AN: This is the sequel to A Kent Christmas and greatly inspired by the 100 years panel in JSA 22. Thanks Fanci for helping with the title Enjoy!
A New Kingdom
Kairos Van-El Kent flew to his parents' home in the mountains after his shift on the Watchtower ended. A faint smile was on his handsome face as he surveyed the terrain below. It was ten years to the day of The Disaster and the Earth has nearly recovered from what was the darkest moment in the world's history. The moment where the Earth came its closest to ever being destroyed.
Kairos' smile turned into a scowl as he thought of Vandal Savage and what was his final attack against Earth. Kairos last battle with Vandal occurred fifty years before. He defeated Vandal in another attempt of ruling the planet. He and his brothers and sisters were getting under Vandal's skin each time they battled. Vandal hated the thought the children of Superman and Wonder Woman were constantly foiling his plans. Kairos thought fifty years ago would be the last time they fought. He thought Vandal would give up. Kairos never knew Vandal was carefully plotting his next attack that caught everyone off guard.
It occurred on Christmas in the last decade of the 22nd century. Kairos and his wife, Reika, an alien Green Lantern, were having Christmas dinner with his parents and siblings. Christmas was a special time for the close Kent family. Even though all eight of Kairos' siblings had lives of their own, the family always came together for Christmas.
The family was close because their abilities made them unique and all they had were each other. Neither Kairos nor his siblings had any children of their own. Their DNA made them incompatible to have children with humans. It was because of this Lyta, Bruce, and Hellene decided not to have relations with humans and dedicated their life to their work. Jon, Apollo and Lara dated humans and aliens but never settled down. The only Kent children to take a plunge into marriage were Kairos, Christopher and Lynda. Lynda was the youngest Kent child to marry at fifty. Christopher was in his eighties. Kairos didn't marry until he was one hundred and fifty years old. Because of their longevity, the Kent children didn't rush to marry in their 20s or 30s as their human friends did. They took their time and lived for themselves.
It was also because of their longevity, the children, like their parents, experienced lost. They watched their friends they grew up with have families of their own, grow old and die naturally while they remained young. Christopher and Lynda's spouses passed with old age as well. The children mourned their spouse but they knew it was coming and it wasn't so hard on them when their spouse died. Kairos unexpectedly, lost his wife to The Disaster caused by Vandal Savage.
Kairos remembered that morning vividly. Everyone was enjoying Christmas morning when the quakes started. They thought it was a minor tremor but when news broke tremors were happening all over the world simultaneously, they knew it was something more.
What Kairos and his family didn't know, Vandal secretly boarded the Watchtower and killed the two Justice League members on watch. They were rookies, highly respected in their cities and have been under consideration for years before Superman extended an invitation. They were excited to be part of the Justice League and were the unfortunate first of many casualties in what was simply called The Disaster.
With control over the Watchtower, Vandal destroyed all the teleporters so no one could transport themselves to the Watchtower from the Justice League base on Earth. Vandal attached his disastrous stratum ray to the main gun. It was voluntarily dismantled by the Justice League decades before but it didn't take long for someone like Vandal to put it together.
Vandal fired the stratum ray and it engulfed the Earth. It was strong enough that airships and meta humans would have little or no chance breaking through. Even meta humans with Kryptonian strength. The ray also used a heavy usage of Kryptonite. While Superman had a stronger resistance to Kryptonite now, it still affected him and his children though they also had a stronger resistance because of their mixed breeding.
The quakes started with low readings on the Richter Scale but with each passing half hour it grew more intense. No place was safe on Earth as innocent people sought shelter.
Every member of the League sprang into action. Most of the members scattered over the planet helping everywhere they could, while the scientists in the Justice League tried to find a way to stop the tremors. Their jobs became abundantly harder when the Earth's core started to give under the pressure and the Earth was literally being pulled apart. Natural disasters occurred all over. Fires broke out in the middle of the streets. Skiers and hikers were caught in avalanches, mud slides trampled people. Volcanoes erupted and lava spread over the city it surrounded. The ground opened up and swallowed many men, women and children. Buildings, homes and wonders of the world crumbled.
Superman, Wonder Woman, Kairos and Lara used all their strength to break the force field Vandal's ray created. Under their power, they cracked it enough they could get through.
While Superman and Wonder Woman battled Vandal Savage, Kairos and Lara worked to reverse the process of Vandal's stratum ray on Earth. Vandal wasn't giving up until someone died and tried to kill Superman and Wonder Woman. In the end, Kairos and Lara were able to reverse the ray, pulling the Earth back together before the process was irreversible and dismantled the deadliest weapon unleashed upon the Earth. Superman and Wonder bloodied and beaten finally defeated Vandal.
Knowing there was no way to convert him and because of the tragedy he unleashed upon the Earth, Superman did something he had not done since banishing Doomsday. He sent Vandal to the Phantom Zone.
The Earth was saved but the price was costly. A quarter of the planet's population died, including many of the Justice League members. Billions were injured. Kairos lost his wife who sacrificed herself saving the people from a volcanic eruption in Hawaii. Diana lost some of her Amazon sisters as Themyscira itself was affected. Landmasses were forever altered. Many Countries, states and cities had to rebuild from scratch.
The Earth slowly recovered and everyone took part in rebuilding the Earth. In an ironic twist, it brought the world closer together. No one was separated by class. Everyone was treated equally. Even the most vain was humbled by the experience. Villains who survived converted and helped in repairing the Earth.
