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.
Every soldier in the room spun toward Raya, lifting their weapons menacingly. Obviously they took her outstretched hand as a threat to their leader.
Chloe figured Raya was probably bulletproof, just like Clark, but there was no guarantee of that. Based on what Clark had told her, it had taken him quite a few years of living on Earth before he'd become truly invulnerable. She suspected that had been a function of age, rather than length of exposure to sunlight, but she wasn't going to gamble Raya's life on it.
Not after Raya had just saved them all.
"Lower your weapons!" she snapped. She was pretty sure the soldiers had no idea what had just happened, or that Zod had been displaced and imprisoned. They'd seemed oblivious to the wraith, so in all likelihood they were still operating under the assumption that she was Zod. Even Raya's identification of her as "Chloesullivan-El" was unlikely to shake that belief, as long as she continued to act like Zod.
All she had to do was convince them that she was an evil, bloodthirsty dictator bent on total world domination.
Piece of cake.
The soldiers hesitated, then lowered their weapons. She lifted her chin and glared imperiously around the room.
"Leave me alone with these prisoners."
She saw Raya's eyebrows shoot up at the term, but then the corner of her mouth curled in a slight, wry smile, and Chloe was pretty sure she'd figured out what was going on. The soldiers hesitated again, and the one nearest to her, a tall, broad-shouldered blond guy, spoke cautiously.
"Is that prudent, General?"
Chloe did her best to imitate Raya's queenly manner. "Leave this room at once, and do not question my orders again."
The man swallowed, looking nervous. He cast an uncomfortable look at Clark, who was lying motionless on the floor, and she could almost see the thoughts running through his head: I sure as hell don't want to wind up like him. He lowered his chin submissively and walked toward the door. Raya stood aside as the other soldiers filed out after him.
The door closed behind the last of them. Chloe stared at Raya, torn between relief and alarm.
"God," she said at last, "I'm glad to see you. I think."
"You should be glad to see me, Chloesullivan-El. This--" She held up the small crystal-- "was the only possible way to imprison Zod. Without it, he would have simply found another host."
"Just call me Chloe, all right?" Chloe went toward Clark and knelt beside him. "Is that thing a portal to the Phantom Zone, or..."
"It is a very small fragment of disconnected space-time," Raya said. "A splinter of reality. A small cell used for holding disembodied prisoners until they can be placed into the Zone."
Chloe failed to be disturbed by the idea of Zod being confined in a very small space. She was ordinarily as opposed to cruel and unusual punishment as the next person, but for Zod she was willing to make an exception. As far as she was concerned, it served the bastard right, after everything he'd put her lifemate through.
She looked down at Clark's still form. "Clark," she whispered. "Wake up."
He didn't stir. She could see his chest moving as he breathed steadily, but he was out cold. Apparently the pain had been too much for him. She reached out through their bond, feeling nothing but the blankness of unconsciousness.
Suddenly she recalled that Raya was bonded, too. She lifted her head and looked up at the other woman.
"Did your lifemate make it out of the Zone with you?" she asked.
"Yes." Raya smiled slightly, warmth in her eyes at the thought of her lifemate. "But he is not Kryptonian, and the yellow sun does not affect him as it does me. I had to leave him behind temporarily, because I found myself able to follow you, despite the speed at which you were traveling."
"You just chased me across the countryside, huh?"
"Yes. It appears all the old stories about Earth are true. The sun here confers remarkable abilities upon Kryptonians."
"Yeah." Chloe nodded. "Those stories are true, all right. Here, you guys are superpowered."
She frowned at Clark, worried, and decided the collar had to go. She poked at it experimentally, and her fingers found a latch on the collar. It fell open easily, and she guessed it was keyed to "Zod's" touch.
She tossed it away. But Clark still didn't stir.
"Zod's collar," Raya said, her voice disapproving. "I see he has not changed his methods."
Chloe frowned. "Did he use these things on Krypton, too?"
"Over the years, Zod has used many methods of torture to bend others to his will. He only understands one method of motivating people-- pain."
Chloe ground her teeth together. The more she heard about Zod, the more she despised him. It was okay with her if he rotted in that small fragment of space-time for all eternity.
She looked back down at Clark.
"Clark." She spoke softly, shaking his shoulder. "Wake up."
"You can use the bond to awaken him, you know," Raya said.
Chloe sat back on her heels and looked at her questioningly. "Do you mean the telepathy?"
"The telepathy?" Raya looked briefly puzzled by the term, then her expression cleared. "Oh, you mean the mind touch. No. I mean the physical aspect of it. Touch him directly. It should awaken him."
Chloe recognized that was good advice. She lifted her hand from Clark's shoulder, where his shirt prevented direct skin-to-skin contact, and pressed her palm against his cheek. She felt the gentle, reassuring buzz as their EM fields interacted, and tears stung her eyes.
