Good soldiers fall in line with the chain of command. They follow orders without hesitation, without explanation, without question. Their loyalty is absolute. Their execution of duties is thorough.
Alex can’t believe she’s seeing those traits in Nia Nal. She hadn’t understood why Kara had insisted that the cub reporter should accompany her and Winn to Mount Norquay to stop the medusa launch. But now, as Nia bobs and weaves around the blasts of kryptonite from Otis’ chest, Alex begins to see why her sister seems to trust this rookie superhero so much.
Nia is quite formidable, holding her own against a highly trained mercenary with relative ease. Otis growls in frustration as Nia forms a sharp whip with her dream energy that makes him lose balance.
It doesn’t hurt any less though, the obvious lack of trust Kara has in her. Alex needs to prove herself worthy, to earn her place at Kara’s side again. Somehow. She knows that but it doesn’t make it any easier. At least Lena appears willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and something tells her that it’s the brunette’s influence that stopped Kara from snapping her neck like a twig.
Now, with Winn hunkered down at the control panel entering Lena’s kill code, Alex just stands guard, feeling utterly useless. Nia delivers another punishing blast of dream energy that flings Otis across the room and she seems very pleased with herself.
Perhaps Alex should’ve just stayed behind, clearly she’s unneeded. But she doubts Sam would’ve needed her help, despite having her hands full with the acquisition of all the world’s corporations. The CFO has a careful eye, integrating all the relevant businesses into L-Corp’s portfolio and dissolving the rest.
So Alex leans against the wall, eyes trained on fluid movement as Nia dodges and smashes her fist into Otis’ face repeatedly.
He cries out, tumbling backwards, convulsing in the throes of death and Nia pounces gracefully. She grabs the chunk of green rock housed in his chest and hauls it out. The life drains from his eyes like a dying lamp as they roll back in his skull. Nia tosses the kryptonite aside and Alex doesn’t say a word about the life she took so casually.
“Lena,” Winn whispers into his comm link. “It’s done.”
Lena watches as her brother is catapulted through the crumbling ceiling. She feels nothing. Kara looks back at her, seeking permission to follow. Lena nods and the Kryptonian launches out the hole, following Lex’s quickly vanishing flight path.
“It seems you do have your Kryptonian pet on a leash after all,” Lillian says with a hint of something bearing jealousy as she approaches Lena from across the room. “Lex was convinced that you wouldn’t risk alien lives just to end his but I wasn’t.” Lillian smiles tightly, eyes crinkling with age. “I guess you really are a Luthor after all.”
Lena turns her gaze from the gaping hole above her to Lillian with great disinterest. The taller woman is wearing a tailored pure white suit and matching ivory heels, hair pinned and wrapped up in a bun atop her head. She looks every bit the matriarch that made it her mission to crush the hopes and dreams of a four year old girl.
“I guess I am,” Lena sighs, folding her arms across her chest, “but even so, I’m not the type to risk innocent lives if it can be helped.”
“Innocent?” Lillian repeats, incredulity sparkling like embers in her eyes. They remind Lena of Lex’s, inhumane and deadly, searching for any signs of weakness to exploit, any follies to toy with just for their own amusement. Just so they can hold onto their fleeting status as the most intelligent and capable people in the room.
“You really believe these despicable creatures are innocent,” she spits out. What an irascible woman. “They have invaded our planet. They have come here with the purpose of endangering our very way of life,” she slams a trembling fist down on the table. Lena cocks an eyebrow and Lillian scowls at the indifference.
“Aliens like Superman,” she grimaces, as though the word causes her physical pain to force out, “who turned the world against your brother. Lex has fought to save them from their own stupidity and they rallied against him because of those superheroes.”
“Lex went insane,” Lena says calmly, feeling a sense of déjà vu. Sometimes, she isn’t sure who is more of a lunatic among the three Luthors left.
“Lex wanted nothing but the prosperity of humanity,” Lillian counters and Lena rolls her eyes, “and he would have accomplished greatness, fixed this planet for generations to come.” She casts a venomous look Lena’s way. “You could have led humanity by his side. It’s what he wanted after all, what he still wants despite everything,” and based on Lillian’s tone, Lena can tell she’s tired of Lex’s fixation on his rebellious sister. Frankly, so is Lena.
“But you chose her,” comes the burning accusation and enraged blaze in Lillian’s eyes. She actually sounds betrayed, as if she isn’t the one who plunged knife after knife into Lena’s back. Never mind every instance of her dangling her affections, giving Lena just enough to crave more, to keep her coming back. Never mind the verbal lashes from a hot tongue, as scalding to her skin as a branding iron.
Lillian takes an unwise step forward, so sure of herself. “You chose to stand with these freaks of nature, Lena,” she frowns in disapproval. “Over your own kind. It’s disgraceful. I thought I raised you better than that.”
At that, Lena laughs dryly. “Please. You raised me to doubt myself at every turn. To think that society was the problem and not the sins of this family,” she swings out a hand, gesturing at the ostentatious portraits and priceless, irreplaceable sculptures lining the room. “Humans cast me out in the cold, content to flay me for crimes I didn’t even commit. I may as well have been an alien.”
“And what? You think you’ll find a place with them?” Lillian challenges, and it’s already clear what she thinks. “With that Kryptonian psychopa—”
Lillian’s head snaps sideways at an alarming speed, cheeks branded with a handprint and stinging from the strike. It’s unclear what freezes her, the unexpected backhand or the shock of its delivery. But she hangs there, the momentum sends her staggering, back colliding hard with the exposed brick and she rests against it for support. Her vision whites out at the edges and a faint runs high in her head.
