SmallvilleX: Evolution Year 3.1: Hellfire Burns Eternal
Summary: The fallout from the battle with Apocalypse continues as the X-Men start a new school year with a new Principal, Milton Fine, who seems to have an unhealthy obsession with Clark...and he is not the only one as mystical and demonic forces gather to destroy the prophesied Star Child.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Note: Yes. I'm back.
Broadcasting coast to coast across the country right now, Spidey's most favourite media mogul...no wait, that's wrong. Start again. Spidey's least favourite blow-hard; J Jonah Jameson.
"Well America just when you thought the shock of this Apocalypse character trying to turn us all into mutants couldn't be beaten we get another one. We have Superman storm into a session of Congress...only to reveal he is in fact not a man but an alien creature from beyond the stars. Now some of you may recall it was the Bugle who first gave him this name. Now I'm a man who is willing to admit his mistakes. At the time I thought we had a hero we could look up to. Someone willing to show his face and not hide behind a mask like some webslinging menace I could name. Instead it turns out he is wearing a mask after all. Pretending to be one of us...and more than that today I can exclusively reveal his story of being the last of his kind is not true. You don't have to take my word for it! Here's the word of an up and coming reporter from our sister paper, Metropolis' own Daily Planet; Lois Lane."
The image shifts to Lois speaking into a camera.
"During the meteor shower in Smallville last year I witnessed a spaceship landing and from that ship there were two beings, a man and a woman and I saw them display all the same abilities as Superman. I saw them devastate a National Guard Unit in seconds...but I also saw our own government cover the deaths up...and where are these aliens now, huh? Does Superman know? Does our government? I don't know and believe you me I tried but I was blocked at every turn. This 'faux outrage' from Congress; Don't believe it. They know the truth just like they did with mutants. They're just trying to cover their own asses as per usual."
The image shifts back to JJ.
"There, you heard it folks! Another government cover up! You only wish you could be surprised! And where is Superman? Running free on our streets instead of being forced to answer these allegations! And again what's our so-called government doing about it? Nothing! What do we elect these people for? What do they get paid for? Questions I assure you J3 Communications will not cease to put to them!"
At the Institute...
"Uh...Chloe, did you know Lois was...?" Bobby is trying to ask his girlfriend the question gently since this is her cousin.
Chloe frowns. "No," she says, her voice stern. Chloe was still trying to come to terms with her recent transformation into a golden skinned mutant who could do...uh she didn't know actually. What with trying to deal with the fallout from Apocalypse...and her own reticent and fears they hadn't gotten to the bottom of her transformation.
Now on top of this she has to wonder what is going through her cousin's mind...but perhaps she already does know. She knows how hard Lois sought to get the truth out over the deaths of those soldiers at the hands of the 2 Kryptonians. Lois felt they deserved better than some cover-up...and Chloe agreed except, of course, she desired to keep Clark's secret, well secret so she was complicit in that very cover-up.
She would have words with her cousin...except Chloe is faking her own death at the minute because while she may not show it or express it she's freaking out over what has occurred to her. She didn't know how to cope. What happened is that she and Lois plunged into the river and Lois died. Chloe knows that. Then something happened and next thing Chloe knows is that Lois is alive and she is waking up in a morgue, her skin golden coloured so she asked Clark to bring her here and here she is.
"Where is Clark?" Bobby wonders, having not seen much of the alien teen these last few days since he made his appearance in Washington.
"Where he always is," Chloe replies. "Helping people."
Helping people in this case means helping mutants in particular. It had started almost immediately after Apocalypse's defeat.
A small trickle of new mutants entering Bayville. In the very few days since they took over a derelict, run-down part of town. The houses weren't fit to live in but these people were outcasts, forced out after Apocalypse's mutagenic field changed them.
From talking to them it seemed, somehow, that they came to the conclusion that the only place to come was where the X-Men were. That here in Bayville would be a safe place yet they didn't want to come to the Institute.
They just wanted some place to live. Clark had started helping them settle in, doing some basic DIY but these buildings needed massive renovations.
And from the last time he checked in on the Morlocks it seemed they too had had a pick up in people coming joining their ranks.
It would be why Clark is standing in this district of Bayville with Spyke this evening, discussing what they're going to do, what with Evan being the Morlocks' protector.
"This isn't going to stop is it," Evan figures.
"Not any time soon I don't think," Clark gives his view. "Apocalypse caused a huge upsurge in x-gene activation. Thousands of new mutants all at once. Now I like to think that at least some of their parents are understanding but for those that aren't..."
"They may come here," Evan finishes that statement off.
