Authors Note: Wow, guys this has truly been a blast. Never in my life did I ever think that a story like this would consume me like it has. It's been real ride. I have received so much joy from writing this series, and though may not be perfect it has changed me in a way that I would have never expected. As of this Chapter this story, not counting the side story "Little Corner of Smallville", has reached over 33,000 words. Though I passed the mark some time ago, Corrupted: Kon-El is the longest work I have ever written.
None of this would have been possible without those who have followed me from the beginning, and my friends who have encouraged me. Also I would like to give special recognition to @batkevin74, who I also dedicate this issue too, for creating this wondrous universe that he has so kindly let me use as my own personal sandbox. Without his idea, none of this would have been possible.
Now without further ado, I give you all the Tenth Issue of Corrupted: Kon-El, and the oversized finale of the "Sins of the Past Story Line". Enjoy.
Sins of the Past (Finale)
There had been something in that Goodbye. Something left in the words of a dying girl who did not deserve tears or pity. A girl who had slaughtered hundreds felt like another victim as she lay in his arms. Another failure. He was embarrassed. He had been reduced to a sobbing child. How much longer would he go on like this? Then she had said, “Thank you”, and in that one moment everything changed, and Connor finally saw the world for what it truly was. What it had truly become.
The world he had left behind was gone, and in its place was a twisted caricature of what it once was. Those who had stayed behind to protect it had changed into the very beings they had once fought against so long ago, and those who had left faded from existence, leaving the Earth to its fate. There was no exact event that could point to the turn in the century, it was many things. Failures, negligence, and attempts at control were all part of the Corruption that had befell the world. On all of this, and the dying gratitude of a lost alien girl, who had adopted this world as her home, helped him to realize that the world could still be saved from the Corrupting force that had twisted it.
All this time, he had still been a boy. Despite his grown physique, he was no different now than he was when he first left everything behind him thirty years ago. Like a little boy, he had run from responsibility, he had run from those who loved him; he had run away from the world, because like a little boy, he was afraid. He was afraid of what would become of him. Ever since that fateful day in Metropolis, when he saw his closest friends die, when he held his best friend in his arms, when he abandoned the woman he loved, and his daughter. All he had ever done was run. This entire time the world was catching up to him. He would never outrun it.
The wind blew softly on the barren landscape that had once been one of the great American cities, and out of the corner of his eye he spotted the S, still clinging to his standard issue uniform. That symbol, Clark had said, meant hope and that wherever he went, he must inspire that hope in others, because without hope there is no tomorrow. When he abandoned the world years ago, he had lost his hope. He had walked right up to his mentor, pointed at the S on his chest and told him, that he didn’t deserve to wear it anymore.
In truth, he didn’t deserve it either, but for some reason. The symbol of hope still clung to him; still had faith in him. A dying war mongering woman, who had no hope of returning from what she had become, upon seeing him had been reminded of a better time, and even in her dying breath, she had been thankful for him for bringing back something to her that she had lost. Kori, a woman with no hope, had felt hope again, and if that was possible perhaps this corrupted world, could feel hope again too.
It was time to grow up. Connor realized that he could no longer remain the Superboy that he had always been, and with renewed resolve, he stood his feet and looked up in the sky at the emerald star that shined bright over Keystone. He knew what had to come next. He wouldn’t be just fighting against the rebels, against Kyle Rayner, but against Superman, Wonder Woman, an entire corrupted system. The road would be hard, but someone, he had to do it.
The cells in his body, burst forth like billions of exploding suns, as he flew faster than he ever had before, and stopped right in front of Kyle. Connor could see the shock in Rayner’s eyes. He must not have expected that he would have had the strength to face him. His loss.
The old man was fragile, and he had to place the appropriate amount of strength and speed in his next strike to teach the old man a lesson, but not kill him, because the world didn’t need another murderer. He lifted his right hand, the back of it facing its mark. He slowed it down just enough to where Rayner would have the appropriate time to take up defensive measures, but not counter. The Lantern threw up his shield, but the force of his swing shattered it, and the back side of his hand slammed into the side of the old man’s face, knocking him off balance, and then he grabbed him by the shoulders, and threw him down onto one of the nearby roof tops of the buildings that surround him.