Kairos' childhood home came into view. It sustained damaged during The Disaster but it was durable enough to be saved. Kairos was glad for that. Kairos spent a lot of time at that home with his parents as he mourned Reika's death. So many events happened in that house. Birthdays were celebrated. Holidays were shared. Life changing announcements were made. After tonight, there would be another announcement. Kairos hoped his parents would accept what he and his siblings have decided to do.
Kairos landed and instead of going inside where his family was, Kairos stayed outside. He inhaled the fresh air and took in the scenery. He loved the quietness at this place. Coming home always gave him a sense of comfort and a sense of solitude.
Kairos heard the door open behind him. By the heartbeat, he knew it was his father. He felt the comforting hand of his father rest on his shoulder. "You've been out here for ten minutes. What's on your mind, son?"
"Just thinking. It's been ten years since The Disaster."
Clark sighed as he recalled the horrific day. "So much has changed. So much was lost that day but we're a better world for it. We're more peaceful, more united, but," he added heavily, "you don't forget the sacrifices that were made."
"Reika died honorably. That comforts me. Your mission has been achieved," Kairos said, changing the subject. "Yours and mother's. On this planet, we're at peace. There haven't been any wars since that horrible day. We lost good and bad people that day, but the people of Earth are more resilient and less dependent on us. They are more united. What was it Grandpa Jor-El told you about humanity? 'They need the light to show them the way.' You and mother finally did that."
"Yes," Clark agreed. "I wished it wasn't at such a heavy price, but I fear if people forget, they will revert back to their old ways."
"They won't forget." Kairos was certain. "We won't forget. We will never let it be forgotten."
"We won't," Clark assured his son. "Come on, son. Let's join the others for dinner."
"Am I the last one?" Kairos asked.
"Yes. First born and last to arrived," Clark joked. "What's with that?"
Kairos shrugged unsure of an answer. "Lyta's helping you cook this year?"
Clark nodded. "Lyta came yesterday to help me with dinner."
Father and son stepped into the house. The fresh smell of hot food teased their nostrils. Lyta was in the kitchen taking a turkey out of the oven. She saw her brother and hugged him. Though both have been busy in their lives, the two have been seeing each other more in the past two months as they were working on a project they and their siblings would reveal to their parents later.
Kairos left his sister and stepped in the living room where his other siblings were with their mother. Kairos hugged each of them: Jon, Lara, Bruce, Christopher, Lynda, Apollo and Hellene.
Kairos hugged and kissed his mother. "Mother, it's so good to see you." In the past five years, Kairos parents were finally starting to age. It wasn't much. A few wisps of their dark hair turned grey. The fact the first wisps appear five years ago and hadn't spread and their parents were over two hundred years old, gave a strong indication his parents would be around for a long time. Neither was afraid of death as they faced it many times before and they knew the life that awaited them when their time came.
"It's good to see you. We haven't seen much of you in the past six months."
"I know," Kairos apologized. "I'm sorry about that. Things have been busy."
"I know." Diana knew the life of a public figure as she spent many years as one herself. "We can catch up during dinner."
For the Kent family, dinner wasn't small. In the dining room, the table was big enough to seat twenty but it wasn't because of the eleven people seated. It was because of the amount of food that was to be eaten. Four large turkeys, three hams, a large dish of macaroni and cheese, two large dishes of dressing, mashed potatoes, an array of vegetable dishes, four baker's dozen of rolls. Then there was the table of desserts to go through. It was easy to say the Kent family didn't eat light.
Dinner was full of joy as the family, laughed and teased each other. They shared on what has been going on in their life. The Kent children listened to their father telling them a story from way before they were born.
Kairos listened and absorbed this precious moment with his family, remembering every word said, every joke made. He was going to miss this.
After dinner, the family cleaned up and sat around the living room when Kairos decided to make the announcement.
"Have you been watching the news?" Kairos asked his parents suddenly. "NASA is working with QLW Enterprises on a space emigration."
QLW was Queen-Lex-Wayne Enterprises. After The Disaster, the three major companies joined together. The main goal was to rebuild humanity. They were part of many projects including the newer designs for cities and homes built with stronger, durable structure. If someone told Clark over a hundred and fifty years ago, that Queen Enterprises, LexCorp and Wayne Enterprises would merge in the ways of peace and prosperity for humanity, Clark would've laughed his head off. Bruce Wayne would've punched the person. Oliver Queen would've cursed them out and Lex Luthor would've killed the person. Clark and Diana wished their friends could've lived to see this day.
"Yes," Clark answered. "The company has been building ships for years. It was announced last week they are prepping for a long space travel with officers and civilians. They're interviewing people to go on this trip."
"It's a wonderful thing the world is doing," Diana added. "It's time for humanity to spread its wings and it shouldn't confine itself to one planet."
Clark was glad the Earth was finally joining the races of the rest of the universe in space travel. He was especially glad Earth's culture would reach other planets.
Kairos nodded. At least his parents knew what was going on. Too bad they weren't going to know everything until right now. "I'm glad you are aware of it because I and the rest of us are going to lead this expedition."
Silence filled the room as Clark and Diana absorbed the news. "The rest of who?" Diana asked calmly though shock coursed through her body.
"Us," Kairos indicated to his siblings. "All of us."
Clark and Diana looked at their children stunned. All of them?
"Earth is your home," Clark said. "How can you leave it?"
"Because we love it," Lyta said. "We love everything about it: it's culture, it's people."