Clark sighs. "I need to talk to the Professor. When it was only a few I didn't think much of it but if this is really not going to stop...the X-Men need to know because apart from the basic fact they shouldn't be living like this, it's going to cause problems. I can already imagine Kelly's reaction."
So can Evan. "How's Auntie O doing?" he asks, concern for her after being enslaved by Apocalypse.
"Getting better, slowly. It's not an easy thing to get over. Believe me."
"How are you doing?"
Clark rubs his eyes.
"Oh go on, Clark. Tell him," War taunts...the image looking like he is leaning on Evan. "Tell how every day is a struggle to keep me from getting out...though I hardly need to. Those impulses you have to inflict violence that you're blaming on me already existed. Apocalypse didn't cobble me together out of nothing, Clark. I've made from you."
Clark's blue eyes narrow and he barely represses a growl of rage at one part of the legacy of Apocalypse. That the Horseman he was turned into is still inside his head, battling for control.
"Go on. Give in to that feeling," War tries to tempt him because the angrier Clark gets the weaker War's prison becomes and the greater chance he has of regaining control over the body they share.
Clark's head suddenly snaps skyward. "I wondered how long they'd take," he mutters. "I have to go Evan," Clark says and then before Evan can says anything he's gone in a gust of wind.
Evan wonders what that is about...right as SHIELD helicopters zoom overhead.
"SUPERMAN!" a voice over a PA calls out. "BY ORDER OF SHIELD YOU ARE REQUIRED TO COME IN FOR QUESTIONING!"
"Fat chance," Clark mutters as he zooms along the streets. 3 days is actually longer than he thought they'd take to start the hunt for him. He's not flying just yet because above the helicopters are jets. He doesn't want them firing ordnance over a city at him.
"Oh man this is way better!" War declares. "Getting to waste SHIELD. Now this could be fun...if you'd only let me out Clark."
"Like I said; Fat Chance," he repeats his words as he reaches the edge of the city...and pushes himself upward...and this is where the fun begins!
At the Institute...
In the Professor's office this evening sits one Peter Parker, who barring a couple more days of rest is more or less back to his usual loveable self...only actually right now he's being deadly serious. "I know my timing's lousy and everything what with what happened to you, Professor but I didn't know who else to turn to."
Charles is getting there and in fact welcomes distractions right now. "It's alright, Peter. Now what is it you need from me?"
"It's my friend Liz...Liz Allen...she was changed that day."
"I see," Charles says, his tone solemn, his hands locking together on his desk. Peter is asking for his help.
"Not really. She's...I don't want to say racist...in fact it's been more like a phobia than anything to all things mutant."
Now Charles can really see. "She's not taking her transformation well," he assumes.
"She's been sitting in her room for days, refusing to eat. Honestly I'm worried she's going to just let herself starve to death...and I don't know how to reach her," Peter honestly admits. He had heard about this from MJ and Gwen.
Charles rubs his brow. So many new mutants appeared that day he doesn't have a hope of helping even a tiny fraction of them in the way he would want to. The only...blessing if you can call it that is that Clark's reveal of himself has had the desired effect in distracting everyone...but it won't last. He can't help everyone. He accepted that long ago but where he can help he should. "Can you arrange with her parents their permission for myself to see Ms Allen?" he requests of Peter.
"Sure. I'll...well maybe Aunt May would be better than me but they should agree...and thanks Professor."
"No, I should be thanking you Peter. You risked your life to help save myself along with the others and the whole world."
"That's kinda what I do, Professor," Peter has to be modest for once.
"Yes, but you don't have to do it. You choose to do it. Don't underestimate what a remarkable person that makes you."
And Peter is a remarkable person, Charles would say it without hesitation.
Betsy lies back in her bed, breathing hard, a dreamy smile on her face...as next to her Warren has basically the same look after she had finished giving him the flight of his dreams.
"T-this is not resting," Warren points out what they were both suppose to be doing after the battle against the turned into a Horseman Professor. His wing was still healing.
Betsy rolls her eyes. "I can't believe you're complaining," she says in disbelief. Who the hell complains about getting hot, dirty sex with her?!
"I can't believe you don't know that I realise this is you distracting yourself," Warren retorts. What he refers to is first the crimson dagger mark on the left side of her face and second it's become quite clear that using that x-gene enhancer has done something permanent to her powers. When she has been willing to talk about it she admits feeling like her brain is burning brighter than ever.
Betsy sits up and looks at him seriously. "Are you saying I'm in denial?" she asks him.
Warren sits up too. "If the suit fits," he says back.
