by Dan Swanson
“We should capture the base now, while so many ships are out searching for us,” Ted Knight urged. “If we move fast enough, automatic weapons won’t be able to lock onto us, and the base seemed short-handed even before they sent out search teams.”
Ted and Alan Scott rose cautiously from the depths of the chasm and drifted toward the ridge of ground nearest the base. Ted created a periscope and peeked over the ridge; he couldn’t see anyone outside the base. “It’s a lot easier creating something like this with the power ring than the cosmic rod,” he commented to his friend.
“So I’ve noticed,” Alan grumbled back, then the two launched themselves toward the base at high speed.
As soon as they crossed the ridge, the ground on the far side blew up in a tremendous explosion, tossing them both high into space above the asteroid. Though neither was hurt, it took a few seconds before they regained control of their flight, and by that time, a group of Martians was flying toward them, firing energy beams.
“Time to split up!” Alan suited his actions to words as he dived down and to the left. “See you inside!” Ted rocketed in the opposite direction. Separated, they’d make smaller targets.
Only one figure broke formation to follow Starman; the rest headed toward Green Lantern. They continued to fire, and when several beams managed to find his shield at the same time, he saw the shield deform and stretch. He immediately began evasive maneuvers. He heard a command from one of the Martians, and though he couldn’t understand the language, he recognized the voice as Martler. The alien squadron spread out and moved to surround him.
Alan dived back down to the surface and tried to lose them by weaving around the many rugged peaks, giant boulders, and rocky cliffs that made up the surface of the asteroid. But he wasn’t yet able to maneuver easily; he still had to mentally frame his commands, and after smashing through some rocky spires and bouncing off other features of the landscape, the Martians quickly caught up, and he was surrounded. At least they had stopped shooting at him; they had all holstered their energy pistols and were now armed with swords and shields that had been strapped to their backs.
Damn! Their weapons are made of wood! Green Lantern instinctively recoiled from weapons that were clearly designed to exploit the vulnerability of his power ring. He was unable to dodge the first slashing attack, but then relaxed when the green aura around him easily deflected the wooden weapons. The aliens seemed temporarily at a loss now that their attack had failed — the green aura had fooled them. He had a sudden inspiration.
Light-saber. The thought virtually exploded from him. Instantly, the cosmic rod grew a glowing green light-saber blade from that movie that his kids Jennie-Lynn and Todd were always talking about, and Alan used it to devastating effect, easily shearing the wooden blades that were slashing at him, and slicing the wooden shields into splinters.
The Green Lantern Revenge Squad, as he now thought of his opponents, had been expecting an easy victory, and their once-precise attack was shattered into confusion.
“Xrogg! Xoeurh oneyge brbbt!”
Translation or no, the anger and frustration in Martler’s voice was evident. The Martian Führer’s squad scattered, some of them landing and others just racing farther away, then pulled out their energy pistols while discarding their useless swords and shields.
This gave Alan a few seconds to figure out how to use the cosmic rod as a ranged weapon. He consciously ordered the rod to cease being a light-saber, the gave it a new command.
Concussive energy burst! he thought as he pointed the rod at Martler. A pulse of green energy blasted from the rod. Martler fired his energy siphon the same time, and the green energy vanished into the purple beam. Alan was slammed again by the energy pistols of the other Martians. But he didn’t dare turn his attention to them, because the energy siphon was much more dangerous.
He rose farther from the asteroid, where he could more easily maneuver; swooping movements were a lot easier than abrupt ones. But he continued to take hits from his enemies’ weapons, and he could feel the force-shield weakening.
Ted Knight quickly recognized the approaching Martian as Quork, apparently spoiling for a rematch. For a brief instant he was paralyzed by a flashback to the ending of their earlier fight, and he missed a chance to launch the first attack. Instead, he flew frantically down and out of the flight path of the approaching alien, making sure he got far enough away to avoid the shape-shifting tricks Quork had used earlier. Flying with the power ring was much easier than with the cosmic rod, and Ted’s years of practice, including aerial tag with other flying heroes, were paying off now. He was easily outmaneuvering the Martian. But he wanted to do more than outfly his foe; he needed to beat him before reinforcements arrived.
“You’re all by yourself this time, Quork!” he goaded his opponent. “No more men to sacrifice to your cowardice.” He touched down on the surface of the asteroid.
Quork didn’t have much to say. He swooped into a turn and dived on the grounded hero.
Ted was trying to create an anti-aircraft cannon with the ring. Unfortunately, he’d seen many different types of cannon through the years, and he couldn’t quickly decide which to use as a model. A green mist floated from the ring and swirled as Ted struggled to edit his visualization, but it was too late. Quork pulled out of his dive and rocketed at Ted, who barely managed to duck behind a boulder and escape.
“Now who’s the coward?” the Martian snarled. “Stand and fight!” He landed and turned, then started forward. A giant boxing glove slammed at Quork, but he simply raised his hand to block it aside, and when his hand touched the emerald construct, it vanished.
When his glove touched it, actually! Ted noted to himself that Quork had added gauntlets over his spacesuit since their last battle. “There must be wood fibers in the fabric of the gloves!”
