Sins of the Past (Part VII)
The Daily Planet, circa 2055
Kyle Rayner, formally known as Green Lantern, was a man who many saw as a hero. After the destruction of Coast City he rose up, and defeated the being known as Paralax who had been responsible for the horrid deed. He had saved the earth countless times, and had continued to do so for many years even after many more lanterns had appeared.
After a forced retirement, Mister Rayner had went on to develop one of the most prestigious architecture corporations of the century. He was the driving force behind the rebuilding projects of many cities that had been lost to the bombings that ravaged the nation and brought about the great Order we all live under today. For his service as a hero, both in from his time of service in the Justice League, and his reclamation project, Kyle Rayner had been immensely honored and considered a legend among many. Then one day, on a very sad Sunday morning in September, Kyle Rayner’s home was destroyed, and his body was found among the rubble. This horrid act that had resulted in his murder of one of the great pioneers of this century was the victim of what has been considered to be the first act of rebel terrorism against the Order. It is a sad day for the New Order of the World.
The funeral has attracted thousands, and a memorial statue will be erected in his honor at the Hall of Justice Museum. Many are sad on this day, but we all know that Mister Rayner has left us all with an incredible legacy, and in his death the Order is now stronger than it has ever been before. Those who have taken Mister Rayner from us, you will be found, you will be tried, and you will face judgement. To Mister Rayner, wherever you may be, your hands have drawn this new and beautiful world we all live in today. Your sacrifice will not be in vain, and we all hope that you rest in peace. Farewell Mister Rayner, we miss you you.
It had all happened so fast, and much of it was a blur. It had all started with a visit from Wonder Woman, a terrorist attack on Metropolis, and the rumor of conspiracy. Connor had left Smallville, and a quiet life only to learn that his friend and mentor was a murderer, that the world was on the brink of collapse, and just a blink away from being flooded with an army of monsters.
A battle against a clone had left Connor’s body feeling worn, and he could taste blood in his mouth. For what felt like hours, Connor had been thrashed, and tossed around by a caricature of his late friend Kara Zor-El. His struggle to keep the clone of Kara alive had been nearly impossible. The clone had grown stronger with every second the fight had dragged on. Had it not been for the Tamaran Princess, Koriand’r, he would not have been able to stop the clone’s rampage, and now she lay in his arms dying from a mortal wound.
Connor had seen the flash of light seconds too late, and Starfire collapsed falling forward onto him. The blast had knocked the breath from her, and her eyes were wide from shock and pain. Groans gurgled from her throat as she began to breathe again in ragged uneven intervals.
Connor’s eyes felt like they were about to pop out of his head, and his hands shook violently as he eased her down to the ground keeping her head elevated. Blood poured down her front from several small wounds, but it was her back that had took the full brunt of the damage. The hand that Connor used to support her was soaked in her blood, and he was terrified to move it, because he knew that there would probably be nothing left for him to hold on to.
With a slight tremble in his voice Connor said, “Kori, please hold on. Stay with me. Don’t you dare die on me.” He had not noticed the elderly man, approaching him. His sunken face held no sign of remorse, but instead he carried the gaze of pity.
“Do not mourn for her Connor,” Rayner said, “For all she has done, she doesn’t deserve any sorrow. She’s killed hundreds, and now she will finally pay the price. Now, she won’t be able to kill anyone else.”
Connor looked up at Rayner, he’s eyes were filled with tears, and disbelief. Kyle Rayner’s face was filled with disgust as he said, “The world is much better off without her. Save your tears for someone who deserves them.” Kyle held up his hand, and on his finger was an impossible device: a Green Lantern Ring. The ring began to glow as Kyle said, “Hal once killed a Guardian with one of these rings, because he had the willpower to do so. If Hal can do that, I know I have the will to use the charge left in this ring to do what must be done.”
An emerald light erupted from the ring enveloping Rayner’s body within. The light was so bright Connor had to look away for a moment, but when he looked back Rayner stood before him, and image of a bygone era. The suit had changed from the old days, and had been replaced with a glowing suit of armor with a cape sown from light billowing behind him, but the mask that covered his face stood an ever potent reminder to the past.
Kyle Rayner slowly began to lift up into the sky, light pulsating from his body as he said, “Goodbye Connor.” Kyle Rayner lifted higher and higher into the sky, until he was just a small emerald light glowing in the sky over Keystone City.