Rayner struck the ground, and rolled before finally stopping as he slammed into the side of a central heating unit. Connor could hear the man groan, and his bones pop. He was elderly, so this fight wouldn’t last long. Connor hovered over the man and looked down at him, waiting for him to make the next move. Rayner coughed and spit blood onto the concrete, and looked up at Connor gritting his teeth, before he shouted,
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
“I could ask the same of you. We used to stand for something, and despite the fact that I was a kid back then, I stood alongside you and the others. We all fought for the same ideals, but now all I see is war and death everywhere I go.”
“That’s why the order has to be stopped. Why can’t you see that!?”
“Oh I do see it. As a matter of fact I’m seeing things clearly for the first time. Things do have to change, but they won’t change by what you’re doing. The world doesn’t need more fear. It needs hope.”
“That’s exactly what I’m trying to do!”
“No, what you’re doing is more of the same. In my eyes right now, you’re no different than Kal. You should be ashamed, because your actions have spit on everything the Hal and the Lanterns once stood for.”
Kyle burst forth, the power of will bursting from his body. In his hands, a large emerald sword erupted from between his clasped hands and he raised it high over his head ready to strike, “Go to hell, Superboy!” The sword grew to an enormous size, towering high into the sky before Rayner brought the sword down willing it to swing at a speed that would normally be impossible for a normal human. Connor was annoyed, and dodged the first two swings effortlessly, before drawing back his fist, and slamming it into the next oncoming attack, and shattering the blade.
Kyle, roaring with a ferocity that he probably had not possessed in years, held out his ring, and light erupted from it forming constructs in the form of a dozens of images from Rayner’s past. First there was Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Simon Baz, and Guy Gardner. Then beyond them were Sinestro, Sodam Yat, Soranik Natu, Kilowog, Arisia, and many more. They all filled the sky as they raced to attack Connor, but he stood his ground, ready to face these images from that past that both he and Kyle possessed in their hearts and minds. Connor knew that with so many constructs summoned, that the ring must be facing a great strain, and it would soon loose what charge it had. The image of Hal came after him first.
Connor punched the construct so hard that is shattered, and then two more grabbed onto him trying to hold him, as the Kilowog construct attempted to cave his head in with an emerald axe. Connor flew into Kilowog, cracking the construct and then began to spin in place at a heightened speed, so much that the constructs holding him could not keep their grip. One flew off and shattered on the ground, while Connor grabbed the other and threw it at Kilowog, destroying both copies. Bits of light flew at him, keeping Connor on his toes, and they charged, the constructs of Guy Gardner and John Stewart leading the way.
“Enough!” Connor growled as his eyes grew to a bright red, and unleashed a spread heat blast engulfing the entire construct corps in its red light. As they all exploded into puffs of green smoke, Connor swore it sounded like they were screaming. Almost as if they were alive. Kal had once told him that a Lantern draws their power from their own force of will, so Connor knew that in a sense that these fake images, were like the actual dying cries of all that Rayner had once held dear. An anger rose up in Connor‘s chest. His enemy or no, this action that Rayner was committing; this sad mindset that Rayner was clinging too, that this charade was real, had gone on long enough. It was time to end it.
There was one last burst of effort that emanated from Kyle, as what burst forth from Kyle’s ring next was the largest creature that Connor had ever seen. In a way it looked like a large whale. Its skin was green like all constructs and along its back were the repeating patterns of the Green Lantern symbol. It maw opened wide to swallow Connor whole, but instead of dodging Connor flew right into the creatures gaping mouth, and down its throat. Seconds later streaks of red light busted out from inside the creature. It let loose cries of agony until Connor busted out from the back of the creature causing the entire image to shatter into thousands of tiny fractals of light, that showered down onto the landscape below.
