David J. Duncan
Above the events on Earth, Michael observed them
through the view portal. "So, he finally acts."
"He's being cautious, Michael," Raphael
observed at his side.
"And he still has his scruples," Lorenzo
pointed out. "His conscience won't permit a foolhardy expedition."
"And yet, the Child yearns for it,
Lorenzo," Michael argued.
"The Child wants revenge for a situation
that-with all due respect-you provoked, Michael," Lorenzo countered.
"In addition, you have revealed another piece of his lineage to him."
"Yes. Well, he's an exile no longer,"
the blond archangel surmised. "If he survives this clash, he will have the
chance to rule in his true role. Don't say I haven't done him any favors."
And what of the blood on his conscience? How will
that affect him? Thinking that, the deceased grandfather continued to watch the
events unfolding below.
Ares stood against the back wall of the gods'
temple, musing over the unfolding drama. While the majority of his followers had
answered the summons, Rome had remained silent. Octavius still remembers my role
in Livia's rebellion. Once this situation is resolved, I'll teach him a lesson
he will never forget.
"There's still time, Ares," Aphrodite
"Time for what?" he inquired.
"Time to end this mess," she said
hopefully. "Time to set things right."
He snickered ruefully. "You've been into that
strong wine again, Sis? It's already too late. Athena and the others thought the
threat would be ended with Xena's death as well as Eve's."
"I opposed their plans too, remember?"
the love goddess inquired. "Dubois' desperation won't be denied."
"That's one way of putting it," he
concurred. "Still, Athena has commanded that we go to war. I'm not prepared
to say no to her over this. I do think, however, a little caution is needed,
especially given Dubois' dark side."
"What of it, Bro?" Athena wondered.
"He caught us off guard before. We'll be ready next time."
"Famous last words, Sis," Ares
countered. "You haven't seen him fight. I have. We should try to talk with
"The god of war running away from a fight?
With a mortal no less? Ares, this is rich!" Athena laughed.
"Hey!" he bellowed. "I'm no coward!
But, unlike you, I'm not an idiot either! Trust me, this mortal isn't your
typical warrior! And he won't be coming alone either."
"That's why we have our troops," the
head goddess asserted.
"And he has his friends too," he argued.
"Whatever, Ares. Just be ready to fight when
the time comes. Or we might question your desires as well. Perhaps your feelings
for Xena are clouding your judgment?"
"Leave her outta this!" he snarled
indignantly. "I know what I have to do. I'm just not in a hurry to commit
suicide is all."
"Both of you remember your places when the
time comes," Athena repeated, disappearing into thin air.
He looked at Aphrodite and shook his head. This is
gonna get messy. Real messy.
Chapter 9 [Kent Farm, Smallville-Two hours after
meeting with Grimwilkin and Ferali]
Dave stood by the back fence of the Kents'
property, watching the grass sway in the breeze. From Sanctuary, he, the twins,
and Adam had stopped in Tucson to get Nick and Garth as well as their gear
before heading to the Midwest. For the twins' sake, he decided to keep them
here. If the gods attacked, it would be in Tucson. If they strike here, I'm sure
Clark and the others will give them a reception they won't forget.
Looking at the sky, he saw a line of gray on the
horizon. Storm clouds are brewing. Fitting omen.
"They say the air changes before a
storm," Lex declared. "I guess that's true in more ways than
Dave glanced at his long time friend skeptically.
"Since when did you become the weather man?"
"Having a father such as mine or yours will
do that to you," the billionaire replied. "But then, that's why you're
about to go off on this crusade, aren't you?"
"Lex, the world always tries to take what's
yours. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself," the professor stated.
"My sentiments exactly. Nice outfit by the
way. Practicing what you preach, I see?"
Dave frowned. "This isn't reenactment stuff.
This is real war. Beings get hurt. Beings die. As much as the kids like to think
otherwise, life isn't about rainbows and happy endings."
"It isn't all about darkness and strife
either, Dave. True, you've seen more than your share, but remember, there are
those who would help you share the burden."
Dave stared at Lex, thinking of what to say to the
younger man. "Being a king means being alone."
"No man is an island, especially when you
have able counselors. Your gnome buddy for one and then, there are the others.
Finally, I know a certain bald businessman who kicks ass with his
strategies," Lex retorted.
Dave managed a grin at the last comment. "Oh
really? And what would he tell me now?"
"Be careful, kick ass, finish this business,
and bring Angie and yourself back here safely. Don't worry, Karen, the students,
and I can watch things here. Now, come on, it's time. Streaker's waiting,"
the businessman directed.
"Right," Dave sighed, opening a mist
portal. "After you."
His friend walked into the fog and he followed,
heading for the barn.
As he paced around in back of the Kents' barn,
Nick felt anxious about the situation. Despite the Faerie Empress' protective
dust, he remained uncertain about walking about in the afternoon sunshine. While
it felt liberating to do so, his instincts screamed at him to run for cover. Is
it the sun or the threat of more war? His heart felt heavy. At least the
students won't be exposed to the main front.
Taking a deep breath, he walked over toward the
Adam looked over his charges with a practiced eye.
