David J. Duncan
Notes: The characters from Forever Knight belong to Sony Tri-Star. The characters from Xena Warrior Princess belong to StudiosUSA and Renaissance Studios. The characters from Smallville belong to DC and the WB. The characters from Mutant X belong to Marvel and Tribune. The characters from Dark Angel and Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda belong to their respective copyright holders. All other characters are fictitious and of my own creation. Please send comments to
Note 2: Spoilers: Smallville-through Redux.. Mutant X-through last Ashlocke
[Amazon Village-83 AD]
Gabrielle, Bard-Queen of the Amazons writes....
At times, it seems that situations arise one after the other to challenge us, force us to reevaluate ourselves by delving into the past, and redefine ourselves before we can proceed with things. Here in the Amazon village, the challenges of the past two years have forced us to take a hard look at our practices and ourselves. In the future, the newly discovered relationship between David and Karen strengthened instead of destroyed the bond between them and our friends. Now, Clark suffers an accident and the group must enlist aid from our allies aboard the Andromeda Ascendant.
The journey to Clark's beginnings leaves much to be thought about and considered, especially for his classmates and relatives from Smallville. And it starts with a lack of caution around a space rock.
Chapter 1 [Mogollion Rim-25 miles southeast of Flagstaff]
A cold wind whipped through the pine forest on the rim. Unlike the southern deserts, this part of Arizona dealt with winter in all of its glory: ice, snow, and the wind chill.
Despite these challenges, Dr. Herbert McLanden, a newly hired Astronomy professor, scouted through the woods along with his Astronomy 205 students. Just two days earlier, a meteor had fallen from space that, according to the US Geological Survey's initial reports, had some very unique properties and crystals imbedded in it. Accordingly, he organized a field trip for his class.
On that Friday morning, the sky was gray, the wind blew steadily out of the north, and there was a good foot of snow on the ground. Most of the students, needless to say, didn't share their professor's enthusiasm for this project. They wanted to get the field notes for this assignment and get back on the bus for the warmth of the desert.
Toward the back of the group, Chloe watched everyone and everything carefully. She had been on several such treks in the Kansas winter so this hike wasn't a new experience to her. The group had left before she could get her coffee-not a wise move for staying on her good side.
It's colder here than in Kansas. She shivered and saw her classmates doing the same.
I know Adam likes to be cautious and asked me not to use my powers if I don't have to. Still, there's no use in freezing our tails off if it isn't necessary.
"How are you doing, Chloe?" Clark wondered, tromping up behind her.
He can use his abilities...well some of them. She frowned. "It's freaking cold. I hope we find this meteor rock soon. Didn't we have enough of them at home?"
He shook his head. The last thing we need right now is for me to run into green meteor rocks. Imagine how'd we explain that one to the group. "We could use some heat, you know?"
"Yeah. Don't remind me," she griped, glaring at him. "I'm freezing my ass off, no coffee, and snow up to my knees!"
An uncaffeinated Chloe...Bad, bad, bad. He scanned the woods with his x-ray vision, looking through the pine cover for signs of their target. "We're close."
"Well, that's welcome news," the reporter sighed wearily. "Now I know how the early explorers must have felt like."
He grinned and rubbed her shoulder. "Hey, just think of the story you'll get for
She gave him a sideways glance and smirked at him. "Are you trying to cheer me up, Farm Boy?"
He shrugged. "That...was the idea."
"Good, because it's working," she assured him. "Thanks."
"Don't mention it," he replied as they trudged forward.
About 30 minutes later, the group stood in front of the meteor. The space rock was about twenty feet across and three feet high. Its descent through the atmosphere had left it charred black. On its exterior, the group could see diamond-like crystals.
McLanden investigated the rock, surveying its surface. The material felt smooth to the touch and flaked off in his hand.
I'd love to take a core sample back with me. "Can I have a volunteer to assist me please?"
The students looked at each other anxiously. If the professor wanted to risk his neck in the name of science, that was one thing, asking them to do that without signed waivers and the fact that their health insurance didn't cover them on this trip was quite another.
"Dr. McLanden, we haven't signed any slips or anything," Chloe pointed out.
"And-this is a class activity, you're covered," the professor assured her.
