By Lyds <LJE@poboxes.com>
Submitted February 27, 1998
Summary: Lois and Clark's children are captured by New Kryptonians and must fight for their lives with some newfound friends.
This story takes place later in our Lois and Clark time line. Unlike the show's ending leaving off with the horrible fact that Lois and Clark could not have kids, I chose to hold fast to the explanation Jor-El gave in the episode "The Foundling." He sent his son to a world that was similar to the Kryptonians' own beliefs as well as biological makeup. I also used the fact that Doctor Klein could have missed something and Lois's father had at one point found the mistake, a scene in "Family Hour" which they did not elaborate on. (After all they were planning on a fifth season at the time.)
This story does not take place right after "Family Hour". Its time line is a few years down the road. Lois and Clark have had three wonderful children with the same "if I'm not knee deep in trouble, life just is not complete" attitude as their mother and, let's face it, their father too. <G>
I had a lot of fun writing this story and I hope you will enjoy it as well. (Insert all disclaimers here) Thanks to DC Comics, WB, and anyone else for letting FoLCs like me take the characters and our ideas out for a test drive. A special thanks to Sarah who took my notes and made them readable. Also a a super thanks to Erin who let me use her idea on Kryptonian/Human blood not mixing very well.
Any and all comments can be sent to email@example.com. Good or bad, I can take it. All I ask is you not be rude or too mushy. ;-) ENJOY!!!
It was Monday morning and the Kent household was gearing up for morning rituals. Clark dutifully cooked breakfast. He was dressed for work in a smart-looking gray suit, his tie tucked between the first two buttons so as not to get it dirty. His jacket was draped carefully over the side of a kitchen chair.
Clark's oldest daughter was reviewing her history homework due that day. Abigail Kent was Lois and Clark's first child. From the first moment, Clark had learned he would be a father. He had played the role to the hilt, much to Lois's amusement and annoyance. Lois had suggested they name their baby girl Abigail because its meaning, "A joy to her father" seemed more than fitting. Abby, as everyone affectionately called her, was a bright and very serious child. She was known for taking her responsibilities as the oldest to heart, always ready to lend a helping hand to her mother. Yet Clark knew only too that well his daughter held a quality of unrelenting curiosity and a soft heart. Abby had his quiet yet firm countenance and his mother's practical approach. She was often teased for her tomboyish ways.
"Abby, were you able to finish your history assignment?" Clark asked, while poured pancake batter on the griddle.
Abby tapped her teeth absentmindedly as she looked over her papers. "Yes Daddy, but I don't think it's going to matter much," she sighed heavily. "Mrs. Pandik is out to get me."
Clark flipped a pancake in mid air from the griddle to a plate. "What makes you say that?"
"Because no matter what I do, she finds some reason not to give me an 'A'. Last week she told the whole class that Millie Wallace got a one hundred percent score on a test. She also went on to inform the masses that I came in second because I missed a question. Just one measly question out of 30."
"You missed a history question?" Clark lifted a questioning eyebrow. "That is not like you, Abb."
"Well the thing is, the question asked what was Grant's first name and which side did he fight for. I got his side right. He was a Union man, but for the life of me I drew a complete blank on his stupid first name. Mrs. Pandik raked me over the coals, she actually said that I should stay away from after school sports if I could not get a simple name right. I swear, Dad, I felt lower than dirt."
"Well, Abby, maybe I shou- … "
Just then Ziah bounced in through the kitchen door. "Daddy! Daddy! I want to flip the pancakes. Please? Please?" Ziah begged as she hung on Clark's pant leg looking up at him and turning lose on her father those big brown eyes that no one could say no to, especially Grampop Kent. Clark laughed and placed her on the counter, presenting her with a spatula.
"O.K. Ziah, I will make you one handy, dandy, flipable size pancake." Clark then proceeded to tickle her, and Ziah squealed in delight.
Ziah happened to be the middle child of the Kent family. Her full name was Mariah Ellen Kent. As to how she had obtained the nickname Ziah, no one could remember, but it had stuck. Ziah was full of energy and spunk, along with her mother's good looks. Which in most people's minds was quite a combination. She also had a knack for electronics and mechanical devices. Her favorite pastime was to take things apart then put them back together in a different way, trying to see if she could make something better out of it. Much to her parents' chagrin, both her Grandmother Martha and Uncle Jimmy kept her in full supply of tools and ideas.
"Abby, want me to flip you a pancake?" Ziah wiggled her eyebrows.
"No thanks, I've had enough."
"Aw, you're no fun," Ziah pouted with a frown of mock hurt.
"Daddy, put a plate at my seat."
Clark did his daughter's bidding. "Think you will make it this time, Ziah?" he asked as he tweaked her nose.
"Piece a cake, I've been practicing." She beamed.
"Practicing? With what?"
"Abby's CD covers."
"My what!" Abby exclaimed as she jumped out of her chair.
Being the ever-vigilant father, Clark was already moving into referee mode. Just as he was about to have to separate his two daughters. Lois walked in with Harrison straddling her hip. His head rested on her shoulder, sucking sleepily on his first finger.
"Clark, did you remember to RSVP for the mayor's ball tonight?"
"Yes, everything is set."
"Great. Here, could you take Harry?" Lois asked her husband as she transferred her small bundle to him, giving her son a kiss on his chubby little cheek. "Abby, are you sure you can handle watching your brother and sister tonight?"
"Sure Mom, we will be just fine."
Tonight was the gala event the Mayor had graciously arranged for the Daily Planet's anniversary. It promised to be a fantastic event. The sensational writing team of Lois Lane and Clark Kent were expected to make an appearance. Being the world famous and brilliant reporters they were, as well as having the lion's share of responsibility in making the Daily Planet second to none, it was their responsibility that they show their undying support for their employer.
Ziah looked up from her plate, informing everyone of her plans for the evening.
"I have a new chip Uncle Jimmy gave me. I want to install it tonight."
Clark's eyebrows raised. "What kind of chip?"
"You have got so much memory on that computer as it is. Why do you need more?"
"I'm working on a design for a robot."
Lois, who was just about to take a bite of her plate of pancakes, dropped her fork onto the plate. The loud clang brought everyone's attention to her.
"A-robot?" she asked weakly.
Ziah nodded her confirmation, as Clark smothered a smile with his napkin.
"Ziah, I don't want you hot-wiring anything in this house or taking parts for your project. Remember, we agreed that you would save up and buy the parts, or we would go to the salvage yard and see if we could find anything there. O.K.?"
"Yes Daddy, I know. Goodness, a kid takes apart a toaster one time," she emphasized by holding up her first finger, "just one time and no one lets ya forget it." Ziah rolled her eyes, stuffing a forkful of pancakes into her mouth.
Lois loved all of her children greatly. She was constantly in amazement of these little people that were such a mixture of Clark and herself. Lois and Clark had been discussing having a family, and what it would mean to their careers and lives, when they found out the choice had already been made for them—resulting in their first-born, Abigail. As Abby grew older she had asked repeatedly for a playmate. Clark had sympathized with his daughter but had been very reluctant to grant her this wish, knowing the heavy toll it would take on his wife.
Having Superman's children had been no easy task. Each pregnancy had been difficult to say the least. Thankfully, Abby had been brought to term without too many complications, other than the fact that the baby was unusually strong and caused Lois a great deal of discomfort. Everything had gone well, until the birth.
They found out that as the labor grew increasingly intense the baby's half-Kryptonian blood mixed with her own, causing a toxic effect. Lois became violently ill and almost died. With the quick thinking of Clark and Doctor Klein, an antidote was acquired. But Lois had realized the need of her daughter to have a companion. With careful planning and effort she decided to have a second child.
Doctor Klein had also become apprehensive; he was not sure if Lois's delicate human body could with stand another "Superbaby". After Ziah had been born, Doctor Klein strongly indicated that Lois's body could not take the strain another time. With a heavy heart Lois had to agree that this would be the best course. Secretly she had been hoping for a little boy. In her mind's eye she saw a small boy with Clark's good looks and kindness.
The couple had been ever so careful not to become pregnant again. But as accidents do happen, along came Harry. It had been a terrifying experience. Clark had been called away as Superman. A violent earthquake had destroyed some islands in the South Pacific. His help and strength had been sorely needed. While Superman was gone, an old nemesis who had been thought to be long dead kidnapped Lois. It was in his custody that she realized another Kent was on its way.
Terrified for herself and the child, Lois knew she needed help right away. The medical attention she so desperately needed had been refused her. Lois had become very weak, but valiantly she held out for as long as she could.
Clark had been more than a little surprised as well as understandably worried. His wife had been missing for so long, and he had search frantically for her. He had to endure the pain every time he came home, telling his girls that their mother was not with him. Then, thanks to a tip, Superman finally found Lois, so close to death due to a baby he had not known was there. He rushed her over to Doctor Klein without a moment to spare. Lois and the baby almost did not make it through the premature delivery.
In the end the Kent family had been rewarded for its trying time. Clark had his wife, the girls had their mother, and Lois was rewarded for her pains with a beautiful baby boy. Together they decided to let the girls name the baby. So after long consideration the girls came up with Harrison, after the name of their most favorite actor, Harrison Ford.
Since Harrison's arrival, everything had run smoothly in the Kent household. Lois and Clark were more than happy with their brood, even though there was never a dull moment. One day Clark had commented on this to his wife. Lois had replied by giving her husband a long meaningful kiss. "Clark, since we met there has not been a single dull moment."
Later that day, Lois and Clark finally arrived home from work to find the house bustling with activity. Abby was lying on the couch waxing her catcher's mitt. Ziah had camped out on the floor and was fiddling with some electric component. Wires and different types of small motors spread all around her. Harrison was occupying himself by crawling around on all fours pretending to be a doggie.
As Lois and Clark hung their coats on their respective coat racks, Harry came bounding over to them and latched himself onto his father's leg, barking for attention. Clark reached down and picked his son up.
"Oh no!" Clark exclaimed, "My little boy has turned into a doggie!"
"Again!" Harry barked with pride.
"I know what will change him back," Lois announced in a sing-song voice. A devilish grin came over Clark's face. As he waited for Lois to finish her sentence. "A bath!"
"Nooooo!" cried Harry. "Doggie don't like bath."
"Well, my little doggie, your mom and I have to go out soon. So it's time for you to take a bath so your sisters don't have to wrestle with you later. How about we fly to the bath?"
Harry brightened up. "Yes, ruff, ruff. Doggie want to fly."
Clark hoisted his son high above his head and ran with him upstairs, with Harry barking his delight.
Lois walked over and sat by her oldest daughter.
"I know you will take good care of everything tonight. I just want you to remember that the phone number is on the fridge. You call if you need anything."
"We will be fine, Mom, I am a big girl now," Abby drawled with a smile.
"Yes, Abby, I know."
Ziah looked up at the two. "Mom, do you and Dad have to go out tonight?"
"Yes dear, we do. I promise to be home early and if we can I will pick up a movie for us to see."
This did not impress Ziah. "O.K. If you must."
"Well we must, but if it makes you feel better your father and I would rather stay at home. Especially since it is raining outside."
Just then they heard a loud thump and a splash. "Daddy wet, Daddy wet!" cheered a delighted voice. Lois looked up to the top of the stairs.
"I better go help your dad."
Both girls looked at each other, then to Lois. "Whoa yah."
Later Clark came downstairs in his tux, looking ever so handsome.
Abby smiled at her father and kissed him on the cheek.
"You look great, Daddy." Father and daughter both turned to watch as Lois came down the stairs in a very elegant-looking burgundy sleeveless dress and elbow length gloves that matched.
"I've always loved you in that color," approved Clark.
Ziah and Harry bounded down the stairs after her.
"Doesn't Mom look great?" said Ziah
"Mommy I made you somtin." Harry handed his mother a paper necklace that had been haphazardly yet lovingly glued together.
"It's lovely, I shall wear it to the ball." Lois took the necklace from the beaming boy and placed it around her neck, then kissed Harry on the forehead and tweaked Ziah on the nose.
"Now you two behave your sister, Abby is in charge. I want Harry in bed by nine and Ziah, you finish your homework before you go back to becoming the next Doctor Frankinstein. Abby, you know where the numbers are. Don't hesitate to call if you need us."
"You know, I can be here in a flash. Should you need it," Clark added with a wink.
"Yes I know, I can handle it." The children waved goodnight to their parents as they closed the door.
Later that night Harry, Ziah and Abby were fast asleep on the couch, laying crossways on one another. They had fallen asleep after the electricity went out, while they were all watching a movie. Ziah had her flashlight firmly grasped in her hand. The beam of light shone softly on the ceiling. Slowly she opened her eyes. The room was dark; the electricity still had not been restored. Harry's elbow was jabbing her in the back. She grunted and turned on her side.
Feeling thirsty, she wiggled her way off the couch and slowly made her way to the kitchen. Pouring herself a glass of water, she drank it in one gulp. Sleepily, she was making her way back to the couch, when she saw two tall figures. Each held the limp body of one of her siblings. Ziah took at deep breath and was about to scream, but she never got that far. A big hand clamped over her mouth and lifted her off the ground. Everything went dark and the Kent children were taken from their home.
"Ziah, Ziah, wake up." Abby shook her little sister awake.
Groggily, Ziah responded. Startled, she sat up quickly. "Huh? … Where are we?" she glanced around the tiny, smooth metal room. They were lying on a mat; Harry was still fast asleep.
"I don't know, you hear that noise? Kind of like a car engine sound?"
"We're moving. But I don't know what we are traveling in. And look,"
Abby stood up and gingerly touched the seemingly open doorway. It sparkled and crackled at her probing. "See, it must be some kind of force field. "Like in the space movies. I don't know who these creeps are or what they want."
Loud thumping footsteps could be heard coming down the corridor. Abby froze as she looked at her sister, and the hair on the back of her neck started to rise. She knew they were about to come face to face with their captor.
As the steps came closer, Abby scooted back as far away from the doorway as possible.
"Finely! We're home." Lois dragged herself through the door.
"At least we were able to get out of there on time. I wonder if the storm was as bad here as it was where we were?"