Since founding Mutant X, he had come up with ways to enhance the team members'
abilities. Brennan had his insulated gloves. Jesse had a mini-breathing
apparatus, allowing him to phase and mass for long periods of time. Shalimar and
Max had light yet impenetrable tunics. Emma had a bracelet that projected a
protective field about herself, preventing other empaths from using her
sensitivity against her.
"Hopefully, this gear will put the odds in
your favor, guys. I don't have to tell you to watch out, but this is a full
scale battle you're going into," the geneticist cautioned.
"We've been there before, Adam," Brennan
"Not like this, you haven't," Dave
asserted as he and Lex approached. "You aren't going to be on the main
front. You're coming with me to take on the Pantheon." Seeing their
surprise, he queried, "Do you really think I would walk in there without
"The Child would," Emma informed him.
"I'm not the Child though," the
medievalist disagreed. "And these are some serious characters we're going
"Like that Ares guy from the database?"
"He's one of them. Yes." Dave growled
slightly, as he paced about.
"Nice armor, Dave," Adam complimented.
"Thanks. Take a good look because it's one of
the few times you'll see it here on Outer Earth. I can do this only under
extreme circumstances," the medievalist explained as he checked his bow,
arrows and sword. Well, we really need to get going."
"You got it," Garth agreed as he trudged
forward in his elf armor and the cloak of invisibility hanging down his back.
"Just like old times, huh?"
"Hey, we have a job to do. Go in. Kick the
bad guys' butts. Save the girl. Party afterwards," Dave deadpanned
sarcastically, hiding his own anxiousness.
"Just come back safely, all right?"
Clark requested from the porch where he, his parents, and classmates watched the
"We will," Dave agreed. God willing.
Putting two fingers to his mouth, he whistled two piercing notes into the
In response, Streaker galloped rapidly toward
them. Like lightning, he whizzed across the space, his hooves barely touching
"Thank you, my friend," Dave expressed
as he climbed on the black Andalusian's back and opened the portal. "Okay,
guys, the bus is leaving!"
Mutant X, Garth, and Nick walked into the mists,
disappearing from view.
Dave took a last look at his friends and students
before vowing, "I will bring them back with me." With that, he
vanished into the mists as well, leaving no trace behind.
For a minute, the remaining onlookers stared at
the point where the group had vanished. Granted, their world had remained the
same so far. However, if the others had failed, what consequences would the
inaction have on them and everything else?
Chapter 10 [Assembled troops' camp-Base of Mount
LaCroix paced impatiently about the complex.
Granted, he knew that all things took time to develop, however he expected Dave
and the others to be there by that point. I thought he wanted this revenge as
"He'll be here," Cybelle advised,
stepping forward to meet him.
"Yes, well...he's certainly taking his time
deciding about whether to do so," he retorted tersely.
"Some of us actually have a conscience,
Lucius. Something that you might want to remember," she jabbed.
He shook his head. "Consciences don't get us
"In some things, they do. Think. Would you
want to lead these troops to their doom? I don't think so!" she snapped.
"Dave's being careful. I'm sure he's gathering allies. In fact..." She
gazed to the camp's eastern edge.
Through the mists, Mutant X, Garth and Nick
stepped into view followed by Dave and Garth on horseback.
"If you'll excuse me," she said, turning
toward her brother. "Hey, Dave, you're five minutes late."
"So sue me," the medievalist replied
grimly, dismounting. "How are we looking?"
"Everyone's ready to go on our signal,"
she reported. "Thank you all for coming."
"You know me. Meroli calls. I come,"
"And we're happy to stand by Dave this
time," Shalimar agreed. "Besides Max can stand a little live
"You've got that right," the other feral
"Don't worry. You'll get your chance soon
enough," Dave assured her. "When are we meeting?"
"Follow me," the priestess urged.
"The others are waiting."
"Be right back," the medievalist told
the others, walking toward the red tent. Inside, the other leaders analyzed the
battlefield and the anticipated opponents. "Sorry to keep you
"We're just getting started," Varia
stated. "I was just telling the others that our scouts have seen
Cleopatra's guard, several temple armies, as well as those men still loyal to
the old gods massing at the base of Mount Olympus. They're slightly above
300,000 in number."
"We outnumber them more than 2 to 1. Still,
we should take care of the gods first," LaCroix indicated.
"Not to mention the Furies," the Amazon
queen pointed out. "They'll be waiting for you up in the temple as
"Let them," Cybelle declared. "We
have our own secret weapon against them."
"We do?" Meroli asked.
"Indeed. They can only deal out madness and
persecution. And who do we know like that?" Grimwilkin pointed out.
They all looked at Dave.
"They won't stop me," he told them all.
"And they won't stop the Child. Anyhow, are the priestesses in
"They are. They're ready to transport our
troops," Cybelle agreed. "What about Mutant X?"
"They're coming with me. LaCroix, I'm
trusting you and Nick to lead the troops on the ground. Ferali, you will lead
the Ruthvenians in my absence," Dave stated.
The General curled his lip angrily. He wanted a
shot at Ares personally. Still, he could see Dave's point. "Very
well," he relented.
"We'll be ready," the gnome agreed.
