On a dark country road about twenty miles outside of Gotham City, seven men sat or stood along the road — waiting. For half an hour, not a single car passed them. Two of them sat in a ditch, their feet and lower legs soaked from the brackish water that trickled through the culvert. One sat in a tree, a rope tied around his waist and tied off to the trunk of the tree. Three more crouched behind bushes on the opposite side of the road. The last man stood atop a small hill a short distance away, watching the road as it wound upward from a valley. None of them spoke, and the night air was filled with the sounds of insects and the occasional bat.
At last, a pair of distant headlights shone through the darkness. The man on the hill spied them and whistled to the others. Had one been able to see them, they would have noticed the men straightening up. The one in the tree unlimbered a bow and notched an arrow with a small canister at its tip. As the vehicle approached, they could see it just well enough to realize that it was the one they were waiting for: an armored car carrying the monthly payroll up to the Ajax Iron Mine in the hills above Gotham.
As the truck came closer, the bowman let fly the gimmicked arrow. It struck the road just under the front bumper and exploded. However, instead of flipping the truck over as they expected, the explosion was contained by a glowing green bubble that suddenly formed around it.
“Amazing the things you can hear in the streets of Gotham if you listen hard enough!” Seven heads snapped up at the sound of the voice, only to see a now-brightly glowing figure clad in garish colors. One of them voiced the thought that ran through all their minds.
Two of the would-be ambushers raised pistols and fired. The bullets bounced harmlessly off of the glowing green aura that surrounded the emerald warrior. With a thought, green pincers formed to grab the weapons away, just as several bands of green energy snaked out to either side of the road to encircle the six men on the ground.
The angle of that arrow’s flight wasn’t right for a shot fired from the ground, thought Green Lantern. He willed his ring to light up the area as he scanned the trees for the missing assailant. In doing so, he lit himself up as well. The bowman spied an opportunity and quickly drew an arrow from the quiver strapped to his hip. He notched the arrow and fired in one fluid motion, leaping from the tree as soon as the arrow left his bow. He didn’t expect the arrow to do any damage where bullets had failed, but he hoped it would distract the hero long enough for him to make his escape.
“Arrgh!” cried Green Lantern as the wooden arrow pierced his protective field and buried itself in his thigh. He dropped in the sky, coming close to striking the ground before he regained his composure and righted himself. By then, the bowman was gone. He looked up in time to snag two of the criminals in bands of emerald energy. Keeping a part of his mind focused on holding them, Green Lantern pulled the arrow from his leg and laid the heel of his hand over the wound to keep it from bleeding too badly. He willed the ring to tear a strip of cloth from his cape and wrap it around the leg as an improvised bandage.
“Are you all right, mister?” A man in the uniform of the Ajax Company’s security corps was walking toward him with a flashlight, his pistol drawn.
“Glad this was just a simple pointed shaft. If it had an arrowhead on it, that would have been a lot more painful,” replied the hero.
The Ajax man said, “Smitty called the company office on the wireless, and they’re sending the state police. You want I should cuff those mugs?”
“If you would, please.” As the guard secured the two crooks, Green Lantern relaxed a little. He examined the arrow, noting the unusual fletching at the base and the fact that it appeared to be hand-carved. Very unusual, he thought, and I know someone who is in town this week who might just be able to help me track down where it came from.
The following day, a battered taxicab pulled up in front of the Gotham Square Garden arena. Inside the cab, the driver was talking and joking with his fare in a familiar manner.
“So what’s da deal here, Alan? You toinin’ sissy on me? I thought dey left da culture-type stuff ta da dames!”
“Don’t worry, Doiby,” answered Alan Scott. “The exhibit was supposed to be at the Peabody Gallery, but they didn’t know just how big it was. When they discovered that they were bringing five truckloads of artifacts in, they moved it over here. GBS just asked me to help out down here, since I’m familiar with all the equipment that we use for broadcasting from the Garden. Before you know it, I’ll be back to covering the Gotham Giants’ basketball games in here.”
“Sheesh, dat’s good ta know!” Doiby Dickles pulled over to the curb. “There ya go, pal. Just give Louie a call back at da dispatch office when you’re ready ta leave.”
“Thanks.” Alan reached into his pocket and pulled out a five-dollar bill. Handing it forward, he grabbed his overcoat and his briefcase and climbed out of the cab.
As he watched the tall, handsome young radio announcer walk toward the door, Doiby shook his head and spoke to his cab. “I tell ya what, Goitrude, sometimes I think dat guy’s got it made, but I sure wouldn’t like ta have no joiks shootin’ arrows at me!” The radio under his dashboard crackled to life, directing him to a pickup three blocks away. “Whelp, no time for daydreaming, eh, Goit? Back ta work!”
