Serenity is a "Christian manga" series about a trouble making girl named Serenity who gets involved with the local prayer group when she has to clean up her act. It is traditionally storytimed on /co/ during Christmas and Easter. If you haven't read it then expect this page to make no sense whatsoever. Typically a new reader will marvel at it for being a train wreck, then become invested in the main character, then go through various emotions when the final volume is posted.
As it has been traditionally storytimed for many years, numerous fanworks (fanfics, fanart, etc.) have been created, which were collected on plus4chan before its archives vanished. Now they will be collected here. There are also edits and fan created pages which make varying degrees of sense when not seen during the storytime, so they'll remain in the storytime threads until this page gets further updates.
The fact that the author became aware of the fanworks, and was totally chill about it, only make it even more surreal (those e-mails will also remain in the storytimes until this page can be further updated).
Serenity: Lantern's LightEdit
- Close to the end of volume 2, I decided that the manga was terrible and only horrible fanfiction written by me could make it better. What resulted was something pretty unexpected, even to me.
- IE, this is a story where a depressed and angry Serenity becomes a Red Lantern.
God damn it.
Serenity knelt in front of her bed, tears coursing down her face, her head buried in her arms.
God DAMN it.
She didn't care anymore. She didn't care about the Lord or saying his name in vain. She didn't care about anything right now.
How could she have been so stupid? Derek hated her now. She tried to seduce him, lure him away from that bible thumper Kimberly... it didn't work. It never worked. And now he was going to strut around school, tell everyone that Serenity Harper was a giant, fucking skank.
"It's not fair," she managed, her voice and mouth awash in sadness and tears. "Nobody loves me. Nobody will ever love me."
Serenity titled back her head and screamed. "WHY?! What the HELL am I doing wrong? It's NOT! FUCKING! FAIR! Why the FUCK are you torturing ME? I DON'T DESERVE IT! I NEVER DID!"
Her shoulders trembled as she hollered, and the familiar feelings came rushing to overwhelm her. Hate. She hated her mom. She hated this house. Hated the school, hated the people. That bitch Kimberly and her nigger friends. Hated them. Hated them so god damn much.
She swore, to fucking God, that if she had never sold those bullets, she'd find a gun and end all of their fucking lives. Fucking end the pain. Right here. Right-
"SERENITY HARPER OF EARTH."
Serenity gasped as the voice reverberated in her mind. She turned towards her bedroom window, saw the streaming, red light coursing towards her, and she screamed as it burst through her window, shattering it into uncountable pieces.
"YOU HAVE GREAT RAGE IN YOUR HEART."
The light swung towards her finger, sliding past her knuckles, and immediately Serenity's mind burned. The anger intensified. Red. Painful. Unyielding. Her vision seemed to darken to the color of blood, and her throat swelled with something vile.
She coughed in an anguished, vengeful scream, and blood escaped her throat, splattering against the sheets, dissolving anything it touched into hot steam.
"YOU BELONG TO THE RED LANTERN CORPS."
She was messed up. He knew that. But it was inexcusable.
Derek spun around a bit in his chair. Hands folded on his lap. Not praying, but almost getting there. No, right now he'd rather think.
Serenity liked him. A LOT. And it was clear that she'd do whatever she could to steal him from Kimberly. He'd need to keep an eye out from now on. But...
"When did your project become a career?"
It stung a little coming from Kimberly. She sounded a bit jealous. But justified. Serenity was a massive troublemaker, out for her own interests. Most people would've left her to her own devices by now.
But Derek knew there was more to her. Underneath all that anger there was someone better trying to get out, smothered by all those defense mechanisms and defiance. Heck, even he felt that way every once in a while, when things went wrong and he felt snippy about it. He could definitely relate.
If he turned away now, it was over. Serenity would never recover from the black hole she was falling into. And he would never forgive himself for letting someone sink when they could swim.
Maybe God wasn't the only answer for her... but it was an answer. And that was better than nothing.
Something shone on the edge of Derek's vision. It looked red.
And it was getting brighter.
The brightness swelled, and Derek turned towards his window.
His eyes widened as red light swelled to overtake the world, tearing into his room with a resounding boom.
Derek cried out as dust and rubble cascaded around him. He hit the floor hard - his head and arm cried out in pain. He had to squint to try and make sense of the inexorable red light blinding him. What in the WORLD-?
Almost on that thought, the red light dulled to a large shimmer. Still strong, but enough for him to see. Shielding his eyes, Derek raised his eye and looked into the light, determined to face it.
The figure the light was surrounding caused him to gasp. "S...Serenity...?"
A skintight red and black suit hugged her form. Red power coursed off of her body, her fists clenched, like squeezing the life out of the air itself. Her teeth ground against each other, stained by blood trickling down her cheek.
But that didn't scare Derek. Serenity's eyes scared him the most. Soulless, deranged eyes that stared at him, framed by her blue hair floating, lifted by her sole power.
"...Serenity?" Derek asked again.
"RAGE," she hissed, and it sounded like the worst thing Derek had ever felt. "RAGE."
"What HAPPENED to you?" Derek asked. He planted his hands against the floor, about to push himself up. Too slow - Serenity's hand shot down and yanked his collar. Unnatural, unexpected strength dragged him up, out of the massive smouldering hole in his wall, and pulled him to the sky.
Derek panicked. Screamed as Serenity flew him up, up into the sky, high above the suburbs at lightning speed. His life thundered before his eyes. The clouds zoomed closer until he and Serenity passed through and above, where darkness and stars surrounded them and the moon lorded overhead.
Serenity held him out at arms length, and Derek made the mistake of grabbing her hand. It burned like touching a volcano. "GAHH!"
"RAGE," Serenity cried. "RAGE!"
"Serenity, it's ME!" Derek said. "It's Derek!"
His feet swung, tried to find solid ground and failed. "I don't know what's happened to you, but you've GOT to fight it! Please, you HAVE to fight it!"
Derek's eyes bugged wide more than he ever thought possible.
"HURTS TO LIVE," Serenity growled. Blood dripped from her chin. "NOTHING IS RIGHT. NO ONE CARES. YOU HATE ME. MOM HATES ME. EVERYONE... EVERYTHING."
"I don't hate you!" Derek said.
Serenity pulled him closer in a rush of cold wind. "DON'T LIE!" she screamed. The blood spotted his cheek, and it felt like dipping into lava.
"GAHHHH!" Derek cried out.
"FIRST YOU DIE," Serenity said. "THEN KIMBERLY. THEN YOUR FRIENDS. THE WORLD DIES! TONIGHT!"
Derek grit his teeth, trying to ignore the incredible pain. "Please...don't do this! I don't hate you! No one does! It feels that way, but it's NOT, trust me!"
"NO MORE!" Serenity said. She shook Derek around, and his heart raced at the fear that she would release him. "STOP FORCING GOD ON ME! I DON'T CARE! HE ISN'T REAL!"
"This isn't about God anymore!"
The pure hate on Serenity's face eased a single inch.
"I'm sorry for insulting you!" Derek said. "I'm sorry for trying to force you into our prayer club! But I want to help you, Serenity! I want to help you so bad because I'm afraid of what you're doing to your life!"
Serenity said nothing.
"I don't even care if you become a Christian anymore! All I want is for you to have a reason to live and I want to help you find it! I want you to feel like you've got a reason to keep going because NO ONE deserves not to have one! No matter what religion! No matter who we are!"
His breath was almost lost, suffocating in her powerful aura, but Derek did not stop. Not then. Not now.
"I want you to be HAPPY AGAIN!"
She just dangled him above the earth. Derek waited for her grip to release. Waited for death.
He saw her face, burning, as a tear trickled down, washed with the blood. "...I...I..."
She pulled him into a crushing embrace, immersed him in the aura that didn't burn anymore, and she bawled.
Derek rested his head on her shoulder and closed his eyes, her anguished sobs resounding through the night. The hug squeezed his ribs, like she was accidentally going to grind him into powder. He knew she wouldn't.
"It's okay," he said. "I'm here. I'll always be here for you. No matter what."
The police asked Derek lots of questions. Very specific questions. He figured they'd be interested in what happened to him, but, somehow...he thought they were actually BUYING it.
"So, lemme get this straight," the overweight detective said, grinding on a toothpick between his teeth. "A girl surrounded in red light busts into your room, flies you up into the sky, and is about to drop you, but you talk her down. Then she cries, sets you back on earth, then buzzes off."
"Yeah," Derek said. "I know it sounds weird."
"I've heard weirder. Seen weirder." The detective pulled out the toothpick, flicked it into the waiting trash can, then drew another from his pocket. "You're lucky I buy your cock-and-bull story, kid. Anyone else...they'd laugh you out of the station, guaranteed."
Derek looked up at the big man, feeling pretty pathetic. "Is there anyone you know who can help her, Mr. Bullock?"
Harvey Bullock nodded. "Yeah, I know a guy. He'll call another guy, then another. It'll work out."
A week later. The rest of Derek's house survived Serenity's entrance, thankfully. He was sleeping on the couch but at least they still had a home. Though it WAS the hardest, most uncomfortable couch to sleep on in existence...
"Derek!" Kimberly's voice rang out as soon as he returned to school and approached his locker.
He turned to face her, and he knew that he looked exhausted. "Hey."
"What happened?" Kimberly asked. "I've been trying to call you for a week! Where WERE you?"
Derek just sighed. "I'd rather not talk about it. It's been a crazy week."
Kimberly stepped in close and hugged Derek tight. He always thought she squeezed hard, but after that one night, not anymore. "I'm just glad you're okay! I thought something terrible happened to you, and I...well, you know." She released her grip and backed away. "Although..."
"Serenity's also been gone, too," Kimberly said. "And even though she's trouble, she NEVER skips school. EVER. And she disappeared the same day you did." Her eyes narrowed. "Was she in the same trouble you were?"
"What? No!" Derek yelped as he opened his locker. There goes that smooth lie he was building up.
"What's the problem now?" Kimberly asked. "Do you know anything? Anything I should KNOW about?"
"No, I don't!" Yanking his chemistry text out of the locker, Derek slapped it shut and snapped the lock back into place. "Look, I gotta go, Kimberly, let's talk about this later, okay?"
He bolted into a run down the hall before she could answer. Oh, man. That was too close. But no matter what he said, he doubted she would buy it. She seemed too suspicious, like always.
And she was getting even more suspicious about Serenity... that girl he now knew he had to save, more than ever.
"Are you Derek?"
Good thing he wasn't driving, because the sudden appearance of a man awash in green light definitely would've sent him off the road. Instead here Derek was taking some groceries back to the car when the man appeared, hovering down to earth to speak with him. Like Serenity, he wore a skintight uniform. But it was green on black, and his aura felt calming. So calming, that Derek felt the initial surge of fear wash away.
