Tuesday, September 10

clash of the lanterns

I expected something dramatic when I invoked the power of the disc. A sudden change of costume, verdant explosion of fireworks, anything really. But no, I was just standing there using all my strength to keep my son's very heavy mechanical hand lifted towards my brother, who floated in in aura of sickly yellow fear.

Marcus scoffed. "You? A Green Lantern? Ludicrous! You think any fool can just pick up a power ring and..."

Somehow I found the strength to raise my arm and fire an emerald bolt from my power disc. It went a bit wide, missing him by inches.

Some cautious applause rose from the young savages behind me.

"You were saying?"

He grit his teeth as he hovered closer.

"Perhaps you have a drop of Will, but your skills are poor. Not that your green ring could even effect..."

My arm jerked to the side. The disc spread an arc of light and a duplicate of the mechanical claw Ash had used solidified again. With a shriek of simulated hinges the claw rotated and clamped down on a fallen column massive enough to support the Babbage Town Hall. My arm flailed back in Marcus' direction, slamming down where Marcus was levitating with such force that the ground trembled and threw up clouds of dust.

I pushed the opening to my gas mask over my face with my free hand as I heard the young ones coughing behind me.

"Yes, the green light can't affect the yellow light. I know this. We have a Justice League in Steelhead, you know! But you're still susceptible to very large blocks of stone, as you can see!"

I heard one of the tykes calling out between coughs. "E' went poof! Jus' like when he trew 'is frisbee at th' green bot! All was lef' was his..."

I stared in disbelief at the gauntlet as I held it to my chest. Whatever just happened, it was not my doing. Either my subconscious is a force in itself or...

The index finger of the gauntlet began stretching and contracting by itself. It tapped the disc it held tightly. Morse code...?

With a deafening crack the column snapped in half. The section further from us slowly rolled away into a ravine. His glowing outline was visible through the settling dust.

"Nice try, Darien."

"Oh SHUT UP you lunatic!" With a mighty spin of my arm (which I am certain strained every muscle I had on the right side of my body) I hurled the emerald disc at Marcus. He flinched, and blinked to the other side of his own golden disc. We both watched the bright green artifact crash on the other side of the ravine. I thorough down the gauntlet (literally and figuratively in this case) and threw down my gas mask as well.

"I don't even NEED a radioactive pie tin to deal with YOU, Marcus!"

A chorus of "DAY-UM!" giggled behind me.

"I refuse to be a pawn in some extraterrestrial wargame!" I continued. I tried to point at him, but my right arm aching and slow to respond. I used my left finger instead.

"Put down that PISS-STAINED TOILET SEAT and fight like a MAN!"

I heard collective gasps, followed by laughter. I turned around grinning to see the feral tykes clutching their sides, rolling in the dirt with beet-red faces and screaming incomprehensible things like "LAWL" and "ROFFLE-MAU". They seemed to have dropped Koen, but from what I could see of the rise and fall of his chest, his breath was strong, but irregular.

"Oh Bast...It hurts when I laugh! Oh! Oh! Hee-hee! You owned him Dad!"


I cast Marcus a sidelong glance. Indeed, his body seemed to be flickering. Even transparent.

"Oh, I forgot," I interrupted, "you CAN'T fight man-to-man because you're just a GHOST! You trapped your OWN SOUL in that disc, didn't you? You're not even really HERE! You're just projecting an ILLUSION of yourself from the disc! YOU ARE THE DISC! YOU'RE A PISS-STAINED TOILET SEAT!"

That's when the taunting started. "Toilet seat! Toilet seat! Marcus is a toilet seat!"

He seemed to having even worse trouble keeping his posture than I did. The disc was wobbling and inverting Marcus' image for a few instants. "STOP! STOP THIS! I'LL DESTROY..."

"Your nursery rhymes won't scare anyone! No one here is even AFRAID of you! Did you hear me you BAT-SHIT BELHAVEN BUFFOON?"

With that, the figure in yellow circuitry popped with a with a flash, like one of Mr. Edison's failed light-bulb experiments. His disc clattered down the ridges of the column he had sliced open and finally lodged in the gravel below.

Koen rose slowly to his feet. "Nice job...how'd you do it?"

"Well, the Yellow Lantern Corps, as I understood it, draw their power from the fear in others around them. We have demons in the family tree, so you know how these emotion-eaters work... I just used our instinctual sibling rivalry to degrade him to the point where even the children weren't afraid of him anymore. No fear, no power."

Miss Lacroix raised her rusted axe, pointing upwards and behind me.

"Are we still s'posed t'be afraid of HIM?"

A huge metal claw wrapped around my torso, pinning my arms to my sides. Cold Dead Hans bent his wrist inwards to pull me up and stare at me with widening metal irises through his brain-jar.

"Yeeees...yes you should..."

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