Showcase: Strobe: Rings of Ire, Chapter 2: To the Victor

by Dan Swanson

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Anyone near Power Ring and Sinestro would have been amazed that they had not started attacking each other.

That was a smooth move, ex-lax! Slamming him with that hammer sure helped him get away!” sneered Power Ring. “Are you sure you’re not on his side?”

“You intellectual cretin!” shouted Sinestro. “If you had cooperated as I suggested, I would have crushed him on an anvil created by your power ring. Instead, you feebly attacked with some kind of primitive projectile weapon? Where are your brains — in your ring?”

Both men added in their thoughts, If I didn’t need your help to crush Chisholm, I would crush you! And when we are done, I will crush you and take your ring. Adding your power to mine will make me invincible! Neither man wondered why he was so sure he needed the other. Both usually operated alone. Further, neither man wondered why they had to destroy Jim Chisholm. These were just things they knew and would never question.

“Your mother was a Martian!” shouted Power Ring, who wasn’t very good at exchanging insults with opponents. Very few of his opponents had lived long enough to insult him more than once. Why exchange insults with someone when it was so much easier to kill him? Those few beings he couldn’t easily kill, Power Ring didn’t dare insult, or they might kill him.

During this exchange of insults, both men had been using their rings to probe the ocean below. Power Ring had created a giant green shark that circled the area, searching for Chisholm. He had also created a reverse-periscope that extended from his eye down into the water. So far he’d had no results. Sinestro had created a giant power-ring net deep below the surface and ordered his ring to pull it up, trapping everything inside its radius. When the net didn’t contain Chisholm, he dissolved it, and tons of sea life fell back into the ocean.

“If you would stop your stupid yipping and let me concentrate, I might be able to find our target!” whined Sinestro. He created what looked like a sonar screen, and shortly afterward released a pleased shout. “There he is! My radar/sonar device has found him. Intellect will triumph, again and again.”

“Intellect this!” Power Ring yelled, quickly flying off to attack Jim Chisholm.

Flying off at top speed, Power Ring spotted Jim’s body floating on the ocean. He shot a big missile with a very powerful warhead toward Jim. Sinestro shouted a warning to Power Ring that it might be a trap, and in fact, just before the missile hit, Jim created a large, U-shaped pipe that turned the missile around and aimed it back at Ring. Jim used his power to speed it up, and it flew back toward Power Ring about twice as fast as he launched it. Power Ring was just barely able to create a shield; the missile hit the shield, detonated with what seemed to be a small nuclear explosion, and Power Ring was thrown wildly through the air, vanishing over the horizon.

I’m probably better off without that bungling incompetent! thought Sinestro as he streaked to the attack. Almost before Jim could think, he was being attacked by a monstrously large flying dragon, which was breathing glowing yellow fire. Just in time, Jim put up a shield. The dragon closed in and started attacking Jim with its front claws as well as the fire. Jim quickly retreated, and as he did, he formed a waterspout. The waterspout poured water into the dragon’s mouth, quenching the fire, and the whirling winds battered at Sinestro.

While Sinestro was momentarily disoriented, Jim quickly froze the dragon into an enormous block of ice. Sinestro wasted a few seconds trying to burst the dragon out of the ice, but quickly gave it up as a waste of time and power. Instead, he created a cloud of thousands of softball-sized globes that seemed to be attracted to Jim’s body. As they streamed toward him, the first one to hit his shield exploded violently. Jim quickly surrounded himself with a thick layer of self-renewing ablative material that vaporized when each of the globes exploded. Instantly, Jim was surrounded by thousands of explosions that didn’t hurt him, but did distract his concentration. Still, he wasn’t trying to do anything subtle.

Jim created a gigantic floating magnifying glass that focused the sun’s rays from several square miles directly on Sinestro. In turn, Sinestro quickly created a floating mirror above his head, and the burning ray was reflected into space. This heat ray gave Sinestro an inspiration, and he created a ring-duplicate of the most potent energy weapon he had ever seen — a blaster so big it took two hands just to hold it, and with a barrel the size of a keg of beer.

An energy blast poured out of the oversized barrel. Jim reacted instantly, creating a ten-foot-by-ten-foot square flat shield. When the beam hit the shield, it was spattered every which way, creating a flaming wall between Jim and Sinestro. Almost immediately, the edges of the shield broke away, and Jim quickly re-formed it as a six-foot-diameter half-sphere, so the energy beam struck the shield and then streamed around it.

