed your mind fast, 'boy'!"

Mirth bubbled up from his heart and flowed from his lips. "You're right," he asserted, "Starlag II was a really bad place to met. Did I mention how bad the lighting there was? And, you have to admit ... you were a few years older, back then." He pulled her close for a kiss. "And you still snore, 'old man' ... " he whispered in her ear with a grin.

She spatted his smooth cheek playfully. "Some swain you are!" she accused in light mocking tones. "Hrrump! Ladies do not snore, I'll have you know!" Then she reached for his hands and kissed his palm. "Seriously, Lar," the ancient but youthful woman murmured, "it's precisely because you were kind to me when you thought I was only a helpless, useless old man that I knew you belonged with the Corps. You had no reason to protect me, take me with you when you escaped with the help of the Blasters. But you did. Because your goodness and compassion are an integral part of who you are. And even then you didn't just abandon me. You took me with you when you pursued the Unimaginable. And when I was injured you brought me home here to Oa to be healed."

"And it's a good thing I did!" he declared stoutly, but still with a wistful smile at the memory. "You were the one who defeated the Unimaginable. Again. Not me, I got my butt kicked. But you! You were wonderful! It's taken me a long time to learn that physical strength isn't everything ... but I think the lesson is finally soaking through. Thanks to you ." She flushed and made ready to deny it, but a single finger upon her full lips stayed her protest.

"And so brave .. " he marveled, "so very, very brave .... To defeat a creature as powerful as the Unimaginable, after it destroyed your world and your family .. and then to spend all those years in that hellish place because it was necessary to imprison you to also imprison the Unimaginable ... Moons of Daxam! The courage, the dedication that took ... "

"Ahem!" interrupted a strong but hesitant voice at their back. "Pardon me for butting in on a tender moment and all, but - umm - we do have a few things to discuss, I'm afraid. Lar?" Swallowing hard and clinging to Alia's hand for moral support, the Daxamite youth turned to face the source of that commanding voice.

"M-Mr. Jordan?" he stammered, blushing under the Terran Leader of the Green Lantern Honor Guard's piercing brown gaze. The Earthman smiled, waving his hand in dismissal.

"Hal," he insisted, smiling affably. "Call me Hal."

"Humor him. He likes to pretend he's 'just one of the guys'," explained Tomar-Re chittering through his horny beak, "and not one of the most honored members of the Corps to ever don the uniform." It was impossible, the new Daxamite Green Lantern knew, for the Xudarian to smile, he was not physically capable of it, but Lar Gand strongly suspected that the elderly Green Lantern would have liked to do just that. With a small smile of his own Lar Gand looked away.

"That's our Hal," agreed Katma Tu, her crimson skin darkening with the force of the laughter that claimed her. "Modest to the Corps!"

"Indeed!" maintained K'ryssma of Etrea, her multifaceted insectoid eyes sparkling in the bright light of the Oan sun. The insectoid-humanoid woman was quite capable of smiling, although it was not in her usually dour nature to do so with any ease, and she proved it now.

Fellow Guardsmen! boomed the telepathic voice of Apros of Minus 7 Pi, his stout brown barrel pumpkin shaped body writhing on the end of his many tentacles, "a little decorum if you please!"

"Yeah!" proclaimed Kilowog, late of Earth by way of his homeworld of Bolovax Vik. "Give the man a break, here! Cut him some slack, why don't ya? I mean, I'm the Corps Training Officer. So I'm the one who'll have to train our brand spanking new Green Lantern here." Kilowog noticed Alia blanch slightly at the thought of her young protege-lover at the tender mercies of the demanding Kilowog. Kilowog, too, could smile they all discovered.

"Thanks guys!" Hal Jordan quipped, his voice dry and acerbic, hands on his hips. "I knew I could count on your support!"

It took several moments for the tittering and chuckling from far flung species around the galaxy to die down. Lar told himself he must not laugh. It would be presumptuous for such a new Corpsman as he to enjoy mirth at the expense of the vaunted Hal Jordan of Earth. But at his side he could hear Alia chuckling softly and it was hard not to join her. When the mirth faded at last, Hal took command again, pointing at the gently glowing green ring encircling Lar Gand's finger.

