Samplings of the Population

Samplings of the Population
by:
Lilith Langtree


Exactly how are Green Lantern's chosen? Jaden Cross finds out.

Author's note: I have a couple of stories already written for this re-imagining of the comic book universe. A Retroactive Continuity or Retcon if you will is the altering of previously known facts in order for the universe to conform to new story lines. This is mine. The first in a series of stories, an introduction to this universe is "Samplings of the Population" a retcon of Green Lantern in the DC Comics Universe. DC owns the character and all rights associated with him/her/it. The following two stories will be much much longer.

"Take the ring and put it on."

I looked from my left to my right. Nobody. Since there was a wall behind me, that really wasn't an option. "Um, no."

Stepping to the side so I could round the table, I kept an eye on the odd green colored metal ring floating in the air in front of my face. Obviously, I had read one too many books, foregone one too many lunches, and hadn't slept quite enough in the last week, because I was experiencing the oddest hallucination.

The object kept pace, orienting less than a foot away from my eye-line. "Take the ring and put it on."

It was still early in the afternoon and the third floor of the library located in downtown Houston was virtually abandoned. Trying my best to ignore the strange vision, I made my way to the men's bathroom only twenty feet or so away. "No."

Swatting at the phantom did nothing as it bobbed and weaved to avoid being hit. When I reached the sink I turned on the cold water and splashed my face, rubbing furiously at my eyes. It didn't do any good.
Perhaps I was developing a tumor near my optic nerve causing me to see green metal rings floating in the air. But that wouldn't explain why I was hearing things as well. That, in turn, made me wonder exactly where the audio and visual centers of the brain were located. I didn't have a clue seeing as how sophomore biology glass was a few years behind me.

"Take the ring and put it on."

After patting my face with a rough textured tri-fold paper towel I sighed. "I sense a theme here. You tell me to put the ring on and I keep saying no."

"Take the ring…"

Before it had the chance to complete its sentence this time, I'd decided that it obviously didn't respond to verbal commands so I tried a universal visual comment. I flipped it off. That's was probably mistake. Instead of finishing the sentence, the ring lunged forward about an inch and slipped right over my finger.

Crap.

Without a second thought I grabbed the ring with my left hand and tried to take it off, only to fail miserably. It wouldn't budge.

Pursuant to The Book of Oa, Section Seven, sub-Section three, Jaden Ezekiel Cross of Earth, you have been conscripted to the Green Lantern Corps. Prepare for transport.

The last part wasn't so much said as it was thought at me. "Whoa. Hold on a…"

Before I had much of a chance to object, a green glow emanated from the ring and encompassed my entire body, transforming my clothes into some sort of black and green body suit. I had about three seconds to see my reflection in the restroom mirror, then I watched as my body faded from sight.

Up I rose, like a phantom, through the remaining two floors and into the sky above Houston. All thoughts of trying to take the ring off left my head. Presumably it was the cause of my sudden ability to fly. To remove it meant certain death.

Where most people would be scared out of their gourd, I was angry. "Where am I going? Take me back!"

Unable to comply with directive. Current destination, Starcruiser Jordan, in geosynchronous orbit behind Earth satellite Luna.

"Earth satellite? You mean the Moon?"

Affirmative.

I swallowed, hard. "I don't know if you are aware of this… ring, but I won't be about to breathe, not to mention survive the vacuum of space."

Life support will be provided in inhospitable environments, including travel through space, stellar radiation, microscopic particulate matter via force field. You may also feel free to dispose of any waste that your body produces through this process.

If I understood the thing correctly, I could pee on southeastern Texas at the moment. Lovely.

Once we hit the clouds above I noticed I could see my body again and along with it a green glow about an inch above my skin, or bodysuit rather. I guessed that was the force field.

Affirmative.

Great. The ring could read my mind as well. "Care to clue me in as to why I've been kidnapped?"

Pursuant to The Book of Oa, Section Seven, sub-Section three

"Yeah, I got that part earlier. See, the thing is, I have no idea what you're talking about. I've never heard of Oa, or the Green Lantern Corps."

