AUTHOR NOTE:

Hey guys. I feel sooooo bad leaving this story up in the air for so long. I could come up with excuse after excuse but truth is I lost enthusiasm for it. That has never happened with any of my fanfictions before. I think it's because it's my most popular one and so well received I felt the added pressure to get it perfect. I want it to be that way, so was never prepared to just upload a mediocre chapter. I wanted to come back to it when I felt a want to do it again. Now I do. I'm back for good and this story will get done.

PLEASE NOTE: Chapter 15 has been updated since I first posted it in Dec 2013. Originally Clark went off on the ship on his own and Lauren went back to the military base. I have rewritten the last part of the chapter so Lauren now goes with Clark. If you haven't read this version then please go back and re-read chapter 15.

Enjoy

It's not an S – Chapter 16

After we parted from each other's arms and continued our journey into the depths of the alien ship I prayed to the stars, to the memories of my parents and Clark's father that they would keep us safe, that they would protect us.

When we eventually came to land the ship was half buried in windblown snow, the only sign of life outside being a lone polar bear who loped along the Arctic mountain range. The bear looked up at the ship, anchored to a remote, inaccessible summit like a fortress. It growled, making me jump even from where I was and then sloped off, giving the ship and us a wide berth. Hopefully that would be the only visitor to stumble on ours and the ship's location. The last thing we needed was someone besides us finding it.

Just a short flight had carried us hundreds of miles away from Ellesmere, or any other human settlement, keeping us well hidden. In theory, we could now explore the ship at our leisure. NORTHCOM was far, far away and there was no imminent threat to stop us finding the ships secrets and discovering Clark's true identity.

Clark led us towards a lifeless bridge, not letting go of my hand for even a second. I wasn't arguing, just being in any kind of contact with him made me feel safer. Once there it was clear to me that Clark had stopped for something. He froze on the spot, his hand reaching around his neck where the pendant once again resided.

"Clark?" I questioned with a furrowed brow as he pulled the sharp, metal object from his neck, took one look at me and then hesitantly let go of my hand, placing me behind him as he stepped forward.

Following his gaze I spotted a port up ahead, it was identical to the one I used to disable the sentry when it attacked Clark earlier.

Clark moved to place the key/pendant into the console, taking a shaky breathe as he did so.

"I'm here Clark. I'm right here." I reminded him, causing him to visibly relax.

"Here goes nothing."

Once again the key fit perfectly. A glowing three-dimensional display appeared above the trunk like cylinder. Streams of alien code spiralled across the screen as the console booted up.

"What the hell is this?" I audibly gasped. I'd never seen anything like it in my life, could never imagine anything like this.

Clark didn't respond. He was awe struck and could only amount to gesturing for me to go to his side again. I didn't hesitate for a moment. He was anxious, I was anxious. You could have cut through the tension with a butter knife.

Only a few seconds had passed and before I even had time to process what I was seeing a figure appeared in my peripheral vision. I quickly turned my head and there he was, the bearded man from earlier who had led us on a chase through the bowels of the ship. He just materialised out of thin air, a holographic projection of someone who once was.

He slowly edged in front of Clark and I, Clark gripping my hand just a little tighter, wanting to silently assure me that I was safe and that he was ok.

The hologram smiled fondly. His deep voice was strangely reassuring.

"You made it," he said looking straight at Clark and not even sparing me a glance.

"We prayed you would, but actually seeing you here, grown into an adult." He smiled ruefully. "Gods, I wish Lara could have witnessed this."

"Who are you?" I jumped in, not giving even Clark time to ask the question I knew he as well would be thinking.

"I am your father, Kal," answering Clark and not me. He did give me a slight nod though, that putting me slightly more at ease.

As Clark took in what he had learned, that this man in front of us was his father, a million questions popped into my head. The journalist in me couldn't resist being curious and asking a few.

"How can you be talking to us? You're not even real."