"Who are you?" Derek asked, feeling calm but very small all the same.
"Kyle Rayner. I'm the Green Lantern." The man landed on the ground and his aura faded away. "I heard about your friend. Sorry it happened. I know what it's like to have your friends turn on you like that."
"Listen, Derek. Your friend...Serenity? She's a Red Lantern." Kyle held up his hands. "I know it sounds pretty bad that a Green Lantern is helping you against another Lantern, but trust me, Red Lanterns are bad news. They're beings of pure anger and they'll destroy anything and anyone."
"How did she become one?" Derek asked. "Can you cure her?"
Kyle nodded. "There's a way. Don't worry. As for the other question, well, Red Lantern rings seek out people who have a lot of rage in their heart and corrupt them. So...well, I'm assuming that Serenity..."
Derek looked down at his cart of groceries. "...yeah."
"Man. I'm REALLY sorry for you, then." Kyle laid a hand on Derek's shoulder. "But like I said, there's a cure. And I need your help to give it to her."
"Me?" Derek asked. "Why?"
"Apparently you managed to calm her down all by yourself," Kyle said. "You know how rare that is? Normally Red Lanterns are blinded by rage...but somehow, you got her to see past that. And since I don't want to hurt your friend, I'd like to see if I can use you to calm her down long enough to cure her."
"Yeah, I'll do it!" Derek shouted, something which he immediately regretted, bringing his volume back down. "She's my friend, I can't say no to that!"
Kyle smiled. "Good man. It'll be dangerous, so don't try anything stupid, okay? Just stick with me and do what I say, and we'll get her back to normal in no time."
"Then let's go." Derek suddenly remembered the cart. "Wait. What about the car? And the groceries?"
"Load it up. I'll take you home."
And later that day, any bystander in the street could easily see a red car flying through the air, dragged along in a green aura emanating from a costumed hero flying overhead.
Beneath the ruins of the destroyed, blasted Harper home, Tinkerbelle struggled to survive.
One leg, then two. A crack of light. Finally the tarantula scrambled free of the massive chunks of rock sandwiching her and felt the sting of sunlight once again.
Serenity? Were you there? Anywhere?
Just once she would see you again before...before...
Tinkerbelle felt her movements slow, and she knew the end was near. The battle to escape had completely drained her.
At least...she was free.
"TINKERBELLE OF EARTH."
Green light awashed the tarantula's eight eyes."YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO OVERCOME GREAT FEAR. WELCOME TO THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS."
Kimberly Calvin paced her room, hands folded behind her back. There was no denying it. She wasn't dumb. She may SEEM dumb, but it was actually a trick to convince others that she was, in fact, smart!
At least, that's what she told herself.
She loved Derek but now she DIDN'T TRUST HIM. He was hiding something from her. Something involving that girl Serenity! Derek wanted to help her a lot. TOO MUCH A LOT. And for him to disappear in the same week that Serenity also disappeared? Watson, she had SOLVED THE MYSTERY.
It was obvious. Serenity wanted Derek badly. Kimberly could see it in her eyes after she had met Derek. Somehow this was a plan to get him away from her. She wouldn't be above trying any trick in the book to steal Derek away from her! Well, it wasn't going to happen. Derek belonged to Kimberly, forever and-
Kimberly stopped pacing and let out a huge sigh. No. She was freaking out. Derek wouldn't betray her like that! And he definitely wasn't "hers". That was just...jealousy talking.
Calm down. Kimberly adjusted her necklace. Okay, just reread those passages you selected. Mediate on them. Then everything would feel all better. You're just being paranoid.
"That necklace is mine."
Orange light washed over Kimberly's world as she turned towards her window, towards the ugly, tusked creature floating beyond the glass.
"I'LL BE TAKING MY NECKLACE WHICH YOU STOLE SOMEHOW!" the alien shouted, as the massive orange lantern he held glowed even brighter.
The green light keeping Derek afloat felt strong, powerful. It was amazing.
And it kept him from panicking as Kyle Rayner flew him over housetops and the tips of leafy trees.
"Here's how it's going to work," Kyle explained. "We're going to find her, and you start talking her down. If she attacks, I'm taking you away from the fight. Don't be a hero. Red Lanterns WILL kill you."
"Yes, sir." Kyle was only a few years older but he commanded like his dad would. And if it would help Serenity...
"She's close." Kyle paused in the air - now they hovered over downtown, and Derek kept his eyes forward, pretending there wasn't a ground hundreds of feet below. "We're lucky. I thought she'd be causing a scene again, but it looks like she's calmed down again."
"Again?" Derek asked. "You mean-"
"You've been watching the news? She's been attacking several buildings nearby. That one we passed was wrecked by her."
Derek fell silent. No way he would admit that his dad didn't allow the news to air on TV in HIS house. And at the worst time, too.
Kyle pointed at a building, towards an alleyway. "Down there. Lemme bring you down easy."
Kyle swung around, and as he did, Derek's stomach lurched as he was pulled around as well. Floating before them was a...hideous thing. Like a warthog who lost a fight with a lawnmower. It, too, wore a uniform like Serenity and Kyle, but with orange on black.
"Aw, no," Kyle said. "Larfleeze, what do you want?"
"Everything!" the thing called Larfleeze said, clenching his fist.
Kyle smirked. "Forget I asked, then."
"More importantly, I'm looking for one of my rings!" Larfleeze pointed at Kyle, his other hand clasped around a shining, orange lantern. "And you look like someone who would STEAL from me! Rings, virginity...you'll take ANYTHING that's MINE!"
"What's going on?" Derek asked. Big mistake - Larfleeze glared at him now with his burning, greedy eyes.
"That's mine, too!" Larfleeze said. "Give it to me! That's MY boy-flesh!"
This was getting REALLY uncomfortable. "Larfleeze, if I help you find your ring, will you leave Earth?" Kyle asked. "We really don't want any trouble and-"
"Leave Earth? Leave the planet that should rightfully be MINE?" Larfleeze rocketed towards Kyle in a burst of unreal speed. "You presume too much, Lantern"
Kyle burst away from Larfleeze, shrieking through the air at top speed. Derek screamed in full panic, Kyle's aura the only thing keeping him safe from falling to his end. If Larfleeze didn't catch him first.
"You're MINE!" Larfleeze threw out his fist, and from the orange ring on the end, a massive burst of light exploded that transformed into a monumental, metallic safe that opened up, threatening to engulf them. It was still orange light, and Derek could see Larfleeze directing it, but either way, it was going to capture them.
"Hang on!" Kyle said, soaring up even faster. The safe's door snapped shut just as Derek lurched up and past it.
"What're we going to DO?!" Derek screamed in a very unstrong, unmasculine way.
"When I tell you, start rolling!" said Kyle.
"I'm gonna fly down and let you go along the street!"
"I'll cushion your landing! Now get - "
Larfleeze suddenly howled in pain. At least, it SOUNDED like Larfleeze. Definitely not him or Kyle. But how did-
Derek's eyes widened as Kyle halted, spinning around.
Serenity Harper the Red Lantern smashed her fist into Larfleeze's face, her mouth expelling a gout of blood.
"SERENITY!" Derek shouted, smashing his palms against the green bubble surrounding him.
"Don't make her more angry!" Kyle said. He soared down to the roof of a nearby building and burst the bubble. Derek fell out and landed on his butt with a thud. "Stay here and go downstairs! DON'T do anything else, just RUN away!"
"SERENITY!" Derek shouted again as Kyle soared off to confront Larfleeze. He clenched his fist. He agreed not to interfere, but...he couldn't just RUN! Not now! Not when she needed him the most!
He looked up at the aerial melee. Things went south quickly - Kyle attacked Larfleeze with a giant construct that looked like a mechanical arm. Then Larfleeze whipped Serenity into Kyle with a coil of power.
"Stop it!" Derek shouted as Serenity struck Kyle with another punch, following up with a clawed construct that whipped Kyle into a nearby 'scraper in an explosion of rubble.
"I bet you stole my ring too!" Larfleeze snapped at Serenity. "Everyone wants to steal my rings! And for that, you'll pay the ultimate price - MY PRICE!"
Serenity just roared at him, rushing at Larfleeze and smashing into him, battering him with fists and feet and anything other part of her body within swinging distance.
The blue cat coughed a tongue of blood at the tarantula, who leapt up in the air to dodge the attack. The tarantula surrounded itself in green light and smashed into the cat, and the two rolled across the ground before the cat kicked off the spider. It went in for the kill with its fangs, but one leg extended and fired a blast that sent the cat reeling.
Dex-Starr landed on all four feet and regarded Tinkerbelle, the latest Green Lantern to enter the ranks of the Corps.
That was gonna be ONE TASTY SPIDER when he finally ate it.
Constructs of red and orange light dueled. Kyle was still out of action.
Sorry, man. He had to do something.
Derek took a deep breath and yelled, as loud as he could. "SERENITY, LISTEN TO MEEEEEE!"
The Red Lantern kept swinging, kept lashing at Larfleeze. If she heard him - probably not - by now it was drowned by her fury.
Derek sank to his knees, his fists tightening. No. This shouldn't be happening. He just wanted to help her. Just wanted to save her from what she was becoming. Now she was even more of a monster than before. An actual, literal monster. And all he could do was watch.
"Please, God," he whispered. Tears crawled down his cheeks. "Please save her. Somehow. I don't care anymore. Please save her from this thing and save her from herself."
He kept faith. He always did. God never spoke to Derek directly but He always made his influence known somehow. Derek knew he was watching, helping in many unknown ways.
This time, though...God was more direct.
"DEREK ANGSTROM OF EARTH. YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO FEEL GREAT COMPASSION."
A bright, indigo light shone down from above, and as Derek looked up at the force zooming towards him, a brilliant staff appeared in front of him, the tip embedding into the concrete.
"WELCOME TO THE INDIGO TRIBE."
"DESTROY the Red Lantern!" Larfleeze screeched, pointed a crooked finger at Serenity Harper. The lantern he squeezed close to his chest shone, and suddenly, constructs appeared around him - figures of various shapes and sizes, some human, some of vastly different creatures and races.
Serenity just roared back at the Orange Lantern as his constructs swept towards her, and she went to town, blasting and crushing with constructs and sprays of acid blood. But it wasn't enough - the legion of energy soldiers soon captured her limbs, restraining the mad Lantern as they pounded her body and smashed her stomach with their fists.
Larfleeze laughed, tilting back his ugly head. "Yesssss! "What hope did you have to challenge me without the rest of your Corps, Red Lantern? Now..." He clenched his free hand, and his orange aura coiled up from his body like an inferno. "Your life is MINE."