Clark walked inside the house after Lois had unlocked the door. Hanging his coat on its rack, he looked around the room and noticed the VCR clock was blinking.
"The lights must have gone out, look at the VCR. The kids must have gone upstairs to bed," Clark said, noting the second floor of the house was dark. "I should go check on them. See how Harry handled the dark. Hopefully they didn't kill each other."
Lois put a hand to his forearm. "Clark, something isn't right. The house seems empty." Lois made her way upstairs, flicking on a light or two as she went. Her footsteps became more urgent as she ran through the house, slamming doors open and closed.
"Honey? What's wrong?"
"Clark, the children are gone!"
"What?" exclaimed Clark as he raced upstairs, scanning everywhere for his children.
"Clark, there's no sign of them!" Lois searched around the first bedroom she came to. "The beds are still made." She decided to call out again. "Abby? Ziah? Harry!"
There was no answer; there could not have been any answer.
The Kent children were now light years away from Earth.
The figure with the heavy footsteps stood before them, dressed in black. His pale face and luminous red eyes seemed to be able to read their very thoughts. Ziah and Abby huddled together, their eyes as huge as saucers, waiting for the man to speak.
"You children, from the house of El," he informed them, as if it explained everything. "We will be landing on New Krypton shortly. The Lord Core-ED will see what is to be done with you then. He will be your master from now until he deems it fit to be rid of you," sneered the guard. Apparently he had come to scare the children with his words. "You just sit back and think about your future." With that, the guard walked over to the far wall. There he stood to watch them.
The two girls sat there, staring right back at the guard and trying to understand the ramifications of his news. They were going to New Krypton. Mom and Dad had told them of the time when Dad had to leave Mom and come to a world he knew nothing about. He was asked to save it from destruction. They also knew their father had been married to Lady Zara but he gave up the rulership to Lady Zara and Lt. Ching so that he could stay with their mom. Now they were the ones that were being hauled off to New Krypton.
"Ziah, they are taking us to New Krypton. We're in a space ship."
"I know. Dad is going to have a hard time finding us. But he will, I'm sure," Ziah said matter-of-factly.
"I hope so. My skin crawls just looking at that guy."
"I don't like him," commented Ziah. "He is scary."
"What do we do now?"
"Not much we can do, Ziah, we have to wait."
"I hate waiting."
"Lois, are you sure the kids are gone?"
"Yes Henderson I'm sure! Where would my children go at eleven o'clock at night?"
Lois was about to lay in to the Inspector when Superman came through the window. Lois had to fight the urge to rush into his arms. Instead, she contented herself by bombarding him with questions. "Superman, have you found anything? Are there any clues? How far did you search?"
Superman held up a hand to quiet Lois. "Lois, I have looked everywhere. I did a scan of the entire city and parts of the surrounding country. I can't find any thing to indicate where they might have gone." Clark was trying very hard to keep a calm tone to his voice. It would be expected for Superman to be worried over his two friend's children. However, it would not do well to have Superman overly emotional.
"Well, thank you for trying, Superman. Lois, you can tell Clark that my people have taken some samples of carpet and hair fibers we found on the couch to analyze them. See if we can find something. I would like to wire your phones in case there is a ransom call. I've got everything covered down here, why don't you go back to bed-"
"Henderson, you expect me to rest?"
"Yes, Lois, you need to rest. When we get your children back they are going to need their mother ready to take care of them and reassure them. You and Clark need to get some sleep."
Superman knew this would be important. "Lois, listen to the Inspector. I will keep on searching."
"Superman, no. I mean, would you please find Clark and tell him I need him here?"
Superman's shoulders sagged for a split second, then recovered. "Yes Lois, I'll get Clark."
With that, Superman flew off and Lois went upstairs to Harry's room. There she fell asleep in the rocking chair.
Lois woke up with a start, but relaxed some when she realized it was Clark.
"Clark, has there been any word? Any sign of them?"
"No, sweetheart, nothing."
"Where could they have gone? Who would want to take them?" Lois was still very much distraught. She grabbed her husband, hugging him fiercely as she thought of their missing children. "Clark, someone took my babies. I don't know why they did."
Clark just held his wife, not really knowing what to say. His children were gone. There was no trace of them anywhere. Superman had tirelessly searched the countryside but had not found anything. Inspector Henderson had nothing to go on.
Lois pushed away from Clark. "I have to go and search for them. They may need me. Harry is still so young. What if he is calling for me? He might not understand why I'm not there."
Clark grabbed hold of his wife. "Lois, there is nothing you can do. It's three o'clock in the morning. We should get some rest. I promise we will start fresh in the morning."
Gently, Clark guided his wife to their bedroom. He helped her into her side of the bed, then went to his side, spinning out of his clothes and into his sleeping shirt and shorts. As he settled into the covers he felt something at his feet. Reaching downward, he pulled up a stuffed teddy bear. Clark was about to set the bear aside when Lois took it from him. Without a word she turned her back to him, cuddling him with her back against his chest and hugging her children's favorite bear, Bosko.
Bosko had been a gift from her mother to Abby; when she outgrew it, Bosko was passed down to Ziah. Ziah had since passed Bosko to its current owner, Harry. Lois could smell Harry's lingering baby smells on the bear. Cuddling it closer, she softly cried herself to sleep
"Ziah, stop that! You know Mom told you not to bite your nails."
"Shut up, Abby, you are not the boss of me."
"Look, squirt," Abby was more than a little furious with her sister. She was the oldest and she knew mom and dad would want her to take charge. "Mom and Dad are not here. I'm the oldest, I've got seniority so I suggest you sit down and be quiet," Abby leaned in closer to her sister and explained with a grave tone.
"This isn't good, Ziah, we are really in trouble and if Daddy can't find us-" Abby realized she could not voice her fears. Not to her young sister; she had to be strong for all of them.
However, Ziah surprised her by echoing those same feelings. Ziah's eyes glistened with her tears. "If Daddy can't find us, we are lost."
The irritation Abby felt melted away. She hugged her little sister, letting her cry herself to sleep. Abigail looked over to check on her little brother. Seeing he was still asleep, she drifted off into sleep.
Much later, she awoke to find Harry patting her shoulder. "Abba?" Abby straightened herself, waking Ziah. It was now Harry's turn to be hugged.
"What's wrong, Harry?"
"Hungry," was all he said.
"Me too," whined Ziah.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what to do. We have to wait."
"How much longer are we going to be cooped up?" Ziah ran up to the force field and indignantly called out, "I'm hungry, my little brother is hungry. When my Dad finds out, he is going to be really mad you let little children go hungry!"
The guard stepped into view, towering over Ziah as his voice boomed in their ears.
Ziah was not put off. "Don't you know who we are?"
"Ziah, sit down! Now!" Abby commanded.
The guard acted as if he had not heard them.
"We shall arrive at New Krypton soon. I don't want another sound out of you. Or hunger pains will be the least of your problems." With that he resumed his post.
Dejected, Ziah took her seat next to her siblings. "I tried."
Abby hugged her "I know you did. Thank you. What do you suppose they want with us?" It was a rhetorical, frustrated question.
"They want us because we are Dad's kids. They don't like him very much," Ziah offered.
"Ziah! I know that! What I should have said was what are they going to do with us."
"Don't you watch kidnap movies? They want a ransom!" Ziah said in wild delight.
Abby smacked her sister on the shoulder. "You dope, Mom and Dad are not rich."
"They're not?" Ziah was truly amazed.
"Quiet!" she snapped at the younger girl. "You will wake Harry, and he just fell back asleep."
Ziah mulled over the last bit of information and with dread realized they were in big trouble. Then a plan formulated in her mind. "Ah-ha, looks like we are going to have to get out of this on our own."
"How are we going to do that?" Abby asked. "They are taking us to another planet!"
"SHHH!" mocked Ziah. "They are taking us to New Krypton. Maybe Ching and Zara are still the good guys maybe they can help us."
"I sure hope you're right."
Ziah settled back, leaning her head on her sister's shoulder.
"Oh hey, Abby, look what I can do!" Ziah showed her sister her new trick.
She touched the tip of her tongue to the tip of her nose.
"Whoa Ziah!" Abby drawled in mock amazement. "That's some talent you have there."
She rolled her eyes.
Ziah smiled mischievously. "Dad said it would come in handy."
Abby looked questioningly "How so?"
"He said it was very useful. That I would never go hungry."
Abby slapped her sister again. "Oh, now that is just disgusting."
Ziah fell back, giggling furiously.
The ship finally reached the planet's orbit. Lord Core-ED was anxiously awaiting his first look at the mighty Kal-El's half-breed child. He rubbed his hands together in anticipation. His plans were falling into place.
Aurus, the sniveling son of Lord Nor, would soon be taking the place of Lord Ching and Lady Zara's whelp. He would also do away with the Lord and Lady. With the daughter of the house of El, he would unite the house of Nor with the house of El.
"Would it not be a splendid turn around," he thought to himself. "Marrying the oldest daughter of Kal-El to the oldest son of Nor?" The throne would be in Core-ED's control. His rule and the salvation of New Krypton was close at hand. He would be able to command all of new Krypton and Earth!
With an air of regal pomp, Core-ED glided through the corridors of the palace that had once belonged to Lord Nor. Making his way to the docking bay, he awaited the landing of the ship.
Core-ED had carefully cultivated a good relationship with the ruling house. He had been cautious to go through the proper channels. As the Secretary of Natural Resources, he had obtained a permit to take leave to search the surrounding planets, and possibly other solar systerms, for possible additions to the New Kryptonians' resources.
Right now every house was under the impression that he was gone on a search-and-discover mission. While the main spacecraft went about its duck-blind mission, a smaller craft with only a handful of his followers had headed for Earth on the true mission—to bring back Kal-El's oldest child.
Core-ED watched with feverish greed as the small craft landed. He walked up to it as the gangplank lowered and his men pushed three children out of it.
"Ov-ED!" Core-ED bellowed, "What is the meaning of this? I sent you to retrieve the child of Kal-El. Why did you bring these two?"
"My brother, these are all Kal-El's children. We tried to take the one but these other two got in the way."
Core-ED eyed the children, walking around them.
"You should have killed these two." He stopped at Abby and lifted her chin in his hand. "This is Kal-El's oldest. A girl, I'm glad, she shall do nicely with our plans." He moved on to Ziah "This one we have no use for. Perhaps we can put her to work as a slave."
"Hey!" Ziah exclaimed, not liking that idea very much. Abby elbowed her to be quiet.
Finally Core-ED moved on to little Harry. Pulling Harry's head back roughly by the hair, he sneered down at the child. "Kal-El has an heir; this one could become a threat. We don't need another heir, dispose of him!"
Both Abby and Ziah jumped forward in unison. "No!" they said together. "You can't!"
Two other guards came up and pulled the children apart. Harry tried to grab and cling on to his sisters, pulling at them as they were being pulled away.
A third guard lifted him up and held him out, dangling Harry by his arms. Another guard poised himself in front of the boy with a laser rod aiming at the little body.
"Please, No! He is just a little boy, he can't do anything to you!" "No, he can't do anything as a boy. But all boys grow up to be men!"
"Harry!" Ziah cried, struggling to free herself. "Please don't hurt him!" Harry began to whimper.
The executioner raised his weapon for the deadly blow. Harry's sisters looked on in helpless horror. Without a second to spare, an alarm sounded in the docking bay.
Core-ED cocked his head to the side as if he had heard something beyond the alarm. (My Lord ED. The prisoner Dar has just escaped; we have closed down all exits and were about to commence a full sensor sweep. It would seem our sensors have been tampered with; they are no longer functioning properly.)
Core-ED straightened himself, making a mad gesture with his fist. Then he ordered the children to be taken to a cell and all the guards to follow him.
Now completely scared out of their minds, the children obediently marched to their cell on the detention level. Once they were inside, the guard activated another force field.
Abby sank to the floor and enfolded Harry in her arms, checking him all over to make sure he was safe. Ziah squeezed her way into the embrace. The three sat on the floor, crying.
Harry pulled away from Abby to look her in the eyes. With furious tears running down his chubby cheeks he pleaded, "I want Mommy! Go home, go home now!" He strained upwards, pounding his fist on his side. "Bad men! Bad men!"
Running her fingers through his soft hair, Ziah did her best to comfort him.
"It's O.K. Harry, you're safe now. We won't let them hurt you. They just caught us off guard, it won't happen again." She turned her attention to Abby. "We can't stay, we have to find a way out."
"I know, but how?"
Ziah picked herself up and walked over to the cell opening, searching with her hands as high as she could.
"What are you looking for?"
"You don't know?"
"Nope, but when I find it I'll know." She threw a wink at the two on the floor, then reached into her favorite denim overalls, pulling out her trusty pocketknife. Selecting the screwdriver head, she began to lightly tap the surrounding metal. Not finding what she was looking for, she paced the room. It was small, like the one on the craft. This one had a metal bed that came out of the wall and rose above the floor with a foot or two of space underneath it. Squeezing herself underneath she searched, finding that something she had been looking for.
"Ha,ha, it's all that and a bag of chips."
"What is it, Ziah?"
"I'll tell ya in a sec, let me see if I'm right first."
"Right about what?"
Abby would have crawled under, to check out what Ziah was doing. However, Harry was still clinging to her, so she stayed rubbing his back and softly singing in his ear. Ziah was working hard at something, laid out on her tummy. Only the lower half of her legs and her sneakers peeked out from under the metal bed. She was mumbling to herself like she always did when she was hard at work on one of her projects.
Every once in a while she would giggle to herself. It was a very soft, yet maniacal, giggle which had long since earned her the tittle of "Junior Mad Scientist." Uncle Jimmy had been the one to bestow the name upon her. Whatever Ziah was doing down there, it was going the way she hoped.
"Hurry up, will you? They could come back anytime."
"I'm trying, keep your shirt on."
Satisfied with her handiwork, Ziah pulled herself from under the bed. Abby awaited explanation. "O.K. What gives?"
Switching herself to a seated position, as she adjusted her ponytail, Ziah tried to explain. "I found a really small vent underneath the bed. It would be a tight fit but I think we can do it. The duct work seems to be way bigger than the vent hole."