No more constructs came, and Connor began to hear the sounds of heavy breathing and an elated heartbeat. Connor turned to where the sound originated from, only to see Kyle Rayner standing propped up against a car on the street below. Bringing himself down to Rayner’s level he steadily approached him. Kyle grunted, and stood himself up, barely able to lift the arm that he tried to aim toward Connor. Connor leaped forward and grabbed the man’s arm, pulling it away from him.
“Stop this.” Connor said, “This is senseless. If you keep going your heart is going to give out.”
“I would rather die than quit now,” Kyle growled, through gritted teeth and labored breaths, “Now get your hands off me boy!” Kyle didn’t get to say another word, as the back of Connor’s right hand met his face, but this time with no shield to take the blow, and before he could realize that he had been hit, another backhanded slap, this time from the left struck the other side of his face. The emerald armor began to flicker, and Kyle started to fall, but Connor grabbed him by the collar and held him at eye level.
“I’m not a boy anymore,” Connor stated, not in a shout, but in a voice that was clear and true as the past, “and this is over.” For a brief moment, it truly did feel like things were over, and that change would finally come, but in truth there is no such thing as closure. A war always rages on, and when one enemy falls, there is always another standing behind them, or in this case behind Connor.
Connor could not tell how they had managed to sneak up on him, but suddenly two large dark hands grabbed hold of his head; the person’s fingers squeezing his face, and then the sudden searing pain as several hundred thousand volts of electricity raced through his brain. Connor screamed out, but the pain wouldn’t stop even after the lighting stopped arcing across his vision. His head pounded, like it never had before. He felt something warm on his face, and when he touched his face and brought his hand back to where he could see it, it was covered in blood. Then suddenly the pain in his head grew sharper like thousands of knives burrowing into his brain, and it felt like his eyes were about to pop out of their sockets.
He fell to the ground, as his body started to twitch uncontrollably, and his mouth locked down. A seizure? What the hell was going on? When the pain finally stopped it was all he could do just to lay still on the ground. He didn’t want to move. Hell, he didn’t want to breathe.
He could barely see the three figures that walked into his vision. One of them was clapping, and laughing before he began to speak in a Scottish accent,
“That was a hell of a show, mate. You sure gave our friend here a real butt whooping.” Connor’s vision began to clear some and he could make out the details. There was one helping Rayner stand up that looked like a woman, but she was strange. Her skin was green and scaly with tattoo like lines covering her body, and leathery wings sprouted from her back. Her pupils were slit and yellow like that of some reptile.
“Get to your feet old man,” she spat, “I’m not your nurse.”
“Ah, be nice to the old fart, Menagerie. He’s been through the fight of his life. Why I bet that diaper he’s wearin has been filled to the brim. Sure would explain the smell.” The Scott scoffed, but the one called Menagerie pushed Rayner away, and turned to hiss at him.
“Disgusting! Shut that trap of yours Jensen,” she lifted her arms and the tattoos came to life in the form of horrific insects that Connor had never before seen, “before I have my babies rip that tongue of yours from your throat.”
“Relax Lass!” Jensen spat back, “Besides I thought I told you to call me Superior when we’re out in the field!”
“The only thing Superior about you is that ego that over-compensates the sad excuse for what’s in your pants.”
“There she goes again, busting my balls! Nice to know though that you’ve been looking at me with my pants down though, it makes me feel all tingly and warm inside. ”
“He’s awake.” Came a deep voice just outside of Connor’s field of vision, and then suddenly the towering behemoth stepped into sight. He was easily the largest man that Connor had ever seen. His skin was dark, and long grey dreadlocks fell down past his shoulders. His eyes burned bright blue with energy, and that was when Connor realized that this big guy must have been the one who had shocked him. There was also something about the man’s face that looked familiar, but his head hurt so much that he couldn’t place him.
Then suddenly the man named Jensen jumped down and looked in Connor’s face grinning from ear to ear. He then got real close, stuck out his tongue and licked his face.