His eyes widened as he suddenly became quite aware of something, and his gaze spun around. "Wait...that's...no! Impossible!"
Taking the staff, Derek rose to his feet as indigo power transformed his body. His Earth clothes faded away, replaced with ragged tribal robes that laid open at the chest and flared outward from below his waist in a tattered sash. Blue and black tattoos traced over his flesh, trailing under his eyes and across his pectorals and abdomen. The gel he had used to stiffen his hair this morning loosened, and soon his hair swayed in the wind as nature intended.
"Larfleeze!" Derek shouted, and the new Indigo Lantern floated into the air.
"ANOTHER Lantern?" Larfleeze cried out.
A moment ago, Dex-Starr was fighting Tinkerbelle, a tarantula given the incredible power of a Green Lantern.
Now they were fighting zombies.
Black Lanterns they weren't, thankfully. Still, nothing really explained why they suddenly appeared. Now the living dead crawled the suburbs, driven to attack the two Lanterns who had postponed their fight to drive them off.
Dex-Starr coughed blood onto a zombie's leg and it burned clean away. As it fell, Tinkerbelle's green light construct - just a big, blunt block - smashed into the zombie and swept around, clearing out the zombies that immediately surrounded them.
Dex-Starr looked at Tinkerbelle. For a tasty spider...it sure could fight.
As Dex-Starr raised a paw at Tinkerbelle, the tarantula extended one of its legs to touch it in a gesture of temporary loyalty and the promise to defend each other until the end.
Apparently, Dex-Starr thought, the humans called it a "brofist".
"Let her go!" Derek shouted at Larfleeze.
Struggling to break free, Serenity's gaze fell on Derek, softening a tiny bit.
"Her life is already mine, Lantern!" Larfleeze jabbed a finger at Derek, and roughly half of his current constructs broke away from battling Serenity. "And I'll take YOURS as well, while I'm at it!"
Derek's eyes narrowed as he focused the light of the Indigo Tribe through his staff. It fired a powerful beam that tore into the constructs, knocking some of them aside during their charge. The uninjured ones swarmed Derek and snapped, clawed, slashed...anything to crush him for good.
Like he'd let that happen. Derek whipped his staff around, cracking a construct in the forehead, then swinging it around and firing another blast into the ranks. He wasn't going to give up. Not yet. Not ever.
A green flash of power carved through one of the more brutish constructs about to smash his head in. Derek caught a glimpse of the source through the new gap - Kyle soared back into the brawl. "Kyle! Help me!"
"I'm working on it, calm down!" Kyle said. Casting a chain of light from his ring, he captured a construct and whipped it into the others, clearing some room for Derek to fly free and shoot his own construct at the Orange Lanterns harassing Serenity - a strong, wizened hand smashing into the Lanterns, picking them off and throwing them away from their target.
"NO!" Larfleeze snapped as Serenity used the distraction to break free from the other Orange Lantern constructs. "You DARE defy ME?" Larfleeze shot out a fist and unleashed a coiling, draconic serpent-shaped construct towards them. It was answered with a massive floating claw construct from Serenity, snarling, letting the anger overwash her.
"Back off, Larfleeze!" Kyle said, and fired an energy blast that hit the Orange Lantern, sending him careening into a bank below in an explosive impact.
-DEX-STARR AND TINKERBELLE-
Dex-Starr was surprised that he could drive a motorcycle.
The Red Lantern ring DID give him added knowledge on how to operate certain vehicles, but... well, he was a cat. He figured operating a motorcycle would be too much for him. Yet here he was, hauling down the streets on the Harley Davidson he had discovered. Tinkerbelle hung on tight, firing energy blasts and constructs at the zombies.
Somehow the zombies had also learned how to drive motorcycles.
Dex-Starr stayed focused ahead. They needed a way to move even faster, or those zombies would catch up.
Wait. Was that...?
Dex-Starr revved the engine and the motorcycle sped up, towards the plank of wood someone had laid across the hood of the truck.
For a brief moment the motorcycle was airborne as it coasted up and off the ramp, the sun sparkling high in the sky. The engine roared in triumph.
So... this was what humans meant when they called something "jawesome".
"Serenity, are you okay?" Derek asked.
The Red Lantern turned to face him. Her face was contorted in fury, and she looked like she was struggling to erase the expression from her face. Her blood gurgled from her mouth.
"It's Derek," Derek said. "You remember me, right?"
"...YEAH." She barely even managed that word.
"Listen," Derek said, "my friend Kyle knows a way to help you."
Kyle waved a little. "Hi."
"He's a Lantern just like you," Derek said. "He knows another Lantern who can safely remove that ring from your finger. Then you'll be normal again."
"...WHAT ABOUT YOU?" Serenity asked.
Derek smiled. "Hey, I'll lose the face paint if that means helping you out. Deal?"
Serenity didn't reply. Just clenched her fist, trying to resist the urge to hit something. Then: "DEAL."
"Come on," said Kyle. "We'd better fly fast before Larfleeze-"
A shining burst of orange light streaking high into the atmosphere cut off Kyle's sentence. And it was flying up from the destroyed bank. Larfleeze hadn't been defeated after all!
"LANTERNS!" Larfleeze shouted, as Kyle flew in front of the two teenagers in a defensive position. "Your lives are MINE! It's only a matter of time!" As Larfleeze soared down towards them like a burning hawk, he spread his free arm. "Aid me, my Corps!"
Once again the constructs manifested about Larfleeze and surrounded him like multiple shields. Derek seemed to recognize them all now - the power of the Indigo Tribe was like opening a new world of possibilities, releasing all the power in his brain that he never thought he had before. He connected each familiar face to its construct in a matter of moments.
But then he saw the construct leading the charge along with Larfleeze, and it was familiar for a whole other reason.
"KIMBERLY?!" Derek cried out.
-DEX-STARR AND TINKERBELLE-
Jumping off a ramp always worked in the movies! But the zombies quickly overshadowed whatever speed advantage they got, and their motorcycles showed no signs of slowing down. Dex-Starr couldn't even help Tinkerbelle fight them off - as a cat driving a motorcycle, he probably needed all paws available to keep it steady.
Dex-Starr looked down at the gas dial. It was almost empty! Then, if the bike had to stop, it needed to be in front of the best place possible.
A catty smile crept on Dex-Starr's lips as he saw the gun shop approach rapidly as the motorcycle barrelled up the street.
Dex-Starr turned around, scooping up Tinkerbelle in his paws, and leapt into the air. His Red Lantern power kept him flying as the motorcycle charged ahead, right into traffic, where it detonated in an incredible explosion that ruptured gas tanks and caused other cars to explode into a gigantic inferno. But Dex-Starr just ignored this and crashed on through the gun shop's glass door.
"Hey, you don't have opposable thumbs!" the shop keeper shouted at the intruders. "You don't belong in here!"
Dex-Starr promptly smashed into the guy and knocked him unconscious. Landing on the counter, he set down Tinkerbelle.
Rows of automatic rifles, shotguns, and pistols lined the walls.
Dex-Starr and Tinkerbelle looked at each other and nodded.
"KIMBERLY!" Derek shouted, as Kimberly Calvin, now an Orange Lantern construct, collided with him.
"Damn it!" Kyle said, whipping about a massive spiked mace construct into Orange Lantern constructs. "FOCUS, Derek!"
"DEREK!" Serenity shouted and shot towards the construct bringing down the Indigo Lantern. Grabbing Kimberly's shoulder, the Red Lantern pulled her off Derek and landed a fist in the construct's face.
"NO!" Derek shouted. His gaze whipped at Larfleeze. "What did you DO to her, you MONSTER?!"
Larfleeze sneered as well as an ugly warthog alien could. "She had something that belonged to me. As usual, these pathetic humans would keep what rightfully belongs to ME! So..." He lovingly caressed the Lantern he carried. "I took her identity. Now she is MINE! FOREVER!"
"You...you MURDERER!" Derek rocketed at Larfleeze with the full, bright fury of his light. "YOU MURDERER!"
Larfleeze answered the attack with an energy blast. Derek rose his staff to counter...and nothing happened. Before he could cry out in shock, the blast engulfed him and he spiraled down, his body smouldering from taking the full brunt.
Kyle broke off from the fight and arced down, catching Derek in his arms. "Derek! Speak to me! Come on, buddy, don't die on me yet!"
Derek's eyes shot open. "He...he..."
"You're an Indigo Lantern now!" Kyle said. "Your powers won't work unless you focus your mind on your compassion! You CAN'T let revenge blind you!"
"But...he can't get away with it! I CAN'T let him get away with it!"
-GUESS WHAT? DEX-STARR AND TINKERBELLE-
The zombies who hadn't crashed their motorcycles (zombies have no concept of braking, you see) lumbered towards the gun shop and clawed at the windows. They didn't care how small the cat was. They would eat it. Enjoy it. Love it.
Suddenly the door shattered as a battering ram of red light smashed through it, squishing any zombies that had clamored around it. The others turned their rotting faces slowly towards the disturbance.
Out floated Dex-Starr and Tinkerbelle, propelled by the power of their rings. Each ring had created a multitude of energy arms and hands.
These arms each held an automatic rifle with ammo fed to it by an ammo belt.
The zombies all made a pained noise of hunger and rushed the two Lanterns, and the guns rang out, emptying round after round into the rotten bodies of the zombies. When the rifles were empty, the hands snatched shotguns from the wall and blew off the zombie's heads, which exploded into geysers of blood and gore. When the shotguns were empty...
Well. Out came the machetes.
"The Indigo Tribe can copy the power of the other Lanterns!" said Kyle. "If you can't feel compassion...get greedy! Think about how much you want to live and to save your friends!"
"I can save Kimberly?" Derek asked.
Kyle's face wrinkled. "I don't know, but now's not the time to think about it! You've got to help turn the tide, NOW!"
Derek nodded. "I'm ready, let's do it!"
Soaring back up, Kyle released Derek just as the other Orange Lanterns moved in on Serenity, who was still fighting with Kimberly.
"MINE!" Kimberly laughed, tearing at Serenity's hair. "MINE, MINE, MINE!"
"RAGE!" Serenity shouted back, socking Kimberly in the gut.
"LARFLEEZE!" Derek shouted. "I want to stop you! And I want to save my friends! You want everything in the universe...but you haven't wanted anything as much as I want to save them RIGHT NOW!"
The light within the dome of his staff shifted to a bright orange, and the construct that erupted from it was a gigantic serpent straight out of Greek myth, zigging and zagging past the Orange Lanterns, knocking them astray. Larfleeze created a shield to defend himself, but the snake smashed so hard into it that it sent him flying back.
