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Thunder over Smallville: Book One

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Thunder over Smallville". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Sequel to An Echo of Thunder and Story #2 in the Thunder over Smallville series. Xander Harris arrives in Smallville to start his new life. How will the presence of a Thunder God affect life in this not-so-sleepy Kansas town?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Smallville > Xander-Centered
DC Universe > General
anotherlostsoulFR1551240,4331691326687,56514 Nov 0615 Feb 08No

Chapter 35 – City of Angels I

Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, or any of the Mythology that I am about to mangle to suit my own twisted purposes. Frankly, if you recognize it, I don’t own it. This work may not be sold or used for profit in any way shape or form for that very reason. Please don’t sue me because I don’t have anything worth taking…

Author's Note: Well, I guess I managed to get this chapter ready and posted more or less on time, since it's still Wednesday, but with still trying to get settled into my new weekly rehab schedule, I'm already at least a full day behind schedule for next week's post. IF all goes well and I can finish writing the next chapter tonight and get it typed up after rehab tomorrow... I might just possibly get the chapter up on time next week. Realistically, however, it probably isn't going to happen that way. More than likely next week's update will happen sometime between Thursday and Sunday, and whatever day it goes up on is likely to become the new weekly update day. On the upside though, I'm walking again! Admittedly, it's slow and painful and requires the use of a walker...but its still progress.

-== Chapter Thirty-Five – City of Angels I ==-

It was a fairly typical day in Los Angeles as much as most people were concerned. Those few human beings within the city who had any degree of real psychic powers, however, would have told a much different tale. That select group, as well as the score or so psychically sensitive demons that resided in the city, were left with the unshakeable feeling that something big was coming. They could feel it in the air, today was one of those days, the kind of day that changed everything. Even the most gifted seers couldn’t pin down exactly where or why or even how things might change, but they could see that the day was marked by destiny somehow.

What they and the normal citizens of the City of Angels didn’t know about were the three almost invisible blurs of motion that were racing toward a specific section of the city at an incredible speed. The first streak was earthbound, merely a long blur of red and blue that moved along the roadways faster than the human eye could perceive. The second, and largest of the blurs, would have been visible as a brilliant blaze of fast moving emerald light that was almost twice the size of the other two blurs. The third and final blur would have been seen as a streak of dark blue, almost dark enough to be mistaken for black. It was, therefore, almost invisible against the back drop of deep space as it and the green blur descended together toward the city from the outer edges of Earth’s atmosphere. Inside the blurs, one would find what easily amounted to four of the planet’s most powerful teenagers: Clark Kent, Satou Midori, Chloe Sullivan, and Xander Kent.

While each of the four had slightly different reasons for agreeing to make the trip to LA, they were all headed to the same place to meet with the same person. None of the four had even the vaguest inkling that this little road trip was going to do anymore than bring a fifth super-powered teenager into their circle of friends. That was the extent of their plan, but fate had an odd habit of disrupting even the best laid plans.

* * * * *

The airborne trio of teenagers landed unseen in an empty alleyway behind the student center, their intended destination, on the University of California’s Los Angeles campus. Xander and Midori both immediately willed themselves back into their normal attire, shedding the Armor of Thor and Green Lantern uniform in favor of more mundane garb. A few moments later, the unassuming teens slipped out of the alley together, chatting happily as they kept an eye out for the last member of their little group. When a widely grinning Clark Kent jogged up a few moments later, the three let out a sigh of relief.

“Hey Clark,” Xander greeted his brother warmly. “You have any trouble finding your way?”

“Not a bit,” the farm-boy replied with a smile. “The directions Chloe got off the internet were great, they led me straight here.”

“Then what took you so long?” Midori asked with a slight frown. “We gave you enough of a head start that you should have beaten us here…”

“Oh, I, uh, stopped for a few minutes over in New Mexico. A lady had a flat tire in a pretty desolate area, so I changed it for her,” he explained sheepishly.