The Green Lantern Corps is an intergalactic law enforcement division under direction of the Guardians.

"Intergalactic," I repeated in disbelief. "As in between galaxies, intergalactic?"

Affirmative.

Before I came out of that bit of mind-blowing information I noticed that the sky was getting rapidly darker. Instinctively, I held my breath. I have no idea why. That's why it's called instinct. It wasn't as if holding my breath was going to help me in the cold depths of space, but there you go.

Breathe normally Jaden Cross.

There it was, clearer then I'd ever seen anything before, the Moon. And judging by how big it was getting I knew that I had increased to crazy fast speeds. It took days for the Apollo missions to reach the surface and it looked I'd be there in less than a minute. Thank God I hadn't eaten any lunch. It would have been splattered all across the windows of the International Space Station. Can you picture that?

"Hey comrade what's that all over the windshield?"

"Dunno, look like bologna and bread."

"Huh."

"Houston, we have upchuck."

The light banter I had going inside my head kept my mind off of the sheer insanity I must have been experiencing at that moment. Clearing the far side of the Moon was boggling. That was until I saw something that looked like it popped up from the pages of Flash Gordon.

"What's that?"

The Starcruiser Jordan. Approaching port side airlock aft section.

I finally slowed and came to a stop beside the ship that had to be the size of four or five space shuttles. There was something that appeared like a door around seven by seven feet in dimension. Beside the door was a small glowing circle, so I did what any somewhat intelligent person would do and pressed my finger against it.

Okay, I guess that wasn't the most intelligent thing I could do. Nothing happened.

Touch the ring to the symbol.

Oh. Well that was my next choice. Making a fist, I aligned the ring to the light and pressed forward. A couple of seconds later the door opened to a small empty room, maybe ten by ten. From reading many science fiction books in my past I knew an air lock when I saw one. The entire process took no longer than fifteen seconds to complete before the green glow that had been surrounding me faded to nothing.

The inner door slid open and I stuck my head inside. A corridor, that looked like it ran all the way from the front to the back of the ship, and it was empty.

Proceed further aft.

Aft meant the rear, so I took a tentative step and realized something. "Hey, gravity! Shouldn't I be floating?"

Negative.

Uh-huh. Artificial gravity. Advanced stuff. Well, seeing as how I just took a trip from the Earth's surface to behind the Moon in less than five minutes, sans spacesuit and a rocket ship, I assumed that was pretty advanced stuff too.

The ring led me to a door that had a big green circle centered in the upper portion with two bars horizontally touching, one on top and one parallel on the bottom. Another glowing light to the side led me to again press the ring against it for entrance.

Four things were inside the rectangular shaped room. A large table, a chair, something that looked like a giant plasma screen monitor, and this ridiculous looking green lantern like I remember seeing hanging from the front of locomotives back before electricity was common. Hey, I've seen pictures.

Before I even had a chance to sit down, the plasma screen lit up. Pictured, from the waist up was a guy, maybe in his late twenties or early thirties. He had on the same getup as me, including the silly domino mask, like that hid anything. He had a grim look on his face and really didn't appear to be in great health.

"Welcome to my ship." He paused and his eyebrows quirked in resignation. "Well, your ship for now. If you're seeing this message that means that I've gone and bit the big one, ate the whole enchilada, gave up the ghost. I'm dead and you're the new Green lantern of Sector 2814."

I was confused. Sector 2814?

"If you already know all of this then instruct your ring to skip past the introduction and proceed to the purpose of this ship. If not, then you're virtually clueless like I was when I received my power ring. So go ahead and lean back. I've got a story to tell."

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, I pushed my chair back a little and kicked my feet up on the table beside the antiquated lamp.

The picture on the screen skipped, like the guy had stopped filming and came back later. He still looked the same, maybe a little paler. It was hard to tell.

"My name's Hal Jordan. If you want my back-story then you'll have to go to Oa and read my chronicles. If I'm dead then they'll be complete. I'm just here to give you the bare facts so you'll know what to expect in the coming year."

I watched as he took a sip of something and grimaced. After a few moments the tension in his face eased and he continued.