"And now it's time to finish the job!" Kyle said, summoning up his own construct - this one even bigger and mightier than anything before. It took the shape of a huge semi truck, zooming through the sky, crashing through Orange Lanterns like they were planks of wood.
Larfleeze aimed his fist at the Green Lantern's construct.
Which unfolded, transforming into a large, mechanical-looking robot.
Kyle smiled. "Transform and roll out, Larfleeze."
-DEX-STARR AND TINKERBELLE-
They had run out of bullets. The machetes were thrown into zombie heads. Resorted back to using their Lantern powers. Still more came.
Dex-Starr felt the unmistakable toll of his power slowly decreasing to zero. He needed to recharge. He looked over to Tinkerbelle and imagined she was feeling the same way.
They had to escape the burning city. Recharge their rings. Did they have enough power to fly to a safe place? Maybe -
Suddenly a red semi-truck barrelled out of nowhere down the street, smashing through the zombies, splattering blood all over the paint job.
And then, before Dex-Starr's amazed eyes, it unfolded, parts changing into legs and arms, forming a robot that towered over them all, shooting the zombies down with its massive battle rifle.
"Dex-Starr!" the robot said, when all the zombies were finally slain. "You must come with me. The fate of the universe depends on it!"
Who was this robot, Dex-Starr wondered. And, amazingly, it answered his question.
"My name is Optimus Prime. Leader of the Autobots, and protector of this planet."
The giant robot aimed its massive battle rifle at Larfleeze and pulled the trigger.
"NOOOOOOOOOO!" Larfleeze shouted. The blast crashed into him, hurtling across the landscape. So powerful was the attack that the Orange Lantern constructs fizzled before abruptly vanishing, and suddenly Serenity wasn't fighting with Kimberly anymore.
"KIMBERLY!" Derek shouted. He flew over to where she had appeared previously. "Where did she go? Kyle! What happened to her?"
Kyle soared over. "Derek..." He laid a hand on the Indigo Lantern's shoulder. "Larfleeze wasn't lying about it. The Orange Lantern absorbed her and her identity. She's nothing more than one of his constructs now. She's...technically, not even alive anymore."
Derek's eyes widened.
"I'm sorry," Kyle said. "Really, I am."
No. This couldn't be real. She couldn't...she couldn't be gone for good. Not after all he tried to do. Not after...
Derek squeezed his eyes shut. "No." He tasted the new tears as they ran into his lips. "Kimberly...no..."
A new pair of hands gently took him by the shoulders and pulled him into an embrace. Derek opened his eyes, and found himself once again in the arms of Serenity Harper.
"I'M...SORRY, Derek," Serenity said, the edge in her voice draining away. "This is my fault. Too much anger. Anger caused...this." Her blood bubbled through his robe.
"...no," Derek finally managed. "Don't blame yourself, Serenity. No one could have prevented this."
No matter how much he wished it to be true.
"You win THIS round, Lanterns!" Larfleeze suddenly declared, and the others all watched as he flew around them within speaking range. "But make no mistake...I WILL return and find my ring. And then..." He splayed opened his fingers, crushing them into a fist. "Then you will be MINE. Make no mistake of that."
Derek craned his head up as the sole, physical Orange Lantern exploded towards the sky and towards space.
"We have to stop him," he said after a few moments. "As long as he's around...more people will suffer like Kimberly did."
"We've been working on that." Kyle folded his arms. "It won't be easy, though. He's a one-man army. Literally."
"What if you united the other Lanterns?" Derek asked. "The Indigo Tribe, the Red Lanterns -"
"The Red Lantern Corps would never work with the Indigo Tribe or the Green Lantern Corps," Kyle said. "Not unless they thought Larfleeze was threatening them."
Derek's frown deepened. "Then...it's up to me, then."
"Up to us," Kyle said. "You're not alone. And hey..." He looked at Serenity. "For now, you've got one Red Lantern to help, at least."
"We have to cure her first. At least I can save her."
Serenity had turned away from them, looking out across the city landscape. The red aura surrounding her was tame now, but Derek figured at any moment it could flare up again. "...are you still with me, Serenity?"
"Yeah," she said. She turned back around. Her fists struggled not to attack. "Let's go."
Kyle waved a hand over his shoulder. "It's going to be a long ride, so we'd better get moving. We'll send a message to your folks along the way, Derek, since we can't exactly break now to go seek them out."
"Okay," Derek said.
The Lanterns shot off together at the clouds gathering in the distance. They began white, mixing to grey. Flashes of white rumbled within them. Derek found himself trying to ignore them and focus on the white and the sun still shining. Trying to drive Kimberly from his mind.
God had a plan. But he'd work as hard as he could within it. He'd save Serenity. Then Kimberly. He'd bring it all to rest.
But he still felt weighted down as he stared towards the light.
-DEX-STARR, TINKERBELLE, AND OPTIMUS PRIME-
Dex-Starr had traveled to many galaxies as a Red Lantern, but even he hadn't seen anything like this - a massive robot capable of transforming into a common Earth semi-truck. Now he and Tinkerbelle rode within the alien being's cab - the Green Lantern crawled on the dashboard while Dex-Starr curled up in the driver's seat. The steering wheel rotated on its own accord.
"I am from Cybertron," Optimus Prime explained, his voice reverberating from the walls of the cab itself. "Our people have been divided into two factions. As leader of the Autobots, I have dedicated my life to defeating the Decepticons, who want nothing more than to conquer the entire galaxy.
During our conflict, our most prized possession was lost - the Allspark. For many centuries we've hunted for it through the stars...until now. The Allspark is here, on Earth. We must prevent the Decepticons from capturing it...or all is lost."
If this Allspark was as powerful as Optimus Prime said...then the Red Lanterns had to have it, Dex-Starr concluded. With it they could easily become the most powerful Corps in the galaxy.
But Optimus Prime's next statement seemed intended to counter that. "I know that you are a Red Lantern...but I have been separated from my Autobot brothers. If the Decepticons were to get their hands on the Allspark, they will easily have the power to crush the Red Lantern Corps, or any Corps they may encounter. If you wish to save the future of your Corps...we must work together, for the moment."
Dex-Starr glanced up at Tinkerbelle. He was fine with that. For the moment.
The Orange Lantern construct formerly known as Kimberly Calvin soared above the city. Larfleeze had ordered it to search for the ring he had lost, and the construct followed dutifully, searching nooks and crannies most humans wouldn't bother to acknowledge.
Finally, the construct noticed it - a spark of orange light darting in the distance. The ring. The construct flew towards it at top speed.
The ring arced away from the construct, who in turn sped up to match its flight. They danced around the sky, bobbing and weaving, the ring eluding capture as if driven by a supernatural mind of its own.
The construct extended its hand, spreading thin fingers to gain extra reach.
It proved to be enough - the construct's middle finger slid through the loop of the fleeing ring, and it immediately quit struggling.
"KIMBERLY CALVIN OF EARTH," the ring intoned. "YOU WANT IT ALL."
A shining orange light geysered from the ring, engulfing the Orange Lantern construct and briefly casting the entire day in the colors of sunset.
-DEX-STARR, TINKERBELLE, AND OPTIMUS PRIME-
Laserfire suddenly rained on both sides of the truck as Optimus Prime drove through a city street thick with dry brown buildings and cafes. Optimus swerved, turning around mid-skid, and the cab door flew open. "Go! Quickly!"
As Dex-Starr leapt out of the truck cab with Tinkerbelle on his back, Optimus unfolded once again into his towering humanoid form. "Show yourself!"
"PRIME!" a raspy voice intoned, and from the roof of the tallest building on the street, another huge robot leapt down - silver and black armored, with a gigantic cannon attached to its right arm. Its feet embedded in the road as it landed with a force the size of an instant earthquake.
"Megatron," Optimus said.
Megatron sneered at Dex-Starr and Tinkerbelle. "Escorting house pets, Prime? You'll do anything to suck up to the humans."
"If it's a fight you want, Megatron," Prime said, "you'll get it!" His arm reached up for the battle rifle holstered on his back.
Megatron laughed. Even his laugh was rotten and rough. "It seems like you've forgotten to bring your troops, Prime! Fortunately...I didn't make that same mistake."
He raised a hand, and suddenly more robots emerged from hiding places, a multitude of different designs and weapons. "Decepticons...ATTACK!"
When Derek was five, he told his mom that he wanted to be an astronaut. As he got older, he let that idea go. Kids said that all the time - they wanted to be an astronaut or a doctor or the president. It was just a thing kids do.
This was the fourth time Derek looked back the Earth behind him.
"I never dreamed I would be able to do this," Derek said. The energy of the Indigo Tribe wrapped around him as he flew with the other Lanterns in space. Their own auras gave them protection from the vacuum as well.
"My friend Hal always wanted to be an astronaut, you know," Kyle said. "He didn't get into the program, but...well, let's just say he got the next best thing."
Derek looked at Serenity. She had just wiped the blood from her mouth, though it wouldn't be long before it began trickling down her lips again. "Gorgeous," she said. Still one word, but it was a quiet one. Looked like she would remain calm as long as Derek remained by her side.
"Anyway." Kyle turned back around and began flying, and as Derek and Serenity followed, the stars streaked by. "We're almost at the rendezvous point. We're just lucky Saint Walker is in this sector right now. He'll remove the red ring, I'll catch Serenity, and then I'll take you both home."
"Thanks, Kyle," said Derek.
"Just part of the job. Now let's..."
Kyle suddenly turned around, pointing his fist at the Earth. "...something's coming."
"Who is it?" Derek asked, tightening the grip around his staff.
"...an Orange Lantern."
-DEX-STARR, TINKERBELLE, AND OPTIMUS PRIME-
"You're MINE, Optimus!" one of the robots cackled. He aimed his arm-mounted laser at Optimus and fired, striking the Autobot in the chest before he could squeeze off a shot.
Dex-Starr and Tinkerbelle burst away from each other in a stream of light, charging towards the Decepticons. Dex-Starr landed on the robot's arm and vomited acid blood which bubbled as it ate through his metallic skin.
"M-Megatron!" the robot shouted. "These are no ordinary housepets!"
"Then quit whining and KILL them, Starscream!" Megatron said. He fired a massive blast of purple energy at the soaring Tinkerbelle, only for the Green Lantern to avoid it and cast a giant spider construct to tangle with the Decepticon leader.
"Laserbeak, eject," a blue Decepticon said with a synthesized voice. He pressed a button on his shoulder and his chest opened, firing a flat block of technology that unfolded into a robotic bird. "Operation: pursuit." Laserbeak swept towards Tinkerbelle and the two took their battle to the air, Tinkerbelle firing blasts of energy to counter the gunfire Laserbeak shot at her.