"That's a big responsibility," he said quietly. "But I guess you know that. Quite simply, that Power Ring is the single most powerful weapon in the Universe. And it's resting on your finger. That, combined with the vast array of superpowers you gain naturally under the influence of a yellow sun, are an almost frightening combination." Hal Jordan was gratified to see Lar Gand nod gravely and gulp at the daunting thought. Time to lighten up a bit, maybe?

"I'm not questioning The Guardians decision that a Green Lantern from Daxam would be a huge asset to the Corps. Far from it. We're all expecting great things from you, Lar. And I know you won't disappoint us. I remember how bravely you fought Eclipso. Now, I was 'eclipsed' so I don't recall the fight at all, actually. But anyone who earns Superman's respect is ok with me. And he was the one who first named you Valor."

"I'll do my best to live up to everyone's expectations ... Hal ... I promise."

Jordan nodded. "I know you will, son," Hal replied. "I never doubted it." The Honor Guardsman looked sheepish for a moment. When he spoke once more his voice was low, almost conspiratorial. "You may not know this," he said, "but The Guardians also decided that there could be only one Lantern from Daxam. It came down to a choice between you and a fellow Daxamite named Sodam Yat."

Lar's eyes widened in astonishment and no small amount of pleasure. "Sodam Yat??" he exclaimed. "Daxam's Moons! He - he's - why he's the most famous athlete on Daxam! The strongest man on the planet! He's built like an inertron building, for Space sake! And he's even stronger!"

Hal smiled. "And The Guardians chose you, Lar, because ... well you said it yourself ... strength isn't everything. For a Green Lantern, in fact, it hardly matters at all. With that Ring it's your force of will that will be more important. You're invulnerable. And the Ring will always automatically protect you from lead. So, with advantages like that, your powers, and the Ring itself as a weapon, it's also much more important that we know what sort of man you are before we give you that kind of power. And in the short time since you left Daxam, you've given us ample proof of that, son. You'll be a credit to the Corps, I know."

He smiled and somehow managed not to blush. "I'm certainly going to try, Sir," he said.

And so he was.

Not that it was always easy...

The Green Lantern of Sector 1015 brought himself up short, the emerald energy trail wafting in his bright wake glowing and sparkling. Blinking rapidly, Valor frowned, studying the sight before him. After a moment his frown gave way to an infectious grin and even laughter singing musically in the depths of space. Great Cosmos! Just look at the improbable thing! Darting quickly planetward, the immense golden spacecraft shimmered and glinted in the reflected golden light of M'Aripoah, putting the shining stars themselves to shame.

'Jor-El, my departed friend, forgive me?' he pleaded, still smiling. He couldn't help himself. Such a stark reminder of "Jor-El's Golden Folly" was hard to resist. The huge spaceship in his memory, crafted and designed by Jor-El of lamented Krypton, was made of purest gold; a very common element on heavy gravity Krypton and one of the lightest of metals there. Instantly dubbed "Jor-El's Golden Folly", when the ship crashed on the nearby moon and set back Kryptonian space travel efforts by a generation the laughter of the young scientists jealous colleagues abounded.

Peering out with his microscopic vision, Valor was astounded to discover that this craft was also made of almost pure gold with only enough vanadium to strengthen the superstructure. Blazing forth like a warm and verdant living star, Valor gave chase. How was it possible, he wondered, to manufacture such a pure form of any element? Even given the vacuum of space to act as a purifier ... His engineer's mind wrestled with the problem even as his lips set themselves in a thin line of unease.

There might very well be more to this increasingly irritable gang of ore pirates than first met the eye, he decided as he sped forward. Rumors had reached him some time ago of their depredations. Uncannily successful and powerful, they left much death and destruction in their wake if the tales were to be believed. But still he had stayed his hand. Ch'p, the Green Lantern of his neighboring sector, 1014, was not keen on the idea of help. The bushy tailed, squirrel like H'lvenites were notoriously territorial. And so Valor had bowed to the small, proud being's decision to handle the situation alone. He smiled a bit ferally. But now the pirates had made a fatal mistake. This was Sector 1015. His Sector, and he need no longer simply sit and writhe against the bonds of brotherhood and courtesy restraining him.

He considered for a moment the display of so much gold in the gigantic vessel and wondered grimly if this might, perhaps, presage the presence of heavy worlders like himself. It was very possible, he knew. As a general rule it was only upon high gravity worlds such as Daxam and Krypton that gold could be found in common enough quantities to be so wastefully used in spacecraft construction. Upon most worlds it was a rare and treasured metal; both for its inherent beauty and for it scarcity, by whatever name it was locally known.

