Chapter 13

Now nothing would keep Henshaw from his vengeance on his hated foe. Nothing in the world. He took a deep breath to savour the moment as he prepared to blast Clark Kent from the pages of the history books. Pete was sickened beyond comprehension by what Henshaw planned to do, but felt like he was encased in tempered steel; he was totally paralysed, unable to move and helpless to stop the tragedy playing out in front of him.

Henshaw's prey lay their motionless, dipping in and out of consciousness. Good, he thought. He's awake.

He levelled the metallic gun at the boy's head and then suddenly stopped. Something wasn't right: it took him a moment to realise what was wrong. A bullet had just struck his head. Whirling around, he saw Jonathan Kent behind his truck, aiming a shotgun. "Clark!" cried the farmer. "Get out of the way!"

Henshaw shot him a twisted grin as the boy remained motionless. "He's not going anywhere, Mr Kent. But you are".

Pete felt a surge of adrenaline as a burning sensation flashed through the back of his remaining eye. For a split second, time was frozen as the man he looked upon the man he regarded as a second father in what were surely the final moments of his life. Then in an eruption of motion that shocked even Pete, Jonathan disappeared from view as the truck exploded.

As Henshaw smiled, Pete couldn't help but feel he was addressing him as he spoke. "Okay, that's the first Kent I've killed today. Now for the second".

But before even he could move, he felt another shot hit him square in the forehead. Jonathan's figure emerged from behind the blazing truck.

For a split second, Pete felt as though the steel casing around him slipped away. Henshaw's guard was down, and he was sure he could now move his body. Ignoring the intense pain and thinking that flying was the quickest way to leave his friends behind, he flexed the muscles of his legs. He'd been right; he shot into the air, far faster than the bullets from Mr Kent's gun. The fields below him began to shrink to nothingness as the air grew cold around him. Misty clouds parted before him as he raced toward the stratosphere.

But then a searing pain that felt like a gallon of battery acid swilling around his brain took hold of him. He sensed the malevolent presence of his foe wresting to take control.

As he screamed the dark clouds parted and the sky itself shook. But all too quickly he felt the cold steel close around him again and the paralysis return. Henshaw addressed him triumphantly. "Nice try, Ross. Kent chooses his friends well. But I'm in control now, and I have people to kill".

His body dropped to the ground like a bomb, making the air whistle as he fell, and striking the crater in the field with such force that the rush of air extinguished the burning truck in an instant. But something was wrong: Clark was no longer there.

The air appeared to become luminous for Pete as Henshaw x-rayed the fields. There was no sign of the farmboy. But as he probed his surroundings in bird-like movements, the image of another man soon appeared in view. This time he wasn't shocked at all as he heard the sound and the shell rebounded off his head.

His vision returned to normal as he sped like lightening toward the gunner and gripped him with his irresistible fleshy hand. "Jonathan Kent. You know, you're beginning to annoy me. And that's just earned you an agonising death". As he began to squeeze, Pete heard a whistle coming towards him. It would be upon them in seconds now. He knew exactly what it was, and hoped, just hoped, that it would arrive beforeā€¦

In one deft movement, Henshaw threw Jonathan to the ground, stunning him, and grabbed Clark's outstretched fist, stopping him dead. He shook his head. "Kent. Not too much sunlight around here, right now. Don't you know that when you have the crap knocked out of you, before you go back into a fight, you need to recharge?!" As he said this, he kicked Clark in the stomach. The farmboy flew backwards across the field. Pete thought he would go on for miles, but then something began to appear in his path. It was blue, and glowed, and looked like some kind of phone box. As Clark struck it the ground shook beneath them, but still the box stood firm. Clark collapsed into unconsciousness against the panels as the door opened.

Henshaw folded Pete's arms and greeted the man who walked out. "Doctor. That's some box you have there".

The Timelord thinned his eyes and the upper part of his head was eclipsed in shadow. "Oh assembled hoards, Genghis Khan and all that". He folded his arms defiantly. "Pete, you okay in there?"

"He can't do anything, you stupid old man. He can't move a muscle unless I let him. And I'm just not going to let him".

"But he can hear me, can't you, Pete? And see me. You know exactly what's going on".

"And can't do a thing about it".

