Lex walked into his mansion, still annoyed by seeing with his own eyes that Lana and Clark were back together. He could see it in Lana's eyes and the way she was so welcomed by Martha Kent.
He walked over to his drink stand and began to pour himself some whiskey, when he heard the doors behind him open and he quickly spun and stared almost in shock, as his father walked in, looking for the all the world like nothing had happened to him. He watched as his father smiled at him in greeting, before pouring himself his own drink.
"Something wrong Lex?" he inquired, after downing his drink.
"Dad, what happened to you?" he asked. "You've been in a coma for the last day and a half," he added.
"I only remember feeling a spasm of pain in my back before passing out," Lionel replied. "Has it really been a day and a half son?" he inquired, looking a little off balanced at this.
"The cameras and alarms were all disabled dad, which is how they got in whoever they were, but I suspect they were after the stones," Lex responded, after a few minutes and downed his own drink. "They may be trying to get rid of anyone else who has an interest in them," he continued.
"Then again it could be the Teague's," Lionel shot back. "Remember son, they are not to be trusted, especially Genevieve Teague, she is ruthless," he warned him.
"I know, but considering how Jason looked when I told him about you, I doubt it was them," Lex responded. "No, someone else is out there looking for them and they are not above killing us to get them. I went to see Clark and Lana to warn them, but Clark wasn't there, however they are supposed to be coming over to see me later," he told his father, after pouring himself another drink and moved to sit at his desk.
"Then we better keep our eyes open Lex, just in case they strike again," Lionel advised his son, before he turned and began to leave. "Now if you will excuse me son, I have some business to take care of," he added before walking out.
Lex leaned back in his seat and shook his head, somewhat not too surprised that his father had recovered, as he was not that easy to get rid of. He sighed, wondering who else was out there after the stones and when they would show themselves. He downed his drink and began to look over the latest reports from his doctors.
Outside the mansion Jor-El smiled, pleased that he had been able to play the part of Lionel Luthor to the point where even his son was fooled. He was still in the process of turning this vessel into his oracle, but he had decided he could use it to help his son and his friends more than having them continually visit the fortress and risk been discovered by Lex or the Teague's using the caves.
Raya was shocked by what she had been told by Jonathan Kent, she knew it was possible to send such things through time, as her race had long discovered how to bend time even to the point of changing it. She knew that within the fortress was a time crystal, kept for emergency uses, as well as a time portal, so she was not skeptical of the tale.
Still it did at least explain why Kal-El had lost his control so quickly. He has been overwhelmed by the memories of his future self, which was dangerous. She was sure Lana would be able to help him refocus and put it aside for now. It was clear from the story that Kal-El still had much more to tell them, but had not got around to it at this point. They would have to be careful how they went about changing the events to come or all they may do is make things worse.
In the next room Clark laid against Lana, still trying to stem the raging emotions within him. Flashes of what Lex would do, continued to plague him and each one made him feel sick. He began to focus on Lana's presence and slowly he felt himself begin to calm down. He leaned his head against hers and listened to her comforting words, as she tried to help him calm down.
He remembered feeling something like this when he had seen Lana marry Lex in the future and he had gone out to find a fight and ended up facing off against Titan. One of the prisoners who escaped the zone in the future, this time the rage was worse, as was the fact that he had no one who he could take his anger out on. It was difficult to see where he ended and his future self began, but he had to find something to separate them, so he could function better, without losing his control again. He would be no good to anyone this way, so he decided to have a talk with Jor-El about it later on, once he went back to the fortress on his own.
"Clark, what is it Lex will do, that makes you feel such rage?" Lana inquired softly.
Clark did not answer, instead he took her hands and led her into the room where the others were and sat down next to Raya, pulling Lana down next to him.
"It's not just one thing Lex will do Lana. It's the many things he will do in the future that throw up such a storm inside me," Clark said, making it clear to the others what this conversation was about. "I keep getting flashes of them and each one evokes a strong reaction," he added.
"That is to be expected Kal-El," Raya told him. "Our people experimented with this kind of time manipulation a long time ago and in each case the person involved found it difficult to separate himself from the memories of their future selves. I do not remember the specifics of how this was done in the past, but I do remember that one of the ways they tried to control the flow of memories was meditation," she explained.
"Clark, can you control yourself in front of Lex?" Martha asked her son, still concerned about seeing her son in such a state.
"No, I can't, but Kal can," Clark responded. "He will help us now, because our mission is the same," he added, as his parents went to object to that idea."It's the only way I can be in the same room as Lex and not do anything," he told them.
