“Kilowog, you heard?”
“I heard, Katma Tui. I heard. I just can’t do dis no more. I don’t tink I can stay in da Corps no more.”
Arisia turned to them.
“I am almost afraid to. I could trust her. I still don’t trust them.” She pointed towards the Guardians.
Oh Hallie. At least I know what happened to you. Alan Scott will never be sure. Hal Jordan felt his resolve stiffen. I will bring honor to your ring, Jade. You deserve that much. (Elf note: The Order of Oa – Chapter 2).
“You knew!” Daimon Hellstrom screamed at his father. “You knew what would happen.”
“No. There are limits to what I know. This was far beyond it. I would not have planned this.”
The Sentinel’s Lair, Selina Kyle’s quarters
“No Krypto, I don’t feel like taking a walk right now.” Helena sat with her puppy. “Mommy, why does everyone say Linda won’t come back? Doesn’t she like us any more?”
How do I begin to explain this to her?
The Sentinel’s Quarters
“Dad, I still can’t believe she’s gone!” Alanna Scott shook. “I won’t believe it! There has to be something we missed.”
Alan Scott’s eyes were red.
“We scoured the whole damned universe. There was no Starheart, no Linda, no nothing. You were right. She knew what she had to do and she did it. The Kayzik still exist in the universes they have already entered, but they will no longer spread from their home universe.”
Alan searched for anything that would console his daughter. We do still have a small piece of Jade.
“Sweetheart, I have to show you something.”
They walked down the hall. He let her into Elise’s makeshift art studio. Mary and Elise stood in front of a canvas, only partially aware of it.
“This was Elise’s rendition of Jade just a couple of weeks ago.” He put his hand on her shoulder. “I’ve never seen a soul painting before. It doesn’t bring her back, but it helps just a little.”
Alanna looked at the painting. She read the soul she knew so well. Without hesitation and without regret. The third time was the charm. Hell of an epitaph. ‘Destroyer of a universe. Savior of all life almost everywhere else in the Continuum.’ Didn’t even make sweet sixteen. She lost herself in the painting. What’s this? There is more than just her here.
“Mom? It feels like there is something else here. Something different from the rest of her.”
Elise broke out of her memories.
“Sweetheart, Jade was more than Linda Lee Danvers. The Starheart had a presence of its own.”
Xeppos Danna had no idea what he expected to find.
Something fell into this universe. Doesn’t seem to be anything threatening. He dropped out of Hyperspace. Must not be very large, whatever it is. What? My ring is picking it up. That can only mean one thing. Doesn’t matter where you came from. Brother, I swear I will find you!
The Sentinel’s Lair
Alanna stood, entranced by the painting. She watched the second presence come alive. She felt it touch her. She felt the Starheart. She felt the Starheart’s soul.
Another Universe, Oa
The guardian looked at Xeppos’ cargo. He nodded at the Xenthian.
“It is not one of ours, but we are still responsible for it. It does not seem badly injured. Hopefully it will recover. Call for an honor guard.”
The Guardian smiled.
“You have a point. I will do this personally. Stay here until you are relieved.”
The art studio
She knew what she’d seen. Son of a bitch! She looked around her. I see it. I’m out of here! Alanna looked around. Not yet. I love these people. They deserve to know.
She grinned viciously.
“Mom, you were right. Jade is more than Linda Danvers. Much more.”
They stared at her, not comprehending.
“What do you mean?” Elise asked.
“We all promised to look after Linda, no matter what.” Alanna grinned fiercely. “So did a little something else. That thing in her hand has a prime directive – and it’s not the protection of life everywhere. It’s the protection of Linda Danvers’ life. Her life is sacrosanct to the Starheart. It will and did protect her.”
Alan Scott almost smiled.
“You see a thread, don’t you? And it’s not faint.”
“That’s what I like about you Dad. You’re almost as brilliant as Linda!” She kissed him and vanished.
Another Universe, Oa
What an extraordinary life! The Guardian read the service record. No wonder she carries the Order of Oa. We are fortunate that she arrived instead of the Kayzik queens she killed. Her Guardians may have qualms about it, but I sure don’t.
