The Champions of Kal-El: The Charge
by Creedog VanDrey

Category: Smallville
Genre: Action/Adventure, Humor
Rating: K+
Language: English
Summery: Clark and his friends are recruited to save an alien world.
Spoilers: Nothing in particular, but assumes general knowledge to about mid-Season 5.

A/N: I will continue this story as long as it's a healthy mix of real action, sincere drama, and moments of tongue-in-cheek silliness. The latter is the crucial aspect. I will not allow this to turn into a purely serious (and clichéd) epic adventure. Or maybe I will; who knows? By the way, when I said hints of Chlark and Lexana, I meant just that. This is not a romance. Or maybe it will be; who know? As my fans will tell you, a lot of my work is spontaneous and often self-developing.

Because I started this fic mid-Season 5, it's become a bit AU. I correctly predicted that Clark and Lana would break up (and even that Clark would become abstinent after Hidden), and that she and Lex would start to get close (though I didn't realize to what extent). However, while this does take place between Seasons 5 and 6, it is not a post-Vessel.

By the way, this was previously under the name "Arena," which was its working title. I was not satisfied with the first draft, so I've revamped the first chapter. This will delay the publishing of the anticipated second chapter several days. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Chapter 1: The Charge

Pete Ross had finally gotten the chance to visit Smallville. His classes at Washburn University in Wichita kept him very busy for most of the year, especially since he started experimenting with the idea of going pre-law. But poli-sci was the last thing on Pete's mind as he walked through the cornfields of the Kent Farm.

"So, tell me more about this Fortress of Solitude you've got stashed in Canada," Pete prodded his best friend, Clark Kent, as they walked toward the Kent farm barn.

Clark brushed his bangs out of his eyes, commenting, "It's Jor-El's doing. It's really not much to look at, just a bunch of ice crystals in this huge… structure."

Pleading, Pete grabbed Clark's upper arm, "At least let me see it, man. Chloe says it's kind of cool."

Clark rolls his eyes, half-smiling as he commented, "Leave it to Chloe to find one loophole about not talking about my powers… by talking about them with you." Clark ascended the stairs towards his loft.

Flashing his trademark toothy smile, Pete bounced up the steps behind his taller pal. "Let's not change the subject, O gifted one. So, we going?"

"Alright, alright; I'll take you. Trust me, it's one of those 'you only need to see it once' kind of things," Clark relented as he climbed the last flight of wooden stairs.

"So, did you convince him?" Chloe Sullivan's bright voice asked. She was sitting on the couch in Clark's other fortress of solitude, holding two conspicuous backpacks.

"Yeah, he totally caved," Pete commented, passing the motionless Clark so he could give Chloe a tight hug.

His voice full of mock suspicion, Clark asked, "What's going on?" With a lowered eyebrow, he surveyed both Pete and Chloe.

Tilting her head, Chloe replied, with false innocence, "What's going on is, we're going to visit your icy palace. Unless your alien brain has gotten more absent-minded." She playfully shoved his forehead, which required her to stand on her tip-toes.

In truth, Clark found his brain be able to forget less and less. He even found himself able to play back entire conversations. He hadn't shared this development with his in-the-know pals yet, knowing they'd immediately assume it was another superpower.

Clark continued his interrogation. "And the packs?"

With a mock obvious tone, Chloe told him, "Cold weather gear. Not all of us have super body heat. I don't want to have to explain to my dad how I caught pneumonia in June." She tossed one of the packs to Pete, who put it on, slipping his thumbs under the straps in a too-perfect ready-to-go mountaineer pose.

- - -

With Pete and Chloe in tow, Clark entered the deep chamber of the Kawatche caves that housed the transporting table. He nervously rotated the octagonal key in his hand. The trio stopped short at the entrance, finding themselves with company. Lex Luthor and Lana Lang stood side by side over the table, paper and charcoal in hand, making rubbings.

Clark and Lana shared an uneasy exchange of glances. The breakup occurred a few months ago, and the transition from lovers to friends hadn't been easy. "Lovers" in the poetic sense, at least. The physical part of their relationship had tacitly ceased after Clark's "near-death" and resurrection. But something else had changed in their relationship, something, which while not explicitly damning, led them down a path that proved to be too difficult for their relationship to weather.

With habitually undue confidence, Clark suspiciously asked Lex, "What are you doing here?"

Lex casually smiled. "I could ask you the same question, Clark. You forget that LuthorCorp still owns the protection lease on these caves. I have as much reason as you, if not more, to be here."

"I wanted to see the caves again," Pete vouched, "you know, for old time's sake."

Lex smiled slyly, responding in a Luthor-esque tone, "Well, Clark, if you must know, Lana asked me to lend a hand with her anthropology assignment."

