Before allowing anyone to go back home, Clark reported Adam's attempt to kidnap Alicia and Lana to Sheriff Adams. Surprisingly, she'd immediately sent squad cars to each of their homes to make sure the girls were safe if Adam turned up again. The extra measure of security allowed Clark to feel comfortable enough to let Lana head back home with Chloe. Once Pete left, Clark insisted on driving Alicia back to her house.
Driving towards Alicia's home in his truck, Clark tried to process the night's events in his mind. First there was the thought of Adam with newfound powers targeting Alicia and Lana in order to get to him. The thought made his stomach sick. Clark had to overcome the urge to speed-search through Smallville and beat the living tar out of Adam when he found him. Besides there was a much bigger fish to fry named Jor-El. Clark had some unfinished business with his Kryptonian father and he was determined to resolve it before the night was over.
Clark wasn't the only person whose mind was left swirling with questions. Alicia rode in the passenger seat trying to make sense of everything she'd witnessed tonight. A near abduction, a forced reveal of her abilities, and visions triggered by glowing necklaces involving mysterious characters with strange names was a bit much for one night. Even for someone as used to weirdness as she was. She looked over at Clark's face and saw an expression of worried contemplation that mirrored what she was feeling inside.
Unable to contain the myriad questions running through her mind, she began directing some of them towards Clark.
"Clark, do you think that Lana's right about why this Adam guy went after us? Does it have something to do with him knowing about your powers?"
"It's possible," Clark hesitantly confessed, "especially after what I learned just recently."
"What did you find out, exactly?"
"Don't ask me how, but one of my contacts came across the security video from that day we met in the elevator and I saw what was on it."
Clark wanted to protect Chloe and not divulge her identity if possible, especially since whoever sent her the security video might have been involved in the kidnap attempt on Alicia. But he also wanted to find a way to tell Alicia what she needed to know without technically lying to her.
"It pays to be involved in journalism," he explained.
"But I thought you fried the security camera?"
"That's true, but I also saw a video of someone from LuthorCorp examining the remains of the elevator. I think that judging from the hole in the elevator and the melted camera, that person could suspect that I might have used my powers to save us from the elevator crash. And if Lana's right, that same person might be using Adam to investigate me. There's no evidence that would give anyone reason to suspect you, though."
"Not that it matters now, anyway," Alicia sighed. "Adam saw me teleport Lana away from the Talon. If Adam's actually in league with this person like you suspect, it's all a moot point."
"I'm sorry I got you involved in all this," he apologized. If it weren't for him, he reasoned, then none of his friends would have been exposed to this danger.
But Alicia was having none of that.
"Don't apologize, Clark. There was nothing you could do about it. You were only trying to help the people around you with your abilities. There's nothing wrong with that."
"Besides," she grinned, "I think that's what makes you so special."
Slightly comforted by Alicia's words, Clark thought of something else he had been dying to ask Alicia.
"So, I guess Lana knows about your abilities now."
"She needed my help, so I had to reveal my abilities to save the both of us."
"Thanks," Clark told her with real gratitude, "for helping my friend."
"Oh, don't worry about it. It's nothing that either of you wouldn't have done for me. Besides, she was the one that first came to my rescue by trying to whack Adam with a broom stick. So technically I owed her one," she smiled back.
"So how did she handle finding out that you could teleport?" Clark inquired with keen interest. His previous conversation with Lana in the caves made him hopeful that Lana would be understanding of those who were different, such as himself.
"She handled it a lot better than I expected," said Alicia. "She even promised not to tell anyone else about my abilities. I feel like I can actually trust Lana on this one."
Clark's spirits soared at the news. Lana was the last of his close circle of friends not to know who he really was. If Lana could accept Alicia, would she be able to accept him? Unlike Alicia, he had extraterrestrial origins. But if what Lana told him in the caves was true, then perhaps she wouldn't have a real problem with that either.
"Wow," he replied to Alicia's remark, "I'm glad she took it well."
"Yeah, me too…" Alicia trailed off, wondering that if Lana could be so understanding towards her, why did Clark not trust Lana enough with his own abilities?
"… Clark, why didn't you ever tell Lana about your abilities? Judging by the way she reacted to finding out about me, I think she would have understood."
Alicia's new question caught Clark by surprise. There was no believable way to express to Alicia the idea that he was literally from another planet without giving away his true origins. He stumbled around in his mind for a suitable response.
"It's not that I don't trust Lana…" he began.
"Then what is it?"
"Does it have anything with this Jor-El character you guys were talking about?"
Clark really didn't want to touch the upon the subject of Jor-El. So he did his best to come up with a plausible reason for not wanting to reveal his secret even to trustworthy people.
