By Paul-Gabriel Wiener (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: A story that picks up at the end of "Big Girls Don't Fly" with Clark, Zara and Ching heading toward New Krypton. As the ship hurtles through space at several times the speed of light, Clark tends to his lessons — especially those important dueling lessons.
email@example.com: All characters are copyrighted by DC Comics, Inc. and/or the American Broadcasting Company. This story cannot be legally reproduced no matter what.
I've read a few stories about SM's homecoming, but so far I've yet to see anything about what happens on New Krypton. Therefore, I've taken it onto myself to give you my take on the matter. If L&C does something else, just remember, my version is better <G>. Words in <brackets> are "spoken" telepathically. Send comments (please!) to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Clark watched the screen as the Earth rapidly disappeared below them. "Lois…Lois. I love you… I'll be back for you…" They left the solar system even as he said the words. Under any other circumstances, he would have been excited to watch the moving pattern of the stars as they moved at several times the speed of light. Now, though, it was just a depressing reminder that each second took him further away from his home and the people he loved. He turned away from the screen, and went to bed. He knew he wouldn't be able to sleep, but he didn't feel like doing anything else.
After a couple hours of tossing and turning, he decided to do something more productive with his time. He went to the computer console, and directed it to give him information on New Krypton. The computer spit forth a wealth of information on customs, people, laws, and political structure. He read through the rest of the "night," using the last of his super powers to go through it all at super-speed. He knew that his powers would not have lasted through the trip anyway. Digesting what he had read, Clark found that he could draw many parallels between the societies of New Krypton and of medieval Earth. Hurling through space, headed for some high tech medieval society made him feel like he had been dumped into some strange Star Trek episode. "Where's Kirk when you need him?"
<Who is Kirk?> He hadn't realized that he had spoken aloud until he heard Zara's "voice."
<Just a starship captain from Earth fiction.> He gestured to the computer screen. <I've been reading up on New Krypton.>
<That is good. It is important for you to know as much as possible.>
<I agree. I just wish that I could think of something to do about Lord Nor. The more I learn, the worse things sound. We're going into Nor's territory here, and I'm not experienced enough with these rituals. Nor grew up with these traditions, and I'm just starting to learn them. From what I see here, there's a good chance that somehow or other we'll end up dueling. I took some fencing classes on earth, but I don't think it will be enough…>
<We shall see.> As she said this, Zara went to a small closet that Clark had not noticed before. She drew out what appeared to be the hilts of two swords. There were no blades on them. She handed one to Clark. <Let us spar, and see how well you can handle a kro-shin.>
Clark gave a mental command to the sword, and a white energy blade formed. Since they were sparring, he directed the blade to take on the form of a fencing-type foil.
<No. If we are going to test your prowess with the blade, it must have the same form as it would in a duel.> She had already formed her blade.
Realizing she was right, Clark reluctantly gave the sword another command. He did not want to use the sword like this, but if he was going to do the right thing, he had no choice. It seemed that he making a lot of decisions like that lately. The blade responded to his command, and formed itself into something resembling a broadsword. Since the rules allowed him some flexibility, he curved the blade slightly. He stepped back, and bowed slightly to Zara. She bowed in return. Then the duel began.
Using a long, one-handed stroke, Clark struck high. Zara held her blade horizontally above her head, and blocked. She swung low, cutting toward his hip at an angle. He sidestepped, and lunged. Zara was forced to jump back to avoid the blow. As she did, though, she swung downward at his blade. Her sword hit the top of his, and he lost his grip. She quickly stepped in, and leveled her sword at his chest.
<You are better than I expected, but you are right. You will need some work.> Clark sighed. He didn't have enough time to practice. He would have to do his best. In the mean time, he would try to form a plan to avoid the duel. He didn't have much hope of that, either.
For the rest of the trip, Clark split his time between practicing with Zara and Ching and planning. Sometimes, the three would plan together. Other times, he would sit and think by himself. He slept rarely, and when he did he always dreamt of Lois.
About three quarters of the way through the journey, they heard a thunderous sound just outside. The ship began to rock. Ching reported that one of Nor's assassins was attacking. The ship had only defensive systems… no weapons. They would have to out-fly the assassin. Since most Kryptonians didn't usually fly out beyond the planet, Clark had the most experience with spaceflight maneuvers. He had learned how to pilot the spacecraft during their trip. Ching gave him the controls. Clark slowed down to sublight speed so that they would not have to worry about hitting something in deep space while turning and twisting around. The assassin's ship slowed, too, but a little late. That gave Clark a small advantage. He flew into an asteroid field. While Clark had seen many science fiction films, it soon became evident that the assassin had never seen anything like Star Wars or the Last Starfighter. It had evidently never occurred to him that someone could be a skillful enough pilot to not only fly through an asteroid field by choice but to hide in one as well. Reluctantly, he followed them in. His reflexes, however, were not as good as Clark's. He zigged when he should have zagged, and crashed into a giant asteroid.
<Great flying, Kal-El! How did you think of doing that?>
<In Earth science fiction, it's almost a cliche…>
<Maybe I SHOULD read some of this Earth fiction…>
Clark watched New Krypton as they approached the planet. The light from the red sun was limited to a smaller spectrum than Clark was used to. The planet's atmosphere looked purple. The Kryptonian plants were yellow. Since they were capturing the light of a red sun, the plants used a different chemical to aid with photosynthesis. Strangely enough, Clark found this odd planet beautiful. They began their descent.