She’s not sure when Lena got so close, close enough for her to reach out and rub the fine fabric of her deep maroon suit. The strength behind the slap is astonishing, nearly freeing her jaw from the rest of her skull.
Lena waits patiently for Lillian to lift her swimming head. She hadn’t expected control to come so naturally to her but then, she’s maintained tight restrictions on herself constantly. The slap wasn’t an unhinged moment of anger. And it serves its purpose, humbling Lillian, reducing her a small and manageable thing.
At the sight of bright red trickling from her split lip, Lena produces a handkerchief and dabs the spot gently. Lillian flinches at the touch, strangely caring in the aftermath of something so violent, almost as if Lena wasn’t the one who hit her at all.
There’s an unknown power radiating from the fingers pressed beneath her papery chin, tilting her head to the right angle. Suddenly, Lillian’s aware of just how fragile and weak she is in comparison. She swallows hard, feeling like a canary trapped in the claws of a fickle cat.
“I have found my place,” Lena begins, tone light and eerily calm and it sends a shiver down Lillian’s spine, “Kara and I are going to lead the world into a future that’s bright and prosperous.” And when she smiles, Lillian’s blood turns to ice in her veins. “It’s just a shame you and Lex won’t be around to see it.”
Lillian jerks her chin away in panic, heart pumping painfully. “You—you can’t kill, Lex,” she rasps, lip quivering. “You said it yourself, you won’t risk their lives.”
“I did,” Lena agrees freely and the ease of her stance makes Lillian edgy. “Which is why I sent my team to Mount Norquay to disarm the rocket and destroy the virus once and for all.” She holds her hand out, idly inspecting her blunt nails. “It really is fortunate that Lex loves to hear himself talk so much. Gave them plenty of time to work while he puffed his chest and paraded around under a false sense of security.”
Lillian’s mouth drops open comically and Lena can’t help chuckling at the display. It’s not often the woman lets her composure slip, lets emotions other than extreme malice and envy overtake her features. The rush of blood reminds Lena of a waterfall, choppy currents, plunging towards a deep bottom. It’s oddly thrilling, the way her skin prickles with power, demanding to be unleashed.
Lillian slumps against the wall again, knees as stable as jello. “And the kryptonite?” she asks weakly. “Why didn’t it work?”
Lena doesn’t owe her an explanation but until Kara returns with her brother’s head, she supposes she has the time. “Harun-el if you must know. There’s still so much about it that isn’t fully understood but it does seem to have an effect on the other forms of kryptonite. I first noticed the phenomenon when I treated Sam last year. I tried to supercharge the green kryptonite and ended up making the gold version. Then, I thought I could use it to nullify her powers but her body adapted to protect against it. Over time, she eventually developed an immunity to the green kryptonite as well. I saved samples, good data collection like you taught me.”
Lena tucks her handkerchief into a stunned Lillian’s breast pocket. “What? You thought that Lex was the only one paying attention to what the Daxamites brought with them?” She smirks. “I was on the ship and Rhea liked the sound of her own voice just as much as Lex. So, after I found traces of harun-el in Kara’s DNA, I used it to make…well,” she throws up a hand, “I guess you could call it a kryptonite vaccine.”
Lillian swallows thickly. “If that’s the case, why didn’t her body purge the red kryptonite?”
“Because Lex messed around with the formula,” Lena explains, gaze hardening. “And its effects are psychological, not physical. But then, Lex is used to toying with things he doesn’t fully understand, isn’t he?”
Lillian says nothing.
“I will admit, I didn’t expect the gold kryptonite to have any effect at all but,” she smiles, eyes lighting up, “it seems my darling Kara is even stronger than any of us realized.”
Lillian nearly gags at the endearment. “So it seems.” She clambers back instinctively when Lena steps closer, flinching when fingers hovering over the blush blooming on the right side of her face.
“Are…are you going to kill me?” The question escapes in quick pants. Despite herself, she’s afraid to die, especially alone, especially at the hands of a woman who was once a bright eyed little girl starving for love.
Lena cups her cheek tenderly, face sincere, “No, I’m not.” But the words don’t placate at all. They’re not meant to.
A portal opens behind them. Lillian finds herself being shoved through and she loses her footing on the other side. They end up in a defunct CADMUS bunker, Lillian isn’t sure which. She looks around the abandoned space and panic spikes when she eyes several limp, mutilated bodies hanging from chains on the wall.
“You see, Lillian,” Lena drawls from behind, startling the older woman with the use of her name more than her sudden speech. “I’ve always preferred a more…subtle approach.”
She waves at someone, a muscled and tall alien Lillian confirms with a horrified look over her shoulder. “Ms. Luthor,” the alien nods reverently, blue glyphs covering its entire upper body and bald head like tattoos.
Lena grabs Lillian roughly at the jaw. The words fall heavy from her lips and burn like acid, “You tried to kill the love of my life. And for that, you will suffer. Slowly, painfully. Until you’re begging for death.” A thumb swipes away a tear Lillian didn’t even know she shed. “But it won’t come, I’ll keep you alive.”
Lillian’s head bobs when Lena drops her grip.
“Lena,” she starts, knowing there’s nothing she could say to change her fate. She clutches at air. Proud as she is, Lillian isn’t above pleading, grovelling at Lena’s feet if it will guarantee survival. “Lena, let’s talk about this. Please.”
