17219Legion of Justice: Rough Homecoming, Part 5: Time, see how you changed me!
- Apr 16, 2014
"Damnit, Sandy! I KNOW the green magic can work as a telepathic translator!" Greenfire cursed. His aura wrapped around his helmet and Sandy's head. "It worked for every Green Lantern ever; I'll make it work for me!" He concentrated his entire will power on the Starheart energy, talking to it directly. 'I want to be able to talk to my friend!'
"Who are you? How did I get here! Where is here?!" suddenly he heard a shout in what passed for his head, so loud that it hurt. The magic of the Starheart was responding to his will! Not only could he 'hear' Sandy's thoughts, the Starheart was causing Sandy's thoughts to sound exactly like his friend's audible voice. And his total confusion was being clearly conveyed!
'Tone it down, Green, please?’ he asked meekly. ‘And please, please use his real name!' Drake pleaded to the green magic. He'd never bothered learning Sandy's real name, but he was sure he'd heard it and it must be stored somewhere in his subconscious.
"Sandy, I'm Greenfire of the Legion of Justice. We need your help!" In the back of his mind, the magic spoke to him, reassuring him that Sandy was indeed hearing his plea in his own language – and his real name. He needed the Golden Boy to act in a hurry. "These bugs are going to kill my friends!" ('your friends, too' he didn't project – no reason to confuse Sandy any more). "You can save a bunch of lives by stopping them!" He pictured in his mind what he wanted Sandy to do – extend his conscious control into the linked golden exbots and shut them down. "You're the only one who can do it!"
Sandy was an Auron – a race of ‘artificial’ beings created perhaps 100,000 years ago by Aranel Anaurime on the planet Auruhoth. They looked almost identical to humans, although they tended to be a bit taller and bald. Most of their bodies were composed of gold. Their life processes (birth, growth, death) mimicked those of organic creatures, and biologists almost universally agreed that that they were truly alive, despite their unusual origin and bodily composition. As well as being very strong and extremely massive, Aurons were ductile, and could stretch and reform their bodies incredibly. And, they could touch gold and control it, just as they controlled the gold composing their own bodies.
In the Legion’s original timeline (the AmGov timeline), the adolescent Sandy had been shanghaied into the Legion, forced into loyalty by AmGov threats to his homeworld. He’d been kidnapped from the Auron equivalent of a monastery, where he had nearly finished with his training to be a priest of Anaurime, Goddess of the Sun. In the current timeline, he had recently completed that training, and had been officiating at a celebration to Anaurime when somehow, he’d been ripped from away from Auruhoth and thrust into a battle between the Legion and (perhaps) the X-Pack.
So he was understandably confused. Yet, the urgency of Drake’s telepathic plea came through to him. The idea of golden robots used for evil and destruction offended him. He reached out and touched the nearest exbot, and extended his consciousness, until he could feel that he was enwrapping the entire Knight Base dome. He’d never felt so large, so powerful, before; he doubted if any Auron had ever done anything like this! Perhaps this was a small sample of what Aranel Anaurime felt during every instant of her life? No matter… he concentrated, and all the linked golden shells clenched like fists, crushing their contents – and the exbots were dead!
Sandy was overwhelmed with the feeling of power, and too intoxicated to even think of giving it up. He sent out more mental commands, and the golden nuggets that had used to be sophisticated robotic killing machines spit out their impurities, and started flowing back towards the Golden Boy. His body expanded, shredding his ornate ceremonial robes. As Drake watched, first in fascination and then in horror, Sandy grew and grew, in only a few seconds easily topping the Knight Base dome!
Confusion reigned supreme inside the dome. Canary stopped shouting orders for a few seconds. ‘Concentrate!’ she ordered herself harshly. ‘You are the LEADER!’ General Urbane had drummed one tenant into her in ahead of all others. “In a crisis, you must ACT NOW! It’s better to be doing the wrong thing than doing nothing.” If she stopped to be sure she knew all the details of the current situation, the Legion would likely be doomed before she figured it out. She quickly scanned the room, marshalling her resources. She remembered a moment of disorientation and then she was rocketing across the room in a cloud of green energy, which then amazingly cushioned her so she wasn’t hurt by impacting the wall.
Drake and Sandy were gone. Cathy had already vanished in the corridor to the hanger. Hawk Lad… even in the urgent circumstances, she allowed herself an instant of astonishment. Hawk Lad had somehow been transformed from a Fetherian into a human with wings? But he was writhing on the floor, and she recognized the funk he’d experienced in the 20th Century because of his reincarnated spirit’s proximity to an earlier self. He was out of the action for now, too.