If they love it so much, why were they leaving Clark wanted to say but he refrained himself. "I don't understand."
"There are so many reasons we have to leave," Lara stepped in. "It wasn't a decision we made lightly. One of the reasons we are leaving is because Earth is at peace. This world has been at war with each other for thousands of years, and if this world can come to peace, perhaps there's hope for other worlds in the universe. We can't live in peace here while others are suffering on other worlds. Not when we know we can help those people."
"This planet came so close to extinction," Jon added. "We all could've died. It would've been like Krypton, Dad. Only there wouldn't have been any survivors."
Christopher chimed in, "We don't want that for Earth. We've decided to spread out in space so Earth's culture never disappears. We want to spread your message of truth and justice to other worlds, too. It shouldn't just be for Earth."
"If some day this world does come to an end," Lynda said, "Earth's culture, yours and Mother's message will continue to reach others in the galaxy."
Their cause was noble Clark and Diana knew but the parents were having a hard time adjusting to the announcement nor thinking their children were ready for such a responsibility. It was one thing to let their children have more control over leading the Justice League and Diana's Ambassador duties but it was another to let them leave the planet with countless humans in tow as they travel to other worlds.
"This is a huge mission," Diana said. "Bigger than mine. Have you really thought out the task you want to undertake?"
Hellene, the youngest Kent child spoke, "Of course. This is the next logical step after such a catastrophic event on Earth."
"How long have you been planning this?" Diana asked. Shock was fading as she was going into interrogation mode. "It's not something you just decided."
"No, Mother, it's not." Kairos took a heavy breath before saying. "This whole thing….this expedition, is my idea. I talked to my brothers and sisters about it and when they came on board, Lyta and I talked to top scientists, government officials and leaders around the world. After The Disaster, they agreed we should preserve humanity. We later got NASA and QLW Enterprises involved and they built the ships and modified the ones that survived The Disaster."
"They started building ships seven years ago," Clark said, shocked at what his children were telling him. "You've been planning this for seven years and you're just now telling your mother and I about it?"
Kairos heard the anger in his father's voice. He couldn't blame him. It was a big secret to keep from his parents. It's not everyday a child tell his parents he was leaving the planet. "We wanted to tell you but we wanted to do this on our own. We've sworn everyone on this project to secrecy before we make the announcement to the world that we are leading this. We planned and prepared for everything to show you we could do this. Seven years ago, it was an idea. Now, it's almost a reality."
A show of independence Diana figured. To step further out of their parents shadow. "Exactly how many people will be part of this venture?"
"Each ship will hold five thousand people," Bruce explained. "Half military personnel to operate the ship and the other half are volunteer civilians of all walks of life: doctors, teachers, musicians, actors and farmers to name a few. They will all undergo physical and psychological training for this journey."
Clark and Diana knew Bruce would be the one to study each candidate so there are no troubles on this mission. He was as cautious and meticulous as his godfather whom he was named after. Thankfully Bruce didn't brood or was as grim.
"It seems so much to take on by yourself," Clark said. "It is one world you're going to? Two?"
"We plan to travel to many worlds," Apollo, the youngest Kent male joined the family announcement. "Each ship is fully equipped for defense; food is being stocked on the ships to last for ten years. Our friends on Thanagar, Tamaran, Almerac and even the Green Lantern Corps will aid us and offer us their resources. Because of them, we know of many worlds that will welcome Earthlings."
As much as Diana wanted to discourage them, she couldn't ignore how serious and determined her children were. "You thought this all out."
Kairos spoke for his siblings. "Yes, we have."
"But do all of you have to go?" Clark asked.
Apollo said gently, "We have to. This is our mission and calling. We shouldn't limit ourselves to Earth. We should be on other worlds. Who knows," he added, "We might even find someone like you and Mother did. We might even have a family, too."
Clark and Diana's hearts went out to their children. They felt bad their children couldn't find someone to spend forever with because of their gifts or have children. At least not on Earth. If there was a chance their children could find and have what they have, Clark and Diana knew they couldn't hold them back.
But they tried anyway.
"Have you thought how it would affect the Earth if all of you leave?" Clark asked. Though Clark was still considered the leader of the Justice League, it was his children who ran the organization. It was his children who took care of missions on Earth while he handled the deep space missions.
Bruce knew what his father was trying to do. Not that he blamed him. "We did. Even though Earth is at peace, we've concluded there are enough people on Earth that will guarantee its safety and protection. The Earth will not be unguarded as long as you two and the Justice League are here. There are other heroes rising that will be ready for the League in a few years."
Diana reached out to her eldest daughter. "Lyta, you're my heir. You've created so many Themyscira Embassies around the world. You have so much to do here."
Lyta smiled softly at her mother. She was no different than her father. "Mother, the world is at peace now. After The Disaster, I haven't been much of an ambassador. There's no need. I've been helping to rebuild this world. The Amazon nation has become more open to this world. We share our resources with each other. Some Amazons have left to be with men again. There are many capable Amazons that can run the Embassies.
"And as for heir, need I remind you, Mother, you left Themyscira to come to this world. Please don't deny me what I know is my mission the same as your mother tried to deny you. You're going to be around for a very long time. Besides, you've given the Senate more power that they don't need you all the time. You've considered dismantling the monarchy altogether and appointing Phillipus in charge of the island. However, if the time comes where I have to rule, I will follow my duty."
Diana was silenced. Her daughter spoke so eloquently like the ambassador she is.
