The invasion force of Quork and Martler wasn’t very large; they had about one hundred troops, evenly spilt between greens and chromans. The chromans were the fighters, while the more peaceful greens were technicians and support troops. Both groups claimed to have been forced into service of the two madmen, and they wanted no more than to go back to their normal lives.
There was still the problem of what to do with Quork and Martler, both of whom had histories of escaping from prison. Several of the greens suggested that they consult with the current Lawman of Mars. So after disabling the weapons on the spaceships, Green Lantern and Starman loaded up the troops, and off to Mars they went. When they reached the red planet, the two heroes, still using each other’s signature weapons, flew to the Hall of Law, the headquarters of the Lawman of Mars, dragging Quork and Martler behind in glowing green bubbles. An associate took charge of locking up the prisoners in an ultra-secure, temporary holding facility, and they were then escorted to the televisioscope room, where they were introduced to the Lawman himself.
“Starman and Green Lantern, welcome to Mars. I am J’on J’onz, the Lawman of Mars.”
Both heroes gaped in surprise as they saw the green-skinned Martian standing before them, for he looked very similar to J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter they’d long known as a member of Earth-One’s Justice League of America. But although this J’on J’onz was an impressive-looking man about six feet, three inches tall, he was slimmer than the J’onn J’onzz they knew, though still more muscular than his fellow Martians, who were a slender people.
Unlike the Manhunter from Mars, who was bare-chested and wore a bright blue and red costume with a cape, the Lawman of Mars wore a form-fitting dark purple suit covering his whole body up to his chin, with a small jet-pack on his back held on by what looked like a pair of crossed yellow bandoleers across his chest, as well as yellow boots and gloves. Another difference from their JLA ally was that the Lawman had two small bumps on his skull that almost looked like horns, but not quite. A dark purple cap emblazoned with a symbol that looked like a white X on a black circle covered his head, with goggles over his eyes and bulging earpieces over his ears. At his side in his belt holster was a pistol weapon of some kind that looked like a ray-gun out of a Flash Gordon serial.
“I’ve admired the JSA for years through our televisioscopes,” said J’onz, pointing to a bank of monitors, one of which showed a long-range picture of the Earth, while others showed Martian scenes. His greeting was cordial, but now turned slightly chilly. “I had hoped to keep Mars isolated from the problems you typically deal with on Earth.”
“Perhaps if you kept a better eye on your own issues, we Earthlings wouldn’t have to stop two Martian villains from nearly destroying Earth,” Green Lantern suggested, somewhat harshly.
J’on J’onz was apologetic when he heard the entire story. “I apologize for my earlier disrespect. I had no idea that Quork, who was captured by my predecessor Roh Kar several years ago, was still alive. Almost two years ago, there was an explosion in the moon prison on Phobos, and Quork was one of the prisoners confirmed dead in the explosion. (*) Someone who works at the prison must have been secretly working for Quork or Martler.” His features turned grim. “I’ll find out who, and make sure nothing like this will ever happen again. And I will deal with Quork as well.”
[(*) Editor’s note: A Martian year is almost two Earth years long.]
The intense determination in his voice reminded them of the Martian Manhunter they knew, and it was evident that this Martian was the Earth-Two — or Mars-Two — counterpart of the JLA member. Even with all their powers and experience as super-heroes, both men quickly decided they wouldn’t want J’on J’onz as an enemy.
“What about Martler?” Starman asked.
“We greens don’t normally concern ourselves with the affairs of chromans — we are separate nations, similar perhaps to your own concern about the internal affairs of, say, Brazil. However, by kidnapping greens, Martler has made himself my problem — and I will deal with him, just as I deal with Quork. You will never have to worry about either one again.”
“Umm…” Starman began nervously. “What’s going to happen to them?”
Sensing the concern of the Earth heroes, J’onz smiled. “Green justice is not inhumane, though it is inhuman,” he quipped. “They will be tried, and if they are found guilty, they will have a choice — incarceration in an escape-proof prison, or reeducation, which will remove their antisocial tendencies.”
