Notes Part 2: 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. All other characters are fictitious and are of my own creation. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dedication: This one goes out to those fans who like me wanted a different ending to "Covenant."
The Faerie Empress speaks....
To those of you who know David Dubois, his dearest friends and students, you may think you know the whole story.
To those of you who know of Clark Kent, Lana Lang, Chloe Sullivan and Alexander Luthor, you may think you know most of the story.
It may disturb you to know that you do not.
Indeed, there are many details which the other chroniclers from Outer Earth will not have told you. Why you ask? Because they themselves do not know of them or the reason behind them. They may also wish to distort the facts to their own advantage.
I could not allow them to know of the deal struck between two powers or their effect on the future of those four mortals. The Child's presence not to mention that of Nicolas De Brabant, Xena or Gabrielle could not be revealed either.
It was a brutal test. One that I wished I hadn't had to send them on-and one that returned the Dark One's power to him at least temporarily. Be warned, Reader-until you've read this tale, you haven't seen the Child's dark tantrums at their worst. For where his tormentor and those children are concerned, he is sworn to a darker test. One that will make the world tremble if it knew its true purpose.
Chapter 1 [Covenant-while Clark and others are in Metropolis]
An ordinary set of woods lay on the edge of Smallville. The locals often walked its trails or rode their dirt bikes through this territory. Birds sang to each other and a few squirrels scurried up and down the trees in search of food.
Hidden deep within this apparent paradise, the Cowache Caves concealed ancient secrets. On its walls, the symbols detailed the last visit of an alien race and the coming of the One-Nuam. For the past year, Clark Kent, a local high school student, and secretly, one of that race, had studied the pictographs, learning of his heritage. However, the more he learned, the more resistant he became to it.
As a result, his father's spirit had decided to take action. Jor-El wanted the best for his son but that was tempered against the needs of Krypton and the continued existence of its heritage. While he did not want his son to be alone, he did not want him further corrupted by his Earth friends, especially not the bald one whom he knew to be Segith and the dark haired female who had enchanted Kal-El's soul. I will not allow him to turn his back on us! On his people!
At that moment, a slender blonde appeared in front of him. She wore nothing but a thin summer dress and smirked noticeably.
Have you convinced him, Kara? He asked impatiently.
She shook her head. No, Jor-El, but he's failing fast. His friends turn against him even as we speak. Kal-El has learned of Segith's betrayal. The dark haired one leaves as we speak for some place called "Paris".
Even so, Kal-El will never surrender until she has been eliminated. He frowned-or would have if his energy form had a mouth. She is beyond my reach now.
"But not beyond mine," a female voice retorted. In front of them, another spirit appeared. She had long brown hair, the darkest eyes and a wide grin across her face. "Aye, ye see me. Ye have no idea of what yer up against!"
The two Kryptonians looked at each other and then at the intruding spirit. "And you are?"
"Anne Lichtenfeld, a sorceress and I too have a claim on the young ones," Lichtenfeld introduced herself. Floating around the clearing, she considered the area and the others. "Aye. We can help each other."
Kara snorted. "And how's that? Kal-El's ours!"
The witch's spirit cackled. "Ye can have the boy! It's the dark haired missy I want! Just touch my hand and I can help ye."
Jor-El eyed this woman carefully. You'll help us?
"Aye. Take care of yer brat and I'll deal with her," Lichtenfeld reiterated, extending her hand again. "Come on now! Day's a wastin'!"
Kara agreed, "Even now, Kal-El pursues her but he will not have her." She smiled, wanting him for herself. "Do it, Jor-El!" She grinned at the witch. "If she can help us, I say do it!"
Very well. Jor-El grasped hands with Lichtenfeld, causing her to glow. Remember what you have promised.
"Aye!" Lichtenfeld replied, summoning her eldritch power from her New England prison. Within a minute's time, she had her abilities back. "Free! Free to claim my little ones again!"
"What? You said Kal-El was ours!" Kara yelled.
"Aye, Pretty. The one ye call Segith I'll deal with too. Just be aware, my dear boy will come fer him in time," the witch declared. Seeing the others' confusion, she cackled again. "Don't worry. Ye'll get him soon enough!"
If he's your child, control him!
"Control your own son first!" Lichtenfeld spat at Jor-El. Then she pointed at the two aliens. "I'll do my part. Ye do yers! Segith and the dark tressed pretty fer yer boy! Oh, Pretty, be ready. I'll be callin' fer ye to help me."
"If he's a pitiful Earther, I'll crush him!" Kara vowed.
"If ye can, Dearie. Remember yer promise," the witch told her. Then looking toward the sky, she grinned and her eyes sparkled. "It won't be long now! Farewell!" With that, she vanished.
Jor-El felt a surge of triumph pass through him. Turning to Kara, he told her, Bring Kal-El! It won't be long now!
She nodded and sped off toward the Kent Farm.
Lex moped into his study, having achieved mixed results on the day. Finding his scotch bottle ready on the table, he poured himself a drink and considered everything. On the one hand, he had triumphed over his father at long last, sending his elder to prison for a long, long time. Considering everything that bastard did, he deserves worse. I hope he rots there. On the other hand, however, he had lost the best friend he could ever want in Clark Kent earlier that day. I can't believe he would buy Dad's line like that. Still, it does look bad.
He considered how the younger man perceived the chamber with all of the investigative tools pointing at his profile and digging into his past. I wish he'd believe me. I just want to know why I'm still alive. Damn it, Dad, why? He took a swig from the glass and set it on the desk. "What the?" His mouth felt dry. His throat burned. He grabbed at the latter, trying to understand what had happened.