I have never seen such a creature. She carries both the power of the Green Lantern Corps and the power of a Starheart. The Starheart still protects her. We can’t even get through her shields to examine her. We’re lucky to tap the ring’s data.
Big mouth, Alanna. This probability isn’t even remotely near here. Well, I’ll find a way.
Another universe, Oa
Her eyelids slowly flickered open.
The Guardian sat on her bed.
“What an amazing little girl you are.” He smiled. “You did it.”
She smiled. Her eyelids flickered closed.
Six hours later
“Master, something has slipped through our defenses. It has headed for the infirmary. We are tracking it down.”
The Guardian smiled.
“Stand down. Come along if you wish. I am looking forward to this.”
The Guardian grinned.
“A Jade is a gem of great worth. When something is that valuable, you don’t just leave it lying around.”
“Come on and I’ll introduce you to her big sister. Just be glad she came alone.” The Guardian floated down the hallway.
The Green Lantern followed the Guardian. He muttered the entire trip.
The tall woman sat on the bed. The Guardian entered. He passed the honor guard on his way. She spoke first.
“Thank you. I fully expected armed resistance. Instead, your Green Lanterns have been most kind. I am Alanna Scott.”
The Guardian smiled. He waved the honor guard out of the room.
“I am Geddis Zehn. We’ve read her amazing service record. I take it she had no idea that the Starheart would protect her?”
“Not a clue. I did not know until I saw a soul painting of Jade. It captured the Starheart. Once I read the Starheart, I knew what it would do. Then I saw that the thread binding us was still there.”
“You are a child of the Dark Force?”
She chose her words.
“I use the Dark Force. I am the child and sister of the Green Flame.”
The Guardian grinned. Good Answer!
“What an amazing child. When she feels better, tell her we have a standing opening for her. She might enjoy working for a professional Green Lantern outfit.” He winked.
The Guardian paused. He spoke more seriously.
“We chose to become Guardians of the Universe because we wanted to protect and serve all of our children. This universe would have been a perfect nesting ground for the Kayzik. We would not have been able to protect our children from that. It is very frightening to realize that.”
He glimpsed at Jade.
“Something to remember about Guardians: we seem stern to present an image that the Green Lanterns can respect. Sometimes it gets in the way of our relations with the Corps. Remember that the Guardians of your universe face a threat they cannot defeat and they know it. When your sister speaks to them, they do listen. I see it in their annotations. They really are trying to adapt.”
The next day
Jade sat up in her bed, alert but still tired. Alanna sat on the edge. Geddis Zehn hovered near by. Jade smiled peacefully.
“I still can’t believe I’m here. I didn’t expect to be anywhere.” She held her hand out. “You know, my little friend seems to be at peace. It’s kind of like it got what it wanted.”
“I think it did. It wanted the lives of its children to count for something. They did. Now, there are other universes that will never have to fear the Kayzik swarm.” She chuckled. “Now all it has to do is keep up with you!”
Jade’s left hand glowed. She laughed.
“I think it agrees with you.”
“Now all I have to do is figure out how to get you home.”
“Easy enough!” Geddis Zehn smiled. “Just take her back through the Portal.”
The Shade frowned.
“But I don’t have the power to realign the Portal.
The Guardian grinned.
“For the two of you? We do!”
The Sentinel’s Lair
Elise Zoldar stood on the balcony of the command center.
“Keep your words of wisdom, Jerik. Waiting is still a bitch.”
“Ma’am, I wouldn’t have the heart to disagree with you.”
Across the room, Krypto yelped.
“Mommy, is Linda coming back?”
“I sure hope so. Let’s . . .”
The shadow formed in the middle of the Command Center.
“Alan, Mary, get your asses up here now!” Elise ran to the shadow. It solidified. Alert, but tired eyes looked out of its arms.
“Hi, Mom. Sorry I scared everybody.”
Elise kissed her.
“Just don’t do it again.”
