EMERALD AND RED: An Ultimate Green Lantern Corps Christmas Story
Deep past the borders of known space, there was a planet in a long unrecorded Sector which the Green Lantern Corps has yet to discover. The planetoid was small, barely the size of the Earth's moon, and was surrounded by seven hundred fifty seven smaller sattelites which amazingly never even once struck one another in their revolutions around the planet. The place was an inhabited one, and its inhabitants were very special people.
The planet, had it been discovered and given a name using a human tongue, would have been most likely named Radan. And its people, whom would have most likely been called the Radians, were very special people.
For over fifteen thousand years, neither Radan nor its Radians were ever given any notice or gained the attentions of any other inter-planetary or inter-galactic body of intelligence. But this night which would have fallen on the 24th of December, if one were to keep track of time based on Earth time, both discoveries were finally about to happen.
Green Lantern Corps: The Christmas Special
by Tobie Abad
Berek Adan was a member of the Green Lantern Corps. A resident of a planet called Biyahe, Berek Adan was blessed with the innate ability to fly tremendously far distances in much lesser time than most would require. There was no way to scientifically quantify this ability that permitted Berek Adan to traverse the known Universe much better than any other Green Lantern other than the fact that whenever Berek attempted to move from one point to another, Berek’s acceleration and speed were always far greater than they were supposed to be. It was like Berek somehow unconsciously exponentially increased the speed of his travels. Though young among the Corps, it was this special ability that made Berek Adan was the best man for the job to investigate the far outer reaches of the various sectors in the known Universe. More so, considering the mission he was to accomplish today.
"So this planetoid just showed up in our scanners," Berek mumbled to himself as he allowed the ring to take him to the destination, "A planet smaller than most planets, directly opposite of Takron-Galtos, the prison planet, and for the longest time, undetected by any other sentient race. Although our records show the so-called Promethean Galaxy is the most distant system known to the Corps, this planet wins the title for the most distant barely known sector which was accessible via normal travel. Assuming anyone was willing to spend that much time to get to it."
"Talking to yourself again?" another Green Latern teased Berek as the translucent green box holding her image popped out from the ring. Berek looked into the screen and saw Marea, a Green Lantern from the planet Aynilam. The planet Aynilam was known to be a terribly impoverished and politically instable place. Marea’s selection to be part of the Corps was a story in itself… perhaps one best saved for another day.
"Actually, my Biyahean precognitive powers sensed you were about to call," Berek Adan teased, "What do you think I’ll find there?"
"Whatever you do," Marea reminded him, "Your mission is to scout and investigate. Remember. Any sign of danger, you zip back."
"Okay okay.." Berek sighed, "I’ll be in touch."
And with another burst of acceleration, Berek Adan felt the ring protectively wrap a second layer of shielding around him as his flight broke the speed of light itself. He saw the whole surrounding blur into a white blinding surge which eventually faded back into starlight as the ring informed him that he had arrived.
Berek Adan took a second to clear his eyes. To refocus his senses. Then looked ahead to see the planet that, til recently, did not exist in the Green Lantern Corps records.
The planet, Radan, was a brilliant gray planet which did not seem to show any signs of human life. No buildings or any such similar structures visible from outside its atmosphere. No identifiable dangerous structures or devices visible either. Only the wide spread presence of a grayness over everything that one could see. Either the inhabitants had built their societies underground, amongst the natural structures of the planet, or were undetectable to the natural eye.
Berek Adan brought his ring up to his face and tried contacting Marea. Marea did not respond. The ring admitted that there was to be a delay between transmissions due to the intense distance between the two points.
"Well," Berek Adan mumbled to himself once again, "I don’t think a gray planet is something dangerous. Let’s go check it out, ring." And with that, Berek Adan of the Green Lantern Corp flew down towards the planet and vanished within its gray mists.
* * *
The planet was a cold planet.
Heavy gray clouds covered the sky from horizon to horizon. Had they been any thicker, the whole planet would have been covered in an eternal darkness of night. Thankfully, the cold planet had winds, and the winds kept the gray clouds dancing.
