Author: PadawanMage PM
Clark is lost in space and it's up to Chloe and JorEl to find some way to release him from the Phantom Zone. Set just at the end of 'Vessel.'Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Sci-Fi - Chloe S. & Clark K. - Words: 4,300 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 1 - Published: 06-19-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3000220
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Spoilers: Up to and including Season Five.
Summary: Clark is lost in space and it's up to Chloe and Jor-El to find some way to release him from the Phantom Zone. Set just at the end of 'Vessel.'
Author's Notes: I got into Smallville late in this past season, doing marathon sessions of seasons one to four to catch up. After watching 'Vessel', I got the idea for this story. Honestly, I don't know what the season six premiere will be like, but I wrote this as a possibility. There's even a nod to the movie 'Superman II' in how it showed the super villains escaping the Phantom Zone. Also, I'm starting to feel that Clark and Chloe should be together, so there are hints of that here.
Critiques and Reviews welcome.
-Milton Fine (Brainiac)
Chloe Sullivan screamed as something smashed into her window, sending shards flying everywhere. Rough hands grabbed her and began to pull her through the ruined window. She tried reaching out to Lionel Luthor, but found him being pulled through a shattered window as well. Falling to the ground with a grunt, Chole felt her arms pinned down as someone grabbed at her pocketbook. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see nothing but destruction around her.
Fires raged everywhere, looting and violence were rampant. People screamed as car after car was smashed and up ended. Rioters fought viciously with police who tried to maintain order. Sirens and cries for help rang out into the chaotic night.
Chloe wondered again how Clark – how could anyone? – fight against something like this. The man ransacking through her purse cursed and threw it aside. When he looked down at her, his eyes lit up hungrily. Before he could do anything, however, Chloe brought her leg back and rammed it into his crotch. The man collapsed to the ground like an old sack. One of his friends, who still pinned her to the floor, pulled out a gun and aimed it right between her eyes.
A sudden bright light exploded all around, blinding Chloe so hard she squeezed her eyes shut. A gust of wind picked up and she slowly opened her eyes.
Standing a few feet away was Lionel Luthor. Light radiated outward from him. Winds whipped all around until it felt like a hurricane had landed right in the middle of Metropolis. The men holding Chloe down, as well as the rest of the rioters, were pushed back. The gales howled all around, except for where Chloe and her would-be protector stood. Something akin to an eye of a hurricane served as a buffer around them. Coat, tie and hair whipping all around, Lionel stood there in the center of the tempest. No, not Lionel, Chloe thought in amazement, as she locked gazes with those white, opaque, sightless eyes.
As if picking up on the thought, the man narrowed his gaze on her. Extending a hand and in a deep, resonating voice that only she heard, he said:
"Come with me if you want to live."
Chloe looked at the beckoning hand, not sure what to do. She didn't know if she could trust this man, even if he was the one who'd been warning them all about this very day. But she did trust Clark and she also knew that she really didn't have much of a choice. Reaching out, she clasped her hand with Jor-El's.
Another, even more explosive flash of light surrounded the two, until just as quickly as it came, it vanished, leaving nothing but thin air and dying winds.
Chloe felt herself lifted and then pulled in several directions at once, similar to when she accidentally got carried away with Clark to the Arctic. But when the light faded and she finished blinking her eyes, she frowned when she found herself surrounded by darkness and standing next to sheer, dank rock. Kawatchi drawings and markings of different kinds marked almost every square inch.
"The caves? We're back in Smallville? But how – ?"
Her rescuer said nothing, merely peering intently at one section of the wall. He placed his hand on the rock and a circular pattern of glyphs glowed and began to move clockwise and then counter-clockwise. Deep within the rock, something rumbled and on the far corner of the caves, a portion of the wall slid back. Chloe realized it was the same area she and Clark disappeared from almost a year ago. Before she could say anything, she found herself dragged over towards the entrance by Jor-El, who still had his hand clasped tightly over hers.