“Ah, my little brother, the Boy Scout,” the Aesir commented with a teasing smirk.

“Uh, Clark,” Chloe asked hesitantly, “how’d you explain being out there without a car?”

“I didn’t,” he answered smugly. “I didn’t say much of anything at all actually. I sort of figured that was the best way to deal with it. Besides, the odds are that I’ll never see her again anyway.” The Kryptonian smiled slightly at the utter lack of a response his explanation generated before continuing, “So where exactly are we meeting Willow anyway?”

“On the roof of the student center actually,” Xander answered, his smirk relaxing into a more genuine smile. “Apparently it’s set up to be a picnic area since there’s not a lot of open ground on campus. It should be fairly empty at this hour on a Saturday afternoon.”

The small group didn’t get so much as a second glance as they walked through the largely empty building that housed the student center. Finding their way up to the roof proved a fairly simple task and within a short time, the four super-powered teens were stepping through the doors that led to the nearly deserted picnic area. The area of the roof that was accessible to the public was much smaller than any of the visitors had expected, containing no more than eight or ten round picnic tables, each of which was capable of seating six or eight students, providing they didn’t mind being a little close to each other.

Willow was easy enough to find, considering that only three of the tables were occupied, with a whopping eight people on the roof including the four Smallvillers. The red-head was sitting at a table near the edge of the roof with her back to the door as she stared off into the distance. Her shoulders were slumped and she seemed to be lost in thought.

The sight of his Willow sitting there, alone, hit Xander like a sledgehammer. He’d spent the past couple of months busily settling into his new life, coping with the knowledge of his heritage, making new friends and being happy, truly happy, for the first time since Jesse had died and somehow it never occurred to him that Willow had been left alone. It had never occurred to him that she and Buffy would drift apart or that Buffy might never fully recover what she seemed to have lost at the hands of the Master. He had never considered that he and Buffy were the only close friends Willow really had. Instead, he’d left her alone on the mouth of Hell with only an emotionally damaged Slayer and a stick-in-the-mud Watcher to talk to.

Even worse, he’d not only abandoned her, he’d kept secrets from her at the same time. It didn’t matter that he’d done it to try and protect her – because in the process he’d excluded her from what had become a major part of his life. Suddenly confronted by the sheer magnitude of his failure to take care of Willow, to be the friend she deserved, the Aesir found himself frozen in place. How could he make things right with her? What gave him the right to go to her like this after everything he’d done wrong?

“What is it, Xander?” Clark asked softly as his brother stood utterly motionless, staring at the back of the only red-haired girl on the roof.

“I left her alone, Clark,” the Thunder God replied sadly. “Back in Sunnydale, it was just the three of us: me, Willow, and Buffy. But Buffy hasn’t been herself since the night she drowned and I can’t be there for Willow now. She should hate me because I completely abandoned her and didn’t even realize it until right now…”

“Xander,” Chloe began a moment later. “You may be a god, but you aren’t perfect and nobody expects you to be, especially not your friends. A lot has changed these past few months… You’ve been through some pretty traumatic events and you may have made a few mistakes in how you handled things, but Willow is still your friend. She doesn’t hate you; in fact, she still cares enough about you to threaten to beat me to death with a shovel if I hurt you.”

“You didn’t abandon her, Xander,” Midori chimed in a moment later. “If you had, you wouldn’t have come halfway across the country like this just to be here when she needed you. That’s sort of the exact opposite of abandoning her.”

“If you really feel like you abandoned her, go apologize,” Clark suggested, giving his brother a gentle nudge toward the girl. “Go reconnect with your friend. We’ll hang back and wait until you’re ready to introduce us.”

The Aesir looked back questioningly at his friends. All three of the teens wore supportive, sympathetic smiles, smiles that were meant to reassure the troubled young deity. “Are you guys sure you don’t mind giving me a few minutes alone with her?”

