Lois & Clark Season Four Episode #2

Battleground Earth

Written by Eugenie Ross-Leming & Brad Buckner

Transcript prepared by Sarah Wood, submitted to the L&C board by carolm.

The episode begins with a recap of Lord Of The Flys, which ends with Lord Nor holding Martha and Jonathan prisoner so he can confront Clark.

"Well, well. We have here a tableau of infinite possibilities," says Lord Nor. "None of them, unfortunately, pleasant for you," he adds to Clark. "Do you try to escape, and I kill the Kents? Do you attack me and I kill you? Do we do battle and I kill all these Earth people? Stop me if you're sensing a theme here."

"You don't want to do battle with me," Clark assures him.

"Oh, but I do! All my life I've been one step away from marrying Zara and claiming the throne. All my life I've heard of the law of the great House of El and its beloved son, my rival. How I've hated you!" Nor hisses.

"It's not me that's kept you from the throne, it's the law of your own people."

"On the contrary, the law of my people will place me on the throne. You're under arrest," Nor proclaims.

"Under arrest for what?" Clark asks incredulously.

"He hasn't done anything wrong," Martha protests.

"You're the one who's breaking the law," Jonathan adds angrily.

"You hired an assassin to kill him! Is that legal?" Lois shouts from behind the fence.

"Excuse me, do any of you hold Kryptonian law degrees?" Nor asks.

"No," Lois confesses.

"Then shut up!" he roars. "So, not content with ruling your world, you wanted to rule mine," he continues. "Ambition will be the end of you, Kal-El. And them as well," he adds, looking at Clark's parents. He stalks away.

* * *

The bald Kryptonian, Ran, escorts Lois to the ice cream parlor, where Jonathan and Martha are shackled to the bicycle rack out front. She rushes to them. "Lois, honey, are you all right?" Martha asks her in concern.

"Are you two all right?" Lois counters. "Oh! Could you at least get them some chairs or something?" she asks Ran reasonably.

"On New Krypton we do not get hostages chairs," he tells her disdainfully.

"You know what?" Lois asks, her patience snapping. "I don't like New Krypton! There, I said it! I know that you're supposed to be so intellectually advanced," she rants as she gets a chair for Martha, "but I think you're a bunch of creeps, and I'm sorry that Kal-El even gave you the time of day," she continues while getting another chair for Jonathan, "much less sacrificed everything to save your stupid planet. So," she finishes, facing Ran fearlessly, "are you going to shoot us over a couple of chairs? I don't think so! Because we're the only hold you've got over my friend, Kal-El, who'd be out here in maybe two seconds to mop the floor with you."

Jonathan claps heartily. "Well said, Lois!"

"Here here, honey," Martha cheers.

"Silence!" Ran roars. "You, inside," he growls at Lois, taking her arm and shoving her along with him.

Clark is inside. "Kal-El, in accordance with your legal rights, you have a visitor," Ran tells him. "A particularly vile Earth woman."

"Watch it! I'm his favorite concubine," Lois tells him, looking smug. The Kryptonians leave her alone with Clark.

"Lois, you've got to be careful with these guys. You make them mad and they might --"

"I know, I'm sorry. I get upset, I shoot my mouth off, I don't know if you've noticed."

Clark smiles and cups her face in his hand. "I have." He kisses her on the forehead tenderly and then they hug. When they separate, Clark sighs. "When I was a kid I used to sit at that stool, right there, eating banana splits all day." She chuckles. "I never thought I'd be locked up in here with my parents chained outside and the world about to be taken over."

"I know," Lois sympathizes. "It's always something. How can they arrest you? Aren't you the King or something?"

Clark gestures for her to sit down. "Under their law, if one noble charges another with a crime, then a tribunal has to be convened. But they can't convict me, I haven't done anything," he reminds her confidently.

"Well, you see, you're so good you assume justice will prevail. This is not something I assume."

"Lois, I'm gonna beat this guy Nor, and then the Kryptonians can go back and they can solve their own problems, and faster than a speeding bullet, you and I are going to get married."

"Can you make it any faster than that?" she asks him, and he laughs.

They hear one of the Kryptonians yelling at a human outside. Clark turns serious. "See if you can find out if they know about kryptonite. It's the one thing that could be a problem."