They walked through and into a wide circular area that had a massive stone table right in the center. The polished top had several more glyphs that Chloe now recognized from the books Lionel had given her to study. Set off from the center, a small notch glowed. Jor-El placed his palm over it and a familiar blinding, white light appeared yet again.
Great, I should've worn sunglasses, Chloe thought ruefully.
This time when the brightness faded, she instantly hugged herself and her teeth started chattering from the somewhat familiar subzero temperatures. She wondered now if perhaps bringing thermal underwear might have been better. Massive crystal and ice columns rose above her in every angle imaginable. Some glowed with incalculable power, other lay dormant.
Jor-El had already let her go and walked over to a certain apparatus that glowed brighter than the rest. Crystals of every size and shape jutted out from the main 'panel.' Rubbing her arms for warmth, Chloe walked over to where Jor-El manipulated a shard here or touched a crystal there. He did a small double-take, as if noticing her for the first time. His eyes, once opaque, now returned to normal.
"Oh, forgive me, Miss Sullivan," he said. Warm, comfortable air filled the chamber. His accent, she noticed, was richer, deeper and more pronounced than Lionel's.
"Thank you," she said, looking over the strange device Jor-El was manipulating. "What are you doing?"
"Attempting to find Kal-El," he answered. A wave of his hand and images formed in the air above them as well as in the large crystal pillars around them.
Scenes of the devastation just starting to unravel from all over the world played out before them. Paris, Moscow, Washington, London, Boston, Los Angeles, Berlin, Tokyo, Montreal, New Delhi, Beijing and dozens of other cities began to show signs of power loss and infrastructure collapse. Fires, looting and violence on a global scale were escalating out of control. All of this due in no small part to Milton Fine's computer virus. Horrified, Chloe couldn't bring herself to look away from the possible end of civilization. Even the predictions of the Y2K bug were never this bad.
"Why?" she asked quietly. "Why did Fine do this?"
Jor-El sighed. He looked up at images of destruction and shook his head. "All this is for Zod, whose only true ambition is to rule and conquer. The Brain Interactive Construct – Milton Fine as you know him – is giving this planet as a gift to his master. Unless we do something soon, there'll be no power on Earth that can stop him."
"But where's Clark? What happened with killing Le –, with killing the Vessel?"
"I can only assume that he has failed and something has happened to him." Jor-El touched another crystal, frowned, and touched another. "Odd. I can detect that Zod has been released from the Phantom Zone, but I am showing another portal recently having been activated." He touched some more controls until a new image sprang up before them.
Jor-El's face fell in dismay. "My son…"
"Clark!" Chloe gasped, putting both hands to her mouth.
Trapped in some form of one-dimensional mirrored prison and screaming silently, Clark Kent banged ineffectually as he floated away into deep space.
Chloe looked at Jor-El in desperation. "You can bring him back, right? I mean, Kryptonians built that thing, so it should be easy, right?"
Jor-El tried several controls but nothing happened. Another set of controls remained stubbornly inactive. "The interface for the portal has been deactivated," he said through clenched teeth. "And I cannot regain control."
"You mean…he's stuck out there?" Chloe said in rising alarm. "I don't understand. All the things Clark told me: going back in time, building this incredible fortress, bringing back the dead…and you can't recall this Phantom Zone thing?"
Jor-El smiled sadly. "Miss Sullivan, I appreciate your faith in me and my people, but you must understand that with all the wonders we Kryptonians accomplished, we were not gods. Even we are fallible."
Chloe blinked several times and backed away a step. She sat down heavily on a crystal seat. "So that's it? There's nothing you can do?"
Jor-El shook his head. Hot tears ran down Chloe's face. She placed her head in her hands and shuddered in silent grief. Jor-El was about to say something when a sensor caught his attention. He checked it more in depth, his eyebrows rising.
"Interesting," he said.
Chloe, sniffling and wiping away tears with a sleeve asked, "What is?"
Another display took the place of the rapidly receding prison. It showed the Earth and Moon along with a representation of their orbital paths. A red triangular symbol appeared a third of the way between them.
"Judging by what I can make out, there are traces of residual energy from a thermonuclear explosion that occurred half a year ago."
