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.
"Zod is gone."
Chloe faced Lex across the concrete floor of the old LuthorCorp warehouse he was using as his headquarters. They'd contacted Lex and convinced him to at least listen to her, then Clark had supersped her in and left before Lex's security people ever noticed him. She knew he'd be listening to her heartbeat, and tuned in to her emotions, and in the event of any serious danger, he'd rush in to rescue her.
Which was why she was keeping a substantial distance between her and Lex. Even from a distance, she could see the kryptonite ring gleaming on his right hand. On either side of him stood Lois and Lana-- Hope and Mercy-- who regarded her with cold suspicion.
"Of course she is," Lex responded cynically. "What new game are you playing now, Zod? Are you trying to get my people to lay down their arms so you can slaughter them?"
"I'm not Zod, Lex. I swear. I'm Chloe Sullivan. Zod is gone from this body, and he won't be back."
Lex studied her for a long moment. "There's no way for you to prove that, you know. Ordinarily I'd ask you to tell me something only Chloe could know, but if Zod's been in your head all this time, then she-- he-- presumably knows everything Chloe did."
Chloe spread her hands wide. "Maybe you can believe it based on my actions, then. I want to end this situation with the least amount of bloodshed, Lex. I can tell Zod's people to lay down their arms, and they'll listen to me, because they still think I'm Zod. But I don't want them killed."
Lex squinted suspiciously. "If you're not Zod, why do you care?"
"Because I don't want to be responsible for the deaths of all those people, Lex. What they've done is wrong, but they should receive a fair trial, not summary execution."
Lex lifted an eyebrow. She noticed a badly stitched cut just above it. "I could almost believe you're Chloe after all," he said.
"I am. Really." She risked a glance at Lois, and saw nothing in her cousin's face but cold disbelief. Lana looked much the same. The fact that neither her cousin nor her best friend really believed her sent a spike of anguish through her, but she ignored it. She couldn't indulge in personal feelings right now, because she had a job to do.
Somehow, she had to save all those people massing on the streets outside.
"Very well," Lex said at last. "Have your people stand down, and I'll do my best to stop my people from attacking them. I can't promise anything, not when dealing with a mob that size. But I'll try."
Chloe let her breath out in a long exhalation of relief.
"Thank you, Lex," she said.
"Lay down your arms and surrender to the human rebels."
The man who'd been the head of Zod's personal security squad looked horrified at Chloe's instructions. "Ma'am?" he said incredulously, as if hopeful he'd misunderstood. "But if we do that..."
"We have no choice." Chloe did her best to speak in a clipped, cold voice. "We are badly outnumbered, and we cannot win. Send out the order to all my troops. Surrender."
The man stared at her another moment, then turned and left without another word.
Chloe walked to the window and stared down at the street, where the crowd was still milling, looking more dangerous and unstable than ever. Clark and Raya emerged from an anteroom and stood on either side of her. Clark put an arm around her, and together, they waited.
Ten minutes later a cheer went up, and the crowd surged forward.
"It didn't work," Chloe said in despair. "Lex isn't able to control them, Clark. They're too far out of control..."
"Wait." Clark pointed. "He's down there. He's standing up on a balcony, trying to get their attention."
Slowly, the crowd began to settle. They began drifting toward a particular building, as if drawn by a magnet. She squinted, and thought she saw Lex's bald head on a balcony over the crowd, flanked by two dark-haired women.
"He is beginning to speak," Raya said.
"I can't hear him." Chloe frowned. "Can you take me down there so I can hear him?"
Clark shook his head. "It's dangerous down there, Chlo. Most of them still think you're Zod. They'd riot and attack you. I'll just translate for you, okay?"
She was startled to realize that he could hear Lex's voice through a thick window, down ten stories, and over the sound of thousands of people. But given what she knew about Clark, she really shouldn't have been surprised. She nodded.
Clark paused for a long moment, then he began to speak.
"My people," he said, apparently quoting back everything Lex said. "This is a glorious day for humanity. After weeks of struggle for our freedom, we have managed to battle the alien invaders into submission."