"From what I can tell they don't know about it. For a bright bunch of aliens they sure didn't do their homework."

"Then why's he so confident of winning? I mean, what does he have?"

"That's what I will try to find out," Lois says, then gives him a kiss.

Clark smiles. "Good!"

* * *

The Daily Planet pit has been invaded by government and military officials and their equipment, as well as the Kryptonians, all of whom wear somber expressions. Perry comes in and looks around. "Judas Priest! It's like a tomb in here! Now look, this may be your headquarters but it's still my newsroom, so, uh... don't look so glum! Let's lighten up! Superman's on the case," he says confidently.

"Still, one more day and this whole planet may be at war," Zara tells him. "The world's military gave Kal-El just forty-eight hours to find out what's going on in Smallville."

"I'll tell you what's going on," Colonel Cash intervenes. "We got a whacko Martian on our hands and he's gotta be taken out!"

Trey and Ching simultaneously say, "Martian?"

Cash glares at them. "A generic term for anyone who's never had a Big Mac." He sticks his cigar in his mouth.

"Chief!" Jimmy calls, hurrying up. "Chief, bad news. Superman told STAR Labs to get their kryptonite ready for use, only there isn't any. It got stolen out of their vault. No sign of any forced entry, it had to be an inside job."

"Or else somebody with super powers," Perry muttered, covering his mouth with his hand to keep his words from reaching the Kryptonians.

"That's what Dr. Klein said," Jimmy agrees.

They were, however, overheard by Ching and Zara. "If Lord Nor does know kryptonite's power and uses it against him --" Ching begins.

"-- he will marry me and assume the throne," Zara concludes grimly.

"My dear, you continue to paint far too bleak a picture of Lord Nor," Trey tells her.

Jen-Mai enters. "I have bad news," he announces.

"Doesn't anybody ever come through that door with good news?" Perry asks gruffly.

"Kal-El has surrendered to Nor, who invites us to meet him at Smallville," Jen-Mai reports.

"I still maintain that Nor is, at heart, loyal to the nobility," Trey insists to Zara in a wise tone. "Do what you should have done from the beginning. Go to this Smallville and confront him."

"You have the full backing of the Council of Elders," Jen-Mai assures her.

"Well, if you feel that's best," Zara conceeds uncertainly.

"All right, all right, Jen, it's a done deal," Perry says briskly. "Now Jimmy, I want you to tag along with these, uh, uh, folks here. Tell Superman and Lois about the kryptonite and try to get some photos inside the force field."

Jimmy, excited, says, "Thanks, Chief!" He hurries after Zara and Ching, collaring the latter. "Listen, Ching, I was thinking maybe I should wear one of those black outfits like Kal-El has, you know, just so I'd fit in better." Ching looks down at him doubtfully, frowns slightly, and keeps going. "It's not like I'd look bad or anything, I've really lowered my percentage of body fat," he adds persuasively.

* * *

The big blond Kryptonian, Drull, brings a piece of paper to Lord Nor. "A Citizen's Committee has drawn up a petition. They demand more food and water for the people."

"Oh, that's only fair. Kill the committee, distribute their portion among the rest," he decides callously. Drull goes off with a smile. "Leadership is problem solving," Nor tells Ran.

Just then the mother ship arrives over Smallville, looming outside the forcefield and casting a shadow over the town. "I thought they'd never get here," Nor says with a smile. "Order the field made penetrable by thought transmission." The bald one nods and leaves.

It isn't long before Zara is contacting him. "Lord Nor, this is Zara."

Inside the ice cream parlor, Clark closes his eyes as he, too, hears her message. "What?" Lois asks, sensing that something's going on.

"I hearby order you to open the force field. You are here without authorization of the Council of Elders, and have much to explain," Zara continues regally.

"It's Zara," Clark tells Lois. "They're here."

"Not only to me, but to your people," Zara adds, when suddenly she is disturbed.

"Ching, could you have a talk with the guy who hands out the suits, huh?" Jimmy asks as he enters the chamber, plucking at the very baggy shirt of his black suit. Ching hushes him severely. "Oh! Sorry," Jimmy whispers.

"The entire Council joins me in warning you not to resist our --" Zara flinches as a blinding flash penetrates her eyelids, and she opens her eyes to glare at Jimmy, who is holding his camera and smiling. "Jimmy, we're trying to communicate!" she says angrily, and the thought is transmitted down to the planet's surface.