Lena tilts her head, pretending to consider, just for the sick satisfaction of watching relief weakly flicker across Lillian’s face. Truthfully, if Lena had only herself to consider in all this, maybe Lillian would have chance to slink away into the underground on the promise to never resurface again. But Lillian was culpable in this plot against Kara and that was her mistake. Out of everything Lena could forgive, Kara is not one of them.
Lillian’s eyes bulge when Lena nods to the alien waiting patiently for orders. “Lena, please! Don’t do this!”
A shriek rips free from her throat when the large alien grabs her and drags her off. She begs, screams for mercy but Lena just watches as her minion gets to work, chaining Lillian with tight clamps at her frail wrists.
And oh is it freeing, how little Lena cares. Her villainous, manipulative family has coasted along off her goodwill for far to long, lulled into complacencies because of how she continuously stayed her hand. Kept herself under rigid control. But not anymore, not with all this power brimming at her fingertips.
She doesn’t bother informing the woman that the alien happens to come from a planet known for its unique torture techniques. That CADMUS murdered his wife and unborn child.
And as a blade slices clean into Lillian’s stomach with careful precision, Lena turns to leave.
The sun is bright above her.
She coasts over the warm currents, suspended weightlessly and unbridled power swarms her like a golden mist. She feels strength flowing in her body, surging through her veins, and her skin strums with it.
It’s all-consuming. It’s bright and hot and absolute. She welcomes it. She doesn’t have hold back, doesn’t have to deny herself the true power waiting for her to accept. She doesn’t have to rebel against every instinct, every drive that makes her an alien.
Oh how good it feels to be this powerful. To be a god.
She looks across at Lex with a malevolent smirk that makes him squirm helplessly in her grasp. It’s a good look on him, feeling as inconsequential as he truly is. An annoying little insect scurrying beneath her feet just like the other nonentities. His pulse is erratic as his heart beats wildly around the cage of his ribs.
It’s beyond pathetic, how a man such as Lex Luthor could ever think to be a match for her. For the last scion of the great House of El. For one of the brightest minds of a race light years ahead of these scrabbling fleas that call themselves superior. Self-aggrandizing fools, all of them. Wastes of space that will be eradicated brutally. With her beautiful and brilliant queen by her side.
There’s just one little thorn that needs to be disposed of.
Humanity, as she has come to know it, is perfectly embodied by the man currently barking demands at her. Rage has him frothing at the mouth like a rabid dog and his face is beet-red.
“Are you really willing to risk their lives?” Lex demands incredulously. “I thought you’d at least pretend to care about the people you claim to fight for!”
Kara lands with a resounding crack beneath her bare feet and rolls her shoulders just for show. Lex jolts, still trying to pry the steel hand from his collar. “I do. Which is why I allowed your incessant monologuing. It gave you a false sense of victory while your rocket was rendered obsolete. Much like the rest of your inane little plan.”
Lex’s heart leaps to his throat, his stomach plummets to where his ankles are and his entire body trembles with fury and fear in equal measure. “How the fuck did you—?”
“I don’t have to explain anything to you,” Kara cuts in and with that she tosses him clear across the street and into a deserted building. He bulldozes through a series of walls and eventually lands on his side. He coughs, expelling a mouthful of blood and loose teeth as he props up on all fours. His limbs tremble, struggling to support his weight and the ringing in his ears won’t go away.
Before he can recover, Kara is on him. “But I will give you a chance to fight for your life.” A swift kick to the gut sends him soaring through the wall and into the next building. It feels like all of his ribs have snapped now.
Like most cities at this point, the streets of Metropolis are emptied, civilians having fled to their homes or sought refuge elsewhere while Kara’s regime fought against the army. There are dead bodies scattered around, unidentifiable from all the burning and maiming. It’s a graphic sight. Lex retches and his abdominal muscles ache with the effort.
He blinks away the darkness gathering in his field of vision, trying to regain his focus. It doesn’t matter that the gold kryptonite was made inert. It doesn’t matter that his own enhanced abilities bring him no sense of comfort or hope for survival.
I can still win, he tells himself. Lex Luthor doesn’t lose he plays like a mantra.
His head jerks around, cautiously surveying his surroundings. He’s in an office, the entire floor is abandoned, a few corpses on the floor and slumped over the top of cubicles. He squints at the name plate on the desk closest to him.
Ugh. He’s at the Daily Planet and suddenly feels sick about it. A hand flies up to his mouth when he hears her land. It rocks the building like the aftershock of a massive earthquake and Lex’s heart beats out a panicked staccato. With the sounds he can’t control muted under his hand, Lex crawls quietly to the overturned desk.
It’s a pointless exercise, hiding from an all-powerful being who can hear every shift of atoms in the air but instinct has taken over. Just like an animal in the wild, Lex hunches over, making himself as small and inconspicuous as possible.
Kara smiles haughtily. She already spotted him, before she even arrived, but she decides to go with it. She doesn’t think Lena will mind if she has a little fun.
“Why are you hiding from me, Lex?” Kara asks rhetorically, voice booming in the open space as she saunters across the floor. “This can’t be part of your plan. Or is it? It’s so hard to tell, given how everything you’ve touched has gone up in flames.”
He jumps when a large object—looks like an office copier— crashes down next to him. His back is pressed against the stainless steel table and his mind races to figure out an escape. The only thing outweighing the drive to recklessly throw himself at Kara is the desire to live.