"I am a shadow of him. His consciousness and... conscience. My name is Jor-El." He answered directly to me this time.

Just one look into Clark's eyes and I could tell he was staggered by the revelation – overcome with emotion by the sight of his birth father. We could never have contemplated finding him this soon, if at all. Giving his arm a reassuring squeeze I then continued my questioning. Clark seemed devoid of words at that moment, still taking it all in.

"Kal-El? Is that his real name?" Gesturing to Clark as I asked.

"It is."

"I have so many questions," Clark finally voiced, unsure where to begin. "Where did I come from? Why am I here?"

The hologram of Jor-El gestured broadly and an array of virtual digital screens suddenly surrounded us. It was indescribable. The technology was mind boggling. Alien text and images scrolled past. A colossal red sun appeared, the brightness of it causing Clark and I to shield our eyes.

On another screen, horned beasts with armoured hides roamed an unearthly landscape. Human looking figures rode upon flying creatures that looked like a cross between a seal and a dragonfly. A domed citadel was rooted to the top of a high cliff, much like the way the ship was anchored to the side of the mountain. Multiple moons shone in the sky. What was this place? It was like a scene from a dream.

"You came from Krypton." Jor-El began, pointing at the images. I couldn't believe this was where Clark, my farm boy came from.

"A world with a much harsher environment than Earths. Long ago, in an era of expansion, our race spread out through the stars, seeking new worlds to settle upon. This scout ship you find yourselves on now was one of thousands launched into the void."

More images spread out in front of us whilst the planets history was summarised to us. Images of city-states across alien continents like time-lapsed images of growing coral colonies stretched all around. Mighty starships not unlike the one we were standing in now were built and launched into space. Their thrusters lit up the endless black.

"Lauren?" Clark said in a low, disbelieving voice. I knew Clark well enough to know that he didn't want to ask me anything. He just wanted confirmation from me that I was seeing the same thing that he was. That I wasn't freaking out and slipping through his fingers.

"Clark, this is amazing. This is your world. This is where you're from." Tears came to my eyes as Clark momentarily looked down at me before placing a whisper like kiss to my forehead. The way I spoke in awe about what I was seeing, the way I clinged on to Clark for dear life it had to have been clear to him that I was going nowhere. In fact I had never loved him more.

"We built outposts on other planets, using great machines to reshape the environments to our needs." The Jor-El hologram interrupted, clearly eager to continue with his explanation, his story as more images flew by.

"For a hundred thousand years, our civilisation flourished, accomplishing wonders" Jor-El finishing with a hint of sadness.

"What happened?" I asked, noticing the melancholy in his voice.

"Space exploration was abandoned. We exhausted our natural resources. As a result our planets core became unstable. Eventually, our military leader General Zod attempted a coup. By this stage though it was too late."

The screens suddenly erupted with scenes of civil war. A paramilitary force turned on the governments and its own defenders. Alien gunships soared through the burnt red sky. Suddenly white hot plasma burst and streaked in the air as the imagery played out. Explosions and crashing ships wreaked havoc on the alien metropolis. What moments ago seemed like a beautiful world to me suddenly turned dark and terrible. It had become a world or war, deceit and treachery. In some way you could argue it became like Earth.

Krypton began to come apart on the screens ahead of us and Clark's grip on my hand grew tighter. Not so tight that it hurt but enough that it felt uncomfortable.

Veins of glowing green magma broke through the planets crust, erupting all across the globe. It was like Vesuvius, times a billion.

"Your mother and I, however, foresaw the coming calamity and took steps to ensure your survival Kal. I knew the ancient scout ships were still out there. Left to rust on worlds we'd once considered colonising."

Without giving us a moment to take in all of this information the hologram led us across the bridge, past the three-dimensional screens and on to a platform over-looking the large liquid filled compartment Clark and I had been enthralled by earlier that night.

"What is it? What does it do?" I voiced, completely immersed on what I was witnessing, what I was learning.