"Look, before you go invoking the law, the Council, and everything that's sacred, let me extend to you my sincerest welcome," Lord Nor sends to Zara.

"Nor's letting them land," Clark reports to Lois in surprise. "What's he up to?"

"Words of reason, Lady Zara," Trey points out. "I feel Lord Nor has been judged too harshly."

Lord Nor assembles his men. "Look sharp, lads. We do want to give our... ruler... the most fitting welcome."

Moments later Zara, Ching, Trey, Jen-Mai, and Jimmy appear before Nor's men in Smallville. Jimmy, startled, feels his chest to make sure he's all there.

Nor and his men bow. "My most humble greeting to Lady Zara of New Krypton, and to the Council at whose pleasure she rules," Nor says smoothly.

Zara wastes no time. "Lord Nor, you've taken Kal-El prisoner. We order his release. We also order you to surrender this territory."

"Of course, my lady, if that's what the Council wishes." Nor looks at Jen and Trey. "My lords, my hope had been to provide you with a full report about colonizing the Earth."

"Colonizing?" Zara repeats in disbelief. "We have a home!"

"A temporary one, I feel," Nor tells her. "My Lord Trey, wasn't our charter to find the most hospitable home for our people? Can we think the barren wasteland that we live on is preferable to the lushness of Earth?"

"Perhaps we should wait until your report is complete," Trey agrees. "Provided the townspeople are unharmed," he adds.

"Why, even today I increased their rations of food and water," Nor says with a smile. "As for Kal-El, I'm merely holding him for Tribunal since he has the power to elude us."

"What Tribunal?" Zara asks instantly.

"A Tribunal must judge any charges brought by one noble against another."

"And what could Lord Kal-El possibly be charged with?" Zara asks suspiciously.

"The same as you, Zara," Nor says pleasantly. "Destroying the royal bloodline... Betraying your people... In short, high treason."

"What? What?" Lois asks Clark urgently, seeing the look on his face. He is so worried that he can't answer her right away.

* * *

Jen-Mai is holding a Press Conference at the Daily Planet. "Lord Nor commends the Earthly governments for ordering their military units not to interfere with the reorganization of this planet," he reads from a scroll, which he then closes to address the group. "Being annexed by New Kreypton is a lot like getting amiable -- some say fun-loving -- new neighbors, except, of course, you're going to be our slaves. We will take over one city at a time, beginning with Metropolis. Any city resisting this opportunity will be annihilated. Thanks for your cooperation, and welcome to the New Krypton family." With a whoosh he's gone.

"Great Shades of Elvis! Have you ever heard such unmitigated gaul? And when did that rascal switch sides?!" Perry explodes.

"Well we're not just going to sit still for this," Cash declares. "I'm calling the Pentagon. The UN has to let the military act!"

"Aw, c'mon, Colonel, what can you do against these people?" Perry says gently. "You've already lost men trying to stop 'em. Face it, you simply don't have a weapon that's effective against these Kryptonians."

* * *

In the morning, Nor's blond henchman, Drull, is rudely waking the Smallville residents for work detail, Jimmy and Lois amongst them. "You, get in line," Drull orders, kicking Jimmy. "Yeah you, in the baggy suit!" He gestures with his thumb for Jimmy to get moving before walking off.

"Hey!" Jimmy protests.

Lois rushes to him. "Jimmy!"

"Have you noticed these aliens have a lot of attitude?" he asks sourly.

"That kryptonite that you said was stolen from STAR Labs, you hear any talk about it?"

"No, and I've been nosing around since I got here."

"Me too," she says worriedly. "Nobody's saying anything. That Nor has got some game plan here, I bet he's got it."

"You! Concubine!" Drull calls

"Okay, let's get something straight. I am not a concubine," Lois tells him, growing tired of this.

"Sure, baby! You're to report to the palace, the trial's about to commence."

"Hey! What about me, I'm with the Press," Jimmy says hopefully.

"This is a Kryptonian matter. No one of your species is to attend... unless they're evidence."

"Evidence?" she repeats.

He takes Lois by the arm and escorts her away.

