How Many 'What If's'

November 21, 2017:

Kyle and Soranik meet again and discuss what is needed in the up and coming conflict against the Red Lanterns.

Soranik Natu emitted by Starfire

Near Earth Orbit - The Final Frontier

Below, the planet Earth dominates the view. Farther out, the Moon
can be seen like a white marble in the blackness of space surrounding the
planet… when its not hidden by the planet's bulk, itself. The denizens of
Earth have been quite busy in the last half-century, or so, filling the
skies above their planet with technological marvels — space stations and
satellites orbit at various altitudes, most of them concentrating on
watching life on the planet below. Some few, however, turn their gaze
outward, looking for signs of life beyond this quiet backwater of the
galaxy.

Characters

NPCs: Soranik Natu Iolande

Mentions: Hal Jordan

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

** The Interceptor: **

Hal returned with Kyle after the battle over Metropolis on Earth, he was carried in a protective shell of Green light before Hal, and even before the hatch could open to permit them entry Soranik and Iolande, in their garb of Yellow and Green - side by side, exit to meet them. Words are exchanged, a loss to space and time while the red-skinned hand bearing a yellow ring barely sweeps a touch over the construct and exchanges the weight from Hal to herself. Head lowers, the black strands now hanging in whisps nearly to her jawline shadow parts and hide the closure of lids in the light bow. When Soranik looks up, though, the turn of her eyes to Iolande meets the magenta skinned woman's own.

No words, but an unspoken exchange that only is answered with a slow lift of Iolande's chin.

Setor 1417 - Betrassus:

"…This is not over, nowhere close, Soranik! They have hidden, Atrocitus has remained nearly silent for how long?!? Now… Earth? They are making a point!" Iolande's voice fades with her pace back and forth on the balcony, the cloak hanging around her Green Lantern uniform billowing like the drapes hanging between them and Kyle, where he was laid upon the bed, face down, and the required gear for Soranik is in place and already set, awaiting the final delivery to begin the process again.

"I know, I know! I will not stay long, I cannot take him to my planet, nor to Oa, Hal explained that, I agree…" Soranik hold her hands up in a silent plea with Iolande, her friend in Green to her Yellowm and Queen of this planet.

"I cannot risk my people, Soranik…" Her voice softens only slightly. "Be quick." The relent, the lowering of her tone even let's Sora know, she doubts this is going to escape the Guardians…

They are all on borrowed time.

Kyle's caught glimpes of it, all along. From the darkness that consumed him in Metropolis, his eyes opened to slits from within the construct. He'd seen space rushing by and the element of yellow in the handoff. It's minutes, if not hours, of a story told entirely through visions captured in mere seconds. Each of which grew more and more faint while his wounds threatened to consume him. From Hal to Soranik, her hair growing long in the same way that his has, he's far too tired for the sense of rush that they have.

He's wounded. His body is too exhausted to fear.

Once again, Kyle finds himself on a bed in Iolande's palace. The painkillers have turned everything to a milky film over his eyes, and the sounds of talking echoes through his head in warbling tones, like too much bass for far too little treble.

Kyle's fingers twitch against the bed, causing the sheet to hiss in a barely audible way. The more his eyelids flutter, the more his pulse flutters as well, all signs that the wayward Lantern is coming back to consciousness.

"It's…okay." Kyle manages, weakly, to the two of them. "I'll…find a place." Kyle sighs and closes his eyes. "We won't endanger…" Kyle drawls, failing to find the words 'your people'. "Belt."

Sora is already through the drapes when Kyle's movements have her closing the distance quickly in a sweep of silence despite every deliberate step. Dark eyes, nearly devoid of color, come down upon Kyle far softer than the hand of the 'neurosurgeon' that buries fingers around one wrist of his that had moved, and anchors her grip into the bed.

"You have one." An affirmation in Soranik's voice that is unwavering now. One resounded with the booming echo of doors opening and poultices as well as those dreaded 'leeches' are held in jars and brought through the doors into the chambers.

"…please do not argue this with me…" Soranik whispers as trays are laden, and without releasing him fully she allows one hand to be gloved in rubber material by a 'nurse'.

Iolande watches from afar, her poise is unmoving, but it has to be even as she watches her allies, friends… Then her people…

All rimmed in RED, fighting it from the corners of her eyes. "You are in Betrassus, Kyle. Be still." Iolande's words softer than even Soranik's.

Perhaps to distract…

The gripped hand held in force is lifted, a vein prominent and used to insert a syringe and plunge in the rest of the painkillers if Kyle does not fight it, the IV feed too slow, and Soranik is risking nothing.

"You need to be ready Kyle… Please…" No eye contact, just that cast of hair with the turn of her head, outlining the jaw set in a stoic mien that is biting back something bitter in its set.

