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The Green Lantern of Earth, Kyle Rayner.
Princess Koriand’r, the tamaranian known as Starfire.
M’gann M’orzz, also known as Miss Martian.
Jaime Reyes, the wearer of a mechanized suit and bearer of the name Blue Beetle.
The demon, Etrigan.
Kara Zor-L, Power Girl.
And the villainous mastermind known as the Riddler, searching for a second chance.
Together, they have gone to the desolate planet of Mars with one purpose in mind – to stop Bizarro from destroying Earth along with his new friends, the white martians.
Together, they are the Justice Society of America.
“Okay, forget Bizarro for now,” Power Girl said, dusting herself off and trying to set the tattered parts of her costume as modestly as possible. “We have to find M’gann. We couldn’t beat him without her… not that we were exactly ready for him. But we have to find out wherever she’s gone, and find her. She may even have information.”
There was a soft clearing of a throat, and a small puff of sulfurous gas snaked its way out of Etrigan’s mouth. He took a step towards Kara and leaned in slightly. “…If I may. Even if we locate the martian, we will be left exactly where we started out. The Beetle could barely hold up his shields long enough for all of us to arrive – we need shelter, a base of some sort. Basic strategy would suggest that we split up – one group searches for your martian friend, and the other finds a suitable place for us to fight Bizarro.”
“What kind of place like that will we find here?” Kara sighed, hanging her head slightly. “Mars is barren. What little of it still remains is doubtlessly secured by the white martians.”
“That… is not necessarily so!” Starfire held up one finger, her eyes widening in excitement from this opportunity to be helpful. “I was conversing with the martian native, and she claims that the majority of white martians are agoraphobic! There is a chance that some green martian structures may remain intact on the planet’s surface.”
“And even if we do find a shelter, how do you plan to conceal it?” Riddler said. The man was sitting on the ground now, little gadgets swiveling and twisting out of various parts of his suit. John Irons and himself had designed it to be vampiric, in a sense – contact with Jaime’s Blue Beetle suit had enhanced it in multiple ways, though that hadn’t been the plan. If he could get his hands on martian technology and lock interfaces with it, he could learn a great deal about potential planning, or at least whatever power the natives had behind them.
“Etrigan, could your magic do something to help? Maybe assist Jaime in some way?” Kara glanced behind her. In the thin gravity of the red planet, her capelet was billowing casually behind her, drifting back and forth into her peripheral vision distractingly.
“Magic and tech normally don’t go well together, hermana,” Jaime spoke up.
“Perhaps the Green Lantern could be of assistance?” Riddler mused. “Create an engine of some sort… if Etrigan can fuel it with power, and your little blue friend can direct it, it may be able to create a massive cloaking field, perhaps one that could even be passed through without knowing we are inside.”
“I… think I could do something like that,” Kyle spoke up, stepping forward to create a full circle of the present JSA. “I may need some advice on how to design an engine that harnesses magic though. John was always the one who was good with gadgets.”
That’s enough power for particular manipulation. I can feel it now. It will be delicious.
“Si?” Jaime clucked silently as the voice of the Scarab invaded his mind.
Indeed. We can definitely do it.
He slapped his forehead. “Dios mio, you’re right! With the power of a Green Lantern and a high-ranking demon behind me, I could channel that energy into a permanent cloak! We could set up a solid base and then come and go as we please!”
Power Girl glanced back again, narrowing her eyes and swatting her cape back behind her. “Then it’s settled. Etrigan, Green Lantern, Blue Beetle, Riddler – I need the three of you to find a suitable, defensible base, and do your best to cloak it. When you finish the job, I want you two—“ she extended one hand, forking out her index and middle finger to point at Kyle and Jaime respectively. “—To use come and find me, and help me look for M’gann. Etrigan and Edward will stay behind and keep watch for us in case we don’t find the base, start making it defensible.”
The kryptonian turned to Starfire. “Kory, you’re coming with me. You’ve spent the most time with M’gann and you know more than I do about Mars. We’re on the rescue mission.”
The team nodded solemnly and remained silent, aside from Koriand’r, who released an elated “Marvelous!”
“R’aih,” M’gann breathed out. “I… how did you find me? How did you get me here?”