Star Lass used her Cosmic Rod to block the prison beams, and as soon as she could move, Chemique had disabled them by changing the superconductors in the projector circuitry to insulators. She should be able to count on those two. Rex and Rand appeared to be unchanged – Rex’s hands were flying across his control panel, and Rand was hurrying to the weapons console. Timmy looked the same, except he had a full head of hair. So that was her team. It ought to do. It had to do!
Cathy raced into the hanger area. The golden bugs that were threatening her small space cruiser hadn’t been in contact with their fellows, so they were unaffected by Sandy’s earlier commands. She pulled her pistol from her belt as she activated her mental link to the Swashbuckler. “Buck, acquire targets from me!” She aimed the pistol at one of the bugs and yelled ‘Target!” as she pulled the trigger. This action sent a sensor image of Cathy’s target to the Swashbuckler, where the sophisticated (though unintelligent) computer in the small ship used its sensitive scanning equipment to locate every bug in the hanger. The ship’s small laser began firing. Cathy was firing self-propelled self-guided projectiles, and even with her pistol on full auto, she never missed. Within a few seconds, between the laser and the tiny missiles, every exbot in the hanger had been shattered or melted.
Cathy queried the Swashbuckler through her implant. She was relieved to discover that ship’s security hadn’t been breached, and the contraband cargo was untouched in the hidden cargo area. And, she hadn’t had to reveal the highly-customized little ship’s unusual and illegal self-defense capabilities. It wouldn’t do for an Ambassador from the Empire of Elaigar and his hired pilot to be revealed as smugglers!
“I’ve breached the main computer’s access protection!” Gernsback reported to his creator. “This computer is much more sophisticated and highly protected than the last two.” The last two were the computer at the previous Knight Base, and the AmGov computer at the “Secret Technology Suppression Center” on AmGov Earth. “Launching the infiltration virus.” Gernsback in his current limited form didn’t really understand what had just happened. When the time eddy had replaced the Knight Base of the AmGov timeline with its analog from the current time line, almost his entire store of information on time travel had been lost. But computers didn’t waste much time on being surprised – he accepted that this was a totally different computer, and went about his assigned task of taking it over.
“I estimate that this task will require my full attention for several hours. I will notify you when it is accomplished.” The last sounded almost snippy; even with the limited computing resources in Rex’s chair, Gernsback’s characteristic prickly personality came through.
“In other words, don’t call me – I’ll call you,” Rex sniffed, a bit miffed. “Just don’t interfere with anything other than the com…” His words sputtered and became a moan when all the lights shut off, the instrument panels went dark, and the constant noises of life support went silent. For an instant it was very dark inside Knight Base, and then all the battery powered emergency lights came on, filling the room with a dim, eerie red that was barely sufficient to see by.
“Rex, Rand, Reesa, Miqui, Tommy, form on me!” Gina barked into the murky room. ‘Reese, some light.” The Cosmic Rod produced a glowing white globe, floating in the air just below the dome, and lighting returned to almost normal.
“Rawrarraarrghar!” she projected, or something like that, sounding like an angry tiger about to attack. It was Wildcat’s real name – something he rarely heard from humans. He involuntarily snapped to attention – somehow Canary sounded exactly like his mother, the Empress of the 5 planet Empire of Elaigar, and she was MAD! Her next words were in English, but even so, he rushed to obey. “Find an aid kit and take care of Horus!”
She turned to Timepiece. “Rex, what just happened?”
“Time eddy,” he snapped back in reply. “The new timeline tried to change us to fit in. Rand and I weren’t affected because of our powers, and Theresa and Drake were protected by Drake’s magical aura. I assume that’s what protected Miqui, and to a lesser extent, Tommy.” He paused, unsure of how to go on. “You were apparently totally replaced by this timeline’s analog of you, but Drake’s blast restored your memory, at least.”
“And left that body!” Rand broke in, enthusiastically. “Never knew the lad had it in him!”
Gina took a quick look at herself. “No wonder I feel so off balance.” She shook her head violently, twice. “OK, Rand, you think we’re under attack from the X-Pack? We’d better be ready for a fight.”
“It’s not the same X-Pack we know, Canary,” Star Lass warned. “It might not be an X-Pack analog at all.”
“We’ll know soon enough,” Miqui predicted. “They’re coming through that wall!” She pointed.
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