If he allows, the work begins again, peeling away layers….

Kyle's fingers twist. The pad of his index finger grazes Soranik's palm as a mote of pain escapes him, even through the painkillers. Like a sigh, captured against his teeth, the sound is slow, yet sudden, even for the cumbersome state that he's in. There's so little movement from his body, save for the rise of his back with the shallow breaths he's taking.

"I'm…not going anywhere, Sora. You're not going to get a fight out of me right now. Just…stay golden, Ponyboy." Kyle wheezes the Earthling joke to the two women, resting down against the mattress as best he can. "I'm sorry we keep coming to your world like this, Queen Iolande." Kyle adds, weakly, to the woman he can see out of the corner of his blurred vision.

"I'm ready." Kyle's fingers fall weakly from Soranik Natu's hand, curling into half-strength fists as the nervousness settles in. He breathes in as deeply as the burning in his lungs with allow, then braces.

Kyle Rayner doesn't scream.

He chokes.

The scraped layers of burned skin, as they're removed, leave him helpless on the table, emitting crinkling sounds of pain through his teeth as Soranik Natu heals his body. To his credit, he has a strong will, but before long, the painkillers lull him into unconsciousness, once more.

Soranik's steady yet hardened gaze, rimmed in a shadow upon iris' now, flashes down upon Kyle in the brush, the faintest

Iolande is watching Kyle and Soranik as the work begins, leaving the room with her people, pausing only as both hands grip the massive double doors, engraved in designs known to her kind, bracing and looking down in a manner that almost portrays as if the weight is something she is suspended from there, head bowed lightly as she speaks. "I am Green Lantern now… But I was a friend foremost and a Queen always. These risks are mine to take." But when she steps out and those heavy doors echo the slam closed upon them the orders beyond are evident.

Outside a Green Light is cast like a spotlight before a tracer of similar light filters through and fades like a star to guard the atmosphere.

Sora's lips twisted at the Ponyboy reference that fell flat, brows furrowing, dipping to make a harsh arch of noir brows, similar to her father's own, Natu… The inkwork around a single tilted eye folds at sharpened corner of periphery. "Pony…."

The exchange between him and Iolande leaves the air between the two formerly 'partnered' Greens, heavy… "I am no Boy." Beat. "The sedative is working…" A whisper to herself, and alone now, the other glove is tugged on, gauntlets of 'Gold' set aside to allow sleeves a roll away while she meticulously pulls away the toxin, grafts the epidermic layer, and pulls the bulbous larval pupae from his body with larger forceps to drop them into a jar and ignite a blue flame that melts the combination into something changing the glass barrier into a new hue, blanketing the inner workings…

"You always fight," One glove removed. "You wont stay," She has more news for him and knows better.

"None of us are ready…" The tray is shoved aside and away, IV checked, painkillers replaced for sedative just before those fingersof a deep red sweep hair from his cheek and reveal more of his face.

"Stop this…!" and in a torrent words come out. Anger. Confusion. Rage. Sorrow.

Unfiltered, unabashed…. A diatribe that has Soranik pacing beside his bed, tangling fingers in her own hair and then finally just claiming a seat near the balcony archway. Not close. Not far.

Painkillers don't change the fact that the body can feel the pain, only that the mind doesn't register it. While unsonscious, Kyle's body twitches at the tearing of skin and the grafting lain in place. At times, his fingers twist around the edge of a sheet, clinging hard to it, a reminder that somewhere beneath the layer of narcotic bliss is Kyle Rayner, tethered to the surface. Through his sleep, his body remains still, but his nerves remain.

Dreams form around the voices in the background. Images of Soranik Natu and Iolande in their days on Oa, staring down on the training pens as Kilowog throws aliens of all kinds about. A memory from a better time, when they all wore the responsibility of the Green Element.

Kyle wakes to the frustrated tones in Soranik's native tongue. One eye splits open to peer through his dark lashes and the remnant of her finger upon his cheek. The purpling skies are muddy, but he knows well the dark hair and the blurry yellow clothing wrapped about the woman on the chair. It is a voice he knows.

"Hey…" Kyle breathes towards her back, his ragged, tired breathing pushing the word out past the dryness of his tongue.

Kyle's shoulder tenses, then falls still again. No. He's not moving until she chooses his final resting place where the graft can meld into his skin and bond, just like new.

"I don't just add more problems everywhere I go, Sora." Kyle doesn't have the strength to frown, but he finds strength enough to drip his words with empathy. "I'm trying to-" Kyle halts his words, resting his head against the pillow.

"You would have approved. There were children." Kyle continues, trying to explain. "I…don't know if they're going to wait for us to be ready, Sora." A beat. "Fuck, no one ever does wait for us."