As Dex-Starr sent his roaring constructs into the Decepticon ranks, Optimus Prime confronted Megatron. They fired their weapons at each other until they had both rushed into melee range, resorting to grappling and trying to throw the other down.
"You...won't WIN, Megatron!" Optimus said.
"Make no mistake, Prime!" Megatron replied. "Today...you DIE!"
"Get ready," said Kyle, floating in front of Serenity and Derek. "It's approaching fast."
Derek brought his staff before him. Serenity moved up to his side. Her aura felt warm, like always, but now he felt even warmer. He would protect her. No matter what.
They heard something as the pinpoint of orange light swelled towards them. It sounded like...
"mine, mine, mine, Mine, Mine, MINE, MINE!"
"I know that voice," Derek said. "But...that's impossible. She's dead. You said she was dead!"
Kyle's brow furrowed. "I don't get it either. But it looks like we're about to find out how it happened."
The orange light burst up towards them and spiraled about like driving through a cylinder before the streak floated down in front of them and the aura faded in intensity.
Impossible. It was impossible.
"Derek!" Kimberly Calvin snapped. A copy of Larfleeze's Orange Lantern uniform stuck to her hips. "How DARE you? After all I've done for you, you run off with that... that HUSSY!"
Serenity growled and hunched over, rearing to attack. Derek's staff barred her from approaching. "You're alive," Derek said, staring at Kimberly. "I...I thought you were gone. How did..."
Kimberly held up her hand, revealing a glistening orange ring. "This ring brought me back to life. Don't know how...but it doesn't matter." She floated towards Derek, ignoring Kyle. "I've got a new lease on life again. And I want you to spend it with me, Derek. You...my fiance."
She hugged him. "My fiance. MINE." Her squeeze intensified. "Understand? MINE. No one else can have him! Not you!" She jutted her chin at Kyle. "And especially not YOU!" she said to Serenity.
"Get...OFF HIM," Serenity said.
"Serenity, no!" Derek said.
"He's MINE," Kimberly gushed. "And YOU can't have him. Oh, I've ALWAYS known you've wanted him, Serenity. But you can't. I'm the better woman. I deserve to take him from everyone else. Especially you, you trouble making SCUM!"
Serenity roared and tore Kimberly free from Derek, smashing her in the face with a barrage of punches.
-DEX-STARR, TINKERBELLE, AND OPTIMUS PRIME-
The Decepticons were powerful, but even the small force Megatron had gathered was no match for the Lanterns. Dex-Starr constantly pounded away with raging constructs while Tinkerbelle harassed Starscream and the other flyers resembling him.
"Keep it up!" Optimus said. He fired a blast at Megatron, who ducked into a nearby alleyway.
"Constructicons!" Megatron shouted, shaking his fist. "Combine!"
Six yellow-green construction vehicles of different types drove into the street and changed shape...but not into robots. Two became massive limbs and the others stacked onto them.
Dex-Starr's yellow eyes widened. They were forming an EVEN BIGGER ROBOT.
"I am DEVASTATOR!" the combined robot shouted, raising its huge rifle. "All Autobots must be DESTROYED!"
Tinkerbelle immediately attacked with a black widow construct, but even as it tried to attack Devastator, the immense robot simply ignored it. Instead it fired a blast at Tinkerbelle, splashing over the barrier the tarantula had erected and knocking her away.
"Not even your super powered allies can stop Devastator!" Megatron declared. "You're DOOMED, Optimus Prime!"
"Serenity, NO!" Derek shouted as the Red Lantern hammered on Kimberly.
"You can't have him!" Kimberly shouted. She kneed Serenity in the gut and she doubled over. "He's MINE! ALL MINE!" She reared back, summoning a massive, spiked mace construct. "I'll teach you to take what's MINE!"
The construct swung down, smashing into a shield made from indigo energy. "Don't hurt her!" Derek shouted, forcing the shield out to knock Kimberly back.
"Why are you defending her?" Kimberly demanded. "You don't want her, you want ME!"
"Not like that!" Derek said. "I'm trying to cure Serenity of the Red Lantern ring. If you take yours off, we can all go home! We can forget this whole thing had ever happened!"
Kimberly gasped. "Take it OFF? WHY? It's MY ring. No one else is getting it, especially not to YOU! In fact, you OWE me a ring if we're going to marry!"
"She's consumed by greed!" Kyle said. clenching his fist and flaring his aura. "We have to remove the ring if we're going to help her!"
"YOU WANT MY RING TOO?!" Kimberly snapped. She shot back, readying another construct. "You're all THIEVES and BETRAYERS! If you won't give me what I want, I'll just have to KILL you!"
Derek let out a long yell as Kimberly lashed her construct at them - a massive, streaking fighter jet. Immediately Kyle shot a blast to counter it, and with Serenity's own red blast, the construct scattered away. Serenity charged in soon after and tackled Kimberly again with a flying, double-fisted attack.
Derek charged in as well. Hang on, Kimberly. You're almost free. He'd see it through.
-DEX-STARR, TINKERBELLE, AND OPTIMUS PRIME-
Devastator quickly turned the tide of battle. Dex-Starr's aura was able to withstand the brunt of the robot's laser, but too much of those blasts and he knew it would be over. It became a game of hit and run, and with the other Decepticons bearing down on them with gunfire, it was a losing run.
"Decepticons superior," the blue robot monotoned. "Autobot inferior."
"Give up, Prime!" Megatron laughed. "It's over! You've lost!"
Optimus Prime squeezed off another shot and ducked behind his soon-to-be-unsafe corner of cover. "It will never be over, Megatron. Not as long as I or any Autobot stands to fight against you! Not as long as the promise of a peaceful future exists!"
"Very inspiring words. But foolish." Megatron pointed at the direction of the battle. "Finish it, Devastator."
Devastator roared and aimed his rifle right at Optimus Prime's hiding spot, ignoring the attacks of the small Lanterns.
"Don't give up!" Optimus said. "Keep fighting!"
Devastator pulled the trigger and fired a lancing beam of power at Optimus Prime.
"OPTIMUS PRIME OF CYBERTRON."
A pillar of blue light smashed into Optimus from above, diverting Devastator's attack into two stray beams.
"WHAT?" Starscream shouted.
The light faded, and Optimus Prime stood to his full height. The red and white portions of his body had shifted color into blue and black, respectively. He clenched one fist, burning with the power of a blue aura that surrounded his entire being.
"YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO INSTILL GREAT HOPE. WELCOME TO THE BLUE LANTERN CORPS."
Derek attacked Kimberly in unison. As Serenity punched Kimberly across the face - Derek winced at that one - the Indigo Lantern summoned chains to constrict around Kimberly. "Serenity, get the ring off her finger!"
But the Red Lantern wasn't listening. She struck Kimberly again, pummeling the Orange Lantern with blows.
"NO!" Derek shouted. "Serenity, STOP IT!"
"Get AWAY from me!" Kimberly said, lashing out her foot to catch Serenity in the midsection, forcing the Red Lantern to double over. With another shout she stretched out her arms, bursting free from Derek's chains. "After everything I've done for you and you let that scumbag ATTACK me, Derek? You OWE me for that!"
With that Kimberly swiped the air, summoning a construct - this one expanded into a large, sweeping dragon that charged at Derek. But a mighty blast from Kyle repelled it, and the Green Lantern flew to Derek's side. "Derek, you need to use the power of hope!"
"How do I do that?" Derek asked.
"Just...be hopeful for something! Anything! It's the only thing that can stop an Orange Lantern's greed, so maybe it'll calm her down, too!"
"You'll PAY for that!" Kimberly shouted, her dragon construct swirling around again as she fed it more energy. "You'll ALL pay! Starting with YOU, Serenity!"
Serenity reared back with a battle cry and fired an angry blast at Kimberly.
-DEX-STARR, TINKERBELLE, AND OPTIMUS PRIME-
Megatron took a step back as he beheld the burning force rising from Optimus Prime. "This power...it's nothing like anything I've ever felt before!"
Optimus took a step forward, and the remaining dust from Devastator's attack parted when confronted with the aura. "Megatron...it's over. You'll never defeat us. Not while we have a bright future to work towards."
"Crush him, Devastator!" Megatron commanded.
The massive Decepticon aimed his rifle again, but as Tinkerbelle swarmed around Optimus Prime with her own aura shining, the power invigorating the lone Autobot intensified. He raised a fist and unleashed a wide, blue burst at Devastator, the force enough to actually cause the great beast to stumble.
"Impossible!" Megatron said. "Soundwave! Deploy all of your cassettes! The rest of you...ATTACK!"
"Ravage, Frenzy, Rumble, eject," the blue robot called Soundwave said. More flat boxes shot from his open chest and unfolded, one into a panther-like robot and the others into smaller robots. "Operation: assault."
Dex-Starr flew back around to Optimus Prime's side, staying close to his shoulder. He never thought he'd see the day where he was working alongside a Blue Lantern again, not to mention a Green Lantern. Fate had strange companions, that was for sure.
Optimus Prime's hand flared open. "Lanterns... ROLL OUT!"
Serenity's energy blast crashed into Kimberly, staggering her. Once again the Red Lantern burst at the Orange Lantern, and the two erupted into a frenzied melee.
"I'll get that dragon!" Kyle said, soaring towards Kimberly's construct. "You get that ring!"
"Got it!" Focusing on Kimberly and Serenity, Derek shot towards them. He summoned a wall of force between the Lanterns that expanded and spread, forcing them apart.
"You again?" Kimberly fired a blast at Derek, who flew to the side to dodge it. "WHY are you helping her? She just wants you all for herself! Don't you SEE that?"
Derek charged the end of his staff, pointing it at the Orange Lantern. "Maybe she does, but I don't care! All I want now is to free you both from those rings! And if you won't take it off willingly...I'll snatch it by force!"
Kimberly spread her arms out, glaring at Derek. "You're really doing everything possible to tick me off today. If you weren't such a hunk, I'd get rid of you in a heartbeat."
That wasn't really her. The ring was just making her act that way. Derek tightened his grip, sized her up. The power of hope...what could he hope for that would be strong enough to save Kimberly?
The hope of saving her. The hope of helping Serenity make a better life for herself. The hope of becoming a pastor, helping others who came to him try to make peace with themselves. The hope of a happy life.
He had tons of stuff to fight for.
-DEX-STARR, TINKERBELLE, AND OPTIMUS PRIME-
The Decepticons had no defense against the attacks of the Prime Corps. Ravage, the panther-robot, was quickly swept aside by one of Dex-Starr's wildcat constructs - something he relished. Starscream careened into a water tower from the blow of one of Tinkerbelle's constructs. And Optimus Prime himself took to the air, littering Devastator with energy blasts that the giant couldn't handle.