“Not at all, Xan,” the blonde replied instantly for the entire group. “Now go. We’ll grab a table and wait on you to be ready…”

* * * * *

Willow sat staring blankly off into the distance beyond the campus. A casual observer might have assumed she was staring at the bustling city; the thriving hub of humanity was the only thing of note in the direction she was staring. However, that was not the case. In point of fact, Willow wasn’t actually staring at anything at all. Instead her focus was turned inward, fixing on the confrontation she’d had with Buffy before leaving Sunnydale that morning…

* * * * * Flashback * * * * *

Willow shook her head as she moved to answer the door, wondering who on Earth would be knocking so early on a Saturday morning. She was rather surprised when she opened the door to find Buffy on the other side. The blonde immediately smiled at her, clearly relieved that she had been the one to answer the door instead of one of her parents.

“Hey Buffy,” she greeted the other girl, forcing a smile of her own. “Is something up?”

“Hey Will,” the Slayer answered happily. “Giles needs your help with some research at the library after last night. Since your house is on my way, I thought I’d stop by and get you rather than calling…” Buffy’s tone and facial expression made it abundantly clear that she didn’t expect Willow to have any other plans.

The entire situation rankled the red-head deeply. Despite Buffy’s self-righteous insistence the night before that she didn’t want or need anyone else involved in her job as the Slayer, an insistence that had nearly resulted in several deaths and the resurrection of the Master, she still expected Willow to drop everything to help with research. While there had been a time when she might have done just exactly that, it had ended when Buffy angrily ordered everyone to just go home after they escaped from the Master’s minions. If Buffy really wanted to push everyone out of the Slaying, then she was going to have to accept the consequences of that choice.

“Sorry Buff,” she said, carefully keeping her voice calm. “I’ve got other plans and I can’t help you out.”

Willow found the look of complete shock on Buffy’s face simultaneously very satisfying yet incredibly insulting. Clearly, the idea that Willow’s life didn’t revolve around her had never occurred to the Slayer.

“You have plans?” the blonde repeated as though she didn’t believe what she was hearing. “What plans?”

“I’m leaving for LA with my mom in about twenty minutes to go meet…an old friend,” the red-head replied evenly, hesitating for only a moment before deciding not to tell her that the friend was Xander. After all, how on Earth could she explain Xander’s presence in LA when she had no idea how he was going to get there?

“So? Tell your mom you changed your mind and bail,” Buffy said with a shrug. “I’m sure they’ll believe whatever excuse you make up. We need to figure out what happened last night.”

“No,” Willow said bluntly, interrupting the former cheerleader. “You don’t get to have it both ways, Buffy. You’ve made yourself pretty clear over the past few days. You don’t want me involved in the Slaying, so consider me officially uninvolved. If there’s research to be done, you and Giles can do it without me.”

The Slayer’s face hardened abruptly. “How very Cordelia of you, Willow,” she practically snarled at the red-head. “If you can’t be involved on your own terms, you don’t want to be involved at all? Then fine, if whatever killed those vamps last night decides to start killing humans before I find it, it’s on your head. I certainly don’t need the aggravation of dealing with you and your drama.”

Willow bristled visibly at Buffy’s words and felt the power inside her stir in response to the strong emotions she was feeling. “My drama?” she demanded, her voice quavering on the edge of shouting in outrage. “My drama? Have you looked at yourself lately? You’ve been pushing people away and being a complete bitch since Spring Fling. Xander’s parents died and he moved out to the middle of Kansas and the only thing you could think of at the time was yourself. If either of us has a drama problem, it’s you and I have news for you…the world doesn’t revolve around you anymore than it revolves around Cordelia. You need to get over it.”

“Well, excuse me,” the blonde retorted with venom in her voice. “Maybe the next time somebody has to die to fulfill a prophecy, you can be the one! And afterwards, if you still have a problem with my attitude, then you can talk to me about it, but until then, stay the hell away from me!”

Buffy turned and stormed away angrily, leaving Willow seething impotently in her wake.