Chloe frowned and then brightened somewhat. "Oh, yeah. There was a guy who was obsessed with getting rid of all the mutants in Smallville. So, he locked himself into a silo and reprogrammed an ICBM so that it would hit smack dab in the middle of town. Why do you ask?"
"Because it's been theorized that just such an explosion might – just might – shatter or destroy the Phantom Zone allowing any occupants to escape."
Chloe frowned. "What good does that do us now? The bomb went off months ago and as far as I know, we don't anything that can reach Clark." She pointed to the display which now showed a diamond symbol just crossing into the orbit of the Moon.
Jor-El cocked his head and waved his hand over a small cluster of red glowing crystals. "The Phantom Zone may be out of reach in terms of space, but certainly not in terms of time."
"Okay, you lost me," Chloe said in exasperation.
"Miss Sullivan, please bear with me. Were you anywhere near that missile when it took off?"
Chloe rolled her eyes. "Yeah, you could say that. Gabriel was 'kind' enough to tie me up inside the control room while he prepared the missile. Even after I knocked him out I still couldn't crack the security to stop it." She sighed. "If Clark hadn't been there…"
Jor-El nodded, satisfied. "Excellent. Then there may still be a chance."
"A chance? A chance for what? I told you it happened months – " She stopped abruptly, her jaw dropping. "Oh. Are – Are you thinking of sending me back in time like you did with Clark?"
"Of a fashion, Miss Sullivan," Jor-El said, adjusting some controls. "I cannot send you in the same manner I sent my son – the energy involved is too great. However, I can send your consciousness to temporarily inhabit your body of six months ago."
Chloe looked surprised at the prospect but shook her head violently. "Okay, let's assume you can do this: what do you expect me to do about the missile?"
"I need you to reprogram it so that it continues off into space and loops around your Moon several times before intercepting the Phantom Zone at just the right moment," Jor-El said.
Chloe's jaw dropped and she blinked in disbelief several times before speaking. "Listen, I may be good at hacking into the DMV or Luthorcorp, but military security protocols are something else. Not to mention the fact that I had just over a minute before the ICBM flew out of the silo. There's no way I can do it!"
The man stood and faced Chloe fully. "Perhaps not by yourself, but with my help…" Jor-El brought a hand up, but paused, as the woman stepped back. "I must ask you to trust me, Miss Sullivan. What I will do is transfer some of my Kryptonian knowledge to you. It will be temporary, but it should be enough for you to do what needs doing."
She looked uncertainly at the hand. "I don't know if I trust you, Jor-El," she said slowly. "But Clark's been there to save me so many times that I didn't even know it. If there's anything I can do to repay even a little of that back…? Well, he's definitely worth it," Chloe finished with a raise of her chin.
Jor-El smiled. "You have a strong and kind spirit, Miss Sullivan. In some ways you remind me of someone I once cared for very much." He leaned forward and gently cupped her face.
Chloe gasped as lights flashed before her eyes. In her mind's eye, she could see Kryptonian symbols flashing up and down, left and right. Ideas and concepts wholly unknown to her flooded her mind. Just when it felt like her head with explode, Jor-El finally pulled back. Chloe staggered a bit from the sheer amount of knowledge at her fingertips. Numbly, she looked at her hands, smiling and shaking her head. Everything made so much sense now. No problem was beyond her reach now because all of it was child's play.
Jor-El gestured and a large glowing crystal detached from the main console and floated in front of her. "Grab this and think hard of the moment you were in that silo. While your body remains here, you mind will be transported back in time. Once you have completed your task, you must consciously return back here, else your physical form may become damaged."
"Got it." Chloe took a deep breath and grasped the floating shard. Warm and tingly to the touch, she could feel the power in it. Part of her even understood how it worked. Focusing her mind, she imagined herself back six months ago. She could still remember being tied down to the chair…the stale air of the bunker…looking down at the dead army man…
…seeing the flashlight. Chloe blinked and looked around. She felt her the rough ropes against her wrists and ankles.
