Dreams and Plans
“Wait here,” Buffy said. “Xander, stay with him.” Clark nodded. Finally, after nearly a week of searching for the mysterious financier Buffy’s sources said were behind the other Slayer’s kidnappings, they had something.
Xander misread his pensive expression. “I know, it kind of always makes me feel like a girly-man too when she leaves you behind like that. I’m in the same boat. But she’s just being protective.”
“Thanks, Xand, but you know she just left you behind to make sure I don’t faint or have a heart attack,” Clark answered. He followed the movements of Riley, Buffy and four other Slayers as they crept ahead in the darkness towards the old crypt about a hundred yards ahead.
It seemed an unlikely place to run a money laundering operation out of, but these days all you really needed was a computer and a creative financial staff. After Buffy told him about the mysterious financier behind the recent Slayer kidnappings, Clark had discretely dug into some of his old sources at the Treasury Department to trace the money back. That much money spreading around, even in the hands of demons and vampires, left a trail. The trail had led here.
Xander smiled. “You know, I don’t buy your whole timid act. I’ve seen lots of frightened people. Hell, I usually am one of those frightened people. You’re not.”
Clark eyed him. For a one eyed man the guy saw way too much. “I think I’m just so worried about all those girls that I’ve forgotten to be scared for myself.”
Xander nodded. “Yeah, no matter how many times I tell myself they have super powers and could kick my ass thirteen to the dozen and six ways till Sunday, I still feel like I should be the one in danger.”
“Yeah, right,” Clark said. He would have preferred to do it himself, but Riley still insisted Superman should keep a low profile. Clark didn’t know why exactly. At least some of the demons from the other night had escaped to tell their master what had happened. But Riley knew a lot more about this stuff.
He watched as Buffy kicked in the door and moved inside.
“Who dares?!” shouted a giant, 8 foot tall, cloven footed green demon who, incongruously, wore tiny glasses – the kind bank tellers in old movies wore – and was hunched behind a late model laptop. There were a dozen others just like him.
“Would you believe the I.R.S?” Buffy asked.
“Kill them,” the thing snarled and the demons attacked. But not, Clark noted, before clicking a series of commands on their keypads. Clark memorized it for later use.
This was the first time Clark had really gotten to see the Slayers in action. After all, he’d been a bit distracted last time. He kept an eye on all of them. If anyone looked in danger he’d be there in an instant regardless of the consequences.
Riley fought like someone well trained and experienced. He had all the textbook moves, but with the kind of adaptive fluidity that only comes from repeated real-world use. The Slayers, however, made Riley look like a clumsy lummox. They fought like they were born to it – all grace and power. They fought like tigers.
Buffy was to the other Slayers what they were to Riley.
The apparent demon leader and fully a half dozen of his fellows had surrounded her. She danced between them more easily than the belle at the ball – that is if the belle were stabbing her prospective suitors to death. Okay, it was an imperfect analogy. But still, there was something beautiful to it.
“Do you think they’re doing alright?” Xander asked.
Clark nodded as the second to last bad guy was cut down.
Buffy had the leader on his knees, a sword to his throat.
“Who do you work for?” she asked.
The demon started to open his mouth to speak, but then a flare of heat sprang up in his chest and he was enveloped in flames.
“Grab the computers and anything else that might be a clue,” Buffy said. Then she walked outside to signal Clark and Xander. They jogged in.
“Any luck,” Xander asked.
“We’ll find out,” Buffy answered. They packed it in and headed home.
*** Change of Scene ***
“Even though you have been raised as a human being, you are not one of them.”
“Father,” Kal-El called. He was in a dark place, the bottom of an endless chasm.
“They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to guide the way.” It was the same disembodied voice of Jor-El he heard always in his dreams. It always started the same way, the same words.
“There is nothing left,” Kal-el said.
“You hoped to find answers on Krypton?” said Jor-El.
“I hoped to find something, some remnant. It’s a graveyard,” said Kal-El.
“Krypton was a great world, Kal-El. A world of science and philosophy,” said Jor-El.
“But none of it mattered in the end. They were still destroyed. And now I’m all that’s left. Hundreds of thousands of years of continuous civilization, the perfect society, and yet all destroyed in an instant. How could they let that happen? How can I save the people of this world when my own people couldn’t save themselves.” asked Kal-El.