Inside the sports arena, people were rushing around, making final adjustments to the exhibits. Alan walked through, looking for one person in particular. He spied him at a table hunched over with a pair of pliers in one hand, a spool of fine silver wire in the other, peering through a magnifying glass that a young woman held before his face. Alan stopped and watched.
“If I can just loop this under the rim… yes, yes, that’s it… now around the end of the feather… there it goes, and yes!” He straightened up, revealing a smiling face topped by light brown hair. His green eye noted the newcomer. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t notice you there. Can I help you?”
“I hope so. Oliver Queen, I presume.” As Queen nodded in the affimative, Alan continued. “I’m Alan Scott from Gotham Broadcasting. We spoke on the phone earlier this morning.”
“Oh, yes. This is Tracy Burns, one of the students assisting with the show.” Queen indicated the young lady who had been holding the magnifying glass. “I think that will hold together now, at least until we can work on it in a proper workroom.”
“Mind if I take a look?” asked Alan.
“Oh, please, be my guest.” Alan bent over the table to examine the hoop, about eight inches in diameter, with an intricate web of fine lacing crisscrossing the open space. Beads and feathers were knotted in the webbing in a pattern that was indiscernible to Alan.
“The American Indians of the west call it a dreamcatcher. You hang it near you when you sleep, and any bad dreams are drawn to it and caught so they cannot trouble you.” Oliver Queen smiled. “Like many such beliefs, it is incomplete. In this case, it doesn’t explain how the good dreams come through without being caught.”
“Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful work of art. Damaged in shipment?”
“No, just its age catching up with it. That piece is over two hundred years old.” Seeing Alan’s astonished look, he added, “Oh, we’ve replaced the feathers. It’s keeping the lacing intact that’s the trouble. Now, you said something about an arrow?”
Remembering why he came, Alan opened his briefcase and pulled out the arrow that had struck him the night before. “This was used during an attempted robbery last night. Green Lantern, uh, asked me to check with you, since he was aware that you were going to be in town.”
Indicating that Tracy should take the dreamcatcher away, Queen sat down and picked up the magnifying glass. “Green Lantern did, hmm? Then I take it that this isn’t the reason why you’re limping today?”
“What? Oh, no — I, uh, pulled a muscle last night.” Alan had almost forgotten about the wound to his leg. Queen’s only response was a smile, then he returned to the arrow.
“No head, rather like a contemporary target arrow. The carving looks like some I’ve seen with some of the Southeastern tribes, though they get a little muddled. Fletching looks like Chickasaw, which would fit with that.” He reached into a pocket and withdrew a penknife. He used the knife to trim a small piece from the tail end of the arrow. “Seasoned, but not too dry; probably made within the last six months.”
“You’ll have to forgive my ignorance. What’s a Chickasaw?”
“The Chickasaw tribe was in the mid-south region, southwest Tennessee, northern Alabama and Mississippi. Over time, they were actually pushed more to the Southeast into east Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Later, they were pushed out west as the American Indians were resettled in the Oklahoma area. After Oklahoma was opened up to settlement, a lot of them moved back east.” Queen put the arrow down. “You say a criminal was using this?”
“That and at least one gimmicked arrow with an explosive on it. Part of a gang that tried to hijack an armored car shipment last night.”
“Did Green Lantern capture any of the gang members?”
“Yes, but they aren’t talking. Commissioner Gordon is going to try again today to see if he can get them to tell anything about the rest of the gang.”
Oliver Queen stood up and gave the arrow back to Alan. “Well, I wish I could tell you more, but it’s not that unique an arrow. But if you — or Green Lantern — come across anything else that you think is related to an Indian tribe, please feel free to call me. I may be on the road, but my ward back in Star City always knows where to reach me.” He pulled a card from his jacket pocket and gave it to Alan. “It was nice meeting you.”
“A pleasure, Mr. Queen. Good luck with the exhibit.” Alan made his way through the crowd to the broadcast booth and spent the rest of the morning making sure everything was in proper order for the exhibit’s opening ceremony that evening.
It was almost eleven o’clock that night when Oliver Queen arrived at his hotel. The opening of the exhibit had gone smoothly, with a large crowd. After the exhibit closed, he and some of the staff had stayed around to rearrange some items. He had told the others to go and get a good night’s sleep, because the next day the exhibit would open at noon instead of six o’clock.
He would not be going to bed for a while.
Oliver pulled a trunk out of the closet. He opened it, reached to the bottom, and pressed a pair of latches. There was a quiet click, then the bottom of the trunk slid out a half-inch. He closed the top and pulled the bottom out like a drawer. He pulled out a green costume and started changing. Once that was done, he pulled out two long pieces of wood and fitted them together. He quickly strung the bow, then pulled a quiver of arrows over his shoulder.