Berek Adan, surrounded by an emerald glow that both protected him from the immense drop of temperature as well as ensured the environment was safe for him to breathe in, swooped through the gray cotton-like mountains of clouds and tried to see more of what awaited below.
He felt frustrated by the immense cover the clouds gave and decided to handle the matter a bit more directly. Focussing his will through the power ring, a massive bloom of propeller blades came into existence in the sky beside him. The blades began to turn and from their turning, a great tunnel of wind cut through the clouds to reveal something Berek Adan was not expecting to see in a planet so far away from known civilization.
There was a flash of colors and a barrage of musical notes that emerged from the undeniably active city that was revealed beneath the clouds. The vibrant beam of red, blue and green caught Berek off-guard. He spun, instinctively shielding himself from the harmless colored lights, then prepared to unleash a power blast of his own when Marea’s voice suddenly replied its delayed message.
"Check it out if you must, just do NOT engage with anything. You find out what the trouble is and return immediately or else you are off the Corps!"
Berek brought his hands down, allowing the colored lights to illuminate him. He brought one hand to shield his eyes a bit from the light and attempted to see where they were coming from. *This isn’t engaging with anyone,* he reasoned, *Not to mention, I don’t know what the trouble is yet. So I’m not breaking the rules.*
"Ring," Berek called out as he wrapped a second layer of force field shielding around him, "Can you track the source of those lights?"
The ring said yes.
"Take me there," Berek Adan called out and allowed the ring to pilot their movement. He flew down the tunnel he had created from the clouds and emerged at the other side to see an unexpected sight.
There were buildings. Of all shapes, heights, construction styles and colors. There were lights. Lots of light. Signboards. Billboards. Moving text. Holograms projected against walls. There even were gigantic screens, much like human television screens. Some were half the height of a sky-scraper. Others were much smaller, behind windows or on street corners.
Berek Adan looked around and saw signage that declared strange words. The ring translated them as: Cheap Prices, Bargain Offers, Sales, and even Discounts. Walls were covered with posters, painted signs and other similar iconic messaging devices.
"We’re going to pump…
"What in the known galaxies is going on here?" Berek Adan shook his head slowly and tried to understand the strange events he was witnessing. Berek swung away from the monitor that showed the two muscular humans and instead tried scanning for any humanoid individual that was visibly present. He remained levitating over the ground, not wanting to land and have himself less mobile and more exposed to danger. He kept his senses alert and tried to observe what he could of his surroundings. "Ring.. begin recording all audio and visual input. Send as five-minute data packets of information to Marea."
"Don’t have a cow, man!"
"And knowing is half the battle!"
Berek saw nothing but more and more monitors, shops, streets, window displays, signboards and décor. There were no vehicles, no people, no animals, no plants. It was only then Berek realised the gray fog that swirlled around the world was kept at bay by gigantic walls that forced the fog to trail over the empty city. Minutes turned into an hour. Berek Adan had not seen a single living entity. Nor had his ring detected any.
"I don’t understand why you’ve suddenly found interest in human culture, Berek, but flooding my message box with old Twentieth Century human entertainment is not going to help us understand what is going on here," Marea’s delayed transmission finally reached Berek.
"Going on here…" Berek heard an echo of Marea’s voice and spun towards that direction. He descended towards the source of the echo and found himself facing a man-sized wall whose display swirled with green light and stars. Berek focused his gaze into the glass for a moment, investigating if his suspicions were right. He waited patiently, finding no reason to leave until he proved himself right… or wrong.
"Stop sending me all this Earth television shows," Marea’s next delayed transmission came and that moment the screen flickered to life with a visual image of Marea talking to her ring. Berek Adan stared at the image and ignored Marea’s transmission. He looked at the display and did the unexpected.
He spoke to it.
"You’re the life form in this planet, aren’t you?"
The image of Marea stopped. It turned to face him. Then nodded.
"-Could you at least give some report on what is going on there?" Merea’s delayed transmission ended. The image began to fade as well. Berek yelled for it to wait as he reached out both hands towards the screen but they met the resistance of a solid glass surface. The life forms, Berek Adan began to understand, were inside these screens.
