Fandom: Smallville/Superman Returns/Legion of Superheroes crossover. Mostly set in the Smallville universe, with a few comics/toonverse touches.
Word Count: Part 6: 2,112 words
Betas: van_el, mark_clark
Summary: Chloe, Clark and Lois encounter a strange visitor… from another dimension.
Author’s Note: I couldn’t come up with a better way to differentiate between the Clarks than “Younger Clark” / “Older Clark”. Forgive?
Previously: Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5
Older Clark pushed his glasses up his nose and huffed in surprise. “Uh… no. Jor-El certainly never mentioned anything like this. But then—” He stopped to look over at his son, Jason. “Jor-El has been known to be wrong on occasion…” He reached over to ruffle Jason’s hair.
“On occasion?” Lois scoffed, raising an eyebrow.
Older Clark shrugged. Younger Clark glanced between the two older reporters. “I know he’s my… our… father, but he’s been nothing but trouble for me,” he offered.
Lois gestured to him with an expression of triumph. “See? What have I been saying for years?”
Older Clark shook his head, as if this were an argument they’d had a million times. “Anyway, what exactly is going on? Where are you from?” He looked down his glasses at Younger Clark. “And how can you be me?”
“If you’ll permit me,” Querl answered for everyone, a touch of pride in his voice. “I can answer all of your questions. Is there a place where we can confer – privately?”
A few minutes later, they were all in the conference room. Even though they were enclosed with glass on three sides, no one so much as bothered them. Older Clark listened intensely to the explanation of what had happened, and why they were here, asking a few questions about dimensions and time travel along the way. Lois asked several pointed questions herself, neither one willing to trust the information at face value.
Strangely enough, Younger Clark felt relieved. He was still not sure whether Querl and Imra could be trusted or whether this was some sort of elaborate set-up.
So he simply sat back and watched, answering questions when asked, but otherwise staying out of the conversation. Lois and Clark were particularly fascinating to watch. He spoke with such authority, yet was incredibly self-effacing as well. She was full of fire, quick with the hard-hitting questions, and completely protective of Jason. And though the situation was extremely serious, the two of them kept up an affectionate banter to break the tension.
During the course of the discussion, it became clear that Lois and Clark were a team – in reporting, in parenting, and in marriage. Lois supported him in his superhero duties – not just standing on the sidelines, but doing her best as a reporter to help him without attracting attention.
When he imagined himself and his own Lois in these roles, he felt a strange sort of disconnect. Was this really what the future had in store for them?
“Another version of me really went with you to the future?” Older Clark asked in amazement, leaning forward on his elbows.
“You can just stop those gears turning right now,” Lois chided, annoyed. “I lost you for five whole years, and that was bad enough. There’s no way you’re going a thousand years into the future.”
Older Clark teased her, “But if time isn’t a fac—”
“I’m afraid time is a factor now.” Querl brought up a holographic display above his arm. “If you look at the timeline plotted here on this chart, you can see a comparison of the calculations before…” He pointed to a set of lines on the screen. “…and after… we returned Jason to this dimension.” The two sets coalesced into one. “Though the timestream seems more stable to a point, it seems to unravel right here without intervention.” He pointed to a place where the lines suddenly shot off the edges of the chart. “And the fluctuations are so severe that I can’t precisely pinpoint when it will happen.”
Younger Clark sat up from the armchair in alarm, breaking his role as observer. “I thought you said that bringing both of us back would fix that?”
“I said, ‘without intervention.’ Based on your answers,” Querl nodded at Older Clark. “I believe I have determined a plan.”
“Just now?” Lois asked, disbelieving.
“My processors allow me to run several routines simultaneously…”
“Modesty is not part of Querl’s programming,” Imra added, winking at Lois.
Lois gave a short laugh.
“Mordru is an extremely powerful sorcerer, but he has a few weaknesses,” Querl continued, ignoring the ladies’ exchange. “An airless container will render him powerless.”
“But if he’s so powerful, how can we possibly trap him?” Younger Clark asked.
Querl smiled slowly, a very human-like expression on his alien face, and looked him directly in the eyes. “This is why we brought you along.”
“You want me to what?!” Younger Clark peered over the edge of the Daily Planet’s roof, a feeling of vertigo washing over him.
Lois and Jason were with Imra, who was preparing the container. She hoped to hide it from Mordru until it was too late. But in order to ensnare the sorcerer, the two Clarks would need to work together to trap him in his prison at super-speed.
But no one had ever mentioned this part of the plan… until now. Knowing that Querl and Older Clark were standing behind him made it worse. Especially with his doppelganger dressed in his primary-colored spandex.
“To fly at super-speed,” Querl repeated.
“Um…” Clark turned around and looked down at his feet. “That’s not going to be possible.”
Querl and Superman waited curiously.
“I can’t fly,” he answered quietly.
Querl looked troubled and began to tap again on his arm input. “I seem to have conflicting information about that…”
“You really don’t fly?” Superman asked. “How old are you? About...”
“Twenty-one,” Clark answered with a frown.
“Hmm. I was about fifteen…” He quickly added, “But the first time was completely by accident.” He smiled, remembering. “It was more like ‘didn’t hit the ground.’ I fell through the top of the barn. Controlled flight came a bit later.”
“Well, I have flown before, but I can’t remember how…” He broke off, embarrassed. He suddenly wished he’d listened to Kara when she tried to teach him. “It’s complicated.”
Querl reached into his belt and drew something out of it. “Here. Use this.” In the center of his upturned palm was a golden ring with the Legion emblem.