With a wit to match, Chloe pointed out, "Lana, you do realize that we got out of school for summer just a few weeks ago?" Lana and Chloe shared an equally uneasy glance. Living together, while not a total nightmare, had been grating on both of them. Plus, during his and Lana's relationship, Clark ended a lot of his calls by asking if he could talk to Chloe. They spoke in hushed tones for a few minutes and hung up. Lana assured herself there wasn't anything clandestine going on. Clark might be a dim bulb at times, but Chloe was too smart to think she could hide a covert liaison under Lana's nose.

Lana sweetly commented, "I'm taking Burrow's Anthro 221 class next semester. It's just some cave rubbings to get me a head start on the semester-end project he always gives."

There was a pregnant silence as everyone tried to think of the next thing to say. Lois Lane took this moment to stroll in, oblivious as ever. "I thought I heard voices. Chloe, you are such a liar. You said this wasn't the social center of the town."

Chloe responded, "It's not. We're just giving Pete a tour. Oh, Pete, have you ever met my cousin, Lois?"

Pete cleared his throat and held out his left hand, stuttering for a second before regaining composure. "Pete Ross," he stated, standing up straight in a futile attempt to be taller than Lois.

Lois awkwardly shook with her non-dominant hand, " Lois Lane; nice to meet you." She turned to Chloe, "Is this the one that—?"

"Yeah," Chloe remarked, cutting her off, with a fake grin. Lois went to examine the tablet.

Pete scooted up to his blond friend and whispered to her, "That one that what?"

She whispered back, "I have no idea, but any question that starts like that is not one you want Lois Lane to finish." Chloe gave him a sympathetic smile.

Looking Lois up and down, Pete commented amorously, "I see she inherited the Sullivan genes."

"Nice try, Ross, but she's from my mom's side of the family. And, might I add… ew!" She moved away from Pete to stand on the other side of Clark.

"Kal-El…" a deep, disembodied male voice suddenly spoke in a solemn tone.

Pete, Chloe, and Clark tensed up, as Lex, Lana, and Lois shared confused looks.

The voice spoke again, "I see that the circle of champions has been assembled. Let it begin…"

The walls began to glow with a blinding light, composed of thousands of glowing dots that raced across the walls of the chamber, quickly glowing brighter until the light blinded the inhabitants. After the brief flash, Clark and the others noticed one by one that the entrance of the cavern had been replaced by a stone wall, effectively trapping them inside the room.

"Okay, what the hell is going on here?" Lois yelled, "I refuse to be possessed by some witch's left-hand woman with questionable fashion taste again." Chloe inwardly beamed, taking small pleasure in the fact that it was Isobel's right-hand woman who had chosen to inhabit her body.

The voice, ignoring the confusion in the room and speaking with the same solemnity, commanded, "Draw close to the table, Champions, and the ceremony will begin."

Seeing no other choice, the six encircled the table, exchanging helpless glances. Lex was the first to speak. "Does anybody know who Kal-El is?"

Lana replied, "Kal-El. It's the same name those super-powered aliens asked for last year after the meteor shower…"

Jor-El's voice cut off Lana, "Champions of Kal-El, you have been chosen because my son has deemed you worthy of this quest. The world of Dagula-Inagehi is in great peril. It is prophesied that six worthy champions will free the Kenaki people. These brave fighters shall take on the roles of six great Kawatche warriors, and be guided by the great spirits, who will give them amazing abilities. By laying your hands on the table, you have accepted this charge."

All looked down, and realized the placement of their hands. All, in some way or another, were touching or gripping the table. Six pairs of hands flew away from the table as it if were a hot stove. Too late, it appeared, because Jor-El continued by majestically stating, "Then let the titling ceremony begin."

The pentagonal hole at the center of the table began to glow, and the small ball of energy emitted a beam which focused in on Clark's chest.

Jor-El's voice declared, "I find surpassing courage in you. You shall take the role of Naman on this quest."

A glowing light engulfed Clark briefly before dimming, and he found himself dressed in a Native American outfit, made from buckskin or a similar material. Ultramarine-colored moccasins covered his feet, a similarly colored kilt was wrapped around his waist, and a just-as-blue vest hung on his shoulders. Most striking about the outfit was the gleaming crimson symbol on the left breast of his vest: a gem-shaped pentagon circumscribed around a figure eight. Clark self-consciously tried to close the open vest. Chloe diverted her eyes and tried to suppress a smile. Lana looked down guiltily.

"For this journey, you have been given the strength of ten men, the speed of the wind, and the ability to shoot fire from your eyes. Lead well."

A similar beam focused on Pete, who was standing to Clark's right.

Jor-El's voice boomed as loud as ever, "In you, I have found great loyalty. For this, I grant to you the role of Dayak."

The light engulfed Pete and upon receding, he found himself in a Native American-style war shirt and pants made from a dark forest green fabric. In addition, a leather belt held a variety of weapons: a dagger, a tomahawk, and several small projectile weapons. On his shirt was a distinctive light blue symbol: a tall rhombus with a line extending from its right corner intersecting a small circle.

