RANKED 1st BY VOTERS IN CHARACTER CREATION CONTEST #67
|Date||Amalgam World||View||Read the...|
|03/10/18||Man Without Fear||(Blog) (Forum)||Disclaimer|
|T||Okay, you see "crap" a couple of times. That isn't so bad.|
The experimental fighter jet screamed across the desert sky, pitching wildly, setting off just about every alarm the cockpit had, and making the stick all but unresponsive. Matthew Jordan was having the time of his life. "WOOOOOOO! I love this thing! I'll trade you my Christmas bonus for one, Carol!"
His headset squawked, "Matt, you can trade me your next twenty thousand Christmas bonuses if you don't manage to land that bird safely!"
Matt sighed as he wrestled the stick with one hand, and punched a few buttons with the other. "Relax, Miss Romanova, I'll get it back to you in one piece."
"There's whispers that Bruce Rasputin has taken up an interest in flying."
"You'd better," came the reply. "There's whispers that Bruce Rasputin has taken up an interest in flying. If Rasputin Enterprises gets into the aviation game, we can kiss most of our contracts goodbye. Romanova Aerospace needs this."
"So land this plane, land the contract?" he asked, the sudden vibration in the plane making it almost sound like he was talking through a fan.
"Something like that," he heard in his ear.
"Then boss lady," Matt said through gritted teeth, straining against the stick, "consider...this...bird...lan-- oh, crap."
"What 'oh, crap?' Why 'oh, crap?' Matt! What's happening?" Carol said excitedly.
"Bad news, boss. The stick just broke off in my hand," Matt said somberly.
"What?" Carol said weakly. "Matt, fire the weapons into the desert floor. If you clear the desert before you crash, there's no telling what that agent they're carrying could do!"
"Gee, I'll miss you too, Carol," Matt said dryly. "Hang on, I'm going to try something."
"Hang on, I'm going to try something."
"Your wing walking days are behind you, Jordan! You fire those missiles and eject! Now!" screamed Carol.
"I've got it! I've got..." Matt's radio went silent.
From the control tower, Carol saw an explosion in the desert, followed by a thick plume of smoke. With dread, she gasped, "No. ...Matt."
The comm crackled, "Wasn't me, boss lady! I'm not sure what it was! Maybe Rasputin already had a project in the air?"
"Matt!" she cried happily, followed by, "Don't even joke."
"Hey," Matt said glibly over the alarms still sounding, "he's nothing if not imaginative." There were a few seconds of silence, and then, "Uh, boss, I'm out of tricks here, and running out of desert. I'm going to have to put her down."
"Damn," she whispered. "Turn on your beacon. We'll come get you ASAP."
"Carol, if the rumors are true, give Rasputin a call. He only hires the best."
She laughed lightly, "You should have been a lawyer, you silver-tongued devil."
"But a lawyer? Not in this lifetime!"
"That's 'Daredevil.' It even says so on my helmet," Matt said jovially. "But a lawyer? Not in this lifetime! Firing the missiles, and punching out," he called, and then his radio was static.
"Scramble the Rescue and Recovery team," barked Carol. "I want Matt found, and whatever's left of our bird brought back to the hangar!"
"Uh, ma'am?" asked a tech. It was Jim Grimm. "The plane hasn't gone down."
"What?" she asked in disbelief.
"It...it started a descent, but...but it leveled off, and its GPS shows it moving."
"What in... OH MY GOD! The missiles! Have the missiles detonated yet?"
Grimm looked at her with alarm. "No."
"That son of a...he's sold out! Jordan's flying my damned plane and its payload to the competition! Or...or to a weapons buyer! Oh, God! Someone get the FAA and Homeland on the phone!"
"Ma'am?" asked another tech. This one was Frank Kalmaku.
"What? Spit it out!"
"Wh...what did you say?"
"I... I don't think that's right, ma'am. Jordan's beacon is pinging too, and moving in the same direction as the plane, but...he's a good quarter mile behind it!"
The room froze at that info. "Wh...what did you say?" asked Carol.
Matt stared in awe. Six green energy beams of some kind had lanced out from the direction of the column of smoke, grabbing the plane, the four missiles, and him in his pilot's seat. Everything was moving towards the smoke like they were in a tractor beam. "Far... out," was the only thing he said.
As the beams got closer to their source, Matt could see the crash site. Whatever it was, it wasn't a plane. It was definitely some kind of ship. Krexamite, maybe? They hadn't been heard from since the invasion though. Everything lowered gently, but landed with a bump. Matt scrambled from his chair, and ran to the ship. A hole was in the side, so he let himself in, only to see a magenta-colored humanoid alien prone on the floor, leaning against the bulkhead, holding a staff.
The alien beckoned a bit weakly, "Welcome, Matthew Jordan."
"My name is Abin Stick of the Nova Lantern Corps."
The alien whacked Jordan across the shins with his staff. "Save your questions, and listen. I haven't much time. My name is Abin Stick of the Nova Lantern Corps. Formed by the Guardian Watchers of the Universe, only the most fearless are allowed in our ranks. The ring has chosen you as my successor."