Sora was not looking at Kyle directly when he spoke, those words passing between the space, almost as if meeting the shield of her shin, a leg had drawn up, planted booted foot upon the chair she claims, knee bent before her chest. No lean taken into it while arms are wide in a spread, hands gripping the rests over the edge, nails burrowing into Betrassiian native stone and wood, clawing divots into the surface. Premature ageing process clawed away in the time she waited, only pausing over the surface and the floor of carpet-laden stone, riddled in shavings…

but once his words pause those eyes cast a glint in that darkness, directed his way, irises' evident still, bearing a few mores of color that can capture the skylight filtering through. A shove and she is rising, a drop of booted foot to the ground, black hide material, buckled and laced to capture around legs clad in Yellow and Black. A lead into the catalyst that sends her his way, measured in pace.

One hand picks up gauze, another bandage wrapping, and as one is lofted in a yellow glow to wrap around her hand the other is ripped open by clutch in fingers and tear of teeth. Ivory paled against the black lining of lips.

.. Here we stand on opposing sides…

The gauze is fanned out, laid like a veil over his back where the burns painted a bubble-graph of mapping until Soranik smoothed the process. Nothng is said as she seals edges and the bandaging is unravelled with a swift jerk, hands laden in the lycra fabric gripping his shouders to press…

"I will move you, do not resist." And in a slow pull she is drawing him up to prop his back against her side, placed now beside him so she can twist and wrap his upper body in the bandaging. All business for the moment…

"You speak like you are talking to a woman who does not know you, Kyle." A low, studious, and steady tone to her voice, trying to keep it in the now.

"People wait for us, but we cannot expect worldly patience…"A glance towards the sky where Iolande had disappeared, now finally lowering it to Kyle, whether eyes were met or not, she is avoidant of certain things right now.

"You have to be more careful…!" And it almost seems angry then, Soranik's words as she makes a final tug to the wrapping and fastens it. " … Your home is better of with you in it.." stated between clenched teeth before she releases, but does not move lest she wants him to fall over.

Kyle says nothing, watching her footsteps approach from his horizontal angle. He loses her entirely as she gauzes his back, but as he lies in silence, the occasional hint of her leg comes into view. Whether or not the tap of his knuckle against her knee is intentional, Kyle doesn't say, but the very air around the fallen Lantern is tense, somewhat mournful, as if the very place once a hideaway for joy for the two had become a regular infirmary.

It has.

"We probably would have never met if there was that kind of patience. Would the Ring Bearers exist at all?" Kyle returns quietly, legs wobbly against her support until they find their strength. He moves so little, but rests against her for balance. "That's probably a better question for the scholars, some kind of philosophy. That the elements exist have always been a sign to me that this will never change."

Kyle dips his head when he says it. The lengthened black locks sweep over his eyes. His brow twitches when her anger comes.

It's a frustration he'd expected.

"I'm speaking to a woman who knows me. If I'm not careful, it's because something else was at stake." Kyle replies, head twisting to plant one of his green eyes in her periphery. "Sora, it was just a stupid mess, like everything else involved with these reds. That angry winged psycho was being covered by Koriand'r, some kind of housecat with a power ring was attacking Hal. The one who hurt me with this fire, the first time, was covered, but there were screaming people. Somehow, that winged creep must have gotten to my back." Kyle shakes his head as much as the muscles at the back of his neck will allow.

A new silence falls over him. Kyle Rayner closes his eyes.

"They've taken Laira Omoto, Sora." Kyle whispers. "She's on their side now."

In moments, in pulses of heartbeats, in bare touches, Soranik gives a moment of pause in her 'in'doct'rined' ire and with n exhale while she aids Kyle in his rise, Soranik lowers her head, showing she is listening, despite the similar fall of dark hair around her own eyes and which claws upon her jawline in an elongated grasp permitted by the time passed between and the duress that allowed such to happen.

"Nothing changes, Kyle. The Guardian's. Their Laws. Betrayal." A low murmur exhaled and her own flicker of pale hue framed in darkness, meets his, her chin tilts as she offers his rise aid, and if he does not register it immediately, they are moving, walking…

Towards the balcony of Iolande's palace in Betrassus, the bow of her body his way pushing the drapery aside to rise and cast it open to their passage, despite how slow Soranik makes Kyle take it until they are beneath the stars of this sector.

"Koriand'r is in Watchtower's infirmary…" A deep swallow, one Soranik had to bare and came with an acidic burn of truth she did not want to tell.

But Laira's name has her stiffening, even the walk is stopped and Soranik has to regain her own setting, footing, mind..