"Garth, ready for a fight?"
"Always. You may not see me, but I'll be
there," the agent concurred.
"Very well then," Meroli concluded.
"Prepare the troops. We move out within the hour."
Sure enough, the entire legion stood assembled and
ready at the camp's edge in just over an hour. Everyone stood in formation.
To the right, the main force tensed. After barely
setting aside old differences, the troops stood shoulder to shoulder. At the
head, Ferali, Nick, Garth, and LaCroix sat on their steeds ready to charge.
On the left, Dave and Mutant X awaited the signal
"These are really the Greek gods?" Max
asked in disbelief.
"They are...soon to be they were," Dave
told her. "Ready?" Seeing nods from his friends, he pointed to Cybelle.
"Take care, Dave. I'll be up there as soon as
I can be," the priestess vowed, signaling to the others in her order.
As one, the priestesses opened a massive portal,
allowing the army access to the battle site.
"Dubois, teach Ares some respect!"
LaCroix yelled as he vanished into the mists.
"Count on it!" the medievalist bellowed
back as the portal disappeared. Opening another doorway, he told the others,
"It's time to kick some major league ass!" Ushering them all through,
he closed the gateway behind them.
Now there was no turning back.
[Army camp-Base of Mount Olympus]
Even as the allied army moved through the mists
toward them, the gods' forces relaxed, not thinking that their enemies would
arrive anytime soon. As a result, the troops relaxed despite their masters'
"It's a beautiful night, isn't it, Marcellius?"
the general, a man by the name of Rogelius, wondered.
"It is, sir. Was it on a night like this that
you served with General Lucius?" Marcellius asked.
"It was indeed," the leader recalled.
"We wiped out those heathen priestesses like so much straw before a scythe.
The Amazons fell to us as well."
"General!" a cavalryman reported.
The leader looked to the west of the encampment to
see the fog creeping over the mountains. "It is a cool night after
"Not that cool. With all due respect, sir, we
should get the men ready. Certainly your time with the General indicated as
"Lucius was a jumpy fool. After Pompeii,
we'll never have to worry about his ilk again."
"No?" a familiar voice asked from the
thickening mist. "Loyalty, it seems, is overrated."
Marcellius' eyes bulged as he spun to face the
immortalized form of his former commander. "G...general? But how?"
"As you die, you'll find out!" LaCroix
hissed, vamping out and drinking deeply from his former subordinate. Dropping
the now dead commander to the turf, he scoffed, "Fool, am I? The joke's
indeed on you and those pathetic godlings." With that, he remounted his
horse and rode off toward the developing fray.
Meantime, Ferali and Nick had charged their
adversaries' main line, catching them unprepared. Many of the latter didn't even
have a chance to put on their armor or grab their weapons before the allies'
forces surrounded and captured them. After only ten minutes, the Pantheon was
"Good work," Ferali complimented the
troops. "And thanks to our allies, the way is clear for David and Mutant X
to complete the mission."
Good luck, guys. Garth sighed, looking up the
mountain toward the clouds obscuring the top.
Artemis slipped back into the temple, aghast at
the sight below. Our best fighters and followers defeated without a single sword
clash! How can that be? Making her way down three marble-lined halls, the
archer-goddess entered the main hall.
The remaining gods looked at her discontentedly.
"I told ya, Sis," Ares snarled angrily.
The defeat of his greatest fighting force irritated him to no end, especially in
this fashion and to these particular adversaries.
"We'll deal with the mortals, Ares,"
Athena replied curtly, rubbing her head impatiently. "No matter the size,
this is our domain."
"Besides, Uncle, we have enough fire power to
deal with Dubois too!" Deimos cackled.
Ares glowered at his nephew, growling,
"Think, you fool! This mortal pest isn't going to leave us alone! Trust me.
He'll come here. Get ready."
"Whatever," Deimos dismissed
sarcastically. No mortal was going to get the better of them in a fight,
especially on their turf and with them prepared.
The Furies looked about with interest, their
senses picking up on a sudden burst of extreme emotion.
Finally, the blonde leader stated, "This is
odd. We have never felt a disturbance such as this!"
The gods turned to see the mists form in the
From them, Dave and Mutant X stepped into the
"Well, well, a party and nobody invited
us," the medievalist cracked, looking around. "Spread out, guys."
Seeing the war god, he deadpanned, "Hey, Ares. You need some help on the
interior decorating around here."
That's it! "Like it's gonna matter to
you!" the war god retorted, throwing caution to the wind and a fire ball at
Jesse jumped in front of Dave and massed out,
allowing the flames to bounce off of himself.
"Nice save. Thanks," the professor
stated. "But now, I'm really ticked!" Generating a pulse of his own,
he blasted Ares into the far wall. "Stay put!"
"Furies!" Athena bellowed.
The scantily clad trio cackled with amusement.
"Hear us! This mortal has attacked several gods. We punish him with
persecution and madness!" The blonde Fury raised her fist and gave the
Dave quivered a bit, feeling their energies rip at
his mind. "GRRARRAGH!" He held his head in his hands as his
"That was a big mistake!" Emma yelled,
mentally blasting the trio and disrupting the process.
