By Denise (kdsch123)

Acknowledgements: WB and DC own all.

Rating: R for eventual violence, character death and adult content.

Summary: Before Clark Kent arrived on Earth, a whole world hung in the balance. The struggle between Jor-El and General Zod, the story of Lara Lor-Van, Jor-El and Raya, and the destruction of Krypton.

Pairings: Jor-El/Lara,

Prologue: The Condemnation of Zod

He stood, alone in the council chamber, the energy restraints too powerful to struggle against. Dru-Zod was not a small man, even by Kryptonian standards he was taller than most. Now, helpless, he could feel the council members hating him, despising him, fearing him. All of those were useful emotions. The hate could galvanize enemies against him, but hate was sloppy and people caught up in it made mistakes. Fear was the best, the panic in the eyes of some of the Council as Zod had been led before them by warriors who would have followed him in a heartbeat before his insurrection. With prison bleary eyes, Zod looked up at the Council, turning to make eye contact with all of them. Except for two. Those he could not look toward, would not look at. Instead, he cleared his throat and shouted.

"You have brought me here, why don't you get it over with? What are you afraid of?" He asked, his voice hoarse. "I have brought planets down to their knees, conquered worlds and slaughtered thousands. In so many rotations, I would have held Krypton in the palm of my hand. Why do you hesitate?"

"You are in great haste for death." The Council Leader said, trying to mask his fear of Zod with bluster and bravado. "We are deliberating now. Be silent."

"No prison will hold me." Zod laughed. "You are best to kill me and have done with it. Your reluctance to spill my blood is weakness."

"Is it?" A voice chimed out, and Zod closed his eyes. She was speaking, and Zod did not want to see her face. In closing his eyes though, he could see her, Lara Lor-Van, now Lara-El. She had been his by family right and promises made over her cradle, but when Zod chose the military life, he relinquished his right to a family, and the betrothal was broken. He did not love her, Zod loved nothing. But her pure green eyes burned him as she looked upon him, and Zod turned, hoping to make her stop with a vicious hiss. Instead, he saw the pity in her eyes as Lara stepped forward, her dark hair falling over her shoulders in a shining tumble of curls. One long, white hand rested on the balcony railing as she looked down on Zod. "Be silent, Zod." Lara said gently. "Even now there is one who is pleading for some mercy…in the name of your past friendship. Do not diminish his efforts on your behalf."

"JOR-EL!" Zod bellowed, making all in the Council chamber jump. "Do not take from me what honor this feeble gathering would afford me by asking to spare my life! And you, wife of Jor-El, do not pity me. I am not some inferior creature to be coddled and wept over. I am Zod. Worlds shake before me, and the blood of thousands is on my hands. Pity is for the weak." He saw Lara's eyes harden. "You should fear me, daughter of the Lor-Van. I am the poison on which your family choked to death." Zod smiled, waiting for Lara's reaction. She sighed, raising her hand to her perfect mouth in despair. But her despair was a knife that Zod never expected to feel. He relished the pain of it, exulted in her sadness.

"Dru-Zod, you have committed crimes for which our laws are inadequate. The appropriate punishment must be meted out. You must be made an example of, once and for all." The Council Leader said, leaning over the rail. "Your death would only make you a martyr."

Zod smiled. "Ah, of course. How foolish of me to think that you all might have overlooked that small detail. And yet I am too dangerous to leave alive. Whatever is to be done with Zod? What an interesting quandry we find ourselves in."

The great doors of the Council chamber parted, and a tall shadow stood in the light that flooded in through the portal. It moved closer, coming into focus and finally, Jor-El came to stand in the center of the Council chamber with Zod. He held the crystal, the one he'd made as a key to that folly of his, the Phantom Zone. Jor-El shook his head, prematurely white, and sighed. Zod chuckled maliciously, his red eyes more than amused.

"They send you. Of all the Council, they send you to carry out my sentence? Well, well, this should be interesting indeed. What shall you do, Jor-El, for whom the sight of blood sickens you? How will you be the one to punish me? Shall you send me to my chambers, as our foster father did in our childhood? Keep my dinner from me? Humanely, of course." Zod scoffed, mocking his former friend. Jor-El waited patiently as Zod mocked him, and the General felt himself shrink a little at Jor-El's calm blue gaze.

"Dru-Zod, son of the house of Zod, by the authority of the Council of Krypton, you stand before me for condemnation for crimes against the galaxy. Your exploits are known to all, I will not glorify them by giving them airing here. You have betrayed every law, code and principle our civilization is based on. You cannot live." Jor-El's voice was steady, and deep with emotion. "And yet, you cannot be executed. Our laws forbid such an act, and your followers are waiting for that. Therefore, the punishment is exile."

"Exile!" Zod threw his head back and laughed. "I will come back from it and wash Kryptonopolis with your blood."

"Your spirit shall be riven from your physical body. It is your spirit that shall be exiled to the Phantom Zone, and your body preserved, until such time as you may be rehabilitated." Jor-El raised the crystal, speaking in the low voice he'd often used when they were children and talking in the darkest hours of the night, hoping to not be heard. "I will not give up on you, my friend." The crystal glowed, and Zod growled, feeling his soul slip from it's moorings inside him and begin to float free. He saw the one thing he, the great General Dru-Zod feared above all else. The unflinching and unyielding hope in eyes of his former friend, and Zod despised Jor-El for that, most of all. Once, they had been as brothers…..