Act 1: The Pilot
The nightmare began when the Martian Manhunter, J'onn J'onzz, started experiencing a series of headaches while he was overseeing the Watchtower with Red Tornado and the Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. The other members of the League were back on their respected locations on Earth maintaining Justice and Order.
It was a no more than a nuisance at first.
"Is something the matter, J'onn Jonnz?" Red tornado asked monotonously with his robotic voice.
The robot noticed the Martian leaning heavily on a nearby desk with one hand while another held onto his temple. Large beads of sweat poured out from his brow and his veins were bulging out from his forehead. His eyes glowed red as he tried to use his psychic powers to hold back the sudden surge of pain that seemed to erupt from inside of his brain to no avail. He could do nothing else but wait for the pain to subside and endure it the best he could but it proved too much even for him. He collapsed on the floor and convulsing madly through a seizure while screaming loudly at nothing.
"J'onn!" Green Lantern flew to the Martian's side as soon as he heard the screams. He quickly turned to the robot, "Red Tornado, what's happened? What's happening to him?"
"I do not know." Red Tornado replied. "My scanners indicate J'onn J'onzz is reacting to a sudden surge of psychic energy emanating from an unknown source. Possibly one of magical nature. I am not sure. He requires immediate medical assistance. His blood pressure is increasing at an exponential rate and brain damage is close to occurring."
"Alright." Green lantern said and quickly shot out a ray of green light that covered the entirety of J'onn's head. The latter stopped had stopped screaming by then and lightened the hemorrhaging but remains to convulse on the floor. "Things like this is usually outside my specialty but this might just hold back the pain and save you the trouble of an aneurism."
He then turned to the robot.
"Red Tornado, send a word out to Zatara or Dr. Fate they might know a thing or two about how to patch this up."
"I have already. But it appears that they are experiencing the same occurrence and could not assist us at this time." Red Tornado replied monotonously.
"What?!" Green Lantern responded with shock. "So anyone with a latch onto magic and psychic powers is getting the same problem as J'onn?
"Yes and no." Red Tornado added. "Judging by my observation, I could surmise that they were not experiencing the same degree of pain as our friend, J'onn J'onzz, is. Which means that our location at present is near the source of this peculiar psychic disturbance."
"If that's the case, where is it coming from then?" Green lantern asked.
The computers surrounding them suddenly flickering back and forth from static. The lights were blinking on and off. The alarms from the ship's external sensors were blaring loudly at an invisible threat. Even Red Tornado was not spared.
"Experiec-c-c-cing Tech-bzzt-difficultizzzzz." Red Tornado sputtered. His body was reverberating and struggled to move about. "Anomaly-$*&%#A-21e5hf. Electro-o-o-o Magnetic Pu-pu-pulse ematating –bzzzzt— 5445hdfc..."
"What?" Hal asked in confusion.
Without warning, J'onn suddenly fell unconscious. He had stopped convulsing and had fallen silent. Hal quickly knelt next to his side and hastily looked for a pulse, fearing the Martian to be dead. To his great relief, the Martian had simply fallen unconscious but he didn't do it peacefully. He did so while breathing heavily with his bloodshot eyes opened wide.
If things couldn't get any worse for Green Lantern at the same time this was happening, a black hole suddenly appeared out of nowhere a few miles from the Watchtower.
In his years of service in the Hall Jordan of Earth, he had travelled to distant planets, stars, and galaxies. He has met and mingled with advanced civilizations both familiar and strange to what he could compare to his own home world in Earth. He has also witnessed firsthand the cosmic events that astronomers back on Earth could only hope to dream of. But he had never seen anything as breathtaking or as terrifying as a black hole that appeared out of nowhere and did so close to the Watchtower and the planet Earth.
It was as massive as it was bright as it emitted a purplish hue. The people witnessing this on Earth saw it as a bright star but instead of showering them with light and heat, the hole only brought them darkness and chills up their spines as its massive tendrils are the sky above them and darkened in a similar purple color.
It was akin to a hurricane with a massive Eye in the center that spewed lightning and fire. Hal could swear that he could hear it roar thunder and torrents of crackling if sound could permeate in space. Since it obviously can't. He was awed by what he called as a beautiful marvel of the universe but his heart sank at the same time as he knew that he and the world he had sworn to protect were now doomed.
