Under Siege Part 2

Chapter 10 [Smallville-The following morning]

Clark had stared up at the ceiling for much of the night. Besides his excitement over Miranda's situation the day before, he couldn't wait to see his friends again when they arrived at the airport later that morning. There were so many questions about the university he still wanted to ask, and well, he had to admit that there was the "I want to get out of Smallville" factor as well. Finally, about 4 AM, he got himself up and down to the barn. Working at super speed, he did both his father's and his own chores in about fifteen minutes before returning to the house. Coming into the kitchen, he turned the light on. His parents would be up in a few minutes anyway.

Sure enough, Jonathan joined him shortly thereafter. "Morning, Son. Are you all right?"

"Yeah, Dad, I'm fine. I'm just nervous is all," Clark admitted.

"Yeah, well...with city folks coming out here to judge where you and Lana grew up, I'd be nervous too," his father stated half-seriously, eyeing his wife who was walking into the room.

"Jonathan, not everyone is like that," Martha chided gently, setting up the coffee maker. 

"I know," he conceded, a smile spreading across his face. Then, his brow furrowed a bit as he tried to latch onto a memory.

"What is it, Dad?" Clark wanted to know.

"Oh, I was just remembering a young man, Clark. He was, you might say, firm in his own convictions. He managed to save part of the downtown from commercial development," the older man noted. 

"We were talking about this yesterday while you were in town, Clark," she continued. "I've never seen anyone take a beating like that." She leaned over the sink.

"Hey," Jonathan said caringly, rushing over to her side. "It all worked out. He did get into a foster home after that, remember?"

"I...I know," she replied, composing herself. "How could any father treat his son like that?" For a while, they stood there, holding each other and allowing the painful moment to subside.

Finally, she told them, "You both had better get the chores done."

Clark stared at his folks with concern. Who was this mystery guy who had them so shook up? "Everything's done already. I couldn't sleep myself last night."

"Good man, Clark," his father stated, rubbing him on the shoulder. "By the way, how are you coming with your packing?"

"I'm getting there," he admitted. "It's tougher than I thought."

"It's like that the first couple of times," she reminisced. 

"I'm sure." He nodded, knowing that everything was about to change. "You know I'm going to miss you both."

"We'll be here for a while yet, Clark," she commented, breaking some eggs for their breakfast.

Clark sighed, a smile forcing its way onto his face. No matter what trauma came and went, the farm always seemed to stand and his parents were there with it. "Thanks. You don't know what that means."


Meantime, Lana and Miranda were just opening the Talon for business that morning. As with Clark, neither woman could sleep that night and so, they met early at the restaurant to do extra cleaning and make sure that everything was just right. The food order had come in and been put away in the cooler. 

As they waited, Miri decided to work off her nervous energy in the back. For most of her life, she had trained in the martial arts-partially because of her stepfather, but also, because it helped her to focus and control her abilities. As a result, she had achieved a fourth degree black belt at an astonishing rate. 

Over and over, she executed a feint here, a chop at the air there, and a random kick into space. She felt as one with the universe, in harmony with her surroundings. For the better part of an hour, this exercise continued.

Finally, Lana joined her. "How's it going?"

"Oh fine," Miri muttered, collecting herself and smiling at her friend. "I just want my aunt and uncle to like it here is all."

"I think they will. They're really nice people, Miranda. Your uncle can be a bit on the weird side at times, but he had a lot to deal with, especially where your grandfather's concerned," Lana said reassuringly.

"You've met my grandfather?"

"Unfortunately," Lana continued. "I'm sorry, but he isn't a very nice man."

Miranda shrugged. "So where is he now?"

"He's in jail," Lana informed her. "He and your uncle have a serious history."

Miranda shuddered. Judging from the psychic vibrations she had felt the other night, she knew her friend was right. "Lana, he was really upset last night, and it was tied to here. Are you sure he's never been here before?"

"No, he hasn't. Why?"

"I was getting images from him of here...the way it was-fifteen years ago," she continued. "But, as you say, that can't be."

Lana's brow furrowed. What was going on? As they did their work, she decided to think on this a bit. Maybe she would give Chloe a call before they met over at the Torch for their going away party.


About the same time, Lex Luthor finished his breakfast meeting with his advisors before his personal assistant, Keira, rushed into the room and right up to his side.

"Excuse me, Mr. Luthor?" she asked nervously, glancing about. "I'm terribly sorry to interrupt your meeting."

"Yes, Keira?" he replied. Noticing her expression, he continued, "It's okay. What is it?"

"Your father just arrived from Metropolis, and he says it's urgent," she continued.

The other businessmen glanced anxiously at him. Lionel Luthor was not a man to be kept waiting for anyone.

"Yeah, I'll bet," Lex growled, tired of this little cat and mouse game between him and his father. Sooner or later, he would have to eliminate the Old Man, but not until the time was right. Meantime, he still needed to play the game. Accordingly, he waved the others away and walked down the hall to his office.

Composing himself, he swung the double doors open to see his father lounging in his chair, the feet propped up on his desk. "Gee, Dad, to what do I owe the honor of this visit?" he scoffed, allowing the doors to close behind him.

"Does a father have to have a reason, Lex?" Lionel wondered.

"When it comes to me and you, let me think a minute on that one and get back to you, okay?" the son sassed.

"Damn it, Lex! This is serious! I need you in Metropolis for a couple of days!" the father demanded.

Lex studied the other man carefully. As he said before, there was always a calculated purpose behind such acts of so-called compassion. "Why, Dad? What's going on? Did it have anything to do with the large group that suddenly filled the Smallville Inn last night out of the blue?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Lionel denied, putting on his best poker face.

To most, his father's fa┴ade would be foolproof, but not to his son. No, the slight furrow of the eyebrow was enough to give away something. "Oh, you know something, Dad. Isn't it funny that it's going on just as an old friend is returning for a visit? Or perhaps, when Clark and Lana are going to be leaving? What is it?" he theorized.

"You really need to stay away from them, Lex," Lionel informed him.

"Why?" the son demanded, throwing his hands up in the air animatedly. "Or perhaps, you're going to do to me what you and your buddy, Stuart Dubois, did to his son." Seeing the other man's blank stare, he continued, "I can search a database too, Dad. I know about the spectacle down in the town square. I may have been a bit young at the time, but it made an impression. Wasn't it something about family loyalty?"

"Dubois's son cost us a fortune!" Lionel ranted. "He should have respected his father's wishes instead of playing the rebel. He learned."

