Future Shock (Part 3) (R)
David J. Duncan
April 2003


For notes & such, please see Part 1

Chapter 9 [An hour later]

[Magog World Ship]

Deep within its sanctuary, the Spirit of the Abyss sensed that something was amiss down on the planet's surface. [Something else is down there besides the humans.] Bad enough that the raid on Earth had failed, but now the cursed Kandorians made their feeble play to resist the inevitable tide.

[Thrice, I have felt a surge of darkness not unlike my own before my followers fell in battle. What could it be? The Harbingers of the Abyss thrive in darkness, fear, and hatred. Nothing cast from those things should turn them back!]

["'Ceptin' me," a voice taunted.]

The Child's image materialized in front of it, tensed and ready for anything. Once again, a crimson corona encircled the black form and its eyes glowed blood red.

The Spirit howled in outrage. ["How did you get here?"]

"Aw, clamp it! Ah got a message fer ya'll! Turn 'round an' split! If ya'll don't, Ah'll kill more of yer fur balls for mah rug collection!" the Child hissed.

["Kill it!"] The Spirit ordered.

At that moment, thirty Magog stormed towards it.

"Stupid twit! Ah warned ya'll!" the Child roared. Pointing at the creatures, the image sent dark fire spewing at them.

Trapped by their numbers, the Magog screamed in agony and burned to death, dropping by the dozens.

Extending its arms, the Child drew from the hate contained with the Magog consciousness. As in the Pit, it fed him, increasing his power. Glaring into the pit beneath him, he seethed with rage. "Fer destroyin' mah home, ya'll pay!" Spinning about as if a ballet of destruction, he sent fire in all directions, taking down more of the so-called Harbingers of the Abyss and badly scorching countless others.

The triumphant image screamed at the remaining Magog, sending them scurrying for cover. Then it turned to the Spirit. "Don't be a twit. Leave mah friends 'lone! Piss me off 'gain an' Ah'll kill ya!" With that, it vanished.

The Spirit fumed. [That is the one Lousain and Dahak wanted dead! No matter, I'll kill it myself! By the end of the next solar day, the humans will die!]


[Hangar-New Krypton]

Working as quickly as they could, Clark and Tyr oversaw the stocking of the Commonwealth cruisers. Fortunately, Deirdre provided quick access between the weapon stockpile and the hangar. As if they would walk across a room, the group transferred shells, missiles, and other armaments to the latter place.

Once there, Harper and Trance directed the servobots and the Kandorians in their efforts to put the weapons in the right places aboard the ships.

"At least we have something to fight them with," she said hopefully.

"Yeah," the skinny engineer agreed, albeit hesitantly. "But there are still gazillions of them and only thousands of us."

"We'll figure something out, Harper," she assured him.

"Listen to her, Little Man," Tyr urged impatiently as he set down a casing. "Your fellow Earthers will come up with something, I'm sure."

"We can't give up," Clark added. "We can do this. At least, I hope we can do this."

"Come on, Clark," Lex assured him. "One determined force can hold off even the most superior forces for a while. We have the fortifications and firepower to fight them off. Hopefully, the cavalry will get here in time."

"Yeah? Name me one example where that happens," Harper challenged, feeling his nerves flare up.

"Consider the Siege of Helms Deep," Lex stated.

"You mean Tolkien's great battle from The Lord of the Rings?" Tyr asked. Seeing the surprised looks from everyone, he added, "It is one of the Earth works we Nietzscheans are required to read. Yes, that battle was similar to our current straits. The question is though: will we have any reinforcements?"

"They'll be here," Trance stated. "Dylan said so and I believe him."

"As if that will matter. Unless your friend can rally his own troops around him," the Nietzschean scoffed.

"I'm sure that Ferali is doing all that he can," Deirdre informed him in an icy tone. "Meantime, my father will play his role as will we all when the time comes."

"And what of your fellow priestess, Cybelle?" Trance inquired.

"She's prepared to be here," the priestess replied. "I would not say that we are weak in any means. Outnumbered yes, but we can still inflict some damage nonetheless." She glanced over at the students who tried to console each other. "You need to have faith. All of you! The goddess willing, we will get through this!"

"We're not giving up on these people without a fight!" Chloe affirmed.

"Since they're my family, you know how I feel," Lana added.

Michelle nodded. "From talking with the artificial intelligences, I think we have a great chance."

"It'll be a dark battle, but we can make it," Martin agreed, rubbing Kayla's arm to reassure her.

"With Nuam here, we can't fail," she asserted, looking at Clark.

"Kayla, stop it. I'm hardly invincible," Clark protested.

"But you're a vision of hope to these people, Clark," his wife pointed out, fiercely looking into his eyes.

["Lissen to 'em,"] the Child's voice asserted as his image appeared in their midst.

Harper stared and gulped nervously. "Uh, when could he start doing that?"

"This is a recent development," Martin explained.

"Recent?" Kayla wondered. "There's more?"

"Much more," Trance noted. He's evolved again. Now he can split his persona in two just like in the record said he could. I need to find out. "Umm, have you been up there?"

"Hoo-yeah! Ah just did!"

"And what did you do?" Tyr wondered.

The Child snickered. "Ah taught 'em a lesson 'bout Hell. Payback is sweet. 'Sides, Untah-Boy, can ya'll take out a mess of them creeps yerself?"

"You did that?" the Nietzschean doubted, smoldering over that verbal barb.

"Just my sweet lil 'ol image self. And Ah loved it! Hey, Ah bought us time!"

"Crap! Now they'll come here, looking to really hurt us," Harper whined.

"Aw shaddup! Let 'em come! Ah owe 'em fer invadin' mah turf. The sand-place an' the picture place were whupped up by 'em an' their friends! They wanna a piece of us? Ah say bring it on!" the Child lectured. Looking at Deirdre, he told her, "Hey, Squirt, Ah'm proud of ya. Ya'll wanna know about Hell, ask 'er. She was there with us! Gotta run. No chickenin' out now!" With that, he vanished.

"No chickening out, he says," the engineer sighed anxiously. "Billions of Magog waiting to kick our ass and he says that."

Tyr looked at Trance and the others skeptically before retorting to his crewmate. "As much as I hate to admit it, the thing had a point. It went up there and showed those creatures that they can be killed! They'll be slower to attack now."