"Oh ain't this a sight?" the witch's spirit asked, appearing in front of him.
He choked, spitting up blood at the sight of his mother's murderer. "Y...you!"
"Aye, Dear, I'm back. Don't worry though. Ye can join her," she replied.
"This...isn't finished!" he coughed, feeling his legs give out under him.
"Oh?" she asked, picking his chin up so that they were looking eye to eye. "Ye're certainly finished."
"H...he'll know," Lex hissed.
"Oh I hope so. By the time I'm done, my dark child will indeed come to me," she agreed. "I will have him! And to think, your father delivered you all to me!"
"All?" He collapsed to his knees, feeling numbness spreading through him. "Clark...Lana."
She smiled wickedly. "Just the pretty one. The boy's father wants him. Our bargain. Now die like a good boy." She laughed menacingly while vanishing from the scene.
He gasped and sputtered, passing away from this world not long after. What have I done? Guys, I'm sorry.
[Witness Protection Housing-Unknown Location]
A grey ordinary van pulled up in front of a large white house. In the front seat, two Federal agents in dark suits took a quick look around and saw nothing out of the ordinary.
"All clear," the one riding shotgun, a heavy set African-American male, indicated.
The back door slid open, revealing a very anxious Chloe Sullivan and her father, Gabe. Just 24 hours before, they had testified against Lionel Luthor, putting him behind bars. Now they just wanted to make sure they were safe and could start a new life.
To the reporter, nothing could be secure. She heard Lex's warning from two days before over and over in her mind: Getting between my father and the law is a dangerous place, Chloe. "Got the key?"
Her father nodded and unlocked the door. Opening it, he found nothing out of the ordinary inside. As promised, he saw standard furniture set up there. "Looks good, Pumpkin. Come on."
She looked back at the van longingly. Her instincts screamed at her that this was too easy. As the vehicle pulled away, she stepped over the threshold.
"This is great!" he exclaimed.
"Yeah, it looks nice," she concurred, closing the door behind her. Then she felt a chill run through the room. "How'd it get so cold fast?"
He looked around, shivering himself. "I don't know. What's going on?"
She checked the thermostat to find it still at 65. "This is nuts!" Feeling the hairs on the back of her neck rising, she spun to see the witch's ghost floating there. "And you're the house's ghost, I suppose?"
"Nay, Pretty. Just yer death!" Lichtenfeld crowed, summoning fiery bursts in each hand.
"Chloe, run!" Gabe yelled, trying the door. "It's stuck!"
Lichtenfeld laughed loud and hard, as she sent a giant flame burst in all directions.
Within seconds, the house exploded, reducing it to kindling and killing both occupants instantly.
Meanwhile, Clark stared at the light emanating from the crevice in the cave wall with a mixture of fear and anger. He didn't know what awaited him on the other side except that his so-called "birth father," Jor-El, would be behind it.
On the stone floor beside him, Jonathan lay unconscious or worse; a severe burn mark around his neck from Jor-El's torture just seconds before.
"What do you want?" the teenager demanded.
You will come to me or he will die, Jor-El demanded.
Clark looked down at the man who had helped raise him for the past fifteen years. I can't let him or Mom suffer. "All right."
Very well. At that minute, Jor-El sent fiery sparks out of the wall.
Clark felt his essence being broken down. He spasmed, trying to resist the pull. However, in the end, resistance was futile. I tried. Be safe, Mom and Dad. Lana, I love you. He disintegrated, disappearing through the crevice and reincorporating in an energy bubble somewhere in the vastness of space and time.
Now you will be reborn into what you should be, Kal-El.
But Clark was already out cold, hearing nothing of what his father had said.
Back in the cave, the farmer still lay still-the only reminder of the drama just taken place in that spot.
[Phoenix Air Flight 7827-somewhere over Central Massachusetts]
Lana flipped through her new school's materials hesitantly. While she knew the move was for the best, she felt doubt. Ever since her parents' death thirteen years before, she had waffled over what life could offer her. She had the best of friends and experiences. Still she knew that something waited for her beyond the prairie-beyond what she had known to that point. I hope you understand, Mom and Dad. She recalled her visit to her parents' grave just that morning. She had wanted to say goodbye yet she couldn't help but recall the feeling of dread, which came over her at that point. And then Miri and Clark bailed on me too. I just can't win.
"Lot on your mind?" the man sitting next to her asked.
She sniffled. "You could say that. Ever think you knew what you wanted and then had second thoughts?"
He ran his hand through his blonde hair and nodded. "Plenty of times. If something's meant to happen, it does. You'll get that second chance." He noticed the white rose in her hand. "That's a nice rose. Who gave it to you?"
"A friend...a very good friend," she replied sadly. "We just couldn't seem to get on the same page. You know anyone like that?"
He shrugged. "There's a friend of mine who was like that. He and his girlfriend could never seem to connect."
She sighed, not really wanting to get into this dialogue. Still she decided to humor him. "And what happened to that friend?"
"Our classmates and I set him up on a blind date. The woman's his wife," he recounted, remembering the scene on the Connecticut shoreline on that night several years before. "If you two are meant to be together, remember what I said, Lana."
"You think?" she asked, her eyes watering. Dabbing a tissue in them, she excused herself, "I'm sorry."
He smiled warmly. "Don't worry about it. I'm Frank Landers and you are?"
"Lana Lang. Pleased to meet you, Mr. Landers," she greeted. Then she noticed the glowing mark on the back of her hand.
"What?" he asked. Then he saw the mark and his jaw dropped. "Where did that come from?"
"I don't know! It's been there since I was really young," she explained, tracing it. "But it hasn't done that since my parents died." She stared at it.