"Ya'll can say that 'gain!" the Child
sniggered, the smile spreading across his face. "Hey, Sweets, Ah got news
fer ya! Ah am pain an' anger! Ah'm perse-whatever ya'll said an' sharin' time
with Big Bro.! Ya'll can't hurt us! But Ah can hurt ya'll!" Pointing at the
trio, fire came from his hands, scorching them badly.
A second later, the Furies fell to the floor,
burned to death.
"Who's next?" the Child growled. Turning
to his allies, he ordered, "Git 'em!"
The new mutants approached their adversaries
warily, not knowing what to expect.
Artemis fired shaft after shaft at Max and
Shalimar, the latter dodging each one and keeping her busy.
Brennan went electrobolt to electrobolt with Ares.
Emma matched Athena, pulse for pulse.
Deimos cackled maniacally and threw himself at the
Child. "You're dead!"
The Dark One smirked and firing his bow, buried a
shaft deep in the deity's chest, dropping him like a bad habit. "'Nother
one bites the dust. What's he-God of Jackasses?"
"God of chaos actually," Ares corrected
darkly, firing another blast, knocking Brennan across the room. "And my
"Life's a bitch!" the Child snapped,
returning fire and driving his enemy backward. "Deal w' it!" Willing
up another mega blast, he uncorked on the war god, driving him through the wall
and leaving the latter badly wounded. "Stay put!"
"Hey, how about some help over here?"
Max yelled, connecting with a kick to Artemis' midsection and stunning the
latter for a minute.
"Whine, whine, whine," he growled.
"Crap!" He fired another fire blast, taking out Artemis as well.
"Some people do all of the work!"
From where she was fighting Emma, the head goddess
saw that she was alone. "Get away from me!" she yelled, blasting the
psionic aside with a vicious pulse. Willing up another blast, she prepared to
finish off the red-headed mortal.
"Ya shouldn't of done that, Bitch!" the
Child growled, firing a blast of his own and knocking the goddess back.
"No mortal does that to me!" she
snapped, flying toward him.
The Child laughed. "You're jus' too
easy!" Throwing five arrows in the air, he telekinetically fired them in
Athena dodged them all with ease. Unfortunately in
doing so, she backed right into another fire blast. "Un...believ...able,"
she coughed, hitting the ground.
He glowered at his companions while stalking
around the room. "Ya'll okay?"
"Yeah," Brennan replied, holding his
"We'll live," Shalimar added.
"That was something else," Jesse stated,
scratching his head.
"Ya'll did good," the Child
complimented, helping Emma up from the floor. "How are ya doin'?"
"Umm...I have a headache. Otherwise, I'm
fine," the psionic advised him. "What's going on? Are the
"They're dead, 'cept fer Ares and Aphiedite,"
the Dark One informed her.
"Well done indeed," Cybelle agreed,
entering the room and admiring the handiwork. "Still, Ares won't go along
"Maybe I ain't got a choice," Ares
croaked, staggering back into the room. "I can see when the deck's not in
my favor. Besides, I cut a deal of my own. "
"Deal? What friggin' deal?" the Child
"I keep my powers and immortality in exchange
for giving up the god thing. Sounds good to me," the former war god
reported. "Hey, it's the best deal I can get."
"And you should be reunited with your wife
and friends," Aphrodite added, materializing in the corner. "I made
the same deal. Just do me a favor, guys? Say hi to Xena and Gabrielle? And a
note to David when he comes to-love won't be denied." She supported her
brother and advised, "Come on, Ares. Let's get you to a place where you can
rest. See you all later." With that, the two immortals vanished.
"That's incredible. To think we just took on
the Greek gods," Jesse said in disbelief.
"Yes, you did," the priestess replied,
opening the portal. "Let's go. The others are waiting for us."
The others stepped through and vanished from the
As she followed, Cybelle mused, Despite the gods'
best efforts, the age of monotheism will come about. Out with the old and in
with the new, no matter what it costs us all. With that, she stepped into the
misty doorway, vanishing from sight.
Chapter 12 [Battle site-Base of Mount
Olympus---twenty minutes later]
LaCroix inspected the prisoners with a satisfied
eye. To think they thought they could get along without me. He grinned, thinking
of several possible penalties for the defeated troops.
"Ferali and the others have decided to
release them when Dave and the others get back," Nick informed him.
"Really? Fools. They deserve death for their
misguided allegiance," the General asserted.
"LaCroix, let it drop! The gods are
dead," the former Crusader stated.
His former master's eyebrow arched. "Really?
That link of yours again, I trust?"
Nick nodded. "The Child just finished them
"You lie!" one of the captive
centurions, a burly dark skinned warrior, snapped.
"No," Nick disagreed. "I felt my
friend change after what the Furies did to him. Then, he and the Special Ones
finished the job. Accept it. This is the start of a new age."
"New age indeed," LaCroix snickered.
"Really, Nicholas, you are such a fool." With that, the General
stalked off, leaving Nick to tie up those loose ends.
Ferali paced about the inside of his tent. He
anxiously awaited his honor brother's return along with the latter's comrades. I
knew I should have gone with him.
"Settle down," Meroli advised.