"Or maybe they'll come sooner," Martin assessed, coming out of a momentary trance. "The anger levels are increasing up there. The professor's dark persona bought us a little time, but not much more."

"Okay, let's get the ships ready, everyone," Lex reminded them. "Do you agree, Clark?"

"Yes. Absolutely," the farm boy concurred, motioning for them all to get back to their tasks. Let's hope that we have enough time to prepare for the worst.


[Command Chamber, Ror-El's residence]

Even as the group completed the preparations in the hangar, Mutant X, Xena, Gabrielle, Eve, Dave, Dylan, and Rommie stood around a CGI display of Kandor and the space around it. Hovering right above the north pole, the Magog World Ship loomed dangerously close to them.

"Shields are down to twenty percent," Ror-El reported, reading another monitor. "If we needed a distraction, this would be the time!"

Then the firing stopped.

"What?" Dylan asked.

In the background, Rev winced. "Arrgh! David, make him stop!"

"What?" Adam wondered.

Shalimar and Max held their hands over their ears. "It's screeching in ultrasonic!" the latter cried out.

Emma focused on the waves of pain and anger. Backtracking up to the vessel above them, she cut through the distance in a heartbeat. She saw the Magog's society, their workings and the fiery chasm at their worlds' center. A glowing being emitting unspeakable emotion came into view next.

Then she saw the Child appear. He's done it again! Effortlessly, the image threw fire in all directions, killing and wounding large amounts of the creatures just to prove a point.

He told the Magog master one thing. Stay 'way from us. Next time ya'll piss me off, Ah'll kill ya!

What have you done? She wondered. "Dave, what's going on?"

"What do you mean?" he asked. Focusing, he felt a void inside of him. He didn't. Aw, he did.

["Damn straight, Ah did, Bro!"]

["What did you do?" Dave inquired.]

["Ah taught 'em a lesson," the Child informed him.]

Great. Now if they weren't ticked off enough, the medievalist thought to himself.

Dylan grabbed Dave by the arm. "What did he do? Answer her question!"

"Let go," Dave told him pointedly.

"Not until I get an answer," the captain told him.

At that moment, the historian felt the numbness again in his head as the change happened.

"Ah fixed 'em real good," the Child asserted, ripping Dylan's hand from his arm. "Ah'm sick of Glow Boy up there sendin' his fur balls after us!"

"They are sentient beings! You can't kill them!" Rev argued.

The Dark One snorted. "Ya'll should know better 'n that. Ya've seen what they can do! So have Ah! So have Xena, Gabby, an' the kids! 'Nough! THIS IS WAR!"

By the gods, he is a demon. Ror-El shuddered.

The Child spun to face the city's leader. "What d'ya call me? Lissen up, Bub. Ah ain't no demon! Ah'm like this cuz Ah fought demons, monsters, an' evil magic guys. Got it? Nah, ya'll can't talk with 'em." Glancing at the sky, he heard the ultrasonic scream and chuckled, "Yeah, Ah'd say he's pissed! Goodie fer 'im! I took out a whole bunch of 'em!"

"And who takes the Spirit when he appears?" Rommie inquired.

"Ah want 'im," the Child growled intensely, "When he attacked mah turf, he made it real personal like!"

"Just be careful," Xena urged, returning the glare. "Let's hope that you've weakened them enough to matter in the long run."

"Good thing for you that this isn't my ship!" Dylan railed. "I'd have you thrown onto V-Deck for that stunt!"

The Child snarled at the captain. "Look, Dylan, Ah ain't one of yer crew. Got it? Ah'm here cuz Big Bro's students need help! Ya'll are mah friend, but don't push yer luck! Ah don't see yer buddies here!"

"They're coming," Dylan insisted, his hand going for his force lance.

"I wouldn't," Xena advised him, chakram already in her hand. "You take him out and you answer to me."

"But we do need to stick together," Beka asserted.

"Hey, chill! Ah just did some scoutin'. When Glow Boy showed up, Ah taught 'im a lil lesson. That's it!" the Child growled. "Enough arguin'! What d' ya'll got planned?"

"We defend the city," the Warrior Princess pointed out. "We post people in strategic spots along the walls. At the right time, the students go out and soften the Magog advance. Meantime, we send the fleet against the swarm ships, trying to take out as many as possible."

"Yeah. That sounds good. See? That's good! Real good!" the Child concurred.

Rommie scanned the Dark One. If it's possible, he's even darker than the last time we encountered him. If so, how can he control himself? Yet somehow, the cooperative spirit is working. You should let Dylan know-so that he can back off. "Do you think you can let David back out for now? We need his expertise."

The Child shrugged and allowed himself to change back.

Dave looked around and saw the others' faces. "Great. What did he say?"

"Relax, David," Rommie assured him. "He didn't hurt any of us."

"Although I wish he could have waited for us before he attacked the World Ship," Dylan interjected.

"That's not going to happen," Dave replied. "Even now, I can feel his anger. The Magog are feeding into him, making him stronger. Like it or not, he's our ace in the hole, people. Still, if you all are fighting with him, he'll work as a team member with you."

Xena nodded. "I have to agree with David's assessment. Everyone at this table knows what the Child can do. Yeah, he vents and destroys things, but he usually takes the worst punishment too. I ain't about to argue with him on this one."

"I agree," Adam concurred. "Although the loss of Magog life is regrettable."

"I hate killing," Dave noted. "In this case, it's the only way to stop them."

"You've got a point there," Dylan concurred. Looking up at the ceiling, he muttered, "That World Ship really sucks."


Chapter 10 [Hall's End, Ruthwen]

Ferali stalked from the chamber after another session with the ministers. Once again, the politicians had refused to authorize support. Fools! He stormed into his private chamber and threw himself on the bed. I have an obligation to the beings of this realm. Yet, I have an obligation to my honor brother as well. Clearly, I'm torn.

"It stinks when your obligations run up against each other, doesn't it?" a familiar female voice asked.

He turned to find Cybelle standing in back of him, her arms folded over her chest. "Cybelle! What are you doing here?"

"I wanted an update. Already, the tides of battle draw close between my brother and those creatures. Like you, I am split between responsibility of rule and responsibility of filial ties. Deirdre keeps watch even now," the high priestess told him.