"Mom, you and Dad have told us to lead by inspiring," Christopher said. "You helped humanity evolve. You set an example and showed them the light. It is time for us to carry the torch and show people on different worlds the same light."
Clark sighed heavily. He and Diana weren't going to win this. "Are you going to leave whether we tell you or not?"
"We are," Kairos said, "but we really want your permission."
Clark and Diana looked at each other. "Your father and I need time to discuss this."
The children agreed and were more relieved than anything their parents were going to talk about it. Their parents' approval meant everything to them.
After the children left, Clark joined Diana in the living room. Diana sat on the sofa near the fireplace. On top of the mantel were pictures of their children as babies, kids and adults. He stared at Diana. She didn't react as he thought she would. She was shocked as he, but she wasn't as emotional. She was calm and cool. She asked questions to learn more of their mission but didn't let down her guard on how she felt about her child leaving. The closest she came was addressing Lyta on her ambassador duties for this world. Clark wondered what turmoil was going inside his wife and when she would release her feelings.
It was Diana who broke the silence between them. "Well, I can honestly say I wasn't expecting that when we invited the children over for Christmas dinner."
Clark sat beside Diana. "Neither did I."
Clark put an arm around his wife and Diana leaned against him. "I keep thinking back to that Christmas Bruce talked us into letting Kairos begin his heroics early." Diana sighed. "That's when it all started. Now I know how my mother felt when I wanted to leave Themyscira."
"I know. It's one thing for them to move out and begin their own lives, but it's something else when they want to leave the planet. And this colonization…. we won't see them as often as we do now. They may visit Earth but… I won't fool myself about it, Diana. They won't be coming back for good."
"Whether we agree with this or not, they are going anyway."
Clark sighed. He was doing that a lot tonight. "They are doing a noble thing. The right thing. I'm just not ready for them to leave."
"Will you ever be?"
"Neither will I but this is what they want." Diana moved closer, wrapping her arms around his waist, drawing his energy. "Lyta really stuck it to me about Themyscira."
Clark recalled the moment their eldest daughter shot down her mother's attempt to get her to stay. "She is your daughter after all."
"Yes, she is." There was pride in Diana's voice. "When should we tell them of our approval?"
"I want to know more about this emigration first. I'm going with Kairos to Florida tomorrow. I'm going to take a closer look at the ships and learn more about this mission."
"I'll go with you. Then after I've seen everything, I'm taking our daughters to Themyscira. We have to announce their mission to the Senate." Diana dreaded the reaction from her Amazon sister. "They won't be pleased with this."
Clark knew the meeting with the Themysciran Senate will be a long and drawn out discussion. "I'll have dinner waiting for you." Trying to lighten the mood, Clark said, "Can you imagine what your mother would say if she was alive?"
"I shudder to think. She would've been furious, saying I didn't raise Lyta or any of my daughters' right since they want to leave the planet and not take the throne of Themyscira. If she is watching us now, she may actually be doing that."
"I imagine Bruce shaking his head and laughing at us. He'll tell us to suck it up and let them leave. Even though he wasn't so happy about Dick leaving to become Nightwing."
Diana caressed her fingers over her husband's chest, feeling the well defined muscles that still lay under his shirt. "Our children's announcement does put a crimp in our plans."
"It does but I don't see why we can't go on with what we have planned for ourselves. We just have to put it off a little while longer."
"When should we tell them?" They planned to do it tonight but that was out the window the moment Kairos announced what he and his siblings were going to do.
"Before they leave. That's for sure. When?" Clark shrugged. "That's another matter."
Clark as Superman and Diana as Wonder Woman, walked with his sons Kairos and Bruce as they toured the NASA facility in Cape Canaveral where the ships for the space emigration were built. During The Disaster, Florida was separated from the United States and became an island instead of the peninsula it was when it was joined with North America. It still had its tourist attractions but the island was more of a United Earth Government base.
There were nine space emigration ships in all. Each a mile in length and width. As Clark and Diana toured the inside of each ship, they were amazed a mini city lied in each one. So the people going on this mission didn't lose the comforts of home, there were restaurants, shopping districts for clothes, books, music, game centers, schools for people bringing their children (and those to be born) and hospitals to name a few. Scientists even created holographic images of day and night so the people wouldn't lose count of the days.
Clark and Diana couldn't find anything wrong with the ships. Nor could they find a fault in their plans. Their children planned for everything. Even when Clark and Diana came up with scenarios that could go wrong, their children had an answer for each one.
Diana only wished things went as smooth when she and her daughters went to Themyscira to make the announcement.
"This is outrageous!" Ipthime shouted. "Diana, how can you allow this? Without any of your daughters staying on Earth, we will be without an heir!"
It didn't surprise Diana Ipthime would be the most vocal against what her daughter's were planning. She was the last of the Themysciran Amazons to accept Superman as Diana's husband. She was the strongest to fight for Amazons to isolate themselves from the world when it was time to integrate.
"It is their mission," Diana told Ipthime. "I cannot hold my daughters back from their destiny, just as my mother couldn't hold me back from mine."
"But at least you were still within reach when you ventured into Patriarch's World." Acepia, another Amazon, argued. "All of your heirs are leaving the planet. We won't be able to contact them if we need them home immediately. We don't know if they are coming back."
Lyta stepped forward. "The mission my sisters, my brothers and I are undertaking will be long and strenuous. As Princess of Themyscira, I know I have duties to this island but I feel my duty is more to the good people in this world and universe. Phillipus is running Themyscira in my mother's absence--"
"Phillipus is running the Themyscira nation temporarily," Ipthime cut the princess off. "It was always under the Amazon's belief, Diana would return full time as queen." Shooting a look at Diana, she sneered, "Or was that a lie?"