"Ring, transmit to Marea the following message: Marea, on your next transmission, leave the transmission on as long as possible. A long steady flow, even if you’re not saying anything. I need a long amount of time of transmission… I mean of… agh, I don’t know what I mean. Just make sure when you send your next message, don’t stop sending," Berek Adan called out to his ring and stared at the screen. There was a riddle here which he knew he had to solve. An intelligent form of life that could not communicate unless he was receiving a message from Marea.
Or at least, that was what Berek believed.
"Greetings, I come in peace. Take me to your leader," a voice called out and Berek spun around to see another monitor showing the image of a roughly humanoid figure. Only the man was wearing an obvious rubber suit. Berek Adan was not certain if the image was meant to disguise his true appearance or if this was some kind of cultural thing. * Human culture… Human entertainment…* Berek found himself remembering.
"Welcome!" a throng of voices came and Berek spun to face the other side to see at least ten other screens showing images of the same thing: a man in white and blue uniform with arms outspread. All wore some form of blue apron and had a silver tray on the other hand with a bottle and a wine glass on it.
"Who’s there?" Berek Adan asked aloud.
"Hi! I’m Chuckie. I want to be your friend until the end!" Another screen blared and Berek saw the image of what seemed to be a plastic doll with wild orange hair. He had freckles and was being held by a human child.
"Human… entertainment…" Berek repeated to himself.
"Be our guest, be our guest, put our service to the test!" the screens all began playing. Images of cartoon drawings of a candelabra, plates, cups, saucers and knives began dancing in an elaborate production number. All were singing the same song.
"Wait… wait… why don’t you just communicate with me the way one of you did earlier?" Berek asked aloud, then faced the screen were Marea appeared earlier. "You did something independently. Why not just talk to me that way?"
"Warp shields down to 20," a man in a red uniform suddenly called out in one screen towards another in a golden yellow suit. The room they were in reminded Berek of the battle stations in starships.
"I don’t get it," Berek cried out.
"We need more power! More power!" a crazed looking old man in a white suit yelled out to what seemed to be a younger good looking man in a strangely tinkered upon earth vehicle. Berek Adan stared at the screen and watched as the car ran towards where the old man was hanging, which was between two large cables that had caught the lightning from the sky. The car vanished with an explosion of light and left tracks of fire.
"Energy… it costs more energy to make your own answers!" Berek Adan snapped his fingers as he replied. The screens were suddenly filled with all these images of people dancing, cheering, smiling and clapping. Berek found it strangely uplifting to receive such praise, even if it all came from thousands of screens that seemed to watch him with indifferent glass. "So you guys are inside these monitors? Are you trapped in here?"
"We’re not like you… we’re different," a screen showed a blonde man telling a darker skinned woman with long flowing black hair. A trail of flowers flew past them both, line an animated line of sentient wind.
"Programs… each with a purpose," an bald man with black shades told a badly acting white male as they walked amongst a throng of frozen people. Both wore black leather.
"So you aren’t human… or humanoid to say more accurately," Berek nodded to himself. He was making progress. "So you aren’t trapped in those things but through it, you can communicate with others and stuff."
"These are a few of my favorite things… raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens, bright colored petals and warm woolen mittens…" a woman began dancing among a bunch of children.
"You like communicating through them. Ookay.. we got what you like to do. What about community? Society? How many are you here?" Berek Adan asked.
"A circle of life… and it moves us all.. " they showed images of a cartoon lion on what seemed to be a large outcropping of rock. Then the images shifted to "One mind, perfect, unified, with one purpose…" showing what seemed to be some woman with mechanical parts and things sticking out of her body. She was speaking to some bald man in a costume similar in style to the earlier one where some guy in a golden suit was being told something about warp shields.
"Collective. One collective intelligence. I see. So you don’t eat and stuff. You just… entertain yourself with earth entertainment?"
The screens flickered and showed a thousand of various shows. Sportsmen were running, fans screaming, cars raced, news were delivered, people danced, children laughed, dogs barked, lightning flashed, sharks dove, lightsabers clashed. It was a world of colors, sound and stories.
"Okay … whoa.. whoa.. slow down…" Berek Adan raised both hands. "And somehow you pick up Earth transmissions… well… somehow.. you pick them up even if this is scientifically too far to do that."