Connor was at a loss, and his mind was completely numb. His senses were paralyzed from the flood of emotions. Confusion from the constant betrayals, rage at the ever climbing death count that surrounded him, and disgust at the perversion of a world that he had once loved. It started to seem like it was all just pointless. He couldn’t stop Clark from becoming the monster he was, he couldn’t prevent his daughter from growing up alone, he couldn’t stop the rebels from making the clones, and now he couldn’t even save one life. He looked down at Kori, as the light slowly began to fade from her eyes, and blood dripped from the corners of her mouth.
Then for the first time in ages, he began to sob. He cried and screamed out in pain and anguish. All at once everything just broke, and he couldn’t stop. He felt like an infant, just lying there doing nothing, but what could he do. He was a failure; that was all he had ever been, and all he ever would be. A cheap copy.
Then suddenly the world stopped, as he felt a cold hand touch his face. He open his eyes, to see Kori smiling at him.
“I want to tell you why I kissed you.” She said, her voice barely audible, “I’ve lived my entire life in the moment, it’s in a Tamaran’s nature.” She winced struggling to hold on, “You reminded me of a simpler time; a time when I was happy. I had forgotten what it felt like, but you brought that back to me. It was nice to feel it again. Thank you for that, for everything ” Kori’s voice trailed off, and she closed her eyes. The rise and fall in her chest had slowed to a crawl. At this point Connor knew there was no hope for her, but bad habits die hard. Holding her tightly, he begged, “Please, Kori just hold on. Please don’t go.”
With her eyes just barely open she whispered, “Goodbye.” At that point, her breathing completely ceased, and Connor heard the beat of her heart come to a complete standstill. Starfire, the princess of Tamaran, was dead.
It had been many years since he felt this. The power of Will flowed through him like an unstoppable force, and it gave new life to a man who was already dead. When Hal Jordan had turned on Superman, he was instantly struck down, his ring was seized, and Superman made an appeal to the Guardians. He called for a cease of Lantern activity in Sector 2814, and per galactic law, should any Sector so desire, the Lantern Corp will not exercise galactic polices in the event that said Sector does not encroach on any other sector, and show ample ability in protecting their own from galactic threats.
Superman agreed to their terms, and the remaining Lanterns of earth were either decommissioned, or fled into space to continue operations in other sectors. The lanterns Simon Baz and Guy Gardner elected to leave Earth while Kyle and John Stewart stayed. Several years had passed, and Kyle and John both remained close friends, until one day. Out of the blue, John contacted him, and told him there was something wrong with Hal’s death. He wasn’t sure what, but he would soon find out, and he would let him know more soon.
Weeks went by, and there was never any response from John. It was like he had vanished off the map. After some digging Kyle finally found the old man. He was wasting away in some old sanitarium out in the middle of nowhere Montana. By the time, Kyle got to him John had been chemically lobotomized. His former friend, ally, and last connection to the past was gone forever.
Enraged by what he witnessed he started doing some digging of his own, and started asking questions. Everywhere he looked, he found no answers, and those he once took orders from; Superman, Wonder Woman, Jonn, all of them simply told him to go home, and that he was getting too worked up over what happened to John, and that sometimes tragedies just happen. Right when he was about to give up, he was visited by a mysterious caller. The man called himself the Outsider, and told him the truth about what happened to Hal and John. Hal had openly defied Superman in an unsanctioned and unjustified execution and was struck down for it. John had come too close to the truth, and the Manhunter made him pay the ultimate price for knowing said truth.
At that point, Kyle was prepared to throw everything away, refuse to offer any more support to Superman, and do whatever it took to expose him. The Outsider had a counter offer, and that was when Kyle got the Ring. The Outsider told him that all he needed was access to Kyle’s government bank accounts, and in exchange he could have the ring, and promised that one day he would be able to have his revenge on the Order. After that Kyle faked his death, and tagged along with the Outsider as his personal benefactor, and lieutenant.