Despite with all his will, his strength, and even with the power of the entire League, he knew that there was nothing that they could do to stop the onslaught the black hole will unleash to the world. It would swallow him, the Watchtower, and about half of everyone and everything in the Earth to the Soulless Void.
"I'm sorry guys." Hal said to his friends. "I can't say that we didn't have a good run. It was an honor serving with you, guys."
"And – bzzt%# - you as well." Red Tornado replied.
Looking back to J'onn, Hal thought if it would have been a mercy for the Martian if he were to die here and now instead of experiencing the suffering and pain of dying inside the expanse of a black hole.
A loud eruption coming from the Warp turned Hal away from those dark thoughts. Flying towards the window for a better look, Hal saw the Warp throwing something out from its eye. A number of meteorites were shot out from the Eye like bullets past the thunder and lightning before a massive starship appeared. The likes of which was unlike anything Hal has ever seen. Hal could surmise that he was no more than a speck as compared to that behemoth while the Watchtower would have been no more than a pebble against that monstrosity. It was of alien make, but nothing he has ever seen from the alien civilizations that he has encountered. What was most notable about it was an Eagle's head attached to the starship's solid steel ram.
By his guess, Hal assumed that it was a starship of alien make but somehow looked surprisingly human based on its industrial and gothic architecture the ship possessed. But it was also one that was made for battle due to the numerous visible cannons and weapons that stuck out of its hull in every nook and cranny in the ship.
Fearsome and formidable as it looked though, it was in nowhere near any condition to fight. The hull was heavily damaged to disrepair with multiple holes and pieces breaking off of the body as it drifted lazily in space. It also looked as though that only front part of the ship had made it through the Warp since a massive chunk of the starship was missing in its rear and was spewing contents as it wandered aimlessly in space.
As soon as the black hole had released these from its depths it disappear into fine mist and disappeared without a trace in the black curtain of space as though it was never there. The drifting starship then set its course to Earth as it got caught by its gravity. Fire began to erupt both in an out of the ship as it entered the atmosphere. Its guns exploded and pieces of the ship broke off, sending more burning debris falling across the sky and aimed towards the cities.
Without a moment to lose, Green Lantern sprang into action.
"Tornado, bring J'onn to the medical wing and call the others in the League." Green Lantern ordered. "That starship may be out of commission but is still a threat if it crashes in heavily populated areas. I'm gonna try to stop that thing from wiping out half of the East Coast."
"Understood." Red tornado replied as he carried J'onn over by the shoulder. "I'll also calculate the debris' trajectory and have the others evacuate the populated areas."
"You do that." Green Lantern said before racing out of the Watchtower and approached the burning starship.
Hal began charging his ring and a mighty roar, he blasted a massive shield in front of the incoming starship. The starship rammed into the thick green shield but to Hal's dismay, it only held it for a second before the starship's ram plowed through the shield like it was nothing. Hal was thrown away the moment his shield shattered like glass then was struck by the ship at full force.
Thanks to his split second timing, Hal managed to set up a bubble around himself to stop the starship from smashing him to paste. Thankfully he didn't hit the ship's prow like the last one so his bubble shield did not shatter under the pressure. He was instead was rolled above the starship's top deck where he had to contend with the wreckage and towers that sent him bouncing around like a pinball. The searing fire also ate up some of the ring's energy as it clawed its way to Hal. It took a lot of his strength and the stress in concentrating to stop his bubble from breaking. But this did not stop some cracks from forming every time he hit something big. He was soon pinned down when his bubble crashed into a tower and the whole building fell on top of him.
"Damn it! I'm trapped." Hal cried as he struggled to keep his shield up as the wreckage were slowly stabbing into his shield. "Concentrate, Hal! Concentrate! Else you get squashed in here like a bug and that's no proper end for Number 1!"
"Lantern. Hal, do you copy?" Hal's earpiece called out.
"Superman!" Hal called out. "Your timing couldn't have been better!"
"Don't worry about it, pal." Superman said from the other line. "The cavalry has arrived."
To the other Leaguers flying with him, Superman gave them their orders.
"Hawkman and Hawkgirl." Superman said to the two winged Thanagarians. "Be on perimeter watch. Destroy any debris that breaks off."