"Me?" asked Jordan.
"Take my helmet. Touch the ring to the lantern. Recite the oath. Become this sector's Nova Lantern. Protect it... from... King... Sin," he said with his last breath.
"A-Abin?" Matt gasped. "Stick? Stick!" he shouted, as the alien's body glowed brightly, then fell to ash, leaving the helmet and ring behind on the floor. Astonished, Matt hesitated, then walked forward, bending over with his hand outstretched to pick up the ring.
Instead, the ring jumped from the floor to his finger, fitting as if it were made for him. Matt found himself clothed in the same uniform that Abin Stick had been wearing, and the helmet was drawn to perch on his head. "No way!" he shouted. He looked himself over, and then at the ring, and said, "Great. What the hell's a King Sin?"
From nowhere, a voice said, "King Sin is the Nova Lantern Corps' first traitor, and self-proclaimed king of Korugatriani." A beam shot out of the ring, projecting pictures on the wall of the ship to go with the information.
The ring is talking to me? thought Matt. "That is the fattest alien I have ever laid eyes on. Now I've seen everything," he concluded aloud.
"Sinfisko was the best Nova Lantern the Corps had ever produced."
"Negative," stated the ring. "It is all muscle. There is more. Sinfisko was the best Nova Lantern the Corps had ever produced. He was being trained to replace the elder Abin Stick, against Abin's wishes, but could not wait for the natural time. He made a deal with the Weaponers of the Negantom Zone, producing a yellow ring at least as powerful as the power ring of any Nova Lantern. He declared himself King Sin, and attacked Corpsman Abin Stick, gravely wounding him. Too weak to use the ring properly, he fled in a ship, coming here. Having regained some of his strength in the flight, he used the last of his will to find you and bring you here."
"Yeah," chuckled Matt. "Me and my plane! Oh, man! The plane!" He ran to the hole in the ship, and leapt outside, running for the plane. He started running his hands over the plane as he checked, and noticed he couldn't feel anything. "Ring? Why can't I feel anything?"
"Standard protective forcefield is active," replied the ring.
"Can you lower it?"
"The ring can do anything you will it to do."
"Aghh!" growled Matt. "I don't have time for this!" he blustered, and he pulled the ring off of his finger, putting it in his pants pocket as the Nova Lantern uniform disappeared. Finding that he could feel what he touched again, he ran his hands over the entire plane, checking it like he would a car he'd just waxed. Then he moved on to the missiles. He was on the second missile when he ran his fingers over the nose cone. He leaned in to examine a small fissure he felt, and suddenly it hissed and expelled the agent it carried, hitting Matt full in the eyes. "AHHGHHHHHH!" he screamed before passing out.
"I can't see! My eyes! I CAN'T SEE!"
Matt awoke, but everything was pitch dark. Darker. It was almost like... "I can't see! My eyes! I CAN'T SEE!" he shouted.
"MATT! I'M RIGHT HERE, MATT!" boomed a voice.
"Carol? Why are you screaming?!" Matt winced, covering his ears. "Why can't I see anything?!"
"I'M NOT," shouted Carol, but she sounded confused.
"IT'S OKAY, MISTER JORDAN!" came another voice. It was Doctor Claire Charles- the Romanova Aerospace chief doctor. "HYPER-SENSITIVITY OF YOUR OTHER SENSES IS NORMAL WHEN YOU LOSE THE USE OF ONE!"
"Lose the use of one?" Matt panicked. "What do you mean? Why are you all yelling? Can you quiet down, please?!"
"Filtering sound levels at a lower decibel rate," answered the ring.
"Was that... your Air Force ring?" asked Carol. "Hey. I've never noticed those numbers on the sides before. What does '2814' and '9602' mean?"
The ring must have disguised itself, thought Matt. "Uh...Corps designations. I can't talk about them though," he said sheepishly.
"Oh," said Carol. "But...it talked?"
"Ventriloquism," laughed Matt. "Ha ha, shut up, ring," he said to his fist as if he was screwing around. "You know me. Always joking in the face of the unknown. Speaking of which, would someone mind telling me why I can't see?"
"...one of the missiles from the plane ruptured in your face, blinding you."
Doctor Charles cleared her throat. "Um, Mister Jordan, one of the missiles from the plane ruptured in your face, blinding you. I'm sorry," she hesitated. "The damage is permanent. You'll never see again."
Matt was stunned. "Wha--? But...but that means... I can... I can never fly again?"
"I'm sorry, Matt," came the voice of Carol. "You're taken care of, of course. Romanova Aerospace is covering your medical costs, and your pension plan will--"
"Get out," said Matt.
"Wh-what?" said Carol.
"Get out," Matt repeated. "Please, I need some time alone." When he didn't hear any movement, he shouted, "GET... OUT!"
Footsteps receded as Carol and Doctor Charles left the room, and he heard the door swish shut and click behind them.