Her eyes widened as she looked over seeing Gabriel work on his laptop, the ICBM just visible through the reinforced glass. She almost exclaimed at the thought of actually having traveled back in time when a soft, computerized voice made her clam up.
"Two minutes to launch."
As quickly and as quietly as possible, she started unraveling the ropes holding her arms behind the chair. Gabriel typed away, unaware. Once her legs were freed, and still keeping an eye on her deranged friend, Chloe leaned down and silently slid the heavy flashlight out of the dead man's belt. Already knowing that a lockdown alarm would soon sound, she tiptoed over and cold cocked him so hard, he fell off his chair.
"Lockdown initiated. Sealing outer doors. One minute to launch."
Klaxons and warning lights immediately came on. Chloe ignored them all and threw herself at the now unoccupied laptop connected to the targeting computers. Her fingers flew over the keys, going faster and faster trying to crack one security password after another. Screen after screen on the computer came and went, faster than any human could hope to keep track of. Her Kryptonian-enhanced senses easily followed it all.
"Access denied. Access denied. Access denied…Access granted."
A diagram of the curvature of the Earth along with the projected path of the warhead came on the screen. Working furiously, she inputted the new parameters: extended launch time, second stage separation, timed warhead detonation, security features deactivated.
Chloe added that last one since she didn't want anyone in the military trying to remote detonate the missile before it did its job. A new flight path overrode the first and led away from Earth, towards the moon for lunar orbit. Her hyper-accelerated mind had already calculated the number of orbits needed as well as time to release the warhead at a specific time six months in advance. She hit the ENTER button with fifteen seconds to spare.
"New coordinates accepted. Launch sequence initiated."
A deep rumbling shook through the base. Chloe walked over to the observation window. She paused briefly when she noticed Gabriel moaning on the ground, shaking his head and reaching for a gun jammed in the back of his pants. A kick to his head sent him back to unconsciousness.
"You can thank me later for saving your sorry ass this time, you jerk," Chloe muttered, grabbing a pair of handcuffs nearby and tying him down for good.
The rumbling increased as the other silo doors opened. A blast shield came down on the main window, and on a nearby TV screen the first flames erupted from the bottom of the rocket. Chloe tracked the launch from the computer. Everything seemed to go fine, but then she remembered: the first time Clark had been able to do something to the missile while in flight. She had no way of telling, but she prayed that the modified trajectory made Clark just a shade late; otherwise all this would have been for nothing.
Clark hung on for dear life, the winds whipping and tearing at him as he made his way inch by inch up the rocket. Already the blue skies were slowly fading into the jet-black coldness of space. He tried pounding on the first stage of the rocket, but to no avail. He had to reach the nose cone before it separated. When the winds finally dissipated, he started climbing. Just at the apex of its climb, the second stage of the rocket separated from the first, leaving Clark behind still clinging to it. Horrified, he could only watch as the missile's secondary motors flashed into existence, the hot gases pushing him back. Clark was just about to use his heat vision to try and shoot it down when, surprisingly, it kept going out into space. It didn't turn back for a fall on to Earth as he'd read ICBM's should do, but seemed to be heading towards the Moon.
Chloe...it had to have been Chloe, he thought.
Seeing the Earth rapidly getting larger, he grimaced.
Oh, this is going to hurt.
Chloe sighed and sat back in the chair as the all the readouts confirmed that the nuke was on its newly-programmed way. She did all she could here. Looking one last time around, she focused her mind on the massive fortress in the ice…Jor-El…
"Miss Sullivan, are you alright?"
Chloe shook her head and stared into the concerned face of Jor-El/Lionel Luthor who kept a steadying hand on her shoulder. The crystal shard in her hand had been taken away.
"I – I did it! I couldn't believe it. It was so easy – " she stopped and put a hand to her forehead. Her face fell. "It's gone…the knowledge…"
"I did say it was temporary," Jor-El said with a wan smile. "No human should be allowed to carry such knowledge for too long."
Chloe sighed and gave a smile of her own. "Too bad. I could've been the Planet's newest editor-in-chief by the end of the week." She shrugged and nodded to the main display. "So, where are we?"