"Stewart," Superman said to the other Green Lantern. "Get Hal out of there and start pulling that starship back."
"Wonderwoman, Captain Marvel." Superman commanded to the other two heroes. "You're with me. We're gonna put a stop to that ship."
With all that said, the Heroes scattered. Hawkgirl and Hawkman went and chased after the burning debris. Superman breathed out a strong gush of wind at the ship and blew off the flames on the ship's prow. He then followed Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel who were in the middle of pushing the ship back from its ram. With their strengths combined, the starship slowly started to be pushed back out of the Earth.
The Green Lantern, John Stewart whizzed past and zig zagged along the past the burning wreckage and towers of the starship. He soon managed to find Hal from under some rubble with a bright green light emanating from inside. The latter's shield was still holding strong but not for long since it began flickering. With his ring, Stewart cut through and freed the trapped Lantern from the wreckage who blasted the rest with a powerful blast
"No time sleeping on the job yet, Hal." John jested with the other Lantern. "We still have a lot of work ahead of us."
"Sleeping? I was just wearing myself down so you could start keeping up with me, old man." Hal rebutted before powering up and flew off with Stewart behind the ship.
Hal summoned a giant green lasso while Stewart summoned a massive green net. Both caught the rear of the starship and together started pulling on it with all their strength. With the combined efforts of the heroes, the starship was slowly being pushed out from the atmosphere. That however changed when the starship began breaking apart.
A series of explosions erupted all over the starship both from the inside and the outside. These launched its fragments far and wide across the horizon. They all burnt into meteors and fell across the sky in speeds unimaginable. Some of these meteors were as large as buildings and the heroes could only imagine the destruction this would bring to the denizens below. It would have been apocalyptic.
"All Leaguers," Superman ordered. "Scatter about and destroy the larger ones. The atmosphere will take care of the rest. Now let's move!"
Superman used his laser vision to cut the meteors apart before flying in to smash them with his fists. Wonder Woman used her lasso to swing large meteors around collide with another. Hawkman and Hawkgirl used the same tactic only they did it by batting the meteors with their maces and sending them towards the other meteors. Captain Marvel summoned thunderbolts and destroyed many in quick succession while the Lanterns summoned massive versions of household tools like hacksaws or drills from their rings to cut apart swaths of meteors to bits.
Amidst the chaos, the heroes have all failed to see 4 ships escaping the massive starship. The silence of space and the heroes' attention to the meteors made it easy for these ships to slip from under their noses. They raced through the sky made its way towards the East Side of the Northern Americas.
Of the 4 ships, 3 were Valkyrie transport ships with twin engines flying in a V-Formation. The other one trailing behind them was a heavily armed Vulture Gunship with visible cannons on its prow and numerous missile launchers on either wings. The moment all the ships made it past the burning atmosphere and into clear airspace did the Vulture unleashed its full arsenal and began shooting at the other 3 ships.
One of the Valkyries was unfortunate enough to be destroyed by the Vulture early on with a few shots. The people inside the suffered a horrible death as they were cooked inside their flying metal box as it burned to cinder before exploding across the sky. The other two flew in serpentine as they tried dodging the unrelenting gunfire and missiles from the Vulture chased after them relentlessly. Their chase went on until they arrived in the busting city of Metropolis.
The two Valkyrie ships tried getting the Vulture off their tails by flying low and using the towering skyscrapers as cover while launching flares to repel pursuing the missiles. The Vulture had a hard time following its prey there and keeping them in its crosshairs. It scraped off a building or two through the narrow streets as it made sharp turns in the city. This send debris falling down on the civilians below. It also almost collided with or hit the News Helicopters who were so eager to film the entire chase.
Despite these obstacles, the Vulture Gunship did not relent. It continued unleashing a storm of gunfire at his target and had no qualms whether or not it struck innocent civilians, blew up buildings and demolished vehicles who got in the way of its prey.
One of the Valkyries soon crashed down the intersection when the Vulture launched a missile into a building and sent the upper part falling over the street. The Valkyrie plowed in and out of it and was sent careening into the ground. Damaged and a broken wing, it skidded down the hard asphalt road before coming to a halt just a few yards away.
