Fandom: Smallville/Superman Returns/Legion of Superheroes crossover. Mostly set in the Smallville universe, with a few comics/toonverse touches.
Word Count: Part 7: 2,124 words
Betas: van_el, mark_clark
Summary: Chloe, Clark and Lois encounter a strange visitor… from another dimension.
Author’s Note: Sorry for the delay. The Superman Movieverse Fanfiction Awards have been taking up a lot of my time. (Go vote, by the way!) But we’re drawing nearer to the conclusion of this story!
Previously: Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6
Clark’s first reaction was to pull angrily at the golden ring on his finger. What if it was poisoning him even now?
He brought it as far as his first knuckle before stopping in fright. How was he staying aloft? With the ring… or his own power? Would he plunge thousands of feet to the earth below?
“Mordru!” Superman’s deep voice filtered through Clark’s super-hearing. “I’m the one you want. Leave these people alone – they can’t hurt you.”
“Ah, you are quite correct, Superman,” Mordru said with smug satisfaction. Clark heard Superman let out an oof! of surprise – had he been captured? “I still do not understand why my earlier spell was unsuccessful – but no matter. This is easily corrected.”
No, Clark had to leave the ring on until he could help – there was no telling how much time they had down there. Clark rotated toward the ground, toward Metropolis, shooting forward….
“Clark!” This time, Querl’s shout – no, Brainiac 5’s shout – rang in his ears, but he put on a touch of speed. “Where are you going?!”
Clark ignored his cry of panic. He may not have looked anything like Milton Fine had, hiding his nature behind an alien appearance, but Clark’s days of being fooled by that creature were over.
“Clark!” Brainiac 5’s image appeared in the ring hologram above his hand, and Clark forced his eyes forward and away from the image. “You’ll never build up enough speed to trap Mordru this way! You must begin from outside the Earth’s atmosphere!”
Clark kept his attention determinedly on the crisis below, ignoring Brainiac 5 completely.
“Don’t bother struggling against those bonds, Superman. Even with all your super-strength, they will hold you as fast as these three here.” Clark’s heart sped up. Mordru must have discovered Imra, Lois and Jason!
Out of the corner of Clark’s eye, Querl’s holographic image shook his head in frustration. “In all my… hang on…” The robot cut off the transmission after Clark refused to answer.
Suddenly, Clark’s head filled with an echoing voice. Imra – Saturn Girl. “Clark! Are you all right?”
As much as he worried for her and his alternate family, he felt another pang of mistrust. She had helped Brainiac 5 with his deception. And she was obviously much more powerful than she appeared at first. Even held by magical bonds, she could speak telepathically to him. How did you ignore a voice inside your own head? “I’m fine. Coming to help,” he answered tersely.
“Thank you, Clark. You must get here before Mordru completes another spell.” Her mental voice stopped, and he could somehow sense confusion over the link. “But Querl says you are going in the opposite direction. You are not answering his transmission…”
“Querl…” Clark placed heavy emphasis on the word. “…can talk to me if he catches me. Let him try.”
“What…?” Then her mental voice changed. “Oh… You have discovered he is a Brainiac…”
Clark lips pressed together as mistrust turned to anger. She could read his thoughts, too? “Get out of my head!” How did you fight a telepath and a scientifically-advanced robot?
“Clark, Clark… please. I will not stay, but… let him talk to you.”
“Why? The other Brainiac nearly destroyed me! He took away my cousin! He put my girlfriend and best friend into a coma!” Clark flew even faster. He had to get this ring off, now.
“Querl is nothing like his ancestor, Clark. Please believe me.” She paused, and he could almost sense her riffling through his memories. “Would you want others to judge you based on your own father?” Imra’s voice was suddenly gone.
Her question came like a sucker punch to the gut. She had picked out one of his single greatest fears and was using it against him. He slowed and tensed his fists and body. “How dare…”
In slowing, he had allowed Brainiac to get close to him again. “Listen to me! I am sorry I never told you, but I…”
“You what?!” Clark threw back at him. “You didn’t think I’d come?”
“I was afraid if I told you, you wouldn’t trust me.” He drifted closer, face drawn with remorse.
“That must be your 12th-level intellect at work,” Clark responded, voice thick with sarcasm.
“But Clark, I am not Brainiac 1.0 – I have put his legacy behind me to help people – to right wrongs instead of causing them. Don’t judge me based on him. I beg you.”
“When you start out by hiding important information from me – how can you expect me to believe that?”
“Have you not done the same thing? Hidden who you are from people who would misunderstand?”
Clark felt his stomach drop out. Yes, he had, but…
“Ah…” Mordru’s voice cut through his stormy thoughts. “I can understand why you wish to protect Lois Lane… but this young boy…? It seems that the ‘Scion of Krypton’ is not its last after all…”
“Jason!” Lois shouted. “No!” Her voice seemed to choke off the next moment.
Brainiac flew directly in front of Clark’s line of sight. “Imra says we must hurry.” Querl made an adjustment on his arm. “I am going to get the prison in place… if you hurry, you can still catch him by surprise.” His eyes widened in entreaty. “Please. For them.”
Brainiac 5 didn’t wait around for Clark to answer – he flew downward, toward the spires of Metropolis shining in the sun below.
Clark paused, but only for a moment. His decision made, he pointed his fist toward the upper reaches of the clouds. If it would help the other Clark, Lois, and little Jason, he had to put his mistrust aside.
As rapidly as possible, Clark pierced through the cloud cover, into the ever-thinning air. He broke through the pull of Earth’s gravity, just high enough to feel the weightlessness. Querl and Imra had assured him he would be protected up here – even Superman had assured him that he often spent time up here. He could feel the deep cold, even though he did not really feel the pain a human being would.