All screens suddenly showed images of packaged wrapped in colorful paper. Ribbons adorned them. Gifts. Presents.
"Gifts… these were gifts… you mean someone comes here?" Berek Adan asked aloud.
The screens suddenly showed a lot of excited faces. People were anxious. Anticipating. Smiling. Eager. Berek Adan watched as from the far distant horizon where the monitors still continued on, everything had begun to change. The thousands of other monitors far away had begun to transform into a wave of red that was closing in towards Berek.
"What…" Berek was about to ask when the gray clouds began to part. Lights from above began to come into view. The monitors around Berek seemingly responded to it. All flooded their screens with bright red light. Tense, and suddenly uncertain for his own safety, the green lantern brought up his ring again and wrapped himself in a force field. "What is going on!" he asked aloud, hoping one of the collective would reply.
One lone monitor did.
It showed a chimney of red bricks. It showed a verdant tree that had been heavily smothered with glowing lights and tinsel. It showed an eager child behind the couch watching in anticipation as something began to emerge from the fireplace.
It showed something moving from within the fireplace. It showed a large black shiny boot descending from within.
"Ring, force field. Now. And while you’re at it, prepare for zero to fifty boost to atmosphere if need be. They’re afraid of someone. Afraid. Or anxious. Some god like figure?" Berek Adan braced himself for battle. Body tensed. Muscles tightened. Beneath his green mask, his eyes peered ahead towards the bright lights. He could hear something. Something terribly out of place.
"Bells?" he muttered in realization as the cloud cover parted to reveal a large line of brown furry beasts in full gallop mid-air. The beasts of burden were all tied together with what could only seem to be long vine-like green verdant ropes that were decorated with red and white tinsel. Behind them, the rope was connected to a red metal sleigh upon which sat a massive white humanoid with a white beard so huge it practically covered its face’s lower half. The figure was dressed in red and white and carried with it a huge white sack on its back. The sack seemed to be filled with something clunky and horribly heavy. And leading the beasts of burden, a lone beast who had a bright red glow upon its nose. "Definitely not just bells…"
"Ho! Ho! Ho!" beamed the rotund man as the reindeers and the sleigh reached the ground. All monitors fell silent, showing various depictions of the man in red in their screens. None dared make a sound, however. "Hello there," the large man turned towards the Green Lantern and waved a hello. Berek Adan eyed the man suspiciously.
The old man didn’t seem to find it strange. He brought his bag down to the ground, then fixed his black belt as he stood up from the sleigh, "Anything I can help you with, good boy?"
"Boy- excuse me sir, but I am Berek Adan of the Green Lantern Corp. Explain yourself!"
The jolly old man never stopped grinning. He clapped his hands together, as if to warm them up, and then pointed a finger at Berek Adan. Berek instinctively braced himself for some energy blast. Or some death ray. And instead got himself a shocking reminder! "Berek Adan… you have grown up to be a very naughty and self-centered boy. Why I recall back when you were a young thespian, always finding ways to surprise me when I came by your house back in Biyahe. You even nearly caught me once, when you first became a member of the Corps, using the Ring’s powers to conceal yourself from all sense. Sadly, I noticed you then. Green Lantern you may have been, that first taste of the Ring landed you in my naughty list."
"Came by my house…" Berek Adan muttered and the jolly old man allowed Berek to see him as his own culture described him. "Holy Biyahe, you’re… you’re the Maginoong Pasahero! The Generous Passenger!!! My parents used to tell me about you! How once every turning of an Earth Year, you’d travel all over the universe to deliver gifts and trinkets to children who were not on your naughty list!"
"Nice to be remembered boy!"
"Oh my… you’re real! But.. but I caught my parents. Caught them prepping the gift supposedly from you. They made you up!"
"Actually," the jolly old man smiled even more, "That’s what a naughty kid sees. And sadly, there’s a road that’s got no turning back."
Berek Adan sat down, shocked and overwhelmed by the weight of truth that was crashing on top of him. He realised he understood things even more than he accepted them right now. The Maginoong Pasahero was definitely here to deliver something for these… inhabitants. And there was no concern to be worried over. The planet’s coming into the Corps’ notice remained unanswered though. Why now?