Jor-El waved a hand over another crystal and red circle appeared near the Moon. "On schedule. It should detonate in five minutes."
"You know, I just thought of something," Chloe said, biting her lips. "If Clark is freed, how is he going to get back here to Earth? I mean, it's close to what? A quarter of a million miles from here to the Moon?"
Jor-El turned and favored the young woman with an enigmatic smile.
"Trust me, Miss Sullivan, if Kal-El truly wants to come back here, he will find a way."
Clark screamed. It felt like he screamed for no sound came out. He couldn't hear a heartbeat, his breathing, nothing. Alone by himself, he cursed at not having found a way to stop Zod from coming. He had the point of that blade right at Lex's throat, a few more inches and none of this would have happened.
But he kept telling himself that he wasn't a killer. However, a small part of his mind said that wasn't exactly true. Hadn't he, through his actions, been somewhat responsible for his father's death? Clark shook his head.
No, that's not true, he thought.
Wasn't it? the voice retorted. Jonathon Kent died so that Clark Kent could live. Lex Luthor could've died to ensure the rest of the world survived.
Clark leaned his head on the only window the Phantom Zone provided. Silent tears ran down his face. No matter how hard he tried, his 'destiny' always came back to haunt him. As much as he hated Jor-El, he realized now that he was preparing Clark for Zod and Fine. If only he could get out of this prison.
He looked up and watched helplessly as the Earth receded farther and farther away. Even from this distance he could see all the lights from the major cities going out. Clark pounded impotently on the Zone. He shook his head in dismay until his eye caught a small flash somewhere out in space.
On the far side of the moon, a lone rocket, dormant for several months, came back to life. A timer counting down from the moment of launch reached zero and the main engines fired one last time. They burned for several minutes until shutting down for good. At that same moment, the warhead detached, hurtling out into space. A separate timer began counting down the seconds.
A sudden burst of white light blinded Clark and an explosion set the entire visible sky on fire. Shockwaves flew out in every direction. The Phantom Zone shook and shuddered violently as one wave after the other slammed into it.
Clark looked up and noticed a small hairline fracture appear above him. It kept growing and getting larger, more fissures branching out from it, reaching out to every corner. Everything quaked all around Clark. At the last second, he took a huge intake of breath just as everything fell apart around him.
With an ear-shattering roar, the dimensional prison crumbled and exploded all around, freeing Clark and sending him spinning out into space. He flailed his arms and legs out, trying to get some kind of balance, but with no idea of what 'up' or 'down' was in space, it proved difficult at best. Vertigo nearly overcame Clark, who came close to getting sick and losing the precious air in his lungs. Steeling himself, he focused hard on Earth as it passed within his field of vision every few seconds. Slowly, through whatever power he'd used to jump extremely high, he started leveling off. He still felt he was moving away from Earth, but at least he wasn't spinning around like a whirling dervish.
Clark's mother had told him that when he'd come back last year as Kal-El, she'd seen him shoot up and fly high into the clouds. For months after that he'd tried unsuccessfully to repeat that power. He'd only come as close as 'super-leaping' onto the rocket as it took off. All he'd done was focus on the point on the rocket he'd wanted to land on and somehow his power had taken over.
Already starting to feel light-headed, he felt there was nothing to lose. Bringing in his arms and legs and compacting his body, he focused on the Earth. Clark soon began to feel a building pressure right at the soles of his shoes. At the last moment, he straightened himself and the pressure thrust him forward like a bullet shooting out of a gun. He couldn't control himself, but at least he'd aimed himself just right.
He may not be flying towards Earth, but at least he was falling towards it with style.
As the Earth came close, Clark could still see city after city fall to darkness. Somewhere down there, Zod would be right in the middle of all the chaos. Lana would probably be near him as well. Hopefully, neither of them would be expecting his return. He thought of Chloe, who'd kissed him one last time before wisely telling him that he couldn't save all of them, and that he had to go confront Lex. Clark prayed she was fine. Somewhere, somehow, he would find her again.
The Earth grew ever larger.
Hang on, Chloe. I'm coming.