Betsy blinks. "You," she points at him. "You, of all people, are saying I'm..." she points at herself, "...in denial. You're the poster boy of denial Warren!" she snaps, outraged he has the gall. "You hide away in your mansions. Hell you haven't even seen your parents in the flesh in like 2 years because you're ashamed to be seen by them."
Warren's face noticeably darkens at that. "Don't go there Bets," he warns her.
Betsy gets to her feet and starts grabbing her clothes. "I will go there! You bloody hypocrite!" she snaps angrily.
Warren too starts to grab his clothes. "Know what I'm not even going to bother arguing with you when you're in this mood!"
"Because you know I'm right and that you'll lose!" she slams him as she pulls her clothes in.
"No, because you're just obstinate and refuse to listen when you're like this!" Warren retaliates as he too gets dressed.
"Ha! Ha I say!" she mocks him as she pulls her top over her head. "At least I don't hide what I am. I go out everyday and risk lynch mobs while you, who hides away, preaches from his little safe panic room!"
Warren pulls his pants up and fastens them. "You know why I can't...just...!"
"Just what, Warren?!" Betsy wants him to say it. She's been tolerant. She's tried to be understanding over his reluctance but how can they keep doing this when it seems like he's ashamed of being what he is.
"I thought you understood!" he comes up with.
Betsy snorts. "That all you can come up with? That's pathetic!" she calls it...and him.
"So are you!" Warren just says it, his anger overriding his judgement.
Betsy's temper boils over. "You...you..." she struggles to find the words to express her rage...and instead just acts on instinct, raising her fist, pointing at him...and next thing Warren knows is being blasted across the room, into the wall.
Betsy's eyes go wide with shock. "Warren!" she yells in a panic as she runs over to him. "Oh god, oh fuck...I'm sorry. Please be alright."
Warren groans and rubs the back of his head. "Ok that smarts," he says in a pain-filled tone.
Betsy covers her mouth with her hand. "I didn't mean to...I..."
Warren places his hand on her cheek and rubs it with his thumb gently. "It's ok," he assures her.
"No. It's not," Betsy says, brushing her hand through her hair. "I...you're right. I've got to figure out what has happened to me," she concedes, the sight of how she hurt him really hitting home to her.
Warren smiles gently. "And you're right. I can't keep hiding forever," he concedes.
Betsy smiles back and places her hand on top of his. "We're a pair aren't we," she tries to make a joke of it.
"I'm glad we are," Warren says truthfully.
Betsy leans down and kisses him. "Me too."
"And we'll figure out the way forward for both of us together, ok?"
Betsy nods. "Together," she promises.
"So I was like, wondering," Kitty begins to say as Beast checks her over in the crowded infirmary. If it all checked out she could go sleep in her own bed tonight.
"That trick I did with the x-gene enhancer. Increasing my density. Can I do that without the device?" she asks. She's been mulling it over in her head for days.
Beast pauses a moment, a knot of concentration on his forehead. "I never considered it. Logically there is no reason why not. However it seems to be more natural for your body to phase the one way since that is what occurred when your powers manifested."
"So it would take what, work? Practice? I'm not shy of a little hard work," she insists.
Beast smiles at her. "I know you're not but still the effect of the device was quite stressful, your nose bleeds," he reminds her of what she suffered from. "I don't want you to put yourself through excess stress right now so how about we leave things are as for a week or two and then come back to this, hmm?" he proposes.
Kitty shrugs. "Ok," she accepts.
"Well in that case you are free to return to your own bed. You're fine," Beast can report.
"Great!" Kitty cheers as she hops down from the bed. Finally! She's free because you know she was worried for a minute there she might not recover in time for the new school year...and only Katherine Pryde could be disappointed at the prospect of missing school.
Up in their shared room Marie sits on their shared bed while Claire sits directly behind her girlfriend, arms around the French girl's petite waist. Claire rests her head on Marie's shoulder as she observes her girlfriend laying out her tarot cards.
"So now Apocalypse is gone has your vision returned?" Claire wonders...and this is essentially what Marie is trying to find out. Has her ability to see into the future, so long blocked by Apocalypse come back.
For Marie it has felt like part of her has been missing for months. She lays down a card...her eyes white over. "I see...much trouble and strife for our kind led by a former teacher."
Claire makes a face and a snort of disgust. "Kelly," she assumes.
Marie cocks her head. "Yet he will face opposition from someone amongst us."
"It's not clear because many will gather round in support. It's like trying to pick once person out of a large crowd. It's difficult when you don't know who you're looking for."
Claire squeezes Marie a little tighter for comfort. "Anything else?"
"You asking about anyone in particular?" Marie wonders. She has a feeling.