* * *

The Tribunal has gathered, and Nor speaks. "My lords of the Tribunal of Elders, the evidence is all too clear, that Kal-El and Lady Zara did willingly enter into a cynical pact to delude the people of New Krypton and place Zara illegally on the throne."

"That's a lie!" Clark cries out. "Everything I did was for the good of New Krypton!"

"And who would you be to judge what is good for New Krypton?" Nor spits back at him. "My lords, Kal-El was raised on Earth. He's a virtual half-breed, awash in the primitive teachings of these simple rustics."

"You watch your mouth!" Martha snaps.

"He's the best son we could possibly hope for," Jonathan defends.

"No doubt," Nor says drily. "My Lords, to anoint Kal-El our ruler is to place an Earthling on the throne."

"I am proud of how I was raised," Clark says loyally. "If I knew nothing of Krypton it's because I was sent here as a baby."

"Your heritage was preserved for you in the ship you arrived in... writings, holograms..."

"In a language that I didn't know!"

"You mean in a language of no interest to an Earth child. The same child who'd grow to be a man and give his heart to an Earth woman!" Nor points to Lois. There is a rumble from the gathered Kryptonians. "Do you deny that you're in love with this creature, that you had her smuggled into the palace as your concubine, that you plan to marry her in direct violation of Kryptonian law?" Nor demands.

The rumbling grows louder, and Trey calls, "Silence! Silence!" He bangs on his Kryptonian gavel, which makes an electric sound. "There will be order to these proceedings."

"I left her on Earth. I left her to bring peace to your planet!" Clark says.

"Did you now? Wasn't that a ruse, too?" Nor gestures, and a screen appears in the room. It shows Clark and Lois on the steps outside her apartment building, kissing, with Clark saying he told her he'd come back and promising he'll never leave her again.

"I'm sad to say I witnessed this myself," Trey confesses reluctantly.

Zara speaks up. "There is no question that he loved this woman. There's also no question what his intentions were when he left Earth."

"Oh, his intentions, I'm so glad you brought that up," Nor says smoothly. "Just listen to this." Another gesture, and suddenly Clark's conversation with Zara in the bridal chamber is played, with Clark saying that he saved himself for Lois and Zara saying that she saved herself for Lieutenant Ching.

"How dare you!" Zara says in a low, furious voice.

Clark and Zara agree not to be partners in bed in the recording.

"Do you deny that you never intended to produce an heir, as demanded by law? That this marriage was never consummated. That you had no intention of doing so! A sham marriage, for the sole purpose of snatching the throne from the proper bridegroom... me!"

"That is not true!" Clark protests.

"Oh no?" Nor asks with a gleam, as he begins another recording, this one from the ice cream parlor, in which Clark can be heard saying that he will beat Nor and then the Kryptonians could solve their own problems while he remained on Earth to marry Lois.

"In a single speech, Kal-El reveals his plans to abandon the people he pledged to rule, to commit adultery and bigamy, and murder a fellow noble!" Nor declares triumphantly.

"No, you tried to murder him!" Lois shouts.

"Silence, concubine!" Trey commands.

"I am not a concubine!"

"From her own lips, a confession of her subterfuge," Nor says quickly. "And where is one shred of proof of this wild-eyed murder allegation?"

"I saw the assassin Tez," Zara calls out.

"As did I!" Ching says, stepping forward.

"And I did too," Clark adds.

"Well there's an airtight case if ever I heard one," Nor says sarcastically.

Clark approaches the Elders. "Don't you see the railroad job going on here? All Zara and I are guilty of is trying to save our people, because I was grateful to a planet that gave me life, and to my father, Jor-El, who saved my life. My father was honest, and good, and so I imagined this great society, filled with noble ideals, and I imagined that saving this society from war was worth turning my back on everything, and everyone, that I loved."

There was silence after Clark's passionate speech.

"Oh it is a noble society, Kal-El, and you are its nightmare: a duplicitous, lying half-breed, bent on seizing the throne, diluting the bloodline, and ending the culture. My lords, if you do not banish this man there's no telling what he will do to you and to Lady Zara. The ruling couple of New Krypton will most likely be a half-breed and his Earthly slut!"

Clark lunges at Nor in fury, shouting his name. Trey pounds on the gavel shouting for silence and order. Clark is restrained by Nor's men, held at bay, helpless.

