By Carolyn B. Schnall <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted October 1999
Summary: The New Kryptonians try to execute Kal-El by scattering his molecules, but he is snatched up by a transporter beam from Picard's Enterprise.
All the Lois and Clark:TNAOS characters belong to DC Comics, Dec. 3rd Productions, Warner Brothers, TNT, etc. The Star Trek: The Next Generation characters all belong to Paramount. No infringement on their rights is intended.
Thanks to Dawn, Joy, Debra, Gary and anybody else who answered my dialogue query:)
Each response was very useful. Thanks to Neil and Ritz.
This is a what-if story that explores what might have happened if two of my favorite TV shows had met in a cross-over fanfic, as in ST:TNG meets L&C:TNAOS, at a critical moment in Battleground Earth.
There is a slight reference to my ST:TNG nfic, Times and Fates, but it is not at all necessary to have read that story first. I just could not resist:) Some fans may recall a small role played by certain actress with the initials TH in an early ST:TNG episode.
Clark Kent could hardly believe what he was hearing. He had been found guilty of high treason and conspiracy by the Council of Elders of New Krypton, even after leaving Earth, his parents and his fiancee, Lois Lane. Clark, as Kal-El, had tried to help the New Kryptonians, who were the only other survivors of the extinct planet of his birth, Krypton. He had been betrayed by Lord Nor, and now Zara, Kal-El's wife under Kryptonian law, was going to be forced to be re-married to Nor.
Trey, the Elder who Clark had hoped would prove more sympathetic to his situation, rendered the sentence of the tribunal. Kal-El was to be banished forever, his body to be disintegrated and his molecules to be scattered throughout the galactic abyss.
Clark's mind reeled. His protest against the verdict and his challenge to Nor, predicting they would go head to head someday, were unsuccessful. Clark felt keenly how unfair and how ironic it was that he should come to such an end. He had tried to help the people of Earth as Superman, and he had tried to help the people of New Krypton, only to have them invade Earth and endanger its population. He had come through many trials to learn to be the man he was. He had arguably been the most powerful being on his adopted planet. Now he would never have what he had always sought: a normal life. He would never be able to marry Lois, raise a family, or just simply live in peace.
Jonathan and Martha Kent caught his attention, exhorting him to fly away from the confines of this elaborate traveling royal palace that was the mother ship and save himself. Clark looked at his parents and could only see that their lives were in danger.
"I can't do that," he answered them, regretfully. "They'd kill you."
Clark looked longingly at Lois until the shiny device that could only be the molecular disseminator appeared before him. Lois called out his name and he looked meaningfully at her and at his parents, wishing he could hold each of them in his arms once more. With great dignity and sadness, he stepped into the device's cold embrace, and the bars came together, behind which he was irrevocably trapped.
The mechanism vibrated and Clark could feel that every cell of his being was under attack. He clasped his hands in front of him. The pain was incredible, even for the invulnerable Superman. He tried to see Lois and his parents through the golden haze that surrounded him. Finally, he could bear the pain, the anger, and the injustice no longer. He screamed. And then he was no more.
On the bridge of the Federation Starship Enterprise, Captain Jean-Luc Picard was in his command chair. He had not been back to Earth in a very long time and the Enterprise was only a few light years from the solar system in which he had been born and raised. He could just make out, on the view screen, the blue orb that was Earth in the distance.
"Sir," the android Data reported from his front row console on the left. "We have encountered what appears to be a transporter beam."
"Can you identify the origin of the beam?"
"The origin is unknown, Sir."
"Are there any ships within range?"
Picard thought it over. They were still too far away from any planet for a transporter beam to be used in the normal way.
"Issue the standard hail, just in case."
"Standard hail transmitted, Sir."
Picard glanced at Riker, his first officer. Riker remained non-committal. Counselor Deanna Troi, sitting on Picard's left, met Riker's eye.
"Where could it come from and where could it be going if there is no ship or planet close by?" Picard knew he was thinking out loud but would have welcomed any insightful suggestions from his officers. It was a definite mystery and was probably going to delay their arrival at Earth.
"No response, Sir."
"Perhaps it is a long range beam?" Riker suggested.
"Beaming to what destination? To the Enterprise?"
"Our sensors show that it was just floating, Sir," Date interjected.
"Picard to Transporter Room One."
"Transporter Chief Robinson here, Sir."
