The morning rays stream brightly through the fissured wall flooding the living room of the Kent Farm house in dynamic light. Kal-El steps through the rubble, over the evidence – remnants - of this world's fragility. Guided by the illuminated path, his entire body is compelled and drawn to his source of power, of life. Rigid and alert, his foot falls with regal precision. Departing from the obscurity of Clark's life, Kal-El emerges in the welcoming morning with matchless conviction.
Eyes falling shut in gratification, his essence stretches beyond him, reaching for the life sustaining, empowering rays and rejoicing in its vigor, its power. It flows within him, coating and bathing him in nourishment. It is well, revitalizing yet not enough... never enough. The lack remains; the ever present emptiness felt within. He's incomplete and, unlike Clark Kent, will not deny his need for wholeness; will not deny his need for his Chosen. She is his and without her he cannot be.
Kara cautiously watches, from a careful distance, as he feeds. Analyzing his purposeful movements; the sureness in his steps; the overwhelming surge of power that radiates from him hits her in erratic volatile waves. This man is not her cousin, not her Kal. This man is something more... something much, much more; much, much worse, she decides. While observing the subtle transition in his posture; the hardening lines of his face, when effortlessly his concentration shifts from preparation to readiness.
He can smell her all around him; feel her presence in the waft of morning breeze. The taste of her fills his senses and her life's rhythm echoes raucously within. She is in everything and, without intent his body turns subtly toward the direction of Metropolis.
"Kal?" Kara calls hesitantly.
"Where is she?"
The blonde Kryptonian startles slightly by the inimitable demand in his voice. His powerful tenor assails the morning's tranquility; casting aside the peace that resided a mere second ago.
"I..." She begins tentatively, knowing her answer will be unwelcome. Yet it is when his head turns slowly toward her; when his eyelids open and his cold steely blue eyes focus on her with an intensity one would examine an insect through a magnifying glass and his gaze just as indifferent, superior and scorching; that she realizes, her answer will be more than unwelcome. The chilling resolute stare warns her of the grave repercussions to follow. This is not her cousin that looks upon her now. There is no recognition in his eyes, no warmth, nor any tolerance. Kara breathes deeply, straightening her back and steeling herself against his penetrating gaze, she meets his eyes with unwavering resolve, and answers. "I do not know."
Incensed heat blazes instantly in his eyes as he regards her, petrifying and holding her limbs captive in his deadly stare. Kal-El considers her carefully for what seems an eternity; gauging her honesty before he closes his eyes in concentration. And she then dares to breathe again; apprehensive to what will happen next.
He hunts within, wading through the blackened depths, digging into his being. Reaching into the pit of himself to contact the slumbering Clark, images race wildly through his mind's eye. He needs to find her and only Clark can show him the way. A sphere rises to the surface. Her haven? Gold and gleaming in the sun's light, spinning on its axis... a monument to be seen from near and far. Her home? A planet... The Planet. Her one true desire... The Daily Planet. It pulses in his memory, awakening a sudden and unreasoning possessive rage within him. Setting ablaze the edgy calm and alighting every nerve with renewed destructive purpose. Her one true desire? The Daily Planet is what he pulls from Clark's knowledge. His new target. His goal en route to his Chosen; the Daily Planet is the building he will demolish brick by brick; steel beam by steel beam until only he exists. Until only he remains as her true desire. She belongs to him and... Kal-El can feel the wakeful stirring of Clark in his depths, pressing to be liberated. The weak one tries in vain to be released, struggling for dominance in his own protectiveness of his Chosen, his Chloe. However, Kal-El, in his annoyance, stamps down at once suppressing Clark's fruitless efforts and dousing his foolish covetousness in a wildly fanned fury multiplied two fold by Kent's claim.
Kara stumbles back inadvertently when his gaze unexpectedly levels on her once again. In his eyes she can see the barely held intensity of his anger. What was only moments ago cold and piercingly dismissive, is now filled with a feral and, what looks to be, inexorable rage.
And suddenly, he's off. Vanishing so swiftly, his departure leaves a slip stream, bending the tall grass and rattling the earth below. Relief allows her body to relax, yet is short lived when instantly it's followed with an overwhelming sense of foreboding. Kara chases in flight ignoring her own apprehension and need for self preservation. She pushes herself at a speed she's never before dared. When spotting him at the Smallville city limits, she swoops down without hesitation grabbing his shoulders and pulls him backward. It isn't her intention but unfortunately, the power of his trajectory and the force she exerts to pull him to a stop, conflict and cause Kal-El to fall back. At the last minute, in their inhuman speed, he takes control of the descent. Bending his knees slightly, flipping his body, Kal-El thrusts his legs out in mid air. His feet connect brutally with Kara's chest, the force knocking the breath out of her and sending her flying though the air until she collides painfully and destructively with a tree. Limbs snap and shatter, wood splitters in two, breaking clean. Kara splits the oak nearly completely in half as her body falls and her back drags the length of the once sturdy oak now reduced to kindling.
