Lana Lang-Kent writes….
So much for Christmas in Smallville. <sigh…> After the Overmind's attack, we decided to bring Melissa, Mom and Dad down here for their own safety. Still, who knows if we can stop him here? Given how he plowed through us, Spidey and Mutant X, we're going to need all of the help we can get. Complicating things all the more, we're dealing with the Child 24/7 after the Overmind did something to him. Needless to say, he keeps raving about getting payback.
Trouble is, what will that cost him and all of us?
Chapter 14 [Faerie Realms]
Chapter 14 [Faerie Realms]
The Faerie Empress frowned as she considered the recent events in the world beyond. It is worse than I feared. This alien threat will endanger everything. She gazed from the window of her citadel toward the House of Healing. At least they kept the casualties down in Smallville. Seeing Genaria enter the room, she asked, "How goes it with the patients?"
"Most are still out, Milady," the priestess replied, giving a slight bow. "However, they are not deteriorating either."
"That is good to hear," the Empress acknowledged, "and any word from Deirdre concerning her father?"
"None," Genaria reported. "But he is not rampaging at least."
"But he seethes, Genaria. When next he and the Overmind meet, I want it to be away from prying eyes," the Empress instructed. "Well now, it seems we have visitors."
"What?" Genaria inquired.
"Come; I need to investigate further," the Empress commanded, summoning the mists and taking them both away.
One of the assistant priestesses led Max, Laynia, and Emma to the House of Healing. Adam had requested a report on the wounded as well as any other information.
Despite the pounding in her head, Laynia tried to focus. For the past two days, she had tried to deal with the headache related to the Overmind's breaking of the dark force field and the recoil knocking her out. "Oh, my head."
"Yeah, someone get me an aspirin too," Emma groused, rubbing her head.
"And one for me," Max added, shooting them both a concerned look.
"How are you, Max?" Laynia wondered.
"Oh peachy. My head's ringing but otherwise, point me to Big Ugly again," the transgenic remarked ruefully.
"That attitude does you all credit, but you need rest," the Faerie Empress declared, appearing on the scene with Genaria. "Seeing you does my heart good, friends."
"Who?" Laynia asked.
"This is the Faerie Empress, Laynia," Emma informed her, giving the Empress a bow of her head. "Where are we?"
"You are in my realm," the hostess explained. "However…"
"However what?" Max inquired. She glanced at Emma who rubbed her temples. "What now?"
The psionic shook her head. "The Child is in control. Something happened when they were fighting, disrupting the balance between him and Dave." Her eyes bulged. "He can't change back."
"You're kidding, right? Oh great, we're in for it now," Max complained, rolling her eyes.
"The Child seethes, Max Gueverra, yet he causes no damage. Right now, his concern is to protect the Kents and those he loves," the Faerie Empress declared, looking at Laynia, "You remember, don't you? What happens when one crosses his dark path?"
She shuddered, seeing the standoff in Moscow again in her mind. "Da. This time, I will stand by him." She stood up and took a deep breath.
Genaria indicated, "If you wish, Xena and Gabrielle await you in the Amazon village."
Emma nodded. "We need an update. Come on, girls."
Genaria opened the portal and pointed. "Step through and you will be in the Amazons' domains."
The three mutants did so, wanting to find out more.
Go quickly, my friends. The world hangs in the balance. The Empress frowned, still thinking about their prospects.
Chapter 15 [Amazon Village]
Gabrielle sat on the throne, listening to the council's deliberations. After returning from the House of Healing, she had immediately convened the group to discuss their next action. For the past hour, they had argued about their options.
"You saw what happened," Eve protested. "We can't fight that thing."
"But we can't quit either, Princess," Varia added, looking over at Xena. "Xena, you withstood the alien's fury."
The Warrior Princess shook her head. "The Child and Clark Kent did that too and paid the price. Fortunately, we pulled Clark back. David, however, seems lost to us." She sighed deeply, recalling the Overmind's attack on the Child. "The Child won't have a problem goin' after him again."
"Can we afford to let him?" the Amazon queen wondered.
"Do you have a choice?" Ferali retorted from where he stood in the corner watching the affair.
"This is an Amazon council! Be silent!" Varia spat.
The gnome glared at the former queen. "And I am regent for Ruthwen and honor brother to David! I have faced the darkness at his side."
"Ferali, you may speak," Gabrielle bade, interceding on his behalf.
"Thank you, Queen Gabrielle," he accepted, giving her a polite bow, "my apologies for disrupting your proceedings."
"None needed," Gabrielle assured him. "You stood your ground too. You know that the Child won't be stopped, right?"
