The room was dark, but there was a circle of light at the dead center. In the light stood a proud man, stationed there by the Rings of Imprisonment that spun around him. The only sound was the slight humming of the rings. His back straight, showing no hint of guilt or remorse for his crime. His dark hair and robes blended in with the surrounding darkness. He had an imposing figure for someone wombed a scientist. Tall and lean with narrowing dark green eyes, but his confidence and knowing eyes made him appear intense.
He waited in the dark. Not worried or concern for his punishment. Nothing the Council could do would last long. He stood by his knowledge and conviction. The planet was doomed. Nothing could stop it. After his final sacrifice that led him here, he was ready for his fate. His son was safe.
Projection of seven faces appeared above him. The elderly faces of the Council members. "Jor-El," one of them spoke. Kan-Zel was the High Councilmen. The leader of the Council. His face was right in front of him, looming over him like a vengeful god. "for your lack of remorse and cooperation you are hereby sentenced to the Phantom Zone for public unrest and theft of the most high."
"The Phantom Zone?" he questioned, taken back. "For a petty crime?"
"Petty?" Sala, a respectful woman known for her compassion didn't even show him warmth. "You stole the Knowledge Crystal, an artifact that held Krypton's entire history and culture, and sent it to a destination you will not reveal to us. That is not petty, Jor-El."
Jor-El had to agree with her. Stealing the Knowledge Crystal was what put the militia on him. It was one of the most guarded and sacred relics of the Kryptonians. It was a relic of unlimited power. Without it, they were reduced back to the dark ages before science. He knew it would be the thing that would get him arrested, but it had to be done. The Council had refused to listen to him. So he had to take action.
He just didn't expect the Phantom Zone. That was reserved for the most heinous of criminals, the traitors and murderers. Just two days ago he testified against and sent General Zod and his followers to the Phantom Zone. They were currently in stasis liquid awaiting transport to the dreaded place. Did the Council really see him as a traitor for his actions to keep their culture alive? From their perspective, he admitted, it would appear so. He shouldn't be so surprised by their sentencing.
"We also warned you, Jor-El," Ser-Gav said in his no-nonsense tone, "about speaking of your false findings to the public. You failed to heed our warnings."
"No!" Jor-El snapped. "You are the ones not listening! And now it's too late." He took a breath to calm himself. "What became of Lara? What of my wife?"
"Lara has been stripped of her military title and is serving time in the Arc," Kan-Zel answered.
Jor-El breathed a silent sigh of relief. The Arc was the underground prison below his very feet. It was for the least dangerous criminals. She would be well taken care of before the end. Her lack of a military title, though seen as being stripped from identity, meant little when knowing about the end of the world. Krypton only had days, if that, to live. Lara knew that all too well. She would not be bemoaning her stripped identity.
"Reveal where you sent the Knowledge Crystal and we'll send you to the maximum prison at Arklent." If the Phantom Zone was for the worst criminals and the Arc for the least dangerous, then Arklent prison was right there in the middle. It was a life sentence with comfort, whereas the Phantom Zone was a life sentence without the daily comforts.
He didn't take a moment to think of the offer. He knew his answer. "Let your will be done."
"It shall be then," Kan-Zel said without a single hint of compassion or pity.
"Wait, High Councilmen," Hasa spoke for the first time. Her eyes showed the compassion he expected from Sala. "What of his son? We still cannot locate him and his Grandfather Lor-Van wishes to take him in."
Lara's father. He believed Jor-El's findings just as much as the Council did. It had caused a rift between the healer and the scientist, making Lara choose a side. She chose her husband.
"Kal-El is not the concern of the Council. That boy is an abomination. Leave that to Family Affairs," Kan-Zel replied coldly.
Jor-El narrowed his eyes at the councilman. An abomination? Just because he wasn't wombed, but birthed? The first natural birth in over a hundred years made him the hope of Krypton, not an abomination. His son had something none of them had. The freedom to choose his path in life.
Kan-Zel eyes turned back to Jor-El. "Begin the process."
The heads disappeared, leaving Jor-El in the dark room alone. He took a nervous breath for the first time since his capture. He kept his nerves contained but now was the end. He would forever remain in the Phantom Zone while his people and planet die…while his wife die. But there was one glimmer of hope.
He felt the stasis liquid make his way up his leg. It was cold and thick. His instinct told him to shake it off, but he knew it was pointless. He knew it wouldn't do anything. He was the one that created it after discovering the Phantom Zone some fifteen years ago.
Kal-El. His hope. The hope of his people.
The stasis liquid made it to his neck.
Kal-El would live. He would be Krypton's future. That abomination, as Kan-Zel so coldly put, would live and be a better example of Krypton. He would be their hope of their culture's survival. He would be his hope.
The liquid covered him, forcing him into a slumber as he was sent above the planet to the gateway of the Phantom Zone.
Jor-El didn't realize his imprisonment would be so short. On the day the transport ship headed into the gateway, the planet exploded. The force shook the gateway of the Phantom Zone forcing the ship that carried the last sentenced criminals of Krypton out. With the engine crashing from the force reentry, the stasis liquid released them and they were left staring at the fiery remains of their planet.
There was silence on the observation deck. No one moved. No one looked around to see who all was there. They stared out the window as fiery rocks flew past the ship.
Suddenly, the man closest to the window yelled. "Nooo!" He fell to his knees. His hands were clenched into fists.
Jor-El, standing in the back away from view, stumbled back until he hit the wall. He glanced down at his hands. He marveled at their movements, proof of life, before glancing back at the leftovers of his planet. Lara…He wasn't supposed to live. He was supposed to die with her. She…she died alone. Imprisoned. Without him. He wasn't supposed to be here.
