Lex Luthor was getting tired of waiting.
He had demonstrated his powers to Lana, and promised to meet her on the roof of the LuthorCorp tower that night. But somehow he felt compelled to wait around in Smallville, visiting old haunts of Clark's. Was he hoping to have it out with the farm boy before the end?
And the end of what, exactly? What was supposed to happen to him, now that Fine's serum had given him these powers? What was the quid pro quo, the price that Lionel had said he'd have to pay?
The appearance of a handful of metal men - cyborgs? - in town had provided a welcome distraction. Smallville had long since become his
town in Lex's mind, and no interlopers would be allowed to disturb its tranquility. His new found strength and speed certainly came in handy. The invaders were so much research material and scrap metal before most of the citizens of Smallville even noticed their arrival. Then, of course, they vanished almost as mysteriously as they first appeared.
Now Lex was in the Kents' barn. Would he and Clark ever have one of those good talks again? Could bonds of trust, once broken, ever be reforged? Was he even really here to talk, or for some other purpose?
He didn't know.
Lana waited at the mansion. The corporate jet still needed to be fueled and prepped for takeoff, before she could take it to Metropolis and meet Lex. What would be his explanation for the new alien ship, for his strange new powers? What did it all have to do with this alien invasion, by creatures so unlike the two that had nearly killed her at the mansion before disappearing?
She idly wondered if it was somehow connected to the stones everybody had been so avidly hunting last year. Something stirred slightly at the very back of her mind.
The Fine unit assigned to this location remained in camouflage mode, blending in to a swath of wood paneling. Where was Kal-El? Events could not unfold properly without his presence. Perhaps he had been distracted by the short-lived invasion by primitive cyborgs, but that had been terminated by forces unknown to the Brain Interactive Construct. The unit deployed in London reported that the metal men had disappeared into a dimensional rift like and yet unlike the interface with the Phantom Zone, but more disturbing still were the images sent by visual feed just before the dimensional breach had been reversed. The configuration of the second group of invaders was unmistakable, from the pepper pot silhouette to the specific frequencies of force shields and energy blasts. Daleks had found this planet, however briefly. And those same Daleks had been dealt with by some other, unknown force.
For the first time, it seemed that there was more than the son of Jor-El to consider as an obstacle in the conquest of Earth.
The door of the TARDIS opened on a windswept, sandy plain, and the dark-haired man strode in. He was carrying a large duffel over each shoulder. "Well, Buff, I've got to say, this may be the weirdest thing I've ever seen, and considering how long I've been working with you, that's saying something. Whoah!" He paused as his one eye took in the size of the TARDIS control room and the corridors leading off it, then leaned back and craned his head to look at the TARDIS again from the outside.
"Sorry about that," said Xander, coming back inside and shaking his head. "That whole bigger on the inside than the outside thing kind of threw me for a loop for a second. This is some kind of wardrobe." He let the duffels slide from his shoulders to the floor just inside the door. They clanked.
"Hey, Robin, think you can get Farisa the rest of the way back to Tweedville, or should we take advantage of the space-time express here?" Xander turned around and addressed the Doctor directly. "If that's okay with you, of course. Wouldn't want to impose. I'm Xander Harris, by the way, and you must be the Doctor; you're certainly the only one who looks, and I quote, 'like he could be a junior Watcher, but even more perky'." He stuck out his hand for the Doctor to shake.
"In for a penny, in for a pound, I suppose," replied the Doctor. "At least now I know why Buffy said we were picking up a pirate. Stick yourself in the eye with a stake, did you?"
"Nah, evil preacher felt it offended him, so he plucked it out. Always thought it was supposed to be thine own eye you did that with, but I don't think Caleb was strong on the orthodox interpretations of Scripture. Totally missed that whole Thou Shalt Not Kill thing, for example. Oh, hey, Rose - didn't mean to gross you out there. Long time no see, munchkin; you're all growed up."
Xander turned around to shout out the door again. "Come on, Robin Hood, it's not like you wouldn't be in good company in here. You could take lessons in how to pose dramatically with your cloak from the Man of Steel here."
"We can hear you, Xander," replied a tall black man in a strange white hood and cloak from just outside the door. "Farisa here is eager to go with you; she says that if you are about to stop an ancient evil from rising, her tribe has experience with such things that may prove valuable. It would also save us the trouble of getting a passport for her here. I think I should stay, though - besides the Range Rover and the gear, it just feels like there's something left undone around here."