"Look Alicia, I didn't tell Lana because I worried about her safety. And it looks like I was right. Now you're both being chased by someone who's in all likelihood interested in my abilities."
Despite Clark's seemingly sensible answer, Alicia wasn't entirely convinced. She felt that there was something Clark wasn't telling her, and that both Lana and this Jor-El were tied to him in some way she couldn't quite yet grasp. Although she wanted to dispute Clark's explanation, it was hard arguing against the logic of his answer. She didn't want to push him further, so all she could do was hope that maybe he would open up to her in time.
Adam lay down in bed in his safe house, fresh from meeting with Lex to discuss the proposals of the younger Luthor. Lex promised that in return for uncovering all of Lionel's illegal research, he would in turn use the fruits of his father's labor to find Adam a permanent cure for his failing liver. Adam had to admit that he was very intrigued by the prospect of bringing Lionel Luthor down from the inside. However, he wasn't sure if he could trust Lex to uphold his end of the bargain once Lionel was out of the way. In order for this to work, he needed to play his cards carefully.
The sound of footsteps climbing up the stairs of his apartment complex filtered in through Adam's enhanced hearing. He sat up and walked towards his front door. His hearing picked up four sets of footsteps approaching his apartment. Adam could also smell the slight stench of chemicals that was unique to the lab in which he was resurrected. Lionel Luthor was coming to pay a visit.
Adam opened his door to a grinning Lionel, who didn't seem the least bit surprised by Adam's anticipation of his arrival. Lionel and the three members of his security detail entered the apartment. Adam noticed that one of the body guards was carrying a laptop computer, which he found somewhat odd.
"Is there anything I can help you with?" asked Adam, trying to temper his disdain for Lionel.
"Just an update," Lionel said with a little too much fake cheer for Adam's liking.
"Nothing out of the ordinary yet," Adam lied. He didn't want to give up his knowledge of Alicia Baker's abilities unless he could use the knowledge to leverage something out of Lionel.
"Really?" asked Lionel almost mockingly.
"Yeah, really." answered Adam, careful not take his eye of Lionel.
"On the contrary," Lionel rebutted with a sardonic look, "it seems you've been quite busy this evening."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about you breaking my strict orders not to show yourself to the target."
Lionel just smiled. This couldn't be good, Adam thought to himself.
"However," Lionel continued, "I must say that your amateurish attempt to capture the target revealed something quite unexpected about Miss Baker, don't you think?"
Adam silently cursed himself. How could Lionel know all this? Had Lex betrayed him? Or did Lionel have someone else spy on them?
Lionel's grin grew wider as he saw the gears turning in Adam's head. In fact, Lionel had bugged Lex with a state of the art microscopic video and audio recorder without Lex's knowledge. This was a fact he withheld from Adam with delight. He wanted to keep Adam off balance while simultaneously eroding any trust he had in Lex. The grin on his face faded as he looked Adam in the eye.
"You've made a grave mistake by taking me so lightly," Lionel snarled.
Lionel motioned to the bodyguard with the laptop. The guard promptly opened the laptop to reveal a streaming video of a teenage girl bound and gagged with a gun pointed to her head.
Adam recognized the girl in the video. It was his younger sister. His heart sank while the rage within him boiled over.
"Eileen!" he screamed.
"Now, now, Mr. Nash let's not get worked up," Lionel patronized. "Since you clearly don't value your own life, why don't we throw someone else's in the pot?"
"You bastard!" Adam growled. "Where is she?!"
"She could be anywhere in the world, Mr. Nash. The important thing for you to know is that if the gunman aiming at your sister's head fails to receive voice confirmation from me at regular intervals not to shoot, your sister will be joining you in the afterlife. Understood?"
Adam clenched his fists in a simmering rage. He wanted to rip Lionel's head off, but he could do nothing. Nothing but submit to Lionel's demands. For now.
Lionel crossed his arms in a triumphant fashion and looked down on Adam.
"Since you've effectively blown your cover, Mr. Nash, there is only one thing that you could possibly do to keep your sister alive."
"What do you need me to do?" Adam asked through clenched teeth.
"You need to capture Ms. Baker and Clark Kent. Bring them to me alive. You have until the end of the week. Otherwise, your family will be hosting yet another funeral. Is that clear?"
After dropping off Alicia, Clark drove directly to the Kawatche caves. Using his super hearing, he ensured that no one was in range to witness anything that could potentially happen if he confronted Jor-El. He strode into the caves full of indignation. How dare Jor-El drag his friends into their conflict. Hadn't Jor-El done enough to Clark's family?