"Exactly," the regent concurred. "Begging Eve's forgiveness, I have to disagree with her. We must face the Overmind and stop him."
"And how do you propose to do that?" Cyanne, the queen of the northern Amazons, queried. "I respect your ax, Ferali of Rotelhelm, but you can't do it on your own."
"I don't want to either. One of my councilors in Ruthwen is from the future. He can get us help," the gnome proposed.
Xena nodded grimly. "Yeah. That would be a good idea." Seeing the other Amazons' confusion, she continued, "We can get Dylan Hunt and his crew. They still remember how we helped them against the Magog."
Gabrielle and Eve gave each other hopeful looks before the latter agreed, "If we can get there, we can ask them."
"That is the question," Nai-Jin interjected, breaking her trance. "But Ferali speaks true. We will need those friends of whom you speak. We don't contact them however."
"What?" Gabrielle inquired.
"The matter resolves itself even as we speak," the seeress proclaimed. "Even now, the Child seeks them out through space and time. He has admitted that he needs help against this threat and seeks it." She looked toward the door. "Speaking of which, three friends are about to join us from the world beyond. Admit them."
Gabrielle nodded toward the entrance.
The warriors at the door opened it to allow Laynia, Max, and Emma into the area.
"You're all right. Thank Eli," Eve greeted.
"Other than the headache, yeah. What's goin' on?" Max replied.
"We were discussing strategies," Xena asked.
Emma asked, "What do we do now?"
"You keep the Children of Destiny safe," Nai-Jin declared.
"Try keeping Clark out of the line of fire," Xena noted dryly.
"Where can we find help then?" Laynia wondered.
"That's being dealt with," the Amazon queen declared. "Meantime, I'm closing this meeting. Ferali, are you able to join us?"
"I must check with Reverend Bohemial," he told the others. "Then I shall return. This Overmind will taste my ax yet again!" Getting up from his seat, he bowed to the throne, "My thanks, Gabrielle, for being able to attend this assembly."
The Bard-Queen nodded. "Our interests are one in the same, Ferali. See you soon."
He turned and departed from the room.
Xena glanced around the room and then arched her brow. May the Child find Dylan and the others quickly. As much as I hate to admit it, we need all of the help we can get.
Chapter 16 [Smallville]
The Overmind glowered at his surroundings. For the past two solar cycles, he had followed Yodoshi's orders and reclined on the soft and weak chair. Now he felt ready to kill Kal-El and his consort. After that, he would be free to deal with the remaining gnats including the warrior woman, the gnome and the demon child.
As the alien rose from the couch, Yodoshi cautioned him. "It's still too soon."
"Too soon for you perhaps. I have a mission!" the hunter declared.
"And you shall fulfill it soon," his host promised, "patience, my friend. Soon we shall find our quarry. Would that please you?"
The giant stood slowly. While the wound had healed, it still felt stiff. "After the mission, I will have all the time in the universe to rest. We leave within the next two cycles or I go hunting without you!"
The demon lord frowned. This one is so impatient yet I can understand why. Miranda, I will have you.
Jonathan Kent shook his head indignantly and rose from his chair. "No! You can't be serious!"
Next to him, Martha grasped his arm and requested, "Jonathan, please listen to them. We can't stay here and be targets."
Across the room, Lex rolled his eyes and stalked over to the fireplace. Will he ever let it go? During the previous eighteen hours, he had dealt with all sorts of contractors, media people and other riff-raff. At Clark's request, he had offered the Kents lodging at the hacienda in Tucson. However, Jonathan rebuffed the offer with his usual prejudice against the Luthor name. "Look, Mr. Kent, I'm not my father! Will you understand that? I don't want you in harm's way!"
The farmer sighed, "Lex, I know you aren't but it was your father's blood money that's paying for these things!"
"And he's trying to redeem them! Listen, Mr. Kent!" Chloe retorted sharply. "You don't have a choice, all right? We're all targets here! All of us! My father's already at the hacienda. Are you going to worry Clark and Lana? Do you want to rile Tall, Dark and Possessive?"
"She's right," Martha added, looking into her husband's eyes. "We can't fight this battle. Besides David wants to protect us."
"And we're better off down there rather than here? I don't believe it," Jonathan disagreed.
"There ya've got our friends ta help," the Child retorted from the corner. "We ain't talkin' ‘bout this. Ya'll are comin'. End a' discussion. Nothin's happenin' ta ya'll!" Making sure the others saw the fire in his open left eye, he continued, "Bad ‘nough that twit broke Picture Place an' hurt Big Bro. Nah, when Ah git mah hands on ‘im, that boy's gonna hurt!"
"Calm down," Lex requested, not wanting the Child to go on a rampage. "It's going to be okay."
