So, I’m sitting here after having just gone 10 rounds with the Master of the Frag. Why was I in a fight with Lobo of Czarnia? It’s gonna be as weird to you as it is to me. I guess you could say it’s the Grandmaster’s fault. He scooped me up and dropped me in an impenetrable arena to fight Lobo. But that’s starting too late in the story.
I grew up an orphan on T’Laz Norr. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad. It just was. I got to be really great at thieving. I could steal just about anything from anyone. I used what I stole mostly to trade for food for myself or others. It seems like I was always taking care of 3 or 4 other, younger kids who couldn’t take care of themselves.
We kinda formed a club where we’d steal and share and trade and just kinda look out for each other. Well, mostly it was me doing all the looking out. We had younger kids that would come and go. Some got picked up by the authorities, some just plain disappeared and we never saw them again. It was sad in a way. But it was a fact of life on the run.
So there I was at 14, taking care of myself and three younger kids when this big, blue-faced guy in a gold robe shows up. He says he’s got an offer for me. He says I fit the role of a guy he’s been searching for- for a long time. He says he wants to train me for battle, and that the rewards will be huge. Now I been on the streets as long as I can remember, and I know a con when I hear one. So, I tell him to shove it up his blowhole.
He doesn’t like that very well. So, he lights me on fire. I burst into flame and run around screaming for about 20 seconds before I figure out that I’m not burning up, and it doesn’t hurt. He says he could have just as easy made it burn and hurt if he wanted to. I believe him. So I ask him about his offer. He says I need to go with him to train and prepare. I ask him “what about the others?” I tell him they’ll starve without me. He hands me a bag. A cloth bag. A dumpy, little cloth bag. I ask him “what’s this?”
He says it’s actually a pocket dimension and that the kids can reach in and pull out whatever they need. He demonstrates by pulling out sandwiches. The kids grab up the sandwiches and begin gorging themselves. He explains that as long as there is cooperation and harmony in the group, the bag will function. But if there is fighting and selfishness, then the bag will close itself off. I call Tongu Scat, but he seems to know what he is talking about.
I ask him, isn’t it selfish of him to want to haul me off to fight for him? He says I don’t have to go, and if I don’t go willingly, I’m no good to him anyway. So I think for a minute. And another. And another. And I finally say OK. He hands me this ring, that’s purple; no it’s blue; no purple and blue; no blue and purple. He says put it on. I slide it on my middle finger, and my body surges with blue/purple light. He says, “I knew I was right about you.”
The ring seems to talk to me. It lets me hear other people’s intentions and motivations. It shows me that two of the kids in my group are willing to work together to keep the bag operating, but the third kid thinks it all TS and is going to try to steal the bag as soon as I’m gone.
I say “B’raka, that’s not very nice to want to steal from the others.” What? Says B’raka, knowing I knew what he was thinking. I put my hand on his shoulder, and he immediately starts crying, like really hard. He falls to his knees, crying harder and harder. Blue skin guy takes my hand from B’raka’s shoulder and B’raka stops crying. “It’s the ring. It shows others the hurts they have caused.”
“What?” I said. “That’s freaky.” And I pull the ring off. Blue guy explains that he is called the Grandmaster and that he has been looking for years for a person capable of wielding the ring’s capacity for compassion and empathy. That the ring is an awesome defensive weapon, but that in the hands of the right person it could be an unbeatable, offensive force. “I don’t want to be an offensive force,” I explain.
But what if, he says, some of the worst bad guys in the Multiverse could be brought down by the ring’s capabilities. Not killed, not destroyed, just given a new perspective. What if they could be shown how their actions, and their motivations, and intentions are harmful and painful in ways they never considered? That could change the entire paradigm of good vs evil. And I could be the catalyst for that change.
Catalyst for change? Sounds very high-brow. But there is no denying that the ring has power. “And they’ll be alright?” I ask pointing at the kids. Grandmaster nods. B’raka stands, looking at me, then the Grandmaster, then the others. “You gonna be alright?” B’raka looks at me, and then Grandmaster, then the others. He nods. I look GM straight in the eye. “OK, I’ll go with you. But if this is a con…” He says “No con son. Just an adventure like you never imagined.”
Flash forward two years. I have spent the last 24 months learning everything about the ring, it’s abilities, it’s limitations (I have to charge it every day whether I use it or not), it’s potential. GM syas I am an Indigo Lantern: one of the group of nomads formed by deceased Green Lantern Abin Sur. Sur created them as a means of reforming the worst criminals in the universe by forcing them to feel compassion for their victims. GM got the abandoned ring from his brother the Collector. Collector trades for and collects everything in the Multiverse that he can get his hands on. I still don’t know what Grand had to trade his brother for the ring, but it must have cost him plenty.
GM explained that the ring’s ability of Indigo light can be used by somebody with great compassion for others. It can be used to heal the sick and wounded and that compassion can also be forced upon a person, turning them into a slave that feels only the indigo emotion. GM has been looking for someone to take the ring’s light to the next level- by using a psychoplasmic attack based on the ring’s light and forcing the pain caused by a bad guy back upon himself.
The thought is surreal. Bad guys that used to be thought invincible, and are completely without regard about what they did to others, now may be faced to feel all the hurt they caused. Could that actually be done? Big Blue wanted to find out, and I was the Gibroni-pig.
He spent months working me through various scenarios, situations, exercises and drills. I learned to fly, project energy, put up force shields, scan most electromagnetic phenomena, heal up myself (he beat me with an X-beam until I just about couldn’t stand) or another person from damage, translate any unknown language, absorb and redirect huge energy blasts… oh and my favorite, turn invisible.
When he said I was ready, he put me in the arena with replicants, you know similacrums, that mimicked real people and their attacks. Then he upped the training by grabbing a member of the Sinestro Corps by the name of Bar-Karu. That guy almost killed me. But I got the best of him, being able for the first time to reflect the pain he caused others back on himself. He tapped out.
Flash forward again. GM tells me I’m ready to fight a real bad guy. A cosmic bad guy. THE bad guy- Lobo of Czarnia. It’s not going to be a good day no matter how it comes out.
I materialize in the arena with Lobo at the other end. I fly and throw up a force shield. Lobo pulls his chain and throws the end at me. It hits the shield, but the shield holds. He throws a second time and hits the shield, and it buckles. The force knocks me back against the arena wall. I have barely enough time to get the shield back up before he drops his chain and pulls his gun.
I scan him for a door into his mind. I fail miserably. That’s guy’s mind is strong. He fires at me with his gun. Hit. My shield holds. I move fast. He fires. He misses. He grabs his chain and starts swinging. He lets it fly and tries to tangle me up with it. It hits, but bounces off my force shield. He swings and tries again. He hits the shield. I’m shaken but unhurt. I fill the arena with an excruciating sound burst. He lets go of the chain and covers his ears, falling to the ground. I fly fast in a circle around the arena internal perimeter. He gets up from his knees looking furious. He pulls a frag from his belt, pulls the pin and drops it. There’s no way to get away from the blast. My shield protects me, but barely. (Fight concludes here).
The fight’s over. I’m alive. Lobo is alive. He could have killed me. He didn’t. I’m not sure what Grandmaster proved by his little experiment, but he’s right about one thing: some of the worst baddies in the Multiverse may be gaining some new perspective.
To be continued…