Signs and Portents: Trinity

Part Four

January 15, 2014

Diana picked her way through the forest between the airstrip and the ocean. Italy shared the same sea, but this secluded Pacific Ocean island reminded her more of home. The balmy wind tugged on her hair as she stepped onto the loose sand. She untied her sandals as she gazed at the bright blue waters. "Why can't we live here?"

Bruce paused in the tree line. "Selina says she's in charge of decorating and living quarters are not being assembled here until she can come and approve." He tucked his hands into his board shorts' pockets. "I think I see him."

She scanned the horizon and saw the plumes of water shooting into the air behind the fast moving object. Clark barreled forward, skimming the surface of the water. "That looks like fun."

Clark shot into the air before he reached the beach and then floated to land gently on the sand. Bruce pushed off a tree and headed toward him. Clark smiled as he gestured down at his blue and red suit. "Am I overdressed?"

She looked at her armor as she reached them. "No, this exercise is to get us accustomed to performing our roles."

"And I'm not part of any exercise between you two powerhouses." Bruce rocked on his heels. "My tips are for blending in better. I'll be back at the hangar working, so don't wreck the island." He waved at them while he sauntered into the forest.

So Bruce decided they would show Clark what the hangar housed, but now they needed to concentrate on martial exercise. "I've been thinking of fighting styles that would best suit you. What do you know about classic wrestling?"

"I've never done it because I can hurt my opponent, but it's where you keep your opponent pinned to the ground, right?"

Diana nodded. "It's easily adaptable to hoisting an opponent into the air as well."

Clark frowned, but paid attention as she demonstrated the sequence of moves. He replicated them well on his first attempt and stopped his fall into the waves from her tossing him. The sun climbed higher and they grappled in the air. It was safer since they stopped themselves from crashing into the land. Clark was the fastest student Diana had taught. A few hours later when she called a halt, he knew the moves and all the defenses she had used against them.

"Thank you for this." Clark plopped on the sand. "Jor-El said I had to keep testing myself. This qualifies."

"Thank you for not holding back." She waded into the surf. "Bruce is skilled, but I have to hold myself in check."

"Your whole life too?"

She nodded. "Most of my abilities were given at birth. I'm glad Hermes saved flight for when I was grown. My Amazon sisters would have feared me more."

He looked at the horizon. "I know that feeling."

"There is something you must know that is difficult to bring up." She took a deep breath. "Bruce and Selina were there when Hermes told us of the portent the Moerae had about us."

"A prophecy?"

"Nothing that clear cut, I'm afraid. Heroes must rally behind the saved son of a dead world, the mantle of the bat, and the daughter of Zeus for the good of the entire world. But what fate lies in store for the world, the Moerae did not share."

Clark frowned. "Krypton is destroyed and I was saved from that, so that makes sense."

"We should have said something at Christmas, but we weren't sure how you would have handled it."

"Christmas had enough big shocks." He smiled. "But why didn't you find me after the Battle of Metropolis?"

"Selina," she answered. His forehead furrowed. "She was too pregnant to travel and after she read your biography that Lois wrote, she decided that Bruce and I would 'freak you out' if we went without her. I trust her judgment on people."

His frown eased into a smile. "And Bruce wasn't going to leave Selina."

"Not after the League of Shadows operation, no." She left the water for the dry sand.

"He left her behind for this trip." He stood and brushed the sand off his legs.

"Couldn't be helped with Helena's age and what we have to show you." Diana snagged her sandals before lifting over the treetops. Clark followed her up the long lawn cut around the airstrip. She swooped down to a crack big enough for people in the door. "Bruce? The island is still in one piece."

"Come in," he called.

Clark followed her inside and stopped as he stared at the black metal tentacle lying across the floor beyond the small airplane. He gasped as his gaze moved to the pieces of the world engine towering over everything else in the hangar. "How did you?" He waved at it.

The computer chair rolled from the workstation set against the wall and Bruce motioned for them to come closer. "I hacked into the military databases after Zod's announcement. We got the plans as they were made. Metropolis had the military converging on it, so we decided to help take down the Kryptonian world engine."

"We just missed each other," Diana said. "The Air Force sent jets to attack it and I had to fly Steve to safety. That's when you destroyed it." She waved her hand at the remains.

Clark followed her hand. "And I flew straight to Metropolis. So you just took it?"

"We didn't want it falling into the wrong hands." Bruce turned back to his computer screens. "So we took the liberty of holding it for you."

"For me?" Clark planted his hands on his hips.

"It's Kryptonian and you're the last Kryptonian."

"We should have told you at Christmas," Diana said.

