Chapter One: Smallville Years
Thousands of stars shined among the infinite blackness of the cosmos. Celestial gases highlighted unknown depths above the earth. All sounds, all distortions of light, all sense of continuity had vanished within the dark matter of space. Planets ignored by the rest of existence spun in their own orbit; basking in the light of different suns and heavenly bodies. For a brief second, all of this peaceful order stood still: Her soft hands, lined with soft, emerald-painted satin, held her child with gentle passion. Delicate arms cradled the angel close to its mother's warm heart. Gently rocking herself back and forth, letting her long, flawlessly straight, dark brown hair brush against her soft, untouched cheeks; briefly shading over her loving, near-glowing green eyes, Lan-El gazed lovingly into her daughter's big, ocean-clear blue eyes, and felt herself smile. Slowly lifting the infant to her own face, silently kissing her soft little forehead, the woman thanked the heavens for the blessing she'd been given. However, an overpowering feeling of dread filled every thought and prayer Lan gave. "I'm so sorry, angel," she whispered, her eyes slowly welling up with burning tears. "You're a dream; everything the world could ever need...no matter what happens...no matter where you are...know that I'll always love you...my treasure; my little Car-El." Barely stirring from her rest, the little girl shared in the warmth of her mother's hands; finding herself at peace. Allowing a single, glistening tear to stream down her cheek, the woman turned to the window wall of the opaque crystalline house; the darkness and promise of untold cosmos: the light and solace of burning stars...neither seemed to serve as a loving embrace at this moment. Caught off guard, Lan, looked down to see Car-El awake, smiling a large, innocent smile, and wrapping her tiny fingers around her mother's finger. Closing her eyes; slowly slipping into the sorrow and pain she knew her daughter would face, the woman pressed the babe against her breast, kissed her one last time on the forehead, and walked closer to a pod resting on the floor.
"Lan...we have to act now," a dark-haired man gravely declared; his voice breaking with every word. Jor-El walked over to his wife and daughter, let his heart shatter and break in their presence, then held out his arms to take the infant.
"Goodbye, my little angel," Lan-El whispered, lightly squeezing her child for the last time; feeling her little heartbeat against her own. Slowly handing the innocent blessing to her father, the woman recalled the pains of childbirth;
"I can't!" she cried, her entire body aching. "I..." Her breath tearing out of her, Lan tightly clenched her eyes shut. Jor-El and Zod-Aul watched their friend in her time of struggling.
"We're here for you," Jor-El declared, letting his wife clench his hand. Zod did the same. Screaming, Lan-El forced herself forward, looked up to the stars, let out one final, sharp breath, and heard the cry of an infant; permission to stop: permission to give up the struggle, and gaze into the face of new life. Crying and vulnerable, the baby kept her eyes closed. Breaking into loving laughter, the three welcomed the child into the world with warm and open arms.
"What's her name to be?" Zod-Aul asked, looking to his friends.
"...Carl-El," Lan answered. "It means 'Dreams'." Handing the little girl to her mother; allowing Carl-El's first embrace to be that of her mother's. Feeling the soft, tender little body; feeling her little heartbeat against her own, Lan-El allowed herself to love the being she and her husband brought into the world.
"Krypton's newest little miracle," Jor-El whispered, admiring his beloved daughter. Zod smiled with the two, gazing at their beautiful child.
Sitting alone in his room, trying to gather his ravaged thoughts in the darkness, Jor-El clasped his chin in his hand, staring into space. "Jor," Lan-El broke the silence, entering her bedroom. "Are you alright?" However, she knew too well what the answer was.
"The trial's tomorrow," the man replied, unable to break his blank gaze. "But Zod's been my friend since we were kids...how'd this happen? I never saw..." Throwing his arm over his eyes in an attempt to hide the tears, Jor-El fought himself, only to be comforted by his wife.
"Zod hurt all of us," the woman said, her voice soft but strong. "I am sorry it has to be you who makes this decision...but you have to know there's no other choice." Wrapping her arms around her husband's back, Lan-El lay her face against his, sharing in his pain. Removing his arm from his face, Jor-El looked forward.
"There was never another choice," the man gravely declared. "It all ends tomorrow...but where does that leave us?"
"Senator Jor-El," a member of The High Council called out, his voice strong and grave. "Yours is the deciding vote...Is General Zod-Aul guilty of the previously stated accusations? Should you answer 'not-guilty', the Council will forget the charges. If you decide 'guilty', Zod will be sentenced to life imprisonment."
