by Creedog VanDrey
Genre: Action/Adventure, Romance
Rating: TV-PG V S D
Summery: After a breakout at 33.1, Archangel Investigations brings in reinforcements.
Spoilers: None, though similar to "Justice"
Director's Commentary: Honestly, we wrote this premise a while back. You're going to think we ripped off "Justice," but we didn't. At least we don't think we did. It's possible that one of my crack monkeys read a spoiler, so we apologize to Al and Miles, who have agreed not to sue us.
A/N: However, if you are looking for a "Justice" fic, catch "Nanny" and its upcoming sequel.
Episode 107: Helen
Lionel entered his son's office to find Lex reading a book at his desk.
"Ah, son, what fine piece of literature has grasped your attention today?"
Lionel nodded with pride, "Excellent choice. Whose translation?" Without asking, he poured himself a glass of water and sat down comfortably in one of Lex's chairs.
"Lombardo's," Lex replied without looking up.
Lionel set his glass down with an audible clink. "I should be ashamed to call you my son," he commented dryly, "Fitzgerald's version is much better."
Lex laid the book down, faux-reluctantly. "Sorry to disappoint. But everyone knows that Fitzgerald's dialogue is completely unreadable."
"Lex, I'm worried about you," Lionel said, his mood abruptly darker.
"Now why is that, Dad?"
"It's about Miss Lang. I think it was very foolish of you to think that you could keep the relationship from me."
Lex grinned insincerely. "I was wondering when you were going to confront me about that, Dad. Listen, my relationship with Lana is not interfering with my work. In fact, I'm using her to gain a profit and having fun at the same time. I figured you'd applaud me."
Lionel groaned. "Lex, you should know by now I could care less about your romantic involvements. My concern deals with your attempts to have a relationship outside of Miss Lang."
"Beg your pardon?"
Lionel plopped the Arts & Living section of The Daily Planet on Lex's desk.
"Hmm," Lex said, studying the paper, "How in the world did this get past the editors? You'd think only The Inquisitor would pull this kind of stunt. It's completely false." "Is This Mystery Woman Lex Luthor's New Squeeze?" proclaimed the front page.
"This woman is known for breaking true stories, Lex. That's why she's not at the Inquisitor."
Ignoring his father, Lex began to think aloud. "This puts me in an awkward position. For one, it threatens my relationship with Lana. If we sue The Planet for libel, it puts me at odds with Chloe, not to mention puts me in the spotlight even more, and possibly my connections to Archangel Investigations. So, it's in my best interest just to let the story run. What I find strange is that Lake has taken a sudden interest in me again. I'm quite a minor celebrity if that." Lex sighed with rather mild frustration.
"Nothing to worry about, son. I've seen to it that she'll be killed."
Lex rolled his eyes. "Dad, you take this evil mastermind thing way too seriously. Though, if it's too late to pull back the order, can you at least assure me that it will be painful or messy?"
"Both, in fact."
"I'm glad I can always count on you."
- - -
Groo was rather amused by human customs. He and Clark would not permitted into the festival—Clark called it a "charity function," which did not translate for Groo since Pylea had no word for "charity"—because they were improperly dressed. On Pylea, warriors were afforded every honor.
So, they entered the warrior way: by lifting the guard up into the air and depositing him on the walkway outside with the metal railing wrapped around his torso and a street lamp.
Lois was easily enough to find. Wearing a gown so low-cut, she only barely pulled it off, she exclaimed, "Smallville, what're you doin' here?" She saw Groo, and replied, "And, you, Mark, right? You never called."
"I apologize, Lois. I was summoned to another galaxy to defeat a race of Khundians."
"Well, what do you know? You're a loon. Isn't that just so typical?" Lois said, sipping her champagne. "It also explains your hair, which looks like it's seen neither a barber nor a comb in months." Clark winced.
At this moment, a tall, attractive blond man walked up and stood beside Lois, "Hey, Clark, who's your friend, and how'd he get in?"
"We defeated the guards in hand-to-hand combat," Groo claimed without repose. Clark vainly tried to laugh it off. As Oliver took a step toward Groo, he commented, "Look, big guy, this function is for a very good cause, and you're harassing my date, who I must say, I'm rather partial to, and I don't appreciate you coming in and heckling some ex-girlfriend of yours. Why she would ever come within ten feet of you eludes me."
Clark took a step back to stand with Lois as Groo puffed up.
"Men," Lois commented. "How do you attract such weirdos, Clark?"
"It's a gift," he replied before tapping her across the forehead. After a quick check right and left, he zipped off with Lois in his arms.
Groo, noting the disappearance of Clark and Lois, took a step back, replying, "It seems I have more pressing needs than you." With this, he stomped off.
Oliver, clearly thinking he'd won the face-off, sent a proud smile in his date's direction, only to find her missing.
- - -
He was about six feet in height, maybe a little more. Still in his mid-twenties, he had a full head of jet-black hair, which was combed in a stylish part. He was broad-shouldered and underneath his black turtleneck, it was readily apparent that he worked out like a maniac. He surveyed the hotel lobby with mild if amused interest, removing black leather driving gloves and slipping them into the pocket of the leather jacket he held over his arm.
