Chapter 20 – Happenings
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, Green Lantern, or any of the Mythology that I am about to mangle to suit my own twisted purposes. Frankly, if you recognize it, I don’t own it. This work may not be sold or used for profit in any way shape or form for that very reason. Please don’t sue me because I don’t have anything worth taking…
Author's Note: Here they are, the answers that many of you have been waiting for about what was in the rock. The picture, the idea, and the character of Satou Midori are all on loan from JoeHundredaire. What I'm doing with her and my treatment of her personality are the only things I can take credit for. I'm also taking some liberties with how I interpreted some of the Green Lantern stuff as well. I hope you enjoy it.
-== Chapter Twenty – Happenings ==-
A sudden, forceful impact against its stone prison jarred the hibernating power ring out of stand-by mode. The AI in the ring immediately checked its internal chronometer and power-reserves. It still retained sufficient power to carry out its mission, despite having been trapped in this yellow rock for nearly forty revolutions of this world around its primary star. This was the third time since the ring was trapped that external conditions had roused the AI from power save mode, the second such event in the last planetary rotation. A low level passive scan revealed significant fracturing in the ore that had solidified around it, indicating that something was breaking apart its prison.
Instantly, the AI made a more active scan. An extra dimensional being, not unlike the guardians, was responsible for the damage. Also nearby, the ring detected a pubescent Kryptonian and a pair of adult humans. It was an extremely unusual combination of life-forms, to say the least, especially for a back-water planet in the heart of sector 2814. A quick check of its position against universal star charts verified that the ring was indeed still on the third planet of the Sol system, a world locally designated ‘Earth’.
A series of additional impacts followed rapidly, and on the fifth blow, the power ring was abruptly freed from its confinement. In a flash of green energy, the ring vanished, racing off to fulfill the final order of its long deceased master. Abin Sur’s dying instructions had been to locate a human being worthy of taking his place in the Green Lantern Corps. At the time, the AI had only just begun assessing possible candidates before becoming trapped in a cloud of rapidly coalescing yellow dust that and rendered it incapable of fulfilling its mission. As the trapped ring had fallen through the atmosphere, the dense dust had been heat fused into a solid material of incredible strength and distinctly yellow hue. It was a combination that had left the ring AI utterly incapable of escaping and completing its mission on its own.
Finally freed of its confinement, the AI rapidly resumed its search for a new Green Lantern. It circled the globe, registering a series of viable possibilities before beginning to filter out the selections that were non-human or past their physical prime. Within the span of a few local hours, the AI had narrowed the range of candidates to two. Making a decision, the ring headed rapidly toward its first choice.
* * * * *
Satou Midori smiled as she hung the last of the paper lanterns in her new bedroom. To say that she was less than thrilled to be living in a small town in the middle of nowhere, or Kansas as the locals called it, would have been an understatement, but it did have upsides. Like the fact that she seriously doubted she’d have any trouble standing out from the crowd around here, and the fact that she actually got to attend a regular, public high school rather than the stuck up private schools her last stepmother had favored.
Of course, she also certainly wasn’t upset that her father had divorced that stepmother before deciding to move out to the Midwest. She loved her father dearly, but ever since her mother had died, his taste in women had run from bad to worse. The fact that he was successful, wealthy, handsome and unassuming just seemed to attract the worst kind of women, forcing Midori to try and protect her father. After two bad marriages in the ten years since her mother died, she could only hope that maybe her father would finally find someone worth having here in Smallville or even in Metropolis.
A sudden flash of green light caused Midori to turn her head. Her eyes widened in surprise at what she saw there. Floating just at eye level was a strange ring made of a dark green material. The front of the ring was circular with a strange, raised emblem in the circle. The emblem consisted of another circle sandwiched between a pair of bars, one above and one below. Strangely enough, the emblem reminded her of a lantern and the ring itself was surrounded by a nimbus of glowing green energy. She stared at it for a long moment, almost mesmerized by it.
“Take the ring. Put it on.”
Midori started, looking around her room suddenly. She could have sworn that she heard a soft voice tell her to take the ring and wear it. She was, however, still alone in her room.
“Take the ring. Put it on,” the mysterious voice reiterated.
She turned back to the ring, narrowing her eyes at it. This time the voice had clearly come from the ring itself. “Who or what are you?” she demanded aloud.
