Disclaimer. I still don't own anything. I am merely the humble scribe bridging gaps, connecting and extending the sagas of Alfred Gough & Miles Millar (Smallville), Richard Donner (Superman I and II) and Brian Singer (Superman Returns).
I have added in some other DC comics heros, some of them reinterpreted somewhat.
Redemption of Trust
This is a continuation of "Confessions" and "Betrayal of Trust." I'm going to recapture the emotional resonance and personal relationships of "Confessions." I will try to make it clear what I'm doing plot wise, without giving too much away. I'm also going to alter my continuity structure. I need to include certain events from the Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. While I think the director who finished Superman II had a better starting point for the story of Superman II (the hydrogen bomb in Paris, which allows for some substantial time to have passed between Lex Luthor's nuclear missile caper and the beginning of the Superman II story) in every other respect the Richard Donner Cut is far superior particularly those aspects dealing with Jor-El and Kal-El and their unique relationship as father and son.
"Father, I love her." With this simple statement Kal-El expressed his longing for the most natural of human connections. Perhaps it was even the most natural of Kryptonian connections, considering the lengths to which Jor-El and Lara had gone to be part of his life.
His parents had recorded numerous hours of messages for him: In his mother's case dozens, in his father's case hundreds, perhaps thousands; who could be sure? Even with his heightened senses, Clark found it difficult to tell sometimes where the AI representation ended and the recordings took over. Sometimes he wondered if indeed it was merely some sort of AI representation or if it was in fact his father's spirit transcending time and space to be present with him in these moments, these moments which for the last many years had been so precious. As a teenager, he had felt these conversations anything but precious, but as he had grown, taken the training and gotten to know his father, these moments had become infinitely precious.
But now the old pain had returned. His father seemed to be demanding something totally unreasonable of him. He seemed to presenting a scenario within which there were only two possible choices, each the opposite of the other. Jor-El seemed to be saying that if he, Kal-El, loved Lois and wanted marry her, and have a life with her, Jor-El seemed to be saying that the only way Clark could do this was to give up his powers. Forever.
And so, a bit to hastily he had turned toward the red sun chamber…
"Think, Kal-El; I beg you" his is father had urged him, prevailing upon him to turn away from the fleeting feelings of lust and passion. His father implored him with great strength and a touch of compassion to recall his training, his calling, his great mission and process this moment, this decision rationally with thought and not emotionally with feelings.
… and with all the defiance that had characterized his relationship early with Jor-El as a teenager in Smallville, Clark had floated over to that crystal molecule chamber…
"Think about this, Kal-El!" Jor-El urged in strongest voice, earnestly desiring his son to take time, to consider carefully and weigh out the measure of the decision he was making in a moment.
… and bathed in those harnessed the red rays of the red sun of Krypton.
Those red rays had burned into him through skin, muscle, organ, sinew, and bone. The central control console, exploded and Jor-El's image looking disapprovingly from Lois to the red sun chamber and back, wavered, flashed into static and vanished. Those red rays had reorganized him cell by cell and transformed him from his hair to his very marrow. While Clark Kent walked out of the chamber in black slacks and a plain white dress shirt open at the neck, a ghostly image of Superman in crimson cape, blue tunic and kyptonian crest had remained behind, apparently trapped, feeling with his hands for a way out before he faded and dissolved into nothingness.
While all of this took place at the Fortress, the villains had come: Jor-El's mortal enemies, Zod and Ursa had found a crack in the Phantom Zone. They had found a crack ironically caused by an exploding nuclear weapon, one that had just days before been ripped out of the Eiffel Tower and hurled by Superman off into space without any further thought. Space, after all was infinite, wasn't it? What damage could a nuclear weapon possibly do in space?
It could crack open a Phantom Zone portal stuck in a very high Earth orbit—out beyond the moon, actually—since the first time Kal-El had faced down Zod, during the crisis surrounding Dark Thursday. That's what it could do. That's what it did. And Zod and Ursa found that crack and left, bringing their traveling companion Narn out with them.
They tore apart the Artimus Lunar Craft, murdered the astronauts and cosmonauts.
They burned and demolished the town of East Houston, Idaho, defeating soldiers of the U.S. First Army.
They demanded and received the surrender of all world governments, and begin to enslave the all the world's peoples.
They did all of this while Clark was having his love-tryst with Lois Lane.