Abby raised her eyebrow warily. "What kind of a vent?"
"Air conditioner, I think."
"Hum, a highly advanced civilization like this needs air conditioning."
"Maybe they all get hot flashes."
Loud footsteps could be heard coming toward them. Ziah stood up, unconsciously moving in front of her sister and brother. Harry stuffed his fist into his mouth and buried his head in Abby's shoulder,trying to hide as best he could. It was the guard.
"You will stay here until the Lord ED decides what to do with you."
His tone was clipped and unemotional, like a robot's trained voice. As soon as his message was delivered he left the children alone. Ziah put her hands on her hips, rolling her eyes.
"Stay here? Like where would we go? Duh, stupid." She knew just where they would go. Rubbing her hands together, she jumped in delight. "We would go down a hole." She laughed at her own joke. "It's a small hole Abb, I think I should go down first then send Harry, then you."
"O.K., let's do it."
Crawling under the bed, Ziah lifted the vent's grate off the floor and started to ease her way down. "It's not as tight as I thought; maybe you will fit." She slowly slid down the shaft until she landed at the end, which was only a few feet down. She scrunched down to look at the ongoing shafts; one went off to the right, the other to the left.
"I'm sending Harry down."
"O.K. Harry, now listen to me, everything is just fine. We are going to play a big game of hide and seek. We are going to hide from those bad men and they are going to seek us. Trick is we stay away, far away."
Without a sound, Harry let himself be lowered down. Harry liked the idea of playing hide and seek. Finally, Abby descended down the shaft. When she reached the bottom Ziah, informed her, "We have to pick a way to go."
"It's dark." Harry pointed out in an ominous tone.
"Don't worry, Harry, we are here." Abby squeezed his foot affectionately
"If I remember, the hallway leading to the right went further into the cell block and the left went back to the main part of this place. So let's go left."
They traveled in silence down the long winding shaft, searching for light, for any kind of an opening.
"Ziah." Abby whispered. "Stop for a minute, I'm tired and so is Harry."
"Good idea, I'm really starting to feel worn out and claustrophobic," acknowledged Ziah.
Abby wiped the trickle of sweat that fell into her eyes. "I don't know what is coming over me, I'm feeling kinda weirded out."
The space was too narrow for them to sit, so they lay on their stomachs and rested.
"You would think the would use this air conditioner, since it is so hot," remarked Ziah.
"Yes, but I'm wondering."
"Well, remember when Daddy would tell us about his leaving Earth to come to this place?"
"He said Mom could not come because the atmosphere was too much for her body to take. We are half her, so maybe our Kryptonian side is allowing us to live, yet the human side is dragging us down."
"But that would mean the longer we are here, the more we could be affected by this. 'Cause somehow I think the human side is going to win out in this one."
"Well, then we better move our tails out of here."
They seemed to crawl for an eternity more until a small beam of light showed up around a corner.
"Abby, I think I see something, just up ahead."
As they came closer, Ziah realized it was another vent leading out into a hallway. Quickly she put her screwdriver to work once again. As the grate came lose, she realized it would fall to the floor outside.
"Abby, we have a problem. I can't grab onto the grate properly. It's going to fall when I loosen the other bolt. My fingers are too big."
"We have to do something. Maybe Harry could do it."
"Yeah he could, but I can't turn around to help him."
"I guess I will do it then. Leave the screwdriver by the side, then scoot up. Harry and I will move together and do what we can."
Ziah scooted forward, as Abby gently guided Harry forward. Carefully she hovered over him, quickly guiding his little hands. Soon the grate was off and Harry held onto it with all of his might. Abby instructed him as to what to do next.
"Harry, you are going to have to go first out there. Hold on tight to that, I'll help you out."
Harry slid out of the opening headfirst slowly. Abby lowered him down by his feet; it was an odd angle for them both.
"Easy now, I've got you."
Harry hovered precariously, just a few inches from the floor. Reaching the end of her limits, Abby did the only thing she could do, she let go. Harry fell to the floor but, miraculously, did not make a sound.
"I'm going next, Ziah. I need you to scoot up so I can go feet first. Then you come out."
Soon all three children were hugging each other in the spacious hallway.
"We have to decide where we are going next."
"I say we keep following the corridor to the left. It's plain they don't travel this way often."
Stealthily the trio traveled down the corridors, dodging in and out of hallways and corners.
Core-ED was furious as he marched to the main guard station. "I've sent my best guards to lock that insolent pup up and you let him get away!" Core-ED was livid and the veins on his neck began to look as if they were going to burst. "Do you realize if he gets away everything is lost? If he is not found with in the next few hours, I will personally see that you are all vaporized to the farthest reaches of the galaxy."
"My Lord, he has gone into the forest; surely he can't survive in there," offered the terrified guard.
"I want him found. If he is dead, I want to see the body. Don't fail me."
Core-ED swiftly left the room in search of Aurus; he wanted to have a talk with his puppet. Stopping short of the Lord's chambers, he knocked softly on the door. A small voice called out, "Come."
"My Lord Aurus, how are you feeling today?"
"Not too well Core-ED. I fear my health is not improving."
Core-ED smiled half-heartedly. "Well, all in good time, my lord. You remember we have been discussing the need for you to marry. I feel it's time you do so, your health, like you have stated, is not improving and it is your duty to provide your father's house with an heir. To continue in the seat on the council, what are your feelings on this issue, my lord?
"Core-ED, I understand the problem and it distresses me that I have become so ill in the last few lunar rotations. But I don't know who to choose for a wife."
"Perhaps, if my lord permits I may suggest someone."
Core-ED glowed with joy on the inside, while keeping himself composed on the outside. Aurus truly believed he was dying; the small amount of poison he was being given had taken its toll on the young man. He was resigned to his fate and contented to let Core-ED handle all of his affairs. Including that of obtaining a wife.
"Well, Lord Aurus, I think perhaps an alliance with the daughter of Kal-El would be the most choice of wives."
"The daughter of Kal-El?" Aurus sat up in surprise. "Does one exist?"
"Yes, my lord, and she is here on this planet as we speak. I think a ceremony should take place right away."
"Kal-El has agreed to this?"
"My lord, he had nothing to say on the matter." Core-ED gave the young lord an assuring smile.
"Splendid, make the arrangements."
"As you wish."
Abby rounded a corner at top speed, only to come to a violent stop as she heard voices coming toward them. Ziah stopped short, almost running into Abby. Harry was in tow, trying desperately to hang on to his sister's hand.
"I hear something."
"Shh. They will hear you."
"Well, we can't keep this up. Harry is just a baby, he is tired already."
"I'm not a baby," protested Harry.
"I said shhhh!" Quickly, Abby scanned the surrounding area for a place they could hide. There, across the hall, was another open-air vent. If only they could get to it, before they were seen. Grabbing both her siblings by the hand, Abby prodded them into the crawl space.
"Ziah, you and Harry stay here. Don't move and don't you dare make a sound. There is not enough room for me, I'll find someplace else to hide."
Ziah dutifully helped Harry crawl as far back into the vent as possible. Finally out of sight, she sat down with Harry hugging her.
"I hate vents," he said.
"Me too." They both stayed quiet as they strained to listen for any sound from the outside. After what seemed like an eternity to the young children, heavy footsteps came closer to them. Harry whimpered out of fear. Ziah gently but firmly clamped her hand over his mouth, giving him a warning glance. Whoever it was stopped right in front of the grate.
"Aurus shall be placed in his rightful spot in the Council of Elders by this time next week. Everything is going as planed. Dar is nowhere to be found, he won't last out there in the jungles. He will surely die, and soon his parents shall join him."
"Core-ED wishes to have Aurus on the Council tonight, how shall we stay him till next week?"
"Core-ED is a fool, these things take time. It is imperative that we proceed with caution. Should the ruling house suspect anything, all of our efforts shall be for naught. What we must focus on right now is finding the children of Kal-El. especially the oldest girl. The sooner we are able to join her to Aurus the better for us all."
Ziah clamped her hand over her own mouth to keep from gasping. These guys really were evil; no wonder why daddy didn't stay! She leaned forward, trying to see through the grate for the identity of these bad men. It was no use; all she could see was from their waists down. Then one of the men lowered his hand to his side. He had a ring on his middle finger. She stretched some more. *I've got to see the ring* she thought. It was no use; the two figures walked away. The children stayed still just a little bit longer, making sure the coast was clear. Letting her brother go, Ziah carefully removed the grate and slid ever-so-quietly onto the floor. "Come on now Harry, pretend you're a little mouse. Don't make a sound." He did as he was told.
Looking up to his big sister he asked. "Where is Abba?" "Dunno, but we better find her before those creeps do."
As Abby stealthily made her way through the endless maze of corridors, she was sure to make a mental note of her surroundings. Getting back to her siblings was a must. Desperately she regretted leaving them behind. If there was to be any hope of them getting out of this horrid place and finding a way back home, she was going to have to be the one to do so.
Huge tapestries hung from most of the walls, covering almost every inch of space. Each told a story of past conquests as well as everyday scenes. They reminded Abby of the ones she had seen back in England, when her daddy took her to see a medieval castle for a project at school. One had caught her attention; it was on the opposite side of the hall. She was slowly making her way down, studying it carefully. She could not take her eyes off of the tall, dark man that stood facing her with a long spear in his hands. The man was dressed in a flowing black robe and had a sliver bandanna around his head. His dark eyes seemed to look right through her. Walking up to the tapestry she reached out to feel the fabric. The tapistry was coarse to the touch, yet so full of color and brilliance. This figure had been a warrior; his opponent lay dead at his feet.
Just then an army of rapidly approaching footstep were about to round the corner. Abby looked frantically around for a place to hide. Not finding any, she raced down the hall, faster and faster. Another air vent! She had to make herself fit this time. Pulling the grate back, she found the space was not so tight. And the opening was easier to get into. Crouching down, she felt something move beneath her feet. Suddenly the floor opened up to reveal sunlight. Abby realized she was falling, finally landing with such a force she could not breathe. She laid there, stunned, trying to regain her breath. Slowly regaining her strength, Abby took inventory of her body, making sure nothing was missing or broken.
"Oh, Judas priest!" she swore, using one of her favorite "granddad Perry' curses. "I'm outside!"
Core-ED himself went to the detention level. He would take the oldest girl and get her ready for an audience with Auras. If he had his way, the ceremony would be done by this night. Reaching the cellblock, he lowered the force field and finally looked into the chamber. Gone! The children were gone! "Guards!" he bellowed.
Ziah was feeling very satisfied with herself. So far they had been able to move through the palace without anyone seeing them. However, Ziah was smart enough to realize this would not hold out forever. She had to find a way out and fast.
"The children have escaped!" Ziah stopped as she heard the words in her head. She clutched her head as a sharp pain seared her temples.
"Ziah?" Harry asked, worried.
"It's O.K., Harry, just a headache." She tried not to let the pain she felt show in her voice.
"I hear the voices too," explained Harry.
Ziah gave her brother a meaningful glance. "We better not stay here any more. I think they know we are gone now."
As they passed a window Harry pointed to it. "Ziah, outside, Abba is out side."
Ziah walked over to the window, and pressing her face to the glass, she looked down at the ground. Being several stories in the air, all she could see was the thick foliage covering the ground. "How do you know? I can't see a thing."
"I heard her in my head." The little boy pointed to his forehead.
"She talked to you?"
"No, just heard her."
"Well, come on then, we need to find a way out."
Back on Earth.
"Inspector. It has been three days; Clark, Superman and myself have been scouring the city, trying to find out where my children are. Are you telling me the police have absolutely no leads?" Lois had lost her public politeness long ago. Unfortunately, at that moment, it was Henderson's turn to be on the receiving end.
"Lois, I understand your circumstances; believe me when I say I want those kids back. And I want the low lifes that took them put away. You must understand how difficult it is for us. There were absolutely no fingerprints or fiber samples, much less any eye witnesses, of the intruders. The only samples we found where from the children."
"Well, Inspector, I can assure you that my children did not go on some three-day excursion by themselves. I know for a fact they were taken."
The Inspector understood Lois's concern. After all, this concerned her children, not some story for the Planet. Still, he too was losing his patience. "Look, I have to go now, but I promise to call you and Clark later, O.K.?"
"Fine." Lois hung up the phone and sat heavily in to her couch. With her head in her hands, she massaged her temples. How much longer was this going to go on? It was one thing for someone to go after her or Clark. It was another thing for someone to take her children.
Just then a familiar *whoosh* and a swift breeze surrounded her. Lois did not need to look up to see who it was. Nor did she feel like looking up.
Clark sat down next to her, taking his wife into his arms. Lois did not say a word, she just rested her head on his shoulder, sighing heavily. After a long while Clark broke the silence.
"Lois, Mom and Dad are flying in tonight."
"Oh Clark, you know I love your parents. I just don't think I want to have anyone in the house right now. I just want to be left alone."
He lovingly kissed the top of her head. "I know, Honey, but they are very worried too. I just could not say no."
Lois slid down, resting her head on Clark's lap. She stared off into space, chewing on her thumbnail. "I miss them so much."
"I know, I do too."
"The house seems so empty without them."
"Especially without Abby blasting her music, and Ziah trying to hotwire the toaster." It was a feeble attempt, but Clark tried to make Lois smile. It did not work. "And Harry running around the house with a towel tied to his neck, pretending to be Batman."
The phone rang and Lois nearly killed herself trying to be the first to pick it up. Clark wisely let her get it.
"Hello? Martha—sure. Yes, come over now. Clark and I are waiting—Fine, bye."
Dejectedly, she set down the phone. "It was just Mom and Dad, their flight was early. They said they would stop at the store before they came over. Something or other about tranquilizers."
Clark smothered a grin at that. Obviously his parents thought they might be needed. Given Lois's history, he was surprised to realize he had not found it necessary to go out and buy some for himself.