He was immediately greeted by Clark and Chloe, who raced to hug him. "So, this is your base of operations? Not exactly an impenetrable fortress."
"Well," Chloe responded, "we had to tear town the hundred-foot stone wall. It was hurting our walk-in business."
The trio then made their way into Clark's office. Chloe was the first to comment to him, "It seems you've been making the paper a lot recently."
He gave her a half-smile. "For my brilliant business tactics, or my other extracurricular activities?"
Chloe just shot him a knowing look.
"How's Andrea doing?" Clark asked with concern.
"She's doing very well. We've been working on her anger issues. She's made quite a name for herself throughout Gotham's barrios." Bruce took a final survey of Clark and Chloe, noting Clark's proximity. "So," he asked, "when did you two…"
After exchanges glances with Chloe, Clark responded, "How did you…?"
"Body language. I noticed you were much more territorial of Chloe than you usually are. And she didn't resist the violation of personal space at all."
"We, uh, yeah…" Chloe responded, grinning at Clark, who felt at ease wrapping his arm around her waist.
"Well, congrats, you two. I must say, I've very disappointed my favorite intrepid reporter is off the market."
"You flatter me. Don't think I haven't noticed it's always the same female reporter doing your coverage in the Gotham Gazette. I can read between the lines."
Bruce blushed. "I wouldn't read too deeply. She was a lot less interested in Bruce Wayne once she set her sights on Batman." Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a woman walking in. "Looks like you've got a client."
"That's Lois," Chloe replied flatly, "haven't you ever met her?"
"Your cousin? No. Trust me, I'd remember her," Bruce answered salaciously.
After mouthing "Gag me," to Clark, Chloe escorted Bruce out into the foyer, where Lois dropped her duffel bag in a chair.
"You guys should have talked me out of these EMS classes. It was nothing but a bunch of pictures of injuries you don't ever want to have." She looked up noticed something about Chloe's tall, dark-haired companion. "You're not Clark."
Chloe, grinning, introduced him, "Lois, this is my friend Bruce Wayne. Bruce, my cousin Lois Lane."
"Hey, our names rhyme," Lois replied, thought she mentally kicked herself after the handshake. "Any friend of Chloe is a friend of mine. You have a pretty lucky name."
Bemused, Bruce replied, "Care to elaborate?"
"That rich old guy in Gotham? The bazillionaire doctor?"
Bruce calmed replied, "I believe you're thinking of the late Thomas Wayne. His son Bruce, who by the way is barely a billionaire, is the figurehead-in-training at Wayne Enterprises."
"Oh… sorry, Mr. Wayne."
"Bruce, please." He smiled at her, which was returned.
Chloe turned around and rolled her eyes at Clark.
- - -
When Lex entered the 33.1 facility, he noted the loud alarms blaring.
Racing to his father's side, he called, "Dad, what happened?"
Pulling his son back into the elevator, Lionel replied, "Incompetent technicians. There was a breakout."
"How many did we lose?"
"There was a failsafe. Most of them are trapped downstairs. Once we get them back in their cages, we'll check the rosters."
Lex threw his hands up in disgust. "Dad, we can't have those freaks ripping apart the building from the inside out!" Lex protested. "I could get Archangel Investigations to—"
"You will do no such thing! We can't compromise the security of this facility!"
"God dammit, Dad! How many employees are you willing to risk?" The elevator reached the top floor, and the two got out.
"You think we didn't install emergency exits? The only deaths are those who were too stupid or too slow to get out."
"What stops the metas from ripping each other to shreds?"
Lionel and Lex stopped speaking for a moment as they passed Lex's attractive female secretary, a buxom woman with strawberry blond hair. They nodded their heads to her and she smiled sweetly in return.
Once in the safely of Lionel's office, the conversation picked up where it was left off. "I've instigated Project Legion. You know those two dozen prisoners we hired to help with landscaping? We're injecting them with an experimental kryptonite strength-enhancing drug."
"And why didn't I know about this?"
Lionel took a second to survey his son's undue curiosity before answering, "I usually wait until after the testing phase to tell you. Well, it's the testing phase now."
Lex sighed, "It's a good thing neither of us were successful in killing the other. Or else, we'd never be around to clean up the other's messes." He opened his phone, "Hope, I need you to patch me through to Archangel Investigations. Alter my voice and mask the number as a pay phone. Thanks." He waited on the line.
"Lex, what are you doing?"
"I'm going to report a metahuman sighting near LuthorCorp Tower. Don't worry. They won't make the connection. We'll make sure of that."
- - -
Lana walked in just as Bruce was rushing out. They exchange quick hello's and Bruce apologized for running out.
"Where's Bruce off to?"
"Urgent business matter," Chloe replied, "he should be back."
"Where is everybody?"
"We got an anonymous call. There was a sighting near LuthorCorp. Team went to investigate."
- - -
Chloe was the only one in the lobby went Clark returned, handing Chloe a can of Ajax cleanser.
Setting the can on the sink, she asked, "So, did we get him?"
"Them. There were four of them. We couldn't hold them off."
"What are we going to do?"
"I'd be insane to go in there alone. I called for reinforcements."
