Ultimate Crisis

Oblivion Upon Us
by Chip Caroon and Bob Young

Green Lantern
Victor Cranston
Captain Britain
Human Torch
Captain America
Captain Marvel
Jean Grey
Invisible Woman
Martian Manhunter
Mr. Fantastic

It had taken several hours for the helicopter sent by Ferris Aircraft to find Hal Jordan laying in the field, amongst the debris of a crater. The paramedic checked him out. He woke up muttering somethng about a stone alien. They brought him back to the base for a medical once-over. After he was pronounced fit, he was debriefed for the rest of the day about the destruction of the craft he was flying.

Hal finally found a moment to slip away from it all. He stood in front of his locker, looking in at the green ring sitting on the shelf inside.

"Damn," he muttered, regretting not having worn it on the flight, and thus not being prepared for the alien. End of the world, and I'm worried about my pride. Now I can only hope I can make it back to the JLA before it's too late.

Hal glanced around, and saw that no one was around. He slipped the ring onto his finger, and became Green Lantern once again.

Green Lantern took to the skies, flying as fast as he could. I'm gonna get it from Cap and J'Onn for not wearing the ring. Oh well, no one's perfect.

There was big trouble brewing and even a fearless Green Lantern like Hal Jordan could feel the sense of danger in the air.

Victor Cranston stared at his sandwich. The sounds of the city faded away, even though the only thing separating him from it was a small metal fence.

"Are you okay, son?"

Victor looked up to see his father sitting across from him. "Yeah, it's still just a little weird being here."

"I know." Monty Cranston sighed. He had missed so much of his son's life, and it bothered him more than anything. He had spent the better part of two decades trying to get his own life back together, and he still had some work to do. "But things will get easier."

Victor chuckled. "As you say a month before college begins."

Monty smiled. "Trust me, in four years, you'll be wondering why you ever worried about now."

"I'm not worrying."

"You do have concerns. I may not have full control of my abilities but I can still read my own son."

"It's not really college and all that. I mean, yeah, Natalie's moving away, but right now, especially when I actually see you, all I can think about is the legacy."

"Legacy?" Monty asked.

"The Shadow," Victor replied. "I look back at the past year, and I haven't done nearly as much as you and granddad."

"You're also younger. Your grandfather and I were able to build up a few connections before we jumped head on into the business."

"But there is so much wrong out there, and the Shadow is a unique entity, but for most of my time out there, I'm Spider-Man's sidekick."

"With abilities like ours, it is not always best to be on the front lines. There is much limiting us. You still have time to learn. Besides, don't be rushing to be like me too much. I'm sure you would like to keep control of your mental capacities."

Victor bit into his sandwich. Looking up, he saw Spider-Man flying across the city. And then he realized that Spidey wasn't webslinging. And he was moving backward.

"Oh, damn," Victor said.

"What's wrong?" Monty asked, turning around to see.

With a loud crash, Spider-Man landed on a car moving down the road. The car swerved, and within seconds, traffic was stopped, and largely piled into one another.

It took only another second for Spider-Man's combatant to come into view. Lobo's landing was similar to Spider-Man's, except that he landed on his feet.

Victor stood in his chair, ready to leap over the fence and help his friend. Monty grabbed his arm. "Son, be careful. You're outmatched here, and there's little you can do."

"Spidey's out of his league, and gonna get himself killed if he doesn't get out of there."

"Come on, you pansy, get up!" Lobo shouted, walking closer to Spider-Man.

Spider-Man groaned as he started to stand himself up. The world was still spinning. "Me and my big mouth . . . "

Just then, there was a loud crack of thunder and a fierce lightning bolt struck only feet from where Lobo stood. The herald turned around to see what new challenge lay ahead for him.

It was a quartet of powerful heroes. Storm, the Human Torch, Captain Britain, and Icon hovered in the air, all with menacing looks on their faces.

"Stand right where you are and don't make any threatening moves," Icon said. "You are to cease hostilities immediately, or we will be compelled to use force against you!"

The Human Torch floated to the front. "You play with fire and you get burned, ugly!"

In the café, Victor relaxed a little. The calvary was here, and he was no longer needed. Although, if a battle ensued, this small contingent of superheroes would not be able to spare the manpower to get Spider-Man out of the way.

Lobo's face turned into an evil grin. "This'll be fun . . . "

While Lobo was facing the heroes, Victor quickly turned invisible and jumped over the fence. He ran over to where Spidey was standing. Using his telepathic powers, he reached into Spidey's mind to uncloud his invisibility.

"Vic?" Spidey asked, still groggy.

"C'mon," Vic said. "You're getting out of here."

"But the big bad guy . . . "

"Is gonna get his ass handed to him by four heavy hitters. Let's go."

"Uh, okay."

Together, they ran to the other side of the road, ducking into the first building they could. It had become practically evacuated, as the patrons had rushed out when Lobo attacked the street. As Victor turned completely visible again, Spidey hit a button and his suit deactivated.

"He won't be looking for Peter Parker," he said.

"Safe bet. Are we going to hide out here, or move out?"

"Move out? We sort of have a galactic crisis on our hands here. The people need our help."

"Peter, we don't have the level of power that the JLA has. You just turned a car into a pancake with your back, with only your superpowers to save your life. Meanwhile, I just left my dad out there at the café."

Peter was silent for a moment. He watched the light flashes of the battle outside.

"You go. I think I'm gonna stay here for a while, let my head stop spinning. See if they need help."

"I know you feel responsible for everyone, Peter, but that doesn't always mean you have to web up and beat the hell out of the bad guys everytime. There are other ways to help."

Peter said nothing as Victor ran back outside.

In one of New York's skyscrapers, Clea stood at the window, observing the latest JLA skirmish. She could sense that this battle was different. Something was different, and she did not need the combined powers of her group to figure out that it was big, and not a good thing for the world.