Civilians and police personnel approached the ship to investigate but before they could go so far as a meter away from it, they were shot at by the vengeful Vulture. The Gunship unleashed a storm of bullets that ripped the aircraft to shreds before finishing it off with a missile that destroyed the Valkyrie in a towering inferno.
As soon as the smoke cleared, a dozen people were left wallowing on the ground. They were groaning in pain out of their bleeding lips and crying as they crawled about in the ground with their broken limbs. A few were fortunate enough that they suffered from some bruises, shock, or white noise along with some bruises. Others were not so fortunate as they suffered from burns, shrapnel injuries, and missing limbs.
The Vulture on the other hand did not save itself the trouble of watching the carnage that it had brought about. The smoke coming from the dead Valkyrie was still thick before it flew off to hunt the other one. It did not take long for it to locate the last Valkyrie which was no more than a dot on the horizon. The moment the Vulture caught it in its peripheral vision, its pilot sent its thrusters to full throttle at it.
The buildings between the two were still an obstacle so the Vulture halted its fire and instead opted to closing the distance between the two as it forced itself forward. The Valkyrie soon ran out of buildings and found itself out in the open above the sea. It didn't take long for a missiles to whizz past its head. The Valkyrie wisely flew low, a few meters away, from sea level making it difficult for the Vulture to keep its target in its gunsights for fear of crashing down in the water.
The same can't be said for the missiles though but the Valkyrie launched flares that sent the missiles harmlessly crashing into the water. The Valkyrie then fired at a passing oil tanker and left a massive explosion of thick smoke behind it. This blocked the Vulture's vision and prevented it from destroying the enemy before it made its way into another city.
As compared to Metropolis's aesthetic as being a shining beacon of progress and technology with its bright buildings, Gotham instead emitted a gothic tone. One that encased the entire city in shadow with its brooding atmosphere, and Art Deco and Art Nouveau style buildings that towering above the slums on its borders. The moment the two ships dueled with each other in the city, Gotham's Dark Knight flew in his own personal airplane, the Batwing, and interfered. He began his engagement by firing warning shot to catch their attention as he flew past them.
"Attention undesignated aircrafts." Batman spoke through an intercom. "You are to cease your hostilities and land in the nearby Gotham Airport where you will be detained by the local authorities. Surrender or be shot down. There will be no second warning."
Neither aircrafts responded nor did they leave any sign that they planned on obeying his orders. With that in mind, the Batman quickly engaged the two aircrafts. The Vulture Gunship and the Valkyrie transport were much slower than the Batwing so the latter managed harass it without retribution. He fired at them consecutively at both of their engines until they began sputtering out trails of smoke and both were beginning to lose altitude.
The Vulture instead went full throttle towards the Valkyrie and closed its lost distance from the airship and continued its unrelenting fire as it chased it down the narrow streets of the city. They flew in dangerously flew a few meters off of ground level almost decapitating one civilian. Batman on the other hand would have none of this and made for another strafing run behind the Vulture to finally take it out.
To Batman's surprise however and to his chagrin, the Vulture's pilot killed his engines and sent its aircraft flying backwards towards the speeding Batwing. Batman managed to steer clear out of the way but this left him vulnerable when the Vulture shot his aircraft's wing off whilst gliding in the air.
The Batwing spun wildly in the in the sky. The alarms in the cockpit were blaring incoherently around Batman. He struggled to regain control of the Batwing to no avail. His windshield was torn off of the cockpit and Batman found himself careening towards a nearby building full of civilians.
Thinking quickly, shot at the Batwing's broken wing with his grappling hook and pulled at it with all his strength. He succeeded in steering the aircraft away from the building just in time and Batman instead aimed its trajectory towards the lake on the far side of the city. He stayed with the doomed aircraft at the last moment of impact before ejecting from the Batwing.
Batman then opened his cape into wings and glided back towards the city. He then got himself on top of a nearby skyscraper with his trusty grappling hook. From up there he brooded as he watched the two ships reach the climax of their duel as no more than dots on the other side of the city. Miles away from him. Without a moment to lose, he jumped off and glided down and prayed that he make it there in time
With the Batwing out of the way, the Vulture was free to engage the Valkyrie. The latter had run out of bullets and missiles by then but it still did have its engines despite how damaged they were. So the pilot once again boosted towards the Valkyrie. It did not take long for the engine to soon break apart and caught it on fire. It even went so far as to explode under the strain and sent the Vulture crashing down below.
