The Indigo Light (5)

“Are you are telling me I have to fight Annihilus again?” “Yes,” Grandmaster. “In the future. Not now. But later. Take consolation in the fact that you were fighting in the Negative Zone, that it was Annihilus’ domain, and that he is virtually unbeatable there. That’s makes the victories of the Fantastic 4 even more remarkable. No?” I reached up and rubbed my neck. “Yes. So the deck was stacked against me.”

“In a manner of speech,” replied GM, “yes. But this time the win or loss was not the critical issue- the realization that at times, heroes have to fight unfair, imbalanced and impossible odds, and still find a way to win.” “Why didn’t he go down quicker?” I asked. “I hit him hard a couple of times. And his pain-cause level was through the roof. “The effect was inverse. Yes, he should have succumbed to a high-level attack, which should have paralyzed him on the first contact. But we were in the Negative Zone. The effect of the blast seemed inversely proportional what it should have actually been.” “Like the energy blast I hit him with,” I said, “making him stronger?”

“Quite. Now we move on to other matters.” Grandmaster pulled up a video image of an ape- an ape with a skull in one hand and measuring calipers in the other. “This is the creature known as Gorilla Grodd. He is a Terran simian, evil, super-intelligent and gained his mental powers after being exposed to a meteoric radiation. His mental powers are formidable.”

“Strong?” I asked. “That would be telling,” Grandmaster said. “But if he were not a challenge, there would be no point in including him in the exercise. He is physically stronger than SugarMan or Annihilus, but not as strong as Lobo. His psyche is stronger by far than both Annihilus and SugarMan, but falls short of Lobo.”

“So he should be a piece of cake,” I chimed in. Grandmaster put up his hand. “Incorrect. Whereas Lobo relies on pure strength and intimidation, Grodd relies on intelligence and a series of mental powers that, to this point, you have not faced. Grodd suffers from the Dark Triad- similar to Lobo, but to a much more dangerous level.” “Dark Triad?” I asked.

“The personality traits of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy.” Grandmaster explained. “All three traits are conceptually distinct and, on their own, are associated with a callous and manipulative style. Grouped together they describe a psychology that is particularly malevolent and dangerous. It’s obsessively dark.” “Wonderful,” I said. “His goal, like Annihilus, is the complete elimination of the human race. But whereas Annihilus is content to attack Earth from, and reside in, The Negative Zone, Grodd actually lives on Earth- in Gorilla City.

“Gorilla City is a domed metropolis located in the Terran continent of Africa. It’s Grodd’s city, and it’s the location in which you will be fighting him.” I grimaced. “He will have the advantage of knowing the terrain, the resources and most of all, the locations to conceal himself, while he waits to kill you.” “Any other great news?” I asked. “He will know you are coming, and he will know where you are unless you find a way to block his mental acuity. This, ring-bearer, is a dangerous match.” “

The force field will keep you in the domed city, but the area will be the largest in which you have fought.” I just looked at Grandmaster and stared. “He also kills humans and consumes their brains.”

“Consumes? Like psychologically?” “No,” Grandmaster replied. “As in devours and digests.”

He transported me to the inside of the domed city. Instantly, I could feel Grodd’s presence in my mind, strong, brutal, vicious. (see battle).

I awaken in the Grandmaster’s infirmary. “What happened?” Grandmaster’s back is to me as he speaks. “You would have been killed and your brain eaten, but the ring protected you from death. It’s energy reserve automatically activated to preserve its wearer's life- your life.” “I’m surprised it even did that.” I said. “It malfunctioned the entire battle.” Grandmaster turned to me, faking surprise. “It did? What happened?” “I couldn’t get it to do anything, no energy blasts, no mind scans, no electromagnetic functions… I couldn’t even fly away.”

“And that was the ring’s fault?” He asked. “Well yeah,” I said. “What else?” Grandmaster moved across the room and pulled out a huge chair to sit down. It was the first time I had even seen him sitting. Even in that position, he was noble, and intimidating. “The Indigo ring is unique. Green rings are fueled by will, yellow by fear, orange by greed, red by rage, blue by hope, and purple by love. The Indigo rings are fueled by?..”

“Compassion. Empathy.” I answered. “”Correct.” He said. “And what did you feel for Grodd?” I didn’t answer, so Grandmaster did. “Loathing for one. Grodd himself sensed it. Also anger, disdain, contempt. Many other emotions aside from empathy.” “Well how could I? After what you told me! He likes to slaughter civilizations and eat their brains!” I screamed at the GM.

“And why?” GM asked. “Why does he?”

I screamed again. “Who cares? He’s a killer! A cannibal!”

“Why is the question. He does what he does, which I grant you is horrific, but why? When you can attempt to grasp why, you will be able to fight him. You can turn his hatred of humanity and his brutal treatment of others back on himself. And his trespasses are just the beginning. You will find others much worse that he is.”

I sat up and buried my face in my hands. “I don’t think I can do it. I have seen too much pain, inflicted on the younger ones I used to hang out with. I can’t try to understand why a brutal killer acts like that.” Grandmaster stood. “But you can, ringbearer. The ring thinks you can, or it would not have selected you. You must overcome your own personal judgements of the brutality of others. If you stand to judge them, you place yourself in the way of their own sin confronting them. That is not your place, and it could cost you your life in the future- with you caught between their brutality, and the recompense that the power of the ring would level upon their own psyche.”

I lifted my face. “This is too heavy.” Grandmaster’s face softened. “It will get heavier. You will face foes greater than Grodd- more brutal, more vicious, more selfish, more hateful more… ugly. And you will find a way to navigate the path you must take, to try to find a place of deliberation.”

“Why?” I asked. “For what?” “For real change,” he explained. “Batman protects Gotham City. Ironman and Captain America protect America, Thor and Green Lantern protect Earth or Sector 2814. The Fantastic 4 protect their galaxy. You, Indigo Lantern Dekkard, have the potential to affect justice and mercy across the Multiverse, protecting all their designated areas, and more. What if just one Lobo or SugarMan or Grodd decides to quit killing or abusing or subjugating?”

I looked at the ring. “Then the consequences are real.”

“As real as real gets, ringbearer.”

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