Years went into the effort to prepare the Outsider’s plans to strike back against the Order. Locating sites, getting the equipment, and preparing the cloning process to raise an army. At first, Kyle had thought, since they were using the old Cadmus clone files, that they were going to make more clones like Superboy, but he was surprised to learn that the first clone was of Supergirl. When he asked the Outsider what the reasoning was he explained that the death of Supergirl was one of Superman’s greatest failures, and that to be faced with the past it would catch him off guard, giving the clone a fighting chance. It had seemed a shaky plan, but when Kyle watched him work, with such precision and organization, and the fact that he told him the truth about everything he felt he should trust him.
When Superboy, well when Connor reappeared for the first time in nearly thirty years, it had shocked the entire operation, and even the Outsider had seemed slightly disturbed by the turn of events, though it was hard to tell underneath the mask that he wore.
That was when Kyle way sent to Keystone city, right in the middle of a new conflict. Another rebel faction had stirred things up in Keystone, and Kyle along with the clone of Supergirl had been sent in to protect their assets there.
When he arrived at Keystone, he saw the rebels struggling to survive, and that was when he knew what he had to do. He rallied the remaining rebels under him, and tactically deployed them to hold the Order at bay, but that was as far as his plans went. All he could hope for was back up, but he knew it wouldn’t come. He knew that those men would die fighting, but to die fighting is better than to be massacred.
He sat down in that bunker for days, surrounded by the clones that had yet to be birthed. His only companion a silent living statue of Supergirl, and a dormant Green Lantern ring. He had tried many times to see if the ring would power up as it did before, but to no avail he could not call on the Power of Will as he did before, and so long as the treaty that prevented Corp operations in Sector 2814 was in place, the ring would not work. Then one day, as Kyle sat alone in that dark cellar, the ring began to glow. It had been faint at first, but Kyle knew very well the power of will once again flowed through the ring.
That was the day that Connor had showed up in Keystone city. Kyle had watched the now grown Superboy as he attempted to quell the growing threat of the Order across the city though means of peace. For a second, Kyle had felt a small sense of hope in what he saw, but he also saw Connor’s weakness. He saw a man that did not want to fight; a man who had turned his back on the world, when the world needed him most. He saw as the Tamaranean harlot cast her charms on Connor, and watched as he succumbed to them. There was no help for the man named Connor Kent, and he felt no remorse as he had told the clone to attack them.
Knowing that the facility had been compromised Kyle destroyed the cloning facility, and had hoped that Starfire would have died, but she had been stubborn, and like a rabid beast he had been forced to put her down.
As Connor held her, Kyle looked into Connor’s eyes, and saw for certain that the boy’s spirit had been broken, and that his will to fight was finally gone. He also saw that in killing Starfire, he had also wounded Connor, and ripped something from him. Was it lust? Signs of Friendship? Could it have even possibly been the beginning of something new? Could it have even been love? Whatever it was, Kyle pitied Connor. He pitied him for being a fool, and being weak.
It didn’t matter now though. The bitch was dead, and the Order had lost one of it’s Generals. It wouldn’t be long before their wrath would descend upon him, and he knew that now was the time to have his vengeance on the Order, and he knew that he would die doing so.
Calling on his own dying will, the ring had roared to life, and had cloaked him in it’s brilliant light once more. For this one last time, he was the Green Lantern again. He rose up into the sky, knowing that there was very little he could do, but he recalled something he heard once a long time ago. He had been sitting out in front of the White House, and was marveling at his work, when a man approached him. The man told him, that the White House of the Order was so beautiful. It was so beautiful in fact that it would be forever a symbol of the Order’s power, so long as it remained standing. That man had also said though, that it was a shame that history teaches that nothing lasts forever.
Kyle started to laugh, and muttered under his breath, “You crafty devil. You knew all along didn't you, but I guess I couldn't have picked a better target myself.” Kyle lifted his hand and pointed the ring in the direction of Washington D.C. and muttered under his breath, “Beware my power.”
Sharp gust of wind. A looming shadow, and a dark gaze. Kyle stood frozen in the air.
“Superman.” He muttered, but he was mistaken, and as he looked up, he quickly realized just what stood before him. It was Connor. He stood straighter, his uniform had been mostly destroyed in the battle with the clone, but it clung to him and fluttered in the wind like a cape draped around the form of a god. His face looked as if it was chiseled from stone, and his eyes, which normally held a look of sorrow and longing, now held a look of cold passion, and of damning judgment. What now stood before Kyle was no boy. Connor Kent now stood before Kyle Rayner, as a Man of Tomorrow.