Why would they notice this planet now and not sooner?
"Ah.. I see," the jolly man in red nodded, "You’re all eager and excited aren’t you? Where’s the new kid?"
Berek Adan watched as all monitors blacked out with the lone exception of a single glowing spark that emerged from the distant hills. It slowly pulsed as it flew closer towards the two of the space-faring visitors of the planet. Berek Adan tried to make sense of things, "The collective unconscious is growing. It still has…. Children? The signal the Corps detected… it was the child being born?"
"Only one out of every thirty years," the jolly man in red agreed, "And if memory serves me well, it is only know they have grown large enough for their bursts of exclamation to reach outside the planet."
"Living radio signals. They pick up earth culture from the transmissions they can receive. And they transmitted outwards when they scream in joy. We picked up their announcement that a new child was born!" Berek Adan realised he was witnessing an alien equivalent of a birthday party. As well as some other rendition of a custom they practiced in Biyahe. The red dressed old man opened the bag and brought out a new shiny monitor. The spark dove into the screen, pulsing electrical arcs of excitement and joy. All the other monitors burst into activity, showing cheering crowds, fireworks and dancing lights. Berek Adan felt a tear precariously hang in one eye. He felt the urge to cry but held back.
"Merry Christmas," the red jolly man called out to the monitors. All greeted back with video and song. Various renditions of the old man in red were dancing on the screens, waving bells and tinsel, waving hello if not smiling, songs musically proclaiming the man as jolly and nice.
Berek Adan watched as the jolly man in red walked back to his sleigh. He moved up to the Maginoong Pasahero and found the courage to speak. The man in red turned to Berek Adan, never letting his smile waver.
"So that’s it. You were the source. It was through you that they all got these monitors. The technology. To let them have a better way of receiving signals. Of conserving their energy. Gifts. Gifts to make them happy…" Berek Adan was content. The mystery of this radar planet… perhaps one he’d best call Radan (mixing Radar with his last name) for easier recall, was solved. But it had opened a new one. "… you said I had become naughty…"
"Berek," the Pasahero smiled, "You’re all grown-up now."
Berek frowned. He felt the rejection coming. "So I’m never going to… to be part of that wondrous practice ever again? No more gifts. No more wish lists."
"Oh don’t be so sad," the Pasahero slid his hand beneath Berek’s chin and lifted Berek’s face to look up at him, "You’re all grown up now. Now you can give your own gifts. Don’t you see, the Maginoong Pasahero exists because these nice kids can’t afford yet to give one another presents. So I do it for them. Now, you’re all grown up, it is up to you if you’ll follow in my… calling."
Berek Adan waved goodbye as the Pasahero snapped his fingers. The reindeers broke into a trot and leaped into mid-air, moving smoothly into a graceful gallop as they carried the Pasahero and his sleigh into the depths of space beyond.
"Join the happiness, Berek Adan! Give your own gifts to those who deserve it! I’m off for now. Got to visit this kid calling himself Darkseid. Seems to be in his last year of being nice so I better give him this package containing that thing he keeps asking for. Anti-Life Equation… does he realize he’s asking for something so…"
Berek Adan could no longer hear the Pasahero’s words. He could only hear the cheers and the singing of the monitors around him. He turned to his ring and gave the command. "Homeward bound, Ring. Let’s just stop by planet Tza-Phing and get everyone else in the Corps something nice. I feel like I’m in a gift-giving mood." He rose into the sky and began to vanish, leaving the planet Radan in its festival of joy. And somewhere, between the light-years of distance between Radan and the Green Lantern Corps’ station where Marea was based, Berek Adan received Marea’s burst message and laughed.
Marea decided to sing something to make the transmission last longer without necessarily becoming boring. Marea had chosen some Earth holiday song which she always found interesting. Berek Adan hummed along, finding the song infectiously catchy.
"He knows if you are sleeping… He knows if you are nice… Mmmm Mmmm Mmm Mmmm Hmmmm hmmm hmm… So be good for goodness sake…. Oh you better watch out…."
- end -