Because of the bright sunlight, Chloe wasn't able to identify the three figures walking down the front steps at first.
Left of Clark appeared Oliver Queen, now sporting a goatee. He wore a rather casual outfit: white peasant shirt and olive green slacks. To Clark's left was A.C. Curry, in his characteristic orange muscle shirt and camouflage pants, carrying a Coast Guard duffel over his shoulder. Walking in behind them was the distinctive face of Groo.
Chloe feigned a smile and replied in a forced voice with an unusual level of glee, "Guys! It's great to see you! Let's go in Clark's office!" She grabbed Clark's arm and dragged him in, a gesture not lost of the three men.
Oliver commented, "You don't see happy to see us, Chloe."
"No," she said, relieved, "I am; it's just… Never mind. It's not important." Still the same, she looked out the window into the lobby. "How'd you guys get here so quick?"
A.C. was the first to answer, "I was chilling in Tempest Key when I got Clark's call. Took a detour around Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, then it was a short ten minute swim up the Mississippi and down the Missouri."
"Yeah, I retained my jet after the takeover," Oliver replied, with a hint of bitterness.
"Hey," Chloe chastised him, "remember, though, Lex was two years gone from LuthorCorp when you guys got taken over. Like it or not, Lex is playing on the good side now. Or at least funding it. By the way, what's with the whiskers?"
"Hey, why waste time on the clean-cut look? I'm not going to be posing for Fortune anytime soon."
Counting on her fingers, Chloe listed off, "Yeah, but you're a highly sought business consultant, the head of a charitable foundation, and a possible mayoral candidate. You're gonna get publicity photos taken anyway."
"Eh, you just want the story."
"I'm making my share of stories right now, thank you very much." She turned to Groo, "So, how'd you pop down so quickly?"
"A very kind Malacandrian gave me a ride."
Clark sat on a desk. "We really appreciate you coming down here."
Oliver extended his hand, "We made an agreement. Anytime one of us was in need, we fight by their side. Supers united."
Lois showed up at the door, "Hey, Clark, when are those reinforcements gonna arrive…" She stopped dead in her tracks and squeaked, "They're here! Be right back." She nearly ran into Bruce on her way out.
"Bruce! Um, these are a couple of friends of ours…"
Bruce interrupted, "Yeah, that's Oliver Queen. We went to school together. And A.C. Curry is the proud recipient of the 2009 Wayne Conservation Prize. And… I don't believe I've met you, yet," he said to Groo.
"I am the Groosalugg."
"Mark Groo," Lois replied, "Don't ask. Anyway, I'll be right back, guys." With this, she uncomfortably fled.
Oliver was quick to comment, "You know she's a super, too, Bruce. Any reason why you're keeping her in the dark?"
"Batman helped out today. We kind of got off to the wrong foot."
"She seems to like Bruce just fine," A.C. teased.
"Story of my life. Either that or the other way around. Anyone know why she was acting so weird?"
Oliver piped up, "Yeah, we kind of used to date. And, just sayin', but she wasn't crazy about the Green Arrow at first, but she did come around," he added.
A.C.'s attention was piqued, "Wait. You and Lois…?"
Oliver nodded, before quirking his eyebrow, "Hold it, did you…?"
"It was a brief thing when I visited Smallville once."
"And you never told me this?"
"I didn't know you dated her, too." After a long awkward silence, A.C. commented, "Plus, anyway, that's all in the past. I met this coast guard chick…"
Oliver started talking when A.C. did, "No, no, me too. Dinah'd kill me if she knew we were having this conversation." Simultaneously, their eyes turned to Groo.
Groo paused before saying, "Yes. In a way." All three pairs of eyes turned to Bruce.
Bruce offered, "We had a moment in the hall." Their heads turned toward Clark.
Clark replied vehemently, "NO!" He attempted to hide behind Chloe, despite being a foot and a half taller than her. She rolled her eyes and held his hand, which he'd laid on her shoulder.
Chloe smirked. "Lois's the reason why I herded you guys in here. I knew she'd made her rounds among you guys. What can I say, she goes for the heroic. I guess it's better than being in bed with the enemy and having a big battle on our hands."
Oliver changed the subject, "So, Bruce, pretty well cemented to the 'Batman' moniker?"
Solemnly, Bruce replied, "Yes. I feel it's an appropriately dark and superstitious symbol to represent my purging Gotham of crime."
A.C. chuckled, breaking the tension. "Bruce, you have a lot more fun with that then you let on. You've got supermodels hanging on your arm."
Bruce shrugged uncomfortably before deflecting back. "You live on the Florida coach. I'm sure there's enough beach bunnies for you to ogle."
"The 'Green Arrow' name has stuck," Oliver said to no one in particular.
Groo stated proudly, "Being called 'The Groosalugg' already inflicts enough fear into the hearts of my enemies."
Oliver pensively remarked, "Sounds like something hunched-over."
"With fangs," A.C. added. Oliver agreed. "I'm not sure if I need the secret identity, yet," he continued, "but I keeping coming back to 'Aquaman.'"
"Whatever," came another voice in the room. All turned their heads to see Bart Allen leaning again the doorframe. "Sorry, mi amigos, traffic was horrible." He was met with blank, unbelieving stares. "Okay, okay, I got distracted. Is it my fault Indianapolis was on the way?"