Lyta raised an eyebrow at Ipthime. Was she insulting her mother? Lyta kept her temper in check. She was a calm person as her father but one thing Lyta didn't like was anyone insulting her parents. "My mother will return to rule fulltime when she feels its best. Her reign should be as long as Queen Hippolyta's. I had hoped during Phillipus reign, the Amazons would see what I see. I feel Themyscira can be an independent nation free of a monarchy, but I will return to do my duty as Queen if I must."
Diana watched the reaction of the Amazons. Oh, they didn't like that. They saw it as abandonment and Lyta and her sisters putting others before the Amazons. Something the Amazons didn't like. It came with Amazons isolating themselves from the outside world for thousands of years. Diana pitied her sisters who felt that way.
"You have too much influence of the outside world," Acepia accused her. "Your and your sisters' loyalties aren't to the island where your mother was created. To not follow in her footstep is a disservice to your mother and the people who raised her."
"It's also the influence of the man you call Father," Ipthime added cruelly.
That was it. Diana had enough. She was going to let her daughters handle the Amazons but it was time for her to step in. No one was going to push her daughters around or make them feel guilty on doing what was right. Diana herself was feeling ashamed at her weak attempts to get her daughters to stay. She was completely behind them now.
"Actually, I find it quite honorable what my daughters are doing." Diana stepped down to join her daughters on the floor. It was hard for her to keep her anger in check when her daughters' were being insulted. "They are not only giving service to Themyscira and Earth, our birth planet, but they are giving service and will spread the Amazon way to other worlds and universes. Our message will reach billions of people, hundreds of thousands of cultures. You fail to see they are making a huge sacrifice. My children could stay here on a protected island on a peaceful planet but they are not. They are risking their lives for us going out of the safety of our peaceful planet to spread our message. It's a bigger mission than I had to undertake and I couldn't be more proud of my children."
Acepia fell to her seat while Ipthime scowled at Diana and her daughters.
An hour later, Diana and her daughters retired to Diana's apartment. Diana rest her hands on the balustrade, looking out on her island. The session continued on for another hour before the Amazons accepted what Diana's children were doing. Afterwards, mother and daughters retired to Diana's room to spend time alone.
"We can't be surprised how the Amazons took the news," Diana told her daughters. "I'm glad you handled it so well."
Diana knew it was going to be a tough deal with the Amazons when her daughters announced their intentions of leaving. Lyta was the mother and leader. Lara was the tough, tomboyish one. Lynda was the more feminine one. She went on dates, parties and was into fashion like her Aunt Donna while the sweet Hellene was the more nostalgic of her sisters and the more sensitive of the girls. Diana worried Hellene would weaken under the criticism but she remained strong like all her sisters.
"They didn't have to be so rude about it," a miffed Lara stated. "I think some of the Amazons are still sore with you marrying Father."
There was no doubt about that. Some of them would never accept it. "Maybe but they are right about one thing. Living in the outside world influenced you all. It's a double edge sword."
The daughters of Clark and Diana Kent never expected their mother to say that.
"Mother?" Lyta sat up straighter on the chaise. "What do you mean?"
"I grew up on this island. I've lived here most of my life. I have a stronger connection to protect and rule this island than you. You are princesses because of my royal station. You didn't grow up as one whereas I did. I was groomed to be queen." The discussion in the Senate brought some hard truths to Diana. Some she had been denying herself for years. "Living in the outside world more than this island, you don't have that strong connection. I never groomed you girls to be queen as my mother groomed me. Your father and I raised you as children with the desire to make your own choices and not have it force on you."
A creased of worry appeared on Hellene's face. "Are you regretting that?"
Diana turned around, smiling at her daughters. "No. Of course not. Because of how your father and I raised you, your thinking isn't limited. You can see out of the box more and it's why you can leave. It's why you *should* leave. Even though I love this world and I will protect it with my life, my loyalty will always be to this island first." Diana put her arms around Hellene, easing the worry that appeared on her face. "Don't think I hold anything against you for your feelings. I admire it and I support you all."
The daughters of Clark and Diana Kent embraced their mother. Tears sprang from the daughters' eyes but not the mother who remained strong and kept her emotions in check.
After the hug, mother and daughters sat on the chaise lounges that were on Diana's balcony.
"What are you going to do when we leave, Mother?" Lynda asked suddenly. "Are you going to take a bigger role as Wonder Woman again?" Diana was in semi-retirement as Wonder Woman and only stepped in when necessary.
Diana shook her head confidently. "I'll step in only when I need to but not as Wonder Woman."
Lara knew there was more to what her mother was saying. "What do you mean?"
"After what happened on Themyscira today, it's become clear I should take a bigger role as Queen again. The Amazons need assurance that the monarchy isn't completely abandoned."
"What about being Wonder Woman?" Hellene asked.
Diana smiled. "I think I will do something that hasn't been done in a very long time. Have a contest. It worked for me. It should work for my replacement."
Diana's daughters were shocked. Their mother wasn't going to be Wonder Woman anymore? She's always been Wonder Woman. They couldn't imagine anyone replacing her. Even when the Kent girls set out to be heroes on their own they didn't dare ask to take their mother's place as Wonder Woman. They felt that was Diana's and Diana's alone for their mother was always Wonder Woman to them.