Jor looked at Zod, remembered the times they'd helped one another; the friendship he counted on for years, and everything the two thought they trusted about one another. All that was ending; shattering. "I am sorry, my friend," the man sadly decided, dropping his head. The evidence was undeniable. The loss too great to ignore; the casualties too gruesome to pardon. Dropping his head; no longer able to face this state of being, the man made his decision. "...Guilty."
Zod-Aul clenched his teeth. "We could have ruled together, my friend," he said, holding the deep pain he felt flowing through his entire body. "We could have had everything we dreamed of as children."
"Not like this," Jor regretfully replied, no longer able to look at his old friend; never able to look at what he had become.
"Ruling decided," an elderly member of The High Council declared, willing for the punishment to begin. Zod felt his arms become restricted, and saw himself enter a flowing chamber, which then shrunk beyond the principles of mass and matter. The transparent image then faded into the stars, allowing all its content to be forgotten. Maybe Zod screamed that day; maybe he begged for all of this to be a dream...or maybe he only planned his revenge; planned a way to be remembered.
It didn't take long for the people to grow to hate Jor-El. Zod was, in many of their minds, the savior of the planet. How dare Jor betray Krypton? How dare he let all the promises be broken?
"I know Zod-Aul was every ounce of hope for so many..." Jor announced, trying to look at those before him. "But you must believe me...he was wrong. Corrupt in his intentions...misguided in his views. This was the only way...I pray things will change for him...and my friend will return..."
Several days passed by like a layer of fog; slowly, as dull and shaded as the mind can fathom. "I...I was right," Lan-El declared, her entire body trembling. "...Krypton is dying... the fault lines are collapsing into one another..."
"How long do we have?" Jor-El asked, maintaining his composure.
"Days...maybe less," the dark-haired woman answered. "The Council won't take your word?"
"No one will," the man answered, staring into the cosmos. "Not since I decided Zod guilty...none of the people will forgive me...my word means nothing to them now..."
"What about her?" Lan-El asked, turning to sight to her beloved babe. "This can't be her end..."
"And it won't," Jor-El answered, knowing what must be done. Lan felt the same dreadful idea enter her mind. However, there was no other choice; not if they wanted their daughter to live out the dreams and hopes she promised everyone around her; not if they wanted their precious Car-El to soar as she was meant to.
Placing his blessed gift into the pod, Jor-El watched his beloved wife lay a small blue blanket atop the baby's wrap, and kiss her smooth forehead for the last time. The two grabbed a wooden box from their room, placing it within the pod; safe and near the beloved infant. Reflecting the light of stars was a silver, diamond-shaped outline around and bonding to the edges of a wide S. shape emblazon on the surface of the box's lid.
Stepping back to observe their child, Jor and Lan-El joined hands, if only to share the strength of another being; one who could take what was happening. "Car-El..." the dark-haired woman began, trying to keep her voice from breaking. "Our daughter...our love...our life: Last Daughter of Krypton..."
"Our pride, our pleasure, our treasure," Jor-El continued. "You'll come to forget our world...and come to love another. You'll hold it as your own, and love it with all the passion your mother and I have given you."
"The rays of the yellow sun will give you many gifts," Lan added. "You will be different from the rest of them; some might fear you...some might hate you..." Rolling onto her side, the baby slept in peace, knowing she was loved. "But you must never use your powers out of anger."
"You will forever soar higher than we have ever known, Carl-El," Jor-El choked out. "With our final blessing, our final apology, we must part ways...but know you are our greatest of miracles...and you will serve as a ray of light for your new home..."
"We love you, our little angel," Lan-El completed. With that, the two activated the pod's shield; holding the babe safe and sound within its blanket of glass and a scent that kept her at peace and in slumber. Soon, the thrusters ignited, filling the building with smoke, and carried Car-El into the stars. Lan and Jor-El surrendered themselves into one another's arms, and prayed.
Fires erupted, massive statues and monuments crumbled and fell to the shattering ground, and the sunrise never came. As the pod sped among newly-born stars and worlds, Krypton shattered in a massive ball of volcanic fire and smoke. Within moments, all that remained of the once-proud, once-promising world were chunks of debris and a field of cosmic gas.