"And what has happened?" he inquired.

"The Child threw down the gauntlet, killing and maiming large numbers of the aliens. Yet, it only served to slow the advance by a few hours if that. Ferali, we need to go to Dave's side. He and the students will require all of the help we can muster," she asserted.

"I quite agree," Grimwilkin added, stepping through the open door. "It's the turning of the tide."

"But the ministers won't go to war! What can we do?" the gnome protested.

"We don't need the ministers' permission," the wizard assured him, opening the door a bit further to allow the two head generals, Elkinwein the Elf and Lothward, a tall muscular man, to enter the room.

"Certainly, you know the trouble that could come from this?" Ferali asked them.

"Duty calls. Our king and his allies have assisted us in the past. We can do the same now," Elkinwein replied frankly, looking at the others with icy blue eyes.

"Especially since these beings were allied with Lousain and Dahak during the last war here," Cybelle pointed out. Seeing the others' surprised looks, she continued, "That's right. This Spirit sent his Magog against Earth. That is how my brother met Dylan Hunt and the crew from the Andromeda. This is a matter of finishing what we started! We have to take this last threat out. Just because it isn't here makes no difference!"

"Based on that information, I'll have help shortly. Ferali, I go to Nurrengaard to seek aid for Meroli," Grimwilkin told the regent before disappearing into the mists.

"We stand ready as well," Lothwein announced. "Two thousand archers and fifty thousand infantry can be ready to march within the hour."

"Pardon me, but I didn't give the order," the gnome pointed out. "How did you do this?"

"We took great liberty in making the preparations, but if there was any treason in it, it would have been only ours to bear. The ministers want to depose you and our king. Your troops and people will stand by our king as he has stood by us!" Elkinwein asserted. "As Milady here has noted correctly, it's our duty to do so."

"Cybelle, will we have your assistance in transporting the troops?" Ferali inquired.

"Do you even need to ask that? Of course! Genaria will watch things for me during the battle," she agreed.

"Then, my friends," Ferali declared, hefting his axe and allowing a spark to show in his eyes. "We are at war! Assemble the troops. We march within the hour."


[Hall of Heroes, Citadel of Nurrengaard]

Meroli the Elf paced about his banquet hall anxiously weighing Grimwilkin's words. Only minutes earlier, the wizard had appeared with the news of this renewed threat. Now war barked at the gates once again.

"You say this Creature and its minions assisted Lousain the last time?"

Grimwilkin nodded. "Indeed. Although it was not part of the siege here, still these beings lent aid to the dark wizard and the demon."

Meroli sighed. "The people tire of fighting, Grimwilkin."

"I understand that, but we have our obligation to assist those who have done the same for us. Do we not? If this realm falls, the Magog will strike at Outer Earth again. Once that falls, they will find the way here. You know I'm right," the wizard prophesized.

The elf-king stared out the window toward the Dark Realm far to the southeast. Even now, Lousain, your evil threatens us. Now it is your ally, but the threat is just as potent. After a moment's silence, he concurred, "You are correct as always, my friend." Walking to the throne, he considered the Horn of Regnarok carefully. "Once again, you sound with the message of war." Returning to the window, he blew four long doleful notes into the sunset air.

The tune announced the conflict and summoned troops to the court within the hour.

"We are with you. I will stay back and administer things here. I trust you and Ferali to lead them," Meroli told his aged friend, clapping him on the shoulder. "May the goddess be with you all."

"That is our hope as well," Grimwilkin concurred as he headed for the pavilion where the troops would congregate.

Chapter 11 [New Krypton-Four Hours following the Child's raid on the World Ship]

Clark and Lana walked along the ramparts at the city's edge, observing everything around them. They admired the advanced architecture and technology, not to mention the city's efficiency even under these circumstances.

"This is some operation, huh?" she asked.

"Yeah. I just can't believe that these are...well...our descendants," he replied with uncertainty.

"The marriage of an alien and a meteor mutant-who would have thought it would come to this?" she joked.

"Lana, that's not funny. We're not sideshow attractions, all right?" he declared.

She shrugged, trying to keep a brave face. "I didn't say we were. It's just highly unusual-a utopia here in space, reflecting both Kryptonian culture and the Professor's dream of tolerance for all beings. We were meant to be together, Clark." She raised her arms to encompass the view. "This wonderful place attests to that and will still do so after the battle."

"If it weren't for the Professor, I'd disagree with you. Somehow, he'll pull something out of his hat," he mentioned.

"He always does. You know, is it me or does he like waiting for the last minute before bringing in the cavalry?" she posed.

"There's a part of him that thrives off of panic and fear, Lana. Personally, I don't know how he's hanging in there," he noted.

"Is he? How about that side trip up there? Can he control the darkness?" she worried.

He embraced her. "He has to. Hey, he bought us some time."

"But according to Captain Hunt, the reinforcements are two days away at least. The attack could happen before then," she retorted, her eyes reflecting the uncertain feelings in her head. "Can we hold out that long?"

"We have to," he declared, kissing her. "The people here are counting on us."

When they came up for air, she pointed out several streaks in the sky. "Shooting stars, Clark!"

With his hearing, he could detect engine noise even at that distance. "Those aren't shooting stars, Lana! It's beginning! Pardon me, but we need to let the others know." He picked her up in his arms and whisked them back toward Ror-El's residence.

As they arrived, Dave opened the door and walked by them. "Go inside, Kids. We're getting ready to put things in motion."

"You know then?" Lana wondered.

"They can't sneak up on me, Lana," the medievalist declared with a bit of menace in his voice. "Don't worry about me. Both sides will play their roles when the time comes." He motioned them inside the chamber where the others awaited them.

"How'd your walk go?" Chloe asked.

Lana frowned. "It was romantic until the sight of the ships out there ruined it."

"And so it goes for a peaceful people learning the art of war," Ror-El lamented.

"Sometimes, Ror-El, peace can only be achieved through fighting for what's yours," Gabrielle reminded him.

"I suppose. On behalf of Kandor, you all have my thanks no matter how this affair turns out," the Kandorian leader expressed, hugging his wife's shoulders.

"The future matters to us and so does family, I guess," Clark assured them.

