You may thank VisionGirl for challenging (read as: demanding) my muse to take action.
~s

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Red Zone: The Things We Lost
a.k.a. Exercises in Resuscitating Muses

Author: Me (sunrei a.k.a. sonia)
Rating: T
Setting/Context: Everything up to the S8 finale/ S9 premiere. This fic re-imagines some of the who-did-what and -when as referenced in Pandora.
Summary: After using the legion ring to escape the painful present Clark finds himself in a world at the mercy of the ruthless General Zod.

***

[PROLOGUE]

***

It could have been morbid curiosity or noble intentions that had enticed him to slip the ring onto his finger. In truth, his motivations were neither questioning nor altruistic.

No, given the fact that all of his other integrity- and honor-motivated actions as of late had backfired, he had wanted to be free of the guilt and of the pressure.

Davis was dead. Jimmy was dead. His team was distrustful. His best friends were hurting.

He had watched the funeral procession from afar, knowing that he was unworthy of their forgiveness and undeserving of their comfort.

No, when he had allowed that metal band to slide over the tip of his forefinger with a half-hearted hesitation, he had simply wanted to escape.

When the world stopped flashing around him and the bright colors began to fade, he began to wonder if the decision had been too reckless.

[PART ONE]

While he waited for his eyes to adjust, Clark tried to convince himself that he wouldn't stay long. Wherever he was—whenever he was—it was not his place or time. He was only there to reassure himself that the decisions he made were right. That the means did, in fact, justify the ends.

That is what he told himself, but the deserted newsroom that he found himself in suddenly made the game change.

He was sitting at his desk at the Planet, just as he had been when he'd picked up the ring. Apparently Lois had found it during her altercation with Tess. It was mere luck that she hadn't put the ring on herself. Instead she had pocketed it and gone to meet the blur at the appointed time—a meeting that had put her in the direct destructive path of the Beast once connected to Bloom.

Clark had caught her unconscious body just before Doomsday's thrust had sent her headfirst into a brick wall. Of course, the impact of catching her had caused him to act more as a buffer than a cushion, and the Legion ring—to his surprise—had tumbled out of her jacket pocket.

Later, after all had been said, done, and buried, he had sat down at his desk in the Planet in thought—in the same position he was in now—and slid the ring into the place of no return.

Chloe had asked him to go to the past. He knew that the ring would take him, instead, to the future.

Looking around, he saw that his place of work was in ruins. The space was void of people and of things; but the lack of sound is what really made it all so strikingly *wrong*.

The smart thing to do would be to take the ring off and put it back on, negating his travels and going back to his time and place—whenever and wherever that turned out to be.

He slid the ring off of his finger… and tucked it inside the palm of his left hand as he rose to his feet.

***
"Why are you out of uniform?"

Clark slowly turned away from his surveyance of the damaged Metropolis to face his addressor. The man was tall, dark-skinned, muscular and—by the looks of things—not too friendly. Clark took in the Kryptonian symbol on the black shirt that was half-exposed by a dark trench coat and grimaced.

These were his people.

The knowledge that he wasn't alone was not nearly as welcoming as he'd always thought it would be.

The man's eyes narrowed as he stepped closer. "I asked you a question." But without waiting for an answer, he had lifted Clark a foot off of the ground with a hand wrapped around his neck.

Gagging, Clark grabbed at the man's arm, suddenly gravely aware that in this new world, a world where the sky appeared stained with blood, Clark Kent had no powers.

"Filthy human," the dark man spat, pulling Clark's dangling body closer. "How did you get into the restricted zone?"

Clark shook his head, unable to answer even though it didn't seem like his attacker cared. There was a slightly amused gleam in the man's dark eyes as his fingers tightened around Clark's windpipe.

It was that same gleam that followed him into unconsciousness.

tbc...