Jennie-Lynn Hayden closed her eyes. Her floating disk smashed into her guard as it sped away. She grabbed the rail, her motion tipping the board in a random turn. Green and red orbs tried to knock her out of the sky. Her unbalanced leanings turned the platform ahead of her attackers.
The Locusts took flight, jets whining like giant bugs. Their rifles roared in fury. The projectiles flew close to the escaping couple, but none hit the target. Jennie-Lynn didn’t question her good fortune. She put it down to lousy shooting. She glanced at Hank King. A small panel on the net slid into view as he bounced around in the bottom of the flying machine. Small sparks erupted as he shifted. Jennie-Lynn touched the single button on the panel. The net came away gently, flew into the disk’s slipstream, and vanished.
Jennie-Lynn glanced behind her. The Locusts were still coming after them. They seemed to be falling behind the disk. They might make it after all, the former Jade thought as the wind blew against her brown hair.
Sauvage regarded the remote feed from his troops. He smiled slightly, a gleam in his deep-set eyes. The plan had worked partially. The strangers fled from the Light’s forces. Now all they had to do was follow them back to the Guardian.
The ursine humanoid asked for input from Quatrain’s visor. He frowned as the request was denied. The hunter’s equipment cut off any requests for information from outside sources. Sauvage growled at the slight. When his usefulness was over, his life would be, too.
“How do things proceed, Sauvage?” asked the smooth voice of the Light. His halo made the henchman’s shadow jump to attention in front of him.
“Roughly on course, sir,” said Sauvage, carefully keeping his eyes averted. “Quatrain’s prisoners are escaping. The Locusts will drop back to make them think they are out of our grip, while the Heckler keeps an eye on them.”
“The boy’s telepathy?” asked the Light.
“The Heckler said it wasn’t a problem,” said the bigger invader.
“Good,” said the Light. “Tell Quatrain to let the other two escape, and follow them. That will ensure we have two trails.”
“Yes, sir,” said Sauvage.
The halo receded as the Light turned his attention to other matters. His passage allowed Sauvage to breathe normally.
Quatrain took aim along the line of the long rifle he carried. The cavern descended along into a series of gullies and side tunnels, which became canyons descending into darkness. The landscape stood out in a series of green lines built by his visor. Quatrain acknowledged the message from Sauvage with a tap of his finger. He didn’t need, or want, to talk to the huge torturer. Quatrain liked to keep things clean and neat, not thrown in a pile of useless parts.
The hunter moved forward carefully. A replay of the helmet cam of the Locusts had told him that a darkness-controller was in the field. Such an opponent would not show up on the scanner he had available.
He took aim again, sweeping the area in front of him. A red blotch crossed in front of him at the bottom of a shallow canyon. The figure moved clumsily from rock outcrop to outcrop. Quatrain watched the head of his target look from side to side, obviously looking for attackers. Quatrain took aim. He fired into the wall above the red blotch. The rifle threw a cloud of coolant into the air as a column of plasma smashed the stone wall into glass. Let’s see what happens now, he thought as he took aim again.
Frances Kane allowed her aura to dim to invisibility. She swooped close to the platform she had spotted skating across the broken land. She smiled at Jennie-Lynn Hayden when she recognized the flyers. “I’m glad to see you,” Frances said. “How did you get this baby?”
“I stole it,” said Jennie-Lynn, checking the sky behind them. “Let me stop, and we can look after Hank. He was shocked by this net he was caught in.” Jennie-Lynn pressed on the brake pad, slowing the disk to a gentle stop. She placed her ear on Hank King’s chest, listening to his heart. It thumped regularly as she monitored it. “Wake up, Hank,” Jennie-Lynn said, slapping her love. “Wake up.”
“No more marshmallows for me,” Hank said, rolling over.
“Let me,” Frances said. She grabbed Hank’s ankle. A small flow of energy snapped out from her fingers. Brainwave sat up straight, eyes wide open.
“What happened?” he said, eyes wandering a little off plumb.
“We were ambushed and escaped,” said Jennie-Lynn. “Those green guys are behind us somewhere with the guy that shot you. Frances dropped in and woke you up. I think you should take it out of my head for a clearer picture.”
“Maybe later,” Hank said. “I can only feel us, so we seem to be in the clear. What do we do next?”
