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Annual #1

 

 

Sentinel

Issue #5

Apollyon City Chapter 5:"It Ends"

by David Marshall


Apollyon City Public Library


The headline on the microfiche confirmed Zatannaís suspicions.

Tornado Sweeps Through Small New York Town

Sheriff Claims to Have Seen Demon from Hell

A powerful tornado swept through the small town of
Sycamore Springs last week, demolishing everything
in its path. 212 of the townís 213 residents were killed.

Only the Sheriff, Bill Polk aka the Wyoming Kid, survived
the tragedy.  Polk claims an evil presence spoke to him
from within the storm. However, neighboring authorities
dispute such a wild tale, noting that Polk was struck
numerous times by flying debris....

"elcitra tnaveler txen dniF" At Zatannaís command the microfiche reader loaded another spool of film and advanced forward to the next article concerning the events of April 23, 1893. It was from the Daily Planet, dated March 17, 1990.

Model City To Be Built on Tornado Site

Think tanks from both Metropolis University and
Gotham
University announced plans yesterday to
construct a still-unnamed
model city on the site
of the 1893 Sycamore Springs tornado disaster.

The bold experiment in civic engineering should
help these teams plot
potential courses for both
Gotham and Metropolis in the years to come.

The cornerstone for the first building, to be
named Polk Center,
in honor of Sheriff Bill
Polk, aka the Wyoming Kid, the lone survivor
of the
tragedy, will be laid later this year....

Zatanna rewound the reel and placed it on a small cart displaying a reminder to patrons to allow library staff to re-file such items. The Sentinel would be interested in her findings.

Barker Towers, 24th Floor, WABS Studios, The Same Day.


"Daddy!"

Alan Scott turned to see his daughter running toward him. She was carrying an arm load of paperwork. He looked to make sure no one heard her, and spoke in hushed tones. "Jennie! You canít call me that here! Somebody may overhear you."

"Sorry, I was just happy to see you." Jennie looked hurt. After all, she and her father hadnít seen much of one another lately.

Alan hugged her. "Iím sorry Jen. My fluctuating age tends to make me paranoid. Last thing I need is some crazy coming after you, Todd, or Molly."

Jennie pulled away and smiled playfully. "Relax. Your happy little nuclear family can take care of itself."

Alan nodded. "I suppose. What brings you here anyway? Come to congratulate your old man, or offer your sympathies?"

She held up one of the pieces of paperwork, an insurance form, and grinned. "Neither, silly! I work here! Love ya! Gotta run! My office furniture will be arriving shortly!" Jennie bounded off down the hall.

Alan crossed his arms and watched her disappear down the corridor. Working here? Why doesnít anyone tell me these things? He continued on down the hallway to a six-panel oak door. His name was hastily-scrawled on a sheet of notebook paper and taped to it. Alan smiled. Yep. Moving right on up in the world! Maybe Molly was right. Maybe they were too old to start over.

Alan opened the door. He jumped back as the chair behind his desk turned quickly to face him. "Zatanna!"

"You were expecting maybe Solomon Grundy?"

Alan entered the room and closed the door behind him. "How did you get in?"

"It would be fun to say I levitated through an open window, but really I just took the elevator. Some security system."

Alan sighed. "Did you find anything?"

Zatanna nodded and opened her jacket. She retrieved Xeroxed copies of the two Daily Planet clippings from her vest and laid them out on Alanís desk. "Beelzebubís claim to this city dates back to 1893, when it was called Sycamore Springs. There are legends that say an elderly Iroquois woman by the name of Polly Blackbear unleashed Beelzebub to exact revenge on the whites who destroyed her home some seventy years before."

"Vengeance is always a bitter medicine." Alan sat down in one of the smaller chairs on the guest side of his desk. "Why is he after me?"

"Thatís where it gets interesting. According to legend, Pollyís deal hinged on the fact that she was the lone survivor of the white raid, and thus the last rightful owner of the land Sycamore Springs occupied. Beelzebub agreed to cleanse it for her, in exchange for her inheritance. Under the terms of the agreement, everyone in the town had to die. Beelzebub got sloppy and let a sheriff named Bill Polk escape through the town well. Polk never returned, since the people in the area were too spooked to rebuild. Thatís where you come in. You represent Polk to him, since you serve Apollyon in a similar capacity."

Alanís hands gripped the armrests of the chair he was seated in. "How can we find Beelzebub? I would prefer some plan of attack, rather than waiting for him to haunt my dreams at night."