“Take the ring. Put it on and all will be explained in time,” the voice said once again.
Midori didn’t hesitate for even a moment longer. She reached up and grabbed the ring, slipping it onto the middle finger of her right hand.
“My power is almost exhausted. I must act quickly to take you where you must go. Do not fear.” As the voice spoke, she realized that she was hearing it in her mind, not with her ears.
Instantly a glowing green energy field surrounded her and her clothes changed. Suddenly she was wearing a green and black body suit with white gloves and a white circle on her chest displaying the same emblem as the ring. A moment later, she passed through the wall of her room like a ghost and rocketed into the sky.
“What the hell are you and where are you taking me?” she demanded as they shot toward outer space.
“I am the AI in the power ring you now wear. We are going to the far side of your home-world’s moon, where the previous wielder of the ring perished.”
“What is a power ring and what’s on the moon that’s so important?” she asked as they exited the atmosphere and accelerated toward the now visible moon. To her own surprise, Midori was less worried or frightened by what was going on and more curious. “Oh, and what is with this outfit?”
“A power ring is the weapon of a member of the Green Lantern Corps. It is one of the most powerful weapons in the universe, limited only by its wielder’s strength of will and imagination. The previous wielder’s ship crashed on the far side of the moon and in that ship you will find the power lantern necessary to charge this ring’s dwindling power stores. Your clothes have been transformed into the standard uniform of the Green Lantern Corps.”
When the ring’s AI stopped its explanation at that point, Midori spoke up again, continuing to address the ring aloud despite the fact that they were flying through the airless vacuum of space. “Okay, so you’re just answering the questions I ask, aren’t you?”
She sighed, realizing that AI wasn’t going to volunteer anything other than a very literal answer to exactly what she asked it. “Then why are you taking me to the far side of the moon?”
“My previous wielder’s final order was to select a worthy human being from the planet you call ‘Earth’ to take his place as a member of the Green Lantern Corps. You are the best possible candidate as a successor, therefore I am taking you to my previous wielder’s ship, where he will explain things in greater detail and give you his power lantern.”
“Me?” she asked, shocked. “Why me?”
“You are intelligent, resourceful, fearless, and strong willed. You were the best available candidate and would make an excellent addition to the membership of the Green Lantern Corps.”
“What is the Green Lantern Corps?” she asked.
“The Green Lantern Corp is an elite organization that serves to protect the universe from the forces of evil.”
“So they’re an intergalactic police force?” she mused aloud. “I guess they must not have a minimum height requirement like most Earth police forces… So what’s a power lantern then?”
“The power lantern is a conduit to the Central Power Battery on the planet of Oa. It allows individual Green Lanterns to recharge their power rings as needed.”
As Midori descended to the surface of the moon, she asked one final question. “Let me guess, this planet Oa is the Corps headquarters then?”
“Makes sense I suppose,” she said as they landed next to a severely damaged spacecraft that looked less like it landed and more like it crashed. “Looks like it was a rough trip,” she commented. “Are you sure your boss is still alive in there to explain anything?”
“Negative. Abin Sur perished approximately 38 of your years ago. Main power is approaching critical levels, AI functions will be suspended until ring is recharged to conserve remaining power. Once you enter the ship, Abin Sur will explain what you must do.”
The voice fell silent, leaving Midori staring at the wrecked remains of a spaceship and wondering how an alien who’d been dead for nearly 40 years was going to explain anything. She walked around the vessel and to her dismay, found no evidence of any controls or entrances. “Alright,” she asked aloud, “How am I supposed to get in there?”
As if in response to her question, a lantern symbol began glowing faintly on the side of the ship. She immediately touched it, running her gloved hand over the illuminated surface. It wasn’t a button, merely a smooth, metallic panel. Frowning, she tried the next obvious thing: she touched the power ring to the emblem. With a hiss of escaping gas, a previously invisible seam appeared as a panel recessed and slid open revealing the interior of the ship.
Stepping carefully inside, Midori was somewhat surprised to find no trace of the dead alien she expected to find. On one of the control panels, a single green button still glowed. Pressing it seemed like her only real option, since none of the other controls appeared functional. At her touch, a four inch tall hologram of a bipedal, humanoid alien with bright red skin appeared.