Matt was silent for several long minutes, then he said, "Ring? Can you answer some questions?"
"Affirmative, as long as those answers are in the ring's database," responded the ring.
"You said you could do anything?" Matt asked quietly.
"The ring can do--"
"--anything I will it to do. Right?"
"Can you... can I... will myself to see again?"
"Can you... can I... will myself to see again?" Matt asked, his voice a bit shaky.
"Negative. Healing is beyond the ring's capability. The ring's forcefield is nearly impenetrable, most often eliminating the need for any healing."
"And I took the ring off," Matt whispered to himself. "It's my own damned fault." He sat with that thought for a minute, then said, "Can I... alter the uniform?"
"Affirmative. State changes."
"Do you know Earth designs?" he asked hesitantly.
"When Abin Stick's ship reached your moon, all Earth databases were accessed. Any designs contained therein are now part of the ring's database."
"The mask and helmet," answered Jordan. "Make it look like a pair of early aviator's goggles, with accompanying helmet."
With a soft green glow, they appeared, altering the mask and helmet, and then turned solid.
"Can you... can you mimic radar?"
Matt touched them tentatively. "Feels right. Can you... can you mimic radar?"
Tapping his temples, he said, "Give me a second to bite on something, and then feed the radar signal straight to my optic nerves." Grabbing his pillow, he said, "Now," and stuffed it against his mouth. Tiny green beams, thinner than dental floss grew from the edge of the goggles, lanced into his temples, and seemed to set his eyes on fire. He screamed into the pillow, but managed to not pass out.
It took a minute, but images started to form around him, showing him various green shapes. Matt sobbed with joy, tears forming, but not quite falling. "I can... I can see... sort of. Can you put any definition to the images?"
"Negative. Radar is only capable of showing silhouetted images. Video may yield a more desired result."
Matt laughed. "Video? Ha! Of course! Yes! Try that!"
Suddenly, the green silhouettes of the radar images gave way to video imagery, but it was all still green.
Matt gasped. "Can you... can you do... color images?"
"Affirmative," confirmed the ring, and everything came into sharp focus, in full color as it was supposed to be.
"Amazing," Matt whispered. Then at a normal level, he said, "Now to 'make a miraculous recovery,' and get out of here. I've got to learn what all you can do, and how to stop King Sin."
"I can help you with the ring and King Sin," came an answer, but it wasn't the ring.
The surprise jarred him, and his world went black again. "What?! Oh, will power. Right. Ring. Re-establish video to the optic nerves." Pain lanced into his head again, and his sight was restored. Matt took a few seconds to recover, and then looked to the window. Perched on the sill was a woman with the same alien coloring as Abin Stick, wearing what looked like a red ceremonial garb of some kind, and carrying a couple of bladed weapons at her hips.
I think I'm going to have to save the video sight for special occasions, Matt thought. I don't think I can take that pain all the time. "Who are you?" he asked.
"I was Abin Stick's understudy, and chosen successor. When Sinfisko revolted, I was sent to stop him, and reclaim the ring. It appears that the ring has chosen you as the next Nova Lantern though."
"How does Devil Lantern sound to you?"
"Yeah," Matt said quietly, "but I'm blind when I lose my concentration. Possibly the most powerful weapon in the universe, and I can't see a damned thing it does. I don't think I can represent the Nova Lanterns like this." He bowed his head, looking at his hands through the video-optic feed, and said, "But... maybe?" he wondered aloud, thinking of his flight helmet, the ring causing it to appear in his hands. Looking at his call sign scrawled across the front of it, he turned it towards the stranger, and said, "How does Devil Lantern sound to you?"
"Strange," she said, "but you are allowed to adjust to your world's customs as necessary."
Matt smiled. "Devil Lantern it is then. Ring? You see these two nubs on my flight helmet?"
"Put two right here," he said, tapping the flight helmet the ring had made for his uniform. In response, two small green horns protruded from the helmet, just above the goggles. "Great. And there was an oath? To charge the ring?"
"Affirmative," and the ring recited the oath.
"In harshest din, or hush profound, my ears catch evil's slightest sound. Let those who think they've escaped my sight, beware my power: Devil Lantern's light!"
"No," said Matt. "That's no good. I need something that reflects what I've become, and reminds me of how I'll exceed my limitations. Let me think," and after a couple of minutes in silence, stroking his chin with his thumb and forefinger, he said, "Let's try this: In harshest din, or hush profound, my ears catch evil's slightest sound. Let those who think they've escaped my sight, beware my power: Devil Lantern's light!" With that, the full Nova Lantern costume appeared.
"Ring. Right here? In the middle of the starburst? Put a 'D L.'" The letters appeared, the L slightly lower and to the right of the D. Matt smiled. "That'll do." Looking back to the alien woman in his room, he said, "Okay, miss chosen successor to Abin Stick, you never did say- what's your name?"
Nodding slightly, she answered, "My name is Elektra Tui. Shall we get started?"
|Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cb||Originally Presented In: CCC #67.|
See notes on name amalgamations in the second comments box. -cb