Abby picked herself up and shook off the leaves that clung to her shirt. The twin suns were setting in the northern sky. "Oh great, just what I needed, darkness." She contemplated her next move. It was probably better to travel a little at night as well as get some sleep. Should she try and work her way to the Imperial Palace where Zara and Ching were? Mom and Dad had told her the story of how they had come to ask her father for help. Help to save New Krypton; she knew they were friends. Would she be able to reach them? Would they help her and her brother and sister? They had to! Abby knew she could not go back inside Nor's palace even if she wanted to. Getting help was top priority. Abby's only wish was that Ziah and Harry would stay safe until she got back. If she got back.
She tried to remember in which direction she should go. She realized she had no clue. Abby did know that she could not stay where she was. With a silent prayer she closed her eyes and spun around. She stopped and it was decided she would go in that direction. Hoping for the best, she ventured forward.
The air of the jungle was humid even at night. She ran through the dusk light, trying to come up with a strategy. With her visibility nearly down to zero, Abby tripped over a long stick that lay in her path. Deciding it was a good weapon she, carried it with her. With the sun completely gone, she soon realized she could not continue. The thick forest did not allow light from any moon that might have been up in the sky, or stars for that matter, to shine through. With her hands she felt for a tree, then shimmied up to a branch she knew would support her weight. Her pulse drummed in her ears, competing with the alien noises of the forest floor below. With wide eyes she strained to glimpse even the slightest shape or movement. After a long while she finally drifted in to a fitful slumber.
A dim light spread its way through the forest floor. Abby slowly started to open her eyes. Her arms ached and her legs were scratched from her climb. Amazingly, she was comfortable in her impromptu bed. The outer atmosphere of New Krypton did have some adverse affects on her. It was hard to take a full deep breath and her skin tingled as if her limbs had fallen sleep. She was about to give in to the drowsiness, when something started to tap her on the head.
Startled, she jumped back. The creature also jumped back. Abby's chest rapidly rose and fell with the exertion of each breath. Holding a hand to her chest, she tried to quiet her heart, while she held on precariously so as not to fall. "What the heck?" Slowly, a small furry creature peeked its head around the edge of a leaf. It inquisitively chirped at Abby. Cautiously, it crept up to her, and she stared, wide-eyed. Each tried to decide if the other was dangerous.
The littler creature was brown with light tan markings. Huge eyes covered its small face. It reminded her of a cross between a spider monkey and a koala. The little animal reached out its hand and touched a cluster of berries. Picking one up, it eagerly popped it in to its mouth, chirping with pleasure.
Seeing the little thing munch happily on its breakfast, Abby noticed her stomach grumbling. Carefully she reached out, taking a berry and touched it with the tip of her tongue. She finally decided to take a chance. It was sweet to the taste and chewy. "Thank you, I was hungry."
Finally feeling full, Abby looked around, trying to decided what her next move would be. The little creature scampered off without so much as a look back, leaving Abby feeling rather alone. She knew she had to start moving. Who knew what was going on with her siblings.
It had been hours since breakfast. Abby kept up her vigilant struggle to move forward. The red sun was high in the Kryptonian sky, and the humidity was almost unbearable. Reaching the crest of a hill, Abby was delighted to find a small pond. Hurrying over to it, thirst overcame good sense and she greedily drank the water, not caring that it dripped down her chin.
Suddenly Abby was alert. Her whole body poised for sudden flight. There had been a noise, what sounded like a dry twig snapping. With all her alertness she strained to hear or see the slightest movement. How she wished her developing super-senses worked on this planet. Every muscle in her body was taut and poised, ready for action. She knew something or someone was there. Squashing down her first impulse to run, she decided she would do what her mother had always taught her to do. Face problems head on.
"All right," she called out. "I know you are there, no use in trying to hide. Come out and show yourself." She waited and after what seemed like an eternity nothing happened. Abby started to question her sanity. The mysterious "thing" made a sound again. "I can hear you, you have broken every dry twig in a 80 foot radius. Come out and … " she held up her walking stick. "I've got a weapon, if you come out slowly I promise no to hurt you," she vowed. Slowly making her way to the edge of the trees she peered into the bushes. Something did catch her eye.
Before she knew what was happening she hit the ground with a thud. The force knocked the wind out of her and for the space of a heart beat she could not move. The instinct of survival kicked in and she fought off her assailant. They rolled on the ground over rocks and debris. Realizing the thing on top of her was a person, and a young boy at that, Abby grew furious at herself and at the boy for getting the better of her. Calling to mind a move her mother had taught her for self defense, she hooked her leg around her opponent's and with a mighty heave sent the boy on his back. Straddling him, she aimed her walking stick at his chest. Pinning him down with it, she looked in to his eyes, not leaving any doubt as to just how upset she was, or who was the victor of this match.
"This is not how you are supposed to treat a lady. Especially not Kal-El's daughter!" Abby did not know what possessed her to say what she did. Mentally she kicked herself for her foolishness. She noticed with continued horror that the person she had thought to be a young boy was in truth a young man with dark golden skin and soft brown hair.
"You are an El?" The young man said.
"Yes," Abby lifted her chin with defiance.
"You are an El, I am a Ra." He paused waiting for Abby's response. He was disappointed the name Ra held no meaning for her. The young man was crestfallen when she stated as much.
"We are family. The house of El and the house of Ra were to be united as one. Kal-El and Zara-Ra were to be joined and rule New Krypton. Kal-El relinquished the rulership to my father and mother. The house of El is still strong. Its members have great influence on the council." His stern countenance made him look comical. Abigail tried her best to smother the laugh that threatened to escape.
"Do all Kryptonian talk like you?" Abby, not realizing she still held him down, continued. "I am Abigail. My father is Kal-El."
The young man's eyes grew wide. "I am Dar; my mother is Zara."
Abby was delighted. She quickly got off of Dar, helping him to his feet.
"This is great, I need to find your parents. We can go together-"
"I must get back to my family, quickly. I cannot have a girl dragging my travel time down."
"Look, buster, I don't know who you think you are talking to. I'm going to tell you right now, we are going to see your parents together. They are going to help me and my brother and sister get back home. So my dad can come back here and kick these nimnals into space!" She stood there in defiance.
Dar was little more than taken aback. This insolent slip of a girl not only tackled him to the ground, but was ordering him around.
"Besides," Abby looked at Dar, almost pleading with him, "those guys, whoever they are, are going to come looking for us. Together we might be able to fight them off. Should one of us get caught, the other can go for help."
Dar realized he could not argue with that.
Ziah and Harry managed to make their way down to a lower level of the palace. It was a stark contrast to the rest of the palace levels. The chamber they had be placed in when they first arrived was clean and spotless. This floor was dark and dirty with strange, glowing cobwebs in every nook and cranny. It smelled of rotting garbage and other debris. Ziah wrinkled her nose up at the smell. Plumes of steam forced their way from a maze of pipes and metal work above the children's heads. Harry kept close to his sister, while trying with all of his might not to cry.
"We will have to stay here for the night, Harry, I'm getting really sleepy." Harry nodded his approval. They found a spot between the wall and a huge square piece of machinery. Squeezing inside, they curled up into a ball and soon were fast asleep.
(The children must be found. I want half of your men scouring the forest and the other half to take care of the palace.) Ziah jumped in her sleep at the deep gravely voice. Her first thought was they had been found, but as she scanned the surrounding area she realized they were still alone. (Their half-human blood must be muting their communication from us. I want them found immediately!) Harry must have heard the voice too, for he had jumped in his sleep at the last. Now was the hard part deciding if they should stay or leave. Ziah was still so tired and her body ached all over. "I want to go home," she thought.
Dar and Abby had been trekking for hours. The sweat was dripping off of Abby, while Dar seemed unaffected. Coming to a small opening in the foliage. Abby found a large rock, which she sprawled on top of, collapsing from exhaustion. Dar, who had been in front of her clearing the path, realized she was no longer behind him. He walked back to find her.
"See, I told you you would drag me down."
"Oh, shut up," she gasped. "It's your male pride that's hurt, not your travel time." She raised her head up enough to give him a sour look then rested it back on the rock.
"You are very rude."
Abby did not respond; she just lay there resting. Dar walked over to her and touched her lightly on the shoulder. "You do not look well."
That did it. She was not going to let him start berating her for not being able to handle the hike. "I, I'm fine. Come on we need to keep moving, those guys are bound to find us." She shoved him to the side, making her way through the woods on her own.
They walked in a strained silence for hours. As the late afternoon light dimmed Dar suggested that they stop for the night. Inwardly Abby was thankful, but on the outside she showed a nonchalant attitude. "Whatever is fine."
Dar was just about to forget Abby was a girl and leave her right then and there. She had been nothing but rude and authoritative with him. Who did she think she was, talking to the next ruler of New Krypton like that? No one ever treated him without respect.
Dar began to clear away plants, twigs and dried-up leaves. Making a small round spot for a fire. He turned to Abby. "You could pick up some dried erches so we can start a fire."
"What are erches?"
Dar picked up a branch and explained to the girl as if she were a simpleton. "These are erches. They come from the erch tree and are used for fire. As soon as you gather some, we can have one."
Grudgingly Abby walked around, collecting what she could.
The heat was still getting to her; the thought of a fire was the last thing she wanted. Formulating in her mind all the reasons why she was beginning to not like New Krypton, she glanced over her shoulder at Dar, who was engrossed in making the fire. She had to admit he was not bad to look at. He had dark brown hair, and his eyes were like tiger-eyes. His black jumpsuit had rips and slashes, and its right sleeve was missing. She watched with schoolgirl fascination as the muscles rippled in his arm. Dar noticed the lack of noise coming from her direction, and he turned to look at her, catching her as she stared at him. Mortified, she quickly went back to her search.
"It's best if you hurry," Dar explained. "There is a-" he looked as if he was searching for a word to use. "My mother called it a strom, there is a strom heading this way."
"Yes I believe on Earth they are not so strong. Stroms can be very violent so we need to do something about shelter. I'll have a look around you stay here and keep piling the erch."
"Oh you mean storm, they can be very violent on Earth as well. How do you know about storms?"
"My parents have told me stories about their time on Earth and what is was like."
Time went by; it seemed like hours had passed waiting, waiting. Where was Dar? Abby sat huddled next to a erch tree. Its leaves were huge, like those of palm trees, only these leaves had to be 2 feet in width. A small breeze started to blow. It was stirred up by the impending storm. She was still incredibly hot, the cool refreshment of the wind made her close her eyes in relief.
(Run Abby, run now!) Dar yelled to her. Abby was startled because his voice had come from inside of her head. Unsure of what was happening, she sat there, not knowing what to do next. Dar shot out of nowhere through the trees, holding out his hand to her. Exasperation claimed his resolve to be kind. He ran to her and roughly grabbed her hand, pulling her to her feet. With no explanation, he dragged her along the forest floor, running at top speed. Bewildered Abby had no choice but to follow. His hand firmly gripped hers, there was no way he was letting her go.
"What?" she panted as they ran. "What is going on?"
"They have found us!" was all he said.
She knew the implications of this. They both ran at breakneck speed, and Abby tried to shield her face with her free arm as the foliage scraped her soft flesh. Dar stopped suddenly and looked straight up. There was a whirling noise, coming from above the trees. Whirling Abby around, he pushed her to the ground and covered her with his body.
"Get down or they will see us!"
Abby craned her head up as much as she could. Above the trees in a little gap between the branches she saw a strange transparent bubble with metal shaped like a saucer. "It is a hover craft," Dar whispered so closely in her ear that she jumped slightly at the feathery touch of his lips. The craft flew on and Abby made a move to get up, but Dar held her firm. She could hear the craft coming around for a second pass. The sound then became distant as it went on. Dar pulled Abby to her feet, breaking into a run once more. He said nothing as he led her down a obscure path. Finally they came to the side of a huge rock formation. A small hole was at the bottom of the rocks and, pushing her to the ground, he commanded her to crawl inside. Without thought or hesitation Abby scrambled under the rock with her heart in her throat. Dar followed after her.
Underneath the rock was a small carved-out area with just enough room for the two of them. It was cool and damp, the walls slimy to the touch. Dar quickly pulled out a smaller rock that was set to the side. He placed it if front of the opening, closing off all light from the outside. "It's O.K., we are safe now."
Abby relaxed. Laying on her back with her eyes shut, she held her hand to her chest as she tried to regain her breath. Her heart was threatening to come out of her chest, beating painfully fast.
"Are you all right? You don't look so good." Betraying his kinder side, Dar moved over to Abby, putting his hand on her forehead. She labored to breathe as she explained.
"That run took it all out of me." Her eyes were still closed. "Ever since I left the inside of the palace I can't breathe well. It's so hot and my skin tingles. I-I-think this planet is not agreeing with the human side of me." She was looking rather pale. "I am starting to feel better — I just need to rest."
"This rock that we are in, it's called Gekta. It means "quiet," to be "alone". Some of our buildings are made from this rock, it provides coolness from the sun's heat and warmth in the cold times. It is also blocks thought communication from those that are on the inside and the outside. "Thought communication? I heard you in my head when you told me to run. Is that what you mean?"
"Yes, I really had not meant to talk to you like that, in your head. I just did so without thinking." He looked at her in surprise. "You really heard that?"
"Yes, I've been hearing things in my head, off and on like somehow I get tuned in to the wave length and then out again."
"Interesting, it would have to be your part Kryptonian heritage that is allowing you to hear us."
"You said that this rock blocks others from hearing you?"
"Well, for the most part you can not *hear* someone unless they want you to hear. But there is always that stray communication. Anyway, hiding in here will buy us some time, and keep us warm and dry till the storm passes by. It's damp and cool now but the storm will change the temperature outside and it will change in here. In a little bit I will go out and find us some food. You need to rest. Don't worry, I will stay here till you wake." He smiled reassuringly even though her eyes were still closed. She smiled at him, letting her body relax.
"Another thing you're having a lot of problems out here because of its atmosphere, any mere human could not survive. You are able to do as well as you have, thanks to your … "
"I know, I know, my Kryptonian heritage. You know, I used to think it was awful being half-human, half something else. I could never tell anyone, I still couldn't tell anyone my father is Superman. It has always made me mad, especially when I started to have some of the powers my dad does."