Green Flame passed through the floor. Alan Scott took his daughter from her sister.
“How do you feel, Squirt?” He kissed her. Mary touched her lightly.
“Like the Kayzik home universe, only better.” She smiled.
“She’s okay, Dad.” Alanna confirmed. “She’s just tired. She exhausted her will force. Her Starheart shielded the Portal. Once she issued the final destruct command and lost consciousness, the Starheart was free to act. It pushed her through the Portal and out of danger.”
Fifteen minutes later, outside the Sentinel’s Lair
Kilowog stood back from the railing.
“Oh my liddle Linda, I seen my home world destroyed. I seen most of my buddies killed by da Kayzik. I seen so many come and go. Why duz da tought of losing you hurt so much?” Because we all gotta believe in sumptin. And you’re easy to believe in, Jade!
He heard two sets of footfalls behind him. One set was firm and strong. It supported a second much lighter set. That set struggled hard to stay upright. He turned towards the lighter set.
“Kilowog, I’m sorry.” Jade smiled sheepishly. “You tried to teach me not to hurt myself. I forgot.”
Gee! Alan smiled. Hal was right. He really is fast!
Two days later, the Command Center
Garja Jenna responded to her console.
“Green Lantern Express is inbound, Ma’am. It’s a designator I haven’t seen before.”
“Good! Bring them in.” Elise stepped to the front of the Command Center.
“No need Ma’am, she knows the way, very well.” Garja grinned. She issued an approval to the inbound Green Lantern.
Green Energy flashed in the Command Center. The Green Lantern appeared. Elise laughed.
“Princess Koriand’r?” She grinned. “Welcome! Tamaran Royalty working for the Guardians? I’m proud of you.”
“I was on New Oa looking for a way to get home. One of the Zamarons found me. She said that the Guardians were interested in my services. Me, of the original quick temper.”
“That must have been an interesting conversation.”
Koriand’r’s smile radiated.
“Seems someone got a little upset with the Guardians. Reminded them of my service on Zandar III.” (Elf note: The Guardian Gambit – Chapter 4). “Asked why they weren’t chomping at the bit to hire a warrior who was both immune to the Kayzik glamour and able to damage yellow objects with Starbolts.”
“Why not, indeed, Kori.” Elise had to chuckle. “Why not indeed.”
“So where is she?”
“Some unfinished business. Hopefully it won’t take long.”
An asteroid, the former Seltan/Kayzik universe
“Are you sure you’re up to this, Sweetheart?” The Sentinel stood behind his youngest daughter. His older daughter and cousin stood beside them.
“I have to shut down that Portal until we can figure out how to control it. If we had some kind of early warning system and some way to monitor the Portal, I’d reconsider. That’s going to take someone smarter than me.”
“What do we have to do?” Alan wondered.
“Dad, the Starheart of this universe is still out there. If anything, it’s stronger than it ever was. The cancer has been removed from this universe. With the hive mind gone, I have the power to block the Portal.” She walked away.
“Don’t worry, Dad. I can only use the power of this Starheart in this universe. And I have no intention of staying here. I want to go home.”
She waved her hand. The asteroid continued its journey alone.
“Hal Jordan, you are enjoying yourself far too much!” Katma Tui admonished.
“I like to keep up with Jade’s service record. In some ways, she reminds me of my daughter. She isn’t but it’s still a comfort to know that she is there.”
“You won’t get an argument from me. What are you reading?”
“Jade was in the care of the Guardians of another universe. They made an annotation to her service record. It is hilarious!”
We award you the Order of Oa of our Universe.
We can do no less.
You did what you had to without hesitation, but you always have.
We award your Starheart a commendation of valor just for keeping up with you.
You have a standing offer of employment with our Corps.
Signed, Geddis Zehn, Commandant, Green Lantern Corps
Countersigned by unanimous consent,
The Guardians of our Universe.
Twenty Six endorsements follow.
“At times, our Fate is truly in our own hands” – Eldric the Wise
“Usually, my left one!” – Jade the Comic