"I can take care of that," Zatanna answered. "I can put you to sleep through hypnosis. Since he comes to you in your dreams, maybe we can at least control the circumstances in which you meet. Clear your schedule for the afternoon?"

Alan reached forward on his desk and hit a small button on his phone. The phone buzzed. A voice on the other end answered. "Robert McNamara, how may I help you?"

"Bob, this is Alan. Listen, I need you to clear my schedule for the rest of the day. Handle the important tasks personally, but under no circumstance do I wish to be disturbed."

The sound of papers scurrying across Bobís desk were obvious on the speaker phone. "Yes sir, Mr. Scott, sir. Iíll get the calls. Donít worry about me. Iíve got it under control. Just like Martha Stewart Goes To Washington. Yes sir, thatís me."

"Iím sure youíll be fine," Alan replied and depressed the intercom feature on his speaker phone. He grinned at Zatanna and pointed to the phone. "I believe he meant Jimmy Stewart, in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington."

The two heroes shared a laugh, before Zatanna rose from Alanís leather executive chair and motioned for him to sit there instead. Alan did as instructed. "Open your mind to me Alan. Listen to my voice. It is the only thing in the room. !ypeels oS...ypeels gnitteg era uoY."

The room fell to a hush as Alan walked in. Even those who were crying seemed to instinctively understand the need for silence. He always knew this day would come, and still he struggled with the reality that he would lay to rest many more of his old associates as a result of his "second childhood" as Molly playfully called it. Still this one hurt. Badly.

Alan walked to the casket and peered down into it. Doiby Dickles was the finest man he ever knew. He possessed no super powers, or meta-gene, as they called it nowadays, but Alan considered him one of the true heroes of the "mystery men" days. Jay and Doiby were his closest friends. Now only Jay was left. Alan whispered his goodbyes into his old friendís ear. He promised to bury him on Myrgg, as he requested, next to his "princeress". A tear welled up in Alanís eye as he fondly recalled Doibyís linguistic foibles. "Goodbye, old friend."

The room filled with applause. Alan turned to find the funeral home filled with Doibys. Men and women, even children, from all walks of life took on the face of the man he considered a brother. Alan became aware of the fact that he was now wearing his Green Lantern costume from years back. He closed his eyes. "I must be dreaming...I must be dreaming....so real....DOIBY!"

Alanís voice penetrated the cool, night air. He opened his eyes to find himself graveside at Al Prattís tombstone. The full moon played hide-and-seek with the thick banks of fog that shrouded the cemetery in its mysterious veil. Alan peered solemnly at his fallen teammateís memorial. They didnít make heroes like the Atom anymore. When Extant murdered him, along with Dr. Mid-Nite and the Hourman, he killed the bravest of them all. Sure, the little runt was headstrong and quick to run into a battle without thinking, but that was part of his charm. Al was several years younger than everyone but Johnny Thunder, and Alan often dismissed Alís brashness as impatient youth. It was only years later that Alan recognized Alís quirks for what they truly were; He possessed a thirst for justice perhaps equaled only by the Bat himself. That insatiable thirst, combined with his love for his JSA family, drove Al to give his body on the battlefield as a "gauge" to test every threat they encountered. It was his way of looking out for his friends.

"Alan, you could have saved us!"

That voice. It couldnít be....

"You were the most powerful of us all, but you blew it!"

Alan gasped. "Al? Is that you?"

"You were the Big Gun! Where were you when we died?"

Alan composed himself. "Damn it! Youíre not Al! Get out of my head!"

A rancorous laugh filled the foggy cemetery. "Whatís the matter ĎSentinelí? Does the voice of this pathetic worm food haunt you? Perhaps his voice isnít enough for you?"

The grave began to tremble. Alan stood transfixed on the scene unfolding before him. Two pale hands, bearing golden gauntlets around the wrists, reached through to the surface, tearing away at the earth. The grave ripped apart. Al Pratt was free.

The Atom jumped at Alan, grabbing him by the throat. Alan never realized how strong his friendís grip was. Of course, the compact little man sported arms the size of small cannons.

"You were afraid to die! Werenít you? How many chances do you get, Scott?"

The Atomís grip tightened around Alanís throat. Alan gasped for air. Darkness closed in around him, as he struggled for breath. "Iíd...give...my...own..life..."

"Save it for your maker, Beanstalk." The Atom drew his fist back high over his head.

Alan knew a patented Atomic Punch would follow, and likely end his life if he didnít react. Summoning his remaining will power, he created an emerald eagle with his ring, which swooped down upon the Atom and plucked him into the air.