“Tell me,” Kara pauses, tearing through what sounds like a section of the drywall. “What was your plan exactly? Infect me with red kryptonite, I’d go mad and you would be lauded as the man who put down the big, bad Kryptonian?”
She laughs loudly and Lex’s angry tongue nearly gets the better of him. “So much for that. The only thing you’ve managed to accomplish is signing your own death warrant.” A fist breaks through the desk, narrowly avoiding Lex’s head. He lurches forward, crawling on his belly like a snake.
Kara kicks the chipped remains of the desk aside and approaches him with baleful steps. “Did you remember to count, Lex?” A burst of heat vision singes his facial hair as he stumbles back. “Did you count as the sand drained from the hourglass? Did you count your days, knowing they would be your last?”
With the ignorance of a Spanish bull, Lex lunges, fist drawn back and launched forward with all the strength he possesses. He roars, black veins straining beneath his skin, spit spraying from his mouth. Kara holds up a palm, catching his trembling fist. The contact sends a shockwave across the room, overturning desks, chairs and scattering papers.
Lex pants, chest heaving from exertion.
Kara just laughs. “Oh you really tried there, didn’t you?” she says derisively. Lex is thrown into unconsciousness for a few seconds when the strike of backhand connects to his face. “How does it feel, Lex? Being so utterly powerless even after all your scheming?”
“I'm not powerless,” he growls before attempting another blow. It lands solidly with her face but she doesn’t even flinch. A twinge of pain surges through his entire arm and vibrates down to the bone. “Ah!”
Kara laughs again and it sets Lex off.
He yanks his hand away and continues with an onslaught of furious fists. “Fuck you!” He roars, anger taking over, bloodying his bruised knuckles with every blow. It echoes like thunder but Kara remains unaffected. “You think you’re superior to me? To me? I’m Lex Luthor. I am the man of tomorrow! Earth’s saviour and you are nothing. Just a false god without a home. I will kill you and your kind. Then I’ll kill Lena—”
A vice grip forms around his throat, swiftly denying him oxygen as his feet leave the ground. Kara pulls him closer and he struggles to turn his face away from the fire raging in her eyes. He claws at her hand, breath ragged and she smiles cruelly before slamming his body through layers of concrete and drywall.
He skips like a stone across a calm lake, body dragging painfully along the cracked floor when he lands in another building. A wrathful growl rips out of his throat and he collects himself quickly.
He’s in an apartment this time. There’s a family here— a man, woman and children— cowering in a corner, as far away from his inelegant touchdown as possible. They must not have had anywhere else to run to but Lex doesn’t feel any sympathy for them.
Driven by sheer desperation and a burst of super speed, he grapples the man into a chokehold, kicking the wife back when she tries to grab her husband’s hand. Lex spins around and presents his hostage to Kara when she appears at the makeshift entrance.
Her hulking presence hasn’t diminished by a fraction in the absence of her intimidating suit and billowing cape at her back. She floats above the floor menacingly, muscles rippling with every movement of her arms. She seems even bigger somehow, taking up more space in the room, thickening the air with a violet current crackling at her fingertips.
Lex hates it. He wants it for himself. This power, all of it, is rightfully his.
“You are going to let me leave,” he announces slowly and Kara cocks her head to the side. She radiates ceaseless heat and immeasurable power. She has never looked more like a sun god than now, the chosen daughter of Rao. His angel of brutal vengeance and death.
“If you don’t, I’ll snap his neck,” Lex hisses as he tightens his grip to show he is not bluffing.
Not that Kara thought otherwise. She knows Lex will gladly skin his own mother if it means getting what he wants. She does find it amusing though that after everything, Lex is still under the illusion that he has any control here. That he’s any better than the man whose life he’s trying to barter with. Is this truly the formidable foe Kal-El faced? So far, Kara is thoroughly unimpressed.
“You really think you know me, don’t you?” Heat vision pours from her eyes and bores two holes through the head of the civilian and strikes Lex in the face.
With a startled gasp, Lex drops the deadweight, rubs at his eyes and looks back at Kara in horror. It’s subtle, the slow revelation that this whole plan has been a giant misstep. A fatal miscalculation, one he cannot undo.
“The thing is that you don’t, Lex,” Kara says and her gaze shifts to the sobbing woman holding her children close. “You have absolutely no idea who you’re dealing with. You know Clark Kent. You know Superman.” She carries herself with a regal air, “But I am Kara Zor-El and I will happily kill every human on this planet if it means killing you too.”
Lex gulps audibly as cold sweat beads along his creased brow. Unconsciously he steps away until his back hits the wall. He considers using the woman and her kids as a distraction but then Kara starts speaking again.
“I read the file the DEO had on you when I first met Lena,” she tells him, “I wanted to know what kind of person could ever betray someone as amazing as her.”
“As if you didn’t betray her yourself!” Lex yells, tendons shot against his neck, eyes wild.
Kara ignores the outburst. “You leap at the chance to teach the world lessons. To prove that your insane machinations are what’s right for this planet. But, for all your so-called intelligence,” Lex tenses at the dig, “you don’t seem very adept at understanding that I have been allowing you to live.”
Without warning, she lunges, flipping him upside down as she launches into the air and through every floor until they reach the roof. She climbs higher and higher and Lex’s screams are swallowed by the wind whipping around them.
He coughs violently, dust, thin air and his hanging position wreaking havoc on his lungs. She pulls him up effortlessly with one hand so she can swing him back and forth like a pendulum. They’re just below the stratosphere, pressure crushing his diaphragm.