* * *

Nor enters the bridal chamber, where Zara is lying down on the bed. "Well, Lady Zara, on the bridal bed at last! Dare I hope to soon be joining you?"

"You proved nothing in court," she tells him boldly, refusing to rise to greet him or seem perturbed by his presence. "All you did was prey on their fears and prejudices."

Nor pours himself a drink of blue liquid into the enormous goblet that Clark was given at the Union Ceremony. "Brilliantly, if I may say so myself," he says cheerfully. He has a sip, and then looks at the goblet with a smile. "Oh, I'm sipping from the Wedding Cup! I do take to all this quite naturally." He puts the drink down and stands beside the bed. "Oh, by the way, I've begged the Council for leniency in your case. Do you care to show your gratitude in some inventive way?" he asks with a leer.

"Get out," she tells him clearly.

He laughs. "Tossing your husband from the bed chamber is no way to start a marriage." He sits beside her.

Zara sits up and faces him. "You'll never be my husband," she tells him in a low voice.

"Oh, I beg to differ. With Kal-El gone, I'm next pig at the trough. And I assure you, I'll have no trouble consummating the marriage."

She slaps him across the face in disgust and rage.

"Not feeling romantic, dearest? I swear this will be the last time you deny me!" he warns her in a low voice. He heads for the door. "You've lived on this idiot planet too long... and grown far too emotional!" he shouts before storming out.

* * *

The Tribunal is reconvened. "This chamber will come to order," Trey calls, banging his gavel. When the room is quiet he continues. "Having considered all the evidence, the Tribunal will render its verdict. Kal-El, on the charges of high treason and conspiracy, the Tribunal finds you... guilty as charged."

There is a murmur from the Kryptonians, while Lois and the Kents jump to their feet in shock, horror, and disbelief. Clark and Zara both momentarily close their eyes in defeat.

"And we do hearby direct for you to be banished forever..."

Clark gazes sadly at Lois.

"...that your body be disintegrated and your molecules scattered over countless distant galaxies. That is the sentence of this court," Trey finishes gravely, banging a final time on the gavel. Martha sinks down to her seat, clinging to Jonathan for support, but Lois and Clark simply stare at one another.

* * *

"I assume the sentence will be carried out post-haste," Nor says to Trey as the chamber is emptied.

"What about Kal-El's appeal?" Lois asks incredulously.

"Well, admittedly he is well built, but he's a trifle dull for my taste," Nor says drily.

"I meant his legal options," Lois explains icily.

"Oh, that. There are none."

Clark is brought over with Zara. "Council, you've been used," he bursts out when he sees Trey. "Lied to and manipulated to get me out of the way so that Nor can threaten the people of this planet with extinction!"

"The ravings of a condemned man, my Lords," Nor dismisses casually, "of which there's not one shred of proof."

"Kal-El is your ruler," Zara tells Trey. "Certainly his case is entitled to more consideration than this!"

"Kal-El only rules so long as he's married to you," Nor replies.

Seeing their lack of understanding, Trey explains. "The Tribunal has annulled your marriage."

"What?" Zara cries out.

"A mongrel dog unfit to lead, unworthy of your hand," Nor tells her. "An imposter who's been unmasked. Any last words, mongrel?" he asks Clark in amusement.

Clark lunges for him, grabbing him by the neck and lifting him off the ground. "I am a man of few words," he says dangerously.

"Slit their throats," Nor tells his men, who immediately hold curved blades to Lois and Martha and Jonathan.

"No!" Clark shouts. He reluctantly releases Nor. "One day you'll have nothing to hide behind, and it'll just be you and me, and you'll be made to answer for all the lives that you've ruined."

Lord Nor doesn't believe him, and turns away lightly. "Come along, gentlemen, you're invited to a wedding," he says, grasping Zara by the arm. "No!" she shrieks as he hauls her out with him. They are followed by Trey and Jen-Mai.

The executioners make a sort of cage appear in the chamber.

"Clark..." Lois begins, moving towards him, but Clark is drawn away by the two executioners and led to the cage.

"Clark, don't go!" Martha urges her son. "Honey, a lot more lives are at stake than ours."

"Clark, get out of here," Jonathan says hoarsely.

Clark looks at his parents and Lois with love and sadness. "I can't do that, Dad. They'd kill you." He steps into the chamber and it locks around him.