"Tell Big Bro that," the Child snarled, storming out of the room. "Ah'm hungry."
When he had left, Martha asked hesitantly, "Is there any hope to get him to switch back?"
The billionaire shook his head. "Lana and Sarah have both been inside of his head and can't detect anything of Dave in there. Whatever the Overmind did to him, he's stuck." Looking out of the window toward town, he added, "I agree though. The Overmind is still out there and waiting for his chance. We stand a better chance together."
Jonathan bowed his head. He had never run from a fight in his life. However, this time he had no choice. This alien would kill him, Martha and Melissa to get to Clark and Lana. "All right," he relented. "For my family's sake, we'll go to Tucson."
Lex smirked. "Thank you, Mr. Kent. I'm glad you're coming. You are all family to me. And believe me, the less we can worry the Child, the better."
Hearing the snarling echo up the staircase, the farmer gulped nervously. What's the bigger threat? The alien here or the Child there?
[Kent Condo, Tucson—A half hour later]
Lana hung the phone up and allowed her mood to lighten a bit. At least, they won't be potential targets up there. She turned to find her husband, MJ Watson and Peter Parker waiting for the outcome of the conversation. "The family's coming, Clark."
Clark sighed with relief, knowing how stubborn his father could be. "Kicking and screaming, I'm sure."
"Don't make it harder on him than it is," she told her husband. "You know how Dad is about accepting anything with a Luthor name attached."
Clark rolled his eyes, having waged this debate nonstop since high school. "I'm glad he's going to be here."
"We can keep him safe," Peter assured him.
"Thanks, Pete, but your leg still isn't up to snuff yet," Clark declined. Just three days earlier, he and Lana had discovered that the shy and borderline nerdy Physics student was actually Spider-Man. In the midst of the Talon battle, the Wall Crawler had bought precious seconds for the reinforcements to arrive.
"I don't want you getting any worse, Tiger," MJ added worrying about him.
"I don't think we have a choice," Peter countered. "Besides, I know you all would help keep Aunt May or MJ's Aunt Anna safe. We're in this together."
"Thanks, Pete, we knew we could count on you," Lana expressed. At that moment, the phone rang again and she answered it, "Hello?"
"Lana, it's Professor Miles, are you all right?" Nick asked.
"We're fine. What can I do for you? Is everything all right?" she wondered.
"For now. I've called the other students to a meeting at the El Gato. Can you and Clark come?" the archaeologist wondered.
"I guess. Hey, this wouldn't have anything to do with our current situation, would it?" she inquired.
"That's what it's about," Nick replied. "Half an hour, then?"
"Sure. Umm, say can we bring a friend with us?" Lana queried, glancing at Peter. "He would have some first hand info for the others."
"You mean Spider-Man?" Nick inquired. "We've been trying to find him for months!"
"Well, let's just say he was passing through Smallville when the Overmind hit and…you might say, he took his lumps helping us. He's okay, Dr. Miles," she explained.
Pete shook his head. Another JJJ. Great.
"If you say so. All right. Have him come along," Nick relented, hanging up.
"Get changed, Pete, you're coming with us," Lana indicated, drawing the blinds.
The Physics student hesitated momentarily, still adjusting to the idea of their knowing his secret. Get over it. He shed his clothes, revealing his costume.
"We can keep these in the bedroom for now," Clark agreed.
"Thanks," Pete replied, checking the cartridges in his web shooters to make sure they were full of fluid. "Check." Pulling on his gloves and mask, he completed the change to Spider-Man. "This is the bar down on Congress, right?"
"Right," Clark concurred. "If you want to wait a minute, I can give you a ride."
"Sounds cool. I have to admit that riding shotgun in a Ford pickup ain't exactly a Spidey thing to do," the Web Head cracked.
Lana rolled her eyes. "We have a more unique method of transportation. How strong is that web line of yours?"
"It can hold a safe in midair for an hour. Why?"
"You'll need it to be that way," Clark noted. "MJ, do you want to stay here?"
"Yeah, I'll hold down the fort," the redhead concurred. "One thing though." Looking at Spidey, she requested, "Hey, Tiger, no unnecessary chances, all right?"
"I don't believe in them," he replied, rolling up his mask to reveal his mouth. "Stay safe, okay? I'll be back before you know it."
"I'll be counting the minutes, Peter," she declared, kissing him. Then she rolled his mask back into position. "Make a good impression."
"Hey, I'm Mr. Popular. Just ask The Daily Planet," Spidey retorted.
