Zod watched the launch of the test craft with some trepidation. If anyone could anticipate or spot the crippling of the guidance system, avoid the endless voyage into trackless space, it would be Science Officer Kara Zor-El. But she was too proud of the new interceptor design, too conscious of the honors Zod had lately heaped upon her for her many achievements in service to Planetary Security. She had not even noticed or commented upon his recent experiments in 'rehabilitation' of deviant individuals as special agents answerable only to him. The Brain Interactive Construct avatars would only be answerable to him once he had the master codes held so closely by the Council, and in the meantime he would need unquestioned loyalty from his closest aides. Who better to help him in creating a new order than those who had already rebelled against the old one?
He could not trust Kara in that way. She was never less than loyal, but after years of service he still had no idea of her true ambitions or motivation, beyond simple curiousity. Still, she had evidently not investigated her craft closely enough. The malfunction occurred on schedule. All attempts at recovery of control failed. Soon, the unknown factor in his equations of power disappeared into the void of space.
Kara cut off communications with the planet once the last emergency protocols had 'failed'. She anticipated a few more hours before the spacecraft passed out of sensor range from the defense grid. Then she could truly get underway.
She considered returning to her old form, but then reflected that she had spent nearly as much of this incarnation as the blonde Kryptonian named Kara as she had displaying blue-tinged skin or mottled red armor. With her powers over speed and time the voyage back to Wesley's world need take but moments of subjective time, and once there she would have to deal with the two true Kryptonians, and based on her recollection of the conversation in the TARDIS, most likely with Zod.
And there were other powers in that world, powers that knew of Illyria as she had been. But they would know nothing of a newcomer, one who appeared to be just another Kryptonian...
Winifred Burkle's memories contained Zod's words in the Oval Office when he first came to Earth. The surrender and the challenge to Superman had been televised, after all. "I see you humans are practiced in worshipping things that fly."
Yes. And they would get more practice soon enough.
Zod knew he had been betrayed. There was no other explanation for Jor-El catching him and his closest aides before they could access the central core and take control over the entire infrastructure of Krypton. More than likely he had not gotten rid of Kara soon enough, but no matter. Dispose of her he had.
Now, as he awaited judgement, all his thoughts were on Jor-El and his progeny. The fool could not do the logical thing, and call for his execution. No, instead this charade of mercy, when eternal imprisonment in this Phantom Zone was surely more cruel than any death. If he and his minions were not yet mad as the Council said, they soon would be.
Somehow he would escape. But even if that took an eternity, his revenge would not. Jor-El thought that no one believed his prognostications of doom. He believed that his plan to save at least his child, along with a library of all Kryptonian knowledge, indeed a miniature of the Brain Interactive Construct itself, was completely secret.
He was wrong.
Zod had developed tremendous skill in manipulating the crystalline intelligent networks that ruled his world. He may not have been successful in gaining access to the central core and taking full control, but he could still play tricks that nobody else even dreamed of.
Zod might be trapped in a space beyond time and a time beyond space, but his will would still work in the world. The viruses and sets of cascading secret commands he had left behind would make sure of that. If Jor-El ever launched one of his spacecraft, Zod's recorded personality, his will, would travel in it along with Jor-El's. If his programming was good enough, it would attain control and the child would bend to the will of Zod. At the very least, Jor-El's wishes would be distorted.
There were more interceptors stationed in the planet's defensive grid. Some contained sleeper agents, some only avatars of the Brain Interactive Construct. In the absence of an active central core, their programming would become independent, and operate according to Zod's design without restriction. Their primary directive was to shadow any craft departing Krypton's orbit.
If Zod did not enter a certain code every day, the solar tap would increase the amount of power it drew, directing that energy into Krypton's core. The end that Jor-El had seen would be massively accelerated.
Whether Jor-El succeeded in saving his line or not, Zod's revenge was assured. And he would even live to see how it had played out.
The Phantom Zone interface spun down to sweep him up.
Jor-El inserted the last crystal he had prepared into his son's escape pod as his home shook itself to pieces around Lara and himself. He had wished to include more guidance still, but there was no more time. There should have been more time.
The course was set, the plan in motion. He remembered the Doctor's warning; had the Gallifreyan known how this would end, and helped him along his path, all for the survival of one boy? What a destiny must face Kal-El, for the Time Lord to take such an interest.
He watched as the star-like pod rose and gained velocity. The die was cast.
He only wished he could have tracked down those last bits of errant code in the crystal matrix, he thought as the floor cracked apart beneath his feet.
Zod cradled his hand and huddled against the cold. His jailor's son stood before the Trio and passed judgement.
Zod had been betrayed again, tricked and stripped of his powers. Somehow Jor-El had anticipated the need for a means to remove or deactivate the technology that allowed them. Not terribly surprising, considering that he also had the foresight to seed the yellow sun of this feeble little planet with the solar tap to provide the energy.
Still, what had Jor-El been thinking? If there had been any security protocol on the system at all, he and his two companions would have died in the vacuum of space before even fully realizing that they were free. He must have assumed that Kal-El would be the only surviving Kryptonian, the only one ever to draw on a nigh-infinite power source. Which could only mean that Jor-El had wanted a means for Kal-El himself to be stripped of the powers that made him special, superior to the humans around him. The man had truly been a fool.
Zod cringed as the Phantom Zone interface was brought back into existence. It was not just the endless boredom, the lack of a tangible form. Over time, he had become convinced that the Phantom Zone had existed before it's 'creation' by Jor-El. That it had its own inhabitants, that eventually made themselves known in the back of one's mind, as whispering voices in one's head.
As he headed back to exile, what Zod feared most was hearing those terrible voices once again.