"You probably already know by now that you're part of an intergalactic police force. Your sector is 2814. That includes five adjoining star systems, with Sol, being where you are, right in the middle. A few dozen planets are yours to enforce the laws imposed by the Guardians of the Universe. They're your bosses. Try not to tick them off. They can get nasty when they want to be.

"The power ring is your enforcement weapon. Its got a pretty nice artificial intelligence to help you along the way. It doesn’t really volunteer too much information, so make sure you ask open ended questions if you want broad answers. It's also familiar with the laws you'll need to know, acts in a defensive manner as well as offensive."

He took another sip of what I was assuming was some sort of medicinal tea or something. The grimace appeared again. Only medicine could taste that nasty.

"Here's how it works. Willpower. If you want something to happen then you have to really want it. The one thing you can't feel at any time is fear. Fear will mess the whole thing up. Of course, you wouldn't have been chosen by the ring if you scared easily or even uneasily." Hal looked confused. "Is uneasily a word?" A brief pause was followed by a smile. "Ring says it is.

"Anyway, you will it to happen and your ring makes it happen. Only your imagination and intelligence holds you back."

Hal looked down, contemplatively, and then back up. "I've fed the computer with various bits of information that you'll find useful about the ship and some of the people I've met in my travels. Your ring can access any of it at a whim. Good luck Green Lantern."

The screen went blank and I sat up. "What, that's it?"

As Hal Jordan stated in his introductory address, there is more information if you desire.

I narrowed my eyes in annoyance. "How about you give me the high points. Like, how in the heck do these Guardians of the Universe expect me to protect all these planets? I don't even know what I'm doing."

Traditionally, you would receive a mentor that would see to your training. However, due to current circumstances in Sector 666 that in unlikely for the near future.

"666? Oookay. I give. What's going on there? And, so help me, if you say the devil has risen…"

War. The death of Hal Jordan has released this ring from his service and due to the current upheaval on Oa, it is doubtful anyone knows of your existence.

I sat there for a few moments in contemplation of my situation. Another unsuccessful tug of the ring and I was reminded I really didn't have much choice in the matter. "Fine, so, um… what do I do now? Do we set up intergalactic speed traps or something? Write tickets? Do I need some mirrored sunglasses?

Those are not the laws that need to be upheld.

I waited for it to expand on the subject, then I remembered Hal's warning about the AI being less than forthcoming with answers. "What are these laws? Is there something I have to study?"

The rules written in the Book of Oa have recently been changed. You should be made aware of the previous laws and the new changes. A Green Lantern is expected to uphold certain principles of his/her/its duty. These principles include:

1. The protection of life and liberty within the assigned sector.

2. Following the orders of the Guardians without question.

3. Noninterference with a planet's culture, political structure, or its population's collective will.

4. Acting within local laws and obeying the local authority within reason. The Guardians' orders will overrule this when necessary.

5. Taking no action against anyone or anything until they are proven to be a threat against life and liberty.

6. Using the equipment, resources or authority of The Corps for personal gain.

7. Showing respect for and cooperating with other members of the Corps and the Guardians.

8. Showing respect for life which includes restraint of force unless there is no reasonable alternative.

9. Giving top priority to the greatest danger in the assigned sector.

10. Upholding the honor of the Corps.

"Sounds like a big pain in the butt to me. Especially that one about obeying the Guardians' orders without question. Yeah, I'm gonna do that one. No problem." I wondered if artificial intelligences could understand sarcasm.

Affirmative.

"Stop that." When I didn't get a reply that time, I asked what the new rules were.

Following the escalation of the war between the Green Lantern Corps and the Sinestro Corps the Guardians have rewritten the Book of Oa changing the ten previous laws into new laws.

1. Lethal Force is authorized to be used against the Sinestro Corps.

2. Lethal Force is authorized against all enemies of the Green Lantern Corps.

3. Love and physical relationships between members of the Green Lantern Corps is forbidden.

4. The Vega System is no longer Outside the Green Lantern Corps' jurisdiction.

5. The Green Lantern Corps no longer takes prisoners.

6. If the Guardians are unable to discharge their sacred duties, command of the Green Lantern Corps falls to Clarrisi, followed by the Illustres.