"Oh yeah, right," Lex cracked. "Instead now, he's developed MPD: two personalities for the price of one. I've read about his exploits. It's interesting stuff."

"Indeed it is, Mr. Luthor," a cold voice concurred from the doorway.

Turning, the two men saw Eckhart standing there with four GSA agents.

"Mason, you said you weren't going to involve him!" Lionel stormed.

The administrator snorted. Pacing the room, he surveyed the design and handiwork of the sanctum. "Very nice indeed. I would listen to your father if I were you. Your friends will be dealt with soon enough."

"Who? Clark? He has secrets, but nothing that big," Lex announced his doubt, although he was hoping to egg the intruder into spilling something.

"You'll find out when everyone else does, Mr. Luthor. Secrets do need to be kept," Eckhart said, shutting off debate.

Lex ignored the hint, stepping right up to the white-haired man and staring him in the eye. "This is still my town. Eckhart. I know about you and Genomex from my contacts. I also know about what happened with Miss Lang and the others in your facility. For someone trying to keep a wrap on things, I'd say you've made quite a mess of it."

"I don't intend to leave it there," the other man told him. "Dubois will be the bonus in all of this."

"Well, I think that it's too late for that. As for Dave, let's just say this place is special to him as well thanks to Daddy Dearest over there. Whatever you have in store for him is going to backfire. Pack your bags back up and leave before he gets here, okay? And stay the Hell away from my friends. If you don't, well, let's say after Dave and his crew are finished with your boys out there, I'll eat the leftovers. No questions asked." Glaring into his visitor's eyes, he pushed, "Am I clear?"

Eckhart bit back his anger. Who was this miserable little worm to threaten him? "Let's just say you've been warned."

"As much as I appreciate your concern for my welfare, Eckhart, I would say the same of you. Get out of here now and take your thugs with you," Lex concluded, watching as Eckhart marched out of the office and down the stairs.

"That wasn't wise, Lex," Lionel protested.

"I suppose you pointed him here as a way to come between me and my friends, didn't you? I have issues with Clark. The boy is keeping something from me and maybe Eckhart knows what it is, but I'm not going to have a repeat performance of what happened in Tucson!" Lex lectured. "Stuart did that one out of spite of his son. Now, the other's life is upside down."

"He's a freak, Lex."

"And who made him that way? What turned him into that freakish monstrosity? People like you, that's who. Three words, Dad...leave him alone and while you're at it, leave them all alone. Now, I have a meeting in fifteen minutes. Don't you have a meeting in a few hours at LuthorCorp?"

The other man angrily shook his head and left. Over his shoulder, he shouted, "You can't defy me forever, Lex!"

For a long time after that, the younger man sat behind his desk, pondering the events that had just happened. True, he did have issues with Clark over trust and such, but that didn't mean that Eckhart deserved to experiment on him like a lab rat. Seeing that it was just after eleven, he put his coat on and decided to go talk to Lana at the Talon about this matter.

Chapter 11

About 10:30 AM, Jonathan parked his truck in the short-term parking lot next to the Smallville airport. Despite the fact that Clark was with him, the two men hadn't said more than three words during the trip from the farm. To the elder, that was a sign that Clark was absorbed in his own thoughts.

"Hey, Son, it's okay. He's not going to bite," Jonathan reassured him.

"I know," Clark agreed. "I guess I'm feeling the same way as Lana and Miranda right now. I just want him to like it here is all."

"I'm sure he will," his father surmised, still wondering if the professor was indeed the teenager from long ago. "Come on, let's meet these professors of yours." With the usual warm smile, he rubbed his son's shoulder before getting out of the truck.

Clark felt better after that. He was looking forward to introducing the Duboises around town and talking to them over at the Talon.


Dave stared out the window as the plane began to descend toward Smallville. By now, the farms were coming into view with their rectangular, almost checkerboard like, plots of land. With them, the memories from his past visit began to coalesce inside of his head, reminding him of another tragedy within his life. Yet, there were the good memories of the people there, and how they had been so kind to him.

"Kind of reminds you of Wabash, doesn't it?" he asked his wife.

"Hmmm?" she inquired dreamily. "Kind of. I don't recall so much wheat in New York State. Still, I'm glad that we're doing this trip. I was getting homesick for the farm."

He rubbed her hand gently. "I know, Princess, and I'm sorry we haven't been back there in a while."

"Don't worry about it. Once we get Miri straightened out, my folks have volunteered to have everyone over to celebrate. We're going too. I hope you don't mind if I made the arrangements with Mama and Daddy," she replied.

"Now, you know how I feel about your folks," he said warmly. "Why would I object to a trip to Wabash?"

"Especially since you can see the downtown for yourself?" she teased.

He shook his head not wanting to get into that one again.

At that moment, the wheels hit the ground and the aircraft braked slowly, gradually coming to a halt by the terminal building. A couple of minutes later, they walked down the stairs and entered the facility through the gate door. It wasn't that big a place-just a few pictures on the wall and a little coffee stand over to the side of the area. Once they passed by the security gate, Dave and Angie looked about the room, sorting out their fellow passengers from the man they were supposed to meet there. 

"Look, there's Clark," Angie told her husband, waving back and walking over to meet him. 

Dave smiled warmly as he followed. "How's it going, Clark?" he asked, shaking the younger man's hand.

"Fine," the student concurred. "How was the trip here?"

"Uneventful, and that's just the way we like it," the professor informed him. 

"I can imagine," Clark supposed. "Hey, let's get your bags and we can get into town. First though, let's go meet my Dad." Crossing the area over to where the baggage was being placed, he announced, "Here they are. Dad, meet..."

"David Dubois," Jonathan realized, looking at Dave. "I wasn't sure if it was you when we spoke before on the phone. How've you been?"

"I'm great, Mr. Kent. Thank you," Dave expressed, shaking his hand. "How are you and Mrs. Kent?"

"We're doing fine," the farmer noted. "It's never easy pursuing your dreams."

"Don't I know it," Dave replied. "By the way, Mr. Kent, this is my wife, Dr. Angela Dubois. Angie, this is Jonathan Kent."

"Please call me Angie and it's a pleasure," Angie greeted, shaking their host's hand.

"Same here and please call me Jonathan, all right? I do appreciate the respect, but we're all adults here. C'mon, let's get your bags and get into town. Everyone's waiting for you," Jonathan told them.

Dave and Angie exchanged nervous glances before chorusing, "Everyone?"

