In Gotham City, Green Lantern had found himself battling the Monocle’s gang without initially realizing there was more to the odd group than met the eye.
“Give it up, Monocle! You can pull out all the gimmicked eyepieces you want — my ring will match them all!” vowed the stalwart hero as his power ring flashed with emerald energy and blocked multiple energy beams that radiated from a lens held by the enslaved and silent Monocle.
Good thing I was here on business, mused Alan Scott. With so many of Gotham’s local heroes occupied with other matters, this group of felons could have escalated the danger level beyond that which the local police could have handled!
The hero slapped Black Arrow to the ground with a giant emerald hand, even as he willed a massive pincushion to absorb all the villain’s expertly fired arrows. Green Lantern flew higher to avoid a barrage of spiny thorns hurled his way by the enslaved Sumac.
That young punk has the right type of power to pose a problem for this veteran ring-slinger! he thought, referring to the fact that wood could penetrate his miraculous ring creations like no other substance could. Still, he was capable and posed a threat to the foes, even with his ring. He demonstrated this fact by swooping down suddenly and connecting with a stunning punch that staggered Sumac.
“Well done! You’ve occupied him long enough for me to take over!”
The words came from the Star Sapphire as she stepped forward, and a pinkish glow began to cover the emerald gladiator. He frowned and shook off the energy as his own remarkable willpower exerted itself against the alien queen’s impressive powers. Green and pink energies ebbed and flowed as each combatant exerted his or her will.
Star Sapphire could control most men, but Green Lantern was shielded in more ways than just by experience and by the willpower that led him to victory time and time again.
“Sapphire, you won’t take my mind!” said Green Lantern. “My ring automatically shields me from your control. I made sure of that by making a specific precautionary command after the last time you almost took the world by storm!”
The alien queen laughed and said, “For a lesser being, you do rise to the challenge! You’d make an excellent consort!”
“It would never work!” said Green Lantern. “You’re dark, and remember — the dark things can’t stand the light!” As he repeated part of his old oath, his power ignited the air around them, and Star Sapphire drew backward.
At that moment, Sumac struck from the rear. A woody stalk erupted from the ground and knocked Green Lantern into a building. His will faded for a moment, and Star Sapphire’s pink glow grew brighter. He struggled to regain his feet, but before he could so, a newcomer stepped over his fallen body.
She was a lovely young woman in a striking purple costume that left her legs bare above high-heeled boots. Long, flowing white hair framed her face, along with the odd glasses she wore.
“Harlequin?!” began Alan. “How in the world? You’re not–!”
The newest Harlequin hesitated, then whispered, “I’m not the original? No, I’m someone far closer to you. I’m your daughter!”
Green Lantern stood up and said, “I don’t know how you got those glasses, but you’re clearly not one of my old foes, nor are you my child! I take paternity claims pretty seriously!”
“I can’t hide us from her power for long, but I can buy us some time!” said the new Harlequin. “Don’t use your ring. Just run with me!” She led the battered hero into the broken building, and his mind raced as he tried to form a plan.
Daughter or not, I have to regain my wits long enough to stop Star Sapphire, he mused. This new Harlequin and her bizarre claims can wait.
Outside, Star Sapphire cursed as she found no trace of the hero. He has eluded me! she thought. Still, after I control an army of males, I can hunt him down!
In an alley two blocks over, Harlequin gasped as Green Lantern gripped her arm. “Now young lady, just who are you?” he demanded.
She opened her mouth for a moment, then closed it firmly and concentrated. For a moment, the illusion of white hair vanished to reveal a young woman with straight brown hair and eyes that were hauntingly familiar to Green Lantern.
“Great Scott! Irene Miller?” he muttered.
“No! I’m her daughter, Alana. I was named for you — the man who broke my mother’s heart and left her to raise me alone!”
“You clearly know my real name, so I won’t quibble with you,” said Green Lantern. “I cared for Irene. You look just liked her, but I can’t be your father. You’re what? Thirty-something? I haven’t seen your poor mother since the late ’40s! We parted on good terms. We just weren’t meant for each other. She understood that!”
Harlequin resumed her illusory guise and said, “You’re a liar! I’ll have to make you confess the truth!”
Green Lantern watched the world shift around him as her illusions changed the alley into a primeval forest, where trees loomed around him and threatened to crush him. He closed his eyes and concentrated until all the alley was bathed in a green glow that burned away the image of the fake trees and revealed the truth.
An angry, frightened, and troubled young woman in a purple costume was the only foe he faced. She couldn’t create wood or deserts. She could merely project images of them. He had faced such power before, and he could handle it. He raised both hands in a placating gesture, even as he willed one tendril of green power to snake down and around the girl and push her glasses off. He caught them with one hand and pulled her closer with the other hand.
“Honey, I don’t know what makes you think I had a child with Irene, or how I could supposedly be your father when you are so much younger than any child I could ever have had with your mother would be, but I cared for Irene,” he said. “I mourned for her when she died a few years ago. I’ll get you the help you need!”
