This story is part of the DC Mayhem continuity
Continued from Guardian of Earth #2
Barbara Gordon had been through a lot in her life. She had faced down armed thugs, gone against some of Gotham's most sinister criminals, stopped foreign despots from starting World War III, discovered a cure for the Anti-Life Equation, and so much more, yet never before had she felt so bone numbingly nervous as she was now, standing in front of this group of little blue people.
Okay, so 'little blue people' might be a bit of an understatement. These were the Guardians of the Universe, and they had an incredible knack for looking down their noses in the most condescending way imaginable, as she was beginning to understand. Still, she didn't let her nerves show. She stood there on the circular floor in the central meeting hall, staring up at them calmly as they talked among themselves.
“This is unacceptable,” one of them spoke, shaking his head. “That ring wasn't meant for a being of sector two-eight-one-four. It should have gone to someone from sector one-three-two-one.”
“But the ring in question was in sector two-eight-one-four upon its Green Lantern's demise, ” another said. “It followed protocol and chose the nearest worthy replacement.”
“It doesn't matter, Ganthet. There are far too many Lanterns from that sector as it is. It doesn't need another one.”
The Guardian called Ganthet folded his arms, eyes closing momentarily. “But as our own laws dictate, we do not interfere with the selection process or its results. We cannot strip a Lantern of her ring unless given due cause, and this is not due cause. Unless you're suggesting we should ignore the laws we put into place?”
“That's not what I-”
“Then you agree that she is to keep the ring?”
The Guardian huffed out a small breath, glaring back at him. “Yes... however, I do not think that the sector needs another full time Lantern on patrol.”
Another Guardian spoke up this time, one with a long scar cutting across the side of her face. “I must agree with Ranakar on that. Sector two-eight-one-four is already muddled with an abundance of Green Lanterns, and adding another to the full time roster would only further bog it down.”
“Then what do you propose, Scar?” Ganthet asked.
“I am undecided. We all agree that she is to keep the ring, and yet also that she should not be put on patrol. I don't know what we should do with her, but we must decide.”
“I have a suggestion,” another of the Guardians said.
Sayd held her hands together, floating forward a little and focusing her eyes on Barbara below. “Why don't we ask our newest Lantern what she wants?”
Barbara blinked a couple times, looking back and forth between the Guardians. They were all staring at her now. “Oh, uh, yeah, okay.”
“Your name is Barbara Gordon, correct?” Sayd asked.
“And you have accepted your role as a Green Lantern?”
That is good,” the Guardian replied, with a small nod. “Tell us, do you have any ideas of your own to help solve this... dilemma that we find ourselves with?”
Barbara paused a moment, bringing a hand to her chin and thinking carefully. She couldn't claim to understand alien politics or Green Lantern protocols, at least not yet, but she did have an idea or two that she had come up with while listening to them bicker. “Well, I might have one. You don't think that my sector needs anymore Green Lanterns on patrol, right?”
“That is quite right,” Ranakar said, with a hard glare. “There are already no less than four Green Lanterns in you sector, while most other sectors have only two. You would make five.”
“Okay, but you can't take my ring from me,” Barbara said, repeating the other part of their problem. “So, if you can't take my ring, and you don't want me on patrol, then why not just leave me to my home planet?”
“Your planet?” Ranakar furrowed his brow, glancing quickly at his fellow Guardians. “Absurd. The Green Lantern Corps. is an interstellar police force. No one Lantern should be confined to a single planet.”
Ganthet brought a hand to his chin, staring back at him. “And yet you stand so adamantly against allowing her on patrol like other Lanterns.”
“I think it could work,” Scar said. “She could act as her planet's guardian, instead of the galaxy's. As sector two-eight-one-four already has several other Lanterns to cover the entire sector, allowing her to remain on Earth should not be an issue.”
Sayd nodded. “Perhaps we could turn this into a trial for future expansion of the Corps.? Should this venture prove successful, then we may consider allowing a Green Lantern for all planets with sentient life.”
Ranakar went quite, arms folding and head bowing. He held his eyes shut for a long time, contemplating deeply on the matter, until finally he exhaled a sigh and nodded. “Very well, I will agree, but with conditions. She must undergo the same training as all other Green Lantern recruits, and she must remain on call for events requiring a full Corps. response. Whether remaining on her planet or not, I will not have her coddled or thinking she can slack off.”
“That sounds reasonable,” Ganthet said, looking back down at Barbara. “In that case, it is decided. Welcome to the Green Lantern Corps., Barbara Gordon of Earth.”
When Barbara exited the Guardians' building, another Green Lantern floated over to her. She recognized him as the one who had met her upon her arrival, Sinestro. He moved in front of her, lowering down on his feet and standing there with his arms folded, just staring at her.
“Um... do I have something on my face?” she asked.
“No” was the simple response.
“Then can I help you with something?” When she received no response, she narrowed her eyes and said, “What are you doing?”
“Studying you. Trying to figure out just what it is about you Earthlings...”
Barbara lifted an eyebrow. “What do you mean, about us?”
“All rings that select a candidate from your sector end up on Earth,” he explained. “There are other sentient races on numerous planets throughout that sector, and yet you Earthlings seem to have something special about you... what that is, I can't fathom. Humans are a feeble race.”
“Excuse me?” Barbara moved forward, coming close to Sinestro and staring him straight in the eyes. “Who are you calling feeble?”
“You,” he said, floating up into the air again. He pushed past her, bumping purposefully into her shoulder on his way by as he flew higher. “Now come with me, you are to begin your training.”
A very distinct frown formed its way across her face, as she turned to watch the Lantern distance himself in the sky. Eventually, she huffed out a heavy breath and concentrated, causing herself to float upward. A little more concentration, and she took off like a rocket, chasing after him. He led her far from the main facilities of Oa to an open expanse of barren land, nothing more than a field of towering rocks that shined like marble.