A.C. challenged, "Okay, Imodium, what's your super name?"
"What do you guys think of…" He posed. "…the Scarlet Speedster?"
He is met with blank glances. A.C. commented, "Bro, you have a color in your name. That's kinda gay."
"You're Aquaman," Bart replied immediately.
A.C. stood stunned, but tried to respond, "Well, it's 'mis amigos,' not 'mi amigos.'" After another pause, he added quietly, "I'm seeing a Hispanic chick."
Bart mumbled, "So am I…" He perked up, "How 'bout 'the Flash?'" This time, he was met with appreciative murmuring.
"Or 'Impulse,'" teased Oliver. This was met with more appreciative murmuring.
A.C. prompted Bart, "You and Lois ever…?"
Bart scoffed. "No, but me and Chloe had a little something-something." An instant later, he was beside Chloe, leaning seductively on the desk.
All heads turned to Chloe, who vehemently declare, "No!" She hid behind Clark, commenting, "He hit on me and I smiled appreciatively."
"What happened to that Val girl you said you were seeing?" Clark asked, covertly placing his hand against small of Chloe's back.
"We're still trying to work things out," Bart commented, "Kindly don't mention I was flirting…"
"Chloe's with Clark now," A.C. remarked.
"I noticed," Bart answered, eyeing Clark's arm, before zipping to the door again, "My brother from another planet has seen the light that is Chloelicious." Bart zipped in front of Clark and raises his hand for a high-five. Clark simply stood in his place.
Chloe tiredly stated, "'Chloelicous' I think I need to kill you now."
A.C., noting Bart's hand still hanging in the air, "Ooh, no respect, Bro."
Grinning from ear to ear, Bart confessed, "Actually, we did. Just in superspeed. Blink and you'll miss us… a thousand times over."
A grin appeared on Clark's face. It was quickly erased by a dirty look sent by Chloe.
- - -
On the top floor of the LexCorp building, Lana perused the various files of Lex's desk concerning the metahumans Archangel Investigations had captured. Lex sensuously moved her hair aside to kiss the back of her neck.
Her eyebrows raised, she commented, "You're in a rare mood today." Spinning around and biting her lip, she commented, "I kinda don't hate it." She wrapped her arms around Lex's neck. "Though, if Linda Lake were by chance to see the security footage, it might out our relationship."
"I control any cameras in my office. I'm not a fool. So, I take it you didn't believe her article?"
"Be honest with me, Lex. Is there anyone else?" she challenged.
With deep sincerity, Lex replied, "I'd never. One fuzzy picture of some unidentifiable woman in a building that looks like mine? Very shaky proof."
To herself, Lana agreed with dissatisfaction, "You're telling me." She caught his look and threw him off with, "So, we're definitely alone?"
"Yes." According to his laptop, the cameras in the office were on and recording.
"Plus," Lex added, "I think Linda Lake has bigger celebrities to stalk than me."
"You're pretty well-known," Lana replied, turning her head to hide a guilty look. Lex took it as an opportunity to suckle her neck. Not pushing him away, she continued, "Plus, Lex Luthor, dating the same woman twice. It's quite a story."
"Really? I was married twice." Lana tensed. "Sorry, but, you know, I may marry again." Her head shot to look him in the eyes, wondering if there was any humor there. There wasn't. He finally grinned, "I'm not proposing. Or even hinting that I'm ready to propose anytime soon. I'm just saying I don't consider this some tawdry liaison."
Lana smirked. "Tawdry liaison," she repeated in a fairly bad British accent. "Too bad, 'cause I could kind of go for that right now."
On a laptop being watched in an unused storage closet two floors below Lex's office, a brown-haired woman watched the security cam feed from Lex's office. "So nice of you to bring me up while you're making out with your girlfriend."
She fingered the crystal necklace around her neck, which was glowing faintly. She peered deeper into the screen. "Now what is that? Ooh, looks like Lex's new girlfriend isn't as innocent as she claims. I wonder what that symbol means…"
- - -
A great mass of stone rolled down the pier, ripping up wooden boards as it slid along. The stones reformed themselves into a vaguely humanoid shape and ran back down the pier, where Clark and Pete stood waiting. At the same time, a humanoid frog-man was launched from the water, over the pier, and back into the water, followed by A.C. The rock creatures paid no heed to these aerial theatrics.
On the beach, a man, glowing yellow-hot, trudged his way towards Bart, leaving glassy footsteps in his wake, launching hundreds of white sparks at Bart, who danced around as he dodged them.
"C'mon, Hothead! I'm faster than light! Ya gotta do better than that!"
Bart was answered with a nearly blinding shower of sparks which raced towards him. He ran off, looking behind him, seeing the sparks moving towards him, each one individually. He pushed himself, leaving the sparks behind as he made a sharp U-turn, his legs fatiguing as he pressed hard into the sand, leaning over nearly sixty degrees to contain his centripetal force. Once out of the way, he allowed himself to slow down. Things around him unfroze, but still moved slowly. As he passed the energy being, he took note of the hardened footsteps behind him. A light bulb lit above his head.