“Greetings human,” the hologram said formally. “I am Abin Sur, the primary Green Lantern assigned to sector 2814. If you are seeing this message, then I did not survive my injuries long enough to greet you in person. The AI in my power ring has chosen you as a worthy successor to serve within the Green Lantern Corps. The Corps is a force dedicated to battling the forces of evil and protecting life in the universe. Being a Green Lantern is not easy. It is a life full of danger and challenges, but it is also a chance to make a small part of the universe around you a better place.” The image paused abruptly, looking like he was in great pain for several moments. “I must hurry. I fear my time grows short.”
“By now, the ring’s power supply is almost certainly nearly exhausted, meaning you will have to recharge it, whether you wish to become the new Green Lantern for this sector or not. Beneath this console lies a hidden compartment that will open when this message finishes. Inside it you will find my power lantern. To recharge the ring, merely hold it in the lantern’s light for a short time.” He paused again, grimacing before continuing through the pain he was clearly experiencing. “If you do not wish to accept the responsibilities of becoming a Green Lantern, tell the ring’s AI and it will return you whence you came and select another candidate. Otherwise, you’ll become a provisional member of the Corps and the ring’s AI will teach you the basics of using the power ring until another member of the Corps can find and train you.”
The hologram’s features contorted in pain again, for a much longer time. “Whatever you choose, human, may the light guide and keep you.” The hologram flickered and vanished. With a hiss, the secret compartment opened.
Midori swallowed hard and stared down at the strange ring on her finger. She had often dreamed of a life less ordinary, but this wasn’t exactly what she’d had in mind. Suddenly the ring and all that it represented seemed to weigh heavily on her finger as she considered what to do. Making up her mind finally, Midori knelt down and looked in the compartment. The power lantern was small and compact, made of the same emerald green material that ring was composed of, and glowed with a brilliant green light. She did as the hologram instructed and held the ring close to the light.
After a few moments, she asked aloud. “Is there something I should do to become a Green Lantern?”
“Most members of the Green Lantern Corps recite an oath each time they recharge their power rings as an affirmation of their commitment to the Corps’ cause,” the AI replied, having clearly come back online.
“What oath?” she asked.
“Each Green Lantern typically creates their own oath. However, there are several commonly used oaths on record that I could provide as an example or for you to use until you can devise your own.”
“Please do so,” she said simply. She listened to several oaths before hearing one that struck a chord with her. “That’s enough,” she said finally.
Looking down at the ring, which she was still holding in the lantern’s light, despite the fact that she was fairly sure it was fully charged by now, she began reciting the oath she’d chosen:
“The cosmos through, in every part,
One thing endures: a loving heart.
Against the knaves who’d quell this song,
Green Lanterns stand to right the wrong!”
* * * * *
On his throne in the great mead-hall Valaskjalf, Odin smiled. Already his son’s heir had begun to fulfill the prophecies about his life. The one-eyed God watched, delighted, as the new Thunder God’s presence in Midgard began to twist and warp the threads of fate around him. The effect spread outward rapidly, rippling through the entire tapestry and smashing through the barriers and blockades the Powers that Be had placed against just such an effect. The boy was proving to be everything he and the Norns had hoped for and more.
His presence was the catalyst, the trigger for a new age of mankind. An age where the rules would change and humanity would once again take control of its own fate. The age of the Powers that Be and their champions was drawing to a swift close and it had all been triggered by the least likely of events. The All-father turned his all-seeing eye elsewhere, observing the effects of Xander’s existence across the world.
Odin chuckled as he watched a rather intense young man’s thirst for vengeance on the thug that killed his parents change ever so slightly, becoming instead a quest for justice. He grinned as yet elsewhere a boy was gifted with incredible speed by a freak accident. On the far side of the Earth’s moon, he watched as a young woman recited an oath that would forever change the course of her life forever. He nodded in silent sympathy as he watched the last surviving Martian appear unexpected in the lab of a human scientist on Earth, triggering a heart-attack in the man and leaving the alien stranded on Earth. Throughout the world, a new breed of human was awakening to its potential, potential that the Powers that Be had spent centuries suppressing. It was a potential that the Aesir and the Olympians, the old Gods of Egypt and Babylon, and countless other pantheons of immortals had spent millennia sowing and nurturing among humanity.
