Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rise Up

Chloe/Clark futurefic
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
The music is "Silent Running," by Mike and the Mechanics.

Take the children and yourself
And hide out in the cellar
By now the fighting will be close at hand


Chloe Sullivan Kent huddled in the dark, dank cellar, her arms wrapped around her four children. Distantly, she could hear the sounds of guns being fired, the sounds of bombs falling. She closed her eyes, wishing she could be out there, wishing she could join the fight, as so many civilians had.

But she had four children-- two sons, two daughters-- to take care of. She looked down at their dark heads, and a wave of love and protectiveness washed over her. She couldn't abandon them, or leave them alone to face the world. They had to be her first priority.

At any rate, she had to have faith that Superman would save Metropolis, and the world. After all, he always did, sooner or later.

She held her children closer, and prayed for deliverance, for herself, her family, and all of Metropolis.

There was really nothing else she could do.

Don't believe the church and state
And everything they tell you
Believe in me
I'm with the high command

SUPERMAN IS DEAD

Metropolis' beloved hero, Superman, fell in battle last week against the illegally invading forces of Lex Luthor...


"I can't print this, Chloe. You know I can't."

Chloe crossed her arms over her chest, raising her chin as she faced her editor. The Daily Planet offices were in disarray, but she and Perry and a skeleton staff were struggling to get out the first edition of the newspaper since the Lex's invasion.

"It's the truth," she said simply. "That's what the Daily Planet prints."

"Not any more." Perry White sighed, and ripped the article in two. She'd slaved over it for hours-- a memorial to her dead husband, though Perry didn't know that-- and she could barely hold back a whimper of pain, as if he'd ripped her in half.

"Superman," he said, very carefully and clearly, "is no longer to be referred to as the hero of Metropolis, or the Man of Tomorrow. He was an enemy of the state who met a just end. And Lex Luthor and his army aren't to be referred to as invaders. They are liberators."

"Perry--"

"I can't print this," he said, speaking over her as he ripped her article into smaller and smaller shreds. "You shouldn't have even written it. You know you shouldn't have. Under the new regime, writing something like this is taking your life into your hands, and we both know it."

"But the truth--"

"The truth is meaningless now, Chloe. We print what we're told to print."

She let her teeth draw back as she glared at him. "The Perry I know would never let himself be pressured into printing lies for the government."

"The Perry you know," he said coolly, "has just gotten remarried and has a one-year-old son, and will do whatever it takes to keep that child alive. What about you, Chloe? Are you willing to see your children die for the truth?"

She stared at him, horrified. "Perry, even as bad as he is, Lex would never--"

"If you think about it," he said, his voice filled with an artificial calm, "I think you'll realize Lex absolutely would."

She stared at him, dumbstruck. She remembered the whispers she'd heard of the atrocities Lex's army had committed as they marched into the city. She remembered everything she knew about Lex. And she admitted to herself that Perry was right.

No one was safe. Not even her children. Perhaps particularly not her children, if Lex ever found out her husband had been Superman.

Perry seemed to see the understanding in her eyes. He turned away, dropped the pieces of the article into a trashcan, and spoke gruffly.

"Don't ever bring me the truth again, Sullivan."

Can you hear me, can you hear me running?
Can you hear me running, can you hear me calling you?

The shattered world slowly settled down into a new routine, a routine in which Lex Luthor ruled with the metaphorical iron fist, and those who put a foot out of line were met with "justice"... or what had in other times been called a firing squad.

Chloe continued on at the Daily Planet, because she didn't dare quit. None of them did. She hated writing articles extolling the virtues of "the President," as Lex styled himself despite never having won an election. But she thought of her four children-- Clark's four children-- and she wrote precisely what she was told to write.

But at night, thoughts of what she really wanted to write haunted her. She lay awake for hours, composing stories in her head that told the terrible truth. The truth of oppression, murder, and torture. The truth of a once free society being ground into sand beneath the bootheel of a dictator. The truth of fear and hunger and and torture and forced silence.

And when she finally fell into a restless sleep, she dreamed she heard Clark's voice. Almost every night, he came to her dressed as Superman, the sigil of his family on his chest, his cape rippling behind him.

"Do what you must," he told her. "Keep our children alive. They're the only hope we have."

In the night, she awakened, tears on her cheeks, her chest aching with sorrow and loneliness. She missed Clark so badly she hurt.

She missed her husband, very much.

But she also missed Superman.

Theres a gun and ammunition
Just inside the doorway
Use it only in emergency


In the first year or two after Lex took power, there were small uprisings, as people gathered what weapons they could and tried to take on Lex's army. But he'd built his army carefully, with the wealth of Croesus and the soullessness of Satan, and he didn't hesitate to kill anyone who dared to stand against him. His soldiers were armed with weapons that could kill Superman, so what could ordinary humans hope to do against them?