She wheezes, her surprise evident when her body finally comes to rest at the base of the tree. Trying ineffectively to breathe through the pain in her chest and the knot in her back, she watches in trepidation as Kal-El approaches imperiously and unfazed, yet the anger previously displayed still intact. Unfortunately, she notes with dismay, it appears to now be aimed at her.
"You are our cousin Kara Zor-El." He begins without preamble flatly and very much detached, looming tall over the recouping Kryptonian. "Clark cares for you deeply." She can't help but hear the warning dripping from every steely word. "I have no need for you. Out of deference for our familial bond, I choose to advise you only once. It is not my wish to hurt you... but I will level the path between myself and my Chosen... and destroy any obstacle along the way."
"Kal..." She breathes, pushing herself up laboriously from the ground and discarding the broken timber and splinters. Ignoring the dizziness laying claim to her head along with the helplessness seeking to submerge her; she attempts to appeal to his need for his Chosen. "Let me help you." She implores. "You have only just awakened. If you... If you tell me where Chloe is, I can retrieve her and bring her to you." And hopes he doesn't note the desperation in her voice that, to her, is all too obvious.
His stare is unblinking and unnervingly appraising as Kara's entire being pleads for his assent. She knows if he doesn't agree, she'll have to stop him. She knows, she'll have to find a way. And this knowledge causes her chest to constrict in fear at the notion of going up against him by force. Yes, she is as powerful and super powered as he is, but Kal is so much more… boundless; having a decade and more to soak in the affects of Earth's sun as opposed to her mere months. Added to that, this person... this man who is not her cousin, seems to her to be every bit unreasoning and implacable. She fears this may very well be a fight to the death and prays fervently to Rao that she is wrong.
Slowly, purposefully, she raises her hand to his arm. The gesture meant as a sign of her benign objective, intending to draw upon the care of her cousin, she only hopes still resides within him.
And faster than even her eye can track, Kal-El cuts short her attempt in mid-movement. His large hand grasping and fingers circling firm and formidable around her wrist. "Your assistance is not required." He finally answers, casting aside her offer and delivering his own form of advice while his hold tightens threateningly. "It will be wise for you to not interfere."
Kara swallows back the bile yearning to erupt out of her from the decision she has no choice but to make. He will not give in and unfortunately, given the blind and unconcerned destructive state he's in, she cannot allow him to go on.
While his grip is firm, it is not unbreakable. Forcefully wrenches her wrist from his enfold; she meets and matches his determination with her own. Straightening her shoulders and stands firm, unyieldingly erect in her resolve. "I'm sorry. I cannot do that."
His acknowledgement of what's to come is recognized with a barely visible nod of his head and once again Kal-El whips away.
And Kara follows immediately as if tethered. Instinctually, her body is pulled in pursuit of this stranger. Yet she's perplexed by his actions, wondering what exactly he's playing at. It is clear that they'd all but declared war and yet… he runs?
Then unexpectedly he turns, and it is when her body lurches forward by the sudden and surprising stop in her momentum; it's when she feels his large hand wrap tightly around her neck, lifting her off the ground, it is then Kara realizes her mistake. He'd wanted her to follow him, wanted her to provoke him. His grip becomes like a vice and she gasps, her hand vainly clutching onto his wrist and her eyes widen in fear and comprehension – he won't attack her without provocation. Frantically, she searches his blue eyes; which burst with what seems to be an electric current of crimson… her cousin is in there somewhere. Clark must be buried beneath the hostile and harsh indifference. Kara knows her compassionate cousin still resides… somewhere.
"Is this what you want?" His Kryptonian words batter her oxygen deprived brain like a steel drum, cutting, biting, clanging. It's no matter, she reasons as his hand clenches her throat tighter still; wherever her cousin is, he is not the one in control and this fight – she so desperately hoped to avoid - is inevitable.
"It…" She tries to breathe. The edges of her vision begin to gray. Her eyelids flutter shut… she doesn't want to see him… can't bear to see the face of her cousin on this stranger, ensnared in the battle she must undertake. "It is… what I must do." She rasps.
Kal-El's hold constricts further, feeling the cords of her throat, the rushing of her blood beneath his fingers. "Then your fate is of your own making."