"I heard about the powers a Kryptonian has when exposed to a yellow sun. What powers do you have?"
"Well, I can hear things from far away. I can see through things. It's nothing really and it gets to be a pain after awhile. Dad has helped me to understand them and control my powers. I don't use them at home, because I want to be like anyone else. So I don't even miss them here." Abby finally felt well enough to open her eyes. "Dar, why did that man take us away from Earth?"
"Because he is wants to put Nor's son in the ruling house. I think he feels with my family out of the way he will have no problems doing so."
"No offense, but that is your families' problem. How does mine come in to all of this?"
"Well, your father is from the house of El; like you know, your father was to rule this world with my mother. Even though he gave that up to stay on Earth, the house of El is respected greatly. Your father's example of kindness and justice gave my parents and others leverage to invoke change in the way Kryptonians live and think. We are no longer so pragmatic; we weigh things out as to the good and mental well-being of our world. My father says we have learned to love. There are those who would change this, go back to the old ways. I think that Lord Core-ED feels he can turn things back by taking an heir of Nor's and Kal-El's daughter, uniting the two of you. Well, he will have what he needs, with my parents and I out of the way and Your father unable to come and save you-" His voice trailed off; he was looking into Abby's eyes intently for any sign of reaction from her. That fact that during his speech she had sat up and had a horrified expression on her face did not go unnoticed. He gently touched the side of her cheek with the back of his fingers gently tracing the line of her jaw.
"He is trying to kill you." It was not a question but a statement of a horrible fact.
"Yes, and he will try to kill my parents. That is why I must get to them before he does. For now, I will go out and see if I can find something for us to eat."
Abby watched as Dar pushed his way through the hole to the outside. Peeking his head back to the inside, he instructed her to cover the hole and not to worry, he would be back. He gave her a bold wink and was gone.
Abby sat there with her mouth open. He had winked at her. Dar winked at her. "Oh, great!" she thought. "One of the cutest guys I've ever seen winked at me." She put her head in her hands. "I know I'm going to analyze this one to death."
"So there has been no word whatsoever? " Martha asked as she passed the cups of hot tea around to her loved ones. "I still can't believe that the children were taken from their own home. But without forced entry."
Jonathan chimed in. "I just does not make any sense. There has been no ransom note?"
"No, nothing, Dad, and it's been two days now. I'm at a complete loss. I haven't found anything, scanning the city or the area around it. It's like they vanished in to thin air." Clark stared down into his cup, unable to drink. "Who would take the children?" He rubbed his forehead. "I just don't know."
"Well, something has to break. They are smart kids, and with Abby developing some of those powers. I'm sure some how if they can, sooner or later they will try to get in touch with us." Martha patted Lois on the back in a comforting, motherly gesture.
"Until then, there seems nothing left for us to do. Other than wait," said Clark.
"Wait, worry, and wonder. In an empty, quiet house." added Lois.
Ziah and Harry slept in the little corner for the rest of the night. Harry was the first to wake up, patting his tummy, which was making all kinds of noises. His head hurt too; it made him want to cry, but he knew he could not. Sitting up, he whimpered softly to himself, letting a tear fall down his cheek. If his mum had been there she would have kissed it away. Harry was all alone, only Ziah was there to protect him. He had to be strong like Daddy, and not get scared. Gently, Harry shook Ziah's shoulder, then alternated by patting her on the head.
"Stop it Harry, I'm not going to watch cartoons with you, I want to sleep in."
Harry spread his hands in an exasperated outward gesture. "Ziah, no, we can't watch cartoons. Food Ziah, we need food."
Ziah raised her head and looked around her. Disappointed, she lifted herself up into a seated position. "Oh drat, Harry, I dreamt we were back home."
She stood up and dusted her overalls off. "I'm going to eat my shoe if we don't eat soon. Should we try and find something to eat?" Ziah had not meant this as a question to Harry, but Harry did not realize this.
"Ziah," he said sternly. " You can't eat your shoe. You need to eat food. Yummy food, like Twinkies."
"You are just like Dad, you know. Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Yohays. You think that is the only food on Earth. We are not even on earth, who knows if they have that stuff, or any stuff we like to eat," said Ziah.
Harry hopped to his feet and tugged at his sister's hand. "Come on, Ziah." Carefully they made their way out and proceeded up one floor. Not knowing just where to go or what do to do, they took the time to move as quietly as they could. They had finally reached and opening. "Harry, you just stay right behind me, hold onto my belt loop. I'm just going to look around the corner."
Ever-so-carefully, Ziah peeked as far as she could. The coast was clear. "Harry lets move-.Harry? … Harry, come on." She turned to see why Harry had let go. Her eyes traveled from the floor to a point above her. A guard was holding Harry, his hand covering Harry's mouth. Another one stepped out and reached for Ziah. For a moment Ziah thought about running, but remembering that these people had tried to kill her little brother, she decided he need her to stay. Ziah let herself be caught.
The third guard announced that two of the children had been captured, and the search for the third was continued. Ziah and Harry were taken to Core-ED's chambers, where they were locked in.
Abby sat back and closed her eyes. She was feeling a lot better, but still her body cried out for rest. As she laid back, she replayed the look Dar had given her and the softness of his voice. When she had first seen Dar she had thought him to be a boy. Now she realized that he was a young man older than herself. His family was related to hers in an obscure way. His mother was the woman that her father had been married to before her mother was. They were almost brother and sister. No, she did not want Dar to be her brother, no not at all. Abby realized something and she thought it strange to come to this realization on a planet other than her home, and in the circumstances she was under. Nevertheless, this understanding had come. She did not want Dar to think of her the way she tried so hard to have others think of her. Too much of a tomboy, others would say, she was always too defensive, ready to show anyone that she was capable of being just as rough and tough as the next guy. She wanted equal footing with Dar. Abby did not want to have to prove herself to him. Besides, she thought with a grin, she had done so already when she tackled him to the floor. With a smile on her lips she fell fast asleep.
Some time later Dar crawled back into their shelter. He had been able to gather some wild berries and a small rodent-like animal to eat. He had also managed to gather some erch wood for a fire. Setting his cargo down, he began to straighten things out in preparation. He was going to have to take the rodent outside to cook it. He had debated a long time whether or not to take the animal due to the lack of space to prepare it. However, his stomach had ruled his mind in the end. He looked over at Abby, who was sound asleep. She need the rest and he allowed her to sleep.
Dar sat back for a moment, he was so very tired. Abby had the right idea. He leaned back and tried to get comfortable. He would just take a little nap, he thought, but try as he might, he could not fall sleep. He sat there looking around the small space, his eyes finally resting on Abby's sleeping form. He began studying her hair. It was light brown and he remembered how it had shimmered with soft highlights in the sun. He admired her strength and courage for keeping up with him while they were escaping. Even with her fading strength from the effects the NK atmosphere was having on her body, she still did not complain. This girl, this Earth girl, was unlike any other girl he had met. He liked her. She was smart, he could tell; she kept him on his toes and took no silliness from him. Her father was the great Kal-El. All his life he had heard stories of Kal-El and how he helped his parents fight Lord Nor. How Kal-El chose to stay on Earth and keep that planet safe, while entrusting this one to his parents. Dar had always been grateful and he strived to live up to the strength, power and respect that his name carried.
Here was Lord Kal-El's daughter and she too had carried herself with pride and strength. It was his duty and honor to see she was returned safely to her home. He would save his parents and expose Lord ED's horrific plans for this world. It was all a matter of time.
They would have to wait till night fell again and then make their move. Dar decided to wake Abby up. They needed to eat, then prepare for the night trek. Dar scooted up to sit next to Abby, and softly he touched her shoulder gently, shaking her.
Bit by bit Abby came to. Reaching up with her arm she crossed it over her forehead moaning. "I don't want to wake up. My head hurts so much." She sighed groggily.
Dar smiled and he touched her cheek. "You have to, I need to go outside and fix us some food. As soon as the dark comes we need to get going. It will be safer for us to travel at night."
Abby opened her eyes to see Dar looking down at her. His steady dark eyes were sympathetic and kind. Her heart skipped a beat at his steady gaze. She sweetly smiled up at him as she slowly began to sit up. He helped her by placing his hands on her shoulders for support. When she was seated upright they stared at each other, neither one knowing what to do next.
Abby was the first to snap out of the trance. "We should eat, I'm starving."
Dar went outside to start the meal, but he quickly came back inside. The storm had started up again. "I'm sorry I could not start a fire. I thought the storm had passed but it seems it changed course and is headed back. I collected some berries for us to eat, and a this." He held up and strange-looking animal.
"It's good to eat raw or cooked, but I can see by the face you are making it is not that appetizing to you." He threw her a lopsided grin, and for the first time, Abby noticed Dar had a dimple on his cheek. "So I will eat this and you can have all the berries."
Gratefully, Abby accepted her food. She ate greedily till she realized what she was doing. Cautiously she looked up to see if Dar had seen her. Finding out he was just as hungry, she resumed her dinner, careful to take it easy this time. Finished with the delicious berries, she licked her fingers, stopping as she remembered her brother and sister.
Dar noticed the deep frown that had covered her face. He asked, "Is something wrong?"
"I was just thinking about my little sister and brother. They have not eaten since we were home, I hope they are all right." She sighed heavily, wiping the corner of her eyes before the tear that had formed could escape and betray her. "Mom and Dad must be going nuts wondering where we are."
"What we need to do is get to my parents. They will be able to contact your parents and get your brother and sister. But more importantly, stop Core-ED from hurting any of us." Dar reached over and moved the stone just so he could look out. "It's almost dark now, the rain should be abating. Finish up and we will leave."
Ziah carried Harry as they followed the guards down the long, cold corridors. Harry was too terrified of his last encounter in the arms of those guards to even walk beside them. His weight was taking its toll; her arms had grown weary long ago. She constantly shifted him from side to side to ease the ache. They were being taken for an audience with Core-ED. Ziah knew this was not going to be in any way a good thing. "Abby," she thought "I hope you're far away from here and getting help."
As they entered the meeting room, the splendor of the place overwhelmed them. Wide-eyed, both children forgot all else, taking in the massive gaudiness. The carpet was a rich blue, the walls glittered from the gold trimmings and intricately designed tapestries. At the end of the room stood a large royal-looking chair, it was covered in plush velvet, big enough for Ziah and Harry to lay in.
"Are we off to see the wizard?" asked Harry, his voice very shaky now.
Ziah could not answer him, for she noticed a large man walking out from behind the chair. He was covered in the whitest of robes with gold embroidery to adorn its edges. His hair was stark white with a streak of black down the very middle of his head. He had a mean hardness to his face and the anger he held inside could be felt emanating from him. He took his seat and positioned his hands and fingers in a gesture that would indicate deep thought.
"What am I going to do with you?" His voice boomed through the room, causing both children to jump. "You have caused me a great deal of trouble. I should have seen to it that you were disposed of." Core-ED shook his head. "Perhaps now it is good that I did not. You both can be a put to good use. As a leverage point, with you I can regain your sister."
Ziah stepped forward, incensed. "I'm not helping you try to catch my sister and neither is Harry. We did not want to come to your stupid planet, your goons made us come. If you take us home now I promise not to tell my dad what you have done!"
"You try bargaining with me, little one? Oh, that is very funny, and what is your promise worth?" Core-ED had a very good belly laugh at Ziah's expense, the kind of laugh grown-ups had that made kids feel stupid and awkward. "You have been brought to nothing. Both you and your brother, your sister is the only one that matters now. She is the key to my conquests, so there is nothing to bargain with, little one."
Ziah's feelings were a mixture of being completely cowed to bold defiance. She chewed on her bottom lip and shifted Harry to the opposite hip. At that moment another figure came into view. This time it was a young boy, not much older than Abby. He too wore a white robe, and he long blonde hair. He was very good-looking in what Mom and Abby referred to as a pretty-boy sort of way. Ziah normally did not pay attention to boys and how they looked; however, this one had such an ethereal look to him. She wondered if he was real. His skin had such a translucent quality. She watched warily as he came to stand beside Core-ED.
"Who are these children?"
"These are Kal-El's children," Core-ED said with disgust.
"Is this the girl I am to marry?"
Ziah's jaw dropped and she answered before anyone else could. "Married? What are you, some kind of pervert?"
The young man looked puzzled. "What is a pervert?"
"Don't be ridiculous, this little insignificant is nothing."
"I am not insignificant! I am also not dumb, I know just what you want. You want my sister to marry him," she jabbed a finger in Aurus's direction, "so you can get a hold of the Council seat. Whatever the heck that is. And kill Lady Zara, Lord Ching and their son. So don't call me little one, don't you dare think you can get away with this-"
Aurus looked questioningly over at Core-ED, but addressed Ziah. "You have got it all wrong, Core-ED is looking our for the good of my father's household. You see-" he walked toward her slowly as he spoke, "-I am dying, and in order for my house to continue I need an heir. Your family, your father is very respected on this planet and to be a part of the El house is a great honor."
"My Father had to stop your father from ruining both Earth and New Krypton."
"I refuse to share the sins of my father, I grew up without him, and chose not to follow in his footsteps." Aurus reached out his hand, to touch her face, Ziah pulled away. Harry began to whimper in distress. "Don't worry my fellow, we shall be family soon. I shall make sure that you will learn to become a great lord."
"He does not want to become a great lord, he wants to go home."
Harry nodded his total agreement. Aurus looked back at Core-ED once again, questioning.
"Core-ED, these children want to go home. I thought you said they were here of their own free will."
"No, my Lord Aurus, I never stated that, it is what you believed." Core-ED's eyes narrowed. "I grow weary of this little conversation. Guards take these children away, I will deal with them myself."
"No, wait, Core-ED, you have not answered my question."
"Because, Aurus, there is nothing to answer. You will have your wife and heir shortly and that, my Lord, is all you need worry about." Core-ED's underlying warning was clear to all who heard his voice.
Aurus bristled under his tone. "Core-ED, I will not participate in a joining that is not shared by all. Where is my future bride? Why is she not here if she is willing to marry me?"