"Not according to that insurance booklet. We shouldn't touch that thing. Who knows what it has inside of it? I think we should let a Forest service official know about this," she argued, knowing from experience what happened if one blundered into the Realm of the Weird unprepared.
Her classmates nodded, stepping back as if to make their point known: they weren't touching it.
"I've gone through the proper channels," he insisted. Well, I did notify them. Of course, the Feds will tell me to stay the Hell away. I can't take that chance.
"We aren't leaving until one of you helps me get a sample." He pulled out the pick and bag.
Clark rolled his eyes and looked at her. "What's the worst that can happen to me? I almost never got sick in Smallville." Leaning closer to her, he whispered, "I'm not going to let any of you get sick from this thing."
Yeah, except where a certain red meteor was concerned. Three weeks earlier, under conditions of sworn secrecy, Pete had told her about why Clark had freaked out during their sophomore year. "You remember when you did? Clark, don't!"
"I won't let any of you do it. Look, I'm fine," he assured her, stepping forward.
Her eyes pleaded with him and the professor not to do it. Finally, the gaze shifted to the icy steel that cut into the latter's psyche. She was pissed and wanted him to know it.
Clark accepted the pick from the professor. "Any specific place?"
"No, just chip off a bit of stone and a crystal," the instructor told him.
"All right," he agreed and struck the rock with the tool. A large fragment of the meteor dropped to the snow.
"Great!" the professor exclaimed, rushing to bag it. "Clark, can you get another?"
"Right," Clark agreed and set about his task. As he did so, his intuition told him not to go any farther.
"Don't push your luck, Clark!" Chloe exclaimed. "Stop this!"
"Dr. McLanden, I'm sorry. She's right," the farm boy agreed. "You have your sample. Can we go?"
"Fine," the professor snapped, taking the pick and whacking the meteor again. As he did so, the action opened a pocket inside of the rock and released a cloud of purple gas into the air, right in Clark's face.
Oh God.. "Clark, are you all right?" the professor asked, realizing he had gone too far.
At that moment, the students turned and saw a snowmobile appear from the woods with a single rider. The person got off the sled and marched right up to the professor. "This is a restricted area. Why are you trespassing?"
"I'm Dr. Herbert McLanden from the Astronomy Department in Tucson. We're here on a class field trip. Who are you?"
The rider pulled off the helmet revealing herself as a Native American woman with jet-black hair and sculpted features. "I'm Ranger Penelope Sittingwolf. Were you the one who faxed us the request? It was denied, sir. You're here without authorization. Is everyone here all right?"
The students nodded.
Penelope looked at Clark who was rubbing his head and immediately recognized him.
He's the alien Martin mentioned to me. "And you are?"
"Clark Kent, Ma' am," he replied, squinting. He staggered a bit.
"Mr. Kent, are you all right?" the Ranger inquired.
"I'm okay...just a bit dizzy is...all," he insisted, taking slow steps back toward the group. "See, Chloe? I...told..." With that, he fell face first into the powder covering the ground.
"Clark!" she exclaimed with concern. Rolling him over, she could see his eyes bulging. He started to shake furiously. "No! Come on!"
Nothing's supposed to hurt you. Come on, Farm Boy, snap out of it! She stared at the professor furiously, thinking up all sorts of obscenities and curses for the dimwitted man.
Penelope rushed to his side. This is bad all right. Looking at the reporter, she asked, "Do you have a cell phone? We need to get help."
McLanden pulled out one and started dialing. "I'll call."
"That's my job!" Penelope insisted. We can't let him go to a normal hospital. "Miss, would you?"
"I'll call Tucson," she told them, dialing numbers. Come on, Lana.
[Campus, Economics Building]
Unlike the conditions up north, the weather in the desert was warmer for the students on campus. As they reached mid-February, temperatures remained in the sixties and the sun shone.
Even though they wished they could be outside, Lana and Miri sat in Eve's Intro to Religion class and scribbled away in their notebooks busily. Listening to her lecture on evangelism during Antiquity intrigued some students although some fought their boredom to get through the period. For the two mutants, knowing that Eve was Eli's former Messenger gave the session an ironic yet enjoyable twist.
Talk about speaking from experience. Lana mused to herself. Speaking of experiences, I wonder what Clark and Chloe are doing. Her mind was split between there and the sudden class field trip involving her friends.