"We just arranged to have lunch at the Talon is all," Clark assured them. "There are a few people who want to meet you."

"Okay," Dave agreed, albeit hesitantly. Going back there so quickly wasn't a part of the plan, but better to get it over with sooner rather than later.


A half-hour later, Lana busily arranged the long reserved table in the corner. Although the place usually bustled around eleven with business, today was an especially busy day for some reason. There wasn't an empty seat in the house. Fretting over every place setting, cup, and utensil, she wanted it to be perfect.

At that time, Eckhart and MacTavish walked into the establishment, looking for a bite to eat. Although not normally seen in public, the day's schedule was too full to spend looking for another place in this rural town. 

"It seems that the good professor has drawn a crowd," the administrator noted. "There aren't any tables to be had."

"I can fix that," his lieutenant said firmly and looked around for a waitress. Spying Lana, he asked, "Hey, lady, are those tables open? My boss and I would like to sit there."

"I'm sorry. They're reserved," she told him. 

"You don't understand. We need one now. Mr. Eckhart doesn't like to be kept waiting," the red-haired man asserted.

Looking to the door, she saw the man from her nightmares standing there, glancing at her. "Oh no," she sighed. "Look, we don't want any trouble. Can you come back later?"

MacTavish fumed. "No." Looking at her, he hit her with a psychic burst, initiating pain. 

"Ah!" she screamed, drawing the attention of the crowd.

"Stop it!" Miri interceded, jarring the attacker and disrupting the interchange.

"Mr. MacTavish, you're making a scene," Eckhart disapproved.

"I'll say," Lex concurred, walking through the door. "Didn't I tell you not to bother my friends?"

"This isn't your mansion, Mr. Luthor. Stay out of this," the administrator growled.

"I am one of the partners running this establishment and Miss Lang is the other one. We both want you out of here," Lex asserted. "I will call the authorities."

"Oh great, I want a road test," MacTavish replied confidently, approaching Lex. "Bring them on!"


At that moment, the truck pulled to a halt across the street.

Seeing the two men in suits stationed outside of the restaurant, Clark asked, "What's going on? Are they?"

Feeling the telltale pain vibrations coming from within the restaurant, the professor nodded. "Yup. They are, and I was so hoping to have a quiet time here."

"Lana! She's in there!" Clark realized.

"I'm sure everything's okay. They look like FBI or something," Jonathan commented.

"They're something much worse than that," Dave growled, getting out of the truck and opening a bag in back of the truck to reveal his bow and quiver.

"What in?" the father wondered.

"Trust me, Dad. Stay down," Clark advised.

"I'll agree to that, but I'm going to help him," Angie asserted, running for a nearby alley. Once there, she pulled the sword, changing into Xena.

The Warrior Princess glanced around and ran back toward the Talon, hoping to avoid a scene.


Meantime, Dave walked up to the Talon's front door. Seeing the two thugs there, he baited, "Training for the British Beefeaters, are we? Let me through."

"I don't think so," the African-American man mountain on the left sniggered and brandished the electroprobe. "Scram."

"Now, that wasn't nice," the professor hissed. "Oh, hell..." Willing up a couple of bursts, he took the two agents out. "Too easy."

"David!" Xena called, running up to him.

"Good to see you too! Did Cybelle pop you in here?" he wondered, covering their tracks.

"We all know you can't stay outta trouble!" she baited. "Shall we?"

He shrugged. "We shall. Besides, I need to work up an appetite." Walking through the front door, the two companions took in the crowded establishment.

The patrons glanced at the warrior woman and the man with the bow. Granted, they had seen a lot of weird stuff in Smallville, but nothing quite like this.

"Well, I see the gang's all here." Eckhart frowned.

"And I see that you keep showing up like a bad stench, Whitey," Dave retorted. "You should hit the road now."

"I'd listen to him, Eckhart," Xena suggested, allowing a threatening glare to spread across her face.

"So, where's this super agent of yours?" Dave pushed. "I can feel him." Focusing around the room, he stopped at MacTavish. "What? Is beating on girls the best you can do?"

The telekinetic released Lana and approached the new adversary. "You'd best tone it down."

"Or what?" the professor asked sarcastically. "You're gonna beat me up, huh? Let me guess, all brawn and no brains. And do yourself a favor, don't try your crap on me."

"Oh. You'll cry all over me, is that it?" MacTavish hissed. "You're going to have a tantrum?"

Miri watched this scene from the corner and was visibly shaking at the dark vibes coming from her uncle.

Xena shook her head and told Eckhart. "Call him off before he gets David going."

"I quite agree," the administrator stated, not wanting to see Dubois lose it here either. "Mr. MacTavish, stand down! Now! We're leaving."

The operative glared at his boss for a long minute before complying. As he followed the other out the door, he vowed, "This isn't finished, Dubois."

"Get in line," Dave retorted, allowing the anger to show clearly on his face. "And scrape that crap off the sidewalk."

After the car bearing the GSA sped away, he added to Xena, "Tell Angie it's okay to come out. We'll see you later, okay? Thanks."

"My pleasure. I'll give your regards to Cybelle and the others," she told him before hurrying away. Once around the corner, she changed back to Angie and rushed over to the truck. "It's okay, guys."

"What happened?" Jonathan inquired. 

"Knowing Dave, I'd say there was a near fight of some kind," she replied knowingly.

Followed closely by the two men, she hustled into the restaurant and looked around. In the corner, Dave hugged their niece, reassuring her that everything was okay. Fortunately, nobody was hurt and the damage was minimal. 

Clark sat down next to Lana. "Are you okay?"

Her eyes brimmed with tears as she nodded. "I...I guess. That was awful! He just looked at me, and I felt this pain. I still ache. Can you hold me?"

"Sure," he replied caringly, embracing her tightly against him. This situation hit her a little too close for comfort. "Hey, it's going to be all right. I'm thankful we got here when we did."

She nodded. "I agree. No telling what would have happened had Professor Dubois and Xena not come in."

He smiled. "Now you know what they meant about life never being boring, right?"

She managed a grin. "You're something else, Clark. Thank you." Pulling her to him, they exchanged a passionate kiss.


In the corner, Lex caught up with Dave. "Nice work there, Guy. I thought you were going to lose it."

"Over him and in front of everyone? It wasn't worth it. Thanks," the professor expressed. Looking into the man's eyes, he saw something familiar, but couldn't quite place him. "I know you, but can't place your name..."