It better not be what I think it is. He looked out the window and saw the Quabbin Reservoir beneath them. Oh Lord, she's marked like Dave is. Then he saw the dark woods loom beneath them. And if that's where I think it is.... He recalled his friend's stories of the haunted childhood somewhere beneath them.
"Hey!" the little boy in the row ahead of them called out. "There's a light down there! Neat!"
"Light?" Lana asked, staring as well. Then she felt icy cold and then a shock ran through her. "Aah!" She slumped in her seat, feeling weak for some reason.
"Lana? Lana!" he called, trying to keep her attention. "Why this? Why now?" Unlike everyone else on that plane, he knew what lay beneath them and the light's source. As soon as we get off of this plane, Dave's getting a call ASAP.
"M...mr. Landers?" she whispered weakly.
He shook his head. "Don't talk, Lana. It's going to be okay." He jumped out of his seat and snapped open the overhead compartment where he had his medical bag.
"Sir!" the flight attendant protested.
"Lady, I'm a doctor and this young lady's having an attack of some kind! How long until we get to New York?" Frank identified himself. "How long?"
"Twenty minutes," the slender redhead answered. "Is she?"
Frank listened to his stethoscope, trying to get a heartbeat. Then he felt her pulse. "She's getting weaker by the minute. Can't you get your pilot to go faster?"
By now, the other passengers were rubbernecking, wondering what was going on.
"Keep them in their seats!" he told her. "And get your crew to step on it. We gotta get her out of here! MOVE IT!"
"Th...thank you," Lana whispered.
"It's nothing," Frank assured her, putting a pillow behind her head. "We're going to get you through this." Seeing the figure-eight mark on her hand glowing brighter, he shook his head. "Damn her!"
"Who?" the flight attendant asked, returning from the cockpit.
"Forget it. You wouldn't understand," he told her, taking out his cell phone.
"Sir! You can't use that now!"
"Look, this is a medical emergency! Now stand back, please!" Frank indicated pointedly, dialing his hospital's red line. "Yes, this is Dr. Frank Landers from Oncology. I have an emergency. Young woman-Caucasian, about 5'3", brown hair. She's having an attack of some kind. We'll be at Kennedy in..." He looked at the attendant.
"Ten minutes. Gate B-7"
"I'll need the chopper at B-7 in ten minutes," Frank continued. Listening to the line, he answered, "BP's 103/43 and fading fast. Breathing's irregular. Pulse is light too. Trust me; you've never seen anything like this but I have!" He stared at the glowing scar on her hand again. "See you then." He hung up and took a deep breath. "Lana, can you hear me?"
The former cheerleader nodded weakly. "Yes," she whispered.
"Can you get a message to Kennedy? A friend of mine and his wife are flying back from London. I need to get a message to him," Frank asked the attendant.
"We can do that. Is he an expert on this?" the redhead inquired.
"He's probably the most knowledgeable person on this stuff in the world," he noted. "Tell the terminal to have David and Angela Dubois meet us at the gate." He felt the sweat on his forehead, as his patient slipped further and further.
The redhead ran to the front and stuck her head in the cockpit.
"Is she going to be okay?" the African-American female in the row behind them wondered.
"I hope so, Ma 'am. I hope so," Frank retorted anxiously, seeing the ocean in the distance. Come on! He strapped Lana in for landing. "Hang on, Lana. We're almost there!"
"Clark," she muttered drowsily. "S...sorry." Then her eyes snapped open. "No! Not her! Not the glowy woman!" She screamed. "Save me!"
"Save you? Lana, what glowing woman? Tell me," Frank asked.
"Yes..." With that, she went limp.
Dammit. Dave, you better be there. If she's like you, there'll be Hell to pay. He imagined the reaction especially after what his friends had been through during the past few weeks. Angie, you'd best be ready to help me when the dark fit starts.
Just then, the wheels hit the tarmac and taxied to the gate. Fortunately, the pilots' message cleared the way for them to get to the gate as soon as possible.
What do I do now? Frank shook his head, as he unstrapped himself and his row mate. "Can someone bring my bag please?"
"I've got it," the attendant agreed, signaling for the other attendant to help with the other passengers. "Is she?"
"I don't know. Come on!" he snapped, picking Lana up in his arms and carrying her out of the plane.
[A/N: Alex is from the "Mummy" movies, which belong to Universal. The reference for the Xena and Gabrielle clones is from "Send in the Clones" that's part of XWP Season 6.]
Meantime Dave and Angie walked out of the jet way, eager for a meal break before their connecting flight back to Tucson. It had been a long week and a half for them. While Angie had enjoyed the visit with her grandfather, Dr. Alex O' Connell, trouble popped up. In this case, Alti had returned to clone Xena and Gabrielle for use in her schemes. Furthermore, the trio showed up in the Old Pueblo, sparking off a large scale fight that attracted the entire city's attention.
However for Angie, the worst part came afterwards.
The Enforcer lord, Bertrand du Dijon, showed up and challenged Dave to a death duel, hinting that they could find him in the "place where our nightmares began." Although she had chewed her husband out about that incident, Nick Miles told her later that Dave couldn't decline-and that he would have to go through with it.
Terrific. Bad enough that jerk had to kill Dr. Samuelsohn and his wife. Now he's after my husband too.
["Give David more faith than that, Angela," Xena admonished.]
["I know but I worry," the oncologist replied, feeling ashamed.]
["We'll be there. Angela, just put it out of your mind," the warrior advised, before going silent.]
Dave rubbed her shoulder. For some reason, he had felt weird vibes for the last hour and a half, setting off a fierce headache and the familiar vibrations from the Child. "Hey, Princess."
"I'm okay," she indicated, putting on a brave front.