"Because, my Lord, she is with her ladies-in-waiting, preparing to have an audience with you."
"You are lying, she has no ladies-in-waiting." Sensing Aurus was not as bad as she thought, Ziah pleaded with him. "My sister is lost outside in the forest, she was trying to get away."
Aurus looked shocked "She is? Core-ED, why is this?"
Core-ED's face grew hot with anger.
"You dare question me? When I have taken you under my wing and trained you in the best way possible? When I have taken care of you since you have been ill?" Core-ED blustered with each word he spoke, becoming more puffed up as he saw the defiance in Aurus fade away. "Right now I suggest you go back to your chambers and let me take care of this matter." Core-ED walked imposingly up to Aurus and even though Core-ED was a few inches shorter.
Aurus relented, obediently going back to his chambers. As he walked away, Ziah begged him not to leave them. Core-ED commanded the guard to take them away and escorted Aurus to his chambers.
Aurus remained quiet as he walked back. His mind was racing at light speed, trying to figure out what his next move should be. Core-ED had just given him a peek at his real nature and some of what Aurus had suspected was going to be put to the test. They reached Aurus's chambers and Aurus reclined. Core-ED poured him a glass of the tonic that was supposed to make him feel better. Obediently Aurus took the solution to his lips and pretended to drink. He wet his lips with the liquid, and pulling the cup away, he wiped his mouth.
Now satisfied, Core-ED patted Aurus on the shoulder and instructed him to rest. "My Lord rest easy now and do not worry about your intended or those children. I shall see to it that everything is set to its proper positions."
"Thank you, Core-ED, for all your help. I'm sure everything will be just fine."
Dar and Abby emerged from their hiding place and into the cool air. Quietly they began their trek to find their way out of the jungles. Abby soon found something to talk about.
"Dar, I remember my dad saying that New Krypton was a barren rock. How did you come to have such a lush green forest in such a short time?"
"When my people where on Earth they were able to gather knowledge. Interestingly enough, we were able to learn something from a race that is not as advanced in many ways as us."
"Well, you can never judge people. I think our people could learn a lot from each other."
Dar stopped, holding up and hand for Abby to do the same. "What was that?" he asked "What was what?"
An electronic buzz could be heard. Suddenly it stopped and before the two could react Core-ED's troopers came into view. Dar and Abby turned in unison, taking off in the direction they had come. It was no use; Dar tripped on a fallen erch log. He wiped away the trickle of blood from his cut lip. Abby tried desperately to help him up. Core-ED's men closed in and with a lightning stick stunned Dar and Abby as they tried once again to run. They both collapsed as the darkness closed over them.
Aurus stared up at the ceiling, trying to formulate a plan. He had been suspicious of Core-ED since he had slipped up and revealed a hatred for Lady Zara and Ching. The little inner voice was starting to speak louder to him. Perhaps if he went down to the detention level and talked to the children, he would be able to sort this mess all out. He dumped the rest of the cup's contents into a nearby erch plant. He tiptoed across the room, reaching the doorway. Carefully he checked the corridor for guards, and not finding any, he made his way carefully to the detention level.
It was late at night and hardly anyone but a few scant guards roamed the hallway. Aurus had slowly made his way around the corridor, taking more time than had he been able to walk boldly down those halls. He reached the chamber where the children were being held.
There was a guard leaning against the wall directly in front of the cell. He was sagging down as he slept on his watch. Quietly Aurus crept up, ever so gently he got closer to the guard. He was not sure of just what he would do but he knew he was going to have to make this one count. He raised his hand to strike the guard with the hopes of rendering him into a deeper unconscious state. He found he did not need to; the guard was a heavy sleeper and fell over, crashing to the floor. Aurus watched in awe as the guard made a loud thud as his head hit the floor. Smiling, Aurus rubbed his hands together as if he had just cleaned up a mess and walked over to the cell.
"Psst. Wake up, do you hear me?" he called out in a loud whisper.
Groggily Ziah lifted her head off of the cot. Realizing who was there, she quickly crawled over to the edge of the cell. "What are you doing here?" Get us out of here!" she whispered loudly.
"Shh! What on New Krypton do you think I'm doing?"
A loud siren bleared its angry call as the sensors had finally found what they were looking for.
"What is that?" asked Ziah.
Aurus closed his eyes for a moment then reopened them.
"They have found your sister and Dar."
"Yes, the son of Lady Zara and Lord Ching."
"This is bad very, very bad."
"Yes it is, now let's get you out of here."
Aurus stood up and looked around the cell door. He reached out to the side of the doorway and after fiddling with something Ziah could not see she heard a crackling noise and then the force field dissolved.
"Come on, we have to hurry."
"Wait! What are we going to do?"
"We are going to get out of here. You can come with me or you can stay here. The choice is yours."
Obediently Ziah took hold of Harry and they quickly left the detention cell. Ziah was scared. As they followed Aurus she could hear Harry's excited little whispers, behind her.
"Where are you taking us?" demanded Ziah.
"I'm taking you someplace safe."
Suddenly a thought struck Ziah. "How do I know that I can trust you?" she demanded.
"Wait just one minute, you are the ones I freed. I would be dead if Core-ED found out about this, but I don't care. I know now Core-ED is no good and now we have to save your sister and Dar."
"What about the security cameras?"
"They shorted out two days ago."
"How convenient," Ziah said unbelievingly.
Ziah stopped in her tracks, making little Harry hit her from behind. "If we are going to save my sister and what's-his-name, we can't leave the detention level; we have to stay here. This is where they would take them."
"No," Aurus said grimly. "Core-ED is going to kill Dar, he is going to take them to the 'chamber' to torture him first. Luckily for us it's closer to the docking bay than the cell block is."
"Boy, the breaks just keep a-coming huh?" Ziah said dryly.
Harry jumped up. "Let's gooo!"
Aurus looked at the little boy. "Yes we need to go, but I'm trying to think of the best way to get to the 'chamber' without being seen."
Ziah grinned impishly she pointed upward. Harry followed his sister's direction and smacked his palm against his forehead. "I don't like dis," he said.
Abby carefully opened her eyes trying to see her surroundings without letting any possible nearby guards know that she was awake. She realized with great annoyance she was once again back in a cell.
A groan that came from close by shook her out of her frustration. It was Dar and from the looks of things he was in bad shape. She rushed up as close as she could to the force field. Horrified, she realized Dar was hanging from the wall with glowing rings around his wrist. His chin bobbed from time to time as it rested against his chest.
Abby sank to the floor, wishing with all her heart that she could see her family again, together, and hug her mom and dad, tell them she loved them. Things were looking very grim and she did not know if she was going to ever see the light of day again. She looked up as she heard someone walk by.
"Hey!" she called out, "Hey! What are you doing to him? Take him down now!" The figure turned around. It was Core-ED. "Well, I see the half-breed has awoken.
"Take him down now, he hasn't done a thing to you."
"He has caused me a lot of problems." Core-ED pulled out a lightning stick from off the wall. "So I think it is time I had the pleasure if ending his tortured existence." Core-ED threw a sly smirk over his shoulder and walked toward Dar, pulling his head back by his hair. Dar grunted in pain, as he tried to keep his swollen eyes open. Core-ED pointed the stick at Dar's exposed stomach. His muscles rippled and contracted, as his breathing became more intense in anticipation of the pain to come. He cried out in agony as it made contact.
"Stop it! You're killing him!" Abby cried as the feeling of helplessness overcame her.
Aurus, Ziah and Harry inched their way through the long winding channels of vents. "I'm starting to not like small spaces," commented Ziah. "Aurus, can you tell what is going on now?"
Aurus stopped for a moment and listened. "Yes, they now have your sister and Dar in the 'chamber'. But they are both alive. For now."
"Harry? Harry, are you O.K.?"
"Yes, I'm tired."
"I know, keep going and we will get to see mommy soon."
Abby wished with all her heart, and for the first time in her life she had some of her powers. Right now she wanted very much to get past this barrier and beat the tar out of Core-ED. Dar did not look like her could take much more of this. He had already passed out cold, leaving Core-ED to turn his attentions on her.
"Well my dear, if only you were not so much a part of my overall plan I would perhaps do the same with you. But alas, I guess it is enough to let you watch as I slowly destroy our friend."
"You'll never get away with this."
"But my dear, I already have."
Dar started to regain consciousness, and groaned once again.
"Ahh, I see the game has reawakened."
Abby's mind raced as she tried to think of a way she could distract Core-ED for awhile. She desperately wanted to keep him away from Dar. Just as she was about to call out to him, movement caught her attention. She stared with mixed feelings as the vent next to her cell wiggled.
A few moments later, Ziah wiggled her way down to the ground, followed by a young man not much older han Abby. The young man made hand motion for Abby to remain quiet. She mouthed to them. "W-h-a-t a-r-e y-o-u d-o-i-ng?"
Ziah put her fist on her hips like Superman did. And mouthed back, "S-a-v-i-n-g y-o-u!"
Two guards turned around and headed for them. With lightning speed, Aurus ducked down between them, making his way under some of the equipment and over to where Dar was. Ziah was small enough as well as quick enough to keep the guards after her, pulling things down and hitting them over the head with anything she could get her hands on.
Aurus's rescue attempt was blocked by Core-ED, who raised the lightning stick to the young man. "So Aurus, you have come to go against me? I've taken care of you, and this is how you repay me?"
"You have done nothing for anyone but yourself. Core-ED, you can't do this, I won't let you."
The younger man reached out for the stick, grappling for the upper hand. Core-ED was much stronger than Aurus and his grip was failing him. They stumbled to the floor, Core-ED landing on top of Aurus, with the lightning stick pressed against his throat. Aurus began to choke as Core-ED tightened his grip.
Ziah inched her way underneath the examination table, trying to keep away from the guards that were poking underneath trying to get at her. What to do? She had to get away and free her sister. She quickly crawled to the opposite side of the table and made a fun for the cell. She slammed hard into the wall, pressing the button just as a guard tackled her to the floor. Abby took her chance as the shield came down. Out of the room she bolted, running head long into the gut of the second guard, completely knocking the wind out of him. He lay there helplessly gasping for breath. Abby took the opportunity to grab the guard's weapon. She then realized it was going to be a challenge to use the weapon. It was a clean rod with no apparent buttons or holes that would indicate how to fire it.
Ziah had her hands full the big surly guard had her in an unbreakable bear-like grip. She struggled, screaming for him to let her go. The guard clamped a meaty hand over her mouth to keep her quiet. Ziah panicked. His hand was making it hard to breathe. The she remembered something her mom had told her to do. The guard had her hands and arms inside his grip but her legs were still free. She flailed some more, then with every last bit of energy she could muster, Ziah kicked her leg forward, and then brought it back as hard as she could into the guard's groin as she bit down hard on tender flesh of his palm. He howled in pain, dropping Ziah as he collapsed to the floor.
"Aurus" Core-ED scolded. "You should have stayed out of this. I had everything worked out for you and look what you have done now."
Aurus didn't think he could hold out much longer, his eyes were tearing up from the pressure to his throat. Suddenly more weight was applied with a jolt, and he could feel his lips going numb. Ziah took a flying leap onto Core-ED's back, locking her arms around his neck and pulling inward as hard as she could. Abby came up behind her and poked Core-ED with it. She still had not figured out how to work it so it was not having the desired affect on the victim. Core-ED reared back, reaching around trying to pummel Ziah with his stick.
Aurus now was relieved as air painfully rushed back into his lungs. Gasping, he lay there curled on the floor, trying to recover. Abby had had enough of poking Core-ED and getting nowhere. Ziah was holding on for dear life as Core-ED struck her again and again. He backed himself into a wall and fell backward, crushing Ziah between him and the steel wall.
"AAAhhhhhh!" Ziah aried as tears blurred her vision, but she did not let go. Abby had just reached her breaking point at seeing her little sister in pain. As hard as she could, she aimed for his knees. Core-ED fell forward grasping at his knees. Ziah went down with him and suffered once again as his body rolled over hers. She managed to crawl out from under him, taking the end of his tunic and pulling it over his head. "There, that ought to keep you."
Aurus was recovering rapidly. His throat ached but otherwise he was fine. He reached up and deactivated the bonds that held the half-conscious Dar.
"Here, quick, take his other arm." Abby quickly helped Aurus with his burden. Looking around, she noticed something.
"Ziah! Where is Harry?"
"In the vent where we left him." Ziah ran back to the vent and helped Harry out. Carrying him piggyback style, she ran after the others.
As they made their way out of the corridor the alarms went off. "O.K., where to now?"
"This is the roundabout way to the docking bay. If we can get in there and commandeer a shuttle we can go find help or even take you back to your family."
Ziah grinned broadly. "I knew you were going to be useful for something."
"Well, don't speak to soon. We can most likely get in there. The trouble will come in trying to stay ahead of Core-ED and reconfiguring the computer so that it will let us have access, so we can open the shielded docking bay doors as well as operate the craft.
"Oh, is that all? I'll take care of the computers."
"You? What can you do? You are nothing but a infant."
Ziah was deeply wounded by this comment and did not bother to hide the fact.
"Look buster, I can fix things. I'm good at it. You don't have to be all mean about it."
Dar was becoming more alert. "I can walk now," he commanded gruffly.
"Dar, you're still hurt," observed Abby.
"No you are not!"
"If I say, I'm fine then, I'm fine! If you had only listened to me in the first place and let me go find my parents by myself we would not be in this mess."
"Yes we would, only you would still be chained to that wall."
"People, can we do this somewhere else? The guards are on our tails!"
Dar was indeed strong enough to run on his own. Aurus and Abby kept a close eye on him as they raced down the halls to their destination. The blaster fire from the pursuing guards intensified.
"Quick, everyone this way! There is a secret passage into the control room."
They bolted down a blind hallway, and Aurus reached out for a large statue and pulled it with all of his might. A secret door swung around to reveal a passageway.
"How did you know this was here?"
"It was put here for just such an occasion as ours. Of course, my father never used it."
Soon they found a guard standing watch with a lightning stick. Dar quickly eliminated that obstacle. Aurus dragged the guard through the passageway in into the next hall, where he would wake up disoriented.