"It's a boy," Sheldon cried out, looking at the infant his wife had just given birth to. The man's dark, curly brown hair blocked his eyes for a faint second, though he was unable to break away from the image of purity.
"...Spencer," Miranda whispered, barely able to keep her eyes open. "He's gorgeous." Her ravaged, light-brown hair glistened with sweat under the lights of the sterile hospital room. Sheldon, noticing that the boy had a slight likeness to him, couldn't help but smile. On the date of May fifteenth, 1989, the Shays welcomed their first child into the world.
On June thirteenth, 1995, tearing through the black skies and weak stars were hundreds of blazing meteors. Falling stars illuminated the city of Smallville like the flames of dead suns. Smashing into buildings, corn fields, roads, and hardened landscape, the alien stones created craters that all too perfectly fit the impact of their presence. Citizens of the town fled for their lives; others ran for cover; some simply remained asleep: letting everything beyond their control stay a mere dream. Glancing out of the living room window, Miranda saw the fiery tails of the incoming boulders. "Sheldon...is Spencer awake?" the woman asked, taking notice of one meteor plowing into a nearby field.
"No," Sheldon answered, looking up from his book. "He's fast asleep."
"Come on," Miranda replied, standing up and grabbing a coat. "One of those meteors landed in the field next to us..."
"We can't go out there...those rocks could still be falling," the man snapped.
"The sky's empty, and what if some of our neighbors' kids are out there?" Miranda insisted. "...Stay inside if you want, but I'm going." With that, the woman marched out the door and into the night. Letting out a defeated sigh, Sheldon dropped his book on a small desk and followed his wife out. The night was cold and raw; the stars shattered in a scorched sky.
"Is anyone out here?" the light brunette called out, clasping her coat to her chest. Sheldon managed to catch up with the woman, his breath visible in the low temperatures. "There's smoke just a couple of feet ahead...are you interested in hunting moon rocks?" Stepping forward, the man pushed aside the tall stocks of corn, letting the rising smoke guide him to his destination.
At last, the two found themselves in a massive crop circle; rows of corn flattened, scorched, and even burning in some parts. At the very center of it all, a massive crater lay at the base of all the smoke and embers. "My lord," Sheldon whispered. Miranda walked closer to the foreign stone, watched the smog clear away from it, and saw a mechanical pod in between its cleaved exterior halves. "Shel," the woman cried out.
"What's..." Sheldon felt his voice fail as he witnessed the alien craft. "What in heaven's gate..."
Slowly, delicately making her way down into the crater; down into the very center of the small depression, Miranda saw the glass shield of the pod, then felt her heart jump at the sight held within; movement. Sheldon, unable to accept what was happening before him, slid down into the crater, gazing at the alien device.
"Something's inside of there," Miranda whispered, totally bewildered. "I saw..." Realizing that all of this was a complete indiscretion, the woman approached the pod, felt the air above it, and, feeling no heat radiating from it, lifted up on the glass shield. With a hiss, the craft opened, revealing a gentle, untouched baby girl stirring from her peaceful sleep and rustling her blue blanket and wrap. "Oh my gosh," Miranda gasped out, slowly, carefully picking up the infant. "Look at her..." Slowly rocking and bouncing herself to soothe the timid soul in her arms, the light brunette gazed into the innocent little face from the stars.
"Where did she...how did she..." Sheldon stuttered, his heart pounding in a nervous, confused frenzy. "What is..."
"Shel," Miranda replied, gently taking her husband's quaking hand. "It doesn't matter where she's from or what she is...what matters is she's here...she's safe, and she needs us."
"...Is there a name or something on the blanket?" the curly-haired man gave into his heart, letting his fears and limited faith melt away. Noticing a small wooden box inside the pod, Sheldon slowly reached in and grabbed it, watching the light of the moon reflect off the silver diamond shape atop the lid.
Looking down at the interior of the craft, Miranda spotted a withered golden inscription; most of it was foreign symbols and cryptic designs, but in the very center, "Car-El" was emblazon. Studying the name before her, the brown-haired woman felt a miraculous sense of connection and inspiration. "...Carly," she whispered, looking at the babe cradled in her arms.
"Carly...Anne Shay," Sheldon suggested. "For my aunt..." Miranda smiled at the sentiment, then returned to the infant. Above the scene, the heavens had settled, and the night became calm as the stars began to shine once again.