His extensive knowledge of spacecraft design stood him in good stead, now. This seemed to be a variation on the new, somewhat uncommon, SL-5000 Corellian design. The shipyards and engineering feats of the small, heavily industrialized world lazing under the Spican suns were legendary. One day he planned to spend a great deal of time there, studying. But that was far in the future. Now he had these pirates to deal with. If he was correct that would place the engine room about midship, just abaft the storage facilities. He was almost smug when his telescopic vision confirmed it.

Rising and extending his right hand, he bathed the ship in brilliant emerald energy. Slowly the great vessel ground to a halt, the engines disabled by the tachyon shower of his beam. With a grin he materialized a giant green can opener and began cutting his way into the ship. Being careful, of course, to throw up an emerald force field to maintain the craft's atmospheric integrity. He chuckled at his can opener as it pried its way into the huge ship. Handy things, earth gadgets. Terrans had a genius for designing useful little things like this. He'd learned quite a bit from his short stay on that busy, teeming world.

Streaking forward, he slipped noiselessly through the shield he'd hastily erected to plug the now gaping hole in the vessel's pristine sides. 'Almost a shame,' he thought, 'to mar something that lovely.' Behind him, he spared a thought to restore the gleaming golden sides of the ship to their former glory.

At superspeed he dodged a laser beam aimed in his direction. Several of the two dozen or so crewmen spread out before him in the large room were still struggling their frantic way into the safety of space suits Caught totally unprepared by the sudden, unexpected advent of null gravity, they bounced and careened wildly off the bulkheads, shouting and cursing. But some few of them were a bit more alert, he noted. His personal force shield, fueled by his considerable will, sparked in luminescent protest when a score of needle particles loosed from well aimed needleguns ricocheted off the glowing, verdant screen. Swiftly summoning from his imagination a dart board, he gathered the errant, deadly projectiles and, with a thought, sent them flying in that direction. When they all struck their target dead center he raised his arms in triumph.

"Bullseye!" he cried.

He'd always been good at that game. Taking all those lessons, cunningly disguised as games, in hand to eye coordination from Roy, Arsenal, Harper turned out to have unexpected benefits.

Another laser beam disrupted his pleasant reverie, this one absorbed by his shield. The heat of the scorching beam was released both inward and outward at once. But since he was invulnerable, he hardly noticed the frightful temperatures that might have fried any other being to a crisp.

More angry with himself for allowing such a possibly fatal distraction than at his foes, he growled, "You guys like lasers, huh? Have some, then!"

With pinpoint accuracy, he swept the room with his laservision, melting every obvious weapon in sight. Many loud cries of pain accompanied the haste with which the blazing hot laser rifles and needleguns were instinctively discarded.

Time to bring this show to a screeching halt, he decided. Materializing a giant green broom he quite literally swept the now unarmed pirates into glowing green cages much as a housewife sweeps unwanted and unwelcome dust and debris out the back door. When the cages were full he sealed them shut and stood back for a moment to catch his breath.

Applause, slow and measured, rang in his sensitive ears, echoing through the large room, rolling ominously off the bulkheads like thunder on a blustery day.

"Oh very good!" came a low voice, deep and resonant with amusement. "I'm almost impressed. Why, you're even better than I'd heard. Excellent! I do love a challenge!"

Valor sighed. Daxam's Moons. Not another galaxy conquering egomaniac. Anything but that.

"And you would be?" he inquired politely.

The trim man's silver-white hair sparkled for a moment in the low light as he waved one hand in causal dismissal. "My name is Dagon Arrah," he returned in a pleasant tone. "My followers," he frowned and sighed in regret, casting a jaundiced eye upon the captured crewmen struggling in their verdant prisons, "such as they are ... are pleased to call me Dagon-Ra." He smiled, a splendid show of straight white teeth. "Oh, don't trouble yourself," he urged the young hero, "you'll not have heard of me. Yet. But you will, boy. You will."

"That's good," Valor observed caustically.. "Glad to hear it."

From his ring sprang a pair of large emerald hued hands, fingers extended, grasping for his opponent. With the speed of thought it seemed the gaudily garbed white haired man was encased in metal, its dull blue sheen betraying its origins. Inertron. Hardest substance in the known Universe. Valor blinked. What in the name of the Cosmic All - ?