"Clark, what did he do?" Lana asked.
"That is a loaded question Lana Lang," a new voice interrupted them and they all looked up in surprise to see Lionel standing outside the door, however he seemed different and next to him was a tall black skinned man who's eyes flashed red.
"Hello father, J'onn," Clark said, not surprised to see Jor-El using Lionel to converse with them or that he was with the Martian Manhunter.
"My son," Jor-El responded. "Raya it is pleasing to see you outside the zone once more," he added.
"Thank you Jor-El," Raya responded. "J'onn, I am glad you will be helping us in our struggle," she said turning to the Martian.
"Clark, are we sure that is Jor-El and not just Lionel acting?" Jonathan asked, a little of the hate he felt for both men coming through.
"It's him dad, believe me," Clark responded. "J'onn would be nowhere near him, if it was not Jor-El," he explained.
"So what were you saying Jor-El?" Lana inquired, a little intimidated by the presence of Clark's real father.
"The question you asked Kal-El has no easy answer Lana Lang. Lex Luthor had perpetrated many evil acts. Having seen the memories of Kal-El's future self, I think the most soul destroying for him was losing you to him next year," Jor-El answered, as he sat down whilst J'onn leaned against the door.
"What happened?" Lana asked, very confused on how such a thing could happen here or in the future.
After a nod from Clark, Jor-El responded, "It started with Kal-El giving up his powers to safe guard you. He became effectively human and so he restarted your relationship," he began to explain. "Things went well for the first three months, bar you having to fend off certain meteor infected people, who had been sent by Luthor to test Kal-El. Each time you and the Kent's were put in danger, as was Chloe Sullivan, who helped him pass these tests," he continued.
"However a situation arrived that could not be solved without Kal-El's gifts, but he still tried and was shot and killed during the attempt. I, using this vessel, took him to the fortress and revived him, along with his abilities, however there was a very heavy price that came with his resurrection," here Jor-El paused, whilst Clark buried his face in his hands, as the memories of those events came back to him.
"What was the price?" Chloe inquired, glancing at Clark and noted with concern that he had began to shake, only for both, Lana and Raya, to place a comforting hand on his back trying to sooth him.
"A life of one of his loved ones had to be exchanged. This was not something that could be avoided, as there is a balance within all things and it must be kept, so by reviving Kal-El I upset that balance," Jor-El answered.
"And so someone, most likely one of us, had to die to balance things again, correct?" Chloe asked, horrified by this, because she knew how Clark must have responded to this when he found out.
"Sadly yes, Kal-El was not pleased, when he found this out, but as I said it could not be avoided," Jor-El answered. "The return of his powers however strained his relationship with Lana Lang greatly, as he retreated into himself, as well as cutting of their physical relationship, out of fear of hurting her," he began to explain again. "It came to a point where Kal-El had to make a choice between telling Lana the truth or losing her completely," he stated.
Lana colored slightly, when Jor-El mentioned her and Clark having a physical relationship, but quickly put it aside and focused on what they were being told. "What did he do?" she asked, even as she felt Clark relax somewhat under her hand.
"He decided to tell you everything and brought you to the fortress as proof, before he explained all of it to you and then ended it by asking you to marry him," Jor-El answered with a small smile, noting the wide eyed stares this caused. Not only from Lana, but the others in the room as well, bar Raya, Clark and J'onn. "He gave you time to think things through and then you came back here and told him the answer was yes. I never have seen my son so happy, as he was for those few hours you were his fiancée," he added, before he frowned as he recalled what happened next.
"What happened next?" Lana asked, feeling her heart beat wildly at the idea of being engaged to Clark. A dream she had more than once in the past four years, even when she had been with Whitney, Adam and Jason.
"Sadly, when you went to see Luthor to comfort him, because he had lost the election rally to Jonathan Kent, he noticed the engagement ring and realized you had all the answers he had searched for and began to demand that you would tell him. He chased you out of the mansion and down route forty, straight into an oncoming bus. You were killed in the crash and Kal-El for one of the few times in his life was too late to save you," Jor-El informed them.
Lana shook her head almost unable to believe that she could accomplish her dream only to have it taken away by the actions of Lex Luthor. She felt a burning anger light within her at learning this, but she quickly decided to ignore it, as she felt Clark begin to heave as if he was trying desperately to control his emotions. She and Raya both stepped up their attempts to keep him calm, neither bothered by the actions of the other as their only concern was Clark.