"O.K., Ziah, now is the time we need to get those doors opened. The only way is through this computer."
"I'll do my best." She reached into her pocket and pulled out her trusty pocketknife.
"You have to hurry, it's not going to take them long to figure out where we are," said Abby.
"I'm workin' on it, I'm workin' on it," Ziah snapped. "The toaster was a lot easier than this." Ziah shook her head reproachfully.
"What is a toaster?," asked Aurus.
The pocketknife slipped its grip and scratched Ziah's thumb. "Dang it!" She stuffed her thumb into her mouth and began to suck on it, giving Aurus an condescending glance. "It's an Earth thing."
"Will you be able to operate this computer?" Dar asked, keeping and eye on the main corridor with his blaster in hand and ready for action.
"Well, this is a Kryptonian machine, but in some ways it is similar to the basic components of, say, my computer back home." Ziah pushed air between her teeth in frustration. "But it ends there." Ziah looked up at Dar. "I don't think so," she finally admitted. "I'm really not sure, I don't know enough about its system."
"From what I remember it is activated by thought," offered Aurus.
"Thought-activated?" Rocking back on her heals she dropped back to a seated position, sitting cross-legged on the floor. looking up at the circuit board she held above her head, as if it were an X-ray, to the light.
"Yes it's thought-activated; it reads the brain like a finger print. The brain wave is accepted and the computer gives you access."
"Do you have clearance?" Abby asked.
"If he did we would not need to hotwire this crazy thing," Ziah pointed out.
Abby questioned Aurus. "This is your palace and you don't have clearance to any of it?"
"No," Aurus admitted sheepishly. "Core-ED felt that is was too much of a burden for me. My responsibilities were needed elsewhere. So he took it upon himself to change the codes."
"Which seats him in the psychotic, but not stupid section," said Abby.
Ziah paused in her scrutiny and an idea suddenly hit her. "You said he changed the codes."
That was all Ziah needed to hear. She quickly moved into position, popping the circuit-board back into place. She rubber her hands together.
"You found something?"
"Not sure—but it could be a life form." Ziah was moving into "mad scientist" mode.
"Sorry?" puzzled Aurus.
Abby swatted her sister, knowing she was quoting a movie again. Ziah ignored his question to ask one of her own. "Core-ED changed the codes. But you knew what the codes were before, right?"
"Yes, I remember them."
"Well, if your computers are anything like ours, even if you delete stuff it will still be saved in some remote part of your hard drive. So if I'm right we should be able to go back into the core memory and trick the computer into thinking that code is still valid." Ziah enthusiasm clouded over. "This would fall into the hacker category. I've only hacked once, and I was not too good at it."
"Last year dad caught me breaking into the school computer."
"What on Earth were you thinking, Ziah? *Shesh* for a little kid you get into some big messes."
"I did it so my friend Charlie wouldn't have to go to summer school."
"Well, Mom and Dad busted me good. It was that time I couldn't go out and play, or use my computer, or watch T.V. I could only read books or do some chore around the house."
"Oh yeah, I remember that, I just assumed you wired the alarm clock to the microwave or something."
"Ladies," Dar interrupted rather impatiently, "I don't mean to interrupt, but Core-ED and his men are almost on top of us"
Harry sternly looked at his sister as he bent over with his hands resting on his knees. "Ziah, hurry."
"All right, all right, aren't we demanding. I understand what I have to do now, but knowing and doing are two different things. I don't know enough about the circuitry of this thing or how the networking works."
Dar walked over to them "We can't stay here much longer, we need to get those shuttle bay doors open. Once we get there we can hotwire," he threw a devilish grin at Ziah, who immediately beamed at the recognition, "the shuttle. You need to hurry."
Meanwhile, Aurus had come up with a plan of his own. "Ziah," he called as he stood up and walked over to the left side of the control panel. Ziah stood next to him, stuffing her hands in her overalls. "Ziah, I remember something of this system. I can get into the computer to the primary system, what I can't get into is the level 3 clearance which holds the controls for the doors. It would seem you know about the parts I don't know about. And I know the parts you don't know about. This is the sensor pad we use to navigate inside our programs. I'll place my hand on the sensor and you put yours on top of mine. We might be able to break the code together."
"How can we do that?"
"Come, I'll show you." Aurus placed his hand on the sensor pad and Ziah placed her hand on his. "Now close your eyes and you will see."
Abby, Harry and Dar watched as the sensor pad glowed under their touch. Ziah stood in front of Aurus. Aurus had placed his left hand on Ziah's shoulder with his right hand on the sensor. Ziah closed her eyes and tried her best to relax. Suddenly a world of streaking conduits of electricity and rotating transparent blocks of all sizes and colors, exploded around her. She gasped in amazement.
"We are inside the computer, this is how we program and use it."
"This is too cool, we are in VR."
"Come, Ziah, we haven't the time. If I remember correctly, the level 3 files are over here along with the delete files."
"Great, we should be able to trace the codes from there."
Back in the room things were rapidly deteriorating. Dar had gone down the hall to see if the barricades were holding and to see if anyone had thought to check in the shuttle bay control room. Up till now no one had thought about it. The guards were to busy running in confusion, trying to put the raging fire out in the palace. Smoke was filling the hallways. They had concentrated their search efforts on the main level and upper decks of the palace. However, the moments of reprieve had just ended. Dar ran back into the room, laser blasts missing him by inches. Twisting his body, he slammed up against the wall as he hit the control that lowered the blast door. "Get down!" he screamed as another blast found its way inside, ricocheting in the room, leaving a scorched hole in the floor. Dar blasted the control panel. "We have got to get out of here now!"
Suddenly a blast followed by a crunch sounded through the window overlooking the bay. It was dissolving in to a million cracks. Dar once again slammed the button that closed the blast shield. The three let out a *sigh* of relief "The blast shield should buy us some time but we need to go!"
*Meanwhile inside the computer*
Ziah was busy working on a V.R. Block when a power surge came through the circuitry. She was knocked back from it. "Ouch!"
Aurus came up. "We have to hurry; there is trouble outside."
Ziah impatiently wiped her brow, her eyes tearing with frustration. "I can't find it. I don't know."
Aurus started to pick up the VR boxes. "I was wondering if there is a way we can bypass the present code instead of searching for the other one? Or perhaps," he paused, grinning, "we could *hotwire* the doors?"
Ziah visibly paled, slapping her hand to her head, grunting in pure self-loathing. "How could I have been so stupid? Uncle Jimmy would be so disappointed in me. I can't believe this. Oh! Aurus, you are a genius."
Ziah jovially slugged him in the arm. "A backdoor! A backdoor to the control panels, we can get in and hotwire the bay doors!" Ziah was grinning now- "Do you know were they could be?"
Abby was starting to have trouble keeping the anxious feeling at bay. No longer were these people seeking to marry her off, but their intent now was to kill them all. "Dar, they've blocked us in. How are we going to get out to the shuttle?"
Dar quickly scanned, the room unsure of how to answer her. Harry tugged on her shirt.
He pointed up. Abby realized what he meant..
"The vent," she explained.
"Harry is right; we can get to the bay through the vent. I bet you it will take us right out there. We can make it out of here. Quick! Where is Ziah's knife? I know she left it here."
"Here it is."
With the surrounding equipment and furniture they formed a makeshift stairway leading up to the vent. Abby set to work on unscrewing the grate. The sounds from outside were getting louder and more persistent. Suddenly a *bang* rocked the room. "They're coming through."
*Back inside the computer*
"Ziah we have to go now!" Aurus said as he furiously *thought* typed different codes into the files.
Ziah was removing VR blocks and rearranging them. "I think I've got something worked out I'm not sure … Just one more- … There! Try your code now."
"O.K. let me try this … there, try now."
Aurus entered in the sequence one more time. This time something kicked back. They saw the perimeters board flash in front of them.
"The door they've opened. But only halfway."
Aurus pulled Ziah up and ran with her back to the starting point. "It will have to do, we have to go now!"
With a jolt Ziah and Aurus were back in the room glancing around
"Quick, you have to hurry."
They glanced up to see Dar pushing Abby up through a vent. Aurus hoisted Ziah up and Dar helped her through the opening. Next came Aurus, quickly followed by Dar. Just as he had replaced the grate, the guards burst through the doors. The children scurried down toward the shuttle bay. Abby was not totally sure of where she was going, but had a good idea. She gently yet quickly prodded Harry along. Finally reaching an incline, they slid down the conduit. For some unknown reason and to the five's everlasting thankfulness, the conduit ended up in the shuttle bay just to the left of the shuttle. With no grate to block them, they slide out in to the middle of the floor.
Right away, Dar and Aurus went to work opening the shuttle, and as the gangway hissed down they dove inside. Dar and Aurus quickly headed for the controls as Abby helped her sister and brother strap themselves in to some chairs.
The guards were now alerted to their whereabouts, and shots were fired, barely missing them. Quickly Aurus found the controls that closed the gangway. One of the guards slipped in as the door closed. Another foolishly grabbed onto the door, losing his fingers. Recoiling in pain, he fell to the floor.
Inside, the guard held the blaster to Abby's head, as Ziah and Harry froze. Abby bent her head slightly in defeat. Without warning she kicked the guard, knocking him off balance. He landed with a horrible thud and the sound of bones breaking reverberated around the room. He was about to reach out for his gun, the implications unmistakable. With a blink of an eye he raised the gun to shoot. Suddenly his body lurched and sparkled as it evaporated into nothingness.
Abby whirled around to see Dar standing there with his own blaster. "Where?" she gasped.
Dar ignored her question, as he pulled her up to her feet. "Get in the cockpit now! Get strapped in, we are taking off." With a grimace he added, "And we have to outrun them."
Abby rechecked her brother's and sister's straps before heading to the cockpit. Dar impatiently nudged her along. The shuttle started to rumble as they made their way to the cockpit. The shuttle was lurching violently. Dar tried to cushion the blows as they were thrown from side to side. The small craft rumbled and groaned as it prepared for lift off. Blaster shots reverberated on the hull.
Finally reaching the cockpit, Dar immediately began to work in concert with Aurus, each shouting out commands and confirmations to the other. "Lift off, we are off the ground. Activate the secondary nacelles and check the coordinates for the hyper-light-drive."
"Secondary nacelles are activated and coordinates are being calculated. "The door!" Abby exclaimed "They- They are only half open."
Dar turned to Abby and firmly pushed her in to the nearest chair. "Tell me something I don't know. Now strap yourself in."
A spark of fire from an electrical burn out sent smoke pluming from a nearby panel. Abby quickly went over to it stopping short as she realized she had no way to put it out. Just then the thrusters engaged and everyone was forced back by the thrust. Abby was knocked out as she fell. Aurus saw the fire and activated that control panels safety switch extinguishing the fire, as they all hung on for dear life.
All too quickly they raced toward the doors, and anticipation of making it through those doors grew. Dar struggled to for control of his body even as the pressure constricted his every move. "Brace for impact!!"
The shuttle forced its way though the doors with the mind numbing screech of metal against metal. Threatening to drive them all mad, the noise was deafening. The high-pitched metallic squeal vibrated the craft. Finally breaking free, the shuttle was climbing up, up as it rattled with the force of reaching orbit.
Aurus turned to Dar sweat pouring down their faces and into their eyes.
"The coordinates are locked in; we have to break this solar system now. Core-ED is already closing in."
"You set them for Earth?"
"Yes, but what if they follow us?"
"Just do it!"
The stars in front of them blurred and dissolved into blinding light.
As the shuttle came out of light speed into normal space, Aurus engaged the cloaking device.
Dar rubbed his head.
"Are you all right?" Aurus asked.
"Yes, just a bit sore. You?"
"Yes, sore, but I will be all right."
Dar got out of his seat to check a readout. "This must be where they landed originally. Let's take it down." Looking down, he discovered Abby lying unconscious on the floor. He bent down to examine her.
Aurus was concerned. "You take care of her; I will land us."
"We need to contact Lord Kal-El."
"Yes," Dar smiled as he tapped his forehead.
"Ahh. I see. Well I will be happy to do that as well."
Dar scooped up Abby into his arm. As he carried her away he thanked Aurus.
"Is Abba hurt?" asked Harry as Dar came into view.
"She has a bad bump on her head but she will be just fine. Are you two all right?"
"A little bruised and I don't think I can hear out of my right ear," Ziah answered ruefully.
"How about you Harry?"
Harry's concerned little face broke out into a huge grin. He giggled as he clapped. "Do it again!"
"Noo, way!" exclaimed Ziah.
Harry giggled some more then he sobered up as he looked at his sister. "Abba is sick, we can't do it again." He gently patted his sister one the head.
Aurus came out of the cockpit to inform them that they had indeed landed. And he had contacted Kal-El. Just then, there was a sonic boom and a loud thud outside.
Aurus looked amused. "That would be him." He pressed the airlock release and lowered the gangplank. In the late afternoon light Harry saw a flash of red blow in the soft breeze. "Daddy!" he exclaimed, then rushed out of the craft as fast as his little legs could carry him. Ziah eagerly followed him.
The children rushed into their father's stunned yet waiting arms. He dared not question them; he was too busy making sure they were safe and whole.
Ziah, finally feeling the warmth of her father's touch, exploded with an explanation of their ordeal. "We were kidnapped! By Core-ED. He was mean, and wanted Dar out of the way.
"So he could put Aurus on the tonsil seat," interjected Harry.
"That's Council seat."
"Thas what I said.! He was a bad man, he tried to hurt me," Harry explained.
Ziah interrupted, "He tried to put Ahru … I mean Aurus on the Council seat by trying to kill Dar and make Abby marry Aurus.
Clark patiently listened to his children's disjointed explanation. "Where is Abby?"
I'm here, Daddy," Abby said, as Dar carried her down from the craft.
There was a nasty black and blue mark forming from her left eye back into her hairline. Clark reluctantly let go of his two younger children. He carefully faced the young man that was holding his daughter, noting the second young man standing just behind them.