"Angie, it's okay. Really," he assured her. "I..." At that moment, he felt as if somebody had stuck his toe in an electrical socket, as a giant surge jolted him.
["Wha' the Hell?" the Child bellowed within his head.]
"Dave! Now what?" she asked anxiously, supporting him.
"Giant static...charge. Man, what do they put in these carpets?" he joked, trying to cover his fear.
Unfortunately, she noticed his face going pale and him shaking. "Hey, what is it?" Nothing scares him. Something's really wrong. She scanned the area, looking for trouble and a rest room in case a change was needed.
"Nothing," he asserted, forcing himself out of the chair. He wouldn't change in the middle of one of the world's busiest airports. Not if he could help it. Then he looked at his hand and saw the glowing symbol. What the? This now? But she's imprisoned. He shoved it back into his pocket, remembering the promise he had made to Cybelle and Karen after the last time.
"What's with your hand?" she insisted, getting more than a little impatient with him. When he gets all cloak and dagger that means all Hell's about to break loose.
At that moment, the PA announced, "Attention in the terminal. Would David and Angela Dubois please meet Frank Landers at Gate B-7 immediately? This is an emergency situation."
"Emergency?" Angie inquired, throwing her hands up in the air. "Geez! Now what?"
His eyes went wide. "Let's run! I hope I'm wrong!" Grabbing her hand, he took off at a dead sprint, pulling her along for the ride.
"Dave! Dave, what is it? What's going on! You better tell me now!" she declared.
"If I'm right, we'll see in a minute! Come on!" he declared, running at full speed, weaving and darting between travelers as he went.
To her credit, she kept him in sight all of the way down the hall.
As they approached Gate B-7, they saw a crowd of medical personnel lifting someone onto a stretcher.
"Frank! Where are you, buddy?" he called.
"Dave! Over here!" Frank called back, waving to reveal where he was. "Bring Angie over too!" Turning to the other medical staffers, he told them, "Let them through."
"I'm right here," she noted, looking at Lana. "What the? Frank, what happened?"
"I don't know. One minute, she's fine. The next, she's having a fit," Frank explained.
The medievalist examined the young woman closely. While he didn't know her, there was something about her face that looked familiar for some reason.
"Take a look at this," Frank declared, showing them the glowing symbol.
As soon as he saw that, Dave felt his head going numb. "Damn! Frank, did the plane go over Rowenshire at all?"
"What?" Angie wondered.
"That's where it started. A kid saw a flash of light. That weird thing started glowing on her hand. And then the fit started."
"Fit? Dave, what?" his wife queried, examining Lana closely. "She's not dead but her pulse is really low."
"She's in a trance like Karen was," Dave whispered.
"But Lousain's dead," she retorted.
"Shh, not here," he directed. "This stinks of her."
"She confirmed seeing a 'glowy lady'," Frank reported.
Hearing that, the Child seized control from Dave. "It's her. Dammit, Ah knew it! When did Witchie-Poo hurt La...na?"
Great. He had to lapse now. More mysteriously, how does he know her? She tried to calm him down. "Who? Who's this 'Witchie-Poo'?"
They all heard the dark laughter echoing through the terminal.
Then Lichtenfeld's apparition appeared in front of them looking very pleased with herself. "Ye should answer her question, my boy."
Angie's jaw dropped. "What in Heaven's name?"
"Git back!" the Dark One snarled. "All of ya! Ah said GIT BACK!"
Frank pushed the crew back. "Trust me; when he says get back, he means it."
"What'd'ya do?" the Child demanded. "An' how're ya'll here?"
Lichtenfeld laughed, "Show respect!" She fired a dark fire blast, knocking him across the hall and into the display. After it had collapsed on him, she added, "That'll teach ye!"
The crowd panicked, taking off for the exits.
That's it. Angie bolted for the ladies' room and locked the stall. Time for the roommate to take charge of the situation. She drew the sword, changing into Xena.
Once changed, she rushed out onto the scene, flipping over the panicked surge and landing at Frank's side. "Who's your friend?"
"And who are you?" he asked.
"Xena," she retorted briefly, eyeing the apparition in front of them. "And her?"
"An old friend of Dave's you might say," he explained. "Where's Steve when you need him?"
Out in California. Great. She swung the blade in front of her and challenged, "I don't like it when something messes with my friends! Ya got a beef with them?"
"Nay. Just with ye!" the ghost spat, firing again and again.
The Warrior Princess evaded the bursts easily. Still she knew the longer this kept up, the more time that the police would have to get there.
One of the staffers noticed the pile quivering. "Look!"
The debris shook violently and exploded in all directions.
The Child screamed, "Ah'm gonna whup ya fer that!" He threw a psychic pulse, knocking the witch back. "Git 'way from 'em!"
Lichtenfeld scowled, reminding herself of the Child's abilities. "Na' here, my boy! If ye want to help the pretty, just come home! Ye know the way!" Cackling, she disappeared in a fiery flash.
"Crap! This sucks!" the Dark One snarled. Then he noted that everything and everyone except for him and Xena were frozen. "Now wha?"
She looked around, waiting for the next threat as well.
"You know how to find trouble, don't you, Bro?" Cybelle asked, appearing from the mists.
"She found us!" Xena countered. "And what about the girl?"
"Lana. 'Er name's Lana," he reminded them.
The priestess shook her head, looking at the comatose girl. Seeing the symbol on her hand, she winced, "Terrific. She's marked too."
"Marked?" Xena asked.
"Yeah," he retorted, holding his right hand to reveal his own glowing symbol. "Witchie Poo's mark. Couldn't keep 'er safe!"
"You don't..." Xena started.