"That's okay," Lex accepted. "It's been a while. I'm Lex Luthor."

"Little Lex?" Dave wondered, returning the handshake. "Sorry, I didn't recognize you."

"Yeah, the hair would make a difference," the co-owner concurred. 

"So, what are you doing here?" the professor wondered.

"I run this place with Lana and her aunt," Lex explained. "It can be a little slow sometimes, but business today has been good. As you know, this is a special place."

"It is that, especially after I saved it from our fathers' wrecking ball."

"My Dad was storming about you an hour ago," Lex revealed. "He hasn't forgotten, trust me. But, that's enough of him. Let's get some lunch into you, okay? Are you all right, Miranda?"

"I'm fine, Mr. Luthor," she told him, getting up and straightening herself. "I'll get these last few orders done before I join you all over at the table."

"Smart girl," he complimented after she walked away.

"I'd like to think so," Dave agreed, walking over to the table.

Lex considered those last few words. What did he mean by them? The professor had enough mystery and controversy swirling around him already. What was the connection to his employee, an adopted child with supposedly no past? He would have to look into it at his first convenience. For now, he joined the others in the reserved area to get caught up on things. 

Chapter 12

Later that afternoon, Chloe Sullivan typed away rapidly on the computer keyboard. For the past crew of The Torch, their last issue was due the next day at the typesetters. With the arrival of Clark and Lana's mysterious new professors, she doubted that they would be done on time.

"Pete, I really wish you hadn't left for school so early," she griped, wishing that her friend were there with her. After Clark and Lana's relationship developed, he had been a steadying influence to her.

Looking at the feature piece that Lana had written on Alicia Fallone, she admired the insight and feeling which her friend had poured into the story. Since her friends had returned from Tucson, something was off. Her instincts screamed that a major catastrophe had happened, but when she cornered them, they would tell her nothing except what she had found on CNN about the hospital attack.

"Who is this woman, Lana? And why did she affect you so deeply?" she asked herself, admiring the piece once more before setting it down and getting back to work.

At that very moment, Clark, Lana, and Miranda walked into the room, fresh off of their long lunch at the Talon. Placing their stuff down in the corner, they smiled, yet their faces had a slight heaviness to them, as if something had happened at the caf╚. "Hey, guys! It's about time you got back here! How did lunch go?"

"Great," Clark replied, trying to keep an upbeat tone to his voice.

"But...?" Chloe asked, knowing her friend well enough to know when something was eating at him.

"There was a near incident at the Talon," Lana sighed, shaking from the memory. "A guy showed up and did something to me. He just looked at me and I felt pain."

"Looked at you?" the blonde reporter supposed. "Is this tied to the meteor rocks?"

Clark suddenly got nervous as he recalled how anxious Adam was to keep Mutant X a secret. "I think so, Chloe," he indicated.

"Are you okay?" she asked Lana.

"I'm fine. Thanks," her friend assured her. "Thanks to Miranda and her uncle."

"Uncle?" Chloe wondered wide-eyed. "Who? What is this?"

"This is off the record at this point," he told her.

"Okay. So who?" Chloe pushed, happy that her friend had found a link to her past.

"My uncle is their History professor, David Dubois," Miranda revealed.

"No way! Talk about coincidences! So, what did your uncle think of the Talon?" Chloe inquired. "I'll bet he liked his first taste of it."

"Actually..." Lana cut in. "It wasn't his first taste of the Talon or Smallville. Chloe, can we dig up something from 1981 in the Ledger?"

"Hang on," the news-junkie advised, getting into the town newspaper's website. "Okay, search for Dubois and Talon, right?" 


"Okay," Chloe agreed, inputting the information into the database. Sure enough, the computer produced an abstract of the article. "Wow. It's here," she said surprised to see it. Noticing her friends' interest, she added, "Your professor has been here before." Getting on the phone, she talked to somebody in a rapid-fire sequence of half-sentences before hanging up. "They should have a piece to us in a couple of minutes. Apparently, your incident stirred up a lot of interest. I wish I'd been there to see Xena myself!"

"There really wasn't much to it," Lana declared. "She showed up and then left."

"The meteor-guy attacked Lana," Miranda reported. "I stopped him, but he was about to turn on both of us before Uncle Dave showed up."

"Yeah, the guy at the Ledger mentioned that he and the attacker had a stare down of some kind," Chloe mentioned, trying to picture the scene in her mind. "I guess your teacher has a bit of a temper, huh?"

Clark, Lana, and Miri all looked at each other. That was the understatement of the century.

"And who were those two guys I saw outside on my way over here?" Chloe probed.

"They were with the meteor guy. Professor Dubois took care of both of them, I guess," he replied. "I was ducking for cover with my Dad."

"Oh, Clark," Chloe teased. "I guess not everyone can be a tough guy, huh?"

He shook his head and shrugged. If only she knew.

At that moment, the fax machine started up, shooting out two pages of newsprint.

"Okay," Lana said, picking the sheets up and laying them out on the counter for them all to look at. "Geez, look at this!"

Miranda skimmed the pages. About halfway through the account, her eyes went wide. "Oh my! My poor uncle!"

"My folks were pretty upset about something this morning," he remembered, looking at it for himself. "Man, that's why."

"I knew there was trouble over the Talon's ownership back in the early eighties, but nothing like this," Lana agreed. "Professor Dubois just about single-handedly saved the place by himself." A slight shudder passed through her. Her parents had met there just after the incident. What if it had been torn down before that? 

"No wonder he was like a pit bull this morning," Chloe surmised. "Geez, I might not have gone back in there if I took what he did."

"Oh, if you meet Professor Dubois, he'll surprise you," he stated. "There's a lot to him not apparent on the surface."

"I can't believe that his father would do this," Chloe said, not knowing all of the facts.

Lana shook again, recalling the memories of the kidnapping incident and being held at Genomex. She held onto Clark tightly.

"What?" Chloe wondered. "Are you all right?"

"We actually met his father, Chloe," he told her. "Trust me, he's not a very nice man."

The editor-in-chief scratched her head. Now, she definitely knew that there was more to that trip than they were telling her. She was determined to get all of the facts if it killed her.

"Well, we'd best get to work on this edition if we're going to put it to bed on time," she told her friends. "Principal Evans wants it in her office by 10 AM tomorrow."

With that, they all got to work on the piece.