A fourth meta, who besides his pale, almost-bluish skin and limp black hair, seemed normal. Batman and Green Arrow stood beside each other, poised, waiting for the mutant to make his move. Green Arrow lined up an arrow and shot it. It hit the meta in the shoulder hard. He didn't even wince.
"So what, this guy doesn't feel pain?" Green Arrow griped, "He's actually bleeding. There's nothing super about this guy." He lined up another arrow and shot it into the meta's ankle. The meta merely responded by dragging his now useless foot behind him.
Batman held an arm out to stop Green Arrow. "Look at the grass," he said solemnly. The meta was leaving behind a trail of grey, withered plant matter. "What ever he's emitting, it's toxic."
Green Arrow just grinned, "Luckily, I have a long range weapon." He shot another arrow as Batman threw a batarang. The monster screamed hoarsely, grey vapor emerging from his mouth and creating a cloud in front of him. The arrow and batarang bounced off his body, landing on the ground and breaking to pieces.
"That's one bad case of morning breath," Oliver commented, pulling out an arrow with a small canister on the tip and shooting it. "Let's see how he does with that." The arrow popped like a malfunctioning firework against the meta's thigh. "I'm getting pretty pissed off with this guy," Green Arrow remarked. Batman didn't reply, just ran toward the meta and launched a powerful kick. Upon contact, the meta was thrown a half-step back and Batman fell to the ground as his ankle popped loudly.
The meta breathed down on him. Batman closed his eye and held a black cup over his face. He screamed as the back of his hand turned grey and his eyes burned.
In response, Green Arrow shot a cumbersome metal ball-tipped arrow. Aiming high, the arrow arced down knocked the meta against the head. He continued to walk forward, disoriented. Green Arrow turned around, seeing that he'd backed himself into a nearby forest. Being quick and agile, he could easily maneuver out, but he was worried about the effects the meta would have on the trees. His fears became unfounded when something flew from the sky and slammed hard into the meta, knocking him backwards.
The "something" turned out to be Lois, who landed on the still sprawled-out Batman. She groaned. "I know that feeling anywhere. Kevlar."
"Yep," Batman replied.
Back on the beach, Bart had taken to running circles around the energy meta, showering him with sand. The meta began to move slower, shooting out sparks, but obviously not hitting his target. After a while, he was completely encased in glass. Before Bart had time to survey his handiwork, two figures shot out of the water like rockets. A.C. and the meta had a hold on each other, and the amphibious being was attempting to chew through A.C.'s arm, but the Atlantean had aimed well. They both landed hard on Bart's glass sculpture, with the frog in between. The glass figure tipped over, but did not shatter against the soft hand, but lost a forearm in the struggle. The frog, receiving a blow to the head, fell unconscious.
On the dock, Clark was straining to hold the rock being. "Now, Pete!"
Pete launched three dart-like projectiles, two of which got themselves stuck in the pits of the rock creature and one that landed at the monster's feet. Clark leapt backwards and super-jumped to shore and Pete retreated. Seconds later, there were three great explosions and the monster's arms landed in the water and the rest of him went flying in the air.
Green Arrow reached into his quiver to find himself out of arrows, which didn't surprise him, since there were two dozen sticking out of the flesh of the monster. Batman through a bomb toward a nearby tree, and with a little bit of pushing by Lois, it fell hard on the meta. However, it didn't hinder his progress, as he easily tore through the quickly-withering wood. Ten feet from the Green Arrow, as the hero felt his eyes and skin begin to burn, his attacker was thrown to the ground by a man-sized piece of rock. The Green Arrow was quickly pulled to safety by Lois.
- - -
The members of Archangel Investigations and their allies took seats in the waiting area of the hotel after Chloe and Lana herded the last of the clients out of the room.
"They just wouldn't go away," Lana commented.
Chloe added, "Good thing Groo was free to slay all those cockroaches. Damn I hope the whole cities not infested."
"Me, too. We're were cutting into next month's budget just providing them with coffee."
They took seats with the rest as Lex began his presentation. "Using advanced DNA techniques, we identified the first meta as Rudy Jones, a janitor at the Metropolis Nuclear Energy Co. He's been missing since an attempted sabotage of the plant's power transfer chamber." Lex passed a file to the members of Archangel Investigations and their allies, in costume. "His coworkers believe he may have tried to stick a mop in the main breaker."
Lois piped up, "Why did he not, just, die?"
"Well, before you go there, the plant does not use the meteor rock in any way. I'm hypothesizing that he was exposed to radiation due to faulty shields, conveniently mutating him to survive the radiation." Hearing no further inquiry, a relief to him, he continued, "It appears his body was decomposing itself on the atomic level, creating megatons of energy from within his body. By introducing an inhibitor into his body, we were able to stop the reaction. It's going to take a while, though, for his body to purge itself of the silica from that sand trick you pulled, Speedster." Bart lowered his head. Lex pulled out another file, "The rock-man was Anthony Blake…"
"Let me guess," Chloe quipped, "he was a geologist."
"Spelunker. Missing for two months after a particularly dangerous climb into the unknown portions of the Bakerline cave systems. If we can ever reverse his condition, he'll be using prosthetic arms for the rest of his life."