Picard was slightly surprised by the responding female voice. Miles O'Brien was apparently not on duty.
"We have encountered a transporter beam but it does not seem to have a destination. There is no planet anywhere near here, nor do our sensors detect a ship. Can you intercept the beam?"
"I'll try, Sir."
"Number One, you're with me," Picard snapped as he rose and strode to the turbo-lift. Riker fell in behind him. Heading them off at the lift was Worf.
"Sir, I think I should be there. Whatever is in the beam might represent a security risk."
Picard regarded his Klingon lieutenant briefly, then nodded. All three men boarded the lift. Moments later, they had entered the Transporter Room. Transporter Chief B.J. Robinson was hard at work, trying to catch the beam, muttering softly under her breath about non-Starfleet technology.
Picard tried to ignore the muttering but after a minute or two, called her more experienced senior to the Transporter Room. O'Brien showed up promptly.
"Can you identify the technology?"
"No, Sir, although it seems ancient according to our analysis," O'Brien said. "We almost have it…" He looked up dramatically.
They all watched the transporter pad expectantly. Suddenly they were all stunned and disturbed by the screams emanating from the beam. A dark male figure was almost visible and he was in agony.
"Dr. Crusher, report immediately to Transporter Room One."
In response to Picard's summons, Dr. Beverly Crusher arrived shortly, portable medical kit in tow. She positioned herself close to the pad while O'Brien and Robinson struggled to match the frequency and materialize the unfortunate being inside the golden beam.
As the beam became more concrete, the scream got louder. They could all see that the occupant of the beam was a muscular young man in great pain. He was clad in black from neck to feet, with a blue symbol on the chest of his shirt that appeared to be the letter 'S', inside a diamond shaped outline. He writhed, and Picard noted that the stranger looked like a healthy specimen, very fit, and extremely well proportioned.
Finally, the beam became completely materialized and the young man, released from its hold, pitched forward, falling, the scream becoming a strangled cry. Crusher stepped up and tried to catch him. She misjudged his weight and he slipped from her grasp. Worf, trying to assist her, had come up on the other side of the young man and had a firm grasp of one arm as the man in black tumbled toward the floor, struggling loudly for breath. Before he was completely down, his head came up and he looked wildly around the room, eyes coming to rest on Transporter Chief Robinson.
"Lois!" he pleaded urgently. His free arm came up and he reached for her. She gasped in response. Consciousness slipped from him and he collapsed.
Picard stood in Crusher's office in sickbay. She stood next to him at the window that separated her office from the main treatment area. On the far side of the treatment area, the young man in black lay motionless on one of the computerized beds. Picard idly wondered if Beverly found the patient as compellingly in need of attention as the nursing staff seemed to. As he glanced sideways at her, he seemed to detect a slight flush in her usually pale complexion. It was making him feel uncomfortable. Picard was not sure if it was because he preferred not to witness her infatuation with another man, no matter how fine a specimen he might be, or he was regretting his own failure to have the same affect on her. The black outfit was leaving little to the imagination and the fellow seemed very attractive to both men and women.
"I don't understand it."
"Neither do I."
"Jean-Luc, what are you talking about?"
"Oh, nothing. What were you saying?"
"My instruments show that he is not human, even though he is definitely humanoid. There are fragments of information from pre-apocalypse times about readings similar to his, but I can't identify his species."
"It would not be the first new species we have encountered," Picard observed.
"Yes, but I also cannot identify what caused him so much distress or what is currently causing his coma. I don't quite know what to treat him for or even how. His skin is impervious to my hyposprays."
Picard registered surprise at that last revelation. He found himself even further surprised when Transporter Chief B.H. Robinson entered the sickbay. She walked slowly to the stranger's bed and stared at him. Beverly shot Picard a significant look and left the office to stand by her side.
"Oh, doctor, I hope it's okay."
"Sure." Beverly let the silence deepen. "He acted like he knew you."
"Yes, that was very strange. He called me Lois!"
"But you've never seen him before?"
"No, and I've never been called Lois, either."
Beverly smiled at Barbara in response.
"Will he be alright?" Barbara asked. "He was in so much pain."
"Well, he's not in pain at the moment. We'll have to wait now."
Beverly walked back to the office to inform Picard, who was observing from the office, of the content of her conversation with Barbara, leaving her at the bedside.