Dave sat at the Kents' kitchen table, analyzing his surroundings. Remarkably, the house was much the same as he remembered it except for the telltale signs related to a teenager living there. One thing he did marvel at: Mrs. Kent still had one of the best green thumbs when it came to flowers.

Beside him, Angie rubbed his shoulder supportively. While he had been quiet all the way back here, she could guess that his mind was like a jumbled mess right now. "Are you hanging in there?"

He nodded. "Uh huh. It's just tough dealing with the old stuff on top of watching Miri in danger like that."

"I can imagine," Martha said, setting down cups of hot water in front of them. "David, are you still drinking that flavored tea?" She held up a little tin. "When Clark told us about you, I bought a fresh one just in case."

"You remembered," Dave giggled in spite of himself.

"Sure," Jonathan agreed, coming in the front door, and joining them. "We don't get many visitors like you."

Dave saw the slight frown across his face. "Jonathan, what is it?"

"Is it always going to be like this for Clark?" the father wondered. 

"Not if we can help it," the doctor affirmed. "The world just needs time to accept us. Can you keep a secret?" Seeing the Kents nod, she continued, "You didn't know that Miranda was a mutant, did you?"

Their hosts stared at them. "Quiet Miranda?"

"She's telekinetic, just as I am. It runs in the family," the professor informed them.

"I see," Martha indicated, although with a great deal of uncertainty as she placed the tea bags on the table.

"And those men today? Were they the same people that kidnapped your wife and Lana?" Jonathan probed.

"They are. The white haired man is an anti-mutant bigot named Mason Eckhart. He runs a covert government agency, which likes to break the rules in going after people like ourselves and Clark," Dave noted. 

"And you talked him into using his powers in front of someone like that the last time?" Jonathan pushed.

"C'mon, this is Clark we're talking about. You think he's going to let Lana get hurt? Trust me, I've been in his shoes," the professor reminded them even as he let the memory of the Genomex affair took place in his mind. Watching Lana fall, screaming toward her death. Nick too far away to do anything. Then, seeing Clark floating right under her, protecting her.

"He's got a point, Jonathan," Martha agreed. "Still, we want them to be safe."

"And they will be, Martha," Angie promised, a smile forming across her face. "You know, I think it's so funny."

"What is?" Dave asked.

"Oh, the way that Clark and Lana are. It kind of reminds me of two other people I know," she sighed, looking at him.

"Let me guess, David and that classmate of his, right? What was her name?" Jonathan inquired, searching his memories. "Karen, right?"

"That's right," Dave concurred, sipping on his blackberry tea. "Mmm...thank you."

"Just a second," Jonathan requested, going to the bookshelf and grabbing an old photo album. As he walked back, he flipped pages until he landed on the right one. "Here it is!"

Placing the item down in front of them, he showed them a picture of five people standing in front of the barn.

"That's Karen and her Dad along with you three," Angie realized.

"That's when they came out here to get him," Martha remembered. "Nice people. I wonder what they're doing now."

"Well, her father's doing fine. As for Karen, she'll be here tonight with our friends," Dave noted, pulling out his cell phone. 

"Friends?" Jonathan wondered. "Who else is involved here?"

"Eckhart has his friends. So do we," Dave stated, dialing first the secure line code before the number in question. "Steve? Hey, what's up?"

"That's my question. Where are you two?" the agent inquired. 

"We're with Clark's folks right now," the professor informed him. "Eckhart's made his first move already. We were just in time to prevent a serious spectacle."

"You and MacTavish didn't...Man, you should know better," Steve admonished.

"Steve, I'm not stupid. The idiot already exposed himself before I walked in. We had a spitting match before Eckhart called him off. Still, you know as well as I do that he'll try again. If he touches those kids again, all bets are off. Can I speak to our group mastermind?" Dave recounted.

"Yeah sure. Tell the Kents that we'll be on the first flight up there," Steve concluded, handing the phone to Adam.

"Dave, what's going on up there? Logan's tap on the GSA computers shows that they're angry over that scene this afternoon," Adam commented.

"Adam, we walked into it," the professor told him. "Apparently, they wanted lunch...and they were going after our table. MacTavish decided to use his powers on Lana and was about to do the same on Miri when I showed up. We went toe to toe for a second before Xena convinced Whitey to call off his pit bull."

"Just the same, I want you two to be careful. Don't provoke them," the geneticist reminded them. "We'll be up there in the Double Helix right after sunset. Who else do you want with us?"

"Francesca and Nick. Have Deirdre bring Steve and Karen up ASAP," Dave replied. "We need them on site."

"We're on it," Adam concluded. "If anything changes, let us know."

Dave hung up and informed the others. "Help's on the way."

"When do the troops roll in?" Angie asked.

"After sunset. We have some folks who should be here any minute, however."

At that moment, a knock came from the door.

Martha glanced at Jonathan, not knowing quite what to expect. She cautiously answered it. "Yes?"

"Excuse me, Mrs. Kent?" Deirdre inquired. 

"That's right. And you are?"

"I'm Deirdre Dubois. My parents are here somewhere," the priestess commented. "These are..."

"Karen Alvarez, right?" Martha realized looking at the familiar face in front of her. "It's been a long time! How are you?"

"I'm fine, although right now I'm concerned as to where this situation is going," the nurse indicated. "And this is one of our other classmates, Steve Petersen, an FBI agent."

"Relax, the Bureau doesn't know about Clark," Steve assured them. "I did that much for him the last time."

"Thank you for that," Jonathan expressed, motioning for the others to sit down. "Can we get you anything?"

"A cup of coffee would be great," Steve agreed. "Thank you."

"Same here," Karen joined in. "I'm glad that everything worked out this afternoon. What a relief!"

"So far," Dave interjected, sipping his tea. "The day's not over yet. I want an eye kept on those kids at all times."

"The others will be leaving soon. Can they land in back in the fields?" Steve asked.

"Are they flying a private plane?" Martha wondered.

"You could say that," Dave concurred.

"Fine. If it means quicker access to keeping the kids safe," Jonathan agreed.

"By the way, how did they get their plane back?" Angie inquired, glancing at Deirdre.

"Mama," the priestess replied. "I popped them into the cabin and we took off before anyone could stop us. I must say, Papa, now I know why you love to mess with them." A mischievous smile formed on her lips in spite of herself.

"Dave, you're a bad influence on your daughter," Angie muttered.

"What? And you're the good little stay at home wife?" he laughed, letting out a loud snort at the end. "Yeah right."

Karen shook her head in wonder at her friends. "Ahem! So when are we moving in?"