I hope they're okay.
At that moment, her cell phone began to vibrate. What? She leaned over and looked at the readout, trying to be discreet.
Chloe? Why is she calling? She knows we're in class.
"Excuse me, Lana," Eve requested. "I'm trying to lecture...for at least the next ten minutes."
"Right," the young woman agreed embarrassedly, putting the phone away.
Then, it buzzed again. Chloe again? This has got to be serious.
"Dr. Messenger, I'm really sorry. Excuse me, please," Lana apologized, making her way from the room.
Eve stared at the door before resuming her piece. Something's wrong. Lana's too polite to make a scene like that. Looking at Miri and getting no response other than a shrug, she started to wrap things up for that day.
Lana stopped outside of the building and hit the "Call Back" button on the phone.
I hope everything's all right.
"Lana?" Chloe's voice wondered. "Thank God! We've got a really big problem!"
"Chloe, what is it? Where's Clark? Can he help you?"
"Lana, Clark is the problem. We found the meteor rock and well...the professor had him take a sample...."
The former cheerleader's face went pale. No! With his history around those things, he should have known better! "What happened? I want to talk to him!"
"You...can't..." her friend said with an air of regret. "He's in shock right now and I don't know how to contact you-know-who from here. Lana, he's getting worse...."
Lana momentarily panicked before she got a grip on herself. "Hang on. I'm going to go find Professor Dubois. I'll call you back." Hanging up, she ran into the Social Sciences Building and to his office. Banging on his door, she called, "Professor? Are you there? It's urgent!"
Across the hall, Lydia Coltrane stuck her head out of her own door. "Lana? What is it? He's in class at the moment." Seeing the other woman's concern and fear, she asked, "Has something happened?"
Lana nodded, feeling the tears coming to her eyes. "I just got a call from my friend, Chloe....She's on a field trip with the Astronomy class and....Clark Kent just had a bad accident.... He's in shock."
The professor nodded her head, recalling Dave's argument with McLanden just two days earlier.
She's right. He'll want to know immediately. "Come with me." Walking down the hall and up the stairs, they came to the classroom where Dave was lecturing.
Knocking on the door, Lydia stuck her head in. "Excuse me, Dr. Dubois?"
"Yes?" Dave asked.
"Can I talk to you for a second? Department business," she stated.
Scanning the hall, he detected Lana standing outside the door as well as her concern.
Something's wrong here. "Sure. Guys, I'll be right back." Walking out the door, he closed it and asked, "What's wrong?"
"Lana has an emergency," Lydia told him. "Tell him what happened."
"What's going on?" he queried her. Hearing a cell phone going off in the classroom, he ignored it, trying to focus on her.
"You...know the field trip that Chloe and Clark are on?" she responded hesitantly.
"Yes...to find the meteor. Right," he sighed, feeling a surge of anger. McLanden, if you've hurt those kids, so help me....
"Well, they found it. The professor pushed the students to take a sample for him. Clark did it and something happened...."
At that moment, Martin came out and closed the door. "Professor, excuse me. This is urgent."
"Martin, we're dealing with an emergency here," Dave stated.
"I trust that it has to do with Clark. My fiancÚ's the Forest Ranger assigned to the area. She's on the line right now."
"Thank you and my apologies, Martin," Dave apologized, accepting the phone.
"No problem," the shaman told him.
"Hello, this is David Dubois," he answered.
"Dr. Dubois, this is Penelope Sittingwolf. Umm...we have a situation here with one of your students," Penelope replied. "Clark Kent is not doing well. Your colleague, Dr. McLanden, wants to have him airlifted to Flagstaff and from what Martin has told me about your group, you don't want that, right?"
"That's correct. Tell McLanden-hands off. I'll be up there ASAP to take charge. Nobody moves him. Can I speak to Chloe Sullivan, please? Thank you for calling Martin."
"No problem. Glad to help. Here's Chloe," the Ranger signed off.
"Professor Dubois? So what are you going to do?" Chloe asked.
"Help Ranger Sittingwolf to stall Dr. McLanden. Lana and I will be up there in a few minutes. Can you folks get back to the bus?"
"Yes. We'll do that. Can you get Adam and the others? Please hurry!" the reporter worried.
Dave hung up and fought back a surge of anger. "Dr. Coltrane, I need a really big favor."