* * *

Trey is concluding the hasty marriage of Zara and Nor. "Thus ends the ceremony which binds you together."

"Kiss me, my pet," Nor says cheerily.

Zara again slaps him across the face, and he makes an impatient and disbelieving expression. "I'd rather die!" she tells him.

Just then the doors open and a messenger arrives. "My Lord Nor, I have urgent news. Metropolis has refused to surrender."

"I knew this would happen!" Zara says.

"Shut up!" Nor shouts at her. Then, seeing Trey's shock, he soothingly adds, "Beloved."

"Metropolis?" Trey asks him.

"I was conducting delicate negotiations for our people to share the city," Nor lies.

"By ordering it to surrender?" Trey asks.

"I have to have some leverage," Nor claims.

Jen-Mai gives Trey a significant look. "Lord Nor is our leader now, Trey. He is not to be questioned."

"I see," is all Trey can say, as he begins to realize some unpleasant truths.

"Any response, sir?" the messenger asks.

Lord Nor uses his heat vision to incinerate the messenger. "That was yes," he translates. "My Lord Jen-Mai, alert my generals we will proceed to Metpolis, where we will destroy the city." He grabs Zara and kisses her abruptly, then leaves.

"He's mad!" Trey whispers, still in shock.

"Yes, he is," Zara says matter-of-factly.

"Careful," Jen-Mai warns them with a smile. "As I'm sure I needn't remind you, such words are treasonous."

* * *

The device that will rip Clark's molecules apart makes a horrendous shrieking sound when it is turned on.

* * *

Ching approaches Trey. "Lord Trey! There's been an oversight! The court must allow two nobles vying for the throne to settle their differences privately." With a triumphant smile he brandishes the scroll that proves it.

"Yes, an ancient law, almost never used," Trey agrees dispiritedly. "In any event, Kal-El didn't request it."

"He didn't know of it! I barely knew of it!"

"As a traitor, he's lost the right, stripped of his title... The verdict is irreversible!"

"If he was not informed of the right before the trial, the verdict is illegal!"

Trey suddenly looks hopeful.

* * *

Over the metallic screeching of the machine, Clark's agonized cries can be heard. "No," Lois cries, moving towards the cage, she's pulled back by the executioners, and there's nothing she can do except watch as Clark slowly becomes less solid, less present, until all she can see is the silvery blue 'S' symbol from his uniform, and that too is fading away.

Trey and Ching burst in. "Reverse the procedure at once!" Trey commands. "Bring Kal-El back!"

Jen-Mai steps forward. "You'll do no such thing!"

"Kal-El was denied his legal rights!" Ching says.

"Lord Nor will determine his rights."

"Nor follows the same rules we all do," Trey reminds him.

"You do this, Trey, and you'll answer to him," Jen-Mai warns.

"If Nor breaks the law he answers to me!" Trey points out.

"Hey," Lois intervenes, "Kal-El's being scattered all over the universe! Shouldn't somebody do something, and maybe you can measure your manhood later?"

Trey grabs the controls from one of the executioners and enters a sequence to reverse the procedure and bring Clark's molecules back to their original state. They watch silently.

When Clark's body has reformed, the cage opens. He begins to fall forward, and Lois quickly steps up to catch up. He sags weakly against her as his parents, too, rush to hold him in their arms.

"Oh God, honey, I thought we'd lost you," Martha says amidst her tears.

"Easy, Mom, I'm still a little bit shakey," he says in an attempt at a joke. Then he and Lois gaze at each other for a moment.

* * *

The mother ship majestically passes over the outlying suburbs towards the cluster of skyscrapers that is Metropolis. In the city itself, chaos has struck. Nor's men are wreaking havoc, destroying property and terrorizing the citizens until the streets resemble a war zone.

Jen-Mai lands near Drull. "Where's your master?"

"Enjoying himself immensely," Nor himself replies, coming over. "And why are you here and not looking after my interests back at the palace?"

"The palace is here. Kal-El has exercise the right to challenge."

"Kal-El?" Nor repeats, astounded.

"He lives. The Tribunal determined he must be given the right to challenge. The traitorous chief of the Tribunal, master," Jen-Mai hastens to clarify.

"And you probably feel it would be prudent to accept."