Aurus walked around Dar, holding his palms up and outward. Clark recognized it as the Kryptonian royal greeting. "My Lord Kal-El, my name is Aurus. I am the son of Lord Nor. All of us," he indicated to the circle of children, "we were all used by Core-ED. Core-ED is trying to place himself on the Council seat, a place that is not rightfully his. He has tried to kill us all. Even Dar's parents. We just managed to escape with our lives.
To Clark's credit, he did not betray any of the emotions he felt at this news. Clark noted the way Dar was holding on to his daughter. So he addressed Dar first, as he made a move to relieve him of his burden. Abby went to her father's arms willingly hugging him tightly. "Who are your parents, Dar?"
Dar's noble yet stern face struck a small chord of rememberance in Clark. But it was not till Dar confirmed who he was that Clark realized in actuality who Dar was.
Ziah looked at her father. "Daddy I want to go home."
Harry tugged at his father's cape. "I want Mommy."
Clark looked at the group in front of him. With a determined face he said. "I think you all should come back to the house. You have a lot of explaining to do."
Lois was in no mood to put up with her coworkers. She was sick of the way they danced around her. She had decided not to stay home but to come to work and see if there was something she could do that would keep her mind off of things. Keep busy while the cops still tried to look for some leads.
The kids had been gone for nearly a week, and even Henderson had started preparing them for the possible worst. Still there was nothing. Superman, for all the good he was, still had nothing as well. "Wait, wait that's not fair and you know it." Lois chastised herself. "Clark has been just as upset about this as you are, even more so since he has all those powers and they can't even help him find the kids."
Picking up her keys, she stalked her way out to the car, aggravated with herself for not being able to overcome the numbness and sorrow she felt. Logic told her that this was normal for her to feel this way. Still, her mind wanted control back, and the feeling of unraveling to stop. It seemed like everywhere she went, she saw some child that reminded her of one of the kids. A couple of times she had even stopped to double-check a small person that looked familiar from the back.
Wearily, she climbed the stairs that led to the house, and mechanically opened the door. She took one step inside the house and dropped everything she carried. The house—it felt full again! "The kids!" she thought
Just then, Ziah and Harry bounded around the corner, leaping into their mother's arms. "Mommy!" they cheered in unison.
"Ziah! Harry! Oh! You are home! How?" Tears of joy ran unheeded down Lois's cheek.
"We missed you Mom," said Ziah.
"Oh," Lois squeezed her children with all her might. "You didn't miss me half as much as I missed you." Lois pulled back from her children, touching their hands and arms as if to make sure they were real. Harry, feeling safe once again, bubbled forth with his ordeal.
"Mommy they were bad men, they tried to hurt Abba, and Ziah, and me! The bad men held me, I couldn't move and they, then, he.. he.. he pointed a gun at me, Cause I was daddy's little boy!" Harry threw himself into Lois's arms.
She gasped. "Sweetheart.." she ran her fingers through his soft hair.
Soon Clark and Abby joined the three. There were hugs and tears all around. Dar and Aurus stood respectfully off to the back. The joy of the reunited family was heartwarming to the two young men.
Lois played back in her mind what Harry had just told her. Her brow furrowed as the implication finally hit home. "What do you mean because you are daddy's little boy?"
"Lois, the children have been explaining to me just what happened." Clark motioned to where Dar and Aurus stood. Lois was noticing them for the first time. "Lois, this is Aurus and Dar."
The young men came and stood in front of Lois. With the Kryptonian greeting they expressed the honor they felt at meeting Lord Kal-El's wife.
"Mom, Dar is Lord Ching and Lady Zara's son," explained Abby. Ziah had her own revelation. "And Aurus is Lord Nor's son. But he is not mean like Lord Nor, in fact he is very nice."
Lois was indeed surprised by the news. However, she took all the explanations in stride. Soon the complete account of everything that had happened was explained.
"Clark, no wonder why the Inspector could not find anything and you could not locate the children, they were not even on Earth," said a bewildered Lois.
"I still can't believe this happened. Something has to be done about Core-ED! Zara and Ching need to be informed. I'm sure they are just as worried about you Dar as we were about our kids."
"Abby and I tried to get to my parents and the Council, to warn them. Core-ED threatened us with Ziah and Harry's life if we did not return." The muscle on the side of Dar's cheek flexed with irritation as he recalled. "We were unable to warn them. I can only hope that the disturbance we made escaping from Nor's palace was detected and that the execution of hyper-space had been monitored. If that is the case then I'm sure my parents will find out the truth."
Aurus came forward. "While escaping we suffered a blast to the main nacelle. I do not think we will be able to return home."
Clark noted the concern on the two young men's faces. Ziah was the first to respond.
"Well you two can stay here. Can't they, Mom?" Ziah was stating her invitation as fact, rather than asking.
"Yes, Clark and I insist you both stay here till we can work something out. It is the least we can do for all you have done."
"That is most kind of you, Lady El," Dar said.
Lois was surprised at the remark. "Dar," she smiled sweetly, putting the young man at ease. "I would feel much more comfortable if you called me Lois."
Dar and Aurus both nodded their appreciation.
Core-ED was furious. "You imbeciles, you let them get away!" His face was bright red with tiny little veins threatening to burst from his neck. "Everything is ruined."
A chime interrupted him and Core-ED visibly sagged. The viewer appeared in front of him, revealing the dark and angry countenance of Lord Ching.
"Core-ED! We have monitored an unauthorized ship leaving New Krypton's atmosphere. Once leaving the planet, it proceeded to make an illegal hyper-light jump. We also know it came from your coordinates."
"Yes my lord, it would seem that one of my men had been lusting after the powers one receives on Earth. I myself am deeply grieved over this incident. But I would ask my lord's permission to go and retrieve my wayward solder and see to it that he is punished properly."
Ching looked thoughtful for a moment, then seemed to stare at a point beyond the screen. Quickly he moved his attention back to Core-ED. "Very well, you have 2 rotations to bring him back. If you do not return within that time I will come for you both."
Ching worked the muscles of his jaw as the viewer dissolved in front of him. Lady Zara came up from behind him, putting her arms around his waist.
"Do you think it will work?" she asked.
"It has to."
Clark and Lois had decided to take the kids to their grandparents' farm to unwind and relax from their ordeal.
Ziah came running into the kitchen covered in mud.
"Mom! Dad! Come quick!" cried Ziah. "Chance is chasing Dar!"
The grown-ups all rushed out on to the porch. The Kents' prize bull was indeed chasing Dar. Abby and Aurus were frantically chasing after the bull.
Clark rushed over to his help his charge, grabbing hold of the rope around the animal's neck. The bull was in full charge and came to a violent halt as Clark reined him in.
"Dar are you all right?" Aurus and Abby caught up with him, panting.
"Yes, yes but get that rotten creature away from me."
Clark was very puzzled. "I thought Chance was tied up in the barn. How did he get out?"
"I don't know," shrugged Abby. "I was showing them how to milk the cows. Aurus went to milk Pebbles and Dar went to milk Clancy."
Dar shook himself off like a dog, while defending himself. "I did! I went up to this, this, this-"
"Uhm, cow," said Ziah.
"Yes, cow next thing I know it's chasing me!"
"Wait let me get this straight, Dar, you tried to milk Chance?" asked Clark.
"Well, Dar that's your problem. You were supposed to milk Clancy in the next stall. You can't milk a steer."
After the danger had passed the silliness of the moment sunk in and soon everyone except Dar was laughing. Clark took pity on the young man. Noting the stone visage he put forth, Clark recognized it as one he had used many times before. A barrier he had built between him and others to hide his embarrassment. "Don't worry Dar, it happens to the best of us. Let me put Chance away and we'll go inside and have some buttermilk."
"My lord Core-ED, we will be reaching Earth's atmosphere shortly. Our sensors have not picked up any Kryptonian life forms in the area designated. However we have picked multiple readings in an area some distance away."
"Go there then, that is where we will find Kal-El."
"As you wish."
Lois was trying to get the attention of the more energetic crowd that occupied the living room of the Kent farmhouse. "Kids, kids, settle down! It's one in the morning and your grandparents and parents need to sleep," admonished Lois.
Jonathan came up from behind her with Harrison on his back. He was bouncing the youngest Kent around, as Martha and Clark walked in from the kitchen. "Now Jonathan, you are going to get that boy all wound up and we won't be able to get him to bed."
Jonathan himself was too wound up and having a good time to pay any attention to his wife. "Pillow fight!" someone screamed. After that, only Superman could save the house from total destruction.
Finally, after a long and strenuous ordeal, the house was quiet, the children were all asleep. Martha and Jonathan had quietly retired to their room. Lois laid in the dark, staring up at the ceiling and thinking about everything and nothing in particular. Clark rolled over in his sleep and she softly played with his hair. Soon she too fell into a contented slumber.
The house shook on its very foundation as the sound of a crash reverberated though the walls. The children were the first to come to complete attention as a blinding light surrounded them. The four adults upstairs were thrown from their beds.
"Daddy!" screamed Abby as she crumpled to the floor.
Clark tried to raise himself off of the floor but could not. It was as if a weight had been placed around his neck. A terrified Lois rounded the bed to see what was wrong. Clark could only gasp out the words, "Lois, the kids, Kryptonite."
Lois paled and raced out of the room and down the stairs. Strange figures that seemed to shimmer picked the limp bodies of the children, slinging their motionless bodies over their shoulders. Frantically searching around, she found the baseball bat they had been playing with earlier. Picking it up, she fearlessly approached the intruders.
"I'm giving you two seconds to put those children down, or I swear I'll knock your head back to Metropolis."
The figures paid her no mind as they turned away. Lois raised the bat and swung with all the might of a desperate mother lion protecting her cubs. It was to no avail; the bat shattered as the figure's body crackled and shimmered. Lois realized it was some kind of force field. They had used Kryptonite to render the children as well as her husband helpless. Somehow they had manipulated it to protect themselves.
"Oh no you don't, you're not getting away that easily."
"Lois, my goodness, what on Earth?"
"Martha, Jonathan go help Clark!" was all Lois said as she rushed out the door.
Lois stood in the middle of the field, her nightgown blowing wildly in the wind. The white light was so intense; she had to shield her eyes from the pain it caused. The wind swirled around her, blowing dust and debris. It was becoming harder for Lois to stand upright. The noise was becoming deafening.
The feeling of helplessness was overwhelming. Clark closed his eyes, willing the pain and nausea to go away. His children were in trouble, as were the others. He crawled his way to the door and out into the hall. His parents met him halfway. "I've got to help the kids."
"Clark, you can't help them like this," Jonathan pointed out.
Just then, a loud, droning noise made the walls shake. A bright light blazed through the house. Martha, Jonathan and Clark hurried as best they could down the stairs to the outside. From out of nowhere a tall, dark figure walked up to the fleeing kidnappers.
"Put them down, Core-ED. There is nowhere left to go." Ching's voice seemed to boom over the noise as if it where stronger than anything else.
Core-ED grabbed Dar from one of his guards and held a lightning stick to his throat. Everyone gasped as Dar's head rolled to one side. "I should have killed this one when I had the first chance. Then none of this would have happened."
Aurus was trying to hold his head up as the guard gripped his upper arms. He could see the meter on the stick gaining power. Core-ED was gearing it up to its highest setting.
It all happened in a split second, no one had time to react. Aurus knew Core-ED was at his breaking point. If something wasn't done and fast, it would all be over for everyone. Ripping away from the grasp the held him, he forced his way past the Kryptonite shield. He screamed in pain as he lunged towards Core-ED, throwing his body at Dar. He succeeded in knocking him away from Core-ED.
Core-ED howled with rage as he brought the stick down on Aurus. For a second time stopped. Aurus grabbed hold of Core-ED's arm, swinging it around. Core-ED was hit in the head with his own lighting stick. He fell into blackness. With morbid fascination they all watched as Core-ED's body seemed to glow and sparkle. Finally he fell to the floor, his head falling to one side as his mouth fell open and a cloud of smoke ascended.
Ching made a signal with his arm. A loud screeching nose was heard as the force fields started to crackle and dissolve. "Give it up," he said to Core-ED's men. "You have nowhere to go."
Ching's men appeared from nowhere just as their leader had. Surrounding the infidels, they seized possession of the children, then took Core-ED's men prisoner. Just as quickly as they had come, his men vanished along with Ching's.
Clark walked up to Ching, his palms facing upward in the traditional Kryptonian greeting. Each man was glad to see the other. "Kal-El, it is good to see you again," Ching said.
Lois walked up to them with a groggy Harry on her hip.
Lois smiled warmly at him. "Thank you for coming to help."
"I am relieved to have my son back. As I'm sure you are happy to have your children back. We have been looking for enough evidence to come after Core-ED. Unfortunately he had been able to infiltrate the Council, making it possible to at times be more the one step ahead of us."
Dar walked up to his father, ready to give the Kryptonian greeting. Ching took his son's shoulders and pulled him into a warm embrace. Dar was stunned at first. "Father in public?"
Ching pulled back slightly to look into his son's eyes. "This is not public, this is in front of family," he said, then folded his son back into his embrace. "Come, we must return to New Krypton; your mother is anxiously awaiting our arrival."
Aurus put his hand on Ziah's shoulder. "I guess it is time I go back."
"Yeah," she replied glumly, as she wrapped her arms around him, hugging him tightly.
Ching once again shook Clark's hand, and then hugged Lois, Harry and all. Soon everyone was saying a tearful goodbye. Dar and Abby stared awkwardly at their shoes, wondering what they should do next and wishing they were in a more private location to say their good-byes. Dar was the first to speak. "Abby, you are a very strong woman. Very beautiful too." Dar blushed slightly, a blush that did not go unnoticed by anyone.
Abby found it very enchanting. Throwing caution to the wind, and for the first time not caring in the least bit what her family thought, she reached up and hugged Dar, then kissed him squarely on the lips.
Jonathan gasped slightly and made a move to step forward. Martha held him back and whispered, "Let Lois worry about it."
Lois and Clark were motionless. Not because they were shocked or upset, but because reality finally was hitting home. Their little girl was doing what all little girls and boys do.
They grow up.