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Chapter One - Then One By One The Stars Would All Go Out
Look! Up in the sky!
That's what the people used to shout, all those years ago. It's what they'd be shouting again today, even though there are no longer any birds or any planes or even any Superman. Now, there's just the Sun, slowly turning from yellow to red. After all this time, the Earth's finally starting to feel like home.
And, as for the people, they're also long gone. Now there are just the insects ... and me.
Looks like I finally got to rule the world. I wonder what Jor-El would make of it all. After all, he's the reason I didn't die on Krypton, the reason I'm here. Him and Jimmy Olsen.
Of course it's a long story and, after all this time, I may be guilty of embellishing it, but here it is, from what I've been able to piece together. It's hard to know where to start, but five billion years ago in a coffee shop in Smallville is as good a time as any.
"Can I help you," Lana asked the stranger, who looked a bit the worse for wear.
"I'm looking for Lois and Clark," he replied, although experience had taught him how hopeless this task was.
"Just wait around then," she said with a smile, trying to put the stranger at ease. "Clark will be here any moment. Can I get you a coffee in the meantime?"
"Sure," he nodded. "Oh, and I know this is going to sound like a stupid question but where exactly am I?"
"Of course it's not a stupid question," Lana lied, struggling to prevent her smile from slipping. "You're in Smallville."
The stranger gave a sigh of relief. He must be in the past, before Clark moved to Metropolis. As the waitress placed the coffee in front of him he searched his pockets for some money. "This should cover it," he said, passing her some crumpled dollar bills.
"Thanks, I'm Lana Lang and you are …"
The door of The Talon opened, and the stranger briefly turned around, hoping that Clark had walked in, but it was just some blonde-haired girl. The stranger turned his attention back to Lana and was about to tell her his name when he had second thoughts. If this was the past then he couldn't risk upsetting the timeline too much (unlike his ancestor). Maybe he could just use his middle name. "The name's Bart."
"Let me guess," said the blonde-haired girl, who'd appeared beside him. "You're from the future."
The stranger dropped his coffee cup in surprise and looked closer at the girl. Suddenly he recognized her as Chloe Sullivan who he'd met once before during his many travels.
"I've got to go," he said, getting up from the table. "This isn't the right world."
As Lana and Chloe stared at him, he rushed towards the door, only to collide with Clark Kent coming in and tumble to the ground.
"Are you okay?" asked Clark, looking down at the crumpled figure.
"I'm fine," said the stranger, getting to his feet. "It's just that I was looking for a different Clark Kent." And with that, the stranger pushed his way past Clark Kent and left The Talon.
Clark looked at the floor, where the stranger had fallen, and saw that he'd dropped a photograph. As Clark picked it up and looked at what appeared to be a wedding photograph, Lana was looking at the dollar bills that the stranger had given her and was wondering why there was a picture of a bald guy on them.
Meanwhile, out on the streets of Smallville, Jimmy Olsen (for the stranger was he) took out the battered device that had gotten him there in the first place and carefully started to adjust its settings. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder and panicking, activated the device.
Clark placed his hand on the stranger's shoulder and suddenly saw the streets of Smallville transform into a war-torn landscape. With super-speed he grabbed the device from the stranger.
"What's this?" he demanded. "Some kind of hallucination device?"
"No it's a time/space transportation device," explained Jimmy. "Although it's not working properly."
"We're not in Kansas anymore?" asked Clark, realizing the enormity of the stranger's words.
"Probably not," replied Jimmy. "Although if we are then we're not at the same time and/or the same Kansas."
At which point a mechanical voice from behind them drew their attention. As Clark turned, even with his super-speed, he didn't have time to react to the laser beam that was heading for the device he was now carrying. As the beam hit, exploding the device, Jimmy Olsen just watched on helplessly as Clark vanished from view.
Jimmy Olsen turned towards the firer, a merciless killing machine that was now approaching him. Trying to back away he tripped over some rubble. Still, even if he could outrun the machine, now that the device was lost was there any reason to continue living - his friends, his family, his world never to be seen again.
Suddenly he heard a man's voice to his side.
"Come with me if you want to live."
He turned to see a man with a leather jacket and an outstretched hand, and with him, a female companion.
"Trust him," she said. "He's The Doctor."