"DIE, Autobot!" Devastator roared, swinging his gigantic fist at the Blue Lantern. Optimus easily arced over the swing and raised his fist, firing up a blast that reformed into a towering construct - another massive robot made out of others like Devastator, but with a fundamentally different shape.
"SUPERION!" Devastator brought up his hands and grappled with the airborne construct.
"And with that taken care of..." Optimus looked down at Megatron. "It's time to finish this, Megatron."
"This changes NOTHING!" Megatron fired his arm cannon over and over, blasts harmlessly bouncing off of the Blue Lantern aura. "I am MEGATRON! I will not fall to the likes of YOU!"
Optimus Prime chambered his fist. "In fearful day, in raging night...with strong hearts full, our souls ignite..." His blast sliced through Megatron's arm cannon with ease. "When all seems lost in the War of Light..."
Optimus Prime raised his hand and unleashed a magnificent field of blue energy, engulfing the surrounding area. Details vanished within its field. "Look to the stars - For hope burns bright!"
Kimberly gestured - the dragon Kyle struggled with vanished as she casting a row of warhammers, all aimed at Derek. "Last chance, Derek. Stop this now and we can go home. And I'll even let you buy me lunch! Even though it's MY money we're using anyway."
Just ignore her. Focus on the goal. "Bring it on," Derek said.
Kimberly scoffed...and then was promptly tackled by Serenity again. It was enough for the horde of hammers to shoot directly at Derek.
The Indigo Lantern flew towards them, even as they arced to hunt him down. Hope.
He soared up and over one, winced as another grazed him. Hope!
He shot towards Kimberly and Serenity brawling, even as one of the hammers coursed into his leg and pain exploded up towards his knee. Hope!
With a battle cry, he forced the staff at the two fighting Lanterns, and it shone a brilliant blue, bursting out into a field of raw blue power.
For a few dragging moments, all Derek could perceive was that blue power. He couldn't make out the stars, the Earth...Kimberly or Serenity or Kyle. Yet he felt a great sense of relief wash over him, his body tingling, then relaxing to total calm.
It lasted until the light faded and reality remained standing.
"Derek!" Kyle called out, and Derek glanced up at Kyle. "Quick, catch them in a force field!"
Derek spun around and fired a beam from his staff, which wrapped around the comatose Kimberly and Serenity, creating an atmosphere that would help them survive in space.
"Not bad," Kyle said, flying back down to Derek's side. "You're a natural. Some Green Lanterns wish they were as smooth as you are."
Derek smiled. "Thanks." He looked at Kimberly, floating on her side. "Now, lemme just get this ring while I can..."
He passed his free hand into the aura and cautiously placed his fingers on Kimberly's ring. He expected her to leap up at any moment like one of those screaming horror movies. Back and forth he managed the ring off of her finger. Careful. Careful.
Finally his hand broke free, and the ring burst up with a flash of power, soaring out into the cosmos of space. "Got it!" Derek laughed. "Hey, Kimberly!" He passed his hand back into the aura and nudged her on the shoulder. "Kimberly, wake up! I got the ring off! It's over!"
Serenity's eyes flashed open and she tensed, rearing to strike. Then she saw Derek's face and the rage suppressed itself again. "...what happened?" she asked.
"I got the ring off Kimberly!" Derek said. "She's gonna be fine! She's alive again, Serenity! She's alive!"
"I am glad you have resolved the situation. I feared I would be too late."
Derek turned around as a blue light sparked close to them, revealing another Lantern. He was pole thin, his dull white head ending in a curving tentacle that flowed behind him. He cropped his fingers near his waist, hands upside down. "Greetings, Lanterns."
"Saint Walker." Kyle flew up to the alien and briskly shook his hand. "Glad you could make it."
"I was approaching just as this Indigo Lantern cast an aura of hope," Saint Walker said. "I was told that you were with a Red Lantern that needed to be cured...but I never expected that you would be battling Larfleeze."
"It's not Larfleeze." Derek floated to the side, revealing Kimberly. "It's...my girlfriend. Kimberly Calvin. She somehow got her hands on one of the orange rings."
"Unexpected. Has it been removed?"
"Yeah. It sped off before I could catch it."
Saint Walker floated closer and brought forth his ring - the Blue Lantern ring, Kyle had told Derek. Derek let his Indigo Lantern power fade from Kimberly as Saint Walker cast a new force field around her.
"Kyle said you could heal injuries," Derek said. "Can you heal hers?"
Saint Walker's wide lips sank. "...she is already dying, Lantern."
"Her body has suffered far too much damage to sustain itself for longer," Saint Walker said. "She is not long for this world."
"Th-that's impossible!" Derek said. "The ring brought her back to life! She shouldn't be dying AGAIN!"
Kyle raised a finger. "Wait. Walker... before Kimberly became an Orange Lantern, her body was absorbed by Larfleeze's battery. Somehow the ring gave her her body back. You think there's a connection?"
"I believe so," Saint Walker said. "Perhaps the ring returned her physical form, but was the only thing keeping that form sustained. Without it...she will cease."
Derek laid his hands on his face. His body quaked, his fingers twitching, his skin suddenly feeling cold. "No...not again...not again..."
Derek gasped as Kimberly's eyes batted open. "KIMBERLY!" His hands forced through Saint Walker's aura and took Kimberly by the shoulders. "Are you okay? Speak to me!"
"I can speak... but... I'm not okay," Kimberly said. "I heard everything... and I feel it happening."
"Hang on!" Derek said. "We'll find you someone that can fix this! Saint Walker's a healer, or maybe Kyle can find someone who can save you! Just HANG IN THERE!"
"...don't bother," Kimberly said. Her voice got quieter by the second. "It's too late, Derek. I'm a goner. Nothing...nothing anyone can do about it."
"Don't talk like that." It was all Derek could do to hold back the building sadness. "Please. Don't talk like that."
Kimberly tilted her head with obvious effort, to look at Serenity. "Sorry...for everything I said. Everything...I thought about you. You're...not scum. You're...you..." She paused for a long moment and Derek thought she had passed right then and there. "...you deserve better."
Serenity said nothing. Just lifted a hand, pressed it against the aura surrounding her, palm facing Kimberly.
"...I love you, Derek." Kimberly wasn't crying, but she seemed like she was about to.
Derek bent forward, his head and shoulders passing coldly into Saint Walker's aura, and he brought Kimberly into an embrace. "I love you too," he said. He stroked her hair. "So much."
He could tell her body was slowly dissolving into dust. Dust tipped his fingers until it blew free by some invisible wind, escaping Saint Walker's aura and floating into deep space. He looked once, then closed his eyes, continuing to hold her.
He held her even after she had completely disintegrated, his arms still locked in place, like he was trying to hold onto her memory.
-DEX-STARR, TINKERBELLE, AND OPTIMUS PRIME-
The Decepticons lay scattered. The buildings surrounded them were cracked and bruised, but they still stood. Devastator lay in pieces, the robots making up his limbs blown aside by Optimus Prime's ultimate attack.
Optimus Prime's aura calmed down as the Autobot leader landed on the street. "It's over." He looked to Tinkerbelle, who settled on his boxy shoulder. "You fought well, Green Lantern." Then he looked to Dex-Starr, who landed near his feet. "You as well."
"Optimus Prime," a voice intoned. The Autobot turned around to see a thin alien floating down before him in a blue and black uniform. "I am Saint Walker. Welcome to the Blue Lantern Corps."
"Are you the one who gave me this power?" Optimus asked.
"Yes," Saint Walker said. "Normally there is an evaluation, but time is of the essence. You must come with me. After you speak with the leaders of the Blue Lantern Corps, we will help you find your Autobot brothers and locate the Allspark."
"Thank you, Saint Walker," Optimus said.
"Dex-Starr," Saint Walker said to the Red Lantern. "I realize we are enemies, but judging by your actions here today, I would like to part as friends. At least for the moment."
The Red Lantern flew up and began sailing into the air. This changed nothing. He still hated the enemy Lanterns. Atrocitus would find what he was looking for... and then he would crush them all. It was only a matter of time.
Dex-Starr soared back down and lifted his paw to Tinkerbelle. The tarantula touched it with the end of her hairy leg.
One last brofist for the road.
It should be raining during a funeral. It felt appropriate.
Not a cloud lined the sky today. The sun hammered down as Pastor Calvin spoke, then the others in the prayer club. When Derek spoke he saw Serenity in the back of the audience, her eyes focused on something in her lap. She didn't own a single stitch of black clothing - the black dress Lori gave her fit like a garbage bag.
It took until the reception before Derek could approach her. She hung near the edge of the patio, hanging onto a plastic cup of water. Her mom dropped her off but didn't stick around. "Hey," he said.
"Hey," Serenity said.
"How are you holding up?"
Serenity took a small sip of her water. Her middle finger was bare again. "Felt sick for a few days but it cleared up. I didn't think how badly that ring could mess me up. Good thing Saint Walker removed it when he did."
The pause stretched beyond comfort.
"Look," Serenity finally said. She reached out over the grass and poured out the cup. "I've been thinking a lot ever since I came back. I've been meaning to tell you something, but with all the cleanup and the funeral, it's been hard."
Derek knew she was living at a hotel until the government could rebuild her house - Kyle helped convince some people, he was told. "What is it?"
"I'm fucked up. Uh...screwed up. Sorry."
"Point is that I need help." The girl faced Derek - that dress was probably the most feminine thing he had ever seen her wore, and it looked out of place. "I...I want to clean up. Start over. I don't know if God's the answer, but I don't even give a shit. I want to change."
Serenity looked away from Derek, batted away a strand of hair. "And I wanted to know if you'd help me. I'll join the prayer club if it's what it takes, but I just want some help...figured you were the guy to go to for that."
For the first time in weeks, a smile crept onto Derek's face. "You don't have to join the prayer club, Serenity."
He held out a hand towards her. "Last time I checked, you don't have to be a Christian to help someone. You know?"
Serenity matched Derek's smile. "Thanks, Derek. I knew you weren't such a bad guy."
Derek walked out to the patio's edge with Serenity, and they both looked up towards the sun, always burning bright. Even now, the power of the Indigo Lantern churned through him, ready to leap into action at a moment's notice. God had given him a powerful gift. He would use it to fight for Serenity, for everyone else that needed a guiding light in the world. No matter what threatened them, no matter how dark it got...he would be the torch that saw them through.
He raised his cup to the sky, then took a drink. It finally felt warm again.
"See you soon, Kim. I love you."