And finally Clark heard President Clint Jeffery Williamson call out over television, "Superman, can you hear me? Superman, where are --" Clark heard this in a small, obscure American diner over a burger and fries, while staring at the gold band on his left hand and nursing cuts and bruises he'd sustained trying to defend Lois's honor against the groping advances of a macho truck driver, fighting for the first time in years without super strength or invulnerability.
"Come to me, Superman! I defy you! Come and kneel before Zod! Zod!!" Hearing the raving bravado of Zod, Clark raised his head and resolve hardened in his face; he had to go back up to the Fortress. "I have to go back."
"You can't go back. There's no way now." Lois wrapped her arms around Clark's shoulders and nuzzled him.
"I have to. I've got to try dammit. I've got to try something, anything." Clark spoke with quite forcefulness, "It's not your fault." Lois soothed, whispering in his ear, still rubbing Clark's shoulders. Clark turned in her direction still looking down in concern. "You didn't know something like this was going to happen." Lois soothed.
"He knew. He tried to tell me. I heard him, Lois. I just didn't listen." Clark looked up perhaps to the sky, his face awash with desperation, regret and the merest ray of hope that Jor-El, contingency planner for Krypton and Earth, had one last miracle up the sliver sleeve of his Kryptonian cloak.
And so Clark Kent trudged back over the tundra, hitching rides with snowmobile riders and ice truckers. Clark Kent climbed back up ice shelves and crystal ramparts to the approach pathway to the Fortress's central control console or rather the charred, blackened and exploded remains of this control console.
"Father, Mother," Clark called out in a loud voice as though he expected Jor-El to hear from some far off place and reply. No reply came and Clark's shoulders slumped. He looked down at his feet in shame, and spoke more quitely "if you can hear me now. I failed. I failed you. I failed myself. I failed the whole world and all of humanity." As he named off those he'd failed Clark surveyed the damage to the Fortress.
Then, his focus changed and he seemed to take in the whole world as though the exploded console were a small example of how things had gone wrong in the whole world. "I've traded my birthright for a life of submission in a world that's now ruled by your enemies," he spoke this last word fear and a touch of distaste. "There's nobody left to help them now, the people of the world. Not since I…" Clark looked back up and spread his arms and shouted, "Father!!!" at the top of his lungs. No sound echoed back through the Fortress. And then in the quiet Clark listened, longing straining for the merest whisper of his father's voice. And the finally he turned and stepped dejectedly back toward the ice shelf to climb back down. Then, in the quite he heard it. He heard the Crystal. He heard the Father Crystal calling to him.
Clark stooped over on all fours and scooped through the shattered and scorched remains of the control console, searching for the Father Crystal. He had to find it, the one crystal which united with the stones of knowledge, power and destiny that he and Lex Luthor and others had searched the world for so many years before. If there were answers to be had, it would contain them.
Finally, after what seemed like longer than the year he'd spent looking for the stones, finally he had found the Father Crystal. He held in kneeling, close to his chest and examined it, swallowing and screwing up his courage. Then he stood and resolutely re-inserted it into the single, solitary control chamber, all that was left of the once-great central control console.
And Jor-El re-appeared, shining gloriously, illuminated from within. At first he looked wise and compassionat.
Jor-El seemed to look at Clark, "Listen carefully, my son." Jor-El looked down as a note of sadness crossed his face. "We shall never speak again." Jor-El recomposed himself and continued with a look of benign wisdom tempered with love, "If you hear me now then you have made use of the only means left to you, that self same crystal through which our communication was begun so many years ago. The circle is now complete. You have made a dreadful mistake, Kal-El. You did this of your own free will in spite of all that I could say to dissuade you."
While Clark listened, he gathered his jacked about himself against the cold. When Jor-El paused, Clark piped up, "I ah,"
Now you have returned to me for on last chance to redeem yourself. This, too, finally, I have anticipated, my son."
Clark looked down, a tear in his eye, shoulders hunched, slumped in self pity.
"Look at me, Kal-El." Jor-El directed, sternly, and continued as Clark looked back up, "Once before when you were small, I died while giving you a chance for life. And now even though it will exhaust the final energy left within me--" he paused in response to Clark.
Clark glanced aside, looking away, out to the walls of the Fortress, "Father, no," he pleaded. He knew what his father would do now. He knew the cost. He knew that his father would be lost to him forever. In this moment it seemed more than he could bear.