“Now let’s see if Green Arrow can pick up where Green Lantern left off.”
A little after midnight, Green Arrow was on the northern outskirts of Gotham. Sheer luck had allowed him to hear that a shipment of gold was passing through the city. A stop by the railroad station and a careful examination of a map there had led him to believe that the best place to stop the train was where it turned away from the river north of the city. Now he was making his way on foot along a cliff that overlooked the tracks.
He heard the train approaching, its whistle blowing as it approached a crossing to the south. As if on cue, a trio of shadows separated themselves from the larger shadow at the foot of the cliff. Green Arrow stopped and nocked an arrow on his bow. As the light from the train washed over one of the men below, he drew and fired. A fine thread played out from the arrow as it flew, and with expert timing, he pulled sharply on the thread just before it reached its target. The arrow split apart, and a thin but strong net was deployed between the two sections of the shaft. The net fell over its intended target, and a harder pull on the thread tightened the edges of the net to ensnare the criminal tightly.
“I thought I might find you here!” came a voice from above. Without warning, Green Arrow was enveloped in a glowing green globe. He turned to see Green Lantern staring at him with a perplexed look on his face. “Great Scott!”
Green Arrow started to protest, even as the green bubble dissolved away. “I guess I had that coming, but the crooks are down there,” he said, pointing down to the tracks.
Green Lantern dived over the cliff, trusting in the magic of his ring to keep him aloft and safe from harm. More cautiously, Green Arrow scanned the area below, looking for the other two crooks. One was running toward the river. Reaching over his shoulder, the emerald archer let his memory guide his fingers to the portion of the quiver where the blunt stunning arrows were stored. He drew two of them and nocked one. Drawing back as much as the bow allowed, he aimed and fired. His shot was true, the hard rubber ball on the end of the arrow striking in the center of the fleeing man’s back. He went down and lay still. The second arrow was ready to fire before the man fell.
Below, Green Lantern willed his ring to form a spotlight and swept it up and down the track and along the edges. He spied movement but continued sweeping as if he’d not seen it. He was facing in the opposite direction when he willed a tiny tendril of energy to reach behind him and encircle the area where the crook was hiding. He then expanded it as he turned, snaring the crook who was futilely trying to shoot at the costumed hero. “You might not want to do that — the bullets tend to bounce back,” warned Green Lantern.
“I think that’s all of them, unless one was smart enough to stick to the shadows,” called Green Arrow from above. He watched as his fellow hero swept the area with the light of his ring, even as the train passed through without incident.
“Blast!” exclaimed Green Lantern as he flew up and landed beside the battling bowman, the three criminals in tow. “Not a single bow between them!”
“You have something against archers?” asked Green Arrow with a grin.
“No, it’s just that, ummm…” Green Lantern looked closely at the other hero for the first time. “Actually, I think you already know.”
“I think we both do. What say we drop these gentlemen off at the nearest precinct house, then find someplace private where we can compare notes.”
Their plan didn’t quite work out as they expected. As they were dropping off the criminals to face charges, one of the officers on duty told them about a robbery in progress on Gotham’s east side.
“The officer what phoned it in said that they took out the lights over the entrance with a bow and arrow!”
The two verdant heroes looked at each other, then dashed for the door. Green Lantern took to the air, extending a beam of green light to form a giant arrow for Green Arrow to ride upon. Like twin lightning bolts they sped across Gotham, arriving just in time to spy a pair of cars speeding away from the Diamond Exchange.
Bullets erupted from both vehicles as they descended. As Green arrow fired his customized shafts at one of the cars, Green Lantern focused his willpower and reached out with the glowing energy at his command, wrapping bands of emerald light around both of the cars. Just as he started to lift, an arrow flew from the back of one of the cars, piercing his protective energy field and narrowly missing his head.
As he ducked backward, the energy holding the cars flickered and disappeared. The cars sped off into the night as Green Lantern, recalling his passenger, quickly acted to keep Green Arrow from dropping fifty feet to the roadway below.
“Drat!” cried Green Lantern. “So close! They’ve already split up, so even if we could catch up with one of them, the others would get away.”
“So this way, they’re more likely to meet up again,” replied Green Arrow. He reached into his tunic and pulled out a box about the size of a quart milk bottle. “With any luck, they’ll tell us where they are. Or where they’re going to strike next.”
“Is that what I think it is?” asked Green Lantern, one eyebrow arching up high enough to be visible above his mask.
“I believe you know a little bit about radio equipment, my friend. You should know a portable receiver when you see one. And the transmitter is on one of the arrows that I fired into the back of the leading car. So I suggest we help the police officers down there clean up the scene of the crime, then find someplace to have the talk, and listen to a bit of radio.”