Clark knelt and tapped on the tentacle. "I would have needed to see it before believing you. I'm still having trouble believing it." His gaze fell onto the thick black cord snaking from the work station to the round head of the engine. "You're connected to it?"

"You missed the onboard computer when you wrecked it." Bruce scooted closer to the desk. "I've been staying abreast of DARPA, S.T.A.R. Labs, and LexCorp's research on the other artifacts-"

"You hacked them too? Isn't that stealing proprietary data?" Clark folded his arms. Diana chuckled at Bruce's dark look.

"If I was building WayneTech products from it, you'd have a legal argument. Right now, all I've created is an interface that translates the programming."

"You've made progress, if you can talk to the computer," Diana said.

"No, I'm not that far. There are three programs stored in its memory, but I haven't found any command sequences to activate them."

"Activate it? Didn't you see what it did when you hauled it over here?" Clark's eyes widened.

"I chopped off all the dangerous parts," Diana said.

Bruce nodded. "Whatever it is made of is vulnerable to Diana's sword, so we physically separated the components that created the gravity beam." He pointed to the metal parts stacked at the other end of the hangar. "We can't rule out wireless communication, so I was translating the programming language without running them. The command line is an anchor point to figure out what the programs do."

"I wonder if it has one of the things." Clark frowned and followed the computer wire into the metal casing.

"One of what things?" Bruce followed him to the three-foot-wide crack that divided the metal head. Diana trailed after them.

"I don't know the name for it, but it had a slot for the command key and things turned on." Clark shifted a piece of dangling metal. It shrieked but bent out of his way. "Here it is."

Bruce approached the altar-tall pedestal in front of the unsheathed wall with exposed wiring. "I'll have to verify it, but I think that's what they're calling a command port. How does it work?"

"When I put my command key in it on the scout ship, an AI copy of Jor-El appeared in holographic form. He answered my questions and ran the ship. He did the same for Lois on board the Black Zero."

"So half the code is probably on that," Bruce said. "How was it made?"

Clark shrugged. "Jor-El didn't give me details. Kryptonian metal and tied to my DNA and now it's in the Phantom Zone."

"And no others got left behind?" Diana asked.

"Zod's was." Clark's expression darkened like a thundercloud. "I crushed it so he couldn't hurt anyone from the afterlife. The defenses on the scout ship nearly killed Lois."

Diana sighed. Giving Clark back his heritage was supposed to heal, not yet another reminder of everything he had lost. It wasn't right. They had Kryptonian metal in abundance and Clark had his DNA, but they lacked the skills to forge the key. Her eyes widened. There were other sources of knowledge. "Do we have a forge here, Bruce?"

"Didn't install one, sorry; haven't needed to bang metal on an anvil with a hammer. Why?"

"I'll have to make a fire then." She left them at the wreck. It didn't take long to gather deadfall from behind the hangar. She built a campfire on the edge of the tarmac close to the hangar. Bruce and Clark stood in the hangar doorway and watched her. She paid them no mind as she rubbed the sticks together for a flame.

She began her chant as she fed kindling to the flames. "Polyphrôn Hêphaistos, chreiazómaste th dhmioyrgikóthtά sas. Polymêtis Hêphaistos, chreiazómaste ta talέnta sas. Eylóghse mas, Klytos Hêphaistos." She repeated it while she coaxed the fire to blaze.

The fire flared higher than the fuel allowed, towering over her head as she knelt. Clark and Bruce both ran forward only to stop when the flames coalesced into a human shape. He propped a hammer onto his broad right shoulder. His left arm shifted the thick wooden crutch as he stepped out of the fire, dragging his twisted left foot. "You have roused my curiosity, sister. What weapon do you need?" Hephaestus grinned through his black, curly beard. Soot speckled his face.

She stood gracefully. "The weapons you have forged for me are all that I need. This request is for another."

He spied Bruce and Clark between them and the hangar. "You found your companions of the portent, good."

"Yes, and Superman needs a key forged that is no longer on Earth."

"This is a challenge I haven't had in centuries." His lame foot did not slow his stride to the men. "A key from your dead world?"

"My command key from Krypton," Clark corrected.

"Show me what it is supposed to command."

"This way." Bruce led the way into the hangar. Hephaestus headed straight for the wreckage and Clark and Bruce trotted after him. Diana grinned as she turned to the plane. Her sword's edge might be needed to sever more of the Kryptonian mental. "The key fits into this port and controls the computer programs," Bruce explained as they crowded inside the wreckage. Diana pulled her sheathed sword out of the plane and carried it to the computer workstation.

"And what materials was this key constructed from?" Hephaestus asked.