"Damn you, Scott! What would Terry Sloane say?"

"He would tell you to play fair!"

Another voice from the past. While he maintained the eagle construct, Alan whirled around just in time to see Terry Sloane, Mr. Terrific, running at him with a large, wooden club. Terry hurled the club, striking Alan above his right eye. He crumpled to the ground, even as the Atom was freed from the grip of the vanishing eagle.

Alan panted. This couldnít be real. Terry and Al were both dead. Along with... Looking up, Alan saw an army of the dead coming for him. The Thorn held the body of his beloved Alyx, his Rose, aloft, crucified on one of her hellish vines. Her limp body dangled on a large thorn which protruded from her gut. Her eyes opened. "You wanted me to die so you could have Molly! Didnít you?"

"No! Thatís not true! Alyx, I love you....I..."

A man he recognized as his old engineering nemesis, Dekker, was among the throng. "Some hero! You let me die on your first case! Coward! Your kind was unknown in those days! I thought you were a devil, come to drag my soul to hell!"

On and on, his friends and foes marched toward him, blaming him for their demise. Sadly, Alan knew they were right. He felt despair and hopelessness waning his willpower. He was shocked to his senses as he was lifted from the ground. A mammoth green-gloved hand wrapped around his body. Jim Corrigan? But he was already dead!

The grim face of the Spectre filled Alanís field of vision. "For your disregard of human life, you will face your sentence Alan Scott. The One I serve finds you lacking in honor and character. You must die!" The Spectreís hand tightened its grip on him. The crowd beneath cried out for Alanís blood.

No! None of this was real! Alan unleashed a fury of green flame, unmatched since the time he used it to raze Japan in the Brainwaveís sick illusion in Ď42. The apparitions blew apart, as if a small being had placed a tiny bomb inside each of them. A gray rain fell when the Spectre exploded in a terrifying display of ectoplasmic rage.

Alan floated in deep space. A single shaft of light penetrated the blackness. Beelzebub was more powerful than he imagined. It was as if the previous events never occurred. Then again, maybe they never did. "Damn you, Beelzebub! Damn you, for evoking their memories!"

There was no answer, no laughter. Only silence. The kind of silence that fills your ears for that brief moment after you dive into a lake or pool, and the pressure of the water suddenly fills them. Except this silence was ominous and more pronounced. Alan followed the shaft of light. Eventually, it broke into two separate sources, but Alan somehow knew they both led to the same destination. Time passed both slowly and quickly as he journeyed to the source.

At the end of the journey, the light abruptly quit shining. Alan focused all his willpower into his ring. Only a faint glow emerged from the seemingly insignificant bauble. Just enough that he could make a face in the thick darkness. It was Lady Liberty! A sculpture or painting? No, an engraving. Underneath her bust, was written a date, 1921. A Peace Dollar? Then that meant....

Alan slammed into the dollar before him. He emerged from Mollyís right eye socket. He looked down at her broken body. She lay on a gurney, a dollar coin still covering her left eye. A thin hospital blanket was turned down. Her hospital gown was bloodied and opened in the front. Her left breast had been removed. Beelzebub stood on the other side of the room, dressed in a doctorís mask and scrubs. "I know sheís been to hell once, but with such a colorful past, it seemed a shame to keep her from her rightful home."

Alan lashed out with his oldest trick. A large fist emerged from the ring, striking Beelzebub with as much impact as his willpower could muster. The demon staggered, crashing into hospital equipment as he went, but did not fall. He only laughed. An equally large wooden fist appeared from nowhere and struck Alan. He doubted Superman could hit that hard! Somehow he survived, if only by Beelzebubís will to pummel him again. The demon wasted no time doing just that. Over and over, it struck him. Alan began to cough blood. Looking up through swollen eyes, he could see the demon gloating.

"The protector falls! Apollyon is mine at last!"

Alan wasnít a religious man by any stretch of the word, but he could think of only one more course of action. Using his ring, he erected a large, green crucifix and thrust it at Beelzebub.

Beelzebub jumped back. He hissed at Alan and recoiled. "No! Not that!"

It hurt, but Alan allowed his split lip to form a weak smile. Finally! Some progress. He didnít know why it was working, but it....

Laughter filled Alanís ears once more. "Fool! Youíve seen the Exorcist a few times too many! Youíre not a religious man, Alan Scott. This trinket alone is nothing to me. Without your faith, it means as much to me as it does to you. Iíve worn that cursed thing around my neck in more guises than you can count in your meager lifetime!"