"What's the topic?" she wondered, guessing at his request.
"The Rise of Islam. Can you pick up after 732...take them to 1071?" he inquired.
"Go! I'll handle it," she agreed, stepping into the classroom and shutting the door.
"Martin, Lana, let's go!" he stated, conjuring up the mists and opening the portal. After whisking them through, he stepped into it, disappearing from view.
McLanden paced nervously about the site wondering how everything could go wrong. The students were well on their way back to the bus for the most part. As the ranger guided them, Chloe had wrapped a heavy blanket around her friend and tended to him.
"C'mon, Clark. You can't do this," she muttered. "What will I say to Lex, your folks, and Lana?"
"We can still get him to the hospital, despite what that ranger thinks," the professor stated.
"Listen-with all due respect, if it weren't for you insisting that we get your precious sample, he wouldn't be lying there right now, all right?" she snapped, her eyes blazing. "You broke the rules by having us here! Now, my friend's bad...really bad. Help is on the way and we are staying right here!"
"Chloe, we need to..."
"WHAT PART OF NO DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?" she bellowed.
"What are they going to do-pop up out of thin air?" he ridiculed her, dialing his own phone.
"You might be surprised!" she hissed, seeing the wisps of the familiar fog floating from behind her. "Professor Dubois?"
"Right here!" Dave indicated, rushing out into the conditions. Shit, it's freezing. Can it, Dave. Clark needs help.
"Clark!" Lana called, walking out after the professor along with Martin. Seeing him there, she hurried to her boyfriend's side. "Can we do something?"
"Leave him alone, Dubois. He needs a hospital. Stand back. I just called for a chopper," McLanden directed.
"He won't be here to take it. What were you doing here anyway?" Dave insisted.
"Class field trip. This isn't your class, Dubois."
Dave's eyes blazed as he stood up. "No, it isn't, McLanden. I know you don't like me, all right? But that doesn't excuse this whole mess. You better hope the authorization's in order."
"We're up here without permission, aren't we?" Chloe accused.
"Is that true?" Lana inquired. "Professor, how can he do that?"
"He can't," Martin added, glaring at the Astronomy professor. "From what the Ranger told me on the phone back in Tucson, the request was denied."
Dave quaked and his face went dark. "You actually broke Federal guidelines, not to mention state regulations and endangered student lives
"You've done it countless times, Dubois. Quit being so high and mighty...you freak," McLanden responded.
Dave slammed his colleague into a pine tree and got right in his face. "I don't endanger my students, all right? I defend them against God knows what is out there. Listen up, McLanden, when we get back to Tucson, we're going before the board. Your ass is grass for this!"
The other professor took a swing and connected, knocking Dave back. "Like you're going to make it back to your little bunch of freaks." Picking up the pick, he advanced.
"I don't have time for this shit!" the medievalist growled, slamming his would-be
attacker with a mental pulse. "Sleep it off, Asshole."
By this point, Penelope had returned. "Is he...? I saw him attack you."
"Can you keep him under guard?" Martin requested. "We need to get Clark to Sanctuary."
"Absolutely. Take care, my love," she agreed, kissing him.
He smiled warmly as Dave willed up the mists. Taking Clark's feet and allowing the ladies to take an arm apiece, he followed them into the fog.
She watched as the mists dissipated on the breeze. Looking at her dazed prisoner, she shook her head.
May the Great Spirit guide you and protect Clark.
Chapter 3 [New Sanctuary]
Even as the situation developed at the meteor site, Adam stood in front of the computer scanning the readouts from the latest scans. The woman on the bio bed, Diana Bradley, remained a unique new mutant because she was a psionic-elemental hybrid who could manipulate time. Recently, she had helped the team to deal with a situation concerning Genomex in the past. However, she still remained reluctant to use her powers due to the time she had spent with the Strand.
She's a marvel. Is there any end to the unique manifestations that these mutations take? He allowed these thoughts to circulate through his head as he turned back to her. "Everything checks out. You're in excellent shape, Diana."
"Tell me again why I had to do that?" she wondered truculently. Unlike most of her mutant counterparts, she didn't like her powers and would have liked to be rid of them.
"I had to make sure that you aren't degenerating the way Ashlocke did. His situation made him unstable and well...you saw what happened."