"David and the others will be fine. He has survived worse trials than this
But at what cost? "I know, but I am still
"Worry no longer," Cybelle told them,
entering the tent along with Dave and Mutant X. "It's done. Ares and
Aphrodite have accepted Eli's terms and relinquished their rank as gods in
exchange for keeping their powers and immortality. The other gods and the Furies
"We win, I guess," Dave sighed, sitting
down on the ground.
"What do you mean, 'you guess'? Hey, we
won!" Max disagreed.
The medievalist looked at her sadly. "Until
Francesca, Eve, Xena, Gabrielle, and Angie are safe, it's meaningless,
"Hey," Emma reassured him. "Have
faith. You fulfilled your end of the bargain."
"Life isn't fair, Emma. Still, I hope you're
right." Turning to the Inner Earth leaders, he asked, "What happened
"We ambushed the camp and captured them all
without a single casualty," Eadmer reported.
"That's good at least," Dave replied.
"You were going to release them, right?"
"That was the idea," Ferali concurred.
"Do it," the medievalist declared.
"There's been enough blood spilled for one day."
"I'll let the Amazons know," Cybelle
indicated, disappearing into a portal and letting the others collect their
Three hours later, the prisoners marched away from
the site, heading for their homes and looking to leave the scene of their defeat
behind. Still, the mercy shown to them by the allies did make an impression on
them. While the gods would have killed them all for their failure, these victors
differed in their approach. Perhaps, the blond haired one in the strange armor
was right. Perhaps this was the start of a new age.
From the camp's edge, the assembled leaders
observed their former prisoners' march. While some might have wanted more
forceful means exerted in that instance, the way of peace appealed to them all.
"That's it then?" Varia asked.
"Unless you know of something else we haven't
attended to," LaCroix retorted.
"I know we still have business,
Butcher!" the Amazon regent snapped. "I hope we meet again, Lucius of
Pompeii. I haven't forgotten what you and Livia did to my sisters!"
"Livia is your princess. It seems you
forgotten that," the General snarled.
"I forget nothing. Eve repents for her past.
I've forgiven her for those crimes and she continues to win my trust. You should
repent as well," Varia growled. "But I won't ruin the spirit of what
we've accomplished today through bickering." Seeing the Amazon tribes
assembled behind her, she requested, "Cybelle, can you?"
The high priestess nodded, opening a portal.
"Thank you. Please accept the thanks of the
Amazon sisterhood for your help, everyone. Hopefully, our queen, counselor, and
princess will soon be returned to us. And, David?"
"Yes?" the historian asked.
"Our apologies for not accepting you earlier.
Safe wishes for your return to your own time and for the resurrection of our
friends. You have proven yourself a valuable ally," Varia continued.
"Thank you," Dave accepted. "And I
wish you the same as well."
Varia smiled warmly, embracing the medievalist for
a moment. Then, she straightened herself and told him, "If you need help,
just ask." With that, she led the assembled Amazon tribes into the mists,
vanishing from sight.
"It's time for us to leave as well,"
Eadmer stated, looking at the combined armies from the Inner Realms. "Once
again, it was an honor to fight alongside you, David and Garth."
The agent nodded and smiled. "As it was for
us, Eadmer. See you soon!"
"Indeed," Meroli agreed. "We await
you both as well as your young friends."
"And your subjects will always await you, my
friend and liege," Ferali concurred.
Dave replied, "I know that. And I will be
there in the near future. Even as my involvement with my native home continues,
I am committed to insuring the safe future of Ruthwen as well."
"That's all we can ask, my Brother,"
Ferali accepted, embracing him tightly. "See you soon." Getting onto
his horse, he motioned for the grand army to prepare to disembark."
The priestesses opened another portal, allowing
them to march back into the plains of Joltenheim.
After that, they created still one more gateway
for their Roman allies.
"Forward!" LaCroix commanded, raising
his short sword and leading the legions into the mists back toward Mount Etna.
When the portals had closed, Deirdre rubbed her
father's arm, asking, "Are you okay, Papa?"
"I guess," he replied, trying to cover
up his emotions. "Funny, I was expecting your mother and the others to
reappear. That sort of stuff doesn't happen in real life, does it?"
"They have to honor their agreement with you,
Dave," Emma assured him.
"I want to believe you, Emma, but I can only
hope that you're right," the historian remarked, hugging his daughter
tightly. "Come on, let's go home."
Cybelle took out the crystal necklace and opened
the mists once more. "Go ahead, Dave. That portal will lead to the Kent
farm. Deirdre, please accompany him."
He smiled as he mounted Streaker and held his hand
down to his daughter. "Want a ride, Dee-Dee?"
She accepted the boost and put her arms around his
waist. "Thanks, Papa."
He grinned and told Cybelle. "Thanks."
With that, they rode off into the mists, disappearing from view.
The priestess waved Nick through.
"Thank you. See you soon...and I'll keep an
eye on him as well," the archaeologist agreed before following the others.
Hopefully, Michael will hold his end of the
bargain. I don't want to think how Dave's going to hold himself together without
Angie. With that, she stepped into the mists and closed the door behind her,
leaving no traces of the invading force behind.