Grasping the receptacle with both hands, the Daxamite Green Lantern lifted it like a feather and shook it gently. There. That ought to bounce around and disorient the mysterious being inside. From his odd accent Interlac was not his native tongue and the youthful hero had certainly never seen clothing quite like that before. He wondered -

"Damn you, that hurt !" cried the angry voice from within, audible to his sensitive ears. " I don't like pain, little Daxamite boy! Let's see how well you like it, shall we?"

Molten agony exploded, white hot and searing, flowing through his body with every beat of his heart. When he bit his tongue to keep from screaming and tasted the salty metal of blood on his lips he discovered his invulnerability had fled. He crashed to the floor, writhing and gasping for breath that would not come. Pain filled the world and overflowed.

His blurry, fading vision brought him the sight of the inertron sphere dissipating like an errant breeze. His nose twitched to the blessed scent of oxygen that wafted past him like a brief benediction and then was gone.

"Don't much care for pain, do you?" Dagon-Ra asked, gloating a bit now. "Not used to it, are you? Comes of being invulnerable, I suspect. Frankly, I can't begin to imagine what it must be like for a Daxamite to have his blood turned to molten lead." He regarded the suffering hero dispassionately for a moment. "Pity, really. Are you sure you won't join me?"

Valor didn't bother to answer. Not that he had breath for that in any case. Dagon-Ra sighed in what might very well have been genuine regret.

"Just as well, I suppose. I'd be a fool to believe you if you said yes in any case, wouldn't I? And I am anything but a fool, I assure you." Valor's eyes were closed so he missed the small predatory smile that tippled the corner of the pirate master's thin lips. "Haven't you guessed yet what I am, little Daxamite? No? Then I'll tell you. Trom is a lovely place, really. Paradise, you might say." His yawn was deep and abiding. "And one of the most frightfully boring places in the entire Universe."

He had to be lying, Valor told himself. He had to be. Trom was a myth. A galactic legend. A dream of sylvan perfection filled with beautiful people gifted with incredible power. It wasn't real.

Was it?

His body answered the question for him. He was dying. He could feel it, cell deep where there was no denial or salvation. His body knew the truth. The blood coursing through his veins was poison to him now; death.

Dagon-Ra read his thoughts on his face. "That's right, boy. The elements themselves are mine to command, to wield and shape and form as I see fit. You are undoubtedly one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy. Such a shame that you hd to encounter one the few more powerful ones."

In the next instant, Dagon-Ra stepped back, out of range of the softly glowing emerald radiance that enveloped the youthful Green Lantern. Like a lover it caressed him and the pain began to ebb, retreat like an ocean tide. The voice that spoke to him from the ring was soft and warmly feminine.

<Wielder 1015 in considerable physical distress. Discorporation eminent. Initiate bio-restoration. Protect.>

Within moments he staggered to his feet, gazing about for Dagon-Ra. But the self-proclaimed Trommite was nowhere to be seen. He had fled. Valor was in the process of searching the ship using the power of the ring the Guardians had gifted him with when he was interrupted with the blare of klaxons and a harsh voice spilling from the giant vessel's comsystem.

"Self destruct engaged. Ten seconds and counting ... nine .. eight ... "

In his weakened state he barely had time to gather the imprisoned pirates and flee the huge golden vessel before it exploded in a great display of spectacular pyrotechnics. He watched in awe as the shock wave spread itself on the cosmic winds between the stars.

'Well,' came the ironic thought, 'now I guess I know where all that pure gold came from, don't I?'

Using his ring he signaled the nearest authorities to come and collect his prisoners. Then, from the corner of his eye, he saw it. The tiny escape craft flashed past the periphery of his not yet fully restored vision on its hurried way to the embrace and safety of the anonymous stars.

Setting his teeth, he gave chase. Stretching himself, ignoring the strain, he outdistanced the small craft and found himself a convenient asteroid to stand upon. From his ring and the force of his will sprang a humongous emerald green catchers mitt. Expertly, like a pitcher shagging an infield fly ball, he caught the speeding ship and held it fast.

"Swing batta, swing batta!" he crowed in triumph. Another Terran game he remembered with fondness. He definitely felt like celebrating. But first things first.

"Ring!"