Barbara got closer in order to look at the man's features. As her breath touched his face, he stirred. His eyes fluttered open and then looked right at her as her sharp intake of breath drew his attention. His expression was one of relief. Reaching for her, he called, "Lois."
Barbara visibly hesitated, obviously unsure of what to do. She took his proffered hand and held it. The patient seemed comforted by her presence.
"It's going to be all right," she assured him.
He seemed to relax but in the next instant, he had passed out again. Barbara left him to tell Crusher what had happened.
Several hours later, the young man came to consciousness again, but this time Crusher and Picard were standing at his bedside.
"Lois?" he called, eyes not quite open or focused. Picard and Crusher exchanged glances.
"Lois is not here," Crusher said softly. "How do you feel?"
The man swallowed and tried to get his eyes to stay open. He opened his mouth but seemed unable to say anything else.
Picard decided to take the initiative.
"I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation Starship Enterprise. You are on the Enterprise now. We intercepted your transporter beam. You were stranded in space. Can you tell us your name?"
The younger man, focusing better now but not completely alert, looked stunned, confused, and then, very saddened. He started to speak in what Picard thought was a dispirited tone of voice, as though he had just decided he no longer cared what happened to him.
Picard was surprised, for some reason thinking that the name would begin with an 'S'.
"Do you remember where you were being transported from?"
"The mother ship. It was in orbit around Earth."
"Why were you being beamed into space?"
"It was the carrying out of my death sentence because I am also Kal-El, son of Jor-El." Picard had to lean closer to hear the young fellow. His voice had dropped to a near whisper.
"Is that why you were screaming?" Crusher asked.
The fellow's expression changed to one of embarrassment.
"I'm sorry about that. The molecular disseminator hurt a lot. It surprised me."
Picard noticed that the young man seemed to be retreating inside himself.
"Yes, death by the scattering of molecules."
Both Picard and Crusher involuntarily shuddered. The thought apparently also threatened to overwhelm the patient.
"What does the 'S' on your shirt stand for?" Picard asked quickly, trying to change the subject.
The man seemed uncertain in his present state whether or not it was wise to reveal the answer. The reply came out as a mere murmur.
Picard was startled, not sure he had heard correctly. Before they could ask any more questions, Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman had closed his eyes and was beyond speech once again.
Crusher searched through the computer records for any reference to Superman. She found references to George Bernard Shaw, to Nazis, and to comic books, among other things, but nothing about an actual alien being on Earth named Superman. Not for the first time, Beverly cursed the apocalypse and the chaos it had created for all the people who had survived it.
Picard came by for a report and was not surprised at the paucity of information the Chief Medical Officer had uncovered. She informed Picard that she believed the young man with three names because there was something about him that had been so sincere, so sure, and so sad. Unfortunately, it left Picard little to go on and he needed more information. He approached the bed again. The patient was awake, looking lost, alone, and disconsolate.
"Which name do you prefer when people address you?"
The patient looked at Picard, seeming to come from a time and place that were very far away.
"Clark," he said, then swallowed. "I'm Clark."
"Clark it is, then," Picard responded, trying to sound reassuring.
"She is not here," Picard stated as gently as he could. "Why were you sentenced to death?"
"It was my reward for trying to help my people."
Picard thought Clark was in a full sulk.
"All of them," Clark answered cryptically, looking haunted and seeming to relive a painful memory.
"Who are your people?"
"The people of Earth and the people of New Krypton."
"New Krypton!" Picard was sure he had never heard of New Krypton. "And who sentenced you to death?"
"The people of New Krypton." The irony in Clark's voice was not lost on Picard.
"What were you accused of?"
"Treason and conspiracy."
"Were you guilty?"
"I was only guilty of believing that if I left behind everything I held dear to prevent a civil war, I could ensure peace for all of them."
Picard let the silence lengthen as Clark closed his eyes, enduring an emotional pain that Picard could practically see.
"We researched the name 'Superman' but found nothing useful in our historical records." Though Picard felt compelled to believe Clark's story, he had to test this out. Clark's eyes snapped open. Once again the young man looked stunned and a new awareness was becoming evident.
"How many years have passed?"
"This is the 24th century."
Clark swallowed and his eyes were wide for a moment. He was hyperventilating and his mouth had dropped open, disbelief sketched across his handsome features. Finally he asked a question with dread in his face at what the answer would be.
"Then that was not really Lois I saw?"
Picard sighed. He confirmed the bad news.
"No, it was Transporter Chief Barbara Robinson."