Chapter 13 [Kent farm-Smallville]
Jonathan and Martha closed Melissa's door quietly.
During that terrible afternoon of waiting, they had tried everything to reassure
Lauren and Karen. Fortunately, their daughter had played with them, giving the
twins something to take their mind off of the troubles at hand.
Entering the living room, they found Clark, Lana,
Lex, and Chloe, not to mention Byron and Sandra sitting there and talking
quietly amongst themselves.
"How are they doing?" Lana asked.
"They finally went to sleep," Martha
replied, slumping into a chair. "I'm so grateful that Melissa took it on
herself to be with them."
Clark managed a smile. Missy's been through quite
a bit herself. "She's a special kid."
His parents looked at each other with
satisfaction. When they adopted Melissa, they had wondered how Clark would take
to her. When he eagerly assumed the big brother role, they were relieved.
"That she is, Clark," his father
concurred. "She does her chores, never complains, and strangely
enough...she always seems to make it to the school bus on time."
"Unlike a certain someone with super
speed," Chloe cracked.
Lex smirked. "I'm not touching that
Clark flushed slightly and shrugged. "I
wasn't aware that tardiness was so noteworthy."
"It isn't unless you raise it to an art
form," his fiancée laughed wryly.
"That's our Clark," his mother joked.
"So fast, yet so slow."
At that moment, they heard hoof beats from the
pasture. "Riders now?"
Jonathan stepped onto the front porch and looked
toward the barn to see Dave and Deirdre dismounting from Streaker's back. Beside
them, Garth, Nick, and Mutant X kept watch.
Sticking his head back in the door, the farmer
requested, "Martha, can you get a couple more cups out? They're back!"
The others stood up anxiously, eager to hear news
of the battle.
Slowly, the new mutants, Nick, and Garth made
their way into the house and found seats where they could do so. Receiving hot
steaming cups of java goodness from Martha, the newcomers managed to relax.
"Is it over?" Martha asked.
Nick replied, "The fight was a short one. Our
armies defeated theirs without a single casualty thanks to the
"Our sneak attack caught them completely by
surprise," Garth added.
"And the gods?" Clark wondered.
Brennan scratched his head. "They're
"Finished?" Lex asked.
"Dave flipped and took them out. All but two
of them," Jesse continued. "Apparently the latter two made some sort
of deal with a higher power. The others...well...they messed with his head and
paid for it."
"You said gods, right? So how can he deal
with them?" Jonathan inquired.
"Something happened to him back in Tucson,
Dad," Clark pointed out. "One of them hit him with a blast and he went
"I was going to ask if that had happened
before," Chloe interjected.
"Once before-up in Wabash," Emma
explained. "But that was right after the explosion. Both times we managed
to get him calmed down."
"I hope that Dr. Dubois somehow comes back.
Otherwise, I'm not looking forward to dealing with him," Lana told the
"Well, we'll just have to do what we
can," Lex assured her. Seeing Deirdre walk into the house, he asked,
"Where's your Dad?"
"He's in the barn loft, thinking about
things," the priestess sighed. "He didn't want to depress you all with
his moods. Where are my sisters? I wanted to look in on them if I could."
"Follow me," Martha said, leading
Deirdre up the stairs toward Melissa's room.
"Meantime, I'm going to check on Dave,"
the businessman suggested. "I'll try to have him back here in a few
Dave sat on the old couch up in the loft, staring
at the stars. He knew that he should be checking on the twins, but he wanted to
work through his moods first. Despite the herbs Cybelle had given him and the
realization sinking in, he couldn't believe that it was happening...that Angie
wasn't there with them. What do I tell them when they ask where Mama is? Hell, I
can't even deal with this. Picking up a pebble, he stood up and threw it far
into the cornfield.
"That's some arm you've got there," Lex
"Frustration adds distance, Lex," Dave
grumbled, wiping a tear away.
The billionaire sat on the couch next to him.
"You know, that was some feat you pulled off, taking out the Greek
"Yeah. Another day, another fight for the
Child," the professor muttered. "I just wish that people didn't view
me as a target."
Lex smirked. "As long as you try to make a
difference, Dave, you're going to be a target. As I've told you before, get used
"Lex, how would you handle things if let's
say...it were Chloe instead of Angie who were dead? You can't tell me you'd be
The businessman frowned, feeling the barn starting
to shake around him.
"Cool it, Chief. Now," the professor
"No, I would feel exactly the way you do. I
hope though that you can remember what Angie would want. She would want you to
go comfort your daughters and be a good dad to them. The kind of father that you
and I didn't have growing up." Lex realized after he calmed down enough to
bring his abilities under control.
"I feel so used and dirty. I wish I wouldn't
have had to go charging into Olympus to do Michael's dirty work, but there it
is. I had to do it. Now, I guess I need to move on, huh?"
"You do. Hang on to the good times with her,
Dave, and be with your daughters," Lex urged.
Dave took a deep breath and got up. "Let's
go. I have to check on them."
"Lead on," the businessman concurred.
Dave smiled and headed down the stairs, hurrying
for the farmhouse. Once inside, he inquired, "Hi, everyone. Sorry to be so
abrupt, but can I check on the twins? Then I can answer your questions."