He wheeled on her. "Ah've known 'er since last trip to Picture Place!"
Cybelle realized, "She's the little girl you saved." Receiving some insight, she rubbed her forehead. "There's something else too. The Faerie Empress wants you to see something. You both are to come with me." She waved her hands and chanted in a Celtic dialect. "There! These people won't remember what happened here tonight. The Empress will dispose of the archival evidence. We have bigger problems, Bro."
"Goodie," he spat sarcastically, still feeling ticked from the incident. "Lessgo!" He picked up Lana in his arms.
"Follow me. The spell will wear off in a minute," the priestess directed, opening up another portal. After they had stepped through, she followed, closing the portal and taking all proof that they had been there with her.
In the middle of an old meadow north of the old town, Lichtenfeld reappeared. Here in her sanctum, none of the residents would dare attack her. "He hasn't changed," she hissed.
To her right, something roared and then appeared. It was twenty feet tall with red eyes and totally encased in fire. When the flames flickered low enough, one could make out a tail, horns on its head and the most intimidating set of fangs this side of Hell's ninth level.
"Aye. He was there, my Sweet," she stated.
The demon growled something unintelligible.
She grinned. "Aye. Ye'll get yer chance at him!" She floated over to the old tree where she had been imprisoned until Jor-El freed her. Once again, the energy field contained something however this time, she had created a wall, splitting it in two. "How are ye, Pretty?"
Lana stared back at the ghost. "You won't get away with this!"
"But I have, Pretty. The world thinks yer dead! And I have all of ye!" the witch bragged.
"All of...?" she asked. "What have you done with them?"
"Look to yer left, Child," her captor instructed, waving her hand.
As Lana did, the wall separating the two parts disappeared. She gasped, "Chloe?"
The reporter looked up and saw her former housemate's spirit. "Lana! What are you doing here?"
"I'd ask you the same thing," Lana wondered.
"And who's the Wicked Witch of the Spirit World?" Chloe asked.
Lana's spirit bowed her head. "She killed my parents, Chloe."
"And now I have ye. I did let yer friend, Alexander, go though. Killing his mum was enough fer me," the witch revealed. "But the other one..."
"Other one?" Lana asked before realizing, "Clark! What did you do with him?" She floated forward, slamming into the bubble's wall and being repulsed backward.
"Answer her question!" Chloe demanded.
"Nothing, my Pretties. His father wants him." She grinned sinisterly. "In the bargain, he gets the boy and I get yer friend! Ye're a bonus!" She reached through the field and grabbed the two girls by their throats, sending dark fire through them. "Scream!"
The two spirits felt intense pain burning at them. They were icy cold and fiery hot all at once with needles pricking up and down their bodies.
After a minute, Lichtenfeld released them. "That, Pretties, is a taste of what I can do to ye! Be nice!"
Lana forced herself up. "His real father's dead...so how?"
"Look around ye! We're all dead!" the witch retorted sarcastically. "Remember this, Dearie?" She waved her hand, forming a fiery view portal in which they saw the scene:
["Exodus"-Smallville Season 2]
Smallville reeled from a mysterious earthquake following Lex's wedding to Helen Bryce during the previous year. In it, Lana followed Clark into the blown out storm shelter. She tried to comfort him but he wouldn't let her get close.
"The Voice says you're all next. I have to go or he'll hurt you too," Clark had warned her before running off.
"That voice-was his father's ghost," Chloe realized.
"Aye," the witch concurred, letting the field go. "By now, he's with his father. And I have ye to play with." She smiled maniacally. "And we'll have so much fun." With that, she vanished, leaving the two imprisoned spirits behind.
"What happened to you?" Lana asked.
"My Dad and I were moving into witness protection when she showed up and burned the place down," the reporter groused. "And you?"
"She sucked me out of my body as we flew over here," Lana noted. "This guy was with me. While I was still kind of there, he was yelling orders to the flight attendant. He was looking at this mark on my hand and saying a friend of his had one like it." She showed her right hand to her friend. Even in astral form, the mark glowed. "I wonder if he found that friend?"
"Let's hope," Chloe wished, peering through the glowing field.
Lana made herself see the positive side of things. We'll get out of this somehow. I'll get to you somehow, Clark. Hang in there.
[El Gato Negro Bar, Tucson-Two hours later]
[A/N: The situation described here occurred at the end of "Aftershocks" and in "The Turning Point"-again earlier in this series]
Nick walked into the bar, looking for a break from reality. The precinct's caseload kept increasing with fewer detectives. He, Natalie, Schanke and Tracy worked more hours than ever. They knew that Ramirez didn't want to push them so hard. But with state budget cuts, he had no choice.
Thinking of Natalie, he also recalled the run in with Schanke and Dave at the museum the other night. After speaking with Janette, he had gone over to talk with Alyce. One thing had led to another, finding the two immortals getting passionate with each other. They were still together when their friends found them.
As he walked over to the bar, he mused, What will I say to her? Can I even admit it to myself? He cared for the coroner but he loved the curator. But his thoughts were so clouded.
"How did it go, Nicolas?" Janette asked with concern while setting a goblet of cow blood in front of him.
He shrugged. "Better than I thought. Worse than I thought. I have a real dilemma."
To his right, his former master snickered. "You didn't have a problem last night, Nicholas."
"Not now, LaCroix," the former Crusader told him.
LaCroix smirked. "Poor Nicholas, entrapped in another ethical web of your own making." He finished his glass and started on another. "Life is so much simpler when you let it be so."
"You would say so. You helped pick that challenge between Dijon and Dave."