“They’ve both escaped prison before,” Green Lantern pointed out. “Martler, twice, from prisons Superman built for him.”
“That won’t happen again,” J’onz said, steel in his voice. “Under Mons Olympus is a prison, built by Martians to imprison Martians, and none have escaped in over a thousand Mars years,” he said, his voice flat. (*) “Neither Quork nor Martler will trouble you or Earth again.” Neither hero doubted him for an instant.
[(*) Editor’s note: Mons Olympus is the largest volcano in the solar system, three times taller than Mount Everest.]
“It is time for afternoon klar, a Martian tradition similar to — but thousands of years older than — the high tea the British on Earth so enjoy,” the Lawman said, changing the subject. “Would you gentlemen join me? I assure you that klar and alua biscuits are safe for humans.” He led them into a smaller room, and they enjoyed a snack of a thin, warm beverage called klar, and small sandwiches of two black wafers around a creamy sweet white filling, called aluas. J’on seemed to particularly enjoy the aluas, finishing at least a dozen of the cookie-like biscuits.
They continued to talk over klar. “How did you know an electromagnetic pulse would disable Quork’s super-powers?” J’onz asked Starman.
“I didn’t, really. But normal greens don’t seem to have super-powers, other than natural toughness. So I figured he was augmented, either biologically as with Hourman’s Miraclo pills, or electro-mechanically. Turned out he was wearing this.” Starman handed J’onz a belt. “When you put it on, it creates a sort of force-field that lies on the surface of your skin, and the force-field responds to mental commands. The EMP wrecked it.”
“Lucky for you it wasn’t biological enhancement,” the Martian suggested to Green Lantern.
“Hey, that’s Green Lantern you’re talking to, not some rookie!” Starman reminded him. Green Lantern winked at his teammate.
The Lawman studied the belt intensely, seeming to concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else, holding it in front of his eyes and scanning it slowly from one end to the other. When he finished, he turned back to Ted. “No, it’s not damaged; it just needs to be reset. There!” He touched a spot on the buckle. “May I keep this? It would be a useful addition to the Lawman’s armament.”
“Sure,” Ted replied. “But how did you know how to make it work?”
“My headgear is also an augmentation device, providing me with Martian vision, enhanced hearing, and telepathy. You are correct; we greens possess no more abilities than the other Martian races, and haven’t for several millennia. According to legend, our ancestors in the distant past once possessed a vast array of mighty super-powers, but a god of war from Earth took those abilities away by burning the greens with a great blue flame, allowing him to conquer our planet and rename it after himself. Some of our scientists have found ways to restore our ancestors’ powers to us, but only through the use of technology. While I examined the device with X-ray and microscopic vision, I was learning about the belt’s mechanisms from Quork’s mind.” He donned the belt. “Many thanks, heroes of Earth! These new powers will allow me to be ever more efficient in the performance of my duties as the Lawman of Mars!”
“You’re welcome,” Green Lantern replied. “We are always happy to assist lawmen wherever we go. Perhaps we can work on a case together sometime.”
With that, the heroes took their leave.
For several hours before they finally reached Earth, Green Lantern had not been feeling well. He had pain in his joints, and was experiencing chills and excessive sweating. Starman used the power ring to contact Doctor Mid-Nite and Doctor Fate, and when the two wandering heroes reached the JSA Brownstone, they were immediately rushed to the medical suite.
After an hour, Doctor Mid-Nite summarized their findings. “Alan has been infected by some kind of genetically engineered bacteria, which produces a secretion that resembles wood. His ring won’t respond to a ‘being of wood.’ His body’s natural immune defenses have finally figured out how to attack this bacteria, and what he is feeling now is a result of his body fighting off this previously unknown infection. It turns out that this bacteria is also vulnerable to penicillin, so we’ve been able to speed up Alan’s healing process. He should be fully recovered and back to normal within twenty-four hours — and able to use his power ring once more.”