"They are all dead now!"
Picard nodded in agreement and watched helplessly while this noble, earnest, and masculine leader of two peoples began to quietly weep.
When it appeared that he was calmer, Picard left Clark alone and walked into Crusher's office to tell her what Clark had said. Beverly looked almost as depressed as had Clark.
"I can't give him a sedative because hyposprays don't work on his skin."
Picard nodded, then shook his head, feeling useless.
At that moment, Clark got to his feet and was prowling around the sickbay, his face a mask of anger. While Picard and Crusher watched, Clark put his fist clean through a bulkhead. He lifted the bed and turned it upside down. The sickbay staff fled the room, as Clark pulled the ceiling down with one hand. He walked through the doors to the corridor, flinging them clear of his path effortlessly, and he disappeared down the corridor.
Crusher and Picard exchanged a look. It had all happened so fast and been so unexpected that Picard had not even been able to call for security.
"Superman indeed!" Picard observed.
Clark stalked down a corridor, then another, and another. He felt like a rat in a maze and that maze was the Starship Enterprise. His life with Lois was now lost to him forever. If Nor had appeared before him at that moment, Superman would have committed his first homicide.
A plan was forming in Clark's deranged mind. He sought an outer door. After the first twenty minutes outside the ship, even he would need oxygen and there would only be the airless vacuum of space. He had come from space and he would end in space. He was genuinely sorry that he would not live the life that Jor-El and Lara had wanted for him. He missed Martha and Jonathan Kent terribly. He even thought briefly of Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. But no Lois! He could not bear to be alive without her.
He rounded a corner and came face to face with Transporter Chief Barbara Robinson. He involuntarily gasped at the sight of her. The resemblance to Lois was startling. He now understood why he was so convinced, in his brain haze, that he had seen Lois, that he had held her hand, and that she had been there with him after the nightmare he had endured.
She looked relieved to see him. She smiled and came closer to him.
"You're up! I was so worried about you. I was just coming to see you!"
Clark swallowed. Even her voice was similar. This young woman had to be a descendent of his Lois. There was no other explanation. Her presence seemed to afford him clarity of thought even if his heart seemed to flip-flop.
"Thank you. I… I'm fine. I feel fine now. Thank you for your help. It was very kind of you. "
"Well, I'm sorry I'm not Lois." She had said it with a smile but Clark found himself staring at her. She endured it but seemed slightly embarrassed.
"I'm sorry too," he finally responded. A silence ensued. Barbara was obviously trying to avoid looking any lower than his face. He clasped his hands in front of him. She finally spoke up.
"The Captain informed the transporter detail about that molecular disseminator you survived. I was hoping you could answer some questions about that device."
"There's not much I can tell you about it. I think they used it as a transporter mechanism as well, but it was set to scatter me all over space."
"Oh!" She seemed shocked but recovered quickly. "Okay, well, thanks anyway. Were you going back to sickbay?"
"Uh," he stammered. He thought about the destruction he had caused there and suddenly realized that he would have to put that right. "Yes, I seem to have lost my way."
She smiled again and gestured the way he had come. They walked together and Clark found himself spellbound by her every word and move. Clark also noticed that there were crewmembers on board who were obviously not human. He reflected that it sure had been a stroke of luck that Kryptonians at least looked like people from Earth. Had that not been the case, he might have grown up as an object of study in a lab somewhere. Jonathan Kent had always feared that would be the case. Clark caught himself scrutinizing the other aliens around him and felt ashamed.
When they reached the destroyed sickbay, Barbara glanced his way.
"What happened?" Barbara asked incredulously. Clark shrugged sheepishly.
As Clark encountered the havoc he had created, Worf was waiting with a security detail and phasers poised. Worf fired his phaser at Clark but, to the crew's surprise, it had no affect. Picard ordered Worf to stand down, suspecting that Clark was more powerful than a Klingon or a Vulcan, able to destroy sickbays with a single hand, and apparently impervious to Starfleet-standard weapons.
After getting over the weird sensation of being fired upon by an alien as imposing looking as the Klingon was, Clark started to put things where they had been. In seconds he had set most of it back the way he had found it. His witnesses were all startled at his speed, strength and agility. When he was finished, he explained to them all about the yellow sun in the solar system of Earth and its effect on him. He apologized for the loss of control. Picard, Crusher, Worf and Robinson took it all in, wide-eyed and amazed. Finally Clark stood next to the bed he had just set to rights and thanked them for their help, but said he would be leaving them now.