“You don’t understand that I am not my cousin,” her voice carries from above . “Kal-El is soft, weak, a human in every way that matters and a Kryptonian in none. He is inferior to me, just like the rest of you mindless drones. He is misguided, allowing the symbol of my House to become a prop, a commodity in gift shops and plastered on posters. He promoted a distorted idea of peace and ascribed to the great lie of the American way. He turned a blind eye to the depravity of this world.”
She drops him a little and, in spite of his enhanced physiology, Lex screams and whimpers, truly afraid for his life. “But even he knows that we could end your miserable life at any given moment.”
She pulls him back up again, high enough to free his tie from its tucked place in his waistcoat. She moves her grip and lets him hang precariously from it. “You know that too and despite what you say, you thought you were safe with Kal. But you were right to fear me.” She gains more altitude and when she’s satisfied she releases the tie.
Lex howls like a wounded bear as he free-falls, body cutting through the air sharply. His lungs crystallize and it’s near impossible to breathe. His arms flail and he thinks his heart stopped for several beats and he curses this fucking harun-el for not giving him the gift of flight. He’s scrabbling at his watch but can’t steady his hand fast enough.
He hits the concrete with a loud, sickening thud, face first. His nose, broken as it is, flattens further against his face. Fresh blood pools from multiple places and he’s only clinging to life because of the black serum pumping through his veins. There’s a smaller crater formed from the impact and he manages to roll over onto his back. It hurts so much just to bring air into his lungs.
“It makes you quite foolish though.” Her tone is so conversational as she hovers above him. They’re exactly where they should be, Lex rolling in the dirt with the rest of the rabble. “The way you’ve continued to taunt and provoke me. To antagonize me with your xenophobic campaigns.”
Kara smiles down at Lex and it’s a terrifying contrast to the sunny smile he’s seen her wear before. “I do have to ask. If you hate and fear us as much as you claim, why do you continue this game? Why would you run the risk of us ending you one day? If you’re so smart then truly, you must’ve learned by now? How dumb it is to wake up a monster.”
Lex moans on the ground as she picks his limp body up by the collar. She shakes him merrily, keeping him awake when his eyes threaten to cover with darkness. He’s not allowed to die, not until she’s ready. The glow has receded from her eyes, leaving them an endless black void, almost like a shark’s with the same predatory threat.
“You tried to kill me, tried to turn me into a pawn in your silly game,” she smiles at his weak, indignant protests. “But you just don’t understand the true gravity of what you’ve done. You’ve freed me from the shackles that kept me from reaching my full potential, from the little voice that kept me from burning this world to ash. So really, if I’m a monster, you only have yourself to blame. Because I have wanted to kill you since that day I read your file. And now,” she leans down to him, tilts her head and grins wide, showing teeth, “Now I can.”
With the last reserves of strength he has left, Lex reaches for the dial on his watch and presses it twice. Seconds later, unmanned Lexosuits surround them, aiming their kryptonite weaponry.
Kara looks around with great disinterest but drops him unceremoniously when one of them begins to fire at her back. Lex takes the opportunity to scramble away from her, summoning one of the suits to arm him and three to serve as decoys. The rest converge on Kara, attempting to bring her down as they advance with a steady stream from their modified kryptonite ray guns.
It’s useless. Kara just stands there, like someone in a downpour of rain rather than a lethal, specialized weapon. She turns to Lex and flashes a wicked grin that causes his heart to return to his throat. Ever the self-preservationist, Lex flees the scene. He activates the lead lining in the suits, attempting to hide his vital signs from Kryptonian detection.
Kara watches him. Contrary to his beliefs, he can’t hide from her. The lead, the kryptonite, it can’t impede her. Even though he’s out of plain sight, she can still see him. She can see the surface of the moon from here if she wants to.
The nine remaining suits descend on her when she moves off to follow him, attempting to hold her back but she doesn’t budge. They’re not strong enough. Her heat vision makes quick work of them, powerful hands ripping apart the platinum plating as though they’re wrapping paper.
Where’s the challenge?
What a shortsighted fool Lex Luthor has turned out to be. He assumes so much and all of it is incorrect. Always relying on her goodwill, believing that she’ll remand him to a justice system designed to cater for rich white men. But then, he's never been able to see the big picture, just the little cut out that he’s interested in.
Kara catches up to him rather quickly, picking out which suit is his. He summons the others to attack her but it doesn’t halt her own assault. It seems almost pointless as he wrestles her in the sky, his gauntlet breaking apart with each collision to Kara’s face. She wonders how long it will take for the realization of defeat to finally sink in. If it will sink in at all.
Growing bored, she grabs his helmet, tears it open and holds his head in place as they travel across the length of a building. Kara presses him close and delights in his screams as he is rammed through glass and steel.
“You wanted the power of life and death,” she says once they outrun the building and Lex hangs lifelessly from her grip despite still breathing. “But you have no idea how to wield it. Let me show you.”
She dips downward and Lex’s stomach moves to take residence high in his chest as they dive towards the ground. He cries out when the bones in his spine splinter with the impact to the ruined concrete. It ripples across the open space, kicking up dust and light debris.
Kara looms over him, a powerful hand still pressed against his rapid pulse. “You wanted to be the hero of this story when you’re the one who freed the beast,” she curls her fingers, popping the bones in his neck slowly.