"And the same goes for us who are family by choice," Lex agreed. "That goes for Dave too."

"We few...we happy few...we band of brothers," Dave quoted, recalling the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V.

At that moment, the console buzzed urgently.

"Yes?" Ror-El answered it.

"Chief Elder, I thought you might like to know. The Magog swarm ships are starting to land to the north of the city. There is an large army marching up from the south as well," the sentry's voice reported.

"What now?" Dylan hissed. "Rommie, can your sensors pick up on this group?"

The avatar scanned around them, extending the scope to include the entire city. "Dylan, they aren't Magog. They're human and two other types of creatures."

"Elves and gnomes," Cybelle pointed out, stepping into the room and leading Grimwilkin and Ferali after her.

"I thought that the ministers wouldn't allow it," Dave assumed.

"The generals made their own decision as free people and the armies followed," Ferali replied. "They fight for their king, and with our allies."

"As does Meroli, Elf-Lord of Nurrengaard," Grimwilkin added. "He sends you all greetings."

"I guess that counts as the cavalry, Lana?" Clark teased.

She giggled, feeling a ray of hope. "It does."

"Open the energy shield and the back gate to let our allies in," Ror-El ordered into the intercom.

"As you wish, sir," the sentry agreed.

"Meantime, we need to get going with the ships," Dylan stated.

"Hey, Boss, we've got a problem," Harper reported.

"Yes, Mr. Harper?"

"One of the ships lost its A. I. It's the Wayfarer Destination," the engineer continued.

"Great," he complained. Looking at the others, Dylan reported, "We just lost a ship. Its memory is gone."

"Meaning?" Adam queried.

"Meaning, Dr. Kane, you need the artificial intelligence to run the ship," Rommie explained.

"Hey, Adam," Jesse suggested. "Could Michelle fly it with her telecyber ability?"

Adam scratched his head. "Maybe. It might be a bit much for her to handle though."

"Not if I'm with her," Emma offered.

"We can split our forces," Dave suggested. "Sebastian, Paula, Clark, Lana, Lex, Kayla, Mika, and Miri will stay here. Adam, you and Emma take the others and get to the Wayfarer."

Martin expressed, "We'll do you proud, Professor."

The medievalist clapped him on the shoulder. "I know that."

"Are you sure that Chloe needs to go?" Clark wondered.

"Chloe's powers are suited for space fighting too, Clark, in case we need her to do so. Besides...." He grinned at the blonde spitfire. "She's used to getting fired at while getting a story."

"That's a strange way of putting it, but yeah, I guess you're right," the reporter agreed. "Just watch the bald billionaire here, all right?"

"We will," Lana agreed, hugging her.

"Although it may be tough," Clark added, needling his best friend.

Lex allowed the Smirk onto his face. "Cute, Clark." He looked his wife in the eye. "Figures you draw the dangerous assignment, Sullivan."

"You know me, Luthor. All glory, especially for a good headline," Chloe retorted, flashing a brave grin.

"Come back to me," he directed.

"And you to me," she asserted, grabbing and kissing him hard.

"Time to go," Cybelle announced. "We can win this, People."

"Meantime, don't you need to address your troops, my Liege?" Ferali reminded Dave.

"I do. Clark, Lana, Xena, and Gabrielle, you're with us," Dave concurred, creating a portal. After the others had stepped through, he closed it.


The remaining citizens of New Krypton watched with awe as the two armies marched into the city from the south gate, heading for the Central Plaza. While they had been prepared to use their powers to defend the city by themselves, they were grateful for the assistance and applauded their allies.

As they reached the square, Elkenwein called, "Halt!"

In formation, the army did so, standing still as statues and waiting for their king to appear.

Two minutes later, Dave stepped onto the platform overlooking the square.

Behind him, Xena, Gabrielle, Eve, Clark, Lana, Ror-El, and Ferali observed the reinforcements.

"My friends!" Dave called. "Thank you for coming!"

As one, the group saluted him.

Dave squirmed. I'm still not used to that. I really wish they wouldn't bow to me. Well, maybe if Tyr were with them. "Today is a landmark day! Today, we stand with our friends here in Kandor! One of Lousain's allies sits just outside the gates of this city waiting to crush us! We aren't going to let that happen, are we?"

"NO, SIR!" the troops bellowed.

The three Amazons looked at each other, amazed at their friend's bearing.

"I give you the leader of this city, Ror-El. Ror-El?" Dave continued.

Ror-El stepped to the front and looked at the assembled mass. To think, I insulted him and he still brought allies. Truly, I stand corrected. "Friends, on behalf of New Krypton, I welcome you all to our city. You have our undying appreciation for your assistance. May you always be blessed in all things...."

The remaining citizens and the Commonwealth delegates cheered, lending their support.

"I wish Adam and Emma could see this," Jesse remarked.

"They did back at Sanctuary before we went off to fight the gods, remember?" Max responded.

"Oh yeah," the molecular mutant realized.

"Still, it's great to see him like this," Shalimar expressed.

"As long as he remembers who he is," Brennan hoped.

"There's no danger of him losing perspective," Xena assured him. "Not with us and Ferali on the job."

"I guess not," the electrical mutant concurred.

At that moment, their defensive armada streaked skyward. Led by the Andromeda, the fleet moved to intercept the swarm ships.

Dave saluted in that direction. Good luck, gang. Kick ass and come back safe.

"Now your leaders need to speak to you again," Ror-El concluded. "David?"

"Thank you, Ror-El. And now, I would ask that everyone please remain calm and wait in your homes. If we need you, we'll call. Now we move to the matter at hand. I want the front and back walls manned at all times! You are to have your bows and swords ready! This is going to be a nasty fight, but we'll make it together. Good luck, my friends!" Dave concluded, saluting the armies as well.

"Move out!" the generals commanded, leading the troops toward the walls.

"Now we wait," the professor-king assessed, seeing the shooting stars streaking more and more frequently. In addition, the first explosions could be seen in orbit.

The Siege of Kandor had begun.


Chapter 12 [Space]

Onboard the Andromeda, Dylan watched the view screen as they sped through the atmosphere. "Status, Andromeda?"

Andromeda's image appeared in front of him. "Magog attack fleet dead ahead of us, Dylan. We'll run into them in five minutes at our current speed."