Chloe didn't join in any of the uprisings. She continued to work away at her job, bowed but unbeaten. As long as she was responsible for her children, there was really nothing she could do. She was a reporter for the Daily Planet, as she had always been-- but now the Daily Planet was the mouthpiece for Lex's administration.

And every time she wrote something laudatory about Lex, she died a little inside.

Better you should pray to God
The Father and the Spirit
Will guide you and protect from up here


"At school today, we learned about the President."

Chloe's oldest child, Jon, looked at her with bright green eyes, so much like Clark's it almost hurt to look at them. He looked like Clark, but as far as she knew he had none of Clark's powers, at least not yet. None of his siblings had shown signs of developing unusual abilities, either.

"Really?" she answered, trying to sound politely interested in a topic that secretly made her want to spit nails. "What did you learn?"

"We learned about the way he rescued Metropolis," Jon answered. "The way he made the country better for everyone. The way he saved us all from the metahumans, and from aliens like Superman."

Angry words rose hot in her throat, but she forced them back. Her children had no idea that Superman had been their father, and a great hero who'd saved the world over and over again. They only knew what they were being taught.

Brainwashed, she thought bitterly. They were being indoctrinated by Lex Luthor, who controlled the schools and the newspapers and the media.

He controlled everything.

Except our minds. He can't control our minds.

But that was exactly what he was trying to do. Like Big Brother, he was trying to control the minds of the people through the media and education. And God help them all, he was succeeding.

She closed her eyes, then opened them and looked at her oldest. He was twelve now. If she told him the truth, could she trust him to keep quiet, and to never repeat it?

She remembered Perry's words, from the long-ago days after the invasion: The truth is meaningless now.

But it wasn't meaningless. The truth was more important than it had ever been. Without knowing the truth, her children would grow up believing their father had been a criminal, an enemy of the state. She didn't want Clark's memory tarnished that way.

And yet... teaching Jon the truth could mean his death, and it would certainly mean hers if he ever repeated a word of it.

She heard the echo of another voice, a voice she'd heard in her dreams, over and over again.

Keep our children alive. They're the only hope we have.

Her first priority was to protect her children.

But she'd always been about the truth, and she couldn't let her children grow up thinking a ruthless dictator was a noble man, and that their father had been a criminal. She just couldn't.

She took a deep breath, trying to calm her frantic heartbeat, and made her decision.

"I want to tell you the truth about Lex Luthor," she said.

Can you hear me, can you hear me running?
Can you hear me running, can you hear me calling you?

She slept better now, because the truth was no longer trapped inside her head, driving her crazy. Her nightmares now were for her children, because she worried she had made the wrong choice when she began teaching them what Lex Luthor's rule really meant.

But her husband still came to her in her dreams, heroic as ever, his eyes filled with love for her and their children.

"You're doing the right thing," he told her. "Keep them safe... but tell them the truth."

She woke up in the night, tears on her cheeks. She knew the Clark she saw in her dreams was only a manifestation of her subconscious, that he was dead, that she'd never truly see him again.

But somehow, she felt certain he was watching over her.

Swear allegiance to the flag
Whatever flag they offer
Never hint at what you really feel


Chloe began putting out feelers, very cautiously, because she never knew who might be one of Lex's spies. She quickly learned that others felt just as she did, and slowly people began gathering, very carefully, and teaching their children the truth, under the guise of scout meetings or basketball lessons or religious meetings.

Some of them were caught, and summarily executed, along with their children. But their martyrdom only made the cause shine more brightly. Slowly, an underground network grew, a network of people teaching their children of the old ways, teaching them of freedom, telling them stories of the days before Lex Luthor had come to power. Telling them stories of Superman.

To Chloe's surprise, Superman slowly became the hero of the resistance. People remembered that he'd been one of the first to die when Lex rose to power, and that he'd given his life protecting Metropolis. Older people remembered the heroic things he'd done, and they told those stories to their children.

Slowly, the sigil of the House of El began to appear everywhere, painted onto the sides of buildings and signs in the middle of the night, printed on leaflets and scattered everywhere, carved into tree trunks, drawn with blood on sidewalks as people killed by Lex's soldiers slowly died. A few brave souls even had the symbol tattooed onto their skin-- although most of them died for it, sooner or later.

And slowly, an army started to form. Weapons were accumulated, and soldiers willing to die for their beliefs began training.

The resistance had begun.

Teach the children quietly
For some day sons and daughters
Will rise up and fight while we stood still

"Mom?"

Jon had caught Chloe sneaking from the house. She turned at the front door, aware that there was no way she could explain away the fatigues she wore, or the gun slung over her shoulder. She was almost fifty, but the resistance was finally going to make its stand against Luthor's forces.

And by God, she was going to be there.

