Disclaimer #1: This story is set on a hypothetical parallel world within the pre-Crisis DC Universe, based on a story in Superman #349, but is not limited by that story or any other.
Disclaimer #2: Some characters appearing in this story are based on copyrighted characters owned by DC Comics, Inc., Marvel Comics and others. Their use here is not intended to infringe or disparage those copyrights.
Disclaimer #3: This story is not recommended for persons under 18 or the easily offended.
"And when the Security guy turned his flashlight inside the car, the first thing he saw was Tom's face, shining like a glazed doughnut and absolutely dripping with juice!"
Carol Ferris laughed at her own story, then laughed harder as she saw how Liz Jordan was blushing.
"Carol, is that for real? That's why they call him 'Pieface'?"
"If I'm lyin' I'm dyin'."
Liz took another sip of her coffee and shook her head. Looking down, she said softly, "I've never. . .you know."
"You've never had a guy do that for you?"
"No, no, I mean I've never been with a guy who wasn't, you know, white."
"That's easy to fix. You can start with Tom, and work your way up to that architect who's designing the new engine plant."
Liz laughed. Tom Kalmaku was an Eskimo, not very tall and more cute than handsome. The architect (she thought his name was Stewart) was a big, broad-shouldered Negro, darker than Carol's mahogany coffee table. Her laughter died with a shudder as she imagined a man so big, so black, touching her. It was almost unthinkable.
Liz was about to change the subject when her right hand suddenly lit up with a bright green glow. No one on Earth besides those two could even see that light, let alone know what it meant.
A spear of green light shot from the ring to the television set.
"Liz?" Carol said anxiously.
"A new trick I'm teaching it. Watch."
The television came on, as though being activated by some kind of remote control device. On the screen appeared a bosomy redhead with a black patch over her right eye. She wore a purple coverall with an hourglass emblem on one breast pocket. A child about three years old sat on her lap, crowded by the woman's visible pregnancy.
"So when we, the four of us, crawled out of the wreck," the woman on the screen was saying, "we knew we were living on borrowed time twice over, and decided we ought to make good use of the time we'd been given, however much it turned out to be. That's why we --"
The redhead's image vanished suddenly, replaced by a card that read "SPECIAL BULLETIN".
"It scans the airwaves for emergencies in progress," Liz explained as she stood up and let the ring's light play upon her, transforming her black capri slacks, sleeveless plaid blouse and rope-soled sandals into the green, black and white uniform of the Green Lantern.
A newscaster appeared now, describing in plain language but with a breathless manner an earthquake that had just struck Cotati, a small town south of Coast City.
"Cotati, got it," Green Lantern said briskly. A luminous green envelope enclosed the Emerald Gladiatrix and she rose silently from the floor, passing harmlessly through the ceiling and into the Pacific Coast sky.
Carol Ferris kept staring at the ceiling for nearly a minute, until the newscaster declared that "the mystery woman called the Green Lantern" had been seen in Cotati. Clearing roads for fire trucks, lifting rubble off trapped citizens, shoring up buildings with strong though temporary girders of green energy, she had already saved hundreds of lives, and was even now dissolving a pile of old tires into a sticky substance to plug dozens of leaks in a natural-gas pipeline.
Carol winced at the thought of her chum dealing with such a dangerous situation. Natural gas was a terribly volatile, explosive substance. All of the fossil fuels were troublesome. She looked forward to the day when such dirty, dangerous energy sources would be replaced by atomic power.
A camera crew made it into Cotati just in time for a few live shots of Green Lantern patching the pipeline. With a sheepish grin and a modest wave, Liz took off at high speed, but not before the camera captured shots that would be on the front pages of every paper on the West Coast.
Once again Carol thought about starting a diary or annotated scrapbook devoted to Green Lantern. But that was a foolish, self-indulgent notion. Someone could find the thing. Carol was quietly proud that Liz Jordan had made her Green Lantern's only confidante; she would do nothing to endanger that trust.
Once upon a time during the Korean War, Lt. Liz Jordan had just delivered a fighter plane to a United Nations airbase and was badly in need of three days' leave. Her choices were to get a jeep from the motor pool and drive into Seoul, or hitch a ride on a MAC flight going to a South Pacific island. She'd never heard of Bahdnesia, but she hoped it would be something like Tahiti.
Bahdnesia turned out to be nothing at all like Tahiti, but it was certainly a beautiful country, and she'd had a very interesting time, though not an especially restful one. Among other things, she'd saved the life of an aged Bahdnesian monk.