Even with the smaller, denser shield, Jim was being battered backward through the air. He was clearly starting to look worried, until his face twisted in added concentration, and his backward motion stopped, while he started creeping forward. Sinestro sneered at this and directed a little more ring energy into the blaster, and once again, Jim was battered backward. Cracks started to appear in his shield, and he started to look desperate.

Jim drew himself together for one final effort. The cracks in the shield healed, and once again Jim began to move forward against the force of Sinestro’s energy beam. Sinestro didn’t have much additional energy to add to the beam, but he noticed that as he got closer, Jim was slowing down again, and once again the shield started to crack.

Deciding to gamble, Sinestro dropped his own shield and put every erg of energy he had left into one final blast. Jim’s shield was instantly shattered, and his body was completely vaporized.


Earlier, when the missile had exploded against Power Ring’s shield, it appeared to both Jim Chisholm and Sinestro that Power Ring’s shield was destroyed and that his body was flung, helpless, over the horizon. However, Ring wasn’t in anywhere near the trouble that Jim and Sinestro had thought.

That red creepo thinks he’s so damn smart, but I got him fooled! Years ago, I commanded my ring so that none of my own ring-constructs could ever hurt me! Wonder if creepo has ever thought of a precaution like that?

As he flew over the horizon, Power Ring used his power to stop his flight. He created a floating easy chair and a big-screen TV, a bowl of popcorn, extra butter, a bottle of tequila, and a shot glass. “Let’s just see how mister smart-guy Sinestro does without my help!” Power Ring settled into the easy chair, and the TV showed him a close-up of the aerial battle between Sinestro and Jim Chisholm. “When the fight is over, I’ll just bump off whichever one wins, collect Sinestro’s ring and Chisholm’s glove, and use them myself. Betcha I’ll be able to take Ultraman easy, with all that power! And after that, that witch Superwoman is mine!” Power Ring was having a good old time, watching a heavyweight fight and gloating about the future.

As Power Ring watched, after a lot of back and forth, it finally appeared that Sinestro was winning. But Chisholm had given him a real beating, and Power Ring was sure he would be able to best Sinestro easily. Suddenly, he became aware that he was panting, and he ached all over, while his vision was blurring. “What the hell is going on?”

Unfortunately for Jim, Power Ring was quite familiar with using his ring to improve the comfort of his body. There was nothing better than a little ring healing for even the worst hangover, so why suffer with bruises and sprains from beating up on people when just wishing on the ring made them go away instantly? Heck, the ring even helped his sexual performance. Power Ring quickly demanded of his ring, “What’s wrong with me?”

The ring flashed briefly, and the answer came into Power Ring’s mind. “The oxygen content in your blood is very low, and the carbon dioxide content is very high. You will probably pass out due to asphyxiation in the next five minutes.”

“Well, damn it, fix me, and then find out why it happened!” Immediately, Power Ring felt better as the ring raised the oxygen content of his blood and removed the excess carbon dioxide. A green glow outlined an invisible mask over the bottom half of Power Ring’s face. “What the hell is that?” Ring directed the question to the ring, and then the command, “Whatever it is, get rid of it!” The mask vanished.

The ring’s answer appeared in Power Ring’s mind. “‘That’ was an energy construct, invisible and almost intangible, which altered the air you were breathing. It didn’t totally cut off your oxygen, but cut it down to about half as much as you are used to. And it increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air you breathed. It was cleverly constructed in the hope that you would not notice it until it was too late. The energy used in this construct is the same as the energy Jim Chisholm is controlling.”

It’s great having a magic ring, Power Ring thought with smug satisfaction. Suddenly, he was struck with a horrible thought — if Chisholm had done this to him, might he have done the same thing to Sinestro?

Power Ring immediately rocketed through the air toward the battlefield, using his ring to project his voice ahead of him. “Sinestro! Use your ring to check your body for invisible energy constructs! Get away from Chisholm immediately — leave him to me and make sure you haven’t been booby-trapped!” He rocketed into the fight zone seconds after his message. He was confronted by Jim Chisholm, who had trapped the now-unconscious Sinestro in a glowing white spherical prison.

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