Clark and Pete exchanged worried glances, but Lex spoke firmly, "Don't beat yourselves up. That battle was honestly a real clash of the titans. These men are lucky to be alive. Jones's body would eventually have leeched off too much of its own tissue for him to survive. Blake's heart was having a hell of time pumping blood through his petrifying veins. Another week without treatment and his heart would have given out." The rest gave their solemn motion to continue. "Charley Parker, our frog-man…"
A.C. guessed, "Marine biologist?" His left forearm was heavily bandaged.
"Ornithologist." He was given amused stares. "I can't make this stuff up. Actually, a chemistry teacher and amateur birdwatcher. We haven't connected all the dots, but he was secretly dating the school's biology teacher. With our luck, she was doing secret experiments in her basement." Bart chuckled. "He has a severe concussion, but he's expected to recover. We hope that gene therapy will reverse the effects. The poisonous meta is Jason Woodrue, a former psychiatric patient who was released with a clean bill of health. He was never heard from again and we're guessing he was homeless until now. Unfortunately, he suffered major blood loss. A team of haz mat-suited EMTs tried to save him, but he rejected the blood."
Clark, concerned, commented, "He died?"
"He was dead the moment he transformed. The poison he emitted would have destroyed the nutrients in any food he tried to eat. Plus, his body was reconfigured to make toxins. He was running in a nearly comatose state. If we could reverse his condition—and that's a big 'if' since the chemicals in his body were so corrosive—he might not survive the coma. By the time he would have died naturally in his state, he could have irrevocably poisoned a major water source or vegetative area. He was a plague."
Clark slammed his fist into the couch arm, shattering it. "I hate it when they die."
At this point, Bruce limped into the room, an ankle brace on his leg. "Having a meeting without me?"
Lois jumped up and started to stammer, "Yeah, uh, we're, uh… um…"
Bruce smirked at Lois, "It's time I let you in on a secret." With all eyes on him, Bruce commented, "I know what you guys do for a living. I'm one of your benefactors."
As disappointed looks were exchanged across the room, unnoticed by Lois. Lex did notice them, but could not discern the meaning. "You know, Bruce, who'd ever think that you and I would ever share a business venture?"
"Not me," he responded coldly.
The conversation turned lighter, with the supers bragged to Bruce about their feats, as if he weren't there. Lex noticed Lana was strangely quiet as she stared quite intently at Bruce, a fact that Lex did not take too kindly. So, he began to chat up Lois, "I couldn't help but notice you seemed to have hit it off with Bruce Wayne. You seemed to have a thing with billionaires."
"Are you hitting on me?" Lois deflected.
"I'm insulted that you would even ask. You're not my type. It's just, I couldn't help but overhear that Oliver Queen was also in town." Lois tried not to look over at the Green Arrow. "And at the same time as both A.C. and Groo," he commented, noting them in the corner. "They're kind of against type, don't you think? Or do you have a taste for the more-than-human, too?"
"I have broad tastes. You don't fit into them."
"Well, to each his own. Or her own. Anyway, if you want my advice, which I doubt you will, I wouldn't get too attached to Bruce. He may come off as fun-loving, but it's a cover. Watching your parents gunned down as a child isn't easy."
"It's just as hard seeing them succumb to cancer." For a moment, Lex and Lois locked eyes, but not out of romantic interest or platonic friendship, but simple eye-to-eye understanding.
"Regardless, the man you see is a façade. Bruce and I attended Excelsior together. The boy I knew could never turn into the Gotham's Golden Boy. He's hiding something."
"Aren't we all?" Lois replied suspiciously.
"Yes," Lex replied before switching to a more whimsical mocking tone, "So, have you ever heard the myth of Helen of Troy?"
"Anything to do with the horse?"
"Yes, but that comes later. According to legend, she was the daughter of Zeus and Leda, the queen of Sparta. She was so beautiful that when she came of age, many suitors came to her. Accounts vary, but it was about two dozen or so. Sound familiar?"
She shot him a nasty smirk. "You're a riot. Anyway, didn't you have a wife named Helen?"
"Yeah, and I launched a thousand ships for her, too."
Back on the couch, Lana finally spoke up. "Bruce, what happened to your ankle?"
"Twisted it," he replied quickly.
Sensing his desire not to answer the question, she switched topics, "So, what're your thoughts on the Batman?"
"When I first heard about him," Bruce replied, "I figured he was an urban legend. Met him in person and realized I was right. He's barely a man."
Lana studied him for a while. "He's obviously flesh and blood. With a lot of gadgets that aren't available at your local Wal-Mart. Surely he has a benefactor."
Bruce paused. "You've unraveled the connection. Well, the Bat and I are fighting two sides of the same coin. He takes out the scum on the street. I scrub the schools, trying to make sure the scum doesn't spread. While I don't—"
Lana blatantly cut him off. "What do you think that suit's like?" She stared Bruce down, who grinned.
"Hot, and it chafes in all the wrong places." After a long pause, he added, "But I'm just conjecturing, of course."
"Anyway," Bruce said, digging into his pocket, producing a small, bat-shaped pin. "If you're ever in Gotham and end up in the wrong side of town, tilt the wings a corner turn. You'll get some assistance."