The General retorted sharply, "As if I could stop the Burgundian where Dubois is concerned? Not likely." He glared at Nick, reiterating, "Remember, Nicholas, you are not to come between them when the fight happens. Do you understand me?"
Nick shook his head and frowned in disgust. "Yes, yes, the Code."
"Listen to him!" she urged, getting into the debate. "The Enforcers will stake you if you interfere."
He shrugged. "I'll leave that to Xena and Cybelle. I will be there though. Right now, I have enough problems." Then his senses picked up on a disturbance by the door. "Did you?"
"Oui," LaCroix concurred, as they turned to see the mists forming by the door. "What?"
From the portal, Cybelle stepped into the bar. A single glare from her made the immortals keep their distance. Knowing her brother, they didn't want to push their luck with her. "Nicholas, you are needed. Put aside your problems now."
"Who do you think you are?" the Roman Elder demanded.
The priestess frowned. "I'm here on the Faerie Empress' business, Butcher. If you must know, she's free again."
"Who?" Janette inquired.
"The bane of my family. You know of whom I speak," Cybelle continued. "The Rowenshire witch!"
"Nonsense!" LaCroix spat. "That's impossible!"
"Already she's claimed four children. She appeared in New York tonight. Fortunately, the Child and Xena were there to face her." Cybelle stopped her account as the television news started. "What? Janette, please turn that up."
The newscaster announced, "A series of disasters hit Smallville following the initial day of testimony for Lionel Luthor. Most notably, his son, billionaire, Alexander Luthor, was found in his study poisoned. Witnesses claimed a ghostly apparition of some kind appeared for a minute before disappearing again if you believe in that kind of thing."
Nick stared at the screen, feeling his anxiety boil over. If that's who I think it is... "Has Dave heard about this?"
Cybelle sighed. "The Child's going to be uncontrollable now. He's going to crave blood."
"Where is he now?" Nick wondered.
"Althanor. The Empress had me bring him and Xena there. Nicholas, I know it's a lot to ask but he's going to need you tonight. I know you have questions and they will be answered. I promise you that. However, we'll have to...." She winced.
"What now?" LaCroix hissed. "Spit it out!" Seeing Nick sit down and disoriented, he demanded, "What?"
Janette tried to comfort Nick, feeling his pain through their link. "The Child just found out. Mon ami, who is this?"
"An old pest-one that I thought we were rid of," LaCroix snarled.
Nick rubbed his forehead, trying to make the pain go away. "I can't let him go back there by himself." Standing up, he added, "I'm going with you."
"Nicholas, this is not our concern!" the Elder countered.
"Isn't it? We're responsible for this! All of it!" Nick snapped, vamping out as he did so.
"Calm yourself," Cybelle urged. "It's the Empress' will that he goes with me. Impede that at your own risk." Her eyes went yellow as she felt another familiar presence. "And what do you want?"
Dijon narrowed his eyes at her. "Nothing except that he lives through this quest."
"So you can kill him?" Nick supposed.
"That is my charge, Brabant," the head Enforcer noted. "And by the Code, that is my right."
"Pity you in that case," Cybelle indicated. "Then you would face Xena and me. You have my sister priestess' blood on your hands already. If you do survive that farce, we will hunt you down. I know Xena. If you eliminate my brother, she will kill you. End of discussion." She turned away from the Burgundian and asked, "Are you ready, Nicholas?"
"Yes," the detective agreed. "Let's go."
She waved her hand, opening another portal. "Come then." After he stepped through, she followed, closing it behind her.
Chapter 4 [Faerie Lands]
[A/N: Another chronology note: This is also after "The Die is Caste" in the Amazon Scrolls because Deirdre is a full priestess instead of a six year old.]
In her chamber adjacent to the Cathedral of Crystal, the Faerie Empress observed the events on Outer Earth with grave concern. How did Anne Lichtenfeld free herself? And who is this ghost around the Special Ones? She cursed herself for letting matters in Smallville go unnoticed. The fabric of destiny unravels because of this interloper. I could have prevented it. I should have done so sooner. Now drastic action is needed.
"Mother? You asked to see me?" Deirdre wondered, bowing in deference to the elf queen.
"Yes, Deirdre." The Empress smiled, trying to conceal her feelings. "You are to stay here through this matter."
"But, begging your pardon, Mama and Papa are hurting! They need me!" the young priestess' eyes went wide.
"Your aunt will take care of that, my Dear. You are not ready to handle your father's rage yet. Meantime, I need you to watch things here. I have another matter to attend to," the Empress instructed, concentrating on the watch crystal and entering a trance.
I want to help. Why can't I? Papa.... Deirdre sulked as she sat down in a nearby chair and waited for the Empress' return.
[Somewhere between time and space]
Jor-El stewed over the situation. Despite his urgings and torture, Clark refused to surrender. Stop this!
"No!" the younger man refused, trying to put up with this abuse. He had endured blinding light, scorching heat, fire and intense cold.
It will go worse for those you care about if you resist me. Jor-El established a mental link between his son and the girls right at the moment the witch burned them.
"Stop it," Clark begged, feeling his heart tearing under this emotional pressure. "If you...hurt them."
You can do nothing, Kal-El. Nobody can find them or you.
"That's what you think, Intruder," the Empress' image disagreed, appearing between them.
How did you find this place? Jor-El demanded. This is a matter between father and son. This concerns the future of our race.
"I quite agree. This concerns the future of Krypton and your society. Stop this! You have abused your prerogative as a father," she commanded.
You would let Kal-El turn! No! Our society will live on through him! He will conquer this insignificant world!
"No, you fool. Yes, this boy will be the new father to your people. You would kill him, his destined mate and those plans with your stupidity!" she countered.