"This is a genesis chamber. Every scout ship came equipped with one. In the past, all Kryptonians were conceived in chambers such as this. Every child was designed to fulfil a predetermined role in our society as a worker, a warrior, a leader and so on. Zod had his own visions of the future, one that only included the bloodlines he deemed worthy. But Kal, your mother and I envisioned something far more evolutionary."

"What are you saying?" Clark wondered aloud. I was nervous about what Jor-El was about to relay. I had a feeling this was where Clark came into the story. It had to be.

"We believed that Krypton had lost something precious. The element of choice, of chance. What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society intended for him or her? What if he aspired to be something greater? We wanted to restore that possibility. We wanted to eliminate the class distinctions entirely. You Kal, were the embodiment of that belief, Krypton's first live birth in centuries. That's why we risked so much to save you." Jor-El finished. A proud gaze crossing his features as he stared lovingly at Clark still attached to my side.

It was a lot to absorb, a lot to grasp. If I was struggling how was Clark dealing with all this? I always knew he was special but now it was confirmed. He wasn't just an alien. He was a special alien. One of a kind.

"So I'm the only one like me? I'm alone?" Clark thought aloud. All the information he'd been given eventually sorting itself out in his head. It was all getting too much for him. He started to fidget, ball his free fist and exhale loudly. I had to keep him calm. Had to make sure he held it together. Thank god I decided to come. I don't know how he would have dealt with this all had I not been there.

"Clark? Clark look at me?" I made a point of stepping right into his line of vision and moving his gaze from the hologram to me so he would have no choice but to take in what I was about to say. When I finally had his attention I did my best to make him see sense, to cool him down.

"Clark, I don't know what we do with this. How we move forward with this information. But never doubt and always know that I'm here ok. I may be a regular boring human, but you're stuck with me and you are not alone. You'll never be alone." I was full on crying now, I couldn't keep it in. The anguish and confused look in his eyes was enough to make anyone break down. He was the most important person in my world and as he engulfed me in his arms, the hologram of Jor-El looking on I knew that would never change.

"You've never been boring or regular. Not to me. I love you." Clark whispered in my ear, refusing to let me out of our embrace. I'd stand like that forever if he needed me too.

"I love you too, farm boy."

Suddenly a thought came to me, one that pulled us both out of our moment with the force of it.

"Was Clark the only one saved? What about you and his mother?" Please god, let it be good news.

"My memories only extend to the moment Kal's ship was launched. Beyond that, I can know nothing. Given the enormity of the disaster threatening our world it is very unlikely that there were any survivors." Jor-El was in despair at the thought of what became of him and Lara. It was seeing the look on his face, a look he shared with his son that I wished he was real so that I could give him a hug in sympathy. No one should go through that pain, not even a holographic projection.

"Why didn't you come with me?"

"We couldn't, Kal. No matter how much we loved you, we were a product of our world's failures, just as Zod was, tied to its fate. Trapped in ancient tribal divisions. We knew that."

"So I am the only Kryptonion left. That's what you are saying?"

"No. As your lady said you are not alone. You are as much a child of Earth now as you are of Krypton. You can embody the best of both worlds. The dream your mother and I gave our lives to preserve. The people of Earth are different from us it is true, but I believe that is a good thing. They will not make the same mistake we did. Not if you guide them Kal, not if you bring them hope."

Jor-El gestured to the big "S" on the blue suit which hung on the wall to the side of us. Drawing back his robes he revealed the same emblem embossed to his own uniform.

"That's what this symbol is. That's what you can bring them." Hope.

All the memories I have of that symbol swam through my mind. It was on Clark's pendant, the same pendant he wore for years. It was etched into the ship he arrived on Earth in. Now it was here.

All that time I spent thinking it was just a letter when it has always been so much more than that. Turns out it's hope, it's not an S.

Hope you enjoyed xxxx