* * * * * End Flashback * * * * *

In typical Willow fashion, she’d been playing the confrontation over and over in her mind since it happened, trying desperately to see a way to undo what had been done. The problem was that every time, she found herself becoming increasingly upset at the blonde’s arrogant presumption that she would simply drop everything to do research for her. She was tired of being everyone’s doormat, tired of being walked over, insulted or outright ignored except when someone wanted something from her. If Buffy wanted to be that way, then the Slayer and her precious Watcher could defend the Hellmouth on their own.

The only problem with that theory, a smaller and more rational part of her brain quickly reminded her, was that it actually was a little selfish of her to risk letting the world end because she’d had an argument with Buffy. She had seen first hand exactly how terrible it would be if someone managed to open the Hellmouth and the idea of Buffy and Giles trying to defend it on their own scared her deeply. Especially if Buffy continued to behave like a self-absorbed bitch and keep pushing everyone away. There had to be some middle ground that she was missing. Some way to be able to be there without having to be treated so badly by her former friend, because she was fairly certain that’s what she and Buffy were now: former friends. Unfortunately, between her confused emotional state and the restless stirring of her powers that accompanied it, she was hardly in a position that would allow her to consider the situation rationally.

She was so wrapped up in the ongoing Buffy-related drama in her head, that she was completely oblivious to the four unusually powerful presences that her fledgling mystical senses detected approaching her. Even in the quiet hush of the nearly empty roof, she didn’t hear the not-quite-whispered conversation between the four teenagers near the door. Even the measured footfalls that could have warned her that her best, oldest, and quite possibly only real friend was walking up behind her fell on deaf ears.

In fact, it wasn’t until Xander slipped quietly onto the seat next to her and put an arm around her shoulder to comfort her that she realized he was there. Startled by his presence, she looked up into the face of her oldest living friend and was immediately shocked by what she saw. The young man radiated an aura of carefully restrained power unlike anything she’d ever imagined was possible. Whatever had happened to him, whatever he’d become…he wasn’t even remotely human now. And yet, at the same time, he was still her Xander. She could see it in his eyes, in his expression, even in the way he was holding her. He may have been gifted with incredible power, but he was still the same boy who danced the Snoopy dance for her when they watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special together every year.

“I’m sorry, Will,” he said softly. “I’m so terribly sorry…”

His words confused her, burying the elation that she felt on seeing him again under a puzzled frown. “What do you have to be sorry for?” she asked uncertainly.

“I left, Will,” he replied as though the answer were obvious. “I abandoned you…”

The red-head rolled her eyes disbelievingly. “No you didn’t, you big doof. Yes, you left Sunnydale, but you never abandoned me. In fact, I still talk to you more than I do almost anyone else…”

“Except for Buffy, right?” he countered hopefully.

There was something odd in his tone as he asked the question, an emotional undertone that she couldn’t quite place or identify. “I don’t think Buffy and I are going to be talking much after this morning,” she admitted with a sigh. “She’s just not the same girl she was before she died. She’s colder now and she’s trying to push everyone away. It’s like she doesn’t even care that you’re the only reason she was alive to stop the Master and prevent the world from ending.”

The Aesir sighed loudly, “That’s not entirely true, Will. Even if the Master hadn’t died, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. Sunnydale might not have been a very pleasant place to live…but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.”

“But…Giles said…” she began to protest.

“Will, think about it for a minute. Before the Harvest, the Watcher’s council didn’t even know that there was a Hellmouth in Sunnydale,” he pointed out in a calm, rational, and decidedly un-Xander-like way. “Buffy is the first Slayer to ever live in Sunnydale and the Hellmouth has been there forever. It seems pretty obvious that if opening the Hellmouth meant the end of the world, it would have happened a long time ago…probably before any of us were even born.”