<Command mode initiated. Waiting.>

"Render ship's occupant unconscious. Now!"

<Done. Awaiting further instruction.>

The young Galactic Guardian blinked, at a sudden loss. Now that he had him, what was he going to do with the Trommite pirate leader? Turning him over to the local authorities seemed pointless. Escape would be less than child's play for the transmuter. The science cells on Oa seemed to be the only -

The feral grin that blossomed it's slow way across his smooth face was born of equal parts inspiration and anger. Perhaps there was another solution, after all. A much more elegant and fitting one.

"Ring?" he requested.

<Waiting.>

"Run a psi-scan on the unconscious ship's occupant. Reference location of the planet Trom."

Seconds ticked away.

<Done.>

Dagon-Ra or Dagon Arrah, whichever it pleased him to be, was going home. It stood to reason that his own people would be best prepared to deal with him. Valor chuckled. Not to mention the fact that it would afford him the opportunity to investigate this wondrous new place, the not so mythical planet of Trom.

Which is exactly what he did.

Soon the word spread, of course, of the defeat of Dagon-Ra the Cruel ... Dagon-Ra the Mighty ... Dagon-Ra the Invincible. The galaxy itself seemed to breath a great sigh of relief. When the news reached Oa he was summoned home and honored for the first time.

But not the last.

The Legend of Valor of The Green Lantern Corps was born.

His career was long and illustrious, surpassing even that of Hal Jordan of Earth. His sector was the quietest in Corps history so he frequently found time to assist any of his fellow Green Lanterns who might need it and happily did so. He himself became the youngest member ever of the Honor Guard and eventually its Leader with the honorable retirement of Hal Jordan amidst much pomp, many tears and good wishes.

But, after untold millennia, The Guardians and their Corps of Green Lanterns fell. The Weaponers of Qward were the first to join the forces arrayed against the Protectors of the Universe. Ranx the Sentient City swelled the ranks of the enemy, then the viscous Children of the White Lobe. But when the ancient, timeless Empire of Tears itself rose, united with its new allies against the Green Lantern Corps, the future looked bleak. One by one the defenders fell before their combined might.

It was then that the Corps called upon the services of their strongest members. And Lar Gand answered the call. But when he perished destroying the lobe-spawn, the heart seemed to go out of the Corps. The few ragged, pitiful survivors deemed it almost a mercy that he, the most honored of their Corps, did not see the last of them, the planet-form Green Lantern Mogo, fall as Ranx the sentient city exploded a blink-bomb within Mogo's heart, his planetary core. True to their purpose, the Guardians of the Universe personally expended the last of themselves in defeating their enemies and were seen no more.

The fallen, heroic Green Lanterns were all buried on their home worlds after the rites of their people. There were simply too many of them to be interned otherwise. And Oa was no more. Thus, Arkkis Chummack made his way back to Toomey VI, after almost a lifetime's absence, where his body was carefully prepared and eaten, especially his brave heart, by those of his fellow Toomites deemed worthy of the honor of consuming such conspicuous courage. Stel, the AI Green Lantern of Grenda was returned home and his remaining robotic parts salvaged to fashion another of his unique kind. Medphyll of J586 came home and his seeds were used to grow another, who blossomed brightly among his plant-like folk. Hal Jordan was buried on Earth, in his beloved Coast City. But a memorial in his honor stands in the JLA Watchtower on the Moon.

So it was that almost 3,600 bodies made their solemn way across the galaxy to lay in honored rest under familiar skies. Almost the entire Corps.

All but one.

They buried the greatest of them, Lar Gand of Daxam, on the asteroid Shanghalla, newly set aside in his honor as the final resting place of the galaxy's greatest heroes. After Daxamite custom, they buried his heart on Daxam itself, in the Hall of Heroes. Alia of Proxima Prime's request that she be buried next to him was graciously honored.

And slowly, the legend of Valor of The Green Lantern Corps and of the Corps itself, spread throughout the galaxy into every spiral arm and nebula.

And a millennia after Valor's death, an adventurous, disguised Durlan who loved heroes and ancient history and called himself R. J. Brande took the legend to heart and used his great wealth and influence to create a Legion of Super-Heroes, inspired by the Corps and its greatest member.

Eltro Gand of Daxam, descended from the hero through his younger brother Del Gand, was among the first to join.

The first ... and the mightiest.

The Legend lived on.

The End

 
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