Alan Scott smiled weakly, and the heroic physicians turned their attention to Starman. A short time later, Doctor Mid-Nite once again reported.
“Ted, you’ve also been infected. But not by bacteria, or viruses, or anything else that is even living. Instead, in your bloodstream and every cell of your body there are thousands of these.” He pointed to a monitor that was connected to a powerful microscope. The display showed a gray object, shaped like a skinny football. “It is something totally unknown to medical science.”
Ted Knight set to work with some extremely sensitive instruments, many of them his own design. And after another hour or so, he also had results to announce.
“They are dual-purpose nano-bots — or sub-microscopic robots made out of an incredibly tough, chemically inert ceramic material. They are self-replicating, and their primary function is to absorb energy. And not just any kind of energy, but the same kind of energy used to power the cosmic rod.”
“I don’t get it, Ted,” said Mid-Nite. “Does the cosmic rod draw its power from you?”
“No. It utilizes zero point energy which it draws from the environment. However, there are small amounts of energy in your body, and when I grip the cosmic rod, or Alan does, these traces of energy actually activate the rod. With the nano-bots completely scouring that energy from my body, the rod remains inactive in my grip.”
Ted grimaced at his next words. “I can’t find any way to get rid of them. They are non-magnetic, non-conducting, ignore electromagnetic pulses, and are resistant to any chemicals I use on them — especially anything that wouldn’t kill me.” He was angry and frustrated to have found the cause of his problems, but unable to find a solution. “I’m a scientist, not a magician!”
“But I am,” Doctor Fate said. “These ‘nano-bots’ are not naturally a part of your body. A simple spell of dissimilarity should do to isolate them, and then I can use the Amulet of Anubis to destroy them.” Ted looked uncomfortable. “I assure you, my friend, that you will never feel a thing!”
“It doesn’t matter, anyway, Doctor Fate!” Ted spoke up. “I’d do just about anything to be able to use the cosmic rod again. Even… depend on a magic spell.” He looked at Alan and continued, apologetically, “The power ring is more powerful, and the variety of effects you can produce is much greater. But–” He sounded apologetic. “–I’m not comfortable with a weapon that can run out of power, and there’s no way I want to deal with a vulnerability to wood!”
Alan nodded, smiling in spite of his fever. “I understand. I really like knowing that I’m never going to run out of power with the cosmic rod, and I don’t have to concentrate on an existing manifestation to keep it going, but having to work out a mental ‘computer program’ for every effect I want is way too much for me!”
Doctor Fate cast a spell on Ted, using arcane gestures and speaking in an ancient language now used solely by sorcerers. As promised, Ted felt nothing. Then the Amulet of Anubis on Fate’s chest pulsed and emitted a ray of pale light. The ray itself was a color that no one could ever describe; no single color or combination of colors from the spectrum was even similar. This impossible beam bathed Ted from head to toe, and pulsed, and seemed to cling to his skin and then sink in, and then it vanished.
Ted jerked, startled. “Sorry, Doc — I did feel that a little bit. Right at the end, there was an instant sensation of heat — great heat — and then it was gone.”
“Those were the nano-bots being magically incinerated,” explained Fate. “I apologize for the momentary discomfort.”
“Not a problem, Doctor Fate. Watch this!” Ted pointed at the cosmic rod, where Alan had set it on a table, and the rod leaped into the air and floated directly into his hand. “Starman is back! And Green Lantern will be back shortly!”
The final order of business was to dispatch the remaining stealth asteroids. The Lawman of Mars had used his telepathy to find the deactivation codes and the orbital parameters. The asteroids were in orbits such that they would impact in a month, and then another month. The radio signal to deactivate the exploding kryptonite traps had already been sent, so Superman or Power Girl could deflect them at their leisure. And so ended the tale of Cosmic Lantern and Green Star.