Season 6, following my story "Ever the Same"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Read the previous chapter here.
Read the story from the beginning here.
Clark couldn't stand idly by and let Zod destroy the world. He just couldn't. The idea of Earth's crust being reshaped, and the climate being altered until the whole Earth looked like the bleak and snowy terrain around his Fortress, was too horrifying to contemplate.
People would die. Millions upon millions of them. Possibly even billions.
He couldn't let that happen.
And yet he knew any action he took would be swiftly countered with pain too appalling to imagine. Fear swelled in his chest, choking him until he couldn't draw a breath. He shivered more violently than before, and sweat beaded on his skin. He was terrified.
But he knew what he had to do.
As Zod's hands descended toward the keyboard, he hesitated, just for a microsecond.
And then he fired a burst of heat vision at the computer, incinerating it.
Zod was on her feet and moving before he could hit her with a blast of heat vision. Given her body's current invulnerability, he knew it wouldn't have incinerated her, just thrown her across the room. And yet he wasn't sure he wanted to do that, because if she was telling the truth, she was carrying his child. It might not even be the size of a peanut yet, and he might not have sired it voluntarily, but even so, he felt a responsibility to it.
He hesitated for an instant, unsure what his next move should be. He still couldn't kill Zod, because she wore the body of his lifemate, and now she was carrying his child.
And yet somehow he had to stop her.
He bolted toward her in superspeed, a fuzzy plan of somehow capturing her and imprisoning her forming in his head. But before he could reach her, her hand was at her waist, operating the device that controlled his collar.
Pain blasted through him, so intense that he went right to his knees.
"I knew this would happen," she said. He was barely aware of her voice, barely aware of the sound of her booted footsteps clanging on the metal flooring as she approached. The pain was so excruciating that it was rapidly blotting everything else out. "I knew you would never yield to me, son of Jor-El. Your father was exactly the same. Nothing could make him yield. Not in the long run."
There was a faint click, and the pain suddenly got much more intense. He could feel it burning into his bones. He realized she'd turned up the intensity on the collar. He collapsed onto the metal flooring and curled into a ball, trying hopelessly to defend himself against something there was no defense against.
Tears ran down his face. As horrific as the pain was, even more painful was the knowledge that he'd failed to stop Zod. There was no one to prevent her from destroying the world. He'd failed to save Earth.
"I have enjoyed watching you struggle against your fear," she said softly. "I have enjoyed humiliating you, watching you abase yourself as you sought to avoid pain. It has been entertaining to have an El at my mercy. But in the end, you are of no real use to me. You will never be a trustworthy lieutenant. All that I truly needed from you, Kal-El, was your genes-- and I have them now."
Another click, and the pain was worse than ever, burning him to ash. Helpless sobs fell from him, and he felt more tears streaming from his eyes. He thought he might be begging for mercy, but he wasn't sure if the words were making it out of his mouth in any coherent form. He thought they might just be echoing inside his own head.
"I have enjoyed watching you struggle against your cowardice, enjoyed watching you suffer." Her voice was filled with amused approval, as if he'd been putting on a show for her entertainment. "I only wish I could have watched Jor-El suffer so. But watching his only son weep in pain, watching him cringe in fear, has been very nearly as rewarding."
Her voice shifted to a colder, more menacing tone.
"And now, son of Jor-El... I will enjoy watching you die."
The wind rushed past her, and Chloe flung out her arms in an instinctive but hopeless effort to break her fall.
To her shock, her plummet through the sky slowed, then stopped. She looked at her outstretched arms and saw they weren't arms at all. They were ghostly dark wings.
Oh, that's right. I'm not corporeal, am I? If she had possessed a real body, she would have rolled her eyes at herself. Duh, Sullivan.
She'd gotten so used to thinking of herself as a real body in the Zone, a physical body subject to sunburn and cuts and thirst, that she'd forgotten that outside the Zone, where the normal rules of reality were in effect, she was nothing more than a phantom. A disembodied spirit. Which meant that falling through the atmosphere and slamming into the ground probably wouldn't do her any damage.
But it also meant that she didn't have to fall if she didn't want to. She was a spirit, not a body, which meant she wasn't subject to gravity.
As she slowed, she saw a few bright streaks falling through the air some distance away. Meteors, she thought, because after you'd lived in Smallville long enough, you tended to figure anything falling through the air was a meteor. But on an instant's reflection, she realized enough the lights weren't meteors.
Evidently she wasn't the only entity who'd managed to escape through the Phantom Zone's portal.
But she only saw a few streaks of light, not hundreds of them, which was something of a relief. She didn't attempt to follow them and see where they landed. Instead, she banked in a circle, looking over the earth that spread out below her, trying to figure out exactly where she was. The wide green fields far below looked like Kansas, but she might be on the other side of the world, for all she knew. Farmland wasn't exclusive to Kansas, after all.
Somehow, she needed to figure out where she was. Because somehow, some way, she had to find Clark.
The problem was, she had no clue how to locate him.
And yet something deep inside her demanded that she find him, now. They'd been apart for too long, and the last time she'd seen him, he'd been in deadly danger. She needed to get to him. To protect him.
She had no idea how she, a disembodied spirit, could be of any help to him. But she had to try.
She thought about him, trying to tap into the rudimentary telepathy the two of them had somehow established through their bond. Although perhaps, she thought, it couldn't accurately be termed rudimentary any longer. After all, she'd managed to make contact with him through the barriers of space-time.
If they'd managed to communicate with each other while they were in different realities, then she should certainly be able to find him if they were both on Earth. Piece of cake, she thought, and reached out with her mind.
For a long moment, she felt nothing. And then she felt a flicker of response, and thought with hope that she'd located him.
She reached out a little further, stretching toward him eagerly, and suddenly something terrible assaulted her, a horrific agony that sent her reeling backward, both mentally and physically. Suddenly she found herself tumbling through the air again, rudderless.
She wrenched her mind away from the agony, concentrated, and managed to get control of her "flight" again. She sailed in circles, struggling to get up the nerve to try again.
She and Clark had been casually reading each other's impressions for a while now, but she'd never experienced anything like that before. She wasn't quite sure what had just happened. All she knew was that it had hurt.
Some sort of feedback? she wondered uneasily. Or... something else?
She opened her mind again, more slowly and cautiously this time.
Another explosion of pain hit her, so intense she had to struggle not to yank away. It hurt. It was the most horrible thing she'd ever felt, a pure and sharp-edged pain, like being flayed by a razor, or being burned alive, or being caught in a nuclear blast.
Excruciating though it was, she didn't reel back this time. She fought frantically to get through the pain. She fought to get to Clark.
The agony was a whirling, howling storm that drowned out everything else. But somewhere far below the pain, she thought could hear his voice. Well, his mental voice, anyway.
She focused on him, as hard as she could, trying to figure out what he was saying. Gradually she realized he wasn't speaking at all.
He was screaming, making wordless, desperate sounds of horrible agony.
Horror hit her. This horrendous pain wasn't some sort of bizarre feedback. It was what Clark was actually feeling.
She had to go to him. She had to save him. Somehow, she had to save him.
Despite the awful agony, she focused on his "voice," feeling his screams reverberate deep into her soul. She pushed the pain away, as much as she could, and tried to find his location. The words of the Kryptonian bonding ceremony ran through her mind: I will always come to you... protect you from danger... guard you from enemies...
For a long moment, she spun in the sky like a compass needle. And then, suddenly, she knew where he was. She could feel him, could feel his agony and fear and horror calling her toward him like a beacon.
She arrowed toward him.
Read Chapter 13 here.