"Sorry about your ankle."
"Hey, we can't all be invulnerable like Clark. Not that I couldn't use a dip in the river Styx." He received an amused grin from Lana. "The business world is cruel," he offered as explanation. Lana's grin grew more amused.
- - -
Lana smiled at her photo in the newspaper. She barely recognized herself: curly hair, heavy makeup, including a dark carmine shade of lipstick and maroon eye shadow that were very uncharacteristic of Lana Lang. Her face was powdered to remove her natural golden tan. She wore distracting chandelier earrings and off-the-shoulder blouse to divert readers' eyes. In addition, Jimmy had used a special lens that widened her face imperceptively. The effect was dramatic: the face captioned "Liz McCallum" did resemble the woman sitting at the front desk of Archangel Investigations, but at the same time did not resemble any published photograph of "Lana Lang." Perhaps her cousin or older sister, but not Lana Lang.
Surrounding the image were five hundred words by Veronica Venus about a Type-A, workaholic, Harvard Business-educated entrepreneur who grew up on the rough side of Gotham. The article also claimed McCallum's natural hair color was red but that she died it black as to be perceived as more serious, an in-joke to the photographer. Jimmy had brought in a curly red wig for Lana to wear as part of a disguise. It was a quickly vetoed, as Lana would have to wear it all the time. Jimmy seemed nonplussed, commenting he'd find a use for it. Lana was curious, but did not press the question.
- - -
"So, Dad," Lex commented to his father within the 33.1 facility where the metas had been recaged, "what's the body count?"
"Well, Lex, LuthorCorp will be issuing a press release about two of our prison workers dying while trying to escape. Tragic. Also, one of our researchers died by poisoning, but we've got a good amount of evidence that says his wife is the culprit. There's another in the hospital, but LuthorCorp is footing every cent of his bill. We'll also be giving financial backing for the funerals."
"How magnanimous. Wouldn't want to disrespect the dead. So, about these files… who are these people?" He held up the files.
"Well, that young man mopping down there is Rudy Jones. The rest I believe were fictional. We have some very creative sources."
"Archangel Investigations made The Planet again."
"Yes, charming article about Miss… McCallum. You should ask her out. I know a jeweler that's sorely missing our business. Diamond earrings on sale."
"All by myself? C'mon, Dad, surely you're not out of the game yet. Canes are in, I hear."
"Oh, but I'm a very busy man, Lex. You should enjoy yourself while you're still young."
"Who's to say I'm not enjoying myself?"
"Between Miss Lang and your late night visitor…"
Lex quickly cut his father off. "There's no late-night visitor. I know better than most people the wrath of a woman scorned. Now if you'll excuse me, I have plans tonight." As Lex got into the elevator, he was met by his ex-wife, Helena Bryce, wearing a glowing crystal necklace. He paid her no attention, just got back into the elevator and pressed the topmost button instead of the lobby floor one.
"Are you ready, Lex?"
Distant as a zombie, he replied, "Yes."
On the top floor, Helena got out first, with Lex obediently walking behind her. As they turned the corner, Helena held up a gun toward an empty secretary's desk. "What the…?" As she moved into Lionel's office, she passed the unconscious form of Lionel's statuesque, blond secretary. Inside, she found the hulking metal door of Lionel's office safe ripped from its hinges and thrown across the room, a tattered medieval tapestry underneath it. The floor was littered with dozens of pages with strange writing on them. Another handful of them was thrown from the exposed room-sized, along with a couple of brightly colored crystals.
Peeking inside, Helen found the petite form of Lana Lang furiously digging through the hidden safe. She was dressed in all black, kneeling on the floor, her frilly tank top riding up to expose the black tattoo on the small of her back. The tattoo was an alien symbol: two wavy lines joined to two circles and between two dots. Lana arrogantly rose and turned to face Helen, her heavily-shadowed eyes matching her wildly-styled hair. "Get out," she stated venomously.
"What the hell happened to you?"
Lana didn't answer, just tensed her hands. Electricity cackled around it and she swiped her hand. Helen barely leapt aside. "What the hell is going on?!"
Lex, still standing, tiredly replied, "It appears that Lana has once again been possessed by Isobel."
"Who?" Helen asked, crouched on the ground.
"Countess Marguerite Isobel Thureaux. A powerful, sixteenth-century French witch who is Lana's ancestor."
"Do something!" Helen shrieked.
Lex, still dazed, ambled over to one of Lionel's statuettes, knocked it over, and pressed down on the base. A mechanical drawer popped up with a pistol inside. Nonchalantly, Lex grabbed the gun and aimed it at the emerging Isobel. Without flinching, he fired a shot. Isobel twitched, causing the bullet to impact her shoulder, throwing her back.
With fire in her eyes, she grabbed her wound. It quickly healed, leaving Lana with the bullet in her hand, which she extended. The bullet rose from her palm and shot back toward Lex, whose ability to see in slow-motion allowed him to deflect the bullet with the barrel. He shot three more times, but the bullets were repelled away from Isobel, curving into the wall, the floor, and the outside window. An alarm sounded.
When security and Lionel reached the office, they found the room a mess, papers and crystals strewn across the floor. Lex was unconscious against the wall, the emptied gun lying a few feet from his outstretched hand.