"I let this happen...." Clark whimpered, reeling from the pain.
"No, Clark, you did not," she assured him. "Have hope, Young One. Your father is obsessed with the past. Nothing will happen to your friends. To your One."
He raised his head slowly. "One?"
"Yes, Clark, the One for you. She and her friend are in pain. I will deal with that," she continued. She glared at Jor-El and demanded, "You will stop this!"
Or what, Creature? What will you do against me? He fired an intense energy blast at her.
She stood firm; her energy field protecting her. She narrowed her eyes. "So be it!" She pointed her finger at him, declaring, "The next one you see will bring you to task. Once he has dealt with your allies, he will be here."
I am ready for the witch's son.
"Are you? Are you indeed ready for his rage and his righteous vengeance? You forget something. Others have a claim on Clark and the others. They cry out for intervention. And already the witch has challenged the Child. He will deal with you. Rest assured of that!" she vowed before disappearing.
Jor-El angrily burned his son again. We'll see about that, Creature. When your abomination arrives, I'll kill it to prove a point. Kal-El's destiny is mine to mold!
Meantime, Clark tried to hang on. Lana, please....please be all right.
[Althanor-House of Healing]
As Nick stepped out of the mists, he found himself in what resembled a barn. Wood and thatch made up its walls and roof. Rows of primitive mattresses-such as those he remembered from early modern homes-lined the walls. People lay on some of them while others were ready for other patients. "Where is this, Cybelle?"
"Welcome to the House of Healing, Nicholas. You're in the hidden realm of Althanor," the priestess declared, closing the portal behind her. "Come. Xena and the Child are this way." She led him into the back room. There they found their friends watching five "beds" surrounded by a glowing energy field. Lex and Lana's bodies lay on the first two. The next bed lay empty. Finally, a pile of ash lay on each of the last two.
Xena comforted the Child, trying to keep him calm.
The Dark One sputtered something unintelligible. Despite the low volume, he was more distraught than ever.
"What is this?" Nick asked. "Cybelle, what is this?"
"Ah've screwed up. Ah couldn't save 'em!" the Child spat vehemently. "Couldn't save 'em from 'er!"
"But she was imprisoned. How?" Nick wondered.
"She has cast spells prior to her imprisonment that we didn't know about. Apparently those who had been infected by her evil could spread it," the priestess explained. "Dave was one of those infected carriers. When Dad beat on him in Smallville, he triggered the Child and the curse at the same time."
The vampire stared at his distraught friend. So this is the tie between him and that town. He already has too much on his back to have to carry that guilt too. "It's going to be all right."
"Hey, Nickie-Boy, git a clue! They're dead an' Ah failed! It sucks!" the Child vented, fuming over this turn of events.
Xena rubbed his shoulders, trying to give support where she could. "If you don't know them then how could you have sworn to protect them?"
"Big Bro don't! Ah do!" The Dark One fumed. "When Ah git mah hands on that bitch, Ah'll rip 'er 'part!" He glared at them, the tears of resentment and anger coursing down his cheeks. "Ah'll stop 'er but good!" He stood up and threw a blast out the window, stirring up the whole community.
Nick asked, "What can you do?"
Xena cleared her throat. "Nicholas, that's not the issue here. Apparently, he has a vow of some sort." She arched her brow at the others and shot them a stern glance, cutting off further debate. "Cybelle, can your high priestess give us any insight into this?"
"Yes. Meantime, our herbs are purging the young man of the poison. He'll still need blood though," Cybelle declared.
"From me," the Child stated, rolling up his sleeve.
"You?" They chorused.
"Ya got a better idea?" he growled. "Big Bro...said...same blood."
They've got the same blood type? It's worth a shot, especially if it takes the edge off of his anger. "Just a minute." She opened a portal and disappeared into it. A couple of minutes later, she returned with a tube and two pint blood bags. "Xena, can you help me?"
"Yeah," the warrior concurred, drawing upon Angie's medical knowledge to help set up the transfusion apparatus. Within a minute, they had the tube and bag set up in addition to getting another "mattress" in place. "Ready?"
"Damn straight," the Dark One agreed, getting in position. "Git movin'!"
"Here goes!" Cybelle stated, disinfecting the spot and inserting the needle into his arm. "Xena?"
Xena looked up from Lex's side. "Same here." She watched the dark maroon liquid flow through the tube into the comatose billionaire.
Nick stood there, tracking both heartbeats with his enhanced hearing. "Heartbeat's steadying."
Meantime the Child gripped Lex's hand. "Live dammit, Lexie! Live!" With that, he fell into a deep sleep.
"What the?" Xena inquired, checking his vital signs. "What in Tartarus?"
Cybelle almost panicked, fearing her brother to be a victim as well. Focusing on him, she picked up on something unique. "No, Xena," she stated when she came to. "He's returned to Outer Earth. Apparently, he can bilocate as well."
"Bilocate?" the Warrior Princess wondered. "What does that mean?"
"It means that he can appear in two places at once," Nick explained.
"Exactly. And if the Child has gone off in his current state, he'll be uncontrollable. I do have an idea where he's gone though," Cybelle declared grimly.
"He wouldn't go after the witch?" Nick queried, fearing the worst.
"No, not yet. He'll make sure...." The priestess' eyes went wide. "NO! Why there? Xena, come with me! Now!"
"Where?" she asked.
"Metropolis, Kansas...." Cybelle noted. "He's at a grave of some sort and...not him! Why did he have to show up now?"
"Who?" Nick inquired.
"Our father. In his current state, the Child will kill him out of pure spite!" Cybelle reported, opening a portal. "Let's go. Nicholas and Genaria, watch them."