Lex thrashes as best he can, having lost some mobility and though the harun-el is working to heal him, it doesn’t seem fast enough for Kara’s deadly pace. He manages to connect a right hook to her jaw, eyes widening in pure terror when her head doesn’t even move. Instead, his fingers shatter in three different places.
“I am your god,” she reminds him, picking his broken body off the ground effortlessly. “This world is mine. Your sister is mine,” she adds with a smirk. “It’s over for you.”
“No,” he chokes it out, around the hand cutting off his oxygen and the blood pooling in his mouth. Several bones are crushed, organs punctured and his left arm droops abnormally, likely the result of a dislocated shoulder.
Kara turns at the sudden whoosh of super speed. Lex peers over, vision blurred at the edges but he’s certain that Lena is walking towards them. He tries to open his eyes wider but the weight of his swollen lid is too much.
“Hello my love,” Kara greets Lena guilelessly, as if she isn’t covered in Lex’s blood. “So glad you could join me.”
“I see you’re having fun, darling,” Lena purrs, cupping Kara’s cheek, thumb smearing a trail of blood the same shade of Lena’s lipstick. Kara hums happily in response, relaxing at the touch.
“Lena,” Lex wheezes, air escaping from his fractured windpipe making a high-pitched whistling sound. His head turns toward her and he blinks slowly. “Lena, help me.”
She cocks her head to one side and nods at Kara. “Hello Lex,” and suddenly the hand holding him upright is gone and he falls back to the cold ground awkwardly. He cries out, a sharp piece of metal debris gouging between his shoulder blades. Blood drops are repelled from his gaping mouth. He looks up and all he can see is Lena as she crouches next to him.
“You have to help me, Lena,” he rasps, throat dry and aching. Under any other circumstance, in the presence of anyone other than his sister, he’d never make himself small, pitiable. But Lena, she has a hard outer shell with a soft underbelly. He’s certain of that much, that she will be his salvation, just like all the times before. “Come on.”
“No I don’t,” Lena says simply and Lex ignores the pain, eyes flying open in outrage and disbelief. And as always, his own hubris drives him towards the edge of the abyss.
“Lena,” he tries to growl warningly, the way that used to make her cave to whatever he wanted from her. Fighting to hide the permanent wince, he props up on his elbows and slowly pulls himself to sit upright.
“Don’t be a little bitch—” He hacks up a black, viscous liquid, sneering ugly as his mouth fills up with it. His chest rattles with the effort it takes to bring air into his battered, wilted lungs.
“Lena….” He struggles to keep his eyes from rolling back. “We’re blood. It’s…it’s you and me, little sis. Remember?”
“We may share blood,” Lena allows, “but we’ve never been family. You don’t understand the concept. And how could you, Lex? You’ve never stuck by my side, never loved me unconditionally, never showed an ounce of loyalty. Love was rendered a currency of control and you fashioned it into a knife and stabbed me in the back repeatedly. You never wanted a partner, you wanted a sycophant,” she spits the word out and Lex’s face twists with a special brand of anger. “You painted me a colourful version of the future you thought I’d accept. One that would make me acquiesce to your deluded image and remain under your thumb. And when it didn’t work, you tried to kill me.”
“Lena,” Lex snarls but in his weakened state, it doesn’t have the desired affect. He leans forward and feels the protest in his damaged spine. “You’re being absurd. Sure, I may have used you as it suited me but you think that she,” he pauses to jab a finger Kara’s way, “isn’t doing the same?”
He chuckles weakly, black goo trickling from the corner of his mouth and down his slackened chin. “Kryptonian’s are incapable of love,” he drags the words out with cruel intent, “and she is no different.”
“I guess this is the part where you say you love me,” Lena scoffs.
“Love is valueless,” Lex tells her, daring to inch even closer. Tremors travel through his hand as he reaches for Lena’s arm. She stiffens and holds up a hand to stop Kara from advancing. Lex’s eyes flicker between the two women and despite himself, he marvels at the influence Lena has over the Kryptonian practically wrapped around her finger.
“I respect you,” and Lena’s never heard something so honest coming from him. But then, like most things, Lex’s compliments were conditional, prone to expiry. “I pushed you to be better, smarter. I wanted you by my side because you were worthy. I made you into what you are! And you owe it to me now—”
“I don’t owe you anything,” she interjects, face contorted into a mask of hatred and malice he’s only ever seen staring back at him in the mirror. It’s unsettling, how cold and calculating her eyes are, the shiver it spikes up and down his trembling spinal column like an electric current in a copper wire. “My obligation is to the world. A world that will never know peace so long as you’re in it.”
“Lena,” Lex manages to croak out a disturbed laugh. He tries to swallow but there’s no moisture in his mouth. His grip tightens as hard as he can muster around Lena’s bicep but she hardly acknowledges the pressure.
“Come on. Despite how much you hate me, we both know that you don’t have it in you to kill,” and it’s crazy to Lena, how much he seems to believe that, how untrue a statement that’s always been. She killed Jack after all, condemned several Daxamites to certain death, shot Eve execution style. And she’d do it all again in a heartbeat. She did it for the betterment of the world. She did it for Kara.
“Lena,” he tries to jerk her forward but she pries his hand off instead. He yelps as his fingers are bent unnaturally and the bones crunch in her closed fist. His hand drops like an anvil when she releases it, a mess of cracked bones, blood and severed nerves.
Lena cradles his face in both hands and he flinches as the soft pad of her thumb sweeps his cheek. She smiles gently. She runs a hand over his smooth head, strokes his beard softly and like a self-assured asshole, Lex allows himself a moment of reprieve.