"And the World Ship?"

The image furrowed her brow. "It is holding position next to Kandor's moon."

"Perhaps our glowing friend might have tired of our hospitality?" Beka hoped from her position on the controls.

"It's a nice thought, but I don't think so," the captain assumed. "Open a channel, Andromeda, to the other ships." When she had done so, he continued, "Armada, this is Dylan, stay in formation. We are about to engage the enemy fleet. Follow our lead. Dylan, out."

"How do you think the Wayfarer's doing?" Beka wondered.

He replied, "Trance isn't a bad pilot. Besides, Tyr has weapon's control and Harper's operating on the A. I. Let's hope that Michelle Bigellow can interface as well as she says she can."

"According to my brother, she's the best at it," Cybelle agreed from where she observed everything.

Yeah, I hope so. The pilot frowned and directed them straight ahead.


Three ships behind, Trance sat at the controls, trying to keep up with Beka's maneuvering. "It's still a little sluggish, Michelle."

Michelle nodded and wiped her brow. "This has got to be my biggest challenge yet."

"Relax and just focus," Adam urged gently.

"Absolutely," Martin concurred.

"You can do it," Chloe agreed, rubbing her shoulder. "Just pretend it's another killer exercise in the Dojo."

The geneticist shot her a wry look. "Thanks a lot, Chloe."

"Sorry, Dr. Kane, journalist needs to tell the truth," the reporter admitted, flashing him a grin.

"Yeah, well just wait until our next session," he gibed good-naturedly.

"She's got a point, Adam," Emma pointed out, managing a nervous smile. "Michelle, just relax. Everything's going to be fine." Sending waves of calming energy into her childhood friend, the psionic tried to help her.

At that moment, Michelle's image popped up on the screen. "Okay, I'm in!"

"Great. Can you use the sensors per chance?" Tyr requested, trying not to rattle the new mutant student any further.

"Talking to the ship now," Michelle told them. "Ah, okay! How's this?" She made the schematic screen appear, showing their position as well as the two fleets.

"We're coming up on them fast! Tyr, I guess you need to be ready," the telecyber assumed.

"Good assumption," the Nietzschean concurred, priming his weapons.

"How are you doing?" Dylan asked over the comm channel.

"We're fine," Trance stated. "Michelle's doing very well so far."

"Good. Because we're almost on top of them," Dylan concluded, signing off.

"You're doing great," Trance complimented. "Harper, how are you coming on those upgrades?"

From where he was lying on his back and fusing wire relays, the engineer told her. "Relax. Trust in the Harper. I'll have this thing offering Michelle more services than a Selusian actress after hours!"

Adam shook his head, recalling the other's bragging aboard the Andromeda during their last trip.

"And you would know about that?" Chloe countered.

Harper stiffened. "It just happens, Doll, that I do have some experience. Hey, beneath this exterior lurks a ladies' man, all right?"

Tyr snorted sarcastically, grinning at the developing interchange.

"Hey, stay outta this!" the engineer directed.

"First of all, I'm not a "doll". Secondly, I don't want the ship propositioning my classmate. Got it?" the Hazel Fury insisted.

"Yeah, yeah...Whatever," Harper relented. "Geez, try to make everyone feel more comfortable."

"And what are you smiling at, Mr. Macho?" Chloe turned next to Tyr. "You two need to take a page from Trance's book. She and Michelle are doing the work."

"I'll wait until we're in battle before I remind you about that," Tyr rebutted.

She shrugged, waving him off. "Yeah. Whatever. So, when does Captain Hunt say 'Engage' anyhow?"


Having left the channel on, Rommie's brow quirked in confusion. "Engage? Why would you say that?"

Dylan shrugged. "I guess that's one of those weird Roddenberry references from Earth. I wonder what else that guy thought up?"

"Yeah. It might boggle the mind," Beka agreed, maneuvering into position. "Hey, if we make it through this mess, we can find out. Right?"

"Sounds good to me," he concurred. "Okay, everyone. This is it." He gave Rommie and Beka a half-serious look. Oh what the Hell? He pointed straight ahead and commanded, "Engage!"


Back onboard the Wayfarer, Tyr informed the Earth contingent. "This is what a space battle feels like!"

Michelle's image requested, "Tyr, stop bragging and just fire!"

And I thought Andromeda was pushy. The Nietzschean took aim and began firing torpedoes. "Bays 1 through 37 are firing!" A broad stream of projectiles streaked toward the enemy vessels, taking out one per impact. "That's more like it!" he exclaimed, readying another salvo.

"Uh, we have a problem," Trance noted, looking at the screen.

"And what would that be?" the Nietschean wondered.

"More of those swarm ships are coming out of the big one," Michelle noted. "Captain Hunt!"

"Yes, Michelle?" Andromeda answered.

"Sorry, but we seem to have more Magog ships coming at us from the World Ship," the telecyber reported.

"Yes. I see now. Thank you for watching our backs. Just keep firing. Tyr, Trance, and Harper, make sure our friends are all right," the artificial intelligence declared.

"Right," Trance concurred. "Out."

Harper bounced to his feet. "Okay. I'm done. What now?"

The golden-skinned alien stood up and offered the seat. "We need you to pilot. I'm manning secondary weapons."

His jaw dropped. "In this?"

"What's the matter, 'ladies' man'? Never flew in a war before?" Chloe wondered sarcastically, arms crossed across her chest and a knowing grin.

The engineer shook his head. "Not in stuff like this."

"Relax, Harper," Emma assured him, sending waves of pleasant thoughts through him. "This is just a drill. The Captain is testing you."

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Tyr wondered.

"I'm watching everything," Michelle's image told them. "Meantime, more ships coming fast!"

"I'm on it!" Trance asserted. "Firing point defense lasers!"

Sending off three salvos, she scored two hits.

Several down, hundreds to go. Chloe mused, not liking the spectator role she had been relegated to. I wish I could be doing something.

Meantime, Michelle's mind continued to process more information. Now I'm glad I played those video games as a kid. I'll never look at them the same way again. That's for sure.


Chapter 13 [New Krypton]

Even as the first shots echoed up in space, the Magog horde encircled the city, growling and beating on the weakening remnants of the energy shield. Soon, the orange barrier would be gone. Once it was, their god promised a bloodbath like no other.