"Look. At. Me, Kal-El." Jor-El commanded. His voice no louder than before, but his tone brooked no opposition or turning at all. He resumed when Clark again locked eyes with him. "The Kryptonian prophesy shall be at last fulfilled: 'The son becomes the father. The father becomes the son.'
Realization dawned in Kal's face as the full enormity of what his father meant to do took shape in his mind. He braced himself and extended a hand
"Farewell forever, Kal-El. Remember me, my son.""
And then Jor-El's brightness grew and became a shining circle. After a moment, Jor-El stepped out of the image and walked resolutely, proudly across the open expanse of the air to where his son stood on the precipice of the exploded, blackened and charred consol.
Jor-El reached out with his right hand and, uttering the final phrase, "My son," and with a look of sadness and hope, resolutely placed his hand upon his son's left shoulder. The crystals at the apex of the Fortress, irised open and sun light streamed through into the Fortress; then it focused tightly on Clark. Jor-El glowed brightly, fiercely and then the brilliance moved through Jor-El's hand into Clark's body. A shaft of golden-pure sun light illuminated Clark and combined with the glory of his father's essence as Clark stood there, feet firmly planted on the console precipice. He began to shake, from the core of his being, and to glow from within. The light tore him apart, not just down thru skin and bones, marrow and cells, but it tore him apart and rebuilt him molecule by molecule, atom by atom.
And then there was silence. Clark laid there on the floor. In the scorched remains of the control console. Spent.
And then minutes later, maybe hours, maybe just a few seconds, he sprang back up, changed back into his crimson, azure and gold uniform and flew faster than any fighter jet directly back to Metropolis to face Zod.
In the end, Superman had reversed the polarity of the red-sun chamber, bathing the villains in its power draining rays while he safely pretended to be crushed within the chamber. And he had killed the Kryptonian villains.
No sooner was all set right in Metropolis, Washington, DC, and the rest of the world, than Superman started growing the crystals to make another spaceship. He had to return to Krypton. To the Valley of the Ancestors. To the Temple of the Elders. Or to whatever broken and blasted remains he might find.
He could have tried from the Fortress. But the proper way to do it was from the Temple. In the Valley. On Krypton or whatever had survived the Nova explosion of its sun. And there he must go. Across sixty-eight light-years of space. In a tiny ship grown and linked together of charged crystals. It would take time to cross that sea of space in the only ship he could build in the Fortress with out access to proper construction facilities to build a proper star ship. But this is what Kal-El would do. For his father. After what his father had done to restore his powers, Kal-El could do no less.
To Kal-El, flashing between the stars in that tiny ship at many times the speed of light, it seemed that just over five months passed. For all those left behind on earth, well over five years passed.
There was blackness.
My son, you do not remember me. I am your father, I am…
There was the nothingness of non-awareness.
When he was possessed by Zod, I was possessed with all the knowledge of your father…
There was the blackness of dreamless sleep.
Once when you were small, I died giving you a chance for life on another world. …And now, though it will exhaust all my remaining energies… Farewell my son. Forever.
Awareness flooded in. He took a sharp sudden breath.
This body became an oracle of Kryptonian knowledge, and a vessel, if ever my direct intervention should be required by you ...
Before he opened his eyes and saw the liver spots on his hands, he listened. He heard small rodents chattering in the walls of the wine cellar in the basement. He heard the fluttering of an eagle 300 meters over the forest outside the mansion. He listened for the heart beat of his son, which he could not hear for his son was off-world attending to an asteroid on a collision course. But he did hear another heartbeat that almost sounded kryptonian. He heard the beating of a small kyrptonian-human heart a few kilometers away on the far side of the hamlet. The heart beat accelerated and the breathing as well, he could hear the fear toxins reacting in the blood stream.
…or your heirs. But how am I back among the living at all? This question shall be for later. I have a grandson! And he requires my assistance.
He leapt out of bed and threw the silk sheets neatly down across it. He felt the frailty of the bones, the weakness of the ligaments and joints. He would not be able to use the full array of his powers. He'd have to be careful about changing speeds and feats of strength, but his grandson was in jeopardy.
He would do what any grandparent would: everything he could. A quick look across town with his telescopic and x-ray vision confirmed what he already knew from the sounds: he would certainly need some help on this one. A glance in the mirror showed the grayed hair, laugh lines and crows' feet of Lionel Luthor's face, but the twinkle in the eyes was unmistakably Jor-El.