“Well don’t we taste like an over-cooked ball of haggis!” Jensen laughed, “You see mate, though I’m impressed by your high and mighty act I just don’t think you get the picture. You see, what you told the old man was partially true. Sure you’re a big boy, and I bet you even got on your big boy pants. Though you might want to change them, considering that seizure I just gave you probably made you wet yourself like a two year old at your Gram’s tea party. Besides that though, there is one thing you got wrong, this is far from over mate.”
Suddenly there was a beeping noise that drew Jensen’s attention away from Connor. He stood up, and put his hand up to his ear.
“Yeah, Boss, everything right as rain now.” Jensen said before turning to face Menagerie, “Eh! Minnie, how’s Gramps holding up over there.”
“He got a bit overzealous,” Menagerie said, as the insects crawled out from her arms and across Rayners chest and shoulders. “He can’t even properly hold the suit together now. If what my drones are telling me is correct he’s maybe got a ten percent charge left. In other words the ring is useless now.”
“Bullshit,” Kyle spat, breaking his silence, and then in a wobbling motion managed to straighten himself, “I’m a Green Lantern, I can do more than enough with just ten percent. I can still finish this.”
“Mister Rayner, you’re weak.” The big man said, “Stand down.”
“It’s like Thunderbolt here says, Gramps. It’s just not your ca…” Jensen stopped in mid-sentence, a slightly confused look on his face. “Are you sure boss, the geezer looks like he could kill over any second. You’re sure. Well alright.” Jensen turned and grinned at Rayner, “Well, you big Christmas light, it looks like you get your wish! The boss gave you the go ahead.”
Kyle stood straight, and took a deep breath and said, “Thank you.” Then he walked up to Connor and looked down at him scowling. “You lose,” he said before he spit on him. The suit glowed bright once more, and Kyle began to lift up high into the sky. Connor felt himself being flipped over, his head still pounding. The one named Thunderbolt, placed his foot right in the middle of Connor’s chest, and Jensen leaned over,
“Don’t be getting any funny ideas now,” he said. “Just sit back and enjoy the show mate, you’ve got the best seat in the house.”
He hurt all over. Had the Outsider’s Elite not shown up when they did, Connor would have beaten him. How the boy had managed to burst through all his constructs like it they were nothing. It had been agony for him, but none of that matter now. All that mattered was what had to be done. He looked up at the sky and smiled.
“You watching, John?” Kyle said, “This is for you old buddy.” Kyle then looked to the East towards the direction of the Capitol, where a tyrant sat on the throne of one of the greatest achievements in his lifetime; defiling his legacy, for the last time. Kyle lifted his ring, and said, “I hope you’re watching too, you son of a bitch.”
Kyle took a deep breath, and shouted out those powerful words for the last time,
“In brightest day, In blackest night, May no evil escape my sight!” Energy began to gather at the rings source, all of it compressed by Kyle’s will, “Let those who worship evil’s might! Beware my power!” Then with one great loud roar he cried out “GREEN LANTERN’S LIGHT!”
A massive blast of energy erupted from the ring engulfing everything around them in a bright light. Kyle felt the light swallow him whole, and it felt like he was soaring. High above the stars. It was liberating, and for a brief moment, he was back on Oa. Surrounded by everyone, and they were all smiling at him, and welcoming him to join them. It felt wonderful.
It was a quiet night at White House. The staff leisurely walked about tending to the massive halls. It would soon be time prepare the Presidential breakfast. The chef’s scurried about the kitchen cracking fresh eggs, and in the dining room the maids moved about placing down plates just in case the Fist Lady and her husband decided that they would attend. Outside, Hawkmen patrolled the grounds, repairmen were just showing up for their shift to finish up the nearly done repairs from the last attack. Inside secret offices, SHADE agents worked diligently attempting to locate the villainous Deranger and his band of treacherous scum. Their hearts were full as they felt themselves growing closer, and they could all see the traitors as they were duly executed. Long Live the World Order.