Clark and Lana gave him incredulous looks. In the write up on the Smallville incident, Chloe had credited him with helping to save the town from the Overmind's attack. Perry White, the assistant editor-in-chief, put the story on Page 1 to spite the Daily Bugle and its cheapskate, tyrannical head, J. Jonah Jameson. "Let's go, Mr. Cool," she urged. "MJ, we won't keep him out past his bedtime."
"Yeah, yeah. So where's the runway?" Spidey asked, not wanting to be outdone on the wisecracks.
"Back patio," Clark told him. "Ready, Honey?"
"I love flying first class," the former cheerleader deadpanned as she slipped a ski mask on.
"Flying?" Spidey asked.
"Yeah. What's the problem? You swing over the city. I'm offering you the express," Clark explained. "It should be safe enough." He pulled his mask on. "In case we're seen."
"It's clear," Spidey noted, feeling no tingle from his spider sense. "Let's go." He aimed at Clark's back and attached a web line in the middle. "Don't worry; it melts in an hour."
"Good thing for you. Otherwise, the laundry bill's yours," Lana told him as they took off.
As he was yanked off the ground and adjusted to trailing Clark high above the city streets, Spidey was stunned at the Kryptonian's abilities. Is there anything that Clark can't do?
"How are you doing back there?" he asked.
"Oh fine. I fly like this everyday, you know," the disoriented passenger said, trying to make light of the situation.
"It does take some getting used to," Lana informed him.
"We're here already," Clark added, landing in the alley behind the El Gato. "Follow us."
As the trio walked into the tavern, Spidey's sixth sense blared away to beat the band. "From the feeling I'm getting, I feel as though I'm walking into a crypt."
"You might not want to use those words in here," Lana told him, looking around as they made their way over to the tables where Mutant X, the other new mutant students, Nick, Steve Petersen, Garth Singleton, Samantha James and Don Schanke awaited them. "Hi, everyone."
"Take a seat," Nick urged. "I'm glad we could meet finally, Spider-Man."
"Yeah," the Web Spinner agreed cautiously, glancing at the others at the table. Nobody here is what they seem. "I'm glad that I could help out."
"And we owe you a big thank you," Miri expressed. "You gave us time to regroup and for Clark to get on the scene."
"It'll be good to have you with us," Steve noted. "No offense but I like to keep track of all of the players on the floor."
"Well, I do prefer to work on my own but I can be a team player," Spidey replied.
"History shows that rogue players often fall by the wayside," Janette interjected, placing sodas on the table for the other students. "And would you like something, my friend?"
"Just a Pepsi for me. I'm just a little spider," the Web Spinner replied.
"And a menace," Eckhart retorted, sauntering over. "Is this a private meeting or can anyone join in?"
"What is it, Mason?" Adam inquired impatiently.
"I wanted to air my disapproval of your nonsense, Adam. This is a private club. Certainly not a place for mutant vermin or arachnid pests," the former administrator slurred.
Spidey shook his head. "Zip it, Big Mouth." Firing over his shoulders, he hit Eckhart in the face with a quick burst of webbing. "Calling me a pest hurts my delicate feelings."
Around the table, the group, especially Mutant X, had to stifle laughs and smiles. Anyone who could shut Eckhart up deserved brownie points in their book.
Eckhart tore off the chemical gag and allowed his eyes to glow and fangs to show at the costumed hero. "I'll kill you for that."
"You all are full of surprises. You all are mutants. He's a vampire. Anything else I should know?" Spidey replied while getting up and springing onto the wall.
"You fear us?" Eckhart retorted. "You should."
"Eckhart, stop it," Nick ordered, allowing his own eyes to glow at the insolent fledgling.
"I've boogied with your type before, Ick-hart, and lived to tell of it. Once you've done Drac, you don't go back," Spidey informed him flippantly.
"And you faced Vlad?" the Elder asked, recalling his encounters with the tyrant.
"Yeah I did. Not exactly a pleasant experience but I did make it out of there. Why? You guys go back a long ways?"
Janette smiled knowingly. "You could say that, Monsieur. Nicolas and I have known the Impaler for…a long time if you get my meaning."
"Excuse me, Nick," Schanke interjected. "Aren't you and Janette being too open with Bug Boy here? We don't know him."
"But he is known to the Community," Nick explained. "That is why I agreed with him being here. You can keep a secret, I trust, Spider-Man?"
"I'm good with secrets being the meek and retiring type," Spidey agreed. "So what do you want to know?"
Martin cleared his throat and started. "We want to get a handle on the Overmind and how he attacks."
"How's this? He's built like a house and has a mind blast that'll clear the sleepers out of your head on the worst final exam day," Spidey mentioned.
"That's about right," Laynia chimed in.