"If you're on Themyscira full-time as Queen, what's going to happen to your home with Dad? You won't live with Dad anymore?"
"Nothing will happen to my home at the moment, Hellene. Your father can fly to be with me here or I can fly to be with him. It's not a long commute for us." Diana thought over the conversation she had with her husband Christmas night. They hadn't planned to tell the children so soon but given what happened with the Senate, Diana decided to let all the news out. "Your father and I built our home for you children and we had planned to give it to you. Your father may be out in the world now as Superman but he had plans of taking a step back, too."
"Plans?" Lynda interrupted. "You mean… did we change something with our intention to leave Earth?"
"Well, yes," Diana said slowly. "I've always planned to relieve Phillipus and become Queen full time on Themyscira. Your father had plans to retire and let you kids take our places. We were surprised with your announcement. We had to think what would be the best for the Earth. In the end, nothing changed."
"Nothing?" Lyta frowned. "Does that mean you and Father are still stepping down?"
"The world cannot move forward if it's constantly looking back," Diana said wisely. "We shouldn't look back to heroes of the past to come save the day when we have a strong generation of heroes ready to take their place. Even without you and your brothers, there's a strong group of protectors on Earth."
"Wow," Hellene was amazed. "A world without Superman and Wonder Woman. It's going to be strange."
"It may be at first but the world will get use to it," Diana assured them.
"I can't believe you two are retiring for good," Lara was in disbelief.
"What would you and Father be doing if we weren't leaving and if you weren't returning as Queen so soon?" Lyta asked.
"Will," Diana corrected her daughter. "We're still going to do what we have planned. It's just being pushed back. Your father and I are going to travel to other worlds but not on a mission. We're going to vacation for weeks maybe months or years. Time doesn't matter to us."
"I'm sorry," Lyta apologized. "If we had known--"
"No," Diana cut her daughter off. "Don't say that. I don't want you making sacrifices for your father and I. It's our job to make sacrifices for you." Diana drew her daughter close to her. "When you have children of your own, you will understand."
Lyta looked down for a moment before Diana raised her daughter's chin and forced her to look in her mother's eyes. Even though Lyta never voiced it, she longed for children and companionship of a loving partner. She always had the mothering instinct. She helped raised her younger siblings when her parents were busy when they were on full time rotation with the Justice League. But Lyta always remained strong and kept her feelings deep. She wasn't surprised her mother saw right through her. "I don't think that is possible. Having children I mean."
"I didn't think I would have children of my own either and I had nine," Diana said with a laugh. "You're going to travel to different worlds, meet different people. You will meet your soul mate like I did, have children like I did. You have to leave," Diana said the words with determination. It wasn't until today Diana realized how badly her children had to leave. Even though their leaving would break her heart.
Diana was emotionally tired when she got home. She found her husband sitting on the sofa watching the evening news. Diana kissed his cheek and curled up beside him on the sofa.
"How did it go on Themyscira?" Clark asked. He saw Diana's face. "That bad."
Diana nodded. "Yes but they have no choice but to accept it. Just as we will be able to communicate with the children from the Fortress, we have to set it up on Themyscira."
"Of course," Clark agreed. Resting a hand on Diana's, Clark asked, "How are you?"
"What do you mean?"
"You haven't expressed much emotion over this. You've been on auto." Clark kissed Diana's temple. His lips lingering longer than he intended. "You know you don't have to be strong for me."
Diana started to say, 'I'm not,' but refrained herself. "What's to say? Our children are leaving to spread our cause. They are going to be helping people all over the universe as well as colonize people from Earth on new planets so its culture will live. We should be proud of them."
"I am but won't you feel lonely without them? Won't you miss them?"
"I missed them when they moved out but I got over it." Diana paused, feeling that was harsh. "We will be able to contact them. If they need us, we can get on the Javelin and join them in a few days."
Diana said it with such little emotion. She spoke as if the children were living states and countries away. They will be billions of miles away. Planets and universes will separate them. Clark knew Diana was holding it in. Was she doing it for the children or for herself?
To change the subject, Diana told him, "I told the girls of our plans for retirement. I had to, especially after how things went today on Themyscira."
"Oh?" That was unexpected. "How did they take it?
"They were surprised but they are fine with it. They share some guilt for leaving but I told them it's all right. I'm sure they told their brothers now."
"We'll put off retiring and our trips a little longer," Clark said. "I know we are confident in the new league but I want to watch them for a while since our children won't be with them."
"There's another reason we might have to put off our trips."
"I'm going to return to Queen full time. After what happened today with the Amazons, I really have to."
That would put their plans back a little further. "What's another year or two or ten?" Clark said cheerfully. It was nothing really, especially for people like them.
Diana smiled, happy her husband took the news well. "Nothing to us."
"I just realized this may be my last time doing this," Kairos said and added, "at least for a long while."
"So, that's why you're leaving. To get out of this," Clark teased Kairos.
Father and son were in the Fortress of Solitude feeding the alien animals in Clark's Fortress. The Fortress was damaged in The Disaster but due to its sound alien structure, it remained intact.
"I'm going to miss this place a lot," Kairos said. He was leaving in three days. "So many memories are here."
"Yes, you all did spend a lot of time in the Fortress when you were kids. You used to play hide and seek here with your brothers."
Kairos laughed at a funny moment. "Oh, yeah. Bruce was hiding on the statue of Grandma and Grandpa."