"With these powers, you shall wield any weapon with the skill of the greatest fighter."

"Cool," Pete muttered as he studied his belt with awe.

The light then focused on Chloe, who stood on the other side of Clark. "Hmm," Jor-El's voice mused, "I find great loyalty is this one as well. A fine choice for a champion, Kal-El. She shall then take the role of Loral, the Faithful." The transformation left Chloe in a belted, knee-length scarlet dress with tasseled edges; it had a modest pointed neckline and shoulder-length sleeves. In her left hand, she now found a long, slender, wooden staff with a small stone sphere attached to the top, inscribed with symbols resembling those decorating the cave walls. Her shoulder-length hair was in two braids which hung behind her ears.

"To you, I give the gift of second sight. You will know the hearts of those around you and you shall have an intimate knowledge of fate. Use your abilities wisely."

Clark then noticed that Chloe wore a bracelet on her left hand: a large turquoise gauntlet with a familiar emblem on it. He studied it closely, "I recognize this. This is Kyla's bracelet."

Chloe looked down, seeing a silver bracelet with a turquoise square inscribed diagonally to a wide oval; the side corners were connected to small bars which extended to the far edges of the oval. Smirking, Chloe teased, "Uh, you think I have anything to do with this bracelet? I'm in a total Wall of Weird episode just like you."

Whether Jor-El was answering her question or continuing with the traditional monologue, he stated, "For this journey, you will wear the Shaman's Eye bracelet, which was a gift from Naman to his lady love, Loral. Traditionally, Loral would give it to such a warrior, who would pledge to bring her husband home safely."

Chloe looked stressed. "Way to put the pressure on psychic girl! I guess I shouldn't worry, though. Last time I check, you weren't married, Clark." The two of them exchanged grins. Chloe then seemed to notice her braids and eyed them with mixed emotions.

The light engulfed Lana and left her wearing a short-sleeved fuchsia dress with a pointed skirt and a wide, beaded collar. The collar, worn over her shoulders, featured a symbol in the maroon beadwork: two horizontal, parallel lines each attached to a small, off-center circle, with a small dot floating on either end. Attached to her waist was a coiled black rope. Her hair was tied in a long braid which hung loosely behind her back.

"I have no doubt that this champion is Rayen the Joyous." Jor-El stated, "To you, I give the compassion to deal with all beings. You carry with you the unbreakable Cord of Rayen; its length will conform to your desire."

Lana looked at her dress and the symbol when she noticed Clark and Chloe pale. She, too, recognized the symbol on her dress to be reminiscent to the one that was tattooed on her lower back for the better part of a year.

When the beam focused on Lois, it paused for a long time. It then flickered around, briefly re-illuminating the other Champions before returning to Lois.

"The other champion in this room is Sageeth the Strong. This champion must therefore be Myora the Wise." Jor-El seemed to mull over it further, but nonetheless continued, "To her, I give the gift of flight and ability to cloak herself from the sight of others."

When the light receded from Lois, she was left in a deep purple, two-piece outfit; the top was a sleeveless, tasseled, lace-up, halter-like bustier and the bottom a knee-length skirt. She also wore a headband with a silver symbol: a horizontal figure-eight above a horizontal line.

There were glances exchanged in the room as Lois was being named "Myora the Wise."

Jor-El continued quickly, "To Sageeth, I give extraordinary stamina, endurance, resistance to pain, and speed of thought. I also gift to you the Blade of Parity. It must never be unsheaved unless the power of Naman grows too great."

Lex was engulfed in yellow light which receded to reveal him donning golden-yellow pants and a poncho-like shirt. Lex mouthed the name "Sageeth" to himself. On his cloth belt were two sheaves: a small one made out of dull metal with a strap holding the small dagger inside, and a larger one, encasing a very simple but very menacing-looking saber. On the front of his shirt was an umber brown crest: a large circle above and connected to a smaller circle, which was intersected by a small horizontal line.

"And now," Jor-El's voice said, as the octagonal key flew from Clark pocket. Clark would have panicked, but Lex's and Lana's heads were turned. The key inserted itself into the table.

"You will travel a great distance to complete the quest. Good luck, brave warriors."

A/N: Sorry it's short, but in reality, I'm just trying to stop myself from sitting on this forever. Originally, I wanted to write the entire story as one chapter, but I realized as I looked through what I had already written since February, it would be better to break it up. Chapter 2, "Homeworld", will be up as soon as I fill in the details of what I've already written. Right now, I'm imagining a 5-chapter story.

(Sonriso) - Hey, I want powers, too! I can be Sonriso the Sarcastic, with the ability to debilitate any enemy with my biting wit! Or maybe I'll just take a nap.

©2006 Godeerc VanDrey Enterprises, Inc. Created Sunday, February 12, 2006. Finished Thursday, July 19, 2006. Updated Sunday, August 20, 2006.