Looking over at the clock, he noticed it was getting on for 4:30. "I'd like to be there within the next hour."

"The Bureau's on standby just in case," Steve revealed. "They wanted to be on the scene, but with our friends getting involved, I wanted to keep them out unless it was absolutely necessary. Trust me, if anything happens, Smallville will be locked down tighter than Fort Knox."

"What about that guy at the restaurant, Dave?" Angie worried. "If he gets you going..."

"It'll cost him big time," her husband reassured her. "Especially if he touches Miri."

"You're awfully sure of yourself, Sir," Karen disagreed. "I saw the jerk's M.O. back in Arizona. He's a prescription for disaster as far as you're concerned."

"I'm not afraid of him. In any case, we can sense each other at all times." He shrugged and finished his tea. "Now, let's move. We need to be over there soon."

With that, the group stood and brought their bags into the house. Much to the Kents' surprise, a cornucopia of weaponry was produced including shaft refills, the usual variety of incendiaries, and a whip for Dave and some pistols for Steve. 

"Those look good?" the agent inquired. "They were the last of your supplies."

"Great. Thanks," Dave complimented. "Jonathan, can you...?"

"Uh...yeah sure. That stuff...uh...it won't explode or anything, will it?" the farmer wondered with concern.

"We should be safe," Dave reassured him, putting the last of the shafts in his quiver. "Thanks again for everything, Mrs. Kent."

"My pleasure," she replied, trying to mask her concern over all of this stuff. 

"Deirdre, can you stay here and wait for our friends?" Angie requested.

"Sure, Mama," the priestess agreed, sipping on her tea.

With that, the group headed out the door with Jonathan for town before anything else happened.

Chapter 13 [A couple of hours earlier]

Across town in his office, Lex steadily analyzed reports both classified and unclassified concerning Miranda's life. The school database and adoption records were found easily enough, but there was nothing on "Miranda Arighatto" earlier than 1984. "Strange. Where's her birth certificate? Hmmm...let's try Miranda Dubois." 

The computer popped up a screen of hits tied to that name between 1980 and 1984, but nothing later than that. Using a password he had obtained questionably from an FBI insider, he looked at the records for the girl. Sure enough, there was a little girl's picture along with her fingerprints. Apparently, there had been a national manhunt for her, but not surprisingly, nobody in this town suspected anything. The agent in charge was Steven Petersen. "Ah ha," he realized. "Given his ties to Dubois, that's a smoking gun if there was one." Downloading the fingerprints from the database, he superimposed them on top of the ones in his employee database.

They matched perfectly. She was Miranda Dubois.

"Sonnuva of a gun," he muttered. "No wonder she was so happy to see him. Still, given the grief that the Dubois kids took from the Old Man growing up, they deserve a break like this one." Hitting "save" on the files, he preserved his findings for later viewing if needed.

Now that he had solved that mystery, the bald entrepreneur turned his attention to his unwanted visitors from this morning both there and at the Talon. What were those goons doing here? It wasn't like Eckhart to come slithering out of his hole after just anyone. Yet, here he was in Smallville personally overseeing a raid. "Whatever you're hiding, Clark, it must be a helluva secret," he told himself. In his research on Genomex, Lex had discovered several shady practices, many of which were being investigated by the FBI. "Given what I saw from the red head today, there must be genetic experimentation going on," he said knowingly, reading the screen. "And just when the Duboises were coming into town as well. This isn't a coincidence." With that, he kept digging through the data files.


Across town at the Smallville Inn, Eckhart paced about the second-class amenities. He hoped that he wouldn't pick up any diseases from the bugs flying around outside and he certainly wished that there had been better lodgings in this bumpkin town. "The sooner we get what we came for, the sooner we can leave," he told himself as well as the agents congregated around him.

"Sir, our surveillance has them over at the high school. We can sweep in and get them after school lets out," one of the agents reported.

"There's an assembly of some sort at 4PM. Can't we just surround the auditorium and get what we need before Dubois and the others realize what's going on?" another agent offered.

"Nice observation, Mr. Hinkley," the administrator complimented. "While I don't relish the thought of holding an entire school hostage, we need to keep Mr. Kent, Miss Arrighato, and Miss Lang from escaping. I want this done as quietly and efficiently as possible hopefully before the assembly is over."

"If we go longer than that, I'll handle Dubois myself," MacTavish crowed.

"Calm yourself," Eckhart ordered. "Knowing the professor, he has already contacted Adam and his band of outlaws. It's only a matter of time before they get here. And then, I'm sure Petersen has the FBI already covering things. No, Mr. MacTavish, if we wait, we risk exposing ourselves further to social scrutiny. Is that clear?"

"It is," the new mutant conceded.

"Good. We don't need any more problems or public displays such as the one this morning," Eckhart told him. Turning back to the other agents, he instructed, "Go to your posts as we've planned. Be ready for anything, especially for Mutant X. Understand?"

The subordinates nodded and grabbed their gear before taking off.

Eckhart smiled confidently. Soon, everything would be within his grasp. If he played his cards right, he might even be able to not only take the students, but add the Duboises and Adam's band. If that happened, it would be a great night. A great night indeed.


About 5 PM, Jonathan parked his truck around the corner from the high school. Looking around, he noted that it was quiet...too quiet.

Dave scanned the area with his senses, probing for any sign of trouble. He discovered several auras moving in from the back of the school. "Steve?"

Ducking behind a mailbox, the agent managed enough of a glance through his binoculars to confirm his friend's observation. "Damn! GSA agents are on all sides!"

"Terrific," the professor groused. "Keep an eye on them buggers."

"Company?" Angie wondered.

"The uninvited type and lots of them," Dave reported. "Jonathan, you might want to head back to the farm and wait there. If we need you, we'll let you know."

"And what about the kids?" the farmer argued.

"Trust me," Angie urged. "You're not going to want to be anywhere near here when this operation goes down."

The anguished father stared at the school again. "Are you sure about this?"

"Positive," she affirmed. 

"Well, I'm staying put. Heck with the circumstances."

"Suit yourself. Help's on the way," Dave added. "Steve?"


"Get ready to move in on my signal," the historian directed.

"Right. Dave, the other agents are in position at the airport and at the city limits. Smallville's locked down," the agent told them.

"Terrific. Tell them to stay there," Dave copied, switching channels. "Adam, are you there?"


On board the Double Helix, Adam responded, "Dave, what's going on?"