"How many will we lose, Kyle?" A flux of exposed throat, framed in the collar of her Yellow suit, the opening at the neck deep along torso, exposing a plexus where beneath her pulse borne on alien heart skipped, then battered against a covered cage.

"Speaking to a man who knows me…. What is left at stake now?" A regaining of bearings and Soranik acts as if no blow had been felt, her reaction was a simple 'trip' over threshold.

"What choice do we have?" And now Soranik, in her pause, looks at Kyle, the hold keeping him aloft unwavering, solidifying for his response.

Kyle's eyes move like the rest of his body does. Slippery. The slight sheen of grease in his black hair is one of many reasons he needs a bath. Kyle Rayner isn't in his finest state, and by the lazy movement of his eyes, their journey through the curtain is filled with traces and a delay. Her words seem to take an extra second to reach his face.

"I can't truly accept that, Soranik. The way everything fluxuates, that won't change, but where we end up, I guess I can only keep going and hope."

There's a downward turn to Kyle's lips, then. A mention of the woman Soranik had seen him close with. The dark line of his brows lowers and the pleasant, doped-up line his lip was forming tightens with it. Such a bitter response it is in the way he looks away from Soranik, then, allowing her some measure of privacy for her distaste.

"Did Hal say how bad she was, or if anyone else in the fight fell?" On the other side of the curtain, Kyle spies his recharge lantern. Against Soranik's hip, an emerald light shines from Kyle's ring, and the bulbous lantern lifts from the table, glittering as it floats to follow behind them. "And to think I thought we were going to make it out of that one without injuries." Kyle drifts thoughtfully to the wind. A shame. They had been so close.

"Sora."

Kyle tries to lift his hand to her shoulder, but the muscles in his ribs and shoulders tighten quickly. When he nearly falls, his hand plants on her hip and his forehead to her shoulder, clinging for balance.

"I think they're here to stay. Whatever they are, they're not something new, and this red element is no different than the fear element or the love element." Kyle's brows puff up and he shakes his head. "So your rage can only make you a target for them. They can be reasoned with, but whatever they're angry about it's not something they're sharing openly. They're very, very pissed off."

Kyle finds his strength once more and lifts his head. Muscles aching and popping like old spaghetti bring his vision to hers, seeing her face clearly for the first time in weeks.

"We find out why." Kyle mutters. "We may not find the cure, but we could find a treatment, and we find a way to keep the people in our sectors safe, because even if you're not wielding a green power ring anymore, you're still the same woman, Soranik. You find strength in that…and don't stop until we…I don't know…quarantine them to a sector where we can keep an eye on them."

The face that comes suddenly from Kyle is so sudden a shift that it's comical. His face presses forward, brows lifting and eyes widening despite their dilation. A pleading look, only superficial.

"But first we need to get off of Betrassus. We're really straining this friendship with Iolande this cycle." Kyle pat-pats Soranik's hip. "Someplace I can rest, bathe, and get a drink of water without us having to answer any questions to our Corps just yet, preferably."

"I refuse to accept it despite.." The sheen of Kyle's oily hair slips between paled ruby fingertips, oil-slickened in the way the strands lapse over the cusp of her fingers - culing like they could grip and capture in time to bring it into a place to "fix".

There is always that placated Fear. Not truly Yellow…

But the Fear is a Mindkiller, present…

«Kilowog's voice bellows as a bruised cheek of red-on-purple peels from the flooring of the sparring ring, sweat causing a lusterous glisten to black strands that hang like spires before determined voilet eyes.»
«…RaaHHHhhhAaaHHH!»

The battle cry is something swallowed back, despite the flash of memory that harbors a smile, one not shown despite the crease in dark lips. "Hope…"

A breath. "Love.." And when Kyle wavers, her grip does not falter, even as he asks about another, resisting the urge…

The Fire…!

Her forehead presses to his, the hand uon her hip one she reaches for and slides to the small of her back for an anchor. Those dark eyes flare somewhere enough in depths to shine that Amethyst forth upon iris, a parting of lips, words unspoken on breaths that see the flux in his gaze, his pupils.

Soranik breaches a barrier in a step forward, clutching Kyle, someone she has come to know, love, trust

"I have never been to 2814 before," A cast of yellow around them, and the wavering exhale is one against Kyles skin that seems restrained even with those words, even as they lift from the balcony slowly. "Right now, we have nothing else… No…" Soranik silences, even as slivers of her eyes glisten in the peer towards Kyle, her head shaking, forehead brushing - against his slowly.

"No one else will fall. It's not in our code. We don't allow it."

A blistering heat circumferences them, unfelt by the duo within the Yellow shield as it blazes a path towards Earth,
**Sector 2814: **

Atmosphere breaks, a wing and a inspiration that impales atmosphere, unread by the likes of NASA…

A simple fragment…?

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