She shuddered, recalling how the super mutant had abused her and the other Strand members. We thought he loved us. He was controlling us. Now, Adam wants to do the same. Should I trust him? "Adam, can I ask you a question?"
He smiled. "Sure. What is it?"
"How can you trust me? I mean...how do you know that Gabriel didn't program me to do something?" she asked hesitantly. Walking over to Ashlocke's body, she gazed on his face through the glass and shivered.
"We don't know. You'll just have to take things a day at a time, all right? Meantime, I'll be happy to work with you as will the others," he assured her. "There's somebody I want you to meet in the meantime."
Michelle walked through the lab door and smiled. "You wanted to see me, Adam?"
"Yes, I did. Michelle Bigellow, this is Diana Bradley. I think you two have something in common," he indicated.
"Hi," the student greeted and shook hands with her fellow mutant. "Is Diana the person you told me about?"
"Yes. I appreciate you making the trip up here midweek," he expressed. Turning back to Diana, he added, "Michelle's a telecyber who's a former GSA agent. Eckhart manipulated her to do his biding and we've worked with her."
"How do you deal with it?" Diana asked.
"It's hard. I'm really lucky because I have a good friend in Emma and I trust her. Adam's a tough but fair teacher too," she replied, grinning at him. "The important thing to remember is that you aren't alone. None of us are, Diana."
"And what is a telecyber exactly?" the patient asked curiously.
"I interface with computers and make them do what I want them to do," Michelle explained. "It's really overwhelming sometimes, but working with everyone makes it worthwhile."
"Everyone-meaning Mutant X?"
"Yes. In addition, I was referring to the other new mutants down in Tucson," the telecyber stated.
"There are rumors floating through the Underground about that... 'Community of Tolerance'...is that what it's called? I can't believe regular people accept us enough to go to school with them."
"Well, it's working so far. We're into the second semester and there haven't been any problems so far, other than a few professors being told to keep their feelings to themselves, but you'll run into that anywhere," he commented, pushing a few more buttons and saving her scan. "You might benefit from being with them, Diana. There are two new students named Byron and Chloe who just started as well, so you'll fit right in."
"I don't know...going to school will be a new experience for me. I haven't been back since high school," the time distorter doubted.
"The Duboises are really good about working with us. They're mutants too...well not like us exactly. They're natural mutants-born with their abilities. Professor Dubois' powers have had a few enhancements from other things too. Trust me, they understand," Michelle assured her.
"I guess. When can I meet this guy?" Diana asked, hopping off the bio bed and putting her coat back on.
As if on cue, the mists appeared, allowing Lana, Chloe, and Martin to carry Clark into the lab. Behind them, Dave stepped in and closed the portal.
"What the?" Michelle gasped. "Clark, how? I thought he was invulnerable or something."
"There are a couple of things that can do this," Chloe huffed as they put him on the bio bed. "We just found something else that can do that too."
"What happened?" Adam queried.
"You know that meteor that hit near here?" Dave asked. Seeing his friend nod, he continued, "One of the professors at the university took his class on an unauthorized field trip up there. Chloe, care to take it from there?"
The reporter nodded, wiping her eyes with a handkerchief before continuing. "When we found the meteor, Dr. McLanden told us that we weren't leaving until someone helped him get a sample. Clark volunteered, thinking that he could take any mishaps. He didn't want anyone getting hurt...." She fought back a couple of tears.
Michelle hugged her classmate supportively and told Adam, "I was in his class last semester. He's really difficult to deal with. Talk about someone who won't budge."
Dave snorted. "That's putting it mildly. Well, as soon as I know what's going on here, I'm heading back to brief Eve and Lydia and talk with the other students. Then, maybe I can get Angie back here to help him."
"Right," Adam agreed, speaking into the comlink. "Emma, can you get the others up here? We have an emergency." Starting the scan, the overhead monitor brushed across the unconscious teenager several times before a read out appeared. His system seems human-like, but his metabolism is so different. "The infection's spreading fast. Did you get me a sample?"
"Here," Martin said, handing him a wrapped portion of the rock.
"It's the dust, Dr. Kane," Chloe informed him. "I'm sorry I didn't use my abilities to keep him warmer, but you said..."