"Well...Clark," Claire admits. "He's...as distant again as he was at his worst."
Marie blinks and her normal green eye colour returns. "I don't mean to point out the obvious but I assume being controlled by Apocalypse was like a kind of living hell. You don't get over that in a week...perhaps not even a lifetime."
"I know," Claire accepts that much. "It's just...I don't know. Something's wrong. More than what he is saying."
Marie arches an eyebrow and turns her head to look into her girlfriend's beautiful face. God Marie could just stare at that face forever she thinks. She gives Claire a quick kiss. "I'll try...but Clark's very difficult to see directly. Usually it's more you see the effect he has on the world and people around him."
"Thank you," Claire say gratefully.
Marie takes a breath and readies herself. Her eyes white back over and she lays down a card. A sort of two-headed serpent. "Strange," Marie remarks.
"What?" Claire wonders.
"There's a...dichotomy around him...only I'm not certain it's him it's referring to. Perhaps someone else in his life...or coming into his life...I'm sorry, it's like I said. It's hard to see."
"A dichotomy? Like split personality because we've been through that already," Claire points out, her expression showing she doesn't like that idea.
Marie shakes her head while she draws another card in the hope of clearing it up. It doesn't. In fact it only seems to make it worse. "I can't say for certain. This...this is something that permeates all our futures. People who are two...not what they seem." She draws card after card and relays what she sees with each one. "A man who is a machine. A sister who is a traitor. A grandfather who is a spy for a father. A teacher who is a monster with the blackest of hearts. A princess' heart broken by a liar. A lover who is a Queen's pawn. A trusted daughter who is a schemer. A snowflake turned black on one side. A Goblin man with 2 faces...a spider split in 5...and Carnage will threaten a deep love. A Goblin Queen who steals a friend's face. The rich man's son allied to both friend and foe. The Empress who plays commoner. A ghost that is not a ghost in front of whom we must kneel in subservience or die."
Marie draws another card from her pack, hoping to clarify the jumble of images...and pulls out the Lovers card...which only does the opposite.
"Who is that about?"
"Your brother...I think," Marie says uncertainly.
"He's getting a new girlfriend?"
"Marie, sweetie, speak to me," Claire pleads softly.
"When I look at the card I don't see love. All I see are fire and death. It makes no sense. Out of all the cards this one is basically the one that means what it shows. There is someone...who's as split and dichotomised as Clark is but the harder I look the more my vision is obscured with fire and death. I'm sorry, honey I can't explain it but I feel like something bad, something very, very dark is coming for your brother and I can't see anyway he can avoid it."
Claire frowns deeply. She wanted Marie's gift to have been restored out of love and knowing how incomplete her girlfriend had felt lately but to hear this kinda makes her wish the gift hadn't come back.
Question is after hearing this is there anything she can do about it?
"I wish I knew how to describe the experience but I can't find the words," Wanda is trying to inform her mystical teacher, Dr Steven Strange, over what occurred when she put that x-gene enhancer on. There were in his study, sitting, having tea.
Steven listened carefully and was thoughtfully silent. In truth he had felt the ripple from her when she exercised her abilities. He's proud of her, of course, for her courage. In another way he fears this is the 1st step to the prophecy relating to her, how her channelling of chaos magic would bring about the return of the Chaos God Chthon.
Steven has tried not to give it too much credence. Believing he could guide Wanda on to a path of light.
"Wanda...we both know that you have virtually limitless potential but that your progression must be steady, allowing you to acclimatise as your abilities grow. In using this device...I don't want to say you cheated but you skipped ahead to a level you simply aren't prepared for."
"I felt the world...the universe...in a way I have never before," Wanda says, her expression distant as she remembers back. "Like there is an order to it."
Steven nods. "Only the very most ancient and powerful have seen what you have."
Wanda's gaze drops to the floor. "Funny thing is you say that and yet Clark still whooped me good," she tries to make a jest of it. Though it wasn't really funny. She was still aching all over.
"It wasn't Clark. He would never hurt you would he," Steven remarks.
"No. I guess I should say War whooped me."
"Lets not deny Clark is an immensely powerful being as he is. To then be enhanced further by Apocalypse...could and clearly did propel him to a level equal to the one you were on."
"I...just wanted to save him...like he helped save me from my anger at my father. Without him I would have probably killed my father by now."
"I don't believe that," Steven argues with her.
"Why not? It's true. I use to have dreams of the terrible ways I would get my revenge."
"You were grieving and angry. We all imagine dark things when we are in such a place but there is always a distinct difference between thinking and doing."