A thousand miles east at the Amazon Consulate in Metropolis, Lois Lane tossed and turned but did not sleep. Finally she got out of her bed and walked over to the desk where another of her articles sat begging to be admired. She picked up the newspaper. She should be proud of this. It was page one, "above the fold." But for the first time in about a decade, it wasn't in the Daily Planet.
The headline read: "Superman Murderer!" in twenty-eight point block-faced type. It was in the Metropolis Inquisitor, what amounted to a tabloid gossip sheet. She thought she'd never write for this rag again. Oh, it was now nationally circulated. And it probably had as great a circulation as the Daily Plant. But it was what bored housewives read in the checkout line at the market. It wasn't a serious paper. It wasn't the place for Pulitzer Prize winner.
How did she end up here? No not at the Amazon Consulate for the Spa Weekend that Diana had promised. How did she end up back in the Inquisitor? How did she get so angry at Superman and Richard that she would write something like the piece of trash yellow journalism that labeled Superman a murder without even bothering to confirm his alibi?
She found out that Superman had stolen the memories of four days of her life. This knowledge had driven her into the red of smoldering anger. Superman had taken the days of romance when they'd left the assignment in Niagra Falls for lunch in Rio and dinner in Paris. He took the days when they'd gone to the Fortress. He had taken the days when he'd fought and defeated General Zod, his acolyte Ursa, and their traveling companion Narn, and Lex Luthor. But what really burned her was that he had taken their passion, their lovemaking; he had stolen the night when Jason was conceived. Superman had stolen the memory of the consummation of their months and years of roof top meetings, afternoons in the rain forest, evenings on the French Riviera, breakfast in the Rockies. Superman had stolen away the knowledge that he was Clark and that he was Jason's father. He had taken these memories mere hours after Zod was defeated; just weeks before he had left.
The knowledge that Superman had taken the memories burned her more than his five year absence. She had come to terms with him being gone. She had wrestled with her feelings for months while Jason learned to walk, cut his teeth and entered school. Her inner conflict had produced the column: "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman." She had finally won her long coveted Pulitzer.
She hadn't even known she was pregnant when Superman had stolen the memories. Maybe he didn't know that she was carrying his child either. She began to cool off. Maybe even he couldn't fly 136 light-years round trip to Krypton and back in a few days. Maybe even Superman had limits to his power.
But why had he gone away?
He had told her that he'd gone to see if there were other survivors of Krypton's destruction. This was true as far as it went. But Superman had told Richard about having to come to terms within his killing Zod.
Somehow this didn't seem to be the whole truth either. He could have gone to Krypton any time he wanted to, before he even began his career as Superman. He could have wrestled out his own internal agony over the death of Zod in the Fortress with his Father.
Wait a minute. She remembered he had given up his powers with the intent of marrying her and living out his life as simply Clark Kent. And yet here he was back flying around saving space shuttles and airplanes, lifting tons of rock and crystal into space.
Maybe the spaceship pilgrimage to Krypton had been to restore his powers? No, that didn't track either. He'd fought that huge battle with Zod and his acolytes in the skies above Metropolis before he left. How did he get his powers back during that missing four days? What had it cost, besides a walk back across the frozen tundra? And who had paid that cost?
Now there was a story.
Lois's phone rang.
It was Jason. Scared out of his mind. Fighting some huge thing that looked like Clark wearing a Dracula costume.
Lois took a deep breath. She wanted to jump through the phone and whack whatever that was out there upside the head. There were rumors of a member of the Titans who could do that sort of thing, travel across the telephone lines. "Calm down, Munchkin. Tell me about it."
Jason was breathing hard, panting like he'd just had a workout, but he didn't need his inhaler. "It isn't Father. It looks like him," pant, pant, "and smells like him." Pant, pant, pant. "But it doesn't move like Father and it doesn't have Father's eyes." A shotgun blast sounded in the background. "Father isn't answering his phone. Can you help, Mommy? Can you call Uncle Bruce or Aunt Diana? Do you have a cell number to that Space Cop with the magic green ring?"
"Yes, Munchkin," Lois spoke soothingly, "Mommy will help. Mommy knows some people. I'll call the General. I'll call Diana. I'll get you help, son."
"Wow, Mommy, that was fast." Jason sounded impressed. "An old man with long grey hair just ran up in a white robe with Father's S in black on his chest." He sounded calmer, more at peace.
"Do you know his name, son?" The line was absolutely quiet on Lois's side.
"Yes, Mommy. He didn't say it out loud but I know its Jor-El. I hear his voice in my heart."