Clark approached the wall that contained the opening for the octagonal key that once belonged to his spaceship. He placed the key in its slot and watched as the cave rumbled to life. The symbols surrounding the key opening began to swirl around and glow with blue, red, and yellow lights. The key itself began to glow and take on the colors of the symbols surrounding it, eventually morphing into the pentagonal crest of the house of El. Then a column of bright blue light shot down from the cave ceiling, completely enveloping Clark. Soon after, the booming voice of Jor-El resonated throughout the cavern.
Kal-El. You have returned.
"I'm not going to let you keep ruining the lives of the people around me Jor-El!"
You are mistaken Kal-El. It is not I who brings suffering upon those you care for. It is you who are responsible. By refusing to accept your destiny, you continue to bring anguish to those whom you claim to love.
Jor-El's words made Clark's blood boil. He couldn't believe that Jor-El had the audacity to pin the blame on him.
"My destiny?!!" he screamed, "If you want me to become a tyrannical ruler, you can forget about it! I refuse to become a monster that would use my power to oppress those I love!"
Is that what you think your destiny is Kal-El? If so, you are completely misguided.
"What are you saying?"
You were never destined to lord over this planet, Kal-El.
Clark's mind swirled in confusion over Jor-El's revelation. Did Jor-El just say that Clark wasn't meant to develop into the tyrant he was always afraid he would become?
"But what about the message you left me in my ship? You told me to rule the human race with strength. You said that is where my greatness lies."
Kal-El, if you had only continued your Kryptonian training instead of running away from your calling, you would have understood the true meaning of that message.
"Really?" he said full of cynicism. "Then why don't you enlighten me to this 'true meaning,' then!"
As you wish. It is not the true Kryptonian way to rule through strength and domination. Those who have followed such a path of tyranny have traditionally been rejected and banished by Kryptonian society. In Krypton, those who rule do not do so by subjugating those around them. To rule means to lead. To lead means to guide those around you by serving as a light that shows the way. You will find that this is a philosophy shared by the more enlightened minds and cultures of the human race as well. You are not destined to be a tyrant, Kal-El. You are destined to be a leader.
Clark could barely believe what he was hearing. If what Jor-El said was true, then it would turn Clark's understanding of himself, Jor-El, and Kryptonians in general completely on its head. He was no longer a monster, but a potential savior. Clark found it difficult to wrap his mind around such a possibility. He needed to be sure that Jor-El truly meant what he was saying.
"I'm not sure if I believe you… didn't you say that humans are a flawed race?"
Humans are most certainly flawed Kal-El, but Kryptonians are not free from flaws themselves. You only need look to our dead civilization to realize that.
"Then why do you think I'm more fit to lead than any other person on this earth? All I've ever wanted was to belong."
Kal-El, you must understand that by virtue of being Kryptonian you have been endowed with great powers. These powers are accompanied by heavy burdens, great responsibilities, and grave consequences. Try as you may, these are realities you cannot avoid. Remember that even though you have been raised as a human being you are not one of them. They can be a great people Ka-El…they wish to be, they only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you, my only son.
Jor-El's words left Clark speechless. The big picture Jor-El presented to him was overwhelming. He'd never thought of his role on earth as being so important or so grand. It seemed to make Clark's personal concerns seem almost trivial by comparison. Although he felt awe at the thought of filling such an important post, it also drove home the point that he was irrevocably different and alone in this world. Clark felt incredibly torn. Clark may have agreed with Jor-El's vision to be a shining light for humanity in the future, but Clark feared that very same light would incinerate anyone who ever got close to him. As always, his existence dealt him with an unenviable catch-22.
"But what about my family? My friends? What happens to them? I can't just leave them… I need some time to think about this."
Though you may want time to ponder your decision, be forewarned that every moment spent delaying your training will not only jeopardize your mission, but put those close to you in increasing danger as well. You must look beyond your own selfish desires and consider the greater good. You do your loved ones a disservice by refusing to fulfill your destiny. Instead of reaching your full potential, you risk drawing the wrath of your enemies towards those closest to you.
"How would you know? You've never been in this situation before!"
I speak from experience, Kal-El. I know first hand the consequences of refusing to fulfill my own destiny. Often our own selfishness results in innocents paying the ultimate price. Do not let my mistake be yours.
Clark thought back to Jor-El's memories of defying his father by wanting to stay with Louise on Earth.
"Are you talking about Louise?" he asked.
Indeed. Heed my counsel. Even now, those who would exploit you are poised to strike at you and the ones you cherish. It is only a matter of time before you lose the things you most want to protect. If you continue to delay, everything I predict shall come to pass. Although I have tried to force your hand in the past, there is no substitute for experiencing the consequences of your own actions. I now leave the choice to you, my son.
And just like that, the cave went dark with no sign of Jor-El's presence. Clark looked at the wall in front of him and caught the key as it dislodged from its slot. He stood there for the next few minutes, contemplating everything Jor-El had laid in front of him.