His eyes flutter close, his heart slows its marathon. He thinks he has won, believes that he holds Lena’s heart, that she’s still that awkward little girl who looked up to him. Who needed him. Who loved him more than anything.
Then a delicate hand curls around his throat and his eyes rush to open in shock.
Lena comes closer, dragging his upper body forward. “Oh but you forget, dear brother,” she whispers softly, voice sweet as toffee, and Lex nearly cries when she adds, “I’m a Luthor too.”
He doesn’t have it in him to scream as his body is propelled upward with enough speed for the air to nearly rip his flesh clean from the bone. It gets colder and colder as they travel but he doesn’t shiver, doesn’t protest. He might not want to say the words, but in his heart he knows he has lost.
Lena stops just above the earth’s atmosphere, suspended in the weightlessness of zero gravity. Kara is at her side, unchanged despite being exposed to the vastness of space. They float gingerly towards something, something hot. Scorching. It’s too late by the time Lex’s lagging brain figures out what it is.
They hover several feet away from the open inferno of the sun. Kara’s skin glowing, energized tenfold by the proximity. He opens his mouth to beg, to reach that part of Lena that once cared for him but the expansive void around them swallows his words. Tears spring from his eyes and he struggles in Lena’s grasp, skin darkening from the immense blaze.
“Lena!” he says soundlessly. His eyes are huge, last supply of air snatched from his lungs.
Lena looks at Lex one last time before she finally lets go, flinging him towards the sun. His body spins around aimlessly before being engulfed by the greedy and unforgiving flames.
And as Lena watches her brother and his insanity burn, all she can do is smile.
He has no idea how long he’s been dipping in and out of consciousness, rocked like a canoe adrift in a choppy sea.
When his vision finally clears, it doesn’t take long for him to register exactly where he is. He tries to move and is instantly reminded of his brutal defeat when a sharp twist of pain radiates across his torso. He looks down and gasps at the scorch marks etched across his skin like tire treads on asphalt. There’s dry blood stuck in clumps near his hairline, ugly purplish bruises cover his entire body and his right leg is numb.
He tries wiggling his toes but nothing happens. His split lip is throbbing when he darts out his tongue to wet his lips but there’s not enough moisture in his mouth. He certainly can imagine that he looks as shitty as he feels. Then he realizes, with sudden horror, that he isn’t healing at all as he lies down in red sunlight instead of yellow.
A flash of a shiny material catches his attention.
“Kelex!” He calls out, struggling to sit up from the cold ground, banging a fist against the impenetrable ice to get the android’s attention. He cries out in agony, only to belatedly realize that he used the hand Kara had crunched in her grasp. She was so much stronger than him, even more so now and he feels it in every protesting cell as he struggles to move again.
“Kelex. Kelex, get me out of here.” The robot servant doesn’t even acknowledge his presence. “Kelex!”
Kal stares in open-mouthed disbelief, as the android continues about its business. He hits the ice again, wincing at the action but doesn’t stop. Bloodied imprints mark the spot. “Kelex! Why are you ignoring me? It’s Kal-El. Don’t you recognize me?”
“I know exactly who you are. Son of Jor-El and Lara,” comes the monotonous reply. “But you are no longer an authorized user of the Fortress commands.”
“What? How is that—?” Kal cuts himself off. Kara must have been here and revoked his access. There’s no way for him to get it now. But even if there was, what could he do? Kara’s power is magnified to new extremes, Kara knows how to tap into her detached and logical Kryptonian nature, a concept he has never learned, too preoccupied with his obsession to be human.
It seems almost fitting that he has now been rendered a stranger to this place, this foreign remnant of a world he has never known or understood. Jor-El’s memory crystal trained him here, taught him about his powers and his responsibility to be a symbol of hope and goodness to the people of earth.
But he’s never fully grasped the gravity of that, of what it means to bear the symbol of the House of El, the legacy that comes with his family name. And how could he when he has never taken the time to embrace his Kryptonian heritage? When he instead clung to this ideation of humanity, this misplaced desire to be a Kent when he should’ve been proud to be an El?
He lifts his head when someone taps on the ice caging him, eyes widening. His family crest has never looked more menacing. “Kara,” he groans, fighting to stand and pain ripples through his legs with the effort. He takes in the blood soaking her hands, splattered across her chest. The scent of death clings to her. “What—what happened?”
His eyes narrow in suspicion when a slow smile spreads across her face. He presses a palm to the frosty wall. “What have you done, Kara?”
“Everything that you failed to do,” she answers, gaze hardening, boring into him with disdain. She pinches a small object between her index finger and thumb and presents it to Kal.
He squints at it a few times, vision compromised and blurry, but lets out a startled and breathy gasp in recognition. “You killed him,” he says sombrely, eyes trained on the monogrammed cuff link as she presses it into a thin metal sheet.
“Actually,” comes a familiar voice and Kal’s gaze tracks over to the smaller frame stepping closer to Kara. His jaw clenches tight and it hurts.
“I killed him,” Lena says, sounding almost smug about it. Kara certainly is, beaming with approval and pride.
Kal gapes between the two. “Lena how could—” He blinks rapidly. “He was your brother!”
“He was,” Lena hums noncommittally and Kal is visibly unsettled. She seems so far removed from the shy teen girl he met the first time Lex brought him to the Luthor Mansion. Her hair was longer, thick-framed glasses perched on her nose, rifling through college level physics textbooks with rapt fascination.