I blinked. "That's… quite a change in policy there."

It is not a license to kill whom you choose, Green Lantern. If the situation does not warrant death then you must refrain from using that specific penalty.

Something wasn't right there. "If Lethal force is authorized for all enemies and we don't take prisoners, then that pretty much means anyone that messes with a Green Lantern has to die."

In situations that do not warrant death, it is the responsibility of each Green Lantern to turn over said criminals to local planetary law enforcement for sentencing.

"Ah. Well, that makes more sense. And you'll tell me when I'm suppose to off someone, right."

Affirmative.

"Right." At that point I came to a conclusion. "Y'all are a bunch of nuts. I'm nineteen years old and you expect me to whip out the hangman's noose. Glad they got rid of that whole 'obey me without question' law." I shook my head trying to wrap it around the situation. "How did you pick me of all people?"

Genetic profiling narrows the search parameters.

I cut it off. "You mean I'm a mutant?"

Not, by definition, no. All living beings evolve through the process of mutation. The ideal characteristics of a Green Lantern include sexual characteristics that are inconsistent with the subject's psychological gender.

That was when I nearly crapped my pants. "Pardon?"

All beings evolve…

"Yeah, yeah, I got that part. Simplify it for me."

The percentage of ideal Green Lantern candidates is highest within one of the smallest samplings of the population. Those that are Transgendered.

Great, I've been outted to the universe. "How did you figure that one out?"

The greatest trait that a Green Lantern can possess is to live without fear.

"That's makes no sense. Transgender people always live in fear, mostly of intolerant idiots, but it's fear all the same."

Your supposition is valid to a point. They are the ones that experience the greatest fear, however they are also the ones that overcome their fears in the most profound ways, once confronted with them, as you have done.

What hasn't been said up to this point was that I recently came out of the closet to my family and friends. Frankly I was tired of exactly that, living in fear of what they would think or say. I was amazed at how free I felt afterward, knowing that I performed the task, faced my worst nightmare and conquered what I once thought impossible.

"Fine, I'm the man, that wishes he was a woman, without fear."

That is why you were chosen.

I stood and exited the room. "Does this place have a kitchen?"

The Galley is on the second level.

I looked both ways down the corridor. "Where's the stairs? Or can you float me through the deck like you did in the library."

That ability is no longer under this ring's control. You must exert your own will in order to perform any chosen task.

"Okay, tell me how."

Simply will yourself incorporeal and levitate to the next level.

"Simply, right." I took a breath and concentrated on doing just that. The color of my suit didn't change, but then again the ring was trying to hide me at the time so I wouldn't be seen at the library. A greenish glow starting to appear. "Cool, this is easier than I thought."

Willing myself to levitate, I rose up off the floor and banged my head on the ceiling. "Oww! I thought you said it would work."

Concentrate harder.

Picturing what I wanted to do, for a second time produced different results. I disappeared. Apparently becoming incorporeal came with the need to be invisible. Floating upward I passed the deck between the two levels and then reappeared an inch above the floor, dropping with a jolt.

"Apparently I need to practice."

Affirmative.

The ring led me to the galley when I was introduced to my first food replicator. It was straight out of virtually any science fiction book I'd ever read. I just had to say what I wanted and a little chute opened with my choice. I took the coffee I ordered and looked around for a something to practice with. Unlike the stories I'd read or the movies I'd seen, everything on the ship was bolted down, or glued or whatever they did to make sure things didn't fly around.

"Is there anywhere on this thing that I can train."

Negative.

I sipped my coffee and glanced out into the black of space. Not much went on out there. Well, it wasn't like I was expecting to see the neighbors mowing the Moon or anything. Then I realized I still had to prompt the ring for suggestions.

"Any ideas about how I'm suppose to learn?"


~O~

Eventually, I was able to leave the ship without reason to think that I'd die instantly if my thoughts strayed. Apparently, the ring automatically shields me in dangerous conditions without my intervention. Returning to Earth and Houston, I retrieved my car from the library and returned it home, and checked in with my parents who still weren't talking to me about anything that didn't concern my general health. It turns out that while they still loved me, they really didn't want to know about anything regarding my state of being. Out of sight out of mind was their credo. In other words, if I or they, for that matter, didn't speak about my issues then they didn't exist and they could go about their lives in blissful ignorance like nothing ever happened.