Then suddenly there was nothing, because on that morning, the sun rose an hour earlier than it was supposed to, and its Emerald light was the sign of a new dawn for mankind.
He was back on Earth, and had been taken from the sweet reverie. His heart felt lighter than it had in ages, and he was so tired.
“Ring Power at zero point five percent” the ring called out to him, but Kyle didn’t care.
“It’s finished,” He said, closing his eyes and smiled up toward the stars. Kyle felt free and was so lost in his bliss that he never heard the sound as a shot ringed out from the barrel of a high powered rifle, and then there was nothing as the bullet went through his brain.
Connor had seen it all happen, and he could scarcely believe it. He had failed. He lay beaten at the feat of these total strangers, and now he could only look on silently as the corpse of Kyle Rayner fell from the sky and into the dirt.
It was unbelievable. Everything, he had gone through coming here. The renewal of his own spirit, the faith that Kori had given him, was it all for nothing? Why did he keep failing? What was he doing wrong?
Then it appeared out of the sky, a cloaking shield dissipated revealing a strange aircraft that Connor had never seen before. It was long, and its black metal plates were cut into sharp triangular angles. It looked like something that might have been in the Batcave some time ago, but it was much too big. A platform let down from underneath the cockpit, and out stepped a tall stranger with a long barreled high caliber rifle cradled in his arms. He was covered from head to toe in a black armored suit, and Connor thought he could pick up the faint sound of circuitry beneath the metal plates. This newcomer’s face was fully covered, and two ruby red lenses for eyes placed in the middle like a creature from some nightmare.
Connor still could not move, whatever Jensen had done to him it had paralyzed him, but he had no way of telling if it would last. The stranger walked straight for Connor, and tossed his rifle over at Jensen who caught it clumsily, earning a look of annoyance from Menagerie. The stranger knelt down, grabbed Connor by the neck and lifted him up. This new enemy was strong, because his gripped choked off Connor wind pipe, and he couldn’t help but gag. He slammed Connor down on his knees, and positioned him in a sitting position. The stranger held onto Connor, and Connor couldn’t help but feel a sense of uneasiness as he looked into those blood red eyes. Despite the fact that they were lenses he had a strange feeling that the eyes behind them were empty.
He tried to use his X-ray vision to see who this stranger was, but instead he was met once again with a stabbing pain on the inside of his skull.
“Now we won’t be having any of that.” The stranger said, its voice concealed by a voice changer, and a good one at that. Despite the damage that had probably been done to his inner ear, Connor should have been able to pick out the voice behind disguise. Connor began to feel a bit uneasy. He had no way of determining who he was facing, and he couldn’t move. He was completely at this stranger’s mercy.
“So we finally meet. The famous Connor Kent.” The strangers voice was robotic and monotone, “I bet you’re trying real hard to figure out who I am, but you should know the answer. After all you’ve been hunting me ever since you left that farm.”
Of course! How could he have been so stupid, “You’re the Outsider.”
“My, My, it took you long enough. Perhaps Superior here damaged that beautiful brain of yours. It would explain the slowness of your ability to rationalize.”
“What do you want?” Connor spat, “If you’re going to kill me, go ahead and get it over with. You’ve taken enough from me today.”
“Actually, no I haven’t. You see, I will never be finished taking away from you. You and your kind, have taken away the freedom of the human race. You have squandered them, shoved them into the dirt, and fed them worms. You’re kind relishes in its ability to enslave. Even before the Order, you caused human kind to look up to the sky for you to save them, and in such you held a power over them. You took away their strength, and that Mr. Kent, is a crime I intend to make you pay for dearly.”
“Then what do you call what you’re doing.” Connor grunted, “What about them,” he looked over at the Outsider’s men, “What about yourself, aren’t you doing the same thing!?”
“When the time comes we will lay down our arms, and mankind shall take its rightful place on the Earth once more, but your kind will never change. You must always save them. You must always do what’s right. It’s in your nature. It’s in your nature, to take away the decision between what’s right and wrong, and for change to happen Mr. Kent, you must die.”