Actually, for once, she feared gathering her group to peer at the possible futures that could stem from this battle. There was a great power coming near Earth, and it was power that she hoped to harness for herself. For a second, she entertained the idea of joining the fight, and possibly try to siphon Lobo's cosmic power. But only for a second, until she realized that Lobo was just the herald. The true power was still on its way.

Clea was smiling when the door opened and Rift came running in with a note in his hand.

"Clea, trouble. Aron's gone."

"Gone?" Clea asked, turning around.

"According to his note, he took off for England."

"Of course. The Watcher. Aron probably wishes to make amends and get his status back."

"Are we going after him?"

Clea thought for a moment. "No. If he wishes to leave, I will not force him to stay. There has been enough tension here."

"Uh huh," Rift said, not sure of what to think of Clea's attitude. Her words and manner spoke indifference, but there was an undertone of something else there.

The leaders of the extended JLA were taking a break from their marathon strategy session. Alan Scott was involved in some of his Presidential duties with the UN, and the telepaths of the group were doing their psychic thing to gather more intel. Several heroes had dispatched themselves on patrol, some trying to intercept the unwanted visitors.

Since it had been decided that the JLA was going to be the last line of defense, Captain America decided that it would be a good time to call a training session. While the JLA needed to conserve their strength, they did not need to be going into a battle cold. Reed Richards and Batman had both designed special programs for training, and Iron Man was supervising.

Just was Cap was about to enter the gym, Green Lantern made his way into the Hall of Justice.

"Green Lantern!" Cap exclaimed. Hal turned and saw Captain America walking toward him.

"Where have you been?" Cap asked.

"Recovering. Something attacked me while I was flying a jet. I got knocked out."

"Shouldn't your ring have protected you?"

"I wasn't wearing it. I know, not the brightest idea, but sort of a personal thing."

"We'll discuss that at another time," Cap said. "This attack, was it a part of this Galactus business?"

"I think so. Some ugly brute with an ax. About as powerful as that silver guy we fought."

Cap sighed. "It's got to be another herald. Any idea where he went?"

Green Lantern shook his head. "Unfortunately, that's the part I missed out on."

"Damn. How are you feeling?"

"Fine, mostly, but not quite at a hundred percent. Why?"

"Ready to join the others in a spirited training session?" Cap asked. "We'll all need to be at a hundred percent for this one!"

"I'm always ready for action," the Lantern answered.

"Good. Come with me."

Meanwhile, in the gym, the team was training under Iron Man's command. They were gelling well, like a machine. Thor, in particular, was a dynamo of power and skill. He seemed almost eager for the battle, as if he sensed a challenge worthy of a god. However, Captain Marvel suddenly felt distracted. He'd begun to sense something. Something familiar. And it was getting stronger. Whatever it was, it had the feel of . . . the magic lightning! What could it be? He had to know!

Cap and the Green Lantern entered the room. Cap shouted for everyone's attention. As always, he got it. "Green Lantern has something to report. Everyone listen up."

As the Lantern related the tale of his encounter with Terrax, Captain Marvel decided he could no longer wait to learn what he'd been sensing. He slipped out of the gym. In the hall, he ran into Jarvis.

"Say, Jarvis, do me a favor," Captain Marvel said. "Tell Cap I was suddenly called away and that I'll be back as soon as possible."

"Of course, sir."

Captain Marvel rushed outside and flew off with the speed of Mercury.

Back inside, the Green Lantern had finished his story.

"So that's the latest update," Cap said.

Jean Grey came rushing in at that moment. "I'm afraid not, Cap. Battle is occurring as we speak."

"Which one?" Iron Man asked. "Ugly or silver?"

"Well, he is ugly," she replied. "But it's another one."

"Another one?" the Thing asked in exasperation. "Oh, just great. Why'd they have ta pick Earth for their evil alien convention?"

"Where are they now?" Cap wanted to know.

"Gone," a powerful voice said.

Green Lantern and Captain America turned to see Icon standing in the doorway, holding the unconscious Storm in his arms. Captain Britain stood unsteadly, putting his hand against the wall for balance. The Human Torch was in even worse shape, hanging onto both Britain and Icon to keep from falling.

"Johnny!" Sue yelled, rushing to see to her brother.

Captain Britain sat down. Icon handed Storm to Hank Pym who took her to the Med-Lab.

"What happened?" Cap asked.

"We . . . didn't do well," Icon said. "I never expected such power. And he was wild, almost insane. His savagery took us by surprise. We were on the defensive before we even got started. Storm and the Torch were injured. Civilians were in danger. I made the call to withdraw."

"And the alien warrior?" Thor asked. "Where is the varlet now?"

"I don't know," Icon said. "When we fled, he laughed, calling us weird names which I assume were insults. He said we weren't worth chasing and that he was going to find his fun elsewhere. He got on that strange cycle of his and headed west."

"We need to find him!" Cap stated.

Just then, J'Onn and Reed entered. "I believe I can help you with that, Captain," the Martian said. "In communing with other telepaths, we have found a way to track the aliens. Not precisely, because their minds are complex and strange. Still, we can get close."

"And once you do, I can get a more exact fix on them," Reed said. "I've found a way to triangulate on their cosmic residue. Between the Manhunter and my own devices, we can pinpoint their location with ninety-eight percent accuracy."

"Excellent!" Cap said. "We'll take them off guard before they do whatever it is they are intending. They won't be expecting a surprise assault. The JLA will go to London to personally greet this "master" when he comes. The rest will handle the heralds. So everyone get ready! J'Onn, call the troops together. Reed, Jean, and I will break you into teams. We strike hard and fast! So be sharp everyone. This could be the battle of our lives!"

To be continued!