That’s not who she is now. Powerful, confident, sure of what she wants. Both of them are.
“You loved him, didn’t you?” Kara asks sweetly and Kal glares at her through the thick rime. When he says nothing, she goes on, “Of course you did. And you enjoyed his obsession. You believed these mortals just needed someone to save them from themselves. That you were sent here to protect them. Act as their shining light in the darkness.”
She laughs at the absurdity of it. “How many lives have been needlessly squandered just to feed your ambitions? To allow your twisted game with a madman who should’ve been put down from minute one.”
“I could have saved him!” Kal bellows and his muscles burn as he slams a fist at Kara, catching only coldness. A pain throbs angrily in his hand but he doesn’t drop his glare, twisting his crumpled fist into the frigid barrier between them.
“If that’s what you think,” she places a palm on the adjacent control panel and the prison hisses open. Kal steps backward but Kara hasn’t moved. “Then you are just as insane as he was.”
“So now you’re here to kill me? Is that it?” he demands, fists unsteady at his side, chest aching with every drag of air into his lungs, blood spotting along his bronchi. He doesn’t sound or appear fearful. Just resigned, as though waiting for his execution.
“If it were up to me, you’d be dead already,” Kara says coldly. “But unlike you, I have respect for our House and what our people stood for. So I’ll let you alive.”
Kal lets out a relieved breath, eyes shutting for a brief moment.
“J’onn will be taking you back to Argo,” she informs him, “where you will remain for the rest of your days. Because if you set foot on our planet again, I will rip you to pieces.”
He swallows hard, muscles coiling at the threat he knows will be acted upon if necessary. Small movement at Kara’s side shifts his attention back to Lena. She’s holding a small rock, glowing a bright yellow as it sits in her opened palm. “What is that?”
“Gold kryptonite,” she answers, “as we speak, it’s taking away your cells’ ability to process yellow sunlight.”
“What?” He stumbles back as though shoved in the chest, nearly tripping over his strangely numb feet. He flexes his hands but it’s hard to tell if there’s a difference, being as depleted of energy as he is after all this time soaking up red lighting. Even so, he knows better than to question a Luthor when it comes to kryptonite.
“Think of it as an added incentive for you not to return,” she smiles broadly and Kara chuckles at what must be a pathetically stricken look on his face. “Consider yourself fortunate, Mr. Kent. I don’t forgive those who try to hurt Kara quite so easily. But,” she shrugs a little, “I owed Lois a favour.”
Kal grits his jaw. His thoughts are swimming. He touches his chest, the spot where he once donned his family crest and realizes that Kara wasn’t wrong, that he is undeserving. He slumps against the frigid wall of his prison and shakes his head stubbornly. “I’m not leaving.”
“It’s not up for debate.” Kara grabs him carelessly, ignoring his agonized cries as her grip tightens over bruised flesh. She understands of course, the humiliation of returning to Argo only at the mercy of Earth’s new god and her queen. He’s supposed to be Superman, the most powerful being the universe and she barely broke a sweat slamming him into the dirt.
He protests as she half-carries him out the Fortress, pulling weakly at her grip around his shoulder. Cold breeze nips mercilessly at his vulnerable skin and he shivers uncontrollably. She tosses him into a snowdrift next to J’onn’s feet.
J’onn says nothing, though his eyes hold many unshed tears. He swallows thickly and hoists Kal up into a fireman’s carry once it becomes clear the man is incapable standing on his own. There’s many emotions flashing across J’onn’s usually stoic face but he doesn’t give voice to any. What else can he say? What else can he do?
Lena, Alex and Winn made their choice. James and Maggie are dead. Crimson still slithers sinisterly across Kara’s face, eyes gleaming with cruelty. He can’t change any of that right now.
He manages a jerky nod at Kara and Lena before turning on his heels and walking up the platform. He gingerly places Kal on the ship’s makeshift med bay before heading to the bridge. He sags into his seat, fingers drumming out of tune at the helm.
As the ship lifts off slowly, he pulls a small, circular device from his pocket, one Kara had shown him excitedly once. A gift from her Earth-1 friends, she had called it. He tucks it back safely from whence it came and charts a course for Argo.
“So what now?” The question draws Kara’s attention away from the bioship shrinking in the distance. Nimble fingers reach out, thumb finding the hinge of Kara’s jaw, pressure and warmth building at her nape. There’s hunger and heat in the viridian gaze that meets her eyes and Kara cannot look away.
Lena is breathtaking, Kara can’t help thinking it. She is vibrant, radiating with her own beautiful madness that pulls Kara further into her orbit, ensnared like a lamb. Even at the start of their friendship, even with Kara tripping over her words, she knew that there was an inherent danger to Lena. A sharp edge that could draw blood even from impenetrable Kryptonian skin. A darkness thick as smog and deeply alluring.
Lena is stunning in a way no one else but Kara can appreciate. Her mind is filled with immoral pleasures that only Kara can see. She emits power and wickedness. A smirk etches across her face, clearly pleased by the effect she has over the Kryptonian, the prospects of their future together. A future that’s malleable, a planet now ready to be crafted into the pinnacle of excellence by her unyielding hand.
“Now,” Kara’s grip finds Lena’s waist, tugging her as close as possible. Lena’s grasp tightens at the base of Kara’s throat and the blonde barely suppresses a groan. Her lips ghost over Lena’s, breath hot as she whispers, “Now we rule the world.”