Wanda sighs. He's right of course. She looks up. "How do I...what do I do now? I've touched this place...and Goddess part of me so wants to get back there."
"This is going to be a testing time for you Wanda. You're lusting for power...which is a path that leads to darkness as I have taught."
Yes, he has. Wanda remembers the examples he has given of those consumed by the dark arts, mostly from a lust for power. "But I don't want power to hurt anyone or rule anything," she argues.
"Which is why you can pass this test. We, all mystics, face this moment. The temptation to grab power quicker than we are ready for. For you it's come sooner than most because of what has transpired. While it will be tough have faith in yourself and I shall remain your tutor guiding you," Steven assures her.
Wanda manages a small smile but on the inside she is worried...more because she just doesn't really know what is going to happen now.
Kurt sits at Amanda's bedside, holding her hand, speaking softly to her. Of all the problems in his life, especially his mother, this is the only one that matters to him right now. Amanda is the first love of his life...and there seems to be nothing anyone can do for her.
She lies sleeping because...well no-one knows that either.
Best guess some sort of extreme reaction to her mutant powers activating.
If it wasn't for the fact the infirmary at the Institute has been full since the battle of Apocalypse she would in fact be there but there isn't space and this hospital can provide the care she needs.
Plus Beast has actually been up to see Amanda and run his own tests.
The results were inconclusive so far.
So basically Kurt is reduced to sitting here and praying for her to wake up.
He has faith. Faith that God has a plan for Amanda and that this is not the end. It's only the beginning of a new path.
High above the Earth...
Is where Superman is playing tag with the SHIELD jets...no really. He tagged one. If he's going to be hunted let him find some way to get as much enjoyment out of it as he can.
Course he has an advantage over them. He's just as fast if not faster and makes turns, drops, stops, accelerations at speeds, angles and forces no man-made craft can possibly keep up with...though there is one that is giving it a good go.
That pilot...and Clark hasn't taken a moment to look at who it is, must be insane. They're going to tear that jet apart if they keep this up.
And oh look incoming missile. Lets see if it can keep up as Superman accelerates through the sky.
Yeah, he could blast it with his heat vision...but he needs to get it where he wants it...which is why he is heading straight for the formation of SHIELD jets...who fire at him.
Like bullets of any calibre are going to even slow him down...which they don't.
Superman roars through the formation, rolls on his back, looks back and fires off his heat vision, striking the missile...which explodes...forcing the jets to take evasive manoeuvres in differing directions.
Now that their formation is broken up he should have no problem losing them as he plunges toward the deck...only for his hearing to pick up he is being followed.
That crazy pilot again.
Clark shakes his head. Fine. Lets see them follow him as he hogs the ground, skimming through hills and valleys...
...and they follow him until they try a turn too tight and the wing gets clipped.
Superman immediately stops and accelerates back toward the damaged aircraft. Being so low he only has seconds before it crashes.
Luckily seconds are all he needs as he rips the canopy away and yanks the seat, pilot and all out.
Superman hovers there with the pilot while the jet hits the ground and explodes in a fireball.
He hears a gun being cocked and turns his head, eyebrow arched. "We've been in this position before, Agent Danvers," he remarks to the blond SHIELD agent. Back during the battle with Lionel in Smallville, he both saved her life and in return got a gun aimed at him.
War whistles appreciatively. "Damn, just imagine what we could do to that body," he comments suggestively as his eyes roam up and down her very impressively shaped form.
Clark's face twitches slightly as he tries to ignore his phantom menace. He sighs. "Agent Danvers, do you really think that little pea-shooter can stop me?" he asks her to consider in all honesty.
Carol doesn't lower her gun...even as Superman lowers them to the ground. "By order of SHIELD you will surrender yourself to my custody," she orders.
Clark thinks he admires her gumption. "I know you're only doing your job, Agent so I don't take this personally...and I hope you don't take this personally," he says as he...drops her.
Ok, so that's a little misleading. He does let go but makes sure the drop is only a few feet. Enough to only slight stun her and by the time she recovers he is long gone...especially before SHIELD picks up her personal transponder.
So, yeah he leaves her in the middle of nowhere but he's pretty certain she'll be alright.
That's Superman 1 SHIELD 0.
Author's Note: It was always the plan that once Lois realised Superman was just like the 2 aliens from the spaceship that she would be quite hostile to him...but in one way that's just what Clark wants. People focussed on him and not mutants...and this clash with SHIELD is only going to be the first of many for him. In many ways Marie is giving away my plots going forward. See how many you can guess. Thanks for the reviews in my last story. Next up; The Professor decides it's high time he got back to dealing with the myriad of problems the X-Men are facing.