"It wasn't found on the periodic table," Clark said.

"Neither is this metal." Bruce patted a girder.

"And it was tied to my DNA," Clark added, "but I don't know how."

Hephaestus shooed them back into the hangar. "I deal with the how." He set his hammer on the concrete floor before placing his hand on Clark's shoulder. "Close your eyes and remember the key." Clark closed his eyes and his forehead furrowed as he concentrated. His hands flexed with the memory. "Very good, son of Rao, I have a sense of your key." Hephaestus released Clark's shoulder and picked up the hammer. "Now Diana." He chuckled as she hefted her sword. "You anticipate me. Cut off a hunk of this." He poked the tentacle with his crutch before hopping over it.

She freed her sword and strode to the end of the tentacle. She heaved the broadsword over her head, brought it down, and the black metal cleaved with sparks and melted edges.

Clark picked up the piece and blinked at the severed end. "It really cut it."

"You doubt my craftsmanship?" Hephaestus turned around.

"This is the first time I've seen your craftsmanship, sir."

Hephaestus' black curls under his conical cap bounced with his nod. He turned to the hangar's walls. The air shimmered. A large, waist-high, stone fireplace full of coals and its hood slid out of the corrugated metal wall. The wall behind it shifted to stone that spread around the corner. A rack of hammers and tongs appeared on the other wall. An anvil grew out of the concrete floor a step away from the forge along with a wooden tub of water.

"We have a forge now," Bruce said to Diana. She smiled at him.

Hephaestus stirred the coals. "Perfect. Bring the workpiece here." Clark stepped over the tentacle and joined the god of metalworking. Hephaestus plucked the black metal from Clark's hand with a pair of tongs. "Don't wander. We need your blood."

"That may be a problem," Clark said. The coals fell over the metal and tongs as Hephaestus shoved them deeper into the red and orange glow. "I don't bleed unless you replicate Krypton's environment and that wouldn't be safe for them." Clark jerked his thumb back at Bruce and Diana.

"It is good that you care for your allies' frailties." The coals popped and sparked.

"DNA is found in saliva too," Bruce said. "You do have that readily accessible?" Clark nodded.

"Blood is better." Hephaestus set the glowing white metal on the anvil. He adjusted his stance with the crutch so he held the tongs in his left hand. "Touch the edge of Diana's sword before you spit on this." The hangar echoed the ringing blow.

She stepped closer and the heat caressed her exposed skin. She held the blade out to Clark. Clark shrugged before setting his index finger on the edge. His perplexity vanished as he jerked his hand back. A drop of blood beaded on the metal. "Ow!"

"Bring a few drops over here," Hephaestus said between hammer blows.

Clark stepped to the anvil while Diana wiped the blood from her sword. "So you are vulnerable to magic," she said.

"Or at least vulnerable to magic items." Bruce pulled the first aid kit from the shelf next to the computer monitors.

Clark squeezed three droplets of blood onto the glowing metal. "Do you make razors?"

"Grow a beard." Hephaestus smashed the hammer against the metal again. Clark stepped away from the anvil. Once the metal was in a rough, three-sided shape, Hephaestus plunged into the tub of water. Steam hissed as it coiled around the hangar lights. Hephaestus didn't wait for it to subside before he pulled out the black metal that now had a blue sheen. He set it on the anvil and tapped it with his hammer. The metal split in half with a crack. "There it be. Go on; take what is yours, Superman."

Clark pulled a smooth triangular cylinder out of the metal shards. "Incredible." He turned it over in his hands. Diana realized the same symbol that he wore on his chest was on the end. "It feels right," he said.

"But does it have the programming the other one had?" Bruce handed Clark an alcohol wipe.

"Guess there's only one way to find out." Clark doctored the tiny incision on his finger and then turned to the world engine. Bruce went to his computer monitors. Diana kept her sword out, just in case a new dangerous piece developed. Hephaestus moved to her side.

Clark held his breath before sliding the black shard into the slot. The exposed wires inside the wall lit. She jerked her attention to the tentacle, but it didn't move.

"Why is it--" Bruce interrupted himself to type on the keyboard.

"What happened?" Clark held his hand over the command port.

"Now there are two programs. One of them got deleted."

"It was the world engine's control program." The speaker, a middle-aged man with gray hair spreading through his brown beard, formed beside the world engine's head. He wore a blue leather robe over the same blue suit Clark wore as Superman. "Krypton's colonies would have survived had we not insisted on turning every planet into another Krypton and instead adapted ourselves to their conditions. It represented too much temptation."

"It represented too much danger," Bruce said as he crossed his arms. "But we could have learned more from the code."