But before the ship could crash though, witnesses saw a red caped individual break out of his ship's cockpit and threw himself at the Valkyrie. He threw some an electricity emitting net onto the aircraft and latched himself onto it but not securely since he was still flailing about it like a rag doll. From there he took out his gun and fired at the engines one after the other until both were disabled and finally sent the Valkyrie falling towards the city's public park.
Before the wounded Valkyrie made touchdown, the man managed to jump off of the burning aircraft just a few feet from the ground. His landing wasn't so perfect. It sent him tumbling harshly on the soft padded grass for a few yards away from the crash site before coming to a halt. The Valkyrie itself skimmed through the soft grass and crashed into a fountain where it finally laid to rest. The marble statues were shattered to unrecognizable pieces. Water spewed out of it in torrents and drenched the fallen aircraft dousing the flames on it.
Sirens from the police and firefighters were heard nearby and were on their way to the park in a few minutes but the civilian bystanders were already in the scene. Though most were panicking and were in shock after witnessing such a heart pounding event, others opted to film the crash with their cellphones and calling for the police, while some actually made it their business to approach the scene and possibly lend the injured parties their assistance.
Do not condemn them for their stupidity here and their ignorance to the clear danger. These people were simply enjoying their Sunday weekend and did not know the whole picture or the gravity of the situation.
All they know was that there was gunfire erupting somewhere in the outskirts of town and that an aircraft came out of the blue and crashed into the park. Though some witnessed or read about the events from social media, none of the reporters, amateurs, or witnesses got a real clear picture of what was going on. It all happened to fast and most of the feeds about it did not have all the facts and most of the information fell under speculation. I wouldn't blame these Samaritans for trying to giving out a good hand.
Most of the attention were aimed towards the crash when the bystanders saw movement coming from inside the crashed aircraft. They saw a couple of individuals exit the vehicle with some slipping out from the windows of the cockpit. They were visibly in shock as 5 men walked out of the ship groggily and limped to no direction. Some fell to the ground the moment they made their first steps while others carried their comrades over their shoulders out of the smoking ship.
The civilians thought that these individuals were aliens at first but to their surprise, these turned out to be humans. Military by their guess based on their uniforms and body armor. Their faces were undiscernible from the blood, soot, and oil splattered on their persons. They were fearsome looking and did not look at all friendly when they gazed back towards the civilians. Some of the latter noticed that these men had the look of surprise after seeing them for some reason. The bystanders started moving away from these men once the word got out that they had side arms and weapons with them. Some of these men had used their own rifles as crutches to support their injured limbs.
At the same time this was happening, the bystanders on the other side of the park were witnessing a different scene. Before them was also a human and he lied on the ground whilst surrounded by a couple of civilians. They thought of him unconscious or dead at first but to their surprise they found this man to be breathing heavily before slowly getting back on his feet in pain. He stumbled a few times but when the others tried lending him a hand, he harshly pushed them off of him.
"Away from me, citizen" the man growled before spitting a glob of blood and stood tall for all to see.
To the surrounding civilians, they witnessed a man that inspire d both awe and fear. He was tall and imposing wearing a silver helmet with a long horizontal slits for eyes. It encompassed his entire head save for his exposed mouth that was visibly bruised and bleeding. He wore formidable but damaged heavy black and gray iron armor that covered every part of him. Each piece carried with it varying symbols embedded on them.
The helmet had a golden symbol of a two-headed Aquila embedded on its forehead. His pauldrons had the symbols of an enclosed fist sprouting wings. His belt buckle had the shape of a skull. His breastplate had a similar two-headed white Aquila symbol on his right breast but instead was colored white and on the left had the symbol of an enclosed fist between a pair of scales inside the Roman Letter I. Worn on top of it all was a long and tattered greatcoat of crimson.
This must all have looked so regal if not for the large amount of blood stains, caked mud and grass, or dirt and soot covering him. But nonetheless, none of the civilians would not have mistaken this man as anything other than a soldier but the question they had in their minds however was, for which army did this man serve?