"You did the right thing, Chloe. You managed to get a message to Professor Dubois and Clark's here," the team leader assured her.
At that moment, the rest of Mutant X rushed into the lab and stopped dead in their tracks at the sight in front of them.
"What's going on with Clark?" Shalimar asked.
"What hit him?" Brennan queried. "Adam?"
"The scans are going on right now," the leader told them, putting on an environmental suit and helmet. "Meantime, I need to test this residue to see what it is. Emma, can you and Jesse suit up too? Dave, check on the others and bring this situation up to the university. Can you get Angie up here as well? We'll need her healing abilities as well."
"Consider it done. Lana, Chloe, do you want to come back with me?" the professor agreed, opening the portal.
"No...not yet," Lana disagreed. "If it's okay with Dr. Kane, we'd like to work out with Max, Shalimar, and Brennan. That way, we'll be here if anything comes up."
"It'll help us to deal with it," Chloe added.
"Fine. Shalimar, Brennan, help them with the Dojo," Adam agreed as his designated helpers finished suiting up.
"Come on," the electrical mutant urged the two ladies. "You too, Diana and Michelle."
After he led the quartet out of the room, Shalimar urged, "You nail that bastard's ass!" Her eyes glowed.
Dave looked at Clark lying on the table one last time. What am I going to say to Jonathan and Martha? Clark, hang in there. I'll be back with help as soon as I can. "Count on it."
"I'll let you know if there's any change," Emma assured him.
The professor nodded and disappeared into the mists once again, leaving the others to their work.
[Tucson-Social Sciences Building]
Eve sat in her office, studying her notes from the Elisian prayer manuscripts for her new book.
I wonder what Eli thinks of this? I hope he understands that I'm not trying to defile the faith, just help others to understand it. Hearing a rapping on the door, she answered, "Yes?"
"Eve, it's Lydia Coltrane. Can I come in?"
"Certainly." Seeing the other woman enter and shut the door quickly behind her, she asked, "What can I do for you?"
"You haven't heard from Dave, have you?"
"No. There was an incident involving Lana Lang earlier in my class. She's vanished so I can't find out what happened," the former messenger noted.
"There was an accident up in the mountains involving Clark Kent. Somehow, he contracted something on Herb McLanden's field trip and he's not doing well right now. Dave took Lana up there with that mist trick of his. I covered the rest of his class in the meantime."
I hope the young man's all right. Eli, help him. Eve took a deep breath and stated, "He'll be back sometime tonight to check in with Angie and Karen."
Lydia cracked the door to make sure nobody was listening from the hall and leaned out. As she did so, she saw a light in Dave's office. "Somebody's there. Come on," she declared.
The two professors crossed the hall and knocked on the door. After Dave opened it, they asked, "Where have you been?"
"Come in," he urged, frowning. They could see the worn expression on his face that only came when he was worried about a friend or family member. "I just got back a couple of minutes ago. Angie and Francesca are going to meet me at the dorm."
"Where's Clark?" Lydia asked.
"Clark's being looked at even as we speak. Tests are being run and we should have some results shortly. We do have a problem with Herb McLanden, however."
"The field trip? What about it?" Eve asked, recalling his earlier disapproval of the venture.
"It turns out he was up there illegally and dragged the class in as well. He endangered Clark's life to boot," he reported. "Eve, Lydia, you realize that this needs to be reported."
"Absolutely!" Lydia agreed. "I can call a meeting of the board on Monday. Meantime, everyone's prayers are with Clark right now."
"Right," Dave replied. "If you'll both excuse me, I need to get over to the dorm. Hold the line here, all right?" With that, he ushered them out and closed the door behind them. "Thanks for the help. And, as far as McLanden's concerned, he better hope that Clark pulls through.... Lana and Chloe are with the others right now, waiting for word."
After he left, Eve and Lydia walked back to their offices to get ready to leave, but their thoughts were with the young man and his struggle.
The mutant students sat around a table in Graham Hall, wondering what was going on. Just an hour earlier, Adam has sent word via their pagers concerning an "emergency". As their classes had finished for the week, the remaining students gathered there and waited.
About fifteen minutes into the vigil, Steve Petersen and Garth Singleton joined them with extremely grim looks on their faces.
Five minutes after that, Angie, Francesca and Dave completed the group as they entered with concerned facial expressions of their own.