The new age of heroes was finally beginning…all because a boy had defied a prophecy to a save a girl he thought he loved.
* * * * *
Dinner was an unusually somber affair at the Kent house that night. The near tragedy on the bridge hadn’t drifted far from anyone’s mind in the few hours since it had happened. While almost everyone had been relieved to learn that he was nearly as resistant to injury as Xander, the specter of what might have been still loomed in their minds. Clark, however, seemed determined to brood about what had happened to a much greater extent than any of the other Kents.
After dinner, the boys went out to the barn loft to resume their studies. Unfortunately, Clark’s distraction proved overwhelming. After watching his brother stare aimlessly at the book he was supposed to be reading for nearly a half-hour while continuing to brood, Xander had finally had enough.
“Okay, Clark,” he said, shutting the book he was reading with a loud snap. “What gives?” The Aesir looked his brother in the eye. “You’ve been brooding non-stop since that car hit us this afternoon. Is it the fact that you’re not dead or the part where you discovered how tough you really are that’s the problem?”
“Neither,” Clark responded closing his book quietly. “Both. My life in general, maybe? What you said about Lana earlier? Everything… Mostly though, I can’t help just wishing I was normal.”
The Thunder God frowned as he stood up, tossing the book back in his seat. He starred at the morose teen for a long moment before making up his mind that this perpetual self-flagellation Clark did over being different needed to stop. And it needed to stop right now. “We need to have a talk,” he said grimly. “Let’s head down to the back forty, we’ll be less likely to attract attention there.”
Puzzled by his brother’s actions, Clark followed along as Xander blurred out of the barn without so much as a hint of explanation. When they reached their destination, Xander stared at the darkening sky for a long moment before turning to face his brother. “I think I’ve got the biggest part of your problem pegged, little brother,” he began with a slightly mocking smirk. “You’re afraid of your powers. It’s part of why you’re so uncomfortable being different, even though you’ve never been ‘normal’,” he made air quotes as he practically spat out the word.
“And you think you’ve got some kind of solution?” the Kryptonian replied with a frown.
“Maybe,” the Aesir answered in a hard voice. “At the very least, I have an important point to make… I want you to hit me, Clark. I want you to hit me as hard as you can.”
“And that’s going to prove what exactly?” the younger boy demanded with a frown.
“Just do it and we’ll see,” he said bluntly.
The Thunder God frowned as Clark pulled back and punched at him half-heartedly. He sidestepped the blow easily. “Come on Clark, I said to hit me hard. We already know you’re faster than me, you can do better than that.”
Clark’s eyes narrowed and he swung again, more seriously this time. Xander blocked it. “You’re still holding back,” he said angrily. “Use your strength, really use it. Or are you too scared?”
Finally, Clark threw a jab with all of his might and Xander caught the fist in his hand, digging in his heels to stop the blow. It took effort, the most effort he’d had to exert since becoming an Aesir in fact, but he stopped the blow. The two boys stood for a long moment before Xander taunted again.
“You’ve got another hand, I can’t dodge, use it,” he demanded angrily.
With a grimace Clark swung his left as hard as he could, grunting as Xander grabbed that fist as well, locking both of the Kryptonian’s hands in vise-like grips. “Come on, Clark,” you’re as strong as I am…push me back,” Xander demanded, the anger in his voice pushing the younger boy to do what he was told.
Clark threw every last bit of his power into trying to push the Aesir back, trying to wipe that smug grin off Xander’s face. Beads of sweat burst out along both of their brows, both faces contorted into masks of concentration and effort, but neither seemed able to budge the other.
“Are you starting to see my point yet or do I have to spell it out for you?” Xander asked, the anger in his voice replaced by the strain of the effort he was exerting.
“Spell it out for me,” he answered in an equally strained voice.
“We’re the same,” the Thunder God growled out. “We have the same strength, the same speed, the same ability to fly, and the same resistance to injury. We’re not different, we’re not alone, but we’re not human either. You have to get over that or you’ll never be happy.”
Taking a deep breath, Xander flexed his muscles, willing them to push harder, exceeding their limits. Slowly, he began to overcome the alien’s resistance. He grimaced and ignored his muscles’ strained protests, tapping into deeper reserves of strength then he’d ever needed before. Clark’s eyes widened and he struggled to stop the Aesir.