"It works." Hephaestus grinned and patted Diana's shoulder. "That was fun. Let me know when I can help you again, my sister."

"Thank you, my brother," she answered.

"Yes, thank you," Clark echoed as he stepped out of the wreckage. The lame god disappeared with the forge. He moved to face the image of Jor-El. "How did you survive?"

"The Black Zero and this machine were linked long enough to transfer the copy Lois Lane uploaded." Jor-El's gaze drifted over them. "Did she survive? Did you return the Black Zero to the Phantom Zone?"

"Lois is fine; she had an assignment in South Africa." Clark's smile drifted away. "The starship sent the Black Zero to the Phantom Zone before Earth was destroyed."

Jor-El's shoulders released. "Then it is safe."

"Safe for what?" Diana asked.

Jor-El vanished and a woman appeared. She dressed in a light-brown, gauzy dress that billowed over her pregnant belly. The robe over it was brown with golden broken stripes decorating the entire fabric. Her bare arms eased out of the slit sleeves and her loose black hair was wavier than Diana's. "Safe for me," she said. "There is only one emitter array, Kal."

Clark was one blow away from toppling onto the concrete floor. Bruce left his computers to get closer to the tableau. "You're my birth mother," Clark breathed out.

"Yes." Her hands circled her protruding stomach. "I am Lara Lor-Van, wife of Jor-El of the House of El. And you are our son, Kal. How did you grow?"

Clark scratched the back of his neck. "Like every other kid, I guess. Mom said it was hard for me to breathe when I was a baby, but I grew out of that."

"Mom?" Lara's fingers covered her mouth.

"I'm sorry." His shoulders drooped. "That probably hurts, I didn't-"

"No," she shook her head. "Humans raised you as their son. I feared that wouldn't happen." Her hands covered her unborn child again. "Jor-El's plan was the only way to give you a future, Kal. But I feared that the humans would cast you out because of your differences, that they would hurt you."

"I won't lie and say all humans like me." Clark spread his hands. "But good people, farmers, found my starship. They couldn't have children, and I'm their miracle." He blushed.

Her blue eyes watered. "I'm glad I was wrong." She tore her gaze from Clark to see Diana and Bruce. "Who are these people?"

"I'm not the only one on Earth who wants to help people. They're allies."

Diana snorted. "We're friends." Bruce and Clark both looked at her. She raised her eyebrows, daring them to say differently.

"Friends," Bruce said.

"Friends," Clark repeated with a smile.

Polyphron (Ingenious, Inventive) Hephaestus, we need your creativity. Polymetis (Resourceful, Of Many Crafts) Hephaestus, we need your talents. Bless us, Clytus (Renowned, Famed, Glorious) Hephaestus. Return to the story.


April 2, 2014

Selina flexed her fingers on the steering wheel as she followed the turn marked by the map on the computer screen. The balmy spring had exploded into bright green everywhere she looked. The cypress trees stretched toward the sky as they bordered the roads and houses and the rich brown section freshly tilled for the new crops contrasted with the lush pastures like a patchwork quilt lay over the rolling hills. Too bad Bruce was stuck in a lawyer's office proving he was alive and couldn't enjoy this drive. But if he had come with them, he'd be too busy stewing about how to stop a potential threat with Diana and Clark both helping out Chile. They must enjoy themselves enough for him too. The dashboard computer beeped at her that the destination of the anomaly was ahead. She braked and raised her sunglasses as she stared out the windshield.

A Caucasian man in a glowing green and black leotard floated in the cloudless blue sky while aiming green energy from his hand at the ground.

"That's something you don't see every day." She parked her BMW convertible behind the mangled pieces of metal next to the field's gate. A gnarled man stood beside it and watched the flier. She lowered the car roof. Helena slept in her car seat so Selina draped a light blanket over it. The man in weathered jeans and work boots had glanced at her arrangements, but the flying man required his full attention.

The green energy from the flier's hand ended in two giant shovels shoving dirt into an impact crater. She stopped next to the scowling man. "{Hello, who is your assistant?}" She gave him the smile that always got her answers from men.

It worked with a harrumph. "{Space man landed in my field and broke my tractor.}" He gestured at the tangled metal. "{Hire him? Bah.}"

She looked at the flier who was smoothing the dirt. "{How did you get him to fix it?}"

"{He offered after I started yelling at him. Luckily, my poor crop wasn't in the ground yet.}"

A point in the alien's favor, Zod's group wouldn't have stopped to make things right for who they landed on. The flier finished smoothing out the dirt and the green energy morphed into a series of linked together plows. He shifted his arm and the plows dug into the ground and headed away perpendicularly from the fence.