Jordan had thought the only legacy of her time in Bahdnesia was her newfound preference for sunbathing topless, but years later a young Bahdnesian woman had sought her out at the Ferris plant and given her a bequest from that old monk: a tiny oil lantern whose lens was the largest emerald Jordan had ever seen, and a ring set with a smaller emerald cut from the same stone. The magic of those linked stones had given Jordan the power she now wielded as the Green Lantern.
The woman had told Jordan that the monk had been guardian of two other magic gems, a star sapphire and a black diamond, and warned her of a prophecy that two of those who inherited the stones would bring good into the world through them, but the third would bring horror and destruction. Though Jordan pressed, the woman insisted that she could not reveal to her the names of the other two heirs.
Green Lantern flew back to the Ferris Aviation complex with almost as much haste as she had left Carol's apartment. If she didn't hustle, Liz Jordan would be late to work.
Landing invisibly behind a fuel truck, Green Lantern transformed her clothing a second time, then scolded herself for resuming the casual clothes she had worn for her lunch with Carol. She raised the now-invisible green ring to her eyes and was about to command it to dress her in her test pilot's flight suit and helmet when a voice from behind froze her in place.
Liz turned, wary. Carl Ferris' tone was mild, but she had caught the slight emphasis in the honorific, his way of reminding her she was the only woman testing planes for Ferris.
"Is that the outfit you usually wear when testing my aircraft, Miss Jordan?"
"No, Mister Ferris, it isn't. If you'll excuse me, I'll have to go suit up now. In the same uniform as all your other pilots."
Ferris' face began to darken.
"Miss Jordan, if it were up to me, you would not be wearing any Ferris Aviation uniform, except perhaps that of a Ferris Airways stewardess."
Liz could not completely conceal a look of distaste. Carl Ferris had designed the gaudy, short-skirted FA "fly girl" uniform himself, and it showed.
"Thank you, Mister Ferris, but I find the flight suit more comfortable. And if you find the title 'Miss' uncomfortable, you could always call me 'Captain', and in a few months, God and UC at Coast City willing, you can call me 'Doctor'."
"Miss Jordan, you may feel free to climb into one of my flight suits and report for duty, if you can, within the next --" he checked his watch "--seven minutes, or be reprimanded for tardiness."
The temptation was strong to step into the hangar and emerge a heartbeat later, fully kitted, but that would have been absurdly foolish. As it was, Liz did transform her clothing into a flight suit, and only put on her boots, gloves and helmet the old-fashioned way. Even with that help, she made it to the Green Arrow with only seconds to spare.
The big simulator had a mundane alphanumeric designation, but everyone who worked on it had called it the Green Arrow since the first time the carpenters had installed its green-painted delta wings. They were only plywood in the spaceplane's current incarnation, but one day sleek wings of titanium would carry the Green Arrow's grandchild into orbit.
Liz slipped into the pilot's seat, strapped herself in, fitted on the oxygen mask, waited until she smelled the comforting sour tang of pure O2, then slid the cowling down. The simulator's windscreen snapped into place with a satisfyingly realistic sound.
Still fuming over his encounter with Jordan, Carl Ferris settled in behind his desk and began going over a file relating to Ferris' possible acquisition of Nelson Aviation. He quickly became so engrossed in it that it took him awhile to notice the change in the light in the room. At last he looked up to see that one wall of his office had acquired a luminous patch, an amorphous blob of light that grew and brightened as he watched.
Was it that other obnoxious flying female, Green Lantern, come to tax him with some supposed crime committed by a Ferris employee, or some impertinent request for assistance? But no, this light was yellow, not green. And in a moment the light developed a shining human figure, seated in a luminous chair, a creature of light that moved into the room until it floated in the air before Ferris' desk.
<<Good morning, Ferris>> throbbed a voice, speaking inside Ferris' head with unwholesome intimacy.
"What's good about it?" Ferris snapped. "I have nothing to say to you, Hammond."
<<As I have nothing to say to the authorities about where I got the missile components I used against Green Lantern last year>> Hector Hammond sent, with an invisible mental sneer.
"Don't try to threaten me with that," Ferris began, the color (never quite faded) rising again in his face.
<<I have no desire to threaten you, Ferris. Quite the contrary, I want only to offer you something, something I would like very much for you to have.>>
<<I want you to have Elizabeth Jordan. And Green Lantern.>>
Three days later, Liz Jordan was strapping herself into the Green Arrow for another round of simulated flying. Everything went normally until the cowling slid into place with a sharp click Liz hadn't heard from it before. She looked up to see a small, businesslike lock latching the cowling shut. And a net of gold wire extedning across the plexiglass, turning the cockpit into a fiendishly effective trap for Green Lantern, whose ring was powerless against anything yellow.