"Sure," Martha agreed. "Deirdre's
with them. Follow me." She led him up the stairs and around the corner to
Melissa's room. The door was slightly ajar and voices came out of the room
"Dee-Dee, when's Papa comin'?" Karen's
"Soon, Karen. Soon," Deirdre replied.
"He needed to do some thinking first."
"Is he okay? We wanna see him," Lauren's
voice whimpered. "We know he's moody and stuff, but we just want to say
it's okay. We love him just the way he is."
"He knows that, Kiddo," Deirdre's voice
Back out in the hall, Martha saw Dave sulking
again. "What is it?"
"I'm so selfish. I wanted to make sure that I
was composed and all. The girls wouldn't have cared," he told her.
"It's part of being a good parent. You want
to put up a positive front. I think you just need to go to them is all."
He nodded and knocked on the door. "Thanks,
Her eyes shone at him. "My pleasure. Take
He nodded and walked into the room.
After he did so, she headed back downstairs to
rejoin the others. He needs this quality time with his daughters. Maybe they can
help each other.
Dave stepped into the room and saw the four girls
sitting in a circle, talking to each other. "Mind if I jump in too?"
he asked hopefully.
The twins spun around eagerly, hearing his voice
confirmed what their senses had told them seconds earlier. "Papa! You're
back!" They practically jumped into his arms.
"You didn't think I was going to leave you
girls alone, did you?" he inquired, sitting on the bed. "You know I
would never do that."
"We know you don't wanna, but look at
Mama," Lauren retorted.
"Your mother will find her way back to us if
she can, Lauren. As for the moment, well-we have each other. I'm not letting any
of you go," he declared, letting them sit in his lap and hugging them
"I'll let you have a moment with them,"
Deirdre said, ushering Melissa out.
"And where are you two going?" he
chuckled. "I didn't say you could leave."
The four girls looked at him quizzically.
"I have room for all four of you here.
Melissa, well, I know you're not my daughter, but you're a friend. And we
consider good friends like family. Don't we, girls?"
His three daughters nodded vigorously and smiled.
"Thank you," Melissa accepted, climbing
up on the bed beside the others. "It's nice to be accepted, especially
since you stood up to that mean social worker for me."
"My pleasure," he told her. "You're
a good girl, Melissa. I'm glad that you have a good home."
For the rest of the night, the quintet huddled
together, falling to sleep in each other's arms.
Chapter 14 [Next morning]
Dave stirred at sunrise and eased himself out of
the group embrace. Sleep well, kids. Creeping out of the room, he made his way
downstairs and into the kitchen area. Seeing Jonathan and Martha talking at the
table, he greeted, "Good morning."
"There you are," Jonathan replied,
giving their guest a big smile. "How's everything this morning?"
"I feel better knowing that the girls are
safe," Dave told them somberly.
"I'm sure," Martha agreed. "I hope
you don't mind if we left you alone to talk with them."
"Thanks," Dave responded. "We
needed some parent-kid bonding. I hope you don't mind if Melissa was in on the
conversation. She's such a good kid, and you know how I feel about close
Jonathan nodded. "We do. She actually came
down after the three of you fell asleep to let us know what happened up there.
You did a good thing last night."
"Being a good father to my daughters is
something Angie would want," the medievalist declared. "I'm glad that
some good came out of yesterday." At that moment, he looked toward the
barn. "I must be dreaming!"
"What? What is it?" Martha wondered.
"Should we get Clark?"
"I don't think so!" Dave exclaimed,
bolting out the door and across the yard to the barn. There, he found Argo II
and two other horses stabled next to Streaker. "Argo! So that would
"That would mean we're back?" Eve asked,
stepping into view. She grinned broadly.
"Eve! You're okay!" he exclaimed,
hugging her. "It's good to see you!"
"You too," she agreed.
"How about us?" Gabrielle wondered as
she and Xena approached him.
He smiled warmly as he embraced the Amazon queen
and the Warrior Princess tightly. "It's good to see you both all
"Likewise," Xena replied, returning the
He looked around; making sure that nobody else was
out there before querying, "So...umm...Francesca and Angie, are they
"They're fine," Gabrielle declared.
"But I don't think I'm gonna keep Angela
waiting any longer," the warrior agreed, sheathing her sword and
A minute later, Angie stood in front of him, her
eyes glistening with tears and a gigantic smile on her face.
"Princess, is that?" he wondered, not
believing his eyes.
"What do you think, Dummy?" she sassed,
hugging him tightly.
"I didn't know what to think. It feels so
good to hold you," he told her, the tears flowing down his face. "I
love you." He kissed her passionately. Thank you!
"We saw what you did at the temple,"
Gabrielle told him. "That was some trick."
"Thank our friends. Once again, they came to
the rescue," he told them.
"It's our pleasure," Clark's voice
They turned to see Clark and his parents standing
in the barn door.
"Thank you, everyone," Eve expressed.
"Sorry about the scene."
"No problem," Martha declared. "We
have breakfast going if you're hungry."
"Sure," Angie accepted. "I just
want to do two things first." After kissing her husband again, she
requested, "Can we see the girls?"