"The GSA's moving in on the school sooner than we expected," Dave reported. "What's your ETA?"

After looking at the displays, the team leader replied, "About 2 hours unless you want to send us some help."

"I'll see what I can do," Dave concluded, signing off.

"What's up?" Shalimar inquired.

"Something's going on in Smallville," Emma noted from her station.

"What are you picking up on?" Adam asked with concern.

"Concern, fear, anxiousness mixed with occasional spikes of anger. So far he's in control, but we should hurry."

"I don't know. Watching Dave light into a few GSA agents might be entertaining to watch," Brennan supposed.

Nick glared at him. "You have no idea of what you're talking about, do you?"

"What?" the electrical mutant wondered. Seeing his teammates' expressions, he reiterated, "What?"

"Dave's been in a fight like that," the detective continued. "He and a female vampire fought unrestrained."

"And?" Jesse asked.

"And they leveled the downtown area of Wabash, NY between them. Given what you've told me about MacTavish and what I know about Dave, this has the potential to get ugly really fast."

"Tell me about it," Deirdre concurred, stepping from the mists. "Papa sent me to give you all a lift."

"Go for it," Adam agreed.

The priestess nodded and focused. In front of the speeding jet, the passengers watched as the fog formed. Despite the fact that they had seen her do this before, the others were still amazed at this phenomenon. Zipping through the portal, they ended up about ten miles from Smallville.

"There," she declared, wiping some sweat from her brow.

"Stealth cloak," Adam instructed the ship's computer, causing it to turn invisible to outside observers. "How much farther?"

"About a mile away. Aunt Karen's waiting for us in the cow pasture," Deirdre replied. 

"I have her on the readings," Jesse informed them. "Taking her down."

The ship touched down on the cow pasture just out of sight from the house.

Waiting there, Karen stared at the air in front of her. Despite not being able to see anything, she could sense that her friends had just arrived. As the ship's door opened and the passengers disembarked except for Nick, she greeted, "I'm glad you're here."

"Thanks," Adam replied pleasantly. "What's the situation?"

"Dave and the others went to town about forty-five minutes ago. From the vibes I'm getting, as well as seeing you here so soon, I'd say we're in trouble," the nurse reported.

"If Eckhart's getting ready to move, we'd best get to the high school fast," Brennan interjected.

"Especially since Miranda's with Clark and the others," Karen added.

"And from what I can tell, MacTavish is nearby as well. Adam, he and Dave have some sort of link," Emma guessed.

"I see," the leader said, the concern growing on his face. "Deirdre?"

"Right. Francesca, we're going to need you too," the priestess requested, willing up the portal. After her cousin and Mutant X were inside, she sealed the passage behind them.

Inside of the ship, Nick sat in his seat and watched the chronometer. "Still two and a half hours to sunset. Terrific," he groused, wishing he could be more help to his friends.

Chapter 14

Meanwhile, inside of the school, Clark, Miranda, Lana, and Chloe continued to research the question in front of them.

"Finding anything?" Lana asked.

"Yeah," Chloe agreed. "There's a lot of stuff here..."

Then the lights went out.

"What? Oh no! Not now!" the journalist complained.

Miranda looked around. While she could sense her friends' anxiousness, she picked up on something else as well: many auras approaching them.

Clark's super hearing also picked up on them as well. Trying to think on his feet, he wondered how he could use his powers in front of Chloe and Miranda. "C'mon!" he urged, feeling his way in the darkness to the other desk. Although he could have moved it by himself, he wanted to maintain the fa┴ade.

Lana shook her head. She had seen him do some pretty incredible things and now, he was complaining about moving a desk? "But, Clark..." she started, wondering what he was getting at. Then, it hit her that this was part of the disguise. "Okay, never mind."

Without another word, the quartet shoved the desk against the door, blockading themselves into the newsroom.

"Now what?" Chloe whispered nervously.

"Now we wait," Clark sighed, his arm around Lana's shoulders.

"Hurry, Uncle Dave. Please," Miranda thought anxiously.


[Lex's castle]

For the past hour, Lex had sat behind his desk, listening to taps on the police and FBI bands. Something was going down at the high school and, despite knowing about it, local law enforcement was keeping a loose cordon around the town.

"You're good, Petersen," he admired. "What do you have up your sleeve?" Judging from the locale, he guessed that Eckhart's goons had just cornered Clark.

At that moment, Lionel burst into office.

"Gee, Dad, don't you believe in knocking anymore?" Lex baited, putting his jacket on.

"Lex, stay away from town," his father advised.

"And why would I do that?" the son asked.

"Let Eckhart do his dirty work and crawl away!" Lionel argued and seized Lex's arm. "I don't want you involved!"

Lex glowered at his father. So, the Old Man's buddy was involved in this mess. Shaking his arm loose, he stated, "Too late, Dad. When you involved my friends, you involved me! You'd best hope they're okay."

"Or what? Damn it, Lex! They're not your future! I am!" the other man yelled. "Come to your senses!"

Lex smiled coldly. "It isn't just Clark or Lana. You know Miranda Arrighatto?"

"The waitress at that coffee dump?"

"Right," Lex agreed, forcing himself to stay composed. "If she's hurt, you're going to get a visit from David Dubois. Judging from what I saw at the Talon this afternoon, I wouldn't want to be in your shoes. Trust me." With that, he grabbed his keys and hurried to the garage.

Lionel slumped into the padded chair and rubbed his forehead. While he was willing to let Eckhart take the others, he wouldn't allow Lex to hurt himself through stupid heroics. Getting up, he rushed through the office doors determined to stop his son.

Chapter 15

From his post in the vacant office building across the street from the high school, Eckhart watched the unfolding drama through a pair of binoculars. "Mr. MacTavish, I do hope you know what you're doing," he stated mindful that the operation's success hinged upon efficiency.

Taking a deep breath, he turned to the dark-haired woman standing by the door. "Be ready to move out at a moment's notice, Ms. Henderson. I don't want any exposure."

"Yes, sir," she agreed, leaving to relay the order onto her fellow lieutenants.

The administrator smiled at the subordinate's response, hoping that the others shared her drive as well.


Below Eckhart's perch, Deirdre and Mutant X had joined the others.

"Who are all of you?" Jonathan demanded.

"We're friends," Adam replied cryptically, shaking his hand.

"You can trust them," Angie assured him.

"Deirdre, can you take Mr. Kent back to the farm and wait for us there?" Dave requested.

"Okay, Papa, but you be careful," his daughter urged.