“I’m not without my wiles… no, n-not without my wiles. Haha.” R’aih circled her predatorily, gazing down at the green-skinned girl. He was different than the other white martians, seemed less… savage. A dark gray longcoat brushed along the floor with each step, and long, feeler-like tendrils dangled from the back of his head, seeming like long, bristly white hair. The chamber they were in was dark and sandy, red grains of martian soil drifting across the outside of the cave when any puff of feeble wind gasped out from the planet’s thin atmosphere.
“Why.” R’aih paused his pacing and turned. His eyes were… not right. So many things about him weren’t right for a member of his race, but his eyes stood out. They were a gleaming, iridescent blue, like pools of water so cold, that only their depth prevented them from becoming ice. “Why have I chained you here, and bolted Haze Emissors to your skull? Why have I whisked you from your chivalrous companions, holding you here with… w-with little me… why have I done these things…?”
Miss Martian inhaled gently, looking down at her chains, the manacles that bound her wrists. She carefully began to shift the structure of her hands, raising her eyes back to R’aih. He couldn’t see what she was doing. She was close, just another… centimeter, she could slip a hand free, enough to attack with—
As the shape of her wrist shifted, became small enough to slip through, there was a quiet beeping sound, an alert. A thin steel bolt rocketed outward from either side of her manacle, lancing through her distorted wrist. She gasped and grit her teeth against the pain, and then the little bolt began to… vibrate, in a way. Energy coursed through it, drilling into her flesh and touching every nerve, pulsing its way along her spine to her brain.
“AHHHHHHHH!! AHHHAHH, NOOOO! NO, PLEASE, NOOO!!!” M’gann shrieked as the frequencies touched her brain. The frequency, the sensation… it burned. It had every aspect of martian weakness, the intense physical heat, and the psychological knowledge of fire, a vision of the flames coursing across her eyes as the vibrations burned her.
“Why?!” R’aih continued. “Why do you wear this filthy green skin? Hm? W-why do you do it? Why did you forsake your people, and flee to earth? You cavort with dreaded enemies! And now, little… l-little M’gann…” the white martian’s head twitched to the side slightly, and he drew close, locking his long, gnarly fingers around her throat. “Now you know that you can never leave Mars. Ever… ever again… h-haha. The Haze Emissor will prevent you from shapeshifting – did you truly believe I did not know who I was up against? That I do not know how to bind a fellow martian? Your powers may be special… m-may be s-special… on earth… but here… you are nobody. Just M’gann M’orzz. A traitor.” A slow, sinister grin spread across his face, and he pivoted his hips sharply, smashing one palm across Miss Martian’s cheek. “…And now… and… n-now… you will suffer for your betrayal. I loved you… like my own daughter. And you would have the nerve to call the Manhunter your… y-your uncle. You are… d-disgusting, to me.”
Atrocitus had a dream. A good dream, solid. A dream that the Red Lantern Corps could be soldiers in a war against evil, their unbridled, infinite, life-giving and death-bringing frenzy a weapon against those deserving of it. It was a good dream.
But Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lantern Corps and creator of the Red Power Battery, was a fool. A powerful warrior with a strong heart, yesss… yes, he was. But he was a fool. He did not truly know how to harness such a power as rage, and he made mistakes. He tried to create lieutenants, tried to crystallize sentient thought out of fury so dominant that no thoughts could drown it. He created sentient, intelligent, wrathful officers that he could not control, to help organize an army of mindless animals, alien creatures with so much power, and so much rage in their hearts, that they could destroy a civilization in a day.
That was an army he had tried to direct with his moral compass. He had pointed his wild dogs and said “bite!”, and somehow believed that they could be aimed. That the mindless frenzy they embodied could be controlled by a single desperate man and a few spiteful lieutenants.
Not that all of his cohorts didn’t see the good in what he was doing. Over time, some found that a serenity could be found – a sort of righteous calm amidst the rushing ichor in their corroded veins – when the Red Lanterns directed their anger against evildoers. When they used their all-consuming hatred to destroy the wicked and bring about a change for good, to bring justice, or at least balance, to the type of wrongdoings that had made them the way they were.
Bleez was one such Red Lantern.
She had seen the good of Atrocitus’s mission, but she could not stand behind him as he attempted to fire his loose cannon at the world and hope it hit the bad guys. The Red Lanterns could never be used as an army. They were never a Corps.
But alone, she could seek that sensation. That glorious feeling of righteous fury that set her mind at ease, let her forget her pain and replace it with hope and satisfaction. She could feed her addiction to vengeance.
Alone, she could be a hero.