Disclaimer: All characters in this story are copyright their respective owners.


Chapter One - Speak And Spell

Chloe Sullivan had been dying to tell Clark the latest piece of news - ever since the moment she'd entered The Talon and seen him sitting there alone at the counter, but, somehow, she'd managed to put it off long enough for her coffee to arrive. However, now that Clark was her captive audience, she couldn't resist telling him any longer.

"Hey, Clark, you'll never guess what? Some freak that the police arrested last night claims that he was defeated by someone with strange powers. He even gave them a name."

Clark went silent. "I know," he said, as he remembered the latest powerful mutant he'd defeated last night. He was hoping that the darkness would have concealed his identity, but obviously it hadn't.

"You do?" responded an annoyed Chloe, the wind taken out of her sails. "You know all about Insect Queen?"

"Of course I do," replied Clark, lying, with a big smile appearing on his face.

"So who do you think she is?"

Meanwhile Lana Lang was nearby chatting to her assistants.

"So, that's how my parents died," concluded Lana. "You looked like you wanted to know."

"You think that's bad?" replied Alvy. "My parent colony was in a field when suddenly these running shoes came falling from the sky, faster than you can possibly imagine, leaving my family destroyed forever. I'll never forget those running shoes and I've vowed that if I ever -"

"Oh, be quiet," interrupted a hurt Lana, adjusting her Insect Queen mask. "Who cares about a bunch of insects? I'm talking about my parents!"

"I'm sorry, my Queen" replied a sorrowful Alvy, as he turned from his friends and walked away from behind Chloe's coffee cup.

"Hey, you've got to have some sort of perspective," explained Lana to the remaining ants. "After all, my parents dying was a tragedy that will haunt my every moment until the day I die and beyond. You see, my story's important. I made the cover of Time magazine - I doubt if Alvy could even make the cover of The Tor-"

Lana's monologue was interrupted by a large SPLAT sound coming from Alvy's direction.

Chloe looked at the ant who'd she'd just crushed with her rolled-up copy of The Torch. "Yuk. Lana should take more care of this place. I can't believe how many insects I've seen round here lately."

"Maybe she's Insect Queen?" ventured Clark laughing.

"Yeah, I can just see it now. Orphaned at a young age when her parents were killed by a freak meteor, Lana vowed by their grave to defend the world from any meteor freaks. Now, with the size and the intellect of an insect, Lana Lang is the pink princess of petiteness known as Insect Queen. Using her bee-sting to carve her initials into meteor freaks everywhere so that when anyone sees the initials IQ they'll automatically think of Lana Lang."

"Stop it," yelled a laughing Clark, as he glamorously snorted coffee out of his nose. "Chloe, you're terrible."

Meanwhile, the miniature Lana, who'd been listening in on the conversation ever since Chloe had murdered Alvy, was unable to take Chloe's jealous rant anymore and pushed at the cup of coffee next to her sending it all over Chloe.

Clark sat at the counter alone.

"Hey, Clark," said Lana, appearing from behind the counter. "No Chloe?"

"She had to go and change. Coffee accident," explained Clark.

"I hope she wasn't saying anything nasty about me," said Lana, a hurt look in her eyes.

"She was," confided Clark. "But don't worry, I told her how terrible she was being."

"Well, that's really big of you, Clark," said Lana smiling. "Why if I didn't know better I'd think you had something to do with that accident."

"Maybe," responded a smiling Clark, not realizing that he'd dug himself into a hole and that it was getting bigger.

Whereas Chloe Sullivan's absence from The Talon was conspicuous, nobody had noticed Pete Ross' absence. Of course, Pete Ross had been absent a lot recently. Ever since the visit by Zatanna had revealed to him that Clark had a weakness against magic, Pete had been training himself as a master of the mystic arts, preparing for the inevitable day when Kal made a reappearance.

Now, as he prepared to summon his latest demon, Pete staggered unsteadily towards the pentagram (the spell had required a pint of virgin's blood and he was still feeling a bit woozy). Throwing the last spell ingredient, a videotape of the Buffy musical episode, into the magical fire, he uttered the magic words "It's Showtime!" and then, without even the slightest hint of anything resembling pyrotechnics, a red demon in a dapper suit suddenly appeared before his very eyes.

"Hi, I'm Pete," said Pete, introducing himself.

"Hi, Pete," replied the demon, shaking Pete's hand. "Great to meet you, but I've got to be going. Now that Joss has made me famous I'm in demand by amateur demon-summoners everywhere."

"But, I was hoping you'd make Smallville sing," moaned Pete.

"No problem," he said, firing a red bolt of energy at Pete. "You've got the Smallville franchise. I'll be back in 25 hours for my payment."

As Pete stood there, feeling the new mystical energies flowing through his body, the obviously question jumped to his lips. "What's the payment?"

"I need a queen," the demon replied, throwing a book at Pete's feet.

As Pete looked down at the user manual for his new powers, he wondered where he'd ever be able to find a queen in Smallville.