Alan was deflated. He looked at Mollyís lifeless body. It pained him to see her lying there. They had spoken lately of her mortality. He steeled himself for such a day, but now, he found he wasnít ready. Alan could only whisper. "Iím sorry Molly. I couldnít...." Wait! Of course! Focus! That was what was missing! What was that scripture Wesley had quoted those years ago?

Now abideth faith, hope, and love. These three; but the greatest of these is love.

Alan concentrated once again, this time in place of a crucifix two large, interlocking wedding bands appeared.

Beelzebub laughed. "Whatís this? Is this how a defeated Green Lantern acts?"

Alan raised the entwined rings into the air and looked at his wifeís uninhabited shell. "I love you, Molly." He remembered the day he asked her to marry him. He recalled the first time they made love. How wonderful to finally share intimacy with the woman who had made his heart flutter for years. He recalled her youthful smile, her sparkling red hair, the silly little Harlequin outfit she wore. All the memories, the love, he directed into the wedding rings, allowing them to focus his love for Molly into emerald energy directed at Beelzebub. And as he did so, the demon shrank. If his faith in God was weak, his faith in the love he and Molly shared was strong. After all, the greatest of these was love. The hospital began to shake. The images began to swirl as they filled the room. The demonís dreamscape was falling apart.

Alan thought of Mollyís hand reaching for him a few nights ago. The mandolin. The hypno-glasses. Even her proficiency those many years ago as his secretary. He swelled with pride thinking how she became a mother to Todd and Jennie, freely giving them her love and affection, with no jealousy toward the women who were their mothers by birth and adoption.

Beelzebub continued to shrink. His form began to fragment, even as the reality of Zatanna and the office flickered back into Alanís view. A whirlpool of ectoplasmic debris sucked the demon into its heart, and Alan presumed back into hell from whence it came. As he disappeared into the eye of the spiritual hurricane, Beelzebub screamed, "The Protector must die!"

All was quiet again. Alan blinked. The young woman known as Zatanna sat across from him. "Are you ok?" she asked. "I take it you won?"

Alan nodded and smiled. "Won? Iím not sure you would call it winning, but yeah, weíre in the clear for now. Zatanna, what happened?"

The pretty, young sorceress smiled. "I donít know. These things are often very...private, as far as sorting them out goes. I suggest a vacation."

Alan closed his eyes and smiled. He hoped Molly would enjoy the moon.

 

Prologue:

S.T.A.R Labs Research Center, Apollyon City Headquarters


Dr. Mason Durant acknowledged the polite applause of his colleagues as he made his way to the front of the lecture auditorium. His latest creation sat behind him on a block of white marble, veiled from everyoneís view by a tarp. It appeared to be rounded underneath its veil, rising only about one foot from the marble pedestal.

"Thank you very much. Thank you." Dr. Durant nodded to the small gathering of S.T.A.R technicians. "I suppose I should say a few things about my latest creation. We here at S.T.A.R are often called upon by the D.E.O and local authorities to assist in situations where they face metahuman foes. With that in mind, my latest creation was patterned after one of the first machinations to ever prove effective against such skilled adversaries. I could speak all night on my "baby" as I call it, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So without further adieu, I give you...."

Dr. Durant stepped over to the tarp and whisked it away. Underneath, a small, spiked wheel glowed as it sat suspended in a harness. It was transparent, much like a three dimensional hologram. "....the VIRTUAL WAR WHEEL! VW≤! With but a touch of the controls, this indestructible weapon can grow as large as a city block and can destroy anything in its path."

A woman in attendance stood. "Dr. Durant, this is inexcusable! Who approved such a project? Surely you know the original Wheelís origins? My grandparents were killed when it tore through Belgium back in the Ď40's."

Dr. Durant nodded. "Of course I do, foolish woman! Nazi science constructed the original! But this new, improved version is brought to you courtesy of your friends at KOBRA!"

The next few moments were a frenzied blur of activity. Angry scientists voiced heated disapproval at the Wheel. Some sat in stunned silence. Others walked out on the presentation. Security guards rushed the podium where Dr. Durant stood smiling. With a slight stroke of his thumb on the Wheelís controls, it began to grow. Breaking loose from its harness, the Wheel began to spin. It was only fitting that its first victims were so highly trained to deal with such a threat. KOBRA Prime would be pleased.


Next Issue: You wonít believe who helps the Sentinel as he comes face to face with...."THE WAR MACHINE!" <Insert KISS song of same name here>. David.

 

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