"Absolutely," Dave concurred, hugging
her shoulders. "Come on. You too, Gabrielle and Eve!"
The two Amazons went with the couple into the
house and up the stairs.
Once they reached Melissa's room, Dave knocked
softly and stuck his head inside to see Lauren, Karen and Deirdre just waking
"Papa?" the latter asked sleepily.
"What is it?"
"There's someone who wants to see you
all," he told her, opening the door.
The priestess's eyes bulged. "Mama! You're
back!" She embraced the older woman tightly. "Guys, wake up!"
The twins rolled over and wondered what the ruckus
was about. As things blurred into focus, they realized why everyone was so
excited. "Mama!" they chorused, running to their mother.
"It feels so good to hold you all!"
Angie exclaimed, hugging them tightly to herself. "You have no idea how
much I missed you!"
"And we missed you!" the three girls
"I know," the oncologist affirmed.
Casting a caring look at their father, she kissed the three of them. "Now,
let's go get some breakfast. I have some mother-daughter minutes to catch up on
The three sisters followed her down the stairs and
to the table where Martha's splendid cooking and some great fellowship awaited.
Michael shook his head tersely. He wasn't supposed
to have succeeded. How did he do it?
"Leave it alone, Michael," Raphael
advised, stepping into the area. "You've tested him. Dubois passed and
discovered two more parts to himself."
"Indeed. I hope he can handle them,"
Michael retorted sourly.
"Let him try to do so. He's worthy. You did
withdraw the penalty from him, didn't you?"
"Yes, Raphael," Michael sighed.
"Don't enjoy this too much."
"I'm not. But neither should you," the
ebon-haired archangel admonished.
"I won't." Watch yourself, Dubois. For I
will be watching you.
[The Talon-that evening]
Lana and Miranda closed and locked the doors to
the café after a busy day. In addition to the usual student traffic from the
high school, their mutant classmates and Mutant X stopped by with Deirdre's
assistance. In between the cappuccinos and biscotti, everyone marveled at the
latest adventure shared by Dave and the others.
"You actually took them all on?"
Samantha asked. "No offense, Professor, but they were the Greek gods."
"He and Mutant X did actually," Angie
responded. Seeing the surprised looks all around her, she noted,
"Francesca, Eve, and I saw the whole thing."
"Thank the Child," Emma added, sipping a
cup of tea. "He finished them all off. We just kept them busy."
"From what His Darkness tells me, it was a
team effort," Dave retorted, enjoying his chocolate frap. "Just like
at the university." He looked at Clark, Chloe and Lana and complimented,
"You did well against the Pantheon, working as a team and protecting your
classmates. You should be proud of yourselves."
"We try," Chloe replied, trying to sound
"We were just putting those Dojo sessions to
use," Clark added.
"I don't know if they're that intense,
Clark," Lana disagreed.
The other students shook their heads. Adam worked
them all hard, preparing them for every potential situation.
"What matters is that you used your heads and
weathered the threat. Then you came to get me," Adam disagreed.
"Listen to Professor Dubois."
"If you say so," the former cheerleader
"Trust me," Lex assured them. "You
all are quite a force."
"Thanks, Luthor," his fiancée teased.
"Actually, we're a force together."
"Speaking of being together," Francesca
asked. "Who is Eve calling?"
The group looked at the Religion professor who was
over in the corner, speaking into her cell phone.
"I don't know," Angie replied. "I
wonder who she's talking to?"
I have an idea, but let her do it. He helped out
too...as much as I hate to admit it. With that, Dave took another sip from his
drink and turned back to the conversation at hand.
LaCroix savored a glass of bloodwine and
considered the previous two days' events. Once again, he had led his legions on
a successful raid, avenging Pompeii's destruction and his sister's death. He
admired how Nick assisted in planning the attack. He's definitely becoming a
Seeing the light flash on his console, he flipped
the switch and started into his show. "Good evening, Gentle Listeners. This
is the Nightcrawler-back to walk the night with you for a time. Tonight's show
deals with helping family. Have you done so? The lines are open." Seeing
the lines light up, he selected the first call. "You are on the air."
"Lucius?" a familiar voice inquired.
Livia? So she did make it back. "Yes, my
Dear. Welcome back. When did you return?"
"This morning," she responded. "I
wanted to thank you for your help."
"My pleasure. It was great to see our home
again, was it not?" the Elder inquired.
"It was. Mother also says thank you,"
the former Messenger expressed.
LaCroix smirked. I wish I could have heard Xena
say it herself. "She's quite welcome. Indeed, in such times, family
squabbles must be set aside so that we might help one another. Did Nicholas
return all right?"
"He did. I have to go now. Thank you once
again. Good bye." With that, Eve hung up.
The General smiled with satisfaction. Things
aren't so lost after all. Yes, Dubois gained some advantages in this conflict,
but so did I. Our chess match continues...and will.
Eventually, I will win. There is no other option.
Allowing that thought to percolate in his head, he
returned to his callers, content to play the role given to him in this era and
knowing that he would have an opportunity to face his enemies at some future
point. And at that point, he was confident he would gain the upper hand.
THE END (for now)
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