She stood there staring at her tall, beautiful son. He stood in their small living room, gazing back at her. It was so dark she could barely see him, but she knew he looked so much like his father it hurt. He was tall and broad and impossibly handsome, just as Clark had been.

Her other children were almost as tall, and just as beautiful, and the youngest was sixteen now. They could make it without her. If the resistance failed, they would have to.

She prayed they wouldn't pay the price for her crimes. But even knowing that was a risk, this was something she had to do. After long years of feeling her soul slip away as she wrote propaganda for an evil man... she had no choice.

"I have to do this," she whispered. "I have to, Jon."

Jon stared at her for a long moment, and then he nodded.

"I know," he answered, sounding so much like Clark that her throat tightened. "Dad would have wanted you to do this, Mom."

She blinked, wishing she could have told him that his father was Superman. That was something she'd never dared to make known, even to her children, not in a society where a child caught with a crudely drawn S sigil could be summarily executed. She crossed to him and threw her arms around his neck.

"I love you," she whispered, her voice hoarse.

"I love you too, Mom." He hugged her briefly, then pushed her away. "But just so you know... this is something we have to do, too."

His brother and two sisters stepped into the living room behind him. For the first time, Chloe realized Jon was clad in fatigues... and so were his siblings.

"No," she said, shaking her head in denial. She couldn't bear to lose her children. As far as she knew, they had none of Clark's powers, and they could all be killed... and that was a possibility she couldn't bear to face. "No. You can't join the fight. You're too young. You can't."

"We have to, Mom. You're the one who taught us the truth. You started this. And now we can all finish it... together."

She stared at her children, all tall and beautiful, and all grown. The youngest was only sixteen, but she looked as calm and determined and stubborn as the rest of them.

"Mom," she said, a hint of excited impatience in her voice. "It's time. Let's go."

Chloe hesitated, hearing a voice in her head.

They're our only hope.

She nodded.

"Let's go together," she said.

Can you hear me, can you hear me running?
Can you hear me running, can you hear me calling you?

The army was massed and marching through the streets of Metropolis as dawn broke. A guerilla attack had been made on Lex's headquarters an hour or two ago, and the army was now taking advantage of the ensuing chaos to try to defeat Lex's forces for once and for all. As they marched through the streets, more and more people joined them, until it seemed as if the entire population of Metropolis was heading toward liberation.

As she marched along, Chloe realized she'd lost sight of her children. They were all old enough to take care of themselves, all stronger than she herself was, but she was a mother, and she wanted her children at her side. Concerned, she looked around.

And then a low rumble of noise began to rise from the crowd. She looked toward the front of the resistance, where people were waving and pointing and laughing joyously, and she saw four familiar figures rising up into the air.

Her children lifted up above the crowd, flying just as their father once had.

They can fly, she thought stupidly. All this time I thought they had no powers... and all of them can fly.

Her children rose higher, so that the whole crowd could see them, and ripped off their fatigues as one.

Every one of them wore a blue suit with a red cape, and the sigil of Superman on their chest.

The crowd roared its approval, until it seemed that all of Metropolis was cheering. Only Chloe stood silent, shocked. Her children had kept their secrets better than she had. She'd never realized any of them possessed any abilities, or that they had the faintest inkling who their father had truly been.

But they quite obviously had figured it out.

The crowd cheered and applauded, wild with joy. Chloe's children rose up even higher, and her heart rose with them.

And then the cheering resistance continued its march toward liberation... with Superman's children leading the way.

-The End-

13 comments:

angelbsb said...

OMG elly i am crying so hard . it was sad but the ending was so sweet.

Writer & Cat said...

Very tearjerky, you beast! :)

Tonya said...

I'm so severely teared up it's not even funny. Lovely work, hun.

noplacespecial said...

holy fucking WOWWWWWW!!!!

Anonymous said...

usually, NOTHING makes me cry but this....good greif!!!I can hardly see straight!!!

Beautifly written as always!!!
*still crying*

Justine said...

...
OMFG!!

So beautiful. It's scary to imagine a world like that. The ending was wonderful

*sigh*
no words maam.

monicaop said...

This was totally amazing!! Sad but really special, I loved it, you are such a great writer Elly, hugs!!

Anonymous said...

Tear jerker and a half! Gah... excellent.

samanthamt said...

OMG! This was so wonderful! It's so great that the people are fighting back, and the fact that her four children have abilities and are politically bitch-smacking Lex and his people in the face. I loved this fic! I could only imagine as to what happens next. Is there going to be a sequel? Hm? Well, even if there's not... this is totally a great story... as usual. xox

Anonymous said...

Beautiful story, so sweet and sad, and I am at work and can't cry but I seriously had to fight back the tears! Great story!

snagging said...

Wow, this was amazing! Wonderfully written and it had me in tears! :D

orchidluv said...

Well done. Such a vividly drawn picture of the compromises and risks of the situation.

Anonymous said...

This was great and I am still cring