Green Lantern could do nothing against this trap, but Captain Liz Jordan had gotten herself out of a scrape or two long before she'd ever met old Volthoom. She punched the emergency cowling release switch. No response. She unsnapped the latches on the emergency kit and pulled out a ball-peen hammer. Not as heavy as she'd like, but it would have to do.
The plexiglass was crazed and yielding, and she thought there would be room to get the wire cutters into the golden mesh, but then the whole hangar lit up with a golden glow, and that was all Liz Jordan saw for quite some time.
Standing beside his office desk, Carl Ferris admired his latest acquisition.
Liz Jordan now wore a Ferris Airways stewardess uniform, specially tailored for her at Ferris' orders, with an especially short skirt, an especially low neckline, an especially tight jacket, an especially thin and flimsy blouse.
Ferris stepped forward and patted Liz on the cheek. She glowed with pleasure at the attention.
"'Liz' was a perfect name for you before. A sharp, bitchy name. But you're not a bitch any more. You're my good little personal attendant. What shall I call you?"
"You can call me anything you like, Mister Ferris," the transformed Green Lantern chirped, brown eyes wide with admiration for The Boss.
"Hmm. . . . Betty. No, Betsy. That's your name from now on."
"It's a pretty name. Thank you, Mister Ferris."
Ferris grinned ferally, savoring Betsy's fawning tones and sparkling smile.
"I may have sold my soul to the Devil, but by damn I'll get everything I can out of the bargain."
"I'm flying to Las Vegas for the weekend. You'll come with me. On the way, we can join the Mile High Club."
Betsy squealed with delight.
Light flared from the wall of his office. Ferris grimaced with annoyance. What did Hammond want now?
But it wasn't the yellow of Hammond's life-sustaining nimbus, any more than it was Green Lantern's emerald glow. This light was a brilliant, intense violet-blue. The sort of light that shone from the finest of star sapphires.
There was a human figure in the room, a vague silhouette in the midst of that blinding sapphire glare, a four-armed star of white light shining from approximately the middle of its chest.
"Carl Ferris, you have committed an unspeakable crime. You ought to be given an opportunity to repent of it and learn better, but for the sake of Elizabeth Jordan I must deny you that benefit. Instead, you will remember nothing at all of the last two weeks."
The violet-blue light grew brighter, until it became Carl Ferris' entire world, until staring at it was all he could do. He continued to stare, transfixed, for hours after the light had faded from the room.
Star Sapphire turned to Betsy who stood, still smiling vapidly, where Carl Ferris had ordered her to stand.
"Betsy, Mister Ferris wants you to put your right hand close to your mouth."
"Repeat after me, Betsy: 'restore the mind of Green Lantern'."
"Restore the mind of Green Lantern."
A green glow leapt out from an invisible source near Betsy's finger. The vacuous smile of Carl Ferris' little stewie was replaced by an expression of grim intensity. Seconds later, the ring appeared, and an instant after that, the uniform of the Green Lantern.
The Emerald Warrior looked down at herself, then brought the ring to her face once more.
"Restore the mind of Elizabeth Jordan," she intoned emotionlessly.
After the light had played over her again, she shook herself and said in a more relaxed tone, "That was . . . strange. At first, I had only the mind of Green Lantern. If she hadn't decided she needed Liz Jordan to carry out her mission, I might have spent the rest of my life with one hell of a one-track mind."
She transformed the Green Lantern uniform into a pale blue sundress and indigo huaraches.
"Now you, Star Sapphire."
She gestured for the apparition to drop the sapphire glow.
"Sorry, Captain. Not just yet."
Hours later, after the staring, unresponsive Carl Ferris had been carried away by an ambulance crew, Carol Ferris was seated at her father's desk, bellowing into the telephone at yet another hapless department head. She seemed to be trying to keep Ferris Air Industries in motion by will alone. Liz Jordan didn't put it past her to manage it.
In the locker room of Hangar Eight, Thomas Kalmaku unscrewed the bottom of his Thermos bottle and looked fondly on the object taped inside, a star sapphire the size of the first joint of his thumb, the gift of the Bahdnesian monk Volthoom.
"Not yet, Liz, not yet. After you've gotten to know Tom Kalmaku a little better, that's when you'll meet Star Sapphire face to face."
Somewhere else entirely, a black diamond lay in another hand, pulsing with enormous energies which would soon be deployed for its owner's purposes, whatever those might be.