A slim black-haired girl with a sheer veil over her Bedouin-like robes came in and looked around, demonstrating her awe at the TARDIS' interior with silence rather than banter, until she saw Buffy and ran over to her. "Eldest Sister!" she said, the TARDIS translating her Arabic for everyone.
"Never mind that," said Xander. "Where's my Buffy hug and my introduction to Superman? Anyway, let's get this show on the road. Next stop, Stuffy Central."
Greetings at International Council of Watchers and Slayers headquarters were a bit more formal, considering who offered them.
"My word," said Giles. "This is quite a remarkable device, isn't it?" He was polishing his glasses in no time. "Um, I don't mean to be, well, impolite, but is it meant
to look like a police call box from my youth?"
"The chameleon circuit got stuck," replied the Doctor. "Not really worth the trouble to fix, I tend to stand out a bit wherever I go anyway. So, you must be Giles and this must be Willow. If I pick up any more passengers I'm going to have to start charging a fare."
"We really appreciate this, Doctor," said the slim redhead. She started checking items off a list before her. "Here's the Scythe, Buffy - we figure it should give a little extra umph to any ritual involving the Primal Slayer. Giles has got all the other ritual elements in his bag, and the girls left the hammer over here. Maybe you should come get it."
"Oh, nonsense, how heavy could it be?" asked the Doctor. He walked across the room to the table Willow had indicated. "Books and melee weapons, how very Victorian of you. What, is this thing made of solid metal? It's rather too large to be practical, don't you think?" He attempted to lift it and gave a surprised grunt when it failed to budge even an inch.
Buffy strode past him and lifted the hammer into the air without visible effort. "Actually, it's a troll
hammer, Doctor. Sometimes things are
more than they appear, after all," she said with a grin.
"Well, we'd better get going," said Buffy as she passed back into the TARDIS. "Time's a'wastin. Here, farm boy, see if you can stow this somewhere safe," she said, holding the massive hammer out to Clark. He took it, a look of surprise crossing his face when his hand dipped for a moment under its weight.
"Heavy, isn't it?" said Willow. "That's magic for you. Guess it doesn't completely
disrupt your powers, though, or you'd be on the floor, probably with something dislocated. That's good and bad, I guess. Good for you if we decide to take you along demon hunting one of these days, and 'cause you're not in pain right now; bad for us because that means magic won't be as effective a secret weapon against this Zod character as I'd hoped. Sorry about springing it on you, we had to know." She looked up from her checklist, evidently having enumerated this secret test among her things to do. "Oh, could you hand it over to Superman, too? Helps me calibrate a proper baseline... oh, my God, it really is Superman. Sorry, I was kind of out of it before. Ooh, and is this a tesseract, Doctor? How much energy does it take to drag all of this along with you through time and space?"
"Yes, yes, that will be quite enough, Willow. I think there will be more time for questions later, after
we've defeated the latest evil threat." Giles patted Willow on the shoulder. "You'll have to forgive Willow, she gets a little... enthusiastic at times, especially when still intoxicated from an overdose of magics. Now, wasn't there something about a world to save?"
The interceptor craft assigned to Science Officer Kara Zor-El entered normal space from a seemingly unanchored wormhole that bloomed just outside Earth's solar system. The occupant immediately began scanning planetary communications while slipping further in system at low warp speeds.
The time seemed about right; there were news reports of the Cyberman invasion. Wait - were those Daleks in the footage from London? Wesley would never know just how close his world had come to destruction, then. But there was another threat still undealt with.
"Scan the third planet for Kryptonian life signs," she ordered the ship.
"Scanning. Scans show two definite and two possible matches. The two definite matches have appeared, disappeared, and reappeared again across continental distances over the last few microcycles, in a manner inconsistent with any known teleportation devices. Observe the display."
"Ah. That is because they are not teleporting, but still riding within the TARDIS. Wise of them to recruit the Elder to their cause. Ship, do you show spatiotemporal disturbances in the same locations as the intermittent life signs?"
"Yes, coinciding with appearance and disappearance."
"Very good. Mark that pattern of disturbance in memory as 'evidence of TARDIS transit', and continue scanning for it as we approach. I wish to land near the device's final destination on this planet."