"It wasn't so funny when he fell off the statue and he didn't know how to fly yet. He's lucky he only sprained his wrist and ankle." Clark was never so scared when Kairos carried Bruce to him and told him what happened. "It wasn't the only disaster that day either. Chris got in the weapons room and nearly blew Apollo's head off."
Kairos winced as he recalled that. "We were forbidden to go to the Fortress for a year after that."
"You're lucky it was that long," Clark said. "Your mother wanted to forbid you all for five years."
"I'm glad Mom cooled down. She has one tough temper. How is Mom taking this?" Kairos asked suddenly. "I noticed she has been strong about it. Is she hiding her feelings?"
"You know your mother. She's tough. She doesn't cry." He sighed, not liking how Diana was behaving. It wasn't good for her. She didn't have to be strong and it was all right for her to let her guard down. "But I expect it will hit her after you leave."
"We'll be back," Kairos assured his father.
"Maybe. Maybe not. You're going to be gone for a long time, Kai. Sure, you will keep in contact for the first few days, even weeks after you leave, but as you get more into your mission, the contacts will eventually be far and between." That was going to be the hardest for Clark. As easy as it would be for Clark to see his son, he had to hold back and wait for the invitation. His children needed to do this mission without any direct influence from their parents.
"You are the oldest, Kai. I know you, your brothers and sisters will be separated as you all do your own missions, but I want *you* to keep an eye on them for your mother and me."
"I will. I promise." Watching out for his siblings wasn't unnatural to Kairos. When both his parents were gone for emergencies, he was the one in charge of the family until his parents got back.
"If you are in trouble in any way, know your mother and I will be there in a heartbeat."
Kairos nodded. "I know, Dad. We won't hesitate to call for backup. It's going to be strange going on this mission without you. I know I've been on space missions without you before but this is a big one. I always knew if I was in a trouble, you wouldn't be far away. I could look to you for leadership. Now everyone is going to looking to me. It's kind of scary."
Clark clapped a hand on Kairos' back. "I know. I felt that way many times. When the Justice League was formed, you wouldn't believe how scared I was. I knew so many people will be looking up to me to guide them."
"How did you get over that fear?" Kairos asked.
"I didn't. It's best to have a little fear but you must be optimistic, believe in what you are doing. I have complete faith in you, Kairos. I wouldn't give my approval of this mission if I didn't think you were ready for this."
Kairos hugged his father. "Thanks, Dad."
Father and son pulled apart hearing the footsteps of Jon, Bruce, Christopher and Apollo entered the room. They were in the training room, sharpening their fighting skills one more time for the big trip.
"How was it?" Clark asked his sons.
Jon smiled confidently. "I kicked Chris' butt."
"And Bruce kicked yours!" Apollo shot back. "Almost had him crying uncle."
"He did not!" Jon flared up.
"Right." Bruce rolled his eyes. "I only had you in the sleeper hold and finally took pity on you when I realized you rather pass out rather than give up."
Jon crossed his arms over his chest. "Whatever. At least I didn't get the wind knocked out of me like you did when Chris kicked you in the chest."
"I was distracted," Bruce said. "I got him back."
"By freezing my arm when I was going to punch you," Chris said.
Bruce grinned. "I'm using all my gifts. You need to keep at that, Chris. You shouldn't just focus on your fighting skills and muscles to get you out of every situation."
"It's always worked before, but I know what you mean."
Bruce and Christopher were closest in age and closest among their other siblings as they grew up together and did almost everything at the same time. Bruce was only seventeen months older than Chris. They went to school only a grade apart, were mentored by their godfather Bruce together, started noticing girls around the same time. When they moved out to start college, they shared an apartment together. Chris always took Bruce's advice and was his go to person when he couldn't talk to his father or his big brother Kairos.
"So, Dad," Apollo grinned as he rubbed his hands together. Clark knew that mischievous look. Of all his boys, Apollo was the most playful. Jon was the free spirit. Kairos was the leader. Bruce was the most serious. Christopher was the kind hearted one. He was the only one of his boys to inherit Diana's gift of communicating with animals.
Clark shoulders sunk. He knew what Apollo was going to ask. That game wasn't as fun anymore since his sons grew up.
"How about you take us all on?"
Clark shook his head. "No way. Five to one? That was fun when you were boys, but you're men and experienced fighters. And you cheat, too."
"Using all our abilities to our advantage isn't cheating," Bruce said with a sly grin. "It's being better than your opponent."
"How about we make it even?" Kairos suggested. "Me and Dad against the four of you."
Jon smirked. "Oh, *someone's* feeling cocky. What do you say, Dad, or are you too old?"
All the Kent boys turned to their father expectantly. Was he going to back down or was he going to stand up to the challenge?
"You may be too old for me to spank but you're not too old to get your butt whipped in a fight against your old man. Let's do it."
The night before the children were to leave, the Kent family had one last dinner. There was no talk of the mission tomorrow but of a family spending one last night together; talking, laughing and having fun with each other for there will not be another night like this again.
And because they were leaving and wouldn't be back in this home for a very long time, they all spent the night in their childhood home.
Morning came too soon for Clark and Diana. Clark couldn't get much sleep. This was the last time he would see his children for who knows how long. It was the first time in decades all his children stayed in the house. He smiled recalling how in the middle of the night, he checked on his children sleeping just as he did when they were little children.
Kairos and Jon slept in Kairos' old room. Lyta and Lara slept in Lyta's old room. Bruce, Christopher and Apollo camped out in the living room. Lynda and Hellene slept in Lynda's old room.
