Mindstorm, part 12
Disclaimers and other information in "part 0" Airwave's message taken verbatim from JSA #49, as are descriptions of Los Angeles.
Kyle Rayner had stopped consciously monitoring the JSA emergency channel. The ring was keyed to alert him if either of two phrases came across the bandwidth; otherwise he needed his concentration more than he needed news.
Screams and cries still penetrated the rubble; the bombing had left many air pockets in the pancaked building. Shifting debris swiftly without collapsing it was a delicate business, and he almost lost a 500 pound section of reinforced concrete when someone abruptly ran into him. He caught the slipping weight with the ring and turned to say something to the man who jarred him, but he was already up and running away.
A lot of people were running away.
A lot more, Kyle realized, were standing and pointing and crying and prostrating themselves. He opened his mouth to bark an order, to bring them back to the task at hand, but then his eyes followed the pointing hand of a nearby rescue worker.
The moon was practically racing across the night sky.
Around him the screams of the rescue workers joined those of the people trapped below mounds of rubble, a deafening cacophony. For a moment he worried the ring had reinitiated the JSA feed and he just couldn't hear it, but no, the key phrases had not been spoken.
No one said they needed Green Lantern to attend to a greater crisis, and no one breathed a word of news, good or bad, about the missing Jade and Sentinel.
The moon hurtled out of sight below the horizon, and under the green glow of the ring, Green Lantern continued his rescue efforts.
A stereo system blared sound from the top floor of an apartment building, loud enough that Wonder Woman could catch some words as she flew by. "...under the sun is in tune, but..."
She had a feeling she didn't want to know the next lyric.
She had left London as an odd mix of London cops and US armed forces had taken over crowd control of Kobra driven rioters. She had not paused to wonder how the military units were so quickly on the scene; there was trouble across the channel and too few heroes to help.
The day already felt long, and this new crisis was barely an hour old.
The streets of Paris were like a war-zone, and from the news coming over the JSA emergency channel, the same scene was being repeated in every urban center of the world. She uncoiled her lasso as she hovered over one vicious knot of looters, ready to loop them all in the truth and hopefully break them out of their panic. A practiced toss collected dozens in her proverbial net.
It didn't stop them.
Hera help her, the truth only made things worse.
Dick Grayson winced at the sudden flood of light that filled the streets downtown. For a confused moment, he thought the sun had broken free, but then his mind processed the sound of rotors.
Military helicopters, coming from god knew where and mounted with Kleig lights.
Undoubtedly there by Executive Order.
The crowd began melting away, no longer fighting him and his fellow officers, no longer intent on destroying the city center.
He would hate Luthor later. His radio was already crackling with calls for aid at another hot spot, bring riot gear.
He and Amy did not even look at each other as they dove into their car and answered the call.
Aquaman excused himself from Jonathan Kent's hospital room when his JLA signaler started sputtering with hurried reports of worldwide disaster. Martha Kent raised her eyes in query, and he had lied about having to take a call.
He knew that the mother of a superhero would know better, but she didn't stop him.
He walked down the hall and through the doors to the outside, bathed now in shadows from the total eclipse.
The totally unnatural eclipse.
The unnatural eclipse which had sent the moon hurtling across the sky with Martha Kent's little boy aboard.
He tapped his communicator. "Watchtower?" he asked quietly.
There was only static.
He repeated his query.
Superman could survive a lot, as could J'onn. And the Watchtower was solidly built. Lois would be safe.
Arthur Curry, father of Arthur Jr., now long dead, made a decision. He would not give the parents of Cark Kent one more thing to worry about.
Pat Dugan hated it when villains mobilized innocents to do their dirty work.
He hated it more when the villains they fought against were former heroes.
Within the armor of S.T.R.I.P.E., Dugan fired tranquilizer darts into the crowd, watching the inky shadows explode away from those he hit, only to glom on to the next passing victim.
Around him, the remnants of Infinity, Inc. were shaking off retirement, following Hawkman into battle against Alan Scott's son.
Airwave's message continued to broadcast over all signals, sounding enough like a loop that Dugan would've thought it was a recording if he hadn't heard it vary with each repetition.
All except one phrase: "...kiss your loved ones good-bye before you leave."
Pat Dugan had kissed his wife, but his step-daughter was already among the missing.
He fired another round of darts.