His words stopped her arguments cold as she considered them. Like Xander, she had been there when Giles discovered the sinister truth about Sunnydale, and he was right. The Watcher had been totally unaware of the existence of the Hellmouth before the Harvest. The fact was that the Master had tried to open the Hellmouth once before and had failed without a Slayer there to stop him. Surely he hadn’t been the first or the last one to attempt it before Buffy came to town… But if the Hellmouth wasn’t as big a threat as Giles believed it was, then why did he and Buffy seem so fixated on it?

“Xander,” she began hesitantly, “how can you be so sure of that? I mean…I can see the logic in your argument, but all the books that refer to the Hellmouth say pretty dire things about opening it.”

“Not it, them,” the Aesir corrected. “There are six other Hellmouths just like Sunnydale’s…none of which have a Slayer guarding them. And yet the world keeps turning.” He sighed. “And how I know that…well, it all goes back to the start of the summer and the secret I kept from you.” He forced a half-smile onto his face with some difficulty. “But before we get into that, I brought some friends I want you to meet…” He turned slightly and waved the rest of the Smallville gang over.

The three teens came over with tentative smiles. “Willow, I’d like you to meet Satou Midori, my brother Clark, and someone you’ve already talked to on occasion: IntrepidReporter…better known as Chloe Sullivan,” He said, his smile turning genuine as he indicated each of his friends in turn. “Gang, this is Willow Rosenberg, my oldest friend and one of the protectors of Sunnydale’s Hellmouth.”

“Hellmouth?” Midori asked with a surprised look. “What’s a Hellmouth?” The question caused Willow to shoot a disapproving glare at Xander.

“Oh, right,” he answered sheepishly. “We did sort of gloss over that part when we were talking last night, didn’t we?” As the rest of the Smallville group sat down, Xander took a deep breath. “I guess I’ll go first then, since this whole trip was my idea…and for Midori’s benefit, as well as the Willow’s to some extent, I’ll start at the beginning. The very beginning actually… You see, the world is older than anyone realizes…”

* * * * *

It seemed to take a very long time for the Aesir to tell his story, the tale of everything he knew about the supernatural, but in actuality it only took the better part of an hour. He told them what he had learned from Hermes about the Old Ones, the Titans and the Gods, about human souls and True Gods, about Hellmouths, vampires, demons and Slayers. Then he told them about how he’d claimed Thor’s legacy, becoming the God of Thunder and the chain of events that led up to his own exile from Sunnydale. He even told them about what Hermes had told him this morning, about his role as the catalyst for humanity reclaiming its own destiny.

In the wake of his words, the other four teenagers sat staring at him in complete silence. Some of what he told them was new to everyone there, some of it was not, but all of it taken together prompted a great deal of thought. It was Midori who finally spoke up first, “So, if it wasn’t for you becoming Thor…the only one who would have powers would be Clark?”

“That’s what Hermes said this morning,” the Aesir replied with a frown. “It’s apparently all my fault.” He braced himself for the backlash.

“Then I owe you a huge thank you,” the Japanese girl said with a broad smile.

Before she could go on, Chloe interrupted, “We all do…you’ve given us a chance to make a real difference in the world.”

The Thunder God blinked slowly as he processed what the girls had said. “But…because of me, you guys won’t have normal lives…”

“Normal is kind of boring, Xan,” Midori countered with a smirk. “And exactly how normal do you figure our lives would have been anyway? Chloe, Clark and I would have had to deal with the weirdness that is Smallville and you and Willow would be living on the mouth of Hell… I don’t see a lot of normal anywhere in that equation.”

“She’s got a good point there, Xan,” Willow agreed with a smile of her own. “None of us were destined for normal even before you became a god. You’ve given us all the power to be more than just bystanders or side-kicks. You made it possible for us to be champions, to fight the good fight.”

Her words and the strangely grateful expression on her face left an odd feeling in Xander’s gut. It was a feeling which brought to mind something that the Valkyrie, Yve, had once mentioned, something he’d dismissed as hyperbole at the time. She’d said that one of his friends practically worshipped him already…could she have been referring to Willow?