Picard sensed what Clark was about to do. It was reinforced by the fact that Deanna Troi had reported to him that she had sensed that someone aboard the Enterprise was suicidal and that it was an alien mind like none she had ever encountered before. Picard tried to stall Clark, asking the others to leave. Once the two men were alone together, Picard sat on the bed and invited Clark to do the same. They sat with their legs dangling and Picard tried to talk to Clark about his life in the 20th century.
"I visited the 20th century once. It is a very interesting time."
"It's where I belong, that's for sure."
"You might find the 24th century fascinating."
"The woman I love is not in the 24th century."
Picard understood Clark's depression. The 24th century would never be home for him because he loved someone in the 20th. Picard understood because he had had the same experience. A new tack was needed to help this young man.
"We could do some research to see if we can send you back."
Picard saw the first sign of enthusiasm on Clark's face.
"There are no guarantees, you understand."
Clark nodded, enthusiasm fading.
"Why not give us some time to explore the possibilities?"
"Yes, Sir. I'll see if I can adapt myself to your time, as well."
"I think you have demonstrated that you are fit to be officially released from sickbay. Let me show you to your quarters."
Clark agreed and the two men left Crusher's staff behind to finalize the repairs.
The next morning, Barbara Robinson visited Clark in his guest quarters. As she entered the room, she saw that he was awake but still in bed. Clark had removed the black suit and his bare muscular chest was now revealed above the blanket. She looked down and away quickly.
"I'll get right to the point, because I don't want to disturb you, but I've been doing some research, pre-apocalypse research, and I found something, a really small something, but anyway, something, and I think it will help. I don't know how we missed it before but there was an article in the Daily Planet of the city of Metropolis and in the article there was a description of the New Kryptonians and the return of Superman, as told by Superman to Clark Kent and Lois Lane and…"
Clark sat up at the mention of Lois Lane and the blanket fell lower. Barbara's eyes widened, she blushed and turned nearly completely away. Clark bounded out of the bed to stop her. As he grabbed her arm, he turned her back toward him and she glimpsed a pair of black briefs.
"Please don't leave. Tell me the rest," he pleaded. She stared at him for a moment and he sensed in her a mixture of attraction and awe. Mostly, though, she seemed embarrassed. "I'll get dressed first, if you like," he added.
"Oh, okay," she said. "I wasn't going to leave. I mean I was but now I'm not and I'm sorry because I shouldn't have barged in here and you forgot to lock your door, and I just had to tell you what I found, so I forgot to ring the doorbell and,…go, get dressed! "
Clark marveled at how this young woman even babbled like Lois. He flung on the black suit and walked past her into the sitting area. She followed him and they both sat.
Barbara instructed the computer on a nearby table to display the article she had just mentioned.
Clark sat forward and eagerly read the screen at Super-speed. The article described how Superman was rescued from his sentence of death by Lieutenant Ching, the bodyguard of Lady Zara, Trey of the Council of Elders, and by Lois Lane, after it was discovered that Kal-El's trial and sentencing were illegal under New Krytonian law. It went on to relate the fact that Kal-El was nearly lost to the world but was snatched back from the disseminator just in time.
Clark was a mass of mixed emotions. Just like Lois to come to his rescue! Trey had finally come through, and even Ching had surprised him. But if he had been snatched back, what was he doing here now? He posed the question to Barbara.
"I can't explain it. It clearly says what happened but it seems not to be true, because here you certainly are." She gestured towards his body, than pulled her hand back in, suddenly self-conscious, as she got to her feet.
"Let's tell the captain about this anyway."
Clark agreed and stood up as well. Barbara turned toward the door but stopped when Clark placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Barbara, do you know if you are descended from the Lane or Kent families?"
"Sorry, I don't. The records don't go back very far. Apocalypse, you know."
Clark nodded, trying not to think too hard of the ramifications of that bit of history, wondering if the New Kryptonians, without his influence, had contributed to causing such a terrible event.
"I just want to thank you for looking for the article and for visiting me in sickbay. You…you saved my life."
"You looked like you needed a friend. It was my pleasure," she answered, her brown eyes looking up into his, her lips parted.