A public welcome had been arranged for their arrival. This had not been the original plan, but they decided it would be best. This would serve the double purpose of introducing Clark to the people (and vice versa) and making an assassination attempt more difficult. The welcome went as planned. To Clark, it was like being on the wrong side of a press conference.
The next day, they set up a meeting with Nor. There was no way around it. Clark would have to challenge Nor. They decided that they should get it done as soon as possible. At this point, more time would help Nor more than it would Clark. Now that they had arrived so publicly and requested the meeting, Nor could not put it off. The meeting would take place in three days. Clark, Zara, and Ching put the time to the best use they could. There wasn't much planning they could do, so most of the time was used for practice. Even without his super powers, Clark was a quick study. They all hoped he was quick enough.
(Three days later)
<Greetings, Lord Nor. I am Kal-El, son of Jor-El of the house of El.> The greeting was traditional for a first meeting. He felt stupid saying it, but that's the way it goes.
<Well met, Kal-El. What is the purpose of your visit?> Kryptonian etiquette required formal greetings, but things were very direct after that. It seemed contradictory to Clark, but this was a different culture. Even stranger was the thought that it was HIS culture.
<I have come to challenge you for the throne of New Krypton. As the heir of the house of El, it is my right to rule.> This would have shocked everyone if they had not already known who Clark was and guessed his purpose on the planet.
<I am not ready to give up the throne, so I accept your challenge.>
Each took out a kro-shin, and activated it. They bowed, and without so much as a "shall we dance?" it began.
Nor led off with a slash. His blade started to the lower right, and rapidly started diagonally upwards. Clark planted his feet and blocked, holding his blade in a double-handed grip. Nor took a step back, took his blade over his head, and slashed down at Clark's shoulder. Clark shifted slightly and blocked again. This was not good. Nor was obviously toying with him, and even so he was stuck on the defensive. Holding Nor's blade off with one hand, he jabbed swiftly at Nor's chin. He connected, and Nor took a step back. They began circling. Each now had at least something of a feel for the other. Clark stepped forward and slashed at Nor's waist. Nor sidestepped and cut downwards at Clark. In a boldly stupid move, Clark blocked with his gauntlet. The special type of glove was made of a mirrored material. For a short time, it could deflect the laser-like blade of a kro-shin. Prolonged contact, however, would burn through. Nor was surprised at this move, but kept pressing down on Clark's gauntlet. Clark was using his left hand to hold off Nor's double-handed stroke. He was only holding out because of Nor's surprise and his own desperation. He did, however, have the advantage of a free blade. It was awkward slashing towards the left with his right hand, but it was enough to wound Nor. Nor stumbled back. Clark could lunge and finish it now. He hesitated though. He had never deliberately killed anyone, and he didn't want to start. Clark's hesitation was enough to allow Nor to make an awkward lunge. Clark was startled out of his troubles by the hot pain of the blade in his side. Clark's wound was not as severe as Nor's, but he was not used to being cut. He stumbled backwards, and fell. Rolling out of the way of Nor's blade, Clark felt Lois' ring pressing against him. The thought of her gave him new strength and determination. He sprang up, and stepped forward. Nor lunged at him. Clark slashed down desperately, and hit Nor's blade. Nor did not lose his grip like Clark had in the same situation, but his blade was knocked downwards. Again, Clark had the opportunity to kill his foe. He still did not want to kill, but this time he did not hesitate. He swept his leg out, and knocked Nor's feet out from under him. In less than a second, Nor was on his back with Clark's blade at his throat.
<I… yield.> "said" a surprised Nor. His eyes were fixed on Clark's blade, almost crossed.
Clark couldn't believe it. He had won! Then, he looked down and saw his wound. <I'd like a bandage, please.> The statement was entirely emotionless. Clark was in a state of shock.
After a visit to the doctor and a little time to get used to the idea that he was the undisputed ruler of an entire planet, Clark took the throne. Everyone (including Clark) seemed to have the same thought…"What will the new king do?" Suddenly, Clark figured it out. He addressed the entire crowd.
<My first and last act as king is to abolish the nobility. From this day forward, New Krypton will be ruled by representatives chosen by the people…>
Clark's announcement started off the largest change ever to hit the Kryptonians (except for the destruction of their entire planet…). The transition from monarchy to democracy went a lot smoother than one might expect. Clark reflected that this was one of the most bloodless revolutions in the history of all three planets (Earth, Krypton, and New Krypton). Just his luck that HE was one of the two people whose blood HAD been shed…
Zara was excited by the change. Now, she was free to marry Ching.
It had been a delightful wedding, and Clark was glad that he had stayed for it. Now that he was no longer needed, Clark could go home. Zara and Ching were glad to take him there. To Clark's surprise, they had chosen to take their honeymoon in Jamaica. Clark piloted for most of the way back, letting the newlyweds have their space. They would need all the time they could get. After all, Zara's inauguration as the President of New Krypton was in a month. With the long commute to Earth, that didn't leave much time for them to stay.
Holding back a huge grin, Clark knocked once on the window. He flew in. "Honey, I'm home!" Lois was startled for a second. Her experience as a reporter helped her recover quickly, though.
"CLARK!!!!" She (almost) flew into his arms.
"I'm in the mood for a wedding, how about you?"