“So the rest of you have powers too?” the red-head asked as she looked at the others. The words dragged Xander away from his thoughts and back to the present as the rest of the Smallviller’s were put on the spot by Willow’s question. Rather than answering aloud, Clark and Chloe merely nodded while Midori grinned broadly.

Glancing around quickly, Xander noticed that while he’d been talking the roof-top picnic area had emptied out, leaving only the five of them present. “Midori,” he asked with a burgeoning grin as an idea struck him. “Any chance you could seal up the door for a bit so we can do the showing part of our little show and tell session in private?”

“You read my mind, Xan,” she replied happily. The Green Lantern pointed her ring at the doorway and an opaque wall of emerald colored energy sprang into being across the entrance. “It’s not exactly subtle, but it’s effective,” she commented as her outfit shifted into her uniform. “I guess I’ll go first this time…I’m a member of the Green Lantern Corps, a group of intergalactic police officers for all intents and purposes.”

To Chloe and Xander’s deep and abiding shock, Clark spoke up next without any prompting whatsoever, before Willow could launch into the dozens of questions about Midori that were clearly written all over her face. “I’m not actually human,” he said softly. “I was born on the planet Krypton, in the Andromeda galaxy. My parents sent me to Earth as a toddler to escape my home-world’s destruction. I’m almost as strong as Xander, a little faster than he is, and nearly as indestructible, all thanks to living under a yellow sun.” He gave his brother a half-smile, “Plus I can make things burst into flame just by looking at them.” The statement drew grins from the rest of the Smallvillers who knew how he’d learned about that particular ability.

All eyes turned to Chloe next, forcing a slightly mischievous grin from the blonde, “And I was the group’s token normal human… until this morning, when I developed telekinetic abilities and Xander found out that I may not be entirely human after all…”

“Wow,” Willow said after a silent moment as her brain scrambled to take it all in. “All of that is pretty amazing… Thank you for trusting me with your secrets,” she frowned slightly, “I just wish I knew enough about my abilities to be able to tell you about them…”

“And that would be my cue to cut in,” said an annoyingly familiar male voice from next to Midori’s barrier. The group of teens turned to find a figure that was all too familiar to three of them. Hermes, however, looked a little worse for wear since the last time he’d appeared to them. He was sporting a hideous looking black eye, a split lip, and a nasty bruise splashed across his cheek.

“Hermes!” Xander exclaimed in shock. “What the hell happened to you?”

“My sister happened,” he said with a half-smile. “Athena was less than pleased with the way I handled certain parts of our conversation earlier, Xander… and she has a wicked right hook.”

“Athena?” Willow asked, her eyes going round in surprise. “The Goddess of Wisdom…”

“And War,” the Olympian added with a grimace. “People always forget that part. She’s better tempered than Ares, but watch out if you manage to upset her.” He shuddered visibly. “She sent me here to make amends. While I cannot reveal anything more about your powers than what I imparted to my cousin earlier,” he explained to Willow. “I have brought you something that can,” he produced a large, very old looking book from thin air and handed it to the red-head. “This is the Metrion Codex. Within its pages you’ll learn everything that mortal beings know about your powers, their source, and how to use them. It was written by a group of mystics in another dimension, a place called Azerath, which has since been destroyed. It is the only book of its kind left in existence, please be careful with it.”

Without waiting for the teen to form a response to the gift he’d given her, he turned to Chloe, who immediately noticed that the Olympian’s injuries already looked several days older than they had mere moments before. “While I realize that this will be a somewhat unwelcome gift…an anonymous message reached your mother a short while ago, telling her that your heritage had begun to manifest. It will take her some time to return to Smallville from where she is, but she has already begun to make the make the necessary arrangements.” He smiled sadly.

“I was also told to give you this,” a silver mask appeared on his hand as he held it out to the blonde. Its shape was not entirely unlike that of the face guard on Xander’s helmet, though somehow more reminiscent of some sort of bird. “It is magical, of course,” he explained as she took it from him. “The enchantments on it will protect your identity while you wear it…even to the point of wiping the memory of seeing you put on or remove the mask from the minds of an observer. Only those people that you personally tell about your powers will be immune to the mask’s effect.” He grinned slightly at the gleam in her eyes, “If you truly intend to use your powers the way Xander means to use his… you’ll need it sooner than you think.”