After watching a guard ascertain that Lex was still alive, Lionel raced into his vault. On the far away, an empty document case had its plastic barrier shattered. One shelf was completely empty, the many colored crystals lying on the floor. He turned and found a black, hard-shelled book with alien symbols along the spine, and sighed with relief.
"Sir? Was anything stolen?" asked a well-groomed man of about sixty.
"Yes, Dillon," Lionel replied, "The Ritual of Hekate page. Possibly some of our meteor rock samples."
"Does he remember anything?"
"He claims not to."
"Is he lying?"
"As far as I can tell, no."
"It's expensive to send you for MI-5 training. You'd better be right."
"Of course, sir."
"He will see none of this. And Bridgette?"
"She'll be fine."
"Too bad. I was in the mood for another secretary."
"That reminds me, sir. I believe that that golden apple paperweight is missing from your desk."
"Order me another one. It was Bridgette's Secretary's Day gift."
Director's Note: Oh, and again, I swear I didn't mean to steal "Justice." There's a double agent in our midst, Al and Miles. Big thanks to Justin Hartley ("Oliver Queen/Green Arrow"), Kyle Gallner ("Bart Allen"), and Alan Ritchson ("A.C. Curry") for essentially doing the same thing they did on Smallville last month. Kyle is still a ham, and we let him. Alan readily admits he could never carry the "Aquaman" show by himself, but damn we love him as this not-too-serious Arthur Curry. And even a straight man will readily admit Justin is unfairly pretty, but honestly he's a nice guy. Oh, and the beard was so fake. Victor Webster of Mutant X fame replaces Mark Lutz as "Groo." Honestly, we're conflicted about this. On the one hand, Mark Lutz defined the role. And I hate recasting parts. On the other, we never intended for this to be the same Groo as from Angel, but another Groosalugg that emerged when Groo the First failed to fulfill his destiny. This is also why we reshot the "flashback." Erica didn't seem to mind. Also, my casting director Alexis and I have made it our prerogative to bring on the entire cast of Mutant X at some point. No reason in particular.
As for the absence of Victor Stone/Cyborg and Lee Thompson Young, we knew Lee would likely be busy with his upcoming film project, so we decided to make his role in the episode detachable. I hope it didn't come off as an oversight.
As for Bruce Wayne, we're lucky to even have him. It took a lot of work with DC, who were very understanding even when they essentially told us, no, under no circumstance could we have Batman. They came around, finally, after realizing that we'd already snuck in him in "Siren." I know a lot of you are probably disappointed we didn't go with Christian Bale, but trust me, we weren't going to get Christian freakin' Bale. And we kind of like that. Not because we don't like Christian. Hell, we would have said yes without thinking if he were interested. But we were ecstatic to get Henry Cavill, who fit perfectly into our vision of a slightly younger Bruce Wayne. He just carries himself so well. And for those of you who were curious, Kristoffer Polaha declined the role. He had some film role in LA.
And, yeah, "Helen" wasn't such a red herring, was it? A thousand thanks to Emmanuelle Vaugier for taking time out of her busy schedule to come here. And totally going uncredited for the last episode.
As for our metahuman menaces, "Rocky" was played by Mutant X alum Douglas O'Keefe in a funny suit, "Frogman" by Mark Welling (Tom's bro) in another funny suit, "The Energizer" by Firefly alum Alan Tudyk in a funny CGI suit, and "Venom" by Josh Randall in scary makeup. We actually didn't tell Tom that his brother was coming on the show. We just let them film the scene, and afterwards, he took of the suit. You should have seen Tom's face.
We'd like to thank (love to really) Christina Hendricks ("Bridgette") for portraying Lionel's unconscious secretary. She's actually more talented than that, as those of you who know her as YoSaffBridge can attest. She can come back anytime she likes. Also, Michael Fairman (also of Firefly fame; we're shameless, we know) played the part of Collin. The part was originally intended for Tony Jay (Nigel, Lex's British assistant from Lois & Clark), but he tragically passed away this year. Joel Tobeck portrayed Randy Jones, the janitor.
Okay, so the next episode is fully planned. We finally came to compromise with the network about the title. It's called "Samaritan," which was about the twelfth title we threw at them. In retrospect, it's my favorite. Contrary to spoilers, it's not "Penance." Anyway, "109: Halloween" and "110: Invader" are right on track. Except we might be switching the order around. We've sent episode summaries for two more episodes, including a finale. I'll have word by next week how many episodes we're getting for this season and the possibility of a second season. The ratings have been decent, especially for a Friday night show.
My writers were giggling to themselves as they wrote this. Apparently there were a lot of very subtle jokes. Tell me if you see them, 'cause I'm clueless.
On the next episode of Archangel Investigations: Clark saves a man and ends up making a wise friend.
A/N: Okay, so I stole "Chloelicious" from "Justice." I had permission from Al and Miles.
(Sonriso) - I wish I had permission for a little "Chloelicious." Man, I'm worse than Bart! But it's so good.
©2007 Godeerc VanDrey Enterprises, Inc. Created Friday, March 23, 2007. Finished Monday, May 7, 2007.