"Shut up, Henshaw, I'm not talking to you". He straightened his bowtie. "Now Pete. You need to rip that plate from the front of your head". He screwed his face up. "And, I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, but it's going to hurt".

His foe snorted. "What the hell are you talking to him for. He's only a passenger now". An evil smile came to his lips. "Anyway, speaking of passengers. Don't you normally travel with companions, Doctor".

The Timelord looked on sadly. "Funny you should say that".

Neither Henshaw nor Pete had noticed that the door of the blue box had never closed. And now through the door stepped a young man. He gingerly put his feet into the muddy field. Pete didn't know him, but the controlling force knew him only too well, even though he looked to wrong way around. "What's going on?" said the young man.

Henshaw ignored his past self. "Oh, that's cute, Doctor. Real cute. Bringing me face to face with myself. But if you think it's gonna make one damn bit of difference, you're mistaken. I can't believe Superman ever went to you for help".

The bemused man's eyes narrowed, as he slowly moved his right arm forward from the box. He wasn't alone. Holding his hand was the image of a beautiful young woman. His heart began to thud as a sickly feeling crawled its way across his chest. "Terri?"

The Doctor didn't lose an instant. "Now, Pete, now!"

The steel around his spirit melted away as he ripped at the piece of metal on his face. With surprising ease, he tore it straight off. He saw an explosion of bright light as the pain returned and wracked his whole body. As he fell to the floor and the mud splashed all over him, he felt the malevolent spirit of Henshaw scream as it left his body and plunged down an infinite abyss outside of his mind.

He could feel his body, but he couldn't move it. He was only dimly aware of his surroundings, and of the quick, splashing steps of the Doctor as he came towards him. The other man took a cylindrical device from his coat, and it made a buzzing noise as he waved it over Pete's form. He bent down and touched Pete's forehead. It took a minute to realise that the tears on his cheeks were not his own. The Doctor was weeping.

In a tremendous effort, he spoke through a cracked voice. "How did I do?"

The Doctor's voice was broken. "Great, Pete. You did great". He tried his best to smile, but the kind, sad face of the Doctor was the last thing he ever saw.

The Timelord stood up as he heard some steps behind him. Turning around, he beheld Jonathan. The farmer shook his head as he saw the Doctor's tears. "No. Please, no".

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry".

The Doctor may have stood there for an eternity, but Jonathan, ever the practical man, knew that his grief would have to wait, as other matters remained pressing. "Clark!" The two men splashed over to the unconscious boy lying against the TARDIS. The sonic screwdriver started to buzz again. Jonathan's patience was at an end. "Doctor!"

Frantically the Timelord shook his head. "We're losing him. Henshaw beat him to a pulp, his organs are shutting down".

Jonathan grabbed the Doctor's coat. "Isn't there anything you can do?!"

"Sunlight. He needs sunlight". He began to calm down a little as he looked up to the sky. "More than a cool Kansas night can provide". He beamed at Jonathan, now totally calm. "But I know just the place. Help me get him into the box". Dutifully Jonathan took his son's legs as the Doctor carried him over the threshold. "Now wait here, Jonathan", exclaimed the Doctor. "You're son will be fine".

He was about to close the door behind him, when a quiet voice was heard. "Sir?"

The Doctor span around to see Henshaw's younger self.

"Doctor. What should we do now", asked the young man.

His face screwed up in rage, yet he tried to speak calmly. "'What should you do now?' You know, you may not understand it yet, but in the last few hours, you've put some of the best, least-deserving people I know, through all a manner of hell on earth. You've allowed revenge to consume your soul so much that, when you had the chance, instead of going back to stop your own personal tragedies, you've decided to strike at the people who tried to help you. You disgust me".

"What does that mean?"

"It means, basically, run!"

As he uttered his last word, his face turned red. The young man somehow knew not to argue, and do what the Doctor said. He felt sick to his stomach as he turned and ran. Not knowing what do, Terri thought for a moment, and ran after him into the Kansas night.

Still shaking with rage, the Doctor had to be shaken out of his melancholy by Jonathan. "Doctor, hurry!"

He nodded in agreement as he went back into the TARDIS and closed the door behind him.

The blue box glowed as the air around Jonathan blew, and a loud mechanical groaning sound could be heard for miles around.

Then the box vanished from view, leaving Jonathan alone in the field, who had finally realised that he could trust this stranger with his son's life.