She'd been so terribly afraid she'd never feel that sensation again.
His eyes flickered open almost instantly. "Chlo?" he said in a hesitant, soft voice, staring up at her. Then his arms went around her waist, and he yanked her down against him, hugging her hard. "Chloe."
She pressed her face against his shoulder, feeling his solidity, his warmth, and the buzzing sensation that meant they were finally together. Physical need rose in her like a river in a rainstorm, and she put her arms around him, trying to move even closer. She lifted her head, and then they were kissing, a long, warm, intimate kiss, and her body was pressing against his, and...
"Do not even think about it," Raya said in her sternest tones, reminding Chloe of a really strict first-grade teacher she'd once had. "We still have a situation to resolve."
Chloe lifted her head, reluctantly. "I thought it was resolved. We got rid of Zod, right?"
"Excuse me?" Clark blinked up at her, loosening his grip on her waist just a bit. "How'd we do that?" He shot a glance at Raya. "And who exactly is this person, anyway?"
Chloe sat up, pulling away from him with reluctance. He sat up too, threading his fingers through hers as if unwilling to let her go, even for a moment.
"I kicked Zod out of my body," she said, "and she captured his spirit in that little crystal."
Clark looked dubiously at the crystal, which Raya held up for his inspection. "Uh-huh," he said, sounding unusually cynical. "Zod's in the paperweight. Got it."
"It's not a paperweight," Chloe said.
"Snowglobe, then. Same thing. You expect me to believe a brutal dictator is now safely confined in... that? In a little piece of glass?"
"This from the guy who built a giant Fortress out of three little crystals," Chloe drawled.
"Hmmm," he said, but she thought he sounded slightly more convinced.
"Anyway," Chloe went on. "This is your father's assistant Raya, whom I met in the Phantom Zone. She claimed not to care about a backwater planet's fate, but she pulled a Han Solo in the end anyway and saved our asses."
"I still care nothing for the fate of your backwater planet." Raya lifted her chin, trying to look cool and unemotional, but Chloe was pretty sure she saw a flicker of humor in the blue eyes. "I simply felt capturing Zod was the least I could do for Jor-El's son. And I knew that without the crystal, you had no hope of defeating him."
Clark got to his feet. His movements were slow and painful, but he looked as if he were beginning to recover. "Uh, thank you, Raya," he said with the awkwardness he often displayed around beautiful women. He held out his hand. "My name is--"
"I know your name, Kal-El." Raya took his huge hand in both of her small ones, looking up into his face. "I would recognize you anywhere. You look just like your father."
"Uh, yeah, I know." He looked slightly embarrassed at the warmth in her eyes. "But I go by Clark, actually."
"Clark." She didn't let go of his hand, and if Chloe hadn't known she was already bonded, she might have been a little jealous of the look in her eyes. She had a feeling Raya was looking at Clark and seeing a man she'd once loved, a very long time ago.
Suddenly there was a loud commotion outside. Chloe rose to her feet and looked toward the door. "What now?"
Clark removed his hand from Raya's, rather pointedly, and took Chloe's hand instead. Then he cocked his head and listened. "It sounds like the resistance is massing for an attack."
"Uh, yeah. The rebel army."
"The rebel--!" Chloe blinked. "Did we fall into a Star Wars movie, and no one bothered to tell me?" She lowered her voice in her best Harrison Ford impression. "I'm out of it for a little while, and everyone gets delusions of grandeur."
"Not funny, Chlo. It sounds like things are going to hell out there. I have a feeling a lightsaber would really come in handy right now." Clark frowned at the door. "Listen, you haven't been here to see it, but there's some seriously bad stuff going on here."
"I'm not stupid, Clark. I saw the black smoke drifting over the skyline when I got here. I could tell things had gone really bad."
"Yeah. Okay. The truth is, I've been out of it too, so I'm not sure exactly what's been going on. But I do know that Zod was taking over the world with superpowered soldiers. And the human resistance was trying to stop them. Lois and Lana--"
"Oh, my God!" She suddenly realized she'd been so focused on Clark she hadn't had a second to spare a thought for anyone else. "Are they all right?"
"Yeah, they're okay. But they're kind of working for Lex, believe it or not. He's the leader of the resistance."
She felt dizzy. "Lois is working for Lex Luthor?"
"Yeah. Well, she calls herself Hope... anyway. Look, I know it all sounds kind of crazy, but somehow we have to stop this whole situation, right now. Otherwise more people are going to die. And I don't know how many have died already... but I got the impression it was way too many."
Chloe thought about it for a moment. "Okay," she said at last. "There's an easy way to stop all this."
"Uh, we're fresh out of lightsabers, Chlo."
"We don't need lightsabers. It's a lot simpler than that. See, as far as anyone knows, I'm Zod." She smiled up at him. "All I have to do to stop this... is give the order to Zod's troops to surrender."
Read Chapter 16 here.