"Go on Jor-El," Jonathan said, hating to see his son in such emotional turmoil, yet knowing only Lana and maybe Raya could help him right now, whilst trying not to let what he was learning to influence his actions right now. Which was very hard, as all he wanted to do was rip Lex to bits.
"Kal-El became emotionally unstable in response to loosing Lana and he came to the fortress to demand I reverse it. I told him I could not, because although our powers here are strong we are not gods," Jor-El went on, after a few seconds. "He persisted and so I told him of the time crystal which would allow him to go back in time to try and reverse what he had done. I gave him a stark warning that fate would find a way to correct the balance, even with his intervention," he explained.
"Kal-El nodded and took the crystal not really realizing what he had done in his pain. After seeing his worst fear come true in Lana dying, due to knowing his secret, he decided not to tell her this time and the strain on their relationship deepened, whilst Luthor acted the concerned friend throughout it all," he continued.
Lana closed her eyes at this, although she was not too surprised by Clark's future-selves' choice, after seeing her die, due to knowing the truth about him. She was sure there could have been other choices he could have made, which would have helped her understand the truth, as well as keep her away from Lex. Now they could avoid it all, if they were lucky.
"Although Kal-El managed to save you and the one called Lois Lane he was unable to stop Jonathan Kent from meeting in secret with Lionel Luthor, which caused him to have a fatal heart attack," Jor-El explained.
"Are you saying Clark traded his father's life for mine?" Lana asked, opening her eyes shocked at this.
"No, remember the life that was been balanced was Kal-El's own," Jor-El gently reminded them, as Martha cried and hugged her husband, trying to reject the idea of her husband dying. Jonathan just hugged her and tried to keep her calm.
"I can repair the damage to Jonathan Kent with Raya's help, so he will not have to worry about such a thing happening," Jor-El offered, hoping to calm down the emotional upheaval his tale had produced.
"Lana I would rather my life was exchanged for yours or Clark's believe me. Had I been given a choice I am sure I would have made sure it was me," Jonathan said, hoping to comfort the girl who was clearly upset at this. Yet knowing he was speaking the truth, that if it came down to a choice he would rather sacrifice himself, than either one of them as he had lived a very good life. One filled with a loving wife and a son he was proud of.
Clark listened as the story of one of his worst failures was told, whilst trying to block out the memories that went with the tale. The memory of Lana's broken body and his father's fatal heart attack was almost too much. He took a deep breath whilst trying to stem the guilt and anger that the memories produced. He felt both Lana and Raya rub his back and whispering comforting words to him. They were all that was keeping him in control, whilst this tale was told.
"Luthor finally sent another meteor infected woman after you. She had the power to control whoever she wanted, which included Kal-El. Whilst it was discovered why he had been kissing this woman, Kal-El decided to use it as a means of killing your relationship. Feeling that if you were not together, Luthor would lose interest in you and focus sourly on him," Jor-El continued. "His plan worked and your relationship ended in pain, but Luthor did not lose interest, as he desired you fully, both because he lusted for you and because Kal-El had once had you. He is truly a disturbed person," he added.
The others all nodded in agreement with this assessment of the man, except Clark who just stared at the floor. Jor-El knew that telling some of what was to come was going to be especially hard on his son, but he knew it had to be done as did Kal-El.
"Part of the strain on your relationship also came for your search for answers about the second meteor shower and the black ship that came with it. Whilst Kal-El was trying to hide things connected to it, as well as remove the danger it and Brainiac represented. You Lana, teamed up with Lex to find where it had come from and what it was doing on Earth," Jor-El restarted his tale, as Martha finally regained her control and tried to dry her face.
"It put you in danger a few times and each time Kal-El saved you, however as you did not know this Lex took the credit and you began to believe he was truly a good person, who wanted what was best for you. That just hurt Kal-El all the more," he added.
Lana did not know how to feel about this part, but she vowed she would never trust Lex Luthor again for as long as she lived. She looked over and noticed Raya was watching Clark, who seemed to be finally getting some of his control back, as he was now looking at Jor-El. She could still see the pain in his eyes and she hated to see it.
"After your relationship with Kal-El ended, you grew more and more close to Luthor as you tried to uncover the truth of the black ship and Milton Fine origins. He tricked Luthor into making a virus, which he then injected into Luthor," Jor-El began again. "A few days later Luthor was abducted by the black ship, right in front of you and all you could get out of Fine was that Luthor was being prepared," he continued. "Kal-El came to try and talk with you twice during this time, but because he would not share what he knew with you or how he knew that Luthor would come back different your contempt for him grew and you parted ways badly. During the coming conflict Kal-El refused to kill Luthor, who was now the vessel of Zod and was sent into the Phantom Zone, whilst you Lana went to Lex's side, as the world began to destroy itself," he stated.