“Get everybody together,” said Jennie-Lynn and Frances together.
“Right,” said Brainwave. He reached out with his inherited telepathy. He gained clear impressions from Alan and Molly. They seemed to be passing them, heading back toward the Locust encampment. He felt Stephanie and Todd were back in that direction, too. Someone was hunting them in the catacombs under the surface of the planet.
Hank reached out with his thoughts as his head cleared from the beating he had taken from the capture net. He smiled as Alan and Molly changed directions to meet them on the plain.
Obsidian had his back against a cavern wall. He was a two-dimensional shadow among the deep blackness of the natural catacomb. He hoped to skate around the gold musketeer above him and knock him out long enough to get away. The plan changed when the first beam of energy lit up the cave for a millisecond. That was enough to force Todd Rice back into three dimensions from the intense light. He dived to one side as the lit barrel of the long gun shifted aim. Another intense beam shredded that wall like a stroke of manmade lightning.
Todd fell into a shallow gully, splashing into his flat form again. He streaked along the surface of the stone. Steph Harrigan was a step beyond a corner wall, using that for cover from the hunter. Obsidian caught up with her in a second, then became solid to help her along the tunnel. A cake of glass marked where the first beam had hit the stone wall. He hated to think what would happen to a body struck like that.
“Keep moving,” he whispered. “I can see him trying to circle around for a clear shot at us.”
“Is this the big cheese?” Stephanie asked, using a hand to steady herself in her unwieldy armor.
“I don’t think so,” said Todd. “The two guys I talked to didn’t seem to be anything like this loner.” Another blast exploded behind Obsidian. His shadow flickered under its influence before things became dark again. “They would have brought their hordes after us, too,” he said.
“I think I see some light ahead,” Steph said. “Let’s get out of this pit.”
“I’m with you.”
The Guardian shifted as he watched events unfold. It was time to move the Scott infants — and his own people — from harm’s way. It gestured a lick of flame across the playpen and cradle it had constructed. Crystal segments enclosed the triplets. The glass crib sank out of sight. The body of the tower would protect the babies until things were settled.
The flame moved to a heavy door that slid open at its approach. It commanded the soldier on duty to tell the captain of the guard to usher the castle’s people to their hiding places. Most of the garrison was to join the civilians. A light reserve was to remain to act as a piece of camouflage when the Light’s army arrived to attack the wall. There was also the matter of the Phoenix.
The flame held the two rings and the silver lantern in its grip. It placed them in a section of the wall. Then it created duplicates and placed them on display for which of his visitors arrived to the castle first. It contemplated the various parts of itself floating in the emerald blaze.
The Guardian waited, listening to the evacuation it had ordered to start in the castle beneath its base. The captain of the guard moved with a sharpness of thought. The guard led the people away, while the reserve took stations along the wall to sell the castle dear to the invaders. The Guardian waited in thought as the opposing forces converged on his lofty home in the sky.
Alan Scott let his bubble drop out of the sky. He smiled at the sight of his two daughters and Hank King. He had been covered in darkness for a month. Now light was dawning again.
“Where’s Todd?” Molly Scott asked. “Wasn’t he with you?”
“No, Mom,” said Frances Kane. “I haven’t seen him.”
“Neither have we,” said Jennie-Lynn Hayden. “I felt him, but Hank and I were in trouble and had to get away.”
“Where was this, honey?” asked Alan, light dripping from his lantern.
“That way,” said Jennie-Lynn, pointing. “We were in a hurry to get out of there. This army of green machines and this Quatrain guy were on top of the place where I had the feeling.”
“I think I should have a look for Todd while you rest up,” Alan said.
“We haven’t seen Stephanie, either, Dad,” Jennie-Lynn said.
“I’ll keep an eye out for her, Jen,” Alan said, green fire igniting around him. “If she is with Todd, I’m sure he’s looking out for her.” Green Lantern lifted into the air, cape swirling around him. “When you guys are ready, start looking for the triplets, Molly,” Alan said. “As soon as I have my look, I’ll catch up with you.”
“Take care, Alan,” Molly said, her brown hair floating in the sudden draft of wind. “Come back.”
“Don’t worry about me,” Green Lantern said. “I’m finally back.” The emerald guardian soared away in a trail of green flame.