Halfway across the country in upstate New York, Green Lantern, Batman and a blonde Amazon, decked out in full Amazon battle armor, were all engaged in a pitched battle with a Superman look-alike who was single-handedly tearing up an entire Army Division. Small-arms, mortars and even direct-fired light artillery would be quite ineffective against this Bizarre Imposter. If they'd had live ammunition. But as it stood, the US Army's 10th Mountain Division was out on maneuvers, training by fighting against each other, like laser tag. They had no live ammunition, only blanks. And they were completely unprepared to fight a crazed superman clone.
Wearing a heavily-armored, powered exo-suit, Batman fought the Bizarre Imposter clone fist to fist, punch for punch and kick for kick. The Amazing Amazon helped the medics, loading heat vision burn victims and casualties the Bizarre Imposter had torn limb from limb into Army Blackhawk helicopters. Green Lantern shielded the troops and the helicopters from the clone's laser-like heat vision.
The Bat bobbed and weaved dodging punches and kicks like a prize fighter. He connected with a fair number of his own blows as well. The creature staggered back for a moment.
The Bizarre Imposter caught the Bat off guard, as one of the creature's uppercuts connected with the Bat's armored midsection. The punch lifted him up into the air, carried him over a hundred meters and slammed him down into the wreckage of a Striker light armored vehicle that looked as if it had been ripped open and torn apart by hand.
The Amazon saw the Bat arc through the air over the helicopters where she was helping with the wounded. She gently strapped the last of the injured she was carrying into a Blackhawk helicopter and then leapt out of the passenger bay and dashed across to the Bizarre Imposter with a battle cry. She strapped her shield across her back and took the creature on with two swords. She cut; she slashed; she made the Imposter back up.
The creature tried to fight back with punches and kicks. The Amazon ducked, dodged and feinted, avoiding them. The Imposter fought back with heat vision. She deflected its blast with her gauntlet and then turned the heat beam back on the creature's own face. Blow after mighty blow, she landed on the creature's face, arms, legs. The Amazon might have succeeded in giving it a hang nail.
Green Lantern wanted to join the fight. But he knew the shields he maintained around the helicopters, the vehicles and the soldiers required too much concentration. Then it occurred to him, why spend so much energy shielding everything else from the Bizarre Imposter's striking out with its powers? Why not instead lock the creature within a containment sphere and confine the effects of heat vision and super-breath within the sphere as well? Kyle Rayner queried his ring: could it make a sort of "momentum gel" which would absorb and nullify the Bizarre Imposter's strength and speed while also reflecting back at it any heat vision or superbreath attacks? The ring's answer: Of course.
The Bizarre Imposter just then gave a mighty burst of superbreath and blew the Amazing Amazon and her swords back across the clearing to the tree line. Immediately, GL closed his fist and the sphere of "momentum gel" locked around the creature. The more it lashed out, the thicker the gel grew.
As Batman came to, he heard a call over his suit radio on a Titans frequency.
At the same time that Green Lantern's ring alerted him to trouble in the nation's heartland. A misty image of a man's face appeared in the air in front of him. It looked a lot like Superman, with the same S-curl, but older. "I am Jor-El, sometime Chief Astronomer of the planet Krypton, member of the Council of Elders and Engineer of the Guardians. I designed that ring you're wearing. And the battery that charges it. I require assistance."
The Amazon asked about GL's signal.
"It's an alert from Kansas," the Rookie replied, "somewhere called Smallville. Never heard of it."
And then Chloe's phone chimed with the ring reserved for Lois Lane. "Kinda, busy here, cousin."
"Chloe, Diana's halfway around the world in the Middle East negotiating the release of some British sailors captured by the Iranians. She can't get there in time. I need you to hop in that in that invisible jet of yours and fly back to Smallville --."
"Jason." The Amazon said pocketing her phone.
"What?" the Emerald Squire asked.
"We've got re-enforcements coming," the Bat replied thinking GL was talking to him. As he pulled himself up to his feet and began to lumber back into the fight. "Steel is on his way up from the Titans' sea floor kryptonite recovery project, about done cleaning up one of Superman's messes and now there's already another." Throwing a straight right into the Bizarre Imposter's chin, he added, "The Martian is coming, too."
"I'll take the call in Smallville," the Amazon announced "I know my way around there."
"Okay," The Bat declared. "The rookie and I will make it without you for a few minutes until Steel and the Martian get here."