Alana Miller nodded slowly as the force of his presence did something even his ring could not do. It brought reason to her troubled mind. There was much more to Alan Scott than his ring. He was one of the first and the finest of the golden age mystery-men, and his light still shone a beacon to those who followed his heroic path. The sheer nobility of the man burned through the fog that clouded her mind, and in a way, she saw the light.
She sobbed in his arms as he led her away. “I never knew my real father. Mother talked about you all the time. When she died, I was so angry. I felt so lost! I just decided you were my father! I knew she never stopped loving you. You were famous and rich, and then I found out your secret from reading her old diaries. I sought help from the underworld. I paid all I had to connect with someone who led me to Monocle. He gave me these glasses!”
“Shhh,” said Green Lantern. “It will be OK. We’ll make it OK!”
Alan held her for a moment, resolving to use all his wealth and connections to do just that. He’d help the troubled young woman. He owed that much to the memory of her mother, one of his first loves.
On Qward, as Artemis Crock and her odd group faced the onrushing Destroyers, the Monster also faced something more mysterious. He tried to make sense of his own feelings.
I don’t understand this place, he thought. At first I was an angry as ever, but it seems like the longer I stay here, the better I feel. If this place is as far from my supposed home as it seems to be, I may be better off here. I think I could learn to like it here!
In truth, the troubled Stephen Rogers was not the only outworlder who was experiencing odd sensations.
Oleander was radiant as her injuries healed, and she exulted in what she had called communion with the natural world.
Alchemy was calm, but something within her urged her to get home and return to a totally different lifestyle. I’m not meant for the costumed life, she thought. I should go back to college or get a job!
Hazard felt equally strange as something compelled her to focus her own remarkable powers upon the obelisk.
Artemis ignored all sensations or inner voices. She merely fought furiously with the approaching attackers.
Corona tried something entirely different. She talked to her ring. “Ring, what is the purpose of that obelisk?” she cried. “Why am I drawn to it?”
The ring replied in a mechanical tone that was her own voice devoid of emotion. “The ancient master of the Qwardians sealed that which he despised within the obelisk,” said the ring. “It is that imprisoned force that calls to you and seeks to manipulate you all toward its own purposes.”
Even as her friends were being overwhelmed below, Corona yielded to the force within the obelisk and blasted away at the obelisk as Hazard strained to use her own probability-altering powers on the outcome of Corona’s efforts.
The complex shuddered and quaked as if it was alive as the obelisk cracked open, and a golden globe emerged and engulfed Corona.
The Monster gasped as he witnessed the event. He was attracted to her, and in spite of his gruff protestations to the contrary, he didn’t want to see her harmed.
Artemis lashed out at an armored Destroyer and then whirled as a noise clattered to her rear. She saw a female figure standing over a fallen Destroyer. Clearly, the other woman was Qwardian, but she had saved Artemis from one of her own. “Thanks!” replied Artemis in a startled tone.
The woman nodded grimly and said, “Your battle skills honor us all! I could not see you fall to a sneak attack! I’m Kima.”
“You aren’t going to be too popular around here after that!” said Artemis.
Kima dropped to her knees and said, “I know! That is why you must take me with you!”
Before any of them could even move, the golden energy globe that had completely encased Corona swooped down and carried them away at blinding speed.
Inside the gleaming sphere, the huddled group listened as a voice came from within the walls of the shape that contained them. Corona could not be seen except as a dimly female outline made of energy.
“I am the Starheart! Eons ago, the Qwardians attempted to banish all magic from their military-minded and precisely balanced world. That energy was too great to be diminished by human efforts, and thus it was merely contained within that obelisk! It took the arrival of one with power akin to its own nature to awaken and finally free it!”
“You’re that voice that spoke to us in words or tried to alter our feelings,” said Hazard. “What do you want from us?”
“I want nothing but to repay you for liberating me!” said the Starheart. “I have been trapped for so very long!”
“Corona’s power couldn’t shatter that thing on its own, nor could her ring awaken you,” said Artemis. “I don’t think it is magical! The Monocle said it was from some other-dimensional world!”
The Starheart boomed out an answer. “The Qwardians made her ring with their science, but in truth, what they call man’s science differed little in nature from the universal magicks that formed me!”
“I did it!” whispered Hazard. “My power made her ring’s energy just the right combination of things to spring you!”
“I will return you all to your universe!” said the Starheart. “That much I may do for you!”
“What did you do to Corona?” asked the Monster.
“She is my host!” said the Starheart. “I cannot release her! She stays here!”
“I’m not leaving, either!” said the Monster.
Alchemy spoke up in a timid voice. “Could you find another host on the Earth in this universe? I mean, is there an Earth within this universe? Seems like my father once spoke of heroes from another Earth who battled him along with some JSAers?”
The Starheart glowed brighter and said, “You speak wisely. I will find the Alexandra DeWitt of the Earth that exists here! She will be my host, and I will liberate your Corona upon finding her!”
Artemis groaned as the sphere changed direction. A girl tries to make some easy money, and she ends up on a quest out of some 1950’s space opera! she thought.