Just on the other side of the wispy energy, Dave shook his head angrily. We just left this dance. He was in the process of inspecting his archers' lines along New Krypton's outer ramparts. Each man, elf, gnome, and Kandorian-yes, there were several who volunteered their services for this effort-held their bows at the ready and quivers near at hand.

Seeing the anxiousness on the faces of the defenders, he rubbed his left shoulder. Damn thing.

"My Liege, are you all right?" one elf asked.

"Yes. Thank you. How are you holding up?" Dave inquired.

"With you here, fantastic! You may not remember me, Sire, I fought in the Dark Land with you and our regent. This is like old times, isn't it?" the archer stated.

The Ruthwenian king looked at his regent and then realized the elf's name. "Yes, you are Triander. I salute you on this night, sir." He clasped the elf's hand. "Once again, as you stood with Harokin and Xena, I ask you to stand firm and hold the line. Trust me, these creeps aren't as tough as trolls."

"And you would know, Sire," Triander agreed, grinning. "I'll fight until the last breath is gone."

"Splendid," Ferali indicated, clapping the warrior on the hip. "And that goes for the rest of you as well! Soon, the energy shield will collapse and that hairy horde will surge forth! Drive them back! As Triander has reminded you all, we who have fought in the Dark Land against the infernal wizard, Lousain, and his demon allies know how to fight and win with honor. Your king has seen this threat and fought it head on."

Dave continued, "We can win, my friends. Tonight, we will hold the line. When this is over, God and goddess willing, we'll celebrate this event. This is not a vain attempt for glory! Can the Kandorians here raise their hands please?"

Along the line, five hundred hands went up.

"Excellent! And to you all, you have my respect. Fight well and live with honor! For your Founders!" Dave told them.

The contingent cheered in spite of their straits.

["Dave?" Angie asked.]

["Hey, Princess. I thought Xena was in charge right now on the south wall."]

["She is. She wanted me to let you know everyone's in position here," the doctor informed him.]

["Be careful, all of you. Hey, Angie, remember, I love you," he reminded her.]

["And I, you," she concluded, breaking off the contact.]

"What is it?" Ferali wondered.

"Xena and Gabrielle's forces are in position along the south wall," Dave reported. "I'll be back. Everyone, hold positions, it won't be long now!"

He clomped into the tower, his armor clanging with each step he took up the winding staircase. At the top, he knocked on the thick wooden door. "How's it going in there, guys?"

The door opened, and Miri stuck her head out. "We're ready, Uncle Dave. Is everyone in position?"

"Yes. But I wanted to talk with you all for a second before we rush into this mess," he replied, entering the room. There he found the new mutant students trying to deal with their nerves. "You're scared, aren't you?" he asked, a kind smile on his face.

"Sorry, Professor," Samantha apologized. "We heard your war and glory speech from the wall. It must be easier when you've faced it before."

"It never gets easier, Samantha. I really hate to expose you all to this fighting. War is brutal and nasty. That's why I didn't take any of you with us to face the Olympians. Your optimism and well...innocence are admirable. Miri lost hers at two years of age in the troll pit. I took the hit in the left shoulder at the same time. I don't want any of you to suffer with hate or rage as I do. However, you do need to defend what you find valuable," Dave told her.

"And there is the fact that these folks are Clark and Lana's family," Kayla reminded them.

"Guys, we can't ask you to fight or to die for us," Clark sighed.

"Clark?" Miranda asked.


"To quote your little sister-you're such a blockhead. I'm with you and my uncle," she asserted, hugging the medievalist. "I didn't get my shot at the trolls, but I'll do my role to protect this place."

"As I will," Sebastian stated.

"I'm in," Paula asserted.

"So am I," Samantha declared.

Looking about the room, Dave nodded. "You have no idea how proud I am of you all. You know, in seven weeks-it'll be a year since we came together for the first time in Tucson. One year. Look at all of you. One way or the other, I'm so very proud of each of you."

"And we are of you too, Dave," Lex added. "Your control has improved dramatically."

"Due to the support," the medievalist countered. "All right. Remember the troll battle sequence from the Dojo? I'm going to let the archers launch a few salvos into their furry asses. Then, we're going to hit them from the sky and the ground. Paula, dragon fire. Lex, earthquake. Sebastian and Samantha, water and air. Martin and Kayla, engage them directly but be careful, they do swarm."

"And what about us?" Lana demanded, motioning to herself and Clark. "We get a role too!"

"Lana, if you get hurt or worse, the future goes to pot," Dave disagreed.

"Professor, it's our job," the Kryptonian argued forcefully. "They can't hurt me."

"Unless they know about the meteors, I'd agree," Dave conceded. "Sorry, you're right." Then he got an idea. "In fact, Lana, I just thought of something." He leaned over and whispered in her ear.

She nodded. "If that's what it takes, I can do it."

"Thank you, Lana. Don't worry; it's going to be okay. Clark, I didn't ask her to get hurt or anything. Relax," Dave assured them.

"That's a relief," the farm boy expressed.

"Come on, I wouldn't do that to you, especially after that mess with the Olympians," the medievalist noted. "Come on, huddle up." When his companions had done so, he told them, "Fight well. Come back safe. Got me? We fight as a team. We go home as a team. We protect our legacy and our home. Are you with me?"

"Yes, sir!" they all cheered.

As they stood up, they saw that Lex and Kayla were with them. "Thanks, guys."

"Hey, Dave, solidarity and all of that stuff, you know? Besides, my wife's flying around in that dogfight up there. Imagine the crap I'd catch if she found out I bailed?" the billionaire chuckled, the Smirk very prominent on his face.

"And I will do what I must," the reincarnated skin walker agreed. "Clark, Lana, Chloe, and Lex are my friends as are all of you. If you will have me, I will fight alongside you."

"No argument. Just be careful," Dave requested, rubbing her shoulder. "Let's go, gang."

With that, they headed for the wall.


On the south wall, Xena scanned the plains beyond the walls. Through the orange haze and the darkness beyond, she could make out the fires from the Magog's torches and hear their screeches below. "Here we go again," she muttered grimly.