Clark regarded the ring warily. “What does it do?”
“This.” Querl lifted his hand to show his matching ring, and he began to rise into the air, slowing to hover about four feet in the air. “It’s a ‘flight ring.’ One of my inventions.” He floated back downward and placed the ring between his fingers to hold out toward Clark. “Please. Give it a try.”
A ring? To fly? “All right…” Taking the ring carefully, he slid it onto the index finger of his right hand. “Now what?”
Querl lifted his hands, fingertips pointing toward the sky. “Simply… fly.”
Clark lifted his hands in a similar manner, feeling absolutely ridiculous. Nothing happened. “Still not flying.”
“Try imagining your feet lifting from the ground,” Superman suggested.
Clark sighed, closing his eyes. He tried to visualize floating from the ground, lifting into the air. He opened his eyes… and stumbled a few inches back to the concrete of the roof.
“You were doing it!” Superman encouraged.
“Barely,” Clark added with a wry grimace.
“Try again. This time with your eyes open.”
Clark lifted his arms again, and tried to will himself upward. He could feel a slight tug, but otherwise he remained frustratingly non-airborne.
“I usually just use one fist, pointed in the direction I want to go.” Superman demonstrated, lifting into the air.
Clark shrugged, and tried to imitate his older self, pointing his right fist toward the sky. He noticed the spire of a neighboring building. Maybe if I aim for that…
All of a sudden, he was rising into the air. “Whoa!” he shouted in startlement, and he began to careen toward the left…
“Watch out!” Superman called out.
But it was too late. With a clang that echoed into the late afternoon air he slammed… right into the side of the Planet globe. Romania would never be the same.
But somehow he ricocheted upward, barely missing one of the pillars before finding himself in the open air between buildings… the street fifty stories below. His stomach dropped out.
But he felt a steadying hand on his arm, and saw Querl flying beside him.
“Welding the base of the globe, he will join us soon.” Querl started to fly faster, moving ahead of Clark. “Your form is good, now we need to increase your speed.”
Superman settled in beside Clark. “It’s a lot like super-speed running. You—” He paused for a moment. “You can do that, right?”
“Yes,” Clark answered tightly, trying to keep all his concentration on staying airborne.
“Then, just… go!” Superman shot forward in a blur of color, knocking Clark back in his wake.
“Showoff,” Clark murmured. Then he realized that he was simply floating steadily in the air, not falling, not wavering. “Huh.”
Clark placed his fist out in front again, not willing to be left behind. Think fast thoughts. Think fast thoughts, he chanted in his mind like a mantra. He began to move again, and it felt as if he were getting faster… the wind plastered his hair back from his face, and the clouds of the upper atmosphere seemed to be getting closer and closer…
Clark punched through a cumulus cloud, whooping in triumph. But he didn’t stop. This was fun!
Superman was suddenly beside him again, flanking him on the right. He smiled in approval. Clark didn’t quite know how to take that. He felt proud, but yet also condescended to at the same time.
“I think I’m getting the hang of this.” Clark put on a little more speed.
“Do you want to see how fast you can go?” Superman asked. “See if you can keep up.” With that, Superman shot forward.
Why that… Clark pressed his lips together, and tried to go as fast as possible. The blue and red ahead of him seemed like a tiny speck that wasn’t really getting any larger.
Is he trying to lose me or something? I thought we were working together!
He could feel a flare of anger in his belly, and a determination not to be beaten. The clouds blurred into a white smear below him.
Power coursed through him as he shot across the sky – and opened a doorway in his mind.
Remembered what it was like to launch into the clouds like a rocket, to zip across time zones, to race an airplane. He felt as if he could circle the globe in an instant.
Or simply… catch himself.
A moment later, he was a hand’s grasp away from Superman’s boot. His older self turned to look at him with a surprised smile. He opened his mouth—
The shout pierced both of their eardrums. Clark flinched, his flight halted.
But Superman simply whispered, “Lois…” before swiftly diving earthward.
Clark made to follow him, his heart clenching in fear, but Querl was suddenly in his face.
“No! We cannot just rush in – what if it is a trap? Imra! Can you read me?” A holographic image of Imra appeared above Querl’s flight ring. “What’s going on?”
Her voice, distant and tinny, accompanied her faint image. “It’s Mordru! You’ve got to come as quickly as you can. He’s not after Jason! It’s Cl—” Her transmission was cut off.
“He must have taken her ring – I hope it was not also her life…” He turned and began to fly upward rapidly. “We must put our portion of the plan into action. We must trust that, between Superman and Imra, they can keep him occupied long enough.”
Clark followed, pulse racing. Although he had not known them long, he could not imagine losing any of them. He tuned his super-hearing on Imra far below – it was probably the only way to determine what kind of danger they were in…
“Mordru – leave now!” Imra was commanding. “Your presence here is a danger to everyone in this timeline – including yourself!”
A deep, sinister sounding voice answered her. “I think you overstate the danger… at least to myself…” Mordru chuckled. “I am immortal, and invincible, even from a metahuman such as you. And hiding will not help you – I will easily find you with the proper spell.”
A quieter voice, sounding almost like a whispered prayer, faintly came next, “Saturn Girl, can he really find us?”
‘Saturn Girl’? Clark had never thought to ask if they used superhero codenames. Obviously, Jason had.
“He may…” she whispered back to him. “But don’t worry. Your dad, Clark and Brainiac 5’s plan is a good one.”
Clark’s flight upward shuddered to a stop.
'Brainiac 5'? I’m working with a…
Next: Part 7