My friendships pretty much came to an end.

Since the month previous, when I'd come out from the closet, I'd received no calls, no friends dropping over unannounced or announced, and my emails had dwindled to only necessary topics.

Yes, I was an awful judge of character, it seemed.

The training I received from the ring's, AI kept me busy and thus provided me with something else to think about. Hal was right; I was only limited by my intelligence and my imagination as to what I could do. With my thoughts alone, it would produce a beam of psychoplasmic energy that would form itself into physical constructs of whatever I could imagine. If I wanted a gigantic shovel to dig a hole then *poof* there it was, digging away. If I needed something more complex, like a television, then I'd better know exactly how a television was built and how and why it worked if I wanted anything more than an empty shell.

While I considered myself a fairly intelligent person, I realized at that time that I knew almost nothing about the world around me. I mean, do you know how your microwave worked? You stick something inside, press a couple of buttons and in a few minutes everything was hot. You really don't think about how all of those microwaves that cook your food are produced and how you are kept safe around the thing so you don't get cooked too.


~O~

"I'm tired of this. I learn better by actually doing things. Can't I go out and fight crime or something."

That choice is yours Green Lantern. You should be made aware that the vast majority of the inhabitants of your planet are not aware of intelligent life in the universe.

"No, really? And here I thought alien supercops were a dime a dozen."

It didn't respond to my sarcasm. I was beginning to think that it was on to my personality. "So what happens if I just pop up and do my thing?"

You will likely be required to explain your actions, motivations, and your knowledge beyond the confines of the average human.

"So, you're saying I'd be busted and have some 'splaining to do to Lucy."

This ring is unaware of any current leaders of your home world with the designation, Lucy.

I sighed, like a hundred times before. "It was a joke. Access the American television program I Love Lucy for reference material."

I have to hand it to the AI. It was quick. Within a matter of seconds it finally got my joke.

Affirmative. You would be responsible for revealing to the world at large the existence of extraterrestrial life before the designated time.

That kind of took me off guard. "Hold on. Did you just imply that they'd find out anyway?"

Affirmative.

Huh. "You want to explain that one for me?"

Within the next solar year, specific genetic mutations will occur within the human population that will expose a biological variant designated the metagene. This gene often lays dormant until a moment of extraordinary physiological stress thus activating it, and upon activation it will use the source of biostress as a catalyst for genetic change, resulting in metahuman abilities.

From what I understood, people were going to start popping up with super powers.

Affirmative.

The frown that dropped on my face was the only thing that displayed my annoyance at having my personal thoughts invaded once again. "So how's that supposed to reveal aliens to the world?"

A predictable small sample of those metahumans will possess abilities that will either make them aware of life beyond your world or possess the ability to travel into space themselves. There is a high probability that they will make others aware at that time.

"So, if it's going to happen anyway, why don't I make sure it happens on our terms?"

Caution would be advised.

"Uh-huh. It's time to cook up that disguise I told you about."

Like I mentioned before. A domino mask doesn't hide squat. With the computer technology that was currently around, all it would take would be a bored person with a halfway decent graphics program to figure out who I really was. Despite how my ex-friends and family treated me, I really didn't want anything bad to happen to them as a result of knowing me. That's where a little illusion came to mind.

Layered on top of my male body would be the illusion of a female. Kinda cute if I did say so myself. My hair stayed the same rich black color, just much longer. My face was trimmed down on the jaws and eyes widened. A decent addition of breasts and wider hips completed the disguise. And this time I dropped the mask.

When I made it halfway back to Earth I paused for just a minute to take in the splendor of the spectacle. There it was. My home, and after today it would never be the same again.

"Get ready people of Earth. Jade, Green Lantern of Sector 2814, is about to rock your world."

End

Next in the series: A retcon of Terra (Power Girl's sidekick)
Photo Credit: Turin the foresaken




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