"Just like old times, right?" Gabrielle inquired, sais at the ready, javelin strapped in a back holster as a backup.

"Takin' a page from my book, huh?" the Warrior Princess cracked.

"If it works, go with it," the Amazon queen retorted.

"Absolutely," Brennan concurred from where he stood with Jesse, Shalimar, and Max. "Hey, smart thinking and all that, right?"

"You betcha," Xena asserted, glad that Mutant X was there with them.

"What are they doing, Mother?" Eve inquired, holding her sword at the ready and staring into the orange-tinted darkness.

"They're trying to scare us," Xena surmised grimly. "Eve, did you or Lucius ever run into the Palmyra?"


Gabrielle sighed, "How about the Horde? That's their tribal name."

Eve shook her head. "No. I've heard of them. However, the peoples in Germania massed and howled much like these beings. Is there no way to reason with them?"

"None," Xena asserted. "Rev Bem says different, but they're animals who would just as soon kill you." Seeing the two generals approach them, she asked, "Yeah?"

"Xena, we're ready. Give the word," Elkinwein told her.

His human counterpart indicated. "They are massing to the north and south."

"What about the mountain tops?" Gabrielle wondered. "What if they attack from above?"

"David's got that planned out," Eve assured her.

"Yeah. I'm sure," the Thracian warrior growled. On the outcropping ridges just beyond the city walls, she could see loose rocks piled precariously, waiting to fall. Gripping her chakram, she waited for the right moment.

On cue, the field vanished entirely, exposing the city to assault.

"Time for your come-uppance!" Xena growled, flinging her weapon into the darkness.

It caromed off several crevices, vanishing into the darkness.

"What did you do that for?" Luthwen wondered. "You just lost your weapon."

"Hey, I wouldn't doubt her, all right?" Max spat, not liking the derogatory remark toward a fellow sister.

Xena arched her eyebrow, allowing a satisfied grin on her face. "Ya think so, General? Listen. Above their racket."

The group heard nothing at first.

Then a few rocks fell, echoing into the night.

The Magog howled, not knowing what this meant.

Suddenly, twin avalanches fell onto the hairy horde, crushing half of their southern advance beneath tons of granite.

"By the goddess!" Elkenwein exclaimed. "That was amazing!"

"Told you so," Max chuckled, satisfied with his expression.

Extending her hand, Xena caught her chakram and returned it to her belt. Drawing her sword, she ordered, "Now get ready! Archers! Fire!"

As one, the archers fired a rain of arrows down onto the Magog, inflicting severe damage.


[Five Minutes Earlier]

Ferali watched as the orange haze grew increasingly dim. It won't be long now. David, come on now. Give the word.

Just then, Dave and the students hustled toward him. Some of the latter wore battle armor. The shape shifters chose to go without the constrictive material.

"How are we doing?" the king asked.

"The field grows weaker by the second. I see the students are here," the gnome assessed. "You do us proud, young ones. Know that we all have faith in you."

"Thanks, Ferali," Clark replied. "It's the least we can do, you know?"

"Right," Lana concurred. "And we're glad you're here with us. Thank you." She kissed the gnome's forehead.

Ferali blushed in spite of himself. "Lady, you favor me too much. You are my friends and I stand by all of you."

At that moment, the field vanished completely.

"Show time," Dave announced, drawing his sword and holding it high in the air. "Archers! Fire!"

The bow-beings fired as one, sending volley after volley into the Magog horde.

"You got some of them," Lana reported, feeling the call of the dying creatures.

"Good. Because that's the start!" Dave asserted, looking in back of them. "How's the catapult coming?"

"Catapult?" Lex asked.

"Yeah, catapult," Dave retorted. "When two torches are lit, it's ready." Seeing the two torches, he yelled, "Make sure the damn thing clears the wall!"

The operator lit a third torch as a "Yes, sir" signal. A moment later, the catapult flung its projectile-a massive missile-over their heads and the wall. With its range, it easily hit in the center of the Magog horde. On impact, it splattered a large amount of thick white liquid everywhere.

"That's a first, Dave. Firing a weapon like that from within a city," Lex remarked dryly.

"And I take it you just shot a load of your 'touch'?" Miri assumed.

"Oh wait. It gets better!" the medievalist gibed. Then he heard an explosion from the south. "Shit! What the Hell?"

"That sounded like the southern wall!" Ferali exclaimed.

Lana shook her head, turning white. "No. A huge avalanche crushed more Magog. They're dying in droves."

"Damn! Figures Xena would win that one," Dave sighed. "Well, I owe Angie dinner when we get out of here. Paula, you're up next."

Paula nodded and changed into her dragon form. She soared high over the Magog's ranks.

The aliens began to turn their weapons on her.

"Lex, give her some cover!" Dave ordered.

"Right," the billionaire agreed, focusing on the rocky plain in front of the city. Sending waves of energy into it, he triggered a massive tremor, tearing up the ground and further scattering the Magog's forces.

Seeing her opportunity, Paula uncorked a massive plume of fire, setting off the chemicals.

Within seconds, fire swept through the Magog ranks, dropping still thousands more as they advanced.

"They're still coming!" Samantha gasped.

"Of course they are," Ferali stated. "I'd say we're going to have some hand to hand fighting before the end of the night."

Seeing a group of fifty goop-covered Magog approaching the city walls. "Damn! Clark, light this!" He held up a shaft with an explosive tip and wick.

Clark used his heat vision to light it.

"Thanks!" Dave agreed, aiming at, firing at, and hitting the group.

The Magog stragglers had no chance, dropping in a well-done heap.

"Archers! Keep going!" Dave urged.

Once again, the fire of arrows fell on the Magog, forcing them back.


Brennan watched as the Magog got closer despite the archers' effort. It seemed to him that for every creature they killed, ten more sprung up. "Xena, when do we attack?"

"Not yet," Xena asserted. "We're okay as long as the walls hold!"

"Xena! Look!" Gabrielle pointed out. "What is that?"

Eve looked at the field in front of them. In front of them, a massive glowing creature appeared in the midst of the fallen Magog and screamed to the sky.

"Man, what the Hell is that?" Shalimar inquired.

"Remember that screeching you heard earlier? That thing's the source," Xena pointed out.