"That is how you knew of me?" Raya asked. "When you were banished into the zone, we met," she stated, looking at Clark who nodded and finally spoke.
"You saved me from three phantoms, before taking me to your tent for first aid. When you learned who I was you helped me escape, but it was at the cost of your life. We were ambushed by Zod's followers, who I had banished there the year previously. I activated the portal and it sent me, you and a couple of other zoners to Earth," he told her. "You survived long enough to reach Earth, where the sun could heal you. You then tracked me down and began to teach me. You were angry by my failure, which led to the fortress being damaged and I was annoyed that I had made such a stupid mistake again," he added. "It's just I've never taken a life by choice, only by accident and I had the crazy idea I could stop everything if I destroyed Brainiac, but I was just playing into his hands," he explained.
"Do not be too harsh on him Raya. He was not raised in a Kryptonian manor and is also not a soldier. His life here has not been without conflict, but he has little experience with the nightmare of such people like Zod and his emotions have proved to be his greatest weakness, as well as his greatest strength," Jor-El advised, when he noticed Raya frown, but she nodded after he spoke.
"Sadly we only had a few days together, before one of the escaped phantoms came after us. He was called Baern and he could drain nuclear power to power himself," Clark said and noticed the flash of hate in Raya's eyes, when he said the name.
"He attacked us at the farm, but thanks to you he was repulsed. He needed to recharge and so he went after what was left of the control center of the black ship, which Lex still had. We learned of it thanks to Chloe and her new friend Jimmy," he continued.
"I tried to get Lana to tell me where it was, but because I again refused to answer her, she only told me it was to late and the box was gone. Baern had absorbed the energy inside it and then went to the fortress to confront us," here Clark paused, hating to see the image of Raya dying for the second time.
He forced it away and continued. "He attacked again and this time he was stronger than ever. You sacrificed yourself for me again and I managed to rip the phantom out of the body."
"I tried to help you, but it was too late and you died, but thanks to your crystal, now storing the energy Baern had absorbed, I was able to re-power the fortress. Your sacrifice was not without purpose Raya," he told her with a small smile. "I owed you too much to leave you in the zone and I was willing to pay the price to come and get you now," he finished.
Raya stared at Kal-El a little conflicted, because it seemed Kal-El had a habit of making bad choices, however it was clear he was capable of making up for these actions and dealing with the situation. Learning she had died twice for him was not too surprising, as for most of her life she had served the house of El and he was the last son of Krypton, he had to be protected.
This experience had clearly changed him and made him more aware of the consequences of his actions and that he had to think more before choosing a course of action in the future. She was a little surprised by how much her death seemed to affect Kal-El, considering they had only know each other for a short time in the future. It felt nice that he had cared for her and raised her opinion of him.
"Kal-El may have made a mistake in refusing to destroy Luthor, but he still defeated Zod and then hunted down and removed the other escaped prisoners, with some help from J'onn. He proved he was cable of dealing with the consequences of his actions," Jor-El stated, quite proud of the way he had seen his son deal with the ‘Zoners' within the memories of his future self. "These events strengthened the bond between Luthor and Lana, who began to believe he was working to protect mankind from alien threats, when all he was doing was trying to increase his own power base. Luthor then began drugging her with synthetic hormones to make her believe she was pregnant, as a way of keeping her with him," he added.
"If I was already with him, why would he need to do that? Lana inquired, feeling sick as she learned more.
"Luthor likes total control over people, as well as he enjoys toying with people's emotions. You were no different in this," Jor-El answered. "As your anger for Kal-El died down, your love for him resurfaced and you both began to find your way back to each other. Luthor wanted to stop it," he added. "Kal-El's continuing rescues of you in dangerous situations, did not help matters and so Luthor decided to make you emotional vulnerable by stopping the drugs, which resulted in you believing that you had miscarried your baby, which devastated you. However a few months later you learned the truth of Luthor's deception and it broke any lingering attachment you felt for him," he went on. "On the day of your wedding you managed to plan a small series of events, which let you finally discover Kal-El's secret. You also could no longer fool yourself into believing you did not still love him and so when he came to you, you told him you were breaking it off with Luthor," he paused here, as he wondered how they would take what happened next.