"He also has hypnosis," Mikhail added. "He forced me to change back to human."
"And a hell of a backhand," Jesse pointed out. "Even massed out, I could feel it."
"But the Child's fire bursts made an impression and so did Xena's sword and Ferali's ax," Lana realized.
"You almost have to attack his soul if you want to survive," Emma supposed.
"If you can stay in a fight long enough to do it," Miranda countered. "Dr. Kane, is there anyway we can come up with something to deal with him?"
"We could try a sub-dermal governor," Brennan suggested.
"He's also invulnerable to nearly everything we threw at him," Adam added. "Apparently, magic can affect him. As for your idea, Miranda, I can try but it'll take time that we may not have."
"We should just let the Child have another shot at him," Garth declared. Seeing the others' incredulous looks, he asserted, "Look, I've dealt with Dave's dark moods longer than anyone else except for Karen and you, Steve. I've been in the Pit with Ferali and him. The one thing is that the Child can survive a fight with this creep. He's already done so."
"And then there's the possibility that my stepfather's involved in this too," Miranda added, shivering.
"The Child did say that he could sense Yodoshi there," Clark recalled.
"Yodoshi?" Spidey asked.
"He's a sensei who can draw on the spirit of a long dead ancestor. Said person was half-man, half-demon until he was killed," Miranda explained, "by Xena."
Great. "Who's worse, then? Your dark prof or the gruesome twosome?" Spidey wondered.
"The Child's protective of us all. I'd rather have him on our side any day of the week," Lana asserted.
Jasmine looked at the others in confusion. "This ‘Child' that you're all talking about—this is the Professor, right? My father tells stories about him turning into a dark jinn or something."
Nick frowned, again being reminded of his part in Dave's curse. "That isn't very far from the truth actually. Professor Dubois is schizophrenic; torn by a dark curse in two."
Seeing the others looking at her anxiously, the princess nodded with uncertainty. "I see." When this is over, I'll need to ask him for more info. Either that or Papa can tell me more. "And the Jinn, he stopped the Overmind the last time?"
"He and Xena managed to chase him off," Clark reiterated. "I've learned never to bet against those two on anything."
Nick nodded. It could come down to the Child again. "On that note, I guess we'll watch out for each other. We are a community and as such, we keep an eye out. That's it. Dr. Kane wanted you all up at Sanctuary to work on things. You too, Spider-Man."
One by one, the students approached Spidey and thanked him for helping in Smallville.
For the Wall Crawler, it was a strange feeling to be appreciated. Still, I could get used to it. It is nice to have friends, Web Head. Very nice indeed.
Chapter 17 [Dubois Condo]
Even as the students met at the Gato, Angie worked in her study, trying to keep her mind off of the mess in the next room. Lucky for us the Child is behaving. She looked over her shoulder toward the bedroom where she heard him tossing and turning. I wish he could relax. That might help him. She finally conceded the point, padding back across the carpet to their room. "Hey. Are you okay?" She shook him hard but received no response.
Dave, what is this? She shook nervously. I wish Emma could help us.
The Child's image materialized in the middle of the cemetery, looking for solace. "Ah've screwed up."
No you haven't.
He looked around, his lip curling in rage. "Ah'm pissed now! ‘Mon out!"
All you have to do is ask. Laura and Lewis Lang appeared in front of him.
"You've done what you're supposed to do," she affirmed. "Now you need to seek your other friends out."
"Go to the future," Lewis continued.
"Have faith. This darkness will pass after you right a wrong done by another," she added. "Have faith…." With that, the two angels disappeared.
"Yes, you dolt, if you're capable of such things," a familiar voice challenged.
The Dark One wheeled around to find Yodoshi standing behind him. "Ya've gotta a death wish, don't ya, Boy?"
"I've already died and been reborn thanks to Xena. I don't fear you," the samurai asserted. "You have something that's mine."
"Nah, she ain't yers. Ya stole ‘er from us!"
"I will come and reclaim her," Yodoshi vowed.
Allowing his hands to glow, the Child warned, "Stay ‘way from us or git ‘nother taste. How's Big Ugly? He learned yet?"
"He hunts you, Dubois, and the brats!" Yodoshi asserted. "I will lead him to you when I'm ready."
The Child laughed derisively, the sound echoing clear into town. "Come an' Ah'll whup ya'll! Tell Big Ugly Ah'll kill ‘im! And Ah won't stop w' that fer ya'll!"
"Not this time," the demon lord disagreed, disappearing from view.
"Wha'ever!" the Child growled. Looking toward the night sky, he called, "And…meda." Imagining the ship in his mind, he disappeared from view, heading for the stars.
Onto Part 4
Return to the Academy