“Do you know why I’m stronger than you Clark?” he growled through clenched teeth. “It’s because I accept what I am. I embrace my powers as the gifts they are rather than hiding from them or denying them.” With a sudden burst of power, he shoved hard unbalancing the teen and sending him sprawling backward onto the ground.
“You can’t keep hating yourself for what you are,” Xander said flatly. “If you were ‘normal’, if you were like everyone else, we’d be planning your funeral right now. If you don’t get over this need to be human, then someday we’re going to end up burying you, Clark, and I’m sick and tired of burying the people I love.”
Without another word, Xander turned and stormed angrily out of the clearing, leaving Clark to consider his words.
* * * * *
Satou Midori phased through the wall and landed gently on the floor of her bedroom with a tired sigh. She’d spent hours on the far-side of the moon, learning how to use her new power ring under the tutelage of the less than talkative AI. It had been an exhausting experience, trying both her willpower and her patience before she had gotten the hang of it. She placed the power lantern on her desk and looked at her self in the mirror for the first time since she had donned the power ring that morning.
The green, black and white body suit that comprised the traditional uniform of a Green Lantern brought an instant frown to her face. If she had been a tall, buxom girl, she might have been able to pull off that outfit without looking ridiculous, but at 4’10”, not so much. She decided looked like a ten-year old getting ready to go trick-or-treating, especially with the green mask around her eyes that the uniform included.
“Is the uniform really necessary?” she asked aloud, “it looks terrible on me…”
“Affirmative,” the AI replied. “However, you can customize the uniform to better suit your needs.”
“Alright,” she said with a smile. “How do I do it?”
“Envision the uniform as you desire it to appear and will it to change the same way you will any other ring construct into existence. The ring will alter the uniform appropriately and store the changes making it your default uniform until you change it again or until someone else puts on the ring.”
Midori concentrated for a long moment, picturing the changes she wanted to make and focusing on the details. She smiled as the body suit was replaced with the outfit she’d envisioned: a green and black, off the shoulders, midriff top with lacy sleeves and the Corps insignia on it, a green and black tartan school girl skirt, black and white stripped stocking-style leggings and proper, high-heeled boots. It even had the spiked leather collar she’d imagined. The modified uniform looked like something that had come directly from Midori’s wardrobe and brought a gratified smile to her face. The boots even pushed her diminutive height up over the five foot mark.
“How are your power reserves?” she asked abruptly, suddenly realizing that she had no idea how often the ring would need to be charged.
“Main power is at 70% and reserves are fully charged.”
“How often do you normally need to be recharged anyway?” she questioned.
“That depends entirely on how much you use the ring. Most Corps members recharge their rings once per day in order to reduce the possibilities of being caught with a depleted ring by an enemy.”
“Fair enough,” she said with a nod. “Daily recharging sounds like the way to go.” She yawned abruptly.
A soft knock at the door of her bedroom startled her. A moment later, she heard her father’s voice, “Midori? May I come in?”
“Crap,” she whispered. “I wasn’t expecting him to be home…how do I change back to my regular clothes?”
Instantly the green energy around her faded away and her uniform was replaced by the remarkably similar outfit she’d put on when she got up that morning. The teen moved quickly to the door to find her father standing there with a puzzled look on his face.
“Is everything alright?” he asked politely. “I thought I heard you talking to someone?”
“I was just talking to myself, papa,” she explained with a smile. “I wasn’t expecting you to be home yet…”
“It’s after ten,” he said with a smile of his own. “I’ve been home for over an hour. Are you sure everything’s alright?”
Her eyes went wide and she glanced at her alarm clock. Sure enough, she’d been gone for over 12 hours after putting on the ring. “I’m sorry, papa,” she said stifling another yawn as she spoke. “I just lost track of the time, I hadn’t realized how late it was.”
Her father smiled softly. “You should get some sleep. I won’t be able to get you enrolled at the High School until your transcripts arrive from Gotham City sometime next week anyway. That should give you plenty of time to get settled in and unpacked.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” Midori replied with a smile. She stood upon her tip toes and gave her father a kiss on the cheek. “Good night, papa.”
“Good night, Midori,” he answered. “Sleep well.”