The warrior winced. Great. From Angie's memories, she recalled the last time father and son met. Just what we need now.
[St. Gabriel's Cemetery, Metropolis-Ten Minutes Earlier]
A hard rain swept across Kansas on that evening, perhaps in mourning for the foul deeds against its citizens. The wind blew harshly. Lightning flared and thunder boomed, shattering the stillness. In the western end of the state, several twisters whipped through towns, devastating everything in their path. By the end of the night, rivers would flood their banks and power would be lost for thousands of residents.
In the midst of this turmoil, the Child's image appeared in the necropolis and snarled. He knew that her grave was somewhere nearby. He could tell by the vibrations in the air. He stalked toward the south, weaving through the stones. Finally he found a raised marble monument with ornate décor. He touched the name, tracing the letters on the stone and remembering the loving red haired woman who had befriended him so long before. "Au...ntie," he growled, falling to his knees.
No answer came from the stones over the storm's howl.
"Ah...failed...ya. Couldn't pr'tect Lexie an' La...na an' Clark," he revealed mournfully. And then, for the first time in public, he broke down and wept, screaming his agony to the skies. "Why? Dammit! Ah shoulda been there! RRRAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"
"As if you could help them, you useless freak!" a familiar voice chastised.
The Child got up and found his father and Lionel Luthor standing behind him. "Git...lost! Ya'll...started this!"
"And he's talking about ghosts again!" Lionel scoffed.
"Damn straight. Yer bitch killed 'em 'cludin' Lexie....Kill...YA!" the Dark One hissed. In his hands, dark fire somehow sparked and he tensed to throw some bursts.
Before he could however, the chakram split the air between them, interrupting the hostilities.
"Git 'way!" the Child screamed.
"We can't do that," Xena asserted, catching her weapon and stepping into view with Cybelle. "Come on. Let's go!"
"Nah! Tell 'em! They...started it!" the Dark One accused.
"Of all the ridiculous things!" Lionel scoffed. Viewing the two women, he asked, "What is this? Halloween?"
"Quit the jokes, Mr. Luthor. He's right. You two bought the land and cursed both families and Smallville!" Cybelle lectured. "I'd come back later, you two, if you value your lives."
"Don't threaten me!" Stuart retorted vehemently, slapping her hard across the face.
In response, a burst of dark fire shot over her, hitting him square.
The abusive father screamed.
"Stuart!" Lionel gasped, not understanding this turn of events.
"S..so...c...c...old yet I'm....b...burning up," his friend complained weakly, writhing on the ground.
"No..." Cybelle whimpered. "This can't be happening!"
Xena drew her sword and stared at the Child.
The Dark One's spirit advanced on the duo, roaring his pain at them and preparing to blast them again. "Ya did this to me! Ah'll kill ya!"
Xena stepped between them. "We'll settle this later! Take a hike!"
"Thank you," Lionel expressed, still eyeing the maniacal spirit in front of them.
"Don't thank me," the warrior hissed. "Just beat it!" She arched her brow, narrowed her eyes and in her iciest voice hissed, "If what he says is true, I'll hunt ya both down myself! Count on it! Now SCRAM!"
Lionel helped Stuart to his feet and they ran away as fast as they could manage.
"GIT BACK HERE!!!!!!" the Child bellowed. He took a step.
Xena stood firm, holding her sword between them. "Stay back. I don't want to do this but I will. I won't let you kill them."
"Git outta mah way!" he snarled.
She shook her head, fighting off Angie's protests. Angela, I have no choice. I'm sorry. She raised her sword.
The three combatants watched as the Faerie Empress appeared in their midst.
"What is the meaning of this?" the Empress demanded.
"Ask him," Xena muttered, sheathing her sword.
"With all due respect, Milady, leave him be," Cybelle advised, finally reaching her feet and going over to him. "They confronted him."
"Lemme 'lone! Ah was seein' Auntie," the Child told her. "Wha's it matter? Kiddies 're gone!" He stomped back toward the monument.
"Auntie?" Xena asked.
"Lillian Luthor was really kind to us when we were kids, Xena. She and Dave were especially close, thus the 'Auntie' label," Cybelle explained. "She's Alexander's mother."
"Yeah, I get it," Xena mentioned grimly, understanding now why the Child had appeared there. She walked over to him. "Sorry."
"Yeah. Ah know. Ah jus' want 'em dead fer this!" he spat.
She took a deep breath and tried again. "It ain't over."
"Yeah right," he sniffled.
"Listen to her," his sister pointed out. "We'll get them back." She got in his face and reiterated, "We will get them back."
"Count on it," Xena grimly affirmed, eyeing the Empress. Somethin' else is happening here. What is it?
As if hearing her thoughts, the Empress indicated, "You're correct, Xena. There is much more here than meets the eye. Thank you for not allowing him to kill them."
"The scum deserves to die if what I've heard is true. But he couldn't handle it tonight," Xena remarked. "Where to next?"
"Back to Althanor. I have news-both good and bad-to report," the Elf-Queen reported.
Xena turned to the priestess and the spirit. "How are ya doin'?"
"Hold yer horses!" he retorted, sweeping his hand across the marble again.
"It's okay," Cybelle assured him. "Take your time."
"Yeah," he agreed. Turning back to the wet marble, he vowed, "Sorry 'bout this, Auntie Lillie. Ah'll git 'em back!" He wiped his eyes with a single savage swipe of his hand before clenching his fist and frowning. "Tell others that Ah'm on it! An' Ah ain't stoppin' 'til Ah do!" Then he rose to his full height. "Lessgo!"
"Indeed," the Empress concurred, as she teleported them all away, leaving only the stones to tell the story.
Onto Part 2
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