'YES' she screams silently. The internal howl reverberating through her entire body, rushing through her veins and carrying power to her every muscle. Swiftly, she draws her legs to her chest yet Kal-El thwarts her movement, grabbing her left calf and halting her attempt to free herself. She reacts rapidly, deftly kicking out with her right. Once, twice she jabs him in the head and he stumbles backward releasing her leg, but is unrelenting with his hold on her neck. She notices his arm drawing back, preparing to assault her and quicker than thought, her legs are over his shoulder. Her knees lock his head in place and her ankles cross on his back. Kara then stiffens, turning her entire body hard and flips him over onto his back, freeing herself from his grip. She coughs and gasps; frantically trying to gather her ground speedily and draw in as much air as possible as she unravels her legs from him.
However, Kal-El snatches her ankle and at once he lifts and lowers his arm powerfully, plowing her to the ground and again forcing what little air she has gained out of her. He lifts her again, before he rises and Kara braces both arms defensively attempting to shield herself from the impact, when once again he surprises her by suddenly whirling around throwing her backward into the unknown.
Clark's remonstrative howls; his fear, resounds within the never-ending abyss as Kal-El rushes forward, meeting Kara before her body touches down. His binding is immoveable, solid, however unseen. He struggles still. The need to preserve; the need to save is unquenchable. He cannot let this happen.
The big Kryptonian collides with Kara, yet the strength behind it is lessened unexpectedly, inexplicably. Kal rears again releasing a devastating blow, cracking her ribs and Kara cries out in pain. He beats her back, unleashing a series of super-powered, seismic punches. The force of which quakes the earth below and Kara sails further, this time downward. The steel skin of her back abrading the asphalt road beneath as she skids without fault on the dry earth. She grapples for a hold to stop her movement. Her hands gouge hard into the pavement to no avail, leaving parallel gorges in the road until finally with a mighty upward heave, she rights herself changing her direction. She flies fast and hard toward the stoically imposing figure. Super-charged and arms outstretched before her, she pounds into him mercilessly. Her hit like a hundred ton battering-ram to the chest, she pulls back and then repeats.
Kal-El falters, falling hard, his body shaking the world around them. She doesn't relent. Using her advantage, Kara grabs him by the hair harshly, and slams his skull brutally into the ground, the force creating a cratered head-rest beneath him.
The attack disorients Kal momentarily, allowing Kara to get in another succinct strike to the face and another to the gut. Once more she pulls back ready to strike, but Kal-El evades stealthily, leaning reflexively to his side and seizes Kara by the neck. Her fist tunnels easily through the abused pavement, yet before she can comprehend the change, he's slamming her down face first beside him and delivers a startlingly precise and scarily calculated jab to the ribs, once, twice. The malicious hits knocking all the air from her.
"Stop. Stop. STOP!" Clark rams himself bodily against the invisible hold. "STOP!" He bellows frenzied.
His hesitation is short-lived and imperceptible. Unaware of the reasons for the fleeting and inconsequential moment, Kal-El uses Kara's own moves against her, when grabbing her hair he proceeds to batter her face first into the ground. She can't cry out, she can hardly breathe. Yet she can feel the bones in her face breaking. Can feel the blood gushing hot and sticky… choking. The sound of bones snapping and crushing fills her head nauseatingly. She knows she can't take too much more. Reaching back frantically she grips his wrists and with a burst of strength and speed that surprises even her, she wrenches him forward, and twists while beneath him, ripping his hold from her – along with a handful of hair - and breaking his forearm from his elbow. The large Kryptonian clenches his jaw tightly holding back the torturous cry yearning to escape. While Kara presses forward, ignoring the ooze of blood slipping down her neck and soaking her shirt, ignoring the agony from the crushed bones of her face, she can already feel healing. She bounds upright with renewed vigor. Jab after jab, blow after blow she pummels into his chest, his neck, his face. Anywhere her fists can reach, everywhere her strength can inflect damage. The satisfaction she receives from his grunts of pain is only diminished by her sheer frustration and anger and before she can prevent it, Kara mindlessly pulls back leveling him with a blast of her heat vision, brighter and hotter than her rage. Kal-El roars in agonized pain at her unexpected attack and she freezes at once, both horrified and confused by her actions. It was too much, she scolds. She only wants to slow him down, stop him – not kill him. This… this violence… the acrid smell of burning flesh, makes her stomach roil sickeningly.
Clark feels it instantly. The build of heat, the scorching inferno; furious in its travels; unquenchable in its fiery determination. Too late he comprehends. Too late he screams, "Don't… No. NO!". Only for his voice to be silenced in its inexorable eruption.
Caught up in her own thoughts, her regret, she doesn't notice when his cries are muted nor does she witness the blazing doom in his glare now turned to her. It is only when the searing pain tears through her abdomen and simultaneously an excruciating scream unlike anything she has ever heard rips from her throat, Kara realizes her regrets are many.