A collapsible iron mace hung idly by left side next to a couple of handcuffs on his thick leather belt. A large pistol was holstered on the opposite along with a couple of packs and magazines. Strapped on his back was a round collapsible shield with a glass viewport and a winged skull symbol in the center.
They never got a chance to ask them this because they ran from him in panic the moment this man saw the people exiting the downed aircraft. Without a second thought, he quickly upholstered his pistol and began firing at them whilst limping towards them at a steady pace.
His every shot missed however. The only good it did give the assailants enough warning to run for cover against the bullets. Still dazed from the effects of the crash, the armored man's aim was very poor. His shots were either shot too short or shot too far overhead. Some however almost hit some of the civilian bystanders and blew up a large part of a tree.
By this time, his enemies started firing back. He was vulnerable to them since he was a sitting duck out in the open whilst the former had taken cover from behind the wreckage of their aircraft. A couple of bullets struck the armored man in the chest and one struck his injured leg on the upper thigh. This caused him to fall on one knee but before another onslaught of lead could be unleashed on him, he took out his shield and automatically unfolded to cover a larger girth just in time to deflect the storm of bullets headed right at him.
From there he reloaded his expended clip but instead of firing at the small targets entrenched behind good cover, he opted for something bigger to set his sights on. The fountain in the crash site had sputtered its last drop by then. The fuel and oil spilling from the ship had mixed in with the running water and had spread under the feet of every one of his assailants.
The armored man saw all of this and fired a couple of shots at the downed aircraft. A couple of sparks was all it took to set the bird aflame before exploding. The lucky ones were the ones who died from the shrapnel. The unlucky ones were the ones who wallowed and screamed from the flames as their bodies were burnt to the bones and their organs liquefied before spilling on the ground to be cooked.
One man managed to jump out in time and avoided the searing flames. Safe as he was, his arm was not. A tongue of fire licked his sleeve and caught it aflame. In his panic, the man dropped to the ground. Rolling on the damp wet grass as he wildly patted the flames off of him. Painfully tearing out parts of his suit as he did.
Once the last ember was finally snuffed out did he get up an tried to run away. Away from the burning wreckage. Away from his dead comrades. And away from the Silver Helmed wraith that was by now not far behind him. The man didn't get that far however. His leg had given way once it was blown apart from a single shot. This sent the poor soul crashing to the ground and made him screamed and was crying over his disembodied leg.
To the few bystanders in the area left and who were brave enough to witness the carnage, they watched the armored man approach the wounded man with his pistol leniently pointed at him. They half expected the former to finish the job with a well-placed bullet to the head but no. The man instead holstered his gun.
To their surprise and shock to what was to come, he instead took out his iron square mace that emitted a faint blue haze around the weapon's head and pointed it to the man on the ground. For the very few who were close enough to the scene for a better shot to film it with their cellphones, they heard the armored man speak with a heavy breath but still retained his cold demeanor.
"You have been accused …of the crimes of Sedition…Murder…and Submission…to the Ruinous Powers…in Heresy. You are sentenced you to Death. In the name…of the High Lords of Terra… the Adeptus Arbites… and the Golden Throne. I hereby honor myself…with your execution. The Emperor Protects"
With what strength the armored man had left, he raised the mace up to the heavens and sent it down at a mighty swing. The man's terror stricken face got blown up to pieces and stained the ground around them with blood, chunks of meat, and shattered bone.
Some of the blood splattered itself on the armored man but he did not make a move to wipe it off. Instead he took off his helm and knelt on the ground whilst leaning on his bloodstained mace. Not to rest his exhausted frame nor to give respite for his wounded leg. He meant this action to pray thanks to his god.
A spiritu domin ates,
Domine, libra nos,
Oh, Great Father. Holy Emperor of Man.
This humble servant thanks you sincerely
For giving this servant of thee another day to fight in your name
So as to kill thy enemies and die in your name
I beseech thee to give me wisdom, to uphold thy voice
I beseech thee the will to uphold thy laws
I beseech thee the strength to destroy thy enemies.
A morte perpetua,
Domine, libra nos.
With that said, he put on his helmet once again and, with some effort, stood up to be greeted by dozens of Police officers from behind a perimeter of police cars, News Media with cameras on helicopters, and the curious but scared looks of the public. At the helm of all of this was the man himself, Commissioner Gordon.