“Not all is about power, my son. Power is meaningless without the will to use it for good. All that is necessary for evil to win is for a good person to do nothing. Our people forgot about evil, came to believe it had never existed. And so, for all our power, we were lost,” said Jor-El.
“What do you mean? What evil?” Kal-El said.
“One person cannot save an entire world. I learned that the hard way. You always did the right thing. Now, you must re-discover your purpose. I can guide you no further,” Jor-El said.
“Wait, father, I don’t understand!” Kal-El said.
“Father!” Clark sat bolt upright in bed. The door shot open. Buffy stood in the doorway.
“Are you okay,” Buffy asked.
Clark was still a bit out of it. The dream had been so intense.
“Clark,” she repeated.
“Yes, I’m sorry if I woke you,” he said.
“I’m right next door, and your scream was kind of hard to miss” she said with concern.
Clark looked over at her. Even in goofy martini pee-jays, and with tossled bed-hair, she was beautiful. And she held herself with absolute confidence. And yet there was also a tired weariness in those eyes. Not from getting up in the middle of the night. It was a deeper weariness. One he understood far too well; the weariness that drove him away for five years in search of Krypton.
“It’s nothing. Just nightmares,” he said.
She came over and sat by the bed. “Do you want to talk about it?” she said.
Clark was impressed. He still didn’t know her very well and yet she seemed to genuinely care, despite the fact she must have a million other things on her mind.
“I dreamed of my father, my birth father,” he said. “He died when I was very small. I think he was trying to warn me of something. Something about power, good & evil, saving the world.” He shook his head. “Just a dream.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Sometimes dreams have a funny way of coming true, in kind of weird ‘totally never saw that coming’ kind of ways.”
Buffy watched him. It was probably nothing. Not everyone had prophetic dreams, and he was hardly a slayer, but for some reason she got the sense his dreams might be important. His eyes stared off, as though he could look straight through the wall and off into the distance. There was something in those baby blue eyes that didn’t belong; something she recognized.
“Anything from the computers?” Clark asked to change the subject. Buffy shook her head.
“They’re pretty well slagged,” she said. “Must have entered some sort of destruct code.”
Clark winced. He hadn’t thought of it at the time. If he’d been there instead of waiting out to protect his precious identity . . .
“But I’ve got a friend who’s pretty good with that stuff,” Buffy said. “So it still could work out.”
“How do you do it?” Clark asked. “Keep fighting, even though every time you knock down the bad guy another one rises up to take his place. How do you still care?” he asked.
Buffy shrugged. “Somebody’s got to,” she said. “Besides, some bad guys are worse than others.”
*** Change of scene ***
A man sat cloaked in shadow behind a large executive desk. Two nervous looking vampires and a young woman stood on the other side.
“How goes our little project,” the man asked.
“They’re taking to the reconditioning very well. Soon their loyalty will be absolute,” the woman said.
One of the vampires, a tall blond brute, looked down uncomfortably.
“Well, we finally got reports from some of the demons and vampires involved in the raid at the Cleveland Watcher facility,” he said. Most had gone into hiding after their failure. The new boss didn’t take kindly to failure.
“And?” the man asked.
“Well, they claim that they failed to kill Buffy Summers because . . .”
“Spit it out!” the man said.
“They say Superman was there, fighting with the Slayers,” the vampire said.
“Superman is gone,” the man growled. “He was a selfish god who turned his back on this world when it failed to live up to his standards.”
“The reports are pretty specific boss. Red cape, blue tights, impossibly fast and strong,” the vampire said.
The man was silent for a time and all three subordinates fidgeted nervously.
“This can actually work to our advantage,” he said at last.
“Sir?” the woman asked in cautious disbelief.
“Do you remember the story of Achiles?” he asked.
“Like the Bard Pitt movie?” the blond vampire asked.
“Must all henchmen be mentally defective?” the man asked rhetorically. “Achiles was impossible to kill except for one weakness, his heal. There he was as vulnerable as any other man.”
“So we’re going to hit Superman in his heel,” asked the vamp.
The man in shadows sighed. “No, unlike Achiles, Superman has two weaknesses. Do you remember how the Greeks with whom Achiles fought ultimately defeated the Trojans? . . . of course you don’t . . . We will draw Superman out and then we will defeat the Slayer by making him our Trojan Horse. Don’t worry, I’ve had some experience dealing with the overgrown Boy Scout,” he said. The man leaned forward into the light, his bald head gleaming. He smiled.
“Whatever you say, Mr. Luthor,” said the henchmen.