Clark closed his eyes.
Up here, in the deep silence of space, there was no interference from the billions of competing sounds. He could focus precisely on what Mordru was now saying.
Descended from the dwellers of an icy shore…”
He opened his eyes and shot downward, pointing himself like one of Oliver’s arrows, unerring toward the target. Faster than the naked eye, he sliced through the clouds, and down toward the Daily Planet.
To Clark’s enhanced senses, however, time slowed to a crawl. He could see the scene below him. Superman was bound by glowing magical bands, his face reddened with strain. Jason floated beside him, struggling futilely. Lois thrashed on the ground with Imra, who looked as serene as ever.
Mordru, dressed in flowing purple and gold robes, had his hands raised toward his captives. His next phrase slithered through the slowed time like poisonous honey:
Where was Querl?
It didn’t matter. Clark’s job was simple: catch Mordru off-guard. The sorcerer might be very powerful, but he needed line-of-sight to cast his spells. And hopefully he wouldn’t see Clark until it was too late.
Mordru’s mouth opened to utter the final phrase of his incantation:
Clark plowed into the sorcerer with a bang, knocking him off his feet and into one of the corner pillars on the roof.
Clark was kicked backward, as if he had touched an invisible electrical fence, crackles of magical energy shooting in all directions. But the surprise attack had worked. The magical bands vanished that instant.
Clark hovered above for just a second. Just long enough for Mordru to raise his grey head and take note of him in astonishment. “Another…?”
In a blink, Superman was out of sight, behind the building and lifting the heavy prison from behind the force field where Querl had hidden it.
“Now, Clark!” Imra shouted in his head.
Clark zoomed into Mordru again, smashing him bodily through the pillar and into the open air above the street. Brick and mortar showered everywhere, but Mordru slammed into the open maw of the container.
With a clang of metal, the opening shut, and it was surrounded with a glowing ball of energy, much like the Time Bubble they had traveled in.
“Thank you, Clark,” Superman said beside him. He didn’t look any the worse for wear, whatever the sorcerer had done to him.
Clark finally took a breath. “Are you all right?”
Superman simply nodded.
Imra floated toward them, the detritus she must have caught with telekinesis from the shattered pillar trailing in her wake. As she moved, the pillar began to reform itself and settle back to its original position.
Querl flew beside the Time Bubble, directing it to hover it mid-air above the Planet rooftop. They all joined him there, where Lois and Jason were waiting anxiously. As Superman touched down, the boy ran to him and hugged him fiercely around the legs. “Dad!” Lois quickly threw her arms around his shoulders in relief.
Setting down himself, Clark gestured at the glowing contraption. “What are you going to do with that?”
“We will send it back to the 31st century to deal with,” Imra answered. “Once he has been removed from this time stream, things should begin to go back to normal.”
Querl added, “I will take it and be back…” He looked at Clark with wary hope. “Will you be all right here with Imra?”
“Do I have a choice?”
Querl smiled grimly. Clark’s answer would have to be enough for now. “Very well, I will return momentarily.” The Time Bubble’s portal opened, and he and the device vanished with a flash of light.
Imra took a few steps toward him, and placed a hand on his forearm. “He is deeply sorry that he deceived you, you know. And very grateful for your help.”
Clark’s arm twitched, but he didn’t pull away. “I…” Clark frowned. “I’m tired of being used for other people’s plans…”
“I understand, Clark. But your time is coming. Have faith.”
“I have been trying to…” Clark trailed off as he caught sight again of Superman, Lois and Jason. They seemed so strong in the face of this danger… would he ever have that? Could he set his own course, and have that kind of support as well…?
Lois noticed him looking over toward them. “Thank you, Clark. I think I see a ‘Super’ future for you yet.” She winked.
“Uh, I…” Clark rubbed the back of his head with his palm, suddenly flustered. “Thanks,” he finally managed.
“You’ll get there,” Superman assured him.
Clark didn’t respond aloud. Would he? For years he had been fighting fate, fighting taking a larger role in the world. Did he even want to? But being around this Super-family was making him re-think everything.
In another flash of light, the Time Bubble was back. Querl stepped out of the contraption, looking relieved. “It is done.”
“And the time stream has stabilized?” Imra asked from beside him, removing her hand from his arm.
Querl brought up the display, and nodded. “Yes… all except for a couple of loose ends.”
“What loose ends?” Clark asked in concern.
“The biggest? You must return to your own dimension, to minimize any damage your presence here has caused.”
“I see…” Clark answered with a touch of sadness. He had so many more things he would have liked to ask… If only he’d realized how short the time was… He turned toward Superman and his family. “I guess this is goodbye.”
“Take care.” Superman strode over and clapped him on the shoulder.
Lois came over as well, standing on tiptoe to plant a small kiss on his cheek. “Goodbye. Wouldn’t want to keep you from my double, now would we?” Clark tried not to blush.
“Bye, Clark!” Jason hugged him around the waist. “I’ll miss you!”
Clark smiled, mussing the boy’s hair. “I’ll miss you, too. Don’t forget me, okay?”
Querl and Imra gave each other another unreadable look. “Uh… we must be going.” Querl gestured into the pod. “After you?”
Clark waved with a bittersweet smile as he stepped in. Querl followed him, and moved over to the control panel. But Imra was not with him.
Clark’s eyebrows drew together. “Where’s Saturn Girl…?”
He turned toward the doorway, and she stepped through. “Here I am, Clark. Shall we go?”
As the Time Bubble disappeared, the violet light dimmed from Superman, Lois and Jason’s eyes.
They looked into each other’s faces in confusion. Jason was the first to speak. “Oh, Dad! You’re back!”
Next: Part 8