Of course fapfics were made, it's traditionally storytimed on 4chan.
- So as I storytimed Serenity (and even as the first few storytimes before I picked it up were going on), I, and probably some others, knew that the end of Serenity would blow ass and would need to be salvaged somehow. And so I wrote the GOOD END. I'm satisfied with it, though maybe it feels a little preachy toward the end. I never really like the notion of sticking original characters into fanworks (not that this is particularly "sacred"), but I just felt that our characters here should probably hear everything wrong with the situation that we've been screaming through the computer screen for a week. So, I present my gift to you, the ones who sat through the storytimes of a painfully mediocre Christian manga, and grew attached to certain characters, even though you probably shouldn't have. Myself included.
What are you supposed to do when what you believe conflicts with who you are? It’s a question Lori Martin has asked herself several times. Yet no matter how often she asks or how hard she prays, she can’t reconcile it. It has been eating away at her for so long that she thinks she is going to have a breakdown soon.
So, Lori finds herself at the office door of Pastor Calvin, Kimberly’s father and the head of the church’s youth group. If anyone can answer this question, it would be him.
“Okay, deep breath.” Lori has never been so nervous in her life. She has never told anyone what kind of person she is, not even her mother. How could she? No one would ever accept her. She knocks on the door.
“Come in.” Another deep breath.
She opens the door to find Pastor Calvin talking to Kimberly. Ah right, the two came here after the meeting to discuss something.
“Ah, hello Lori.” Pastor Calvin puts on his usual smile. “Is there something you needed?”
“Y-yes. There was something I wanted to…” She’s beginning to feel sick with nervousness. “to talk to you about.”
Calvin’s face becomes more serious. He can clearly see something is bothering Lori. “Kimberly, can you step out for a moment?”
“Uh, sure.” Kimberly obliges her father’s request, but there is no hiding the curiosity on her face. She steps out of the office and closes the door behind her.
“Now, what’s the matter, Lori?”
Lori’s heart is beating faster than ever before, her sweat is ice cold. “I…I’m…” There’s no going back now. “I’m g-g-gay…”
There is none of the relief she expected from getting it out of the open. No weight lifting from her shoulders. Now, all she can think about is what he has to say.
“I see.” Calvin breathes a deep sigh. “And how have you been dealing with this?”
“W-well, I’ve been trying not to think about it. But when I do, I always pray to God to take those thoughts away from me,” Lori appears to be on the verge of tears. “To…to make me…normal...”
“So you’ve been trying to change your behavior and stop having these sinful thoughts?”
“Yes! Of course!”
The smile returns to Pastor Calvin’s face. “Then you needn’t worry, Lori. God loves you, as he loves all of His children, and he’ll be with you every step of the way. Just keep at it, and I’m sure you’ll change for the better. Now, I have to attend to a few matters at hand, but if you need any more help, just come to me.”
The weight is gone. A relieved smile fills Lori’s face. “Thank you! I promise I’ll do my best to change!” Lori strides out of the office with a newfound confidence. She heads to exit the church, but before she makes it to the front door, someone calls out to her.
“Hey Lori, wait up!” It’s Kimberly. She has a serious look on her face.
Oh no, she’s heard everything, Lori thinks. “Uh…hi Kimberly. What’s up?”
“I just wanted to talk to-“
“You heard everything, didn’t you?” Lori’s eyes are welling up with tears. She’ll never be able to live this down, not with Kimberly knowing.
Kimberly shifts her eyes guiltily. “I just want to talk, okay? Are you going to be online tonight? I don’t think we’ll be able to talk here.”
Lori is ambivalent, but she convinces herself that she might as well hear what Kim has to say. After all, she’d never be able to get through this without support from her friends. They were able to help Serenity, right?
When Lori gets home, she takes a shower, then immediately starts her computer. Once again, she is incredibly nervous. What would Kimberly want to talk about? Lori sighs.
“Well, at least she didn’t seem totally disgusted with me.”
She logs on, only to find Kimberly already on.
- K: Hey Lori
- L: Um, hi
- K: I’m sorry for eavesdropping. I was curious…
- L: It’s okay. What did you want to talk about?
- K: I sorta figured you were, uh, gay, awhile ago.
- L: What? Really?
- K: Yeah. You like Serenity, right?
Lori’s heart jumps straight to her throat. How did Kimberly find out? Was I really that obvious?
- L: Erm…yeah. How did you know?
- K: You barely hid it, honestly.
- L: Ah…
If there was one thought she wanted to drive out of her head, it was her feelings for Serenity. She didn’t expect it to happen, but the more Lori hung out with Serenity, the more she liked her. Lori genuinely cared for her, and underneath her rough exterior, Lori saw something beautiful.
- K: I don’t mind at all. You’re my friend, and if that’s who you are, I’m okay with it.
- L: Geez, I didn’t think you could be so heartfelt :P
Lori’s relieved at this development. “But does this mean Kimberly doesn’t want to change me?” she thinks aloud.
- K: I…just want to make up for the kind of person I’ve been. Especially to Serenity. I don’t think what my dad told you was right. You shouldn’t have to change who you are. God still loves you.
- L: But I thought it was a sin to be like…how I am.
- K: Look, there’s someone I want you to talk to. Serenity too. I don’t think she should be a part of my dad’s group anymore. You know the big community center?
- L: Yeah
- K: Go there and ask for Julie. She’s helped me out a lot lately.
- L: I’ll check it out thanks.
- K: Also you should tell Serenity how you feel
- -Kimberly has signed off-
- L: Wait what?
“Agh, dangit Kimberly!” Lori has absolutely no idea how she’s supposed to do something like that, or even if she should.
What is it about doors that make a person want to throw up? Lori ponders this as she wills herself to ring Serenity’s doorbell. All that anticipation. Who would answer the door? Serenity? Ms. Harper? She hopes it’s the latter. It will give her just a little more time to compose herself. But then she’d have to go up to Serenity’s room. Another door. Ugh. Lori has been incredibly nervous all day long, to the point of avoiding Serenity at school.
Her hand moves practically on its own out of impatience. Ding dong. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Lori mutters to herself. What am I doing to do? What am I going to say? Oh God I hope I’m not sweating too much. The door opens.
“Oh, hello there, Lori.” It’s Ms. Harper. “Come on in. Serenity’s up in her room.”
It used to be that Lori was always nervous about coming to Serenity’s house. Her mother was always touchy and tended to fight with Serenity a lot, but it seems that the two of them helped each other become better people. Lori now quite likes coming to Serenity’s house. She could even see herself spending the ni-
Her face is now bright red.
“Serenity! Lori’s here!” she calls to Serenity.
“Okay!” Serenity pops her head out of her room. “Heya Lori.”
“A-ah…hey Serenity.” There’s absolutely no way Lori can hide her nervousness. So much for composure.
As Lori heads up and into Serenity’s room, Serenity cocks her head quizzically. “What’s been up with you today? You were acting totally weird at school, and you sounded really shaky over the phone.”
“Uh, yeah. You sound shaky NOW, too. What’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Serenity closes the door behind Lori. “You uh, didn’t see a ghost, did you?”
“Wh-what? No, of course not.” Is she…scared of ghosts? Ack, no, that’s not important! “There’s just been…something on my chest lately, and I just wanted to let it out…”
“Oh! Is there a guy you like or something?”
“Er…not exactly.” Did Serenity really have no clue? Was Kimberly setting me up? She had a tendency to be mean to Serenity, but Lori doubted she’d involve someone else.
“So what is it? You’re getting me all worried.”
Deep breath. “You’re my friend right?”
Serenity seems pretty startled. “What kind of question is that? Of course! You’re like, the best friend I’ve ever had!”
Deep breath. “And if I told you something…weird about myself, you wouldn’t be really creeped out?”
Now she’s looking fairly concerned. “Unless you stabbed someone or something, I think we’ll be alright. C’mon, what’s wrong?”
Deeeeeeep breath. “I’m gay.” Lori braces herself. There’s no way she’ll be okay with this. She’s going to think I’m such a weird person. I’m going to lose my best fr-
“Oh. That’s it?”
-iend. Wait, “That’s it?”
“Uh, yeah. That’s it. Compared to the kind of people I hung around with before I moved here, that’s probably the least weird ‘weird’ thing you could’ve told me.”
Lori breathes an unbelievably huge sigh of relief. “You have no idea how much this has been bothering me lately. Thanks for being so cool with it.”
A bright smile spreads across Serenity’s face. “Like I said, you’re my best friend. There’s no way I’d let something like that change anything.”
“But it’s a sin, right? I shouldn’t be having these sorts of thoughts, right?”
Serenity thinks for a moment, then responds, “Hm. I usually ask Pastor Calvin about this kind of stuff.”
“I did go to him, actually. He told me that as long as I want to change, and keep trying, God would be there to help me.”
“Yeah, well…It’s not like you’re hurting anyone, right? I mean…I dunno, it just doesn’t seem right. This crap’s really complicated sometimes.” Serenity’s now in deep thought.
“Well, there’s someone else I can talk to. Er, Kimberly recommended someone to me.”
And now Serenity’s genuinely surprised. “Kimberly? What?”
“Yeah. I guess she’s been having issues with her dad lately. She wanted you to come too. I think she feels bad for being so mean to you.”
“Huh, weird.” Serenity still seems a little confused. “I guess that makes sense. She HAS been acting nicer lately. Hmm…” After a moment of awkward silence, Serenity’s face lights up, as if she’s remembered something.
“Oh! So, uh. Is there anyone that you, er…like?”
Lori’s face immediately flushes red. She quickly breaks eye contact, and the only things coming out of her mouth are a series of stammering syllables. After Serenity watches for a moment, a white sheet of realization hits her face.
Ah, now there are two red faces.
And so Lori and Serenity are driving to the community center. It’s an awkward drive punctuated by awkward glances and the sort of awkward small talk typical of these awkward situations.
After arriving at the community center, the two head inside. It seems like today’s activities have mostly ended, as it’s mostly empty inside, and those who are still here are packing up to leave. They approach a man tidying the area up, since he seems like he works here.
“Uh, hi. Do you know someone named Julie?” Lori asks the man.
He turns to face them and responds “Julie? She’s out grabbing some food. We’re usually here pretty late helping clean up, and if you’ve eaten the food here once, you’ve eaten it a million times. She should be back any minute though.” He suddenly smiles and snaps his fingers. “Oh! You must be Lori and Serenity, right? She told me she was expecting a couple of young ladies.”
“Yup, that’s us.” Serenity answers. “Er, who are you?”