"What did Dave call it? 'The Spirit of the Abyss' or something like that?" Jesse wondered.

The Spirit fired a fire blast at the wall, shaking the city.

"Brennan, ya know that fight ya wanted? I think ya just got it!" Xena growled. "Infantry, get ready!" she called. "And I'd say the same for the rest of us!"

["Angela?" Xena asked.]

["You want me to tell Dave?" her 'roommate' wondered.]

["Do it!"]

Turning to her closest companions, she told them, "Let's get to the gate. It's time." Before leaving, she added to the two generals, "Keep firing. We're gonna reinforce the gate."

"Right," the elf commander concurred.

With that, the Warrior Princess started down the stairs, heading for the south gate. But as she did, the Spirit had vanished.

"What in Tartarus?" she wondered. "Where'd it go?"

With their feral hearing, Shalimar and Max heard the Spirit's screeching. "It's still here!"

As the sextet hit the bottom of the stone stairs, they found it waiting for them.

The Spirit bellowed in rage and fired a blast at them.

"Get back!" Jesse asserted, massing out and shrugging off the flames.

"My turn!" Brennan added, firing twin electrical blasts at the creature and staggering it.

"Good one!" Xena cheered.

Before the standoff could continue, the mists suddenly formed from nowhere, dropping over the Spirit and snatched it away.

"What the?" Jesse wondered.

"David and the Child just took the battle into their own hands," Xena hissed. "Come on, that door's about to collapse!" I hope he's not going to be a complete idiot. Hearing the twin screams from across the city, she sighed. Damn. He just lapsed!

Eve looked skyward. Be with Dave now, Eli. Please.


"What are you doing?" Ferali bellowed at Dave, momentarily forgetting the latter's position.

"I'm taking Glow Boy," the king told him pointedly, the darkness clearly evident on his face.

Now in front of the city, the Spirit bellowed another challenge to the defenders.

In response, Dave lapsed completely.

The Child retorted with a banshee scream of his own before adding, "Yeah, yeah, Ah'm comin'! Kids, Ah've got business down there!"

At that moment, the front gate collapsed, allowing the Magog to spill into the city.

"Aw, crud! Who let 'em in? Git yer asses down there! Ya'll know what to do!" the Dark One spat. "Fer-ali, lead 'em."

"Right," the gnome concurred, knowing there was no reasoning with the dark persona. "Let's go! Half of you are with us! The others will hold their ground!"

The Child took one last look at the students before vaulting the wall and levitating into the mess.

Half-burned Magog charged him.

"Ah don't have time fer this!" the Dark One screamed, blasting a path through them for himself. Seeing the Spirit's glow, he challenged, "Hey, Chicken Shit! 'Mon! Fight me!"

The Spirit urged the Magog wave forward.

And the Child shrugged. "Yer loss, Asswipes!" Pointing into the horde, he threw dark fire in all directions, dropping the creatures. "Git back or Ah'll give ya'll more!" Feeling their anguish, he allowed the pain to seep through the sword shard and into him. Once again, he turned dark. Red fire surrounded his form. Finally, the right eye opened. "Now, Ah'm pissed!"

"Stay away from him!" Clark yelled, landing beside him. Without a second thought, he launched into the Magog's flank, knocking several creatures out with each punch.

"What are ya'll doin'? Are ya nuts?" the Child hissed.

"We aren't leaving you," Samantha asserted, knocking several more creatures out with a powerful wind jet.

"And if you think I'm letting you go off by yourself, you're deluded!" Ferali asserted, swinging his axe. "You're my honor brother! Besides, we're not hiding behind some city wall!"

"That goes for me too!" Deirdre yelled, taking out adversaries with her spells.

"Clean up...the crap then!" the Child spat. "Ah've got a date with Glow Boy!" Releasing one more burst, he knocked the remaining twenty Magog from his path to the Spirit.

The Magog god screamed at him.

The Child simply grinned and fired again, knocking it back. " 'Mon, Boy! Ah'm waitin'!"

The other dark creature uncorked a fire blast, staggering his opponent.

"Hey, Ah felt that!" the Child roared. Charging forward, he engaged the creature hand to hand.

For a good twenty minutes, the two dark entities hit each other with everything from fists to energy blasts to fire. However, at the end of that session, they both remained standing.

The Spirit screamed in rage and astonishment. [No creature has resisted me like this! ]

The Child growled, equally perturbed at this situation. "Yer a first, Boy! But Ah'll whup ya yet!"

At that moment, Dave's sword began to glow, the light being seen through the sheath.

The Child felt the energy and took the cue. Looking toward the sky, he hissed, "Ya'll want me to use this, don't cha? Fine!" Drawing the sword with his right hand, he uncorked another dark blast with his left, stunning the Spirit. "Closin' time, Bud! Last call at the Whuppin' Post!" With that, he drove the blade deep into the manifestation's chest-or what seemed to be its chest.

The Spirit writhed. [What? That hurt! How? I...ARRGGH!] As it died, it stared at the Child who waved sarcastically.

"Bye, bye, Buttwipe. Give mah best to yer buddies!"

With a last scream, the Spirit shook violently.

"Aw shit!" the Child yelled, hitting the turf as the Spirit exploded.

The flames hit the Magog within ten feet and scorched the Child's back in the process.

"That hurt! Damn it!" the Child snarled, forcing himself to stand. From what he was feeling, he knew his back was badly burned. However, hearing the Magog still advancing, he groused. "Stupid fuckers!"

"Uncle!" Deirdre called, remembering the Dark One's preferences as she rushed over to his side.

"Professor!" Clark called, knocking two more Magog into the ground.

The remaining dozen Magog did something totally out of character. They ran out of fear of the dark entity behind them.

The Child laughed maniacally. "Run, Boys! Run! Ya can run but ya'll can't hide!"

His daughter/niece cringed. I know this is necessary, but it still gives me the willies. Goddess, help him. Help them both.

Ferali took out two of them with his axe before seeing his honor's brother's darker half. By the goddess, how will we heal him this time?

"We got 'em good, didn't we?" the Child wondered.

"Yeah we did," Clark agreed, looking around the landscape. All around him, Ferali, the Professor, and Paula, trillions of hairy corpses littered the ground. "Let's hope the others are doing as well inside of New Krypton."

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