“Your feeble toy cannot protect you from me!” Quork gloated. Ted ringed up a giant slingshot, which was much simpler than a cannon because it had no internal workings, and quickly launched rocks from the landscape around him. The first one hit Quork in the chest, and he staggered, but he was able to knock the next one away, and there wasn’t time to launch any more. Quork swung a wild roundhouse right, and Ted quickly ducked under it. He didn’t dare let the Martian touch his force-screen with the gloves, as he didn’t want to be breathing vacuum twice in the same day. He launched himself back into the sky.
He stopped next to a tall, thick, rocky spire. Two giant glowing emerald hands reached out from the ring and grasped the spire, snapped it off, and then used it to club the oncoming Martian. Quork was knocked tumbling backward. Before he could recover, one of the hands had grasped him around the waist and lifted him upward, then slammed him back down again on the stony surface. When he was being lifted again, he managed to reach down and touch the green hand, and it vanished. And then Quork vanished as well.
For the barest instant, Ted considered radar, but that was much too complex for him to easily visualize. Instead, two more giant hands swept up rocks and boulders from the surface, and ground them together into dust, and then threw the dust toward the spot where Quork had disappeared. Quork’s outline instantly appeared, and Ted slammed him once again with his giant stone club. The outline vanished, and Ted instantly flew into the cloud. The dusty form of Quork appeared right next to Ted’s last position, and the Martian roared with rage when Ted wasn’t close enough for him to grab.
“There must be wood fibers in the fabric of the gloves!” Starman hadn’t realized he’d spoken aloud, but nearby, Green Lantern heard him. He was a little busy at that instant, so he didn’t respond, but as soon as he gained enough altitude to maneuver, he was searching for his friend, and found him when there was a terrific explosion that left a dusty cloud, slowly setting toward the asteroid’s surface.
“Martler’s energy siphon is giving me trouble, Ted!” he announced to his partner. “But the ring should be proof against it. And the cosmic rod–”
“–isn’t vulnerable to wood,” Ted finished for him. “Great idea, Alan!”
Without warning, Green Lantern blasted toward the Martian base, ignoring multiple beam weapon hits and actually crashing into two of the Martian soldiers, knocking them spinning through the sky. He was moving so fast, Martler was unable to get a bead on him again. At the same time, Starman flashed upward, and the two heroes passed by each other like two green comets.
“Try a massive electromagnetic pulse,” Ted suggested as they crossed paths. “Just a hunch.” Alan could hear the quotes in Ted’s voice; he wouldn’t have to puzzle over the next command to the cosmic rod.
Ted could feel the impact of the aliens’ energy beams against the ring’s force-shield, but he figured he could withstand the barrage for long enough; besides, it would quickly become less intense. He flashed up to the closest Martian and slapped the gun from his hands. “Tag! You’re it!”
The Martians’ space-suits were able to fly in space using ion propulsion, but the power ring was much faster, and Ted had much more practice maneuvering. It didn’t take him long to disarm the squad; he deliberately saved Martler for last.
The alien dictator frantically blasted away with both his energy siphon and his energy pistol. The pale purple energy siphon beam had no effect on the power ring’s energy, and the pistol beam just splashed off Ted’s shield like water from a garden hose. As Ted flew inexorably closer, Martler threw both weapons at Ted, and turned to flee.
“I understand you took your name because you admired Adolf Hitler?” Orson Welles had broadcast part of his adventure with Superman on Mars over the radio; at the time Ted, like almost everyone else on Earth, had thought it was just another Orson Welles practical joke, but the latter encounter between Superman, Green Lantern, and Martler was part of the JSA files. “It takes a pretty sick individual to idolize someone who murdered millions and was responsible for the deaths of many more millions!”
Martler’s space-suit was much faster than those of his disarmed and demoralized minions — as fast as Quork, in fact. But before he could get very far, a glowing emerald tendril stretched out from the ring and encircled him like a lasso, and yanked him to a stop. The lasso then expanded into a green cylinder, enclosing the Martian’s entire body, though his large head was sticking out one end.
Green Lantern was flying toward Quork at high speed, trying to get closer before triggering the electromagnetic pulse. Suddenly, the Martian vanished, and something slammed violently into Alan Scott’s back. Quork wrapped both legs around the hero and started pounding on his head from behind. Alan expanded his force-shield, and even Quork’s super-strength couldn’t resist, and he popped off. He kept pounding on the shield as Alan spun to face him. Suddenly, the alien deformed and wrapped around the spherical shell, then applied all his strength to squeezing. The shield started to deform, and Alan quickly mentally commanded, Massive electromagnetic pulse.
There was no immediate visible change, but that the super-powered pressure quickly diminished to negligible. Alan again expanded his shield until Quork’s body wouldn’t stretch anymore, and as soon as the Martian snapped back into his normal shape, Ted created another green bubble to imprison him.
Starman flew up to join him, the helpless Martler in tow. “Nice work, partner!”
Green Lantern grinned back. “Teamwork does it again!”
Ted switched his attention back to his captive. “Better tell the base to shut down the automatic cannon. While you’re at it, let them know we’ve captured the two of you, and they had better surrender. And do it in English!”
“This is your great leader, Martler. Through vile treachery, great leader Quork and I have been captured. Throw down your arms and surrender!”
Alan could have sworn he heard cheers over the radio. He didn’t even comment on the vile treachery crack.