Clark found himself drawn toward her. Could she be like Lois to him? If he was trapped in this century, could he love Barbara, though she was not Lois? He had a wild thought that if he kissed her she would turn out really to be Lois and…
He shook his head and let go of her. It was desperate, wishful thinking and he ordered himself not to go there. The only place for him to go was back to Lois, his Lois, or die trying.
"I'm sorry. You're right. We should go see Captain Picard."
Barbara agreed and within the next few minutes, they were joined in a briefing room by Picard, Crusher, Riker, and O'Brien. There was also a young woman there named Deanna Troi and a young black man by the name of Geordi LaForge, who wore an interesting golden eye prosthesis. In addition, there was impressive looking golden skinned officer named Data, who Clark understood was actually an android.
LaForge, Data, and O'Brien were giving Picard their various theories as to how Clark's beam had ended up on the part of space where they had found it and how it had maintained its beam properties. Clark didn't comment, nor did he understand half of what they were discussing, including technion fields, the ancient Kryptonian disintegrator mechanism, and Clark's invulnerability. Clark suspected it was the last theory that came the closest to an explanation. The New Kryptonians had never tried to disintegrate one of their number under a yellow sun. How the beam survived for so long was anybody's guess.
Clark glanced around the room, looking at each of the people there who were trying to help him. Then he found himself giving Riker a double-take. Could Riker be a descendent of Tim Lake? Except for being younger and in better shape, Riker could be Lake's twin. Clark decided he would have to ask the Commander about that if he had a chance.
The group discussed Barbara's findings at length. Finally Clark spoke his mind.
"I've come to the conclusion that I want to be transported, if that's the right word, back into space. We don't really know why my molecules were not scattered as it was threatened they would be. If I was meant to be rescued, it is not clear how I ended up here. Perhaps something has disturbed the space-time continuum to prevent my being rescued. In any case, I would prefer being out there."
The last sentence was spoken so softly that Picard could barely hear Clark. Deanna shot him a worried look and Picard came to a decision. In a commanding voice, he said, "We'll do as you ask. If we are successful, you must promise not to reveal any detail about your visit with us."
Clark smiled ruefully.
"I know a thing or two about keeping secrets. The people of Earth in my time don't know that Superman or Kal-El is really Clark Kent. Thank you. All of you."
Clark got up to leave the room and Picard took the opportunity to pull Barbara aside.
"Set the transporter to return him to the Enterprise after one hour." She nodded.
As they entered the transporter room, Clark also took Barbara aside.
"I just wanted to thank you for all your help. I'm sorry I mistook you for Lois, but you are very like her."
"You must love her very much," Barbara answered with a note of awe.
"I do," he agreed.
"She was a lucky girl."
"I hope you will be too."
"Thanks," she said.
"I heard what the captain told you about rescuing me."
"How?" she stammered.
"Uh…Super-hearing," he said, looking apologetic. "Please don't, if you can manage without getting into any trouble."
She reached up and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. Then she walked to the Transporter console while Clark walked onto the platform. He turned to the assembled officers which were Picard, Crusher, Troi, and Riker.
"Thank you all very much."
"Good luck, Clark," Picard responded, confidently.
Clark nodded at Barbara, standing next to O'Brien, and she worked the controls, re-creating the beam that had brought him to them. Clark steeled himself against the pain as it began to attack him full force. Momentarily, the golden haze enveloped him.
"Do you have him?" Picard asked, as the beam disappeared.
Barbara checked and rechecked, but the beam was nowhere to be found.
"No, Sir, he's gone!"
Clark saw the golden haze around him begin to recede once again. He was in pain but had managed somehow not to scream. He idly wondered which ship he would be on this time, trying to get his bearings. He heard the metallic arms slide away and subconsciously he knew he was in the right place, thanks to Barbara Robinson. Unless it had all been a very detailed dream.
He heard himself groan and felt himself fall. As he stumbled forward, three pairs of arms caught him and embraced him. His dad had the best grip and his mother was crying with relief about their fears of having lost him. And then there was Lois.
Clark heard the guards complaining about how Kal-El's sentence had been reversed. The article Barbara had found turned out to be correct!
He was feeling really exhausted but so glad to be back in the arms of his loved ones. He lightheartedly reassured his mother, telling her he was a little shaky. All the while, he struggled to get his eyes open, as he gripped his dad's shoulder, his head down. Finally, he was looking into the eyes of his love, Lois, as she smiled back at him with relief. As he turned to embrace just her, he whispered in her ear.
"I'm back from the stars, my love."