Rolling on his side, Clark gently touched Diana's shoulder. "Diana, are you awake?"
"Are you?" Diana murmured.
Clark kissed her shoulder. "Did you get much sleep last night?"
"About as much as you, I'm sure." Diana rolled over to face her husband. "Part of me is in denial this is actually happening, but we should've expected this, shouldn't we? Our children are too big for this world. They have to go beyond this planet and make their place in this universe while we remain here. I think my mother said it best when she said, 'Children have to go while the parent had to remain behind and wait and worry.'"
Clark traced his fingers over Diana's arm. "It's harder when the shoe is on the other foot, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is." Diana looked off as if she was in another world. "Yesterday, we were bringing them home from the hospital."
"Yeah. They were glad to see us leave," Clark mused. "You broke all the instruments in the emergency room."
"It's been a while since we had a child. I don't think my body can do it anymore," Diana said longingly. "It *has* been over a hundred years."
"We can always try," Clark offered. "If that's what you want."
Diana snorted. "Please. You could just look at me and I would end up pregnant." Sighing heavily, "No. I think these are all the children we can have and they are leaving us."
"That's okay, but like I said, we can always try. We certainly had fun doing that."
Diana smiled as she accepted a kiss from her husband. "That we did."
The Kent family flew to the launch station at Cape Canaveral together. Many members of the press were there to see the launch of this historic event; families came to say goodbye their loved ones who were going on this mission. Tears were shed by all as they knew they weren't going to see them again.
Clark pitied the parents who were saying goodbye to their children. Clark knew what they were feeling as he was saying goodbye to his own children but at least he had a chance of seeing them again. For these people, this was goodbye forever.
Clark and Diana stood near the rockets watching the people board the ships. There were nine in all. One for each of their child to guide. Once the last of the humans boarded the ship, it came time for Clark and Diana to say goodbye to their children.
All of the children were wearing special spacesuits with helmets that allowed them to keep in contact with the people in the ships they were guiding. The rockets were warming up. It was time to go.
Hellene, the youngest, hugged her parents goodbye first. "Goodbye, Mother. Father. I love you, both."
Diana returned the hug fiercely but didn't cry. Clark couldn't hold back as a tear rolled down his face.
Lynda was next, hugging and kissing her parents goodbye. Christopher and Apollo were next in the farewell hugs and kisses. Diana remained strong, not shedding a tear, not cracking her voice where Clark gave in to his emotions.
Bruce was next in his goodbye. Bruce was the more serious of the nine children but he was emotional as all the children were in saying goodbye to their parents. Lara and Jon were next, followed by Lyta and the eldest child, Kairos.
"Well, this is it," Kairos said.
"Yes, it is." Clark pulled Kairos into a strong hug. "I'm proud of you all. I love you."
"I love you, too, Dad."
Kairos parted from his father, kissed and embraced his mother. "I love you, Mother. I thank you and Father's approval of this."
"I love you, too, my son. Keep in your heart the pride of your heritage."
Kairos nodded as he stepped back. Diana reached forward and brushed the tear that rolled down Kairos' cheek. Behind him rockets were firing off into space and the children of Superman and Wonder Woman were taking flight leading their rockets into space.
"You better go," Clark told his son. "You are their Superman now."
With a firm nod, Kairos put on his helmet. Kairos walked off but turned around one more time and waved goodbye. Then he took flight joining the spaceships, joining his brothers and sisters as they left the Earth. Clark and Diana remained rooted to the ground, watching their children fly off until they couldn't see them anymore.
Clark at last wiped away his tears. He was proud of his children but he was going to miss them. He turned to Diana. She didn't cry at all. She was every much the Amazon Princess; strong, proud and hiding her emotions. She took his hand and said, "Ready to go home?"
Clark and Diana didn't say anything as they flew home. It was just them now. They won't have their children suddenly dropping in on them. No sudden calls from them. It will be the two of them just as it was before they had children. It was going to be an odd experience. Things were so much different now.
Before they had children, they had the League, their friends and family. Their friends they met in this world were gone. Their parents were gone. The people they first worked with when they started the Justice League were gone. So were the second and third generation Justice League members who were children and relatives of the first generation. At least during that time, Clark and Diana had their children to help cope with the lost.
When their children followed in their footsteps and became leaders in their own way, Clark and Diana slowly retreated, letting their children carve their own place. They only stepped in when they needed. Diana passed off her duties as ambassador to Lyta when she came of age and Lyta renounced it to an Amazon as she prepared for her colonization mission. Semi-retired, Clark spent more time in his Fortress, going on space missions alone or with Diana for Justice League business or just pleasure. Diana divided her time from home with Clark and on Themyscira, ruling part time as Queen.
When they entered their home, Clark went to mantel of the fireplace admiring the pictures of their children over the years. Diana was in the kitchen pouring herself a glass of water.
Clark picked up a picture that had the entire Kent family together. It was taken ten years ago before The Disaster. Clark and Diana sat next to each other with their children surrounding them. Clark traced his hands over the picture. "It'll be a while before they get settled but at least we can talk to them."
"They're gone, Kal," Diana said from the kitchen. Her first words since leaving Cape Canaveral. "Our children are gone. It may be months before we see them again. Maybe years. Maybe never."
The sound of glass shattering and an anguish cry came from the kitchen. Clark rushed in and took Diana in his arms as she finally cried, releasing the pent up emotions that have been whirling in her.
Together, they mourn.