“My name’s Thomas. I head the center’s religious group. We’re a little…unorthodox, in that we accept pretty much anyone in. Of course, it’s mostly made up of Christians, but since there aren’t any synagogues in this town and the local mosque is like a half-hour drive out, I wanted to create a place where other religions are welcome also. We do a lot of debates and discussions, and you tend to learn a lot. It’s a lot of fun, and I think the two of you would enjoy it.”
Before either of them can respond, a girl somewhat older than them enters holding a couple of bags.
“Jesus, Tom. You don’t waste any time trying to recruit them, do you?”
“It’s my job, deal with it,” he says jokingly.
“Hello there, girls. I’m Julie. I understand Kimberly wanted me to talk to the two of you, so let’s get right to it. I actually just graduated from your high school last year, so I think I know a little bit about the situation there. Let’s start with you, Serenity. From what I’ve been told, when you showed up, you were pretty much a textbook ‘bad-girl,’ right?”
“Yeah…but thanks to Lori and the others, I’ve really improved myself a lot! They got me away from a lot of awful things that I used to do.” Serenity has always been grateful to her friends for helping her to be a better person.
“And you know what? That’s fantastic. I’m honestly happy for you. But the problem is how they go about trying to change people.”
“What do you mean?” Serenity can’t exactly think of anything wrong that they did.
“When you first arrived, how did they go about trying to improve you?”
“Hmm…” Serenity tries to recall the events of the past year. “Well, after they saw how obnoxious I was, I guess I became their ‘pet project.’ I think that’s what they said.”
“Pffhahaha oh wow. Oh man. I’m sorry.” Julie tries to stifle her laughter, mostly succeeding. “NO ONE does that. From my experience – and really, I thought this was just common sense – if you’re trying to improve someone, all you need to do is be a good friend. It doesn’t have to be a project or something. Keep going.”
Lori seems noticeably bothered by Julie’s reaction. I was just doing what I thought was right…right?
“Let’s see. The next big thing was after I wrecked Kimberly’s car. I didn’t want to pay for the damage so…they gave me the silent treatment for four days until I came around.” It appears that even Serenity can see the problem with this.
“Uh. I’m not even sure what to say to that. So, did this get you to help pay?”
“Uh, at first I tried to find another group, but none of them would have me since I was ‘with those Christians,’ so after that…well actually I talked to Mr. Grandy and he ended up convincing me I should pay.”
“Yeah, talking tends to work pretty well.”
And now Lori’s starting to act fairly fidgety.
“I guess what really got me to change is I was told that they loved me – as Christians, I guess – but they didn’t really ‘like’ me.”
Julie is completely caught off guard. “Ouch, jeez! Who says something like that?”
Lori’s eyes are firmly rooted to the ground. She’s able to squeak out an “I’m sorry,” but not much else.
Julie sighs. “Look, I know you all just wanted what’s best for Serenity, but this is the kind of stuff that can really mess a person up. Not the least of which is trying to force a definite part of yourself away, might I add.”
Looks like it’s my turn now, Lori thinks. “I’m just trying to be a better Christian! I just want to live according to God’s word, so I pray, and I try to change myself –“
“And you’re miserable. All you’re doing is hurting yourself.”
Lori can’t hold back anymore. She’s sobbing uncontrollably. “I j-just…don’t know wh-what I should do…” Serenity puts an arm around her to comfort her.
Julie continues, “Do you know why God hasn’t been answering those prayers?” She puts her hand on Lori’s head and offers a warm smile. Lori tries to settle herself and looks up. “It’s because God loves you just the way you are. This is how He created you, and you can’t change that anymore than you can change the color of your eyes. Sure you can hide it, but it’ll always be there.”
“I…I don’t know. It’s all so confusing…” Lori has mostly settled down.
“Just give it some thought, alright? I’ve seen plenty of people in your position who completely broke down, and I don’t want that happening to you. Sleep on it, and if you’d like, you two should come to a meeting tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow’s Saturday, so we have a meeting at noon,” Thomas adds. “We won’t hold it against you if you don’t come, but I think it’d be nice to have you girls here.”
“I’ll…think about it. Thanks for talking to us.”
“Not a problem. You’re welcome here any time.”
Lori and Serenity leave the center to head back home.
“Well, that was definitely interesting.” After a mostly silent drive, they arrive at Serenity’s house.
“Y-yeah.” Lori forces a smile, but what Julie said has been bothering her. “Hey…um, I’m really sorry for how we treated you in the beginning…and later on…”
“It’s fine, really. I’m totally okay now, and you’ve been my very best friend ever since.” Serenity gives Lori her brightest smile. “And I think we should go back tomorrow.”
“Yeah. I mean, when I’m talking to Pastor Calvin, I’m always kinda confused, and sometimes his explanations don’t really make any sense. But the things they were saying probably made more sense than anything else I’ve heard since I started trying to be a Christian.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. I don’t think I’d mind going there again.”
“And, uh…” Serenity gulps. She’s looking uncharacteristically nervous. “I was wondering…if it was okay with you, if after the meeting we sorta…um…went on a date. Or whatever…”
Lori’s face quickly reddens. “Wh-what!? I-I mean…y-yeah! If…if that’s wh-what you want, er, I mean…uh.”
As Lori fumbles around with her words, Serenity takes a deep breath, puts her hand around the back of Lori’s head, pulls her closer, and presses her lips to Lori’s. After lingering for practically an eternity, Serenity begins to pull away (after planting one more quick kiss). She smiles and says, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Uh…y-yeah. S-seeya…tomorrow…” Serenity exits the car and heads inside, though not before turning around and flashing one more smile.
Lori spends the next five minutes composing herself in her car. She can barely overcome the wave of bliss in order to put the car back in gear.
Lori is happier than she’s ever been in her entire life.
Lori sighed as she lay in bed. What was wrong with her? She had helped Serenity through a rough patch in her relationship with God and now Serenity was back to the being the little bundle of blue haired energy Lori and the rest of the Prayer Club had known. So why did Lori still feel miserable? She saw Serenity at her worst: the color drained from her hair much like the spirit and zest for life had been drained from her very being. It made Lori miserable. Seeing her friend reduced to that state, trying to be something she wasn't... and it was all Lori's fault! It was, wasn't it? She's the one who told Serenity that the group loved her but didn't like her, the one who gave her advice that ultimately led her down the path herself and Sally had to help bring her back from.
It pained Lori so much to see Serenity like that. This wasn't the girl who had caught her attention on the first day of school, the girl she had many late night chat sessions about faith with. The girl that she... Lori sat up in bed. The girl that she what? The girl that she... no. No not that. Those thoughts were there once more, the thoughts she had been taught by her parents, by Pastor Calvin, by the word of God itself that would make her shunned. An outcast. A sinner with an express ticket to Hell.
She sat up in bed remembering what Sally had told Serenity; that God doesn't want you to not be you. Actively suppressing that energy, that spunkiness, that quality that made Serenity Serenity had turned the poor girl into a moping, dour shell. And Lori realized that she was no better. Were Sally's words right? Would God want her to be who she truly was It was a part of her that had become impossible to ignore since meeting Serenity. It was a part of her she could no longer ignore. It was a part of her she had to confront.
She looked at the alarm clock: 9:17 PM. Not particularly late plus it was a Friday. Serenity wouldn't mind right? Lori grabbed her phone and looked through her contacts list until she found Serenity's cell number and gave her a call.
She arrived at Serenity's house not long afterwards. She had told Serenity she had things she needed to talk to her about. Things she had needed to get off her chest. Serenity, perhaps showing a bit of wisdom, suggested Lori come over and stay the night so they could talk at length about what was bothering her in a way that was more in-depth than a simple phone call, online chat or even a visit. It was a bit of a sell to Lori's parents but they relented.
She was pleasantly surprised to see Serenity greet her at the door and invite her back to her room. She was glad Lori called, she said. Her mom was working late and she had nothing to do so she was feeling a bit bored. As they sat on the bed in Serenity's room Serenity looked at her with those large, soulful eyes. Eyes so full of light, of life... of love. She asked what it was Lori wanted to talk about.
Lori, almost as if unable to control herself, began spilling her guts about the things she had said to Serenity. About the things she and the rest of the Prayer Club had done to her. That she knows she had hurt Serenity and caused her pain and grief and that it was a feeling that still haunted her. Serenity just laughed and shook her head. Lori had nothing to worry about, she told her. She knew that when she truly needed it Lori had been there for her. The past is the past and what's done is done. Serenity had to experience the lowest of lows to emerge a better person and with the help of her faith and her friends she knew she would be able to do it.
Lori breathed a sigh of relief happy that Serenity felt no ill will towards her. But there was something else she needed to talk about, she said. It was about feelings she was having for another person. Feelings she was having trouble denying. Serenity perked up at this. Who was the lucky guy, she asked? Was it someone from their group? Another boy at school? Ooooh maybe it was some hunky college boy!
Lori laughed but shook her head. No no, this was nobody that they knew, no other boy at school, not even a college boy. It was feelings that she had learned to repress. Feelings that she was told would get her in trouble. But much like Serenity, she realized that some times you have to walk through Hell to reach Heaven. That you could be yourself while still living your life in service to Him.
"I think... no, I KNOW I'm in love, Serenity." Lori stated, firm in her belief. "Serenity Harper, I'm in love with YOU."
Serenity was taken aback. Had she heard her friend right? She was in love with... HER? Lori noticed Serenity's reaction and blushed furiously. Had she messed up? Had she ruined her relationship with Serenity? She apologized profusely to Serenity but to her surprise the girl just started to laugh. That was it? THAT was her big secret?
Lori didn't understand. She wasn't uncomfortable? She wasn't surprised? Serenity shrugged her shoulders. People are gay. It happens. She knew gay people back in L.A. She'd even experimented a few times herself during her wilder days. It was Lori's turn to be taken aback. To drop such a thing so casually... was Serenity really this brazen? And what about Derek she asked. Serenity waved the question off. Derek was exclusive, she knew that, and she knew that getting over him was the first step towards getting on good terms with Kimberly.
But what about... what about what the revelation, Lori asked? She was sure Serenity was straight and if she was it would be alright but it was something Lori had to tell her. She had to come to terms with it. Serenity just shrugged. She'd experimented with girls, never said whether those experiments were successful or not. This didn't change things between them, however.
Serenity grabbed the remote and flipped the TV on to one of the movie channels. A goofy romantic comedy. It'd make good background noise. She laid her head on Laurie's chest and smiled. It didn't change anything between them for now. In the future though who knows? You've got me, I've got you and we've got each other she said with a yawn, her eyes slowly closing.
Lori smiled. Serenity was right. Whether friends or whether more the two of them had each other and that was good enough for Lori to know that she had done the right thing. That God truly did love her for who she was.