He turned to Xander next, “While it is you with whom I need to make amends, cousin, I do not have a gift for you. Instead, I bring a gift for your brother, in hopes of clearing the way between us.” The Aesir nodded curtly to his cousin, without saying a word.

“For you, Kal-El, I have brought something from your home-world,” he announced as he turned to face Clark. A pair of midnight blue gloves with a strange, red symbol on the backs had appeared in his hands. The symbol resembled a five-sided shield, similar to a diamond with one point truncated, with the letter ‘S’ in it, and for some reason it seemed deeply familiar to the Kryptonian.

“When activated, the fabric becomes adaptive and self-repairing. It will convert the clothing you are wearing into a uniform similar to that worn by the Kryptonian defense forces that were loyal to your father and fought for a free Krypton,” he explained with a soft smile. “They’re also powered by the unique energy signature produced by Kryptonian biology…meaning that for anyone else who dons them, they’re nothing more than a pair of gloves.”

Clark stared transfixed at the gloves for a long moment, before taking them and pulling them on. “How do I…” he began to ask before being cut off by the Olympian.

“Touch the symbol on the back of either glove,” the God of Thieves answered easily. “Athena and Aphrodite took the liberty of modifying the uniform to include a mask since, like the others, you’d prefer to keep your real identity a secret while using your powers.”

The teen touched the symbol and immediately gasped at the resulting sensation. It felt as though both of his hands had been plunged into icy water. The cold feeling flowed out from both hands, up his arms, across his shoulders and chest, then down the length of his body before finally flowing up his neck and over his face. The process took only moments and the results were astonishing. His ordinary clothing had been replaced by a two-tone body suit of dark and light blue color that was not entirely unlike a wet-suit of some kind. The red glyphs on the gloves had vanished, replaced by a much larger and somewhat darker red version of the S-shield that was displayed prominently on his chest. The mask was also considerably more comfortable than Clark had expected, covering his neck and face up to the hairline, leaving only his dark-hair, his eyes, and the area from under his nose down to his chin exposed, much the way Xander’s face-guard and Chloe’s mask would.

“It looks like something out of a comic book,” Xander heard himself say aloud before his brain caught up to his mouth.

“I suppose it does at that,” Hermes agreed with a slight grin. “Though it doesn’t have a cape, however…but if the shoe fits…”

“I like it,” Midori said with a wicked grin as she admired the way the suit showed off Clark’s well-muscled physique.

Chloe and Willow both just nodded their mute agreement of the more out-spoken girl’s assessment, prompting the Green Lantern to suppress a chuckle while Xander merely rolled his eyes at their reactions. Finally Chloe spoke up and asked the obvious question, “What’s the symbol mean?”

“It’s the Kryptonian glyph for ‘hope’,” the Olympian answered with a smile. “And it was the standard for the House of El, Clark’s Kryptonian family.”

“It is appropriate,” declared a new voice in response to Hermes’ words, one that resonated with a power and majestic authority that could not be denied, “Just as it is appropriate that this is our final act of direct interference in the beginning of this new era of humanity.”

The five teens and the Olympian whirled toward the new voice instantly. The speaker was a tall, broad shouldered man. At well over seven feet in height, even Clark was forced to look up at him. He wore the armor of a Viking chieftain and his hand gripped the haft of a golden spear. His rugged face sported a thick, red beard and his only remaining eye was a deep, bluish gray color. He wore an expression of almost fatherly pride as he observed the teens in the silence that followed his words.

It was Xander who spoke first, stepping in front of the man with a surprised smile as he dropped to one knee and greeted him, “All hail Odin the All-father, King of Asgard. You honor us with your presence, my Lord.”
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