A long, loud cheer went up before Clark had finished speaking, and she guessed the crowd was responding to Lex's words. When the cheering stopped, Lex went on, and a moment later, Clark began to speak again.
"The people of Earth accomplished this," he said. "Each and every one of you. It is only because of your courage and willingness to fight that I was able to negotiate Zod's surrender."
"Excuse me?" Chloe squeaked as the crowd below cheered some more. "He's making it sound like it was all his doing."
"That's how Lex operates," Clark said. He tilted his head and went on repeating Lex's words.
"Right now, my security detail is taking the army of Zod into custody. We will see that every soldier who stood against us, and with Zod, receives a fair trial."
The noise below began to sound more like angry shouting, and less like cheering. But Lex continued speaking.
"I know you all want vengeance for everything that has happened," he said. "Believe me, I understand that impulse. Thousands of our people have paid the ultimate price, and it's natural to want revenge. But we are humans, not monsters. Even after everything we have suffered through, we are still human. We will not execute them without due process, because that is not the way humanity works. Killing for the joy of destruction is the alien way, but it is not our way. We are not cold and heartless, as Zod was. We will not kill wantonly."
Another cheer went up, this one much more approving.
Raya lifted her eyebrows. "He is an excellent orator. It appears he has gotten the crowd on his side."
Clark went on, echoing Lex's words. "I promise you that Zod and her alien cronies will be brought to justice."
"Shit." Chloe scowled. "I think he means us."
"I believe you are correct," Raya agreed.
Clark frowned as he continued to quote back Lex's speech. "There are many people with strange abilities living among us," he said. "LuthorCorp has identified and catalogued them over the years. We will round them up and determine whether or not they are aliens, too. If they are, they will face justice."
"He's going after the meteor freaks," Chloe said softly.
Raya blinked at her. "Meteor freaks?"
Chloe opened her mouth to reply, but Clark went on. "I will never permit something like this to happen again. Together, we will rebuild our world, and make humanity so strong we never need fear invasion again. I promise you that this planet will be cleansed of aliens. " A pause. "And the first alien we will deal with... is Zod."
A long, long cheer went up. Chloe stared down at the crowd, her heart thudding with a sudden panic.
"Lex is planning on capturing me and executing me," she said. "Isn't he? He doesn't really care if I'm Zod or not. Either way, he's going to make an example of me. He's going to kill me."
"He let you go earlier," Raya pointed out.
"He let me go because he needed me to make Zod's troops surrender. But now that he's won, he's planning on capturing me. Executing me."
"Not if I can help it," Clark answered, his voice grim. "And Lois and Lana won't allow him to hurt you, either."
Chloe shook her head bleakly. "You didn't see the way they were looking at me, Clark. They don't really believe I'm me. Even though I had Zod's troops surrender, I'm not sure they'll believe in me. And if they don't--" She broke off, shaking her head. "It doesn't really matter, because the two of you are in danger, too. We need to get out of here. I think we all need to leave Metropolis and disappear for a while."
"I think you're right," Clark answered. "I..." He trailed off, listening, and his forehead wrinkled as he began to speak again.
"As you know," he said, speaking for Lex again, "the President of the United States was killed a few days ago. An election to determine his successor will be held eventually, of course, once we get things back to normal. But in the interim, I will do my best to help stabilize the country. Due to my youth, I am not eligible to run for the office of President, but--"
A roar rose from the crowd, louder than any cheer she'd yet heard. Chloe listened, and even from this distance, she could hear the words the crowd was chanting.
"President Lex! President Lex! President Lex!"
"Oh, no," she said, looking up at Clark with wide eyes. "This can't be good."
The idea of Lex Luthor in charge of the United States, whether as the duly elected President or as the leader chosen by a grateful, hysterical mass of people, scared the hell out of her. Clark looked equally grim.
"I'm not sure which is worse," he said. "Zod... or Lex."
Chloe looked away from him, and stared down at the cheering mob.
"I'm afraid we're about to find out," she said.
Read the epilogue here.