The farmer ran through the gate waving his arms over his head. "{No, no, no, you idiot! Stop!}" Selina followed him.

The flier lowered himself to the ground and the plows vanished. The domino mask plastered to his face was green. "What now?"

The farmer understood the flier's American-accented English and retorted in Italian. "{That's not the way the rows go!}"

The flier threw his head back with a sigh. "I'm a Green Lantern, not a farmer."

"{And I'm a farmer without a tractor thanks to you!}" The older man clenched his fists. "{The way you started will not work with the irrigation system.}" The Green Lantern frowned at the shorter man, and then pointed his right hand back at the field. Selina saw the green energy was coming from a glowing ring on his middle finger. The green energy formed a translucent and glowing tractor. The farmer folded his arms. "{And what am I supposed to do when you go back to outer space and that disappears?}"

"This is the best I can do until I can figure out where I am and if I have anything in my checking account." The Green Lantern waved his left hand at the tractor.

If you ignored the leotard and the green energy ring, he sounded like another lost American tourist. And he was getting the same reaction as any other lost American tourist who had done something stupid. Selina played a hunch. "You're in Italy, a long way from Coast City."

He broke into a grin. "The pretty lady is an American, yes! Do you know the local lingo? I think something is getting lost in translation."

"{Nothing is getting lost,}" the farmer said with a scowl. "{You want to steal my livelihood by destroying my tractor.}"

"I don't have any money, sir," the Green Lantern said through gritted teeth.

Selina retrieved her checkbook from the car. Helena was still asleep. She based the number on what she knew about car prices and offered the check to the farmer. "{Will this help you get a new tractor?}"

The farmer thawed when he saw the amount. "{Miss, no, you are not at fault. I cannot accept it.}"

"{Consider it a loan and pay me back after the harvest. But I need to take the space man to the city and find out why he's here.}"

The farmer nodded as he took the check. "{I will pay you back, Miss Kyle. And you're welcome to this imbecile.}" He folded the check into his pocket and trudged up the dirt road to the farm house.

"You didn't have to pay him off." The Green Lantern scuffed his toe into the dirt as the green tractor pulled back into his ring. "Not that I don't appreciate a rescue from a mysterious and beautiful woman."

She smirked. "Selina Kyle. So what's a Green Lantern and what are you doing here on Earth?"

"I'm a member of the Green Lantern Corps. We're a galactic police force. Just consider me the sheriff for sector 2814." His hands landed on his hips. The green mask didn't have a band that wrapped around the back of his wavy brown hair, but it did white out the color of his eyes. Veins of green energy ran through the leotard, looking like a layer of muscle over his skin. A white circle in the center of his chest had a green circle squashed by two lines inside it, a simple lantern symbol. "I'm from Earth, but unfortunately this isn't a vacation back home. I'm tracking a gang of renegades across the sector. Lost track of them seven months ago and recently came across a clue that said they headed to Earth."

Seven months ago was about the same time as when Clark and Lois found the scout ship. "Your renegades wouldn't happen to be Kryptonians?"

His green mask shifted as his eyebrows rose. "The last ones left since Krypton went boom. Tomar-Re is still upset about that." He shrugged. "But it turns out they're a bunch of criminals that escaped and they've been on a rampage. And they ended up here." She nodded. Green Lantern cocked his head. "Say, once I'm done dealing with them, do you want to take a trip with me to see the storm-opals of Rann?"

Before she had a chance to answer, Helena woke, realized the car wasn't moving, and wailed. Selina turned to the car. "Sorry, I'm still breastfeeding, so no intergalactic travel yet." Helena yanked down the blanket. "Ready for another ride, sweetie?"

The Green Lantern followed her. "I have the worst luck." The green energy formed a mobile of planets over Helena's head. "This cutie pie means that is a Mr. Kyle in the picture." Selina narrowed her eyes and reached for his ring hand. "Oh, this won't hurt her. That's not how it works."

Helena cooed and stretched for Saturn, but it was out of reach. Selina decided it was time to ax his flirting. "I am in a committed relationship with Helena's father, so we won't tell him about your storm-opals of Rann." She opened the driver's side door.

"The jealous type?"

"Let's not find out. Come on, get in." He lifted off the ground and floated to the passenger seat without disturbing the mobile over Helena's head. "He and some friends of ours will want to meet you. We have questions about what happened in Coast City back in 2011."

"You aren't with the government, are you?"

"No, we're the ones who stopped the Kryptonians who decided to mess with Earth." Selina grinned as she closed the roof over their heads. "You're a little late to that rodeo, sheriff."

The End



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