"What is it, Professor?" Samantha wondered.
"Where are Clark, Lana, Chloe, and Martin?" Byron added.
Dave held up his hand. "Everyone, please. Give us a second, okay? It's been a Hell of a day." He trembled a bit, feeling the Child raging inside of him. "Agent Petersen, do you want to start?"
"Sure," Steve agreed, opening up the file in front of him. "This morning, a field trip occurred up to the Mogollion Rim to investigate a meteor crash site. The group found the meteor and tried to take a sample according to the Ranger's report."
"And what happened?" Michael wanted to know.
"There was a leak of some kind of lethal dust. One of the students is critically ill right now and is in Adam's lab even as we speak," Garth continued.
"So who is it?" Sebastian demanded.
"Clark," the medievalist told them. "Somehow, the dust affected him."
A silence fell over the room as this revelation sank in. The students couldn't believe it. Clark was the invulnerable one. Bullets bounced off of him, as did massed-out fists. Nothing was supposed to be able to penetrate his skin.
"How is that possible?" Byron queried in disbelief. "I want to see him!"
"We'll let you know when you can do so," Angie replied, trying to calm him down. "Professor Dubois and I are on our way back up there to see him. Lex, Lana, Chloe, and Michelle are already up there, thanks to Deirdre. Meantime, Adam's working as hard as possible at the moment."
"Is there a cure?" Miri asked, trembling at the thought of her friend being hurt.
"You know Adam, if there's one to be found, he'll find it," Dave reassured them.
Yeah, given the alien disease in the alien being thing, this might be his toughest one yet. Still if there's anyone who can do it, it's Adam.
"On second thought," his wife offered. "Byron, why don't you and Miri come with us? Maybe some other familiar faces will help."
"We'll join them tomorrow," Francesca let them know. "Go on, guys."
The two selected students got up and looked at the others. Then, after the Duboises disappeared into the mists, they joined them.
As the mists disappeared, the remaining people looked at each other anxiously, hoping for the best.
Chapter 4 [New Sanctuary-Several Hours Later]
Lex paced back and forth on the overhang just outside of the lab. Here we are
again, he thought. It only seems like yesterday that Adam and the others were trying to save Chloe. Now it's Clark. Have we accepted too much risk by embracing this new lifestyle? He smacked the wall with his fist in frustration. The young man to whom he felt closer than a brother, lay dying. When Chloe called in a dead panic, telling what had happened, he couldn't believe it. How could a trip like that happen without authorization? Worse, how could a responsible professor allow his or her students to expose themselves to danger?
Knowing Clark, he wouldn't let the others touch it. Typical. Now he's the one who hurting.
Steve had told him that charges would be filed.
They'd better be. If that bastard gets off, I'll bring him down myself. He seethed with rage.
"Lex?" Dave asked, placing a hand on his shoulder.
"Hey, Dave," the billionaire replied turning to see the professor and his wife standing there. Their eyes looked as heavy as his. "Some day, huh?"
"Tell me about it. I still can't believe he's in there," Dave noted. "You know McLanden almost took him to a hospital. Imagine the fuss that would've caused?"
Lex nodded. Yeah, talk about a three-ring circus. I would like to see Petersen run interference on that one. Fortunately, we don't have to deal with it.
"Good for him. He's going to pull through. He has to. Have you called his folks yet?"
"Not yet," Angie told him. "I went in there and gave him the "magic touch". He's so sick, however, it didn't do any good."
At that moment, Adam walked out of the lab dejectedly and stalked down the stairs.
Dave was about to give chase when Emma advised, "He needs to be alone, Dave."
"Did you find anything?" Lex asked, his eyes hopeful.
"Not a damn thing," Jesse sighed. "Adam went over that sample-left, right, and indifferent. Nothing. The computers can't make heads or tails of that disease."
"And there's the matter of Clark's physiology. Angie slowed the disease down with her abilities, but we can't stop it. He's dying."
Lex put his face to the glass, looking desperately at his friend. "I guess someone should tell his parents? I'll do it."
"No...I will," Dave disagreed. "He's my responsibility." The tears came to his face. "His parents saved our lives, Lex, and this is how I repay them?"