"Count on it," he told her, rubbing her shoulder.

"Mr. Kent, we'll get Clark and the others out," Adam promised him.

For a second, Jonathan stared at the man and his associates before assenting, "Okay. Just take care with everything."

"We will," Emma replied, sending waves of pleasant feelings through the farmer's mind as he vanished into the mists. "How are you holding up, Dave?"

"About as well as can be expected under the circumstances," the professor indicated, producing four ski masks. "Here you go. In case the FBI gets here early."

"Good idea," Adam agreed. "Put them on, everyone." When they had all done so, he asked, "Do you have a plan?"

"He always does," Steve chimed in while remaining focused on the school. 

"Angie and Francesca, you know what to do," Dave hinted.

They nodded and moved into the alley behind their position. Once out of sight, they initiated the changes into Xena and Gabrielle. A moment later, they were back with their friends.

"Okay, now what?" Gabrielle wondered.

"We can't just go charging in there with the hostages," Shalimar pointed out.

"And with MacTavish waiting for me," Dave added. Then a smile came to his face. "Oh, that's good."

"What is?" Xena inquired. "What is it?"

"A trick I learned in the Dark Lands," the medievalist revealed, checking his weapons over one last time. "All set. Steve?"

"They're in the tube beside you," the agent indicated, guessing at his intent.

Dave nodded and unrolled the structural blueprint. A close study gave him the route he needed. "Yeah."

"Great. No way in," Brennan doubted.

"Some former thief you are," Jesse needled.

"Actually, Brennan, there is," Dave disagreed. "See this tunnel right here? That's our way in."

"That's the sewer." Shalimar frowned.

"That's right. You lucky folks get to learn about Operation Sewer Meet," the professor remarked.

"It's a pincer maneuver," Steve explained. "We attack on two or three different fronts at once, splitting the GSA forces between us."

"But you said earlier that MacTavish can sense you. How's that going to work?" Jesse wondered.

Dave shrugged. "With a little help, it'll work." He cast a glance in Emma's direction.

Adam watched their friend carefully and deduced his meaning. "Emma, can you generate the appearance of anger into MacTavish's mind?"

"You know I can. Why?" she responded.

"I need you to be me," the professor hinted, stretching out with his senses and reading the environment. Inside the school, he felt fear, anger, nervous, and tension not to mention his adversary's brightly burning aura. However, he also detected a pocket of emptiness moving through the lower levels of the school. "What now?" he thought, filing that knowledge away. Sunset was still an hour away, yet somehow a vampire was in there as well. Composing himself, he told the others, "Okay, here's the plan. Adam will take Mutant X and hit them topside. Once inside, Emma, you'll need to convince MacTavish that you're me. Steve, Xena, Gabrielle, and I will take the underground route. Hopefully, we can delay things until sunset when Nick will get here. Emma, stay in touch telekinetically, okay?"

"Right," she agreed. "Take care down there."

"Always," he agreed, focusing on the manhole cover beside them. With a mental "pull," he tore the cover off of the hole and set it down about three feet away. "Ladies first."

"Always the gentleman, ain't you?" Xena needled as she climbed down.

"Don't mind her," Gabrielle told him as she followed.

"You owe me," Steve muttered, stepping onto the ladder's top rung and climbing down.

"Good luck," Adam wished.

"Same to you," Dave replied, joining the rest of his group.

When he had disappeared, Adam indicated, "Okay, let's go. Be careful." With that, they hurried across the street being careful to conceal their movements within the lengthening shadows.

Chapter 16 [An hour later]

Nick watched as the shadows grew longer and longer on the Helix's monitors. Finally, the sun sank below the horizon, freeing him to help the others. Needing no further urging, he took off into the night sky, heading for town.


In the Torch's darkened area, Clark kept his ears tuned to the approaching agents. The latter had been running up and down the hallway for the past twenty minutes. Finally, one rattled the right door and yelled, "This has gotta be it! What's in here?"

"I don't know," another man answered. A shove revealed that the door was blocked with something. "Hey, guys! Can you help us with this door?"

Hearing this effort, Lana whispered, "Clark, what are we going to do?"

"I don't know," he stated honestly. With these goons, he knew he would have to use his powers to save his friends and worry about the consequences later. 

Miranda scrambled to their side. "My uncle's getting closer."

"How's Chloe?" Lana asked low.

"I'm okay for now," the blonde reporter replied. "Miranda, what's the big deal with your uncle against these creeps?"

"Oh, he can do quite a bit," Clark informed her. "Trust me."

Chloe cast a skeptical look in their direction. Whoever or whatever this guy was, he'd better be something special. From the hallway, she could see the crack of light from the door getting wider as the GSA pushed their way inside.


Mutant X made its way into the building with relative ease, taking out a couple of agents stationed at the door. With Nick's assistance, they had made their way through two more levels of guarded passages.

"Better start your beacon, Emma," Adam advised.

"Right," she agreed, broadcasting the right range of tense emotions to MacTavish. "Get ready, guys. He's coming this way and thinks I'm Dave."

"Remind me to talk to you about that temper of yours," Shalimar baited, trying to take the edge off of the situation.

The others silently followed the two women down the stairs toward the next level and the challenges awaiting them down there.


Dave kept a close eye on the markings along the walls. In addition to looking for a sign that they were at the school, he was tuned to Miranda's thoughts as well.

"It's hard to believe you used to do this with Singleton," Steve complained, turning his nose up at the odor and worrying about what the sludge was doing to his pants.

"I thought ya were a tough guy," Xena chuckled. "Didn't they tell ya that sewers ain't for Adonis types?"

"And I suppose you've done this before?" he asked impatiently.

"A few times," the Warrior Princess replied flatly. 

"We both have," Gabrielle cut in. 

Dave sighed to himself as they pressed on. "Which marker are we looking for?"

"140," the agent replied.

At that moment, the professor felt a wave of panic smack him right between the eyes. "Crap!"

"What?" Xena pushed. "What is it?"

"That was Miri. We just ran out of time!" he reported, taking off down the tunnel at a full sprint. "135...136....137," he counted off before stopping at 140.

"Where's the door?" Steve asked. "There's supposed to be a door!"

"Stand back!" Dave hissed, focusing energy into both hands. "We'll make a door!" Through Miri's eyes, he saw the agents bursting into the room, brandishing weapons and threatening the kids.

With no more time to waste, he uncorked a double blast into the reinforced concrete, boring their way into the scene.


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