“Your ring harnesses the emotional spectrum of will,” Sinestro said. He clasped his hands behind his back and began walking away a few steps, until finally turning around to face her, some twenty paces away. “The constructs it creates are as strong as your own willpower, and limited in concept only by your own imagination. If you can think it, you can create it. You must merely concentrate, and...”
Suddenly, a bright green orb shot from Sinestro's ring and zipped through the air like a missile, heading straight towards Barbara. Out of pure instinct, she recoiled sharply and held her own ring up, causing a curved tube to form in front of the ball. The sphere sailed straight into one end of the tube, traveled around the curve, and then shot out the other end. Within a split second from the time it had left Sinestro's ring, it was heading straight back at him. The more experienced Green Lantern merely stepped to the side, watching as the orb flew by.
“Hmm, not bad...” he muttered, folding his arms back across his chest.
“Yeah, well maybe you warn me next time you fire a cannon at me?” she said.
“Your enemies won't be warning you when they attack,” Sinestro said. “Besides, I needed to test your ability to think and react quickly. You passed, for now.”
Frowning slightly, Barbara took in a slow breath. “Glad to have impressed...”
“Now, I'll be testing your general fighting ability. Choose any weapon, and I'll match it.”
The choice was simple for Barbara. There was only one weapon that she was most familiar with above all others, one she had mastered during her time in the wheelchair. She couldn't wait to see what she could do with it now that she could move around. Taking in a deep breath, she held her fists up and concentrated, forming two bright green eskrima sticks in her hands.
“Sticks?” Sinestro said, looking genuinely baffled. “You'd have us fight with sticks?”
“What's the matter, don't know how to handle one?”
The alien frowned momentarily, then turned his body to the side and created a pair of eskrima sticks of his own. “And I thought Jordan's sword was primitive.”
“You just gonna stand there like a girl, or are you going to attack?”
Wasting no more time, Sinestro propelled himself into range, leaping high and dropping down towards her with unflinching ferocity. It had been so long since Barbara had been in a real fight like this, with every single piece of her ability at her disposal, but it came back to her so quickly, like a dream almost. All it took was a small step backwards, a slight adjustment of her stance, and suddenly her body flowed expertly, countering the incoming strikes with ease. Sinestro might have been the far more experienced Lantern, but eskrima was hers.
Barbara's attacks moved like lightning, whipping the sticks with a force she had never known before. Bound to a wheelchair for six years, she had worked her upper body strength into something of almost freakish proportions. Now aided not only by the added force of her lower body but also the force of her will, she delivered blows with a power that she had only ever seen from a distance, the likes of the heavy hitters on the Justice League.
Still, Sinestro was no slouch himself. Though his form was by no means expert, he was fast. That combined with his natural experience in combat and heightened instincts allowed him to keep up with her onslaught for the most part, but soon Barbara started pushing him back. She mixed up her patterns, striking high and low at the same time and never letting up. His blocks became slower, clunkier, until finally he missed one, as the stick battered into his jaw and whipped his head sharply to the side. The blow only barely pushed him off balance, though. He quickly steadied himself, then ducked below the next strike and thrust his fist forward.
A winding rope of light whirled around Barbara's backside, coming up to clamp around her neck. It tugged tightly, then yanked her backwards head over heels and flipped her violently to the ground. She lost concentration instantly, feeling her constructed eskrima sticks vanish from her grasp, and before knew it she was lying on her back staring up at the sky, with Sinestro standing over her.
“I thought we were fighting with my weapon of choice,” she said.
“Never make presumptions,” he said, holding the tip of his eskrima stick to her throat. “They'll get you killed.” After a brief moment, he pulled the stick away and then offered his hand. “Still, I can see you've had prior training. That's more than I would have expected, and much better than most new recruits.”
Barbara gave his hand a long glare, but then eventually took hold and pulled herself upward. “Yeah, well I'm not exactly new to this.”
“Maybe.” A sudden blast of green light burst from Sinestro's ring, exploding into Barbara's midsection and sending her flying. “But you still have a lot to learn.”
Pointing his ring forward, Sinestro shot out another rope-like construct, grabbing hold of her legs before she got too far out of range, and then swinging her down with thunderous force. Barbara hit the ground hard, cratering it upon impact and feeling the wind rush from her lungs. She lay there motionlessly for several moments, until the chain around her ankle swung her upwards again. A second bolt of light struck her chest, sending her careening backwards only to smash into a newly created brick wall, which Sinestro promptly pulled down atop her.
“For instance-” he said, flying over to her. He watched as she slowly dug her way out of the brick pile, a dull groan of pain escaping her throat, and then pointed his ring at her again. “-never let you guard down.”
“Sinestro!” a voice called out, drawing the alien's attention. “That's quite enough. We'll take it from here.”
Breathing outwardly in annoyance, Sinestro lowered his ring and floated higher. “By all means.” He then quickly disappeared, flying off in a matter of seconds as a bright green streak across the sky.
“Ungh...” Barbara muttered, pushing herself to one knee as the brick constructs around her vanished. “What the hell happened?”
“Sinestro just got a little carried away, is all,” a voice said. It was deep, and resonating, carrying with it stern authority.
“Yeah, don't pay attention to that old spoil-sport,” another said. “Dude's a total square, I'm telling you.”
Finally, Barbara looked upwards to see the two Green Lanterns floating above her–two Green Lanterns that she immediately recognized. “Oh! You... you're-”
“John Stewart,” he said, coming to ground level and holding his hand out for her to shake. “And this is-”
“Guy Gardener,” the other said. He flew forward past John, cutting the man off to get in the first handshake. “Pleasure's all mine.”