"This isn't your fault," Angie assured him. "He was on a class field trip with another teacher. Lydia's calling the meeting of the Board. You can't protect everyone, Dave. I know you think that's your job, but it's impossible!"
"Who knew some strange disease would come from space?" Emma added, trying to make him feel better. "That it would react with his body chemistry?"
At that moment, Adam came back up the stairs. "I'm going to crack that virus if it kills me," he muttered.
Marching in after him, Dave and Angie dogged his steps.
"We might as well tell the others. This bacteria is like nothing else on Earth and if my computers can't crack it...." Adam's face was ashen as he was torn between the indignation of not being able to crack the puzzle and the pain of possibly losing such a unique being.
The medievalist brooded over the student's unconscious form.
"It's too bad we can't get a spaceship and fly to the source," Lex remarked.
Adam glared at him.
"What did you say, Lex?" Dave asked, squinting at him.
"I was being sarcastic, Dave," the billionaire told him.
"You may have hit it on the head," the professor told him.
"What?" Angie asked incredulously. "What are you getting at?"
"We have three problems as I see it. One, we don't have the materials here on Earth to deal with the problem. Two, we have no way of getting to the materials. And three, even if we could, it would take even Adam too long to figure out how to mix the elements," Dave surmised, pacing about the lab.
"That sounds about right," Adam had to admit. "But how do we wish a cure to pop up?"
The oncologist looked at her husband curiously. "Dave, are you thinking about what I think you're thinking about?"
"There's only one hope for Clark, Princess," Dave said with conviction. "Somehow, we have to find the Andromeda. Rommie would know how to cure this bug if anyone will." He turned and walked out of the lab, heading for the stairs.
The two men remaining in the lab stared dumb founded at Angie. "What is he getting at? Who's Andromeda?"
She sighed. "Andromeda isn't a who. She's a what....a battleship from the future that roams the universe looking to help worlds to find peace. Somehow, she ended up back here and helped us take on an invading force of creatures called the Magog. Among other things onboard was a fully functional lab and clinic. Dave's right."
"Even if we could get to the future, how do we find them?" Lex wondered. "And before Clark gets too much worse?"
Adam smiled. "I think that can be arranged. Angie, do you think Deirdre can help us find your ship if we get you to the right time?"
"We have to try," she told him. "Why?"
"I think there may be some one who can do just that. Just get ready on your end, all right?" the geneticist advised her.
"Let me see what I can do," she agreed and headed in the direction her husband had just gone.
"Come on, Lex. Let's see if there's any change," Adam suggesting, guiding his guest into the lab.
Dave hung up the secured phone line with a heavy heart. Expectedly, the Kents were upset with the news and wondered why Clark and Chloe were there in the first place. Jonathan promised that their lawyer would press charges against McLanden. When Dave expressed his own consternation, they told him that he wasn't to blame and they appreciated how quickly he had taken charge of the situation.
Max and Logan had taken off in the Double Helix to bring them back there. Within five hours, they would be standing in the lab, hoping for a miracle.
"If only we could make this work," he wished.
"Make what work?" Chloe asked, coming toward him. She was rubbing her face after a spirited workout with Lana in the Dojo.
"How is he? Did Adam...?" Lana asked, a tremor of fear in her voice. She had hoped that the session would take her mind off of the situation, but it couldn't.
"No, Lana, I'm sorry. Whatever that crap is, it's really spreading too quickly and Adam can't figure out what it is," he told them sadly. "We have another option, but..."
"But what?" the brunette demanded. "Professor Dubois, you can't let him die!"
"I never said anything of the kind!" he snapped. Collecting himself, he apologized, "Sorry. I'm on a really short leash here."
"And we do have an idea," Angie added, rubbing his shoulder. "Martin, Deirdre, and Diana are ready."
"So, we're going to try it, then?" Dave asked, managing a hopeful smile.
"Try what? Hey, our friend's dying up there and you're being vague," Chloe demanded. "What are you thinking about?"
"Ever read The Time Machine?" the doctor asked.
"Sure. We're going to the future, I suppose?" the reporter inquired with a skeptical look. "I know you all are the masters of the incredible and we're from the Land of the Weird, but if you could do that...."
"We're going to bring it to us," Dave asserted. "Come on, we're going to make some magic, Ladies."
Looking at each other, the two students followed the Duboises down the hall, hoping for the best.
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