"General, we must get the engines working," one of the soldiers said. "We must leave the wreckage before we get hit."
For the first time, Jor-El took note of all who survived with him. General Zod and his group of traitors. There was only a small group of nine in all. The carrier transport ships only took ten criminals up at once. The rest of Dru-Zod's men would have been taken up days prior and would be stuck in the Phantom Zone.
The voice came from beside him and he snapped his head, just as Ursa grabbed his arms. Her unflinching cold blue eyes staring at him with unhidden hatred. Ursa, General Zod's second in command. Her hatred towards men didn't extend to Zod or his other trustee, Non. Jor-El had become her number one enemy when he turned them into the Council and testified against them. Her red hair was cut short to keep it out of the way during battle. Her icy blue eyes stared daggers into him.
"Well, well, well, Jor-El," Zod stepped towards him. He was a broad shoulder, intimidating man. Taller than Jor-El, larger muscles, and a more defined face that was marred by a single scar above his right eyebrow. The man glared at him with dark eyes. "I didn't expect you to be here, you traitor."
Jor-El returned the glare. "I did not try to kill the Council, Dru-Zod," he responded calmly. He tried to whip his arm out of Ursa's grip, but she held on too tight.
Zod ignored his statement. "Did you succeed, Jor-El? Did you accomplish your plan?"
A few months ago, after the Council ignored his warnings again, Jor-El had been glad to find the general of the military believed him. They spoke often, trying to find a plan to get the Council to do something to save their people. Zod's plans were always too extreme for Jor-El and Jor-El's plans were too "trusting" and "naive" for Zod. But Jor-El was just glad to have someone on his side and ignored the warnings in his head of Zod's extreme military plans. He told Zod what he planned to do if the Council would not heed him. Zod knew his plan to steal the Crystal and send it away with his son.
It wasn't good enough for Zod, who was inbred with the fierce protection of Krypton. He planned an uprising against the Council and tried to get Jor-El on his side. Jor-El had no choice but to turn him in. Zod would do anything, absolutely anything, to keep Krypton alive—his version of Krypton. It was that very reason that kept Jor-El from telling him where he sent his son.
"I will not tell you, Zod."
The other man stared at him. The scar above his brow twitched as his eyes bore into him. Suddenly, Zod let out a chuckle. "You succeeded. You are sentimental, Jor-El. You would be showing more emotion if your wife and child died on Krypton." He turned away from him to address his men. "There is hope for the survival of our people! The Knowledge Crystal still exists. Zan-Lear, get that engine working and move us out of range."
A young man nodded before taking two others to the engine room.
"What of him, General?" Non asked with steel in his eyes. Non wasn't as tall as Zod, but he was broader and had larger muscles. What he lacked in brains he sure made up with muscles.
"Where did you send your son?" the general asked.
"I will not tell you," Jor-El repeated.
Zod clinched his fist and narrowed his eyes. "He has the hope of our people! Let us work together, Jor-El, and save us from utter ruin and extinction!"
"He is the hope for a new and better Kryptonian, Zod! He can choose his path. Be better than any Kryptonian. He can inspire. You, yourself, noted how pompous the Council were, but failed to see it wasn't just the Council. It was our own people that became so invested in themselves. Our very culture became too confident because of our scientific breakthroughs and military strategies. It wasn't just the Council that ignored my warnings. It was everyone! I gave my son the Knowledge Crystal so he will know, so we will be remembered, but I advised him not to follow our ways. He will not use the Crystal to bring back what fate decided to take away. Nor will you."
"You are a fool, Jor-El. Always have been."
There was a vibration under their feet as the engine started. Zod turned away from him to order someone to move the ship away before going back to him. "Your son is an abomination. He should never have existed. I was going to let him live, but I will take that Crystal out of his cold dead hands if I must."
Jor-El glared at him. "Then you will never have my cooperation."
The ship jerked forward as an asteroid from their home planet hit it, causing everyone to stumble. It made Ursa loosen her grip on his arm and he wasted no time to fling her away and run.
"JOR-EL!" Zod yelled. "After him! Stop him before he gets to the pod!"
Every transport ship had a pod in case a Kryptonian guard was there to personal escort prisoners to the Phantom Zone. The guard would make sure the ship was heading for the gateway before getting in the pod to return to Krypton. That pod was Jor-El's only hope to get away from Zod. There weren't any places to hide on the small transport ship otherwise.
He heard running footsteps behind him, but it only encouraged him to run faster down the gray metal corridors. The lights flickered overhead as the system was still damaged. He made to the back of the ship and down to the one pod that existed on the ship.
He closed the door just as Zod caught up with him. He banged on the door. His face in a sneer as he punched the window. Jor-El ignored him as he readied the pod for takeoff. He strapped himself into the seat and flicked on the controls in front of him, not paying any attention to Zod's pathetic attempts to break the glass.
"I'll find your son, Jor-El! I will! He'll die because of your foolishness. You won't get far in that pod, Jor-El."
He launched into open space. One thing Zod was right about. He wouldn't get far in the pod and, once all the systems were back online on the ship, Zod would be able to track him. Jor-El would have to find a planet nearby to jump ship and he was determined not to lead Zod straight to his son. He would have to go a long way, lead Zod astray before daring to approach the planet. It might take years to get to planet Earth. Kal-El would have to be without him for a while. Someday he would see his son again. Someday.
Planned only for a one-shot, but as I wrote I wanted to continue despite not having any plans to do so or direction or even a plot in mind. For now, though, this is just a one-shot.