“Then get it over with.”
“Not yet,” The Outsider hummed, “I still may have a use for you. You’re more valuable of a pawn in this game than you will ever know.”
“What are playing at, psychopath.” Connor hissed,
“You will see soon enough, Mr. Kent, but until then, I must bid you adieu.” The Outsider stood up, and raised his fist, and then swung it down with a force that could not belong to know normal human. The strike was so hard that vision left his right eye, and his heard his skull crack. Such a blow should have been impossible. Connor fell to the ground; his body had no energy left and he was very tired. He just wanted to sleep. It was hard to keep his eyes open.
He thought he heard Jensen say, “Get us out of here, Sorcery. We’re done here.” There was a bright light, and the Outsider’s elite force disappeared. The Outsider walked toward his aircraft boarded it. Connor tried to fight the sleep, tried to crawl, but he could do nothing, but watch as the aircraft lifted into the sky and disappeared completely from view. Then suddenly it was too much. He couldn’t fight it any longer, and fell to the ground and passed out.
Approx. One Hour Later, Keystone City.
“Connor!” A woman’s voice drifted through the blackness, “Connor! Oh for the love of God Connor, you have to get up!” It hurt to open his eyes, but he forced himself and was at first blinded by the light of the first rays of sunlight. He could feel his strength return to him slightly, but it he hurt all over still. The Outsider and his men were long gone. Connor stumbled to his feet, and looked around for the voice again. It had sounded so familiar. It was almost like the voice of Doctor Veritas.
“Connor, hurry you have to get out of there!” Connor looked around and found the origin of the voice. Not far from where he lay was the corpse of a Hawkman, his comminatory still active. Connor reached down, wincing in pain from what he guessed were bruised ribs. He picked the communicator off the Hawkman’s body, and activated the return call button.
“Is that you Doctor?”
“Yes it’s me Connor, now you have to listen very carefully. You need to leave Keystone now! The Order has decided to nuke the city. They’re going to cover up everything that happened there, wipe out the rebels remaining in the area, and then blame it on them all in one fell swoop.”
Connor took a deep breath and fell to his knees again.
“Listen to me Connor, you have to get up! SHADE is going to launch the missile any second now, and I can’t stop them. If you don’t move now, you’ll die.”
Connor didn’t move though, he stood frozen in place. His hearing had returned to him, and he could hear everything. Keystone was a war zone. The dying screams of men and women, the roars of the Order’s soldiers as they blindly attacked with no leader to guide them, and the cries of children lost in this hell all filled his ears. What kind of sick twisted world was this? Was it ever going to end? He couldn’t just do anything.
“I’ll stop the missile, throw it into space.” Connor grunted as he tried to stand to his feet, but he did so too fast and stumbled to the ground once more.
“Connor, your vitals are off the charts. You don’t have anything left. Escape. Fight another day!”
“I have to do something. I can’t just abandon them.” His voice was raspy, it hurt to talk.
“I’m sorry Connor, but you have to. If you don’t, it’ll happen again.” Connor wanted to fight, to deny Vertias words, but then he heard the sound of the missile as it launched from its silo. He would have only have maybe a couple of minutes, to act.
“It’s launching Connor. Please! Please fly away now!” Veritas cried. Connor looked around for anything. Anyone he could save, his body wouldn’t let him. The Outsider was right. It was in his nature to save people; to always do the right thing. He would not let that be a weakness though.
His ears picked up on the sound of a faint heartbeat, and not far from where he stood lay the body of the clone that had started the attack just hours earlier. He could hear the missile getting closer. Calling on what strength he had he hobbled over to the clone of Kara Zor-El, and picked her up, wrapping her arm around his neck and shoulders. He winced in pain, but he fought through it. Then looking toward the sun, he tensed his muscles, gritted his teeth, and ignored the pain that rocked his entire body. He cried out in agony, as he soared up into the sky and away from Keystone City.
Then for the third and last time, the sun rose over Keystone City, and there was silence.