"There is a certain public relations upside to a duel, yes, wherein it is certain you will emerge the victor." Jen-Mai gives him a nasty smile.

Suddenly Nor is contacted telepathically by Trey. "Lord Nor, Kal-El is no longer an outcast, and further, I can assure him the support of at least a portion of the nobility. Avoid a massive battle, a battle you well could lose, and accept the challenge. Mind you, this duel belongs to you and Kal-El. Your warriors are restricted to their barracks. Is that clear?"

"Perfectly. The street upon which I now stand. Noon. Tomorrow." Nor breaks contact.

"You're doing the right thing, master," Jen-Mai says. "Kal-El is as good as dead."

"Oh be still, you sickening sycophant! Although you're not incorrect. I do possess the superior skill."

"Yes, there's that."

"And I cheat."

"That too," Jen-Mai agrees with a broadening grin.

* * *

While Ching and Clark practice dueling with Kryptonian weapons, Lois is on the phone in the kitchen, stirring something on the range. "What bothers me, Dr. Klein, is that the duel is coming up, and Lord Nor seem completely unconcerned... Well, one reason may be that he has the missing kryptonite." Suddenly Ching is sent flying across the living room into a lamp, smashing it beneath him. "Oh boys, excuse me, that's... my grandmother's lamp!"

The 'boys' smile apologetically as Clark helps Ching to his feet.

"Sorry, Lois, I meant to move that," Zara says. "By the way, we're out of high-fat, high-salt, nutritionally worthless snack items."

"I nearly cleaned out the store!" Lois says in amazement.

"I know, we're all nervous, and since we don't have to worry about calories or cholesterol..."

"Trust me, I know all about it," Lois interrupts with a smile. She sees the direction the mock-duel has taken across the room and cries out in alarm, "Oh boys, not the fish tank, not the... fish tank!" To her relief, they manage to avoid destroying it. Reminded that she's still on the phone, she says, "Oh yes, I'm sorry, Dr. Klein... Well, don't you agree that Nor could have been able to pull off the robbery without any signs of forced entry?"

"You're a very quick study," Ching tells Clark admiringly. "Nor has been training with the Drei since childhood, but you've already mastered its finer points, as well as the 980 basic moves." Then Clark manages to knock Ching's weapon away, and Ching smiles at him. "And you've won three out of four matches."

"That's good, isn't it?"

"Yes, but I could still beat you," Ching tells him.

"Are you sure?" Clark asks with a smile, still pointing the business end of his weapon at the unarmed Ching.

"Yes," Ching says quite seriously.

Lois ducks under the Drei, phone tucked against her ear, as she goes to sweep up the broken lamp pieces. "Well, if not Nor, who else had access to the vault?" She remembers something, and calls, "Zara? Stir the fudge and turn off the popcorn!"

Zara looks at the range. "Which is which?" she calls back.

"Finally, someone worse in the kitchen than me," Lois mutters.

"You can beat me, huh?" Clark says. "Go ahead." Using his foot, he flips Ching's weapon back to him.

Ching begins to spin it, slowly at first but quickly gathering momentum until he's moving at super speeds in a blur, and suddenly a yellow glow forms and shoots Clark in the chest with Ching aims at him. Clark is sent sailing through the window.

Lois gasps. "Gotta go," she tells Dr. Klein as she hangs up.

With a whoosh, Clark is back in the living room. "What the heck was that?"

"There's a mind-set crucial to all Drei masters, a point in the match when the man becomes the weapon. All else vanishes. No doubts, no heart, no mercy, just the kill," Ching tells him.

"You've not shown us that," Zara says.

"And I won't!" Clark tells her, looking rather horrified. "Because that's not me!"

"Yes it is, Clark. It's part of the Kryptonian will that lies within you," Ching tells him.

"I've never believed in killing. I've closed my mind to Kryptonian instincts like that."

"Then I doubt you will survive the duel," Ching says gravely.

* * *

At noon the following day, Lord Nor awaits Clark on the city street. Lois and Perry and Jimmy, amongst others, line the windows of the Daily Planet overhead to witness the battle. Clark gracefully swoops down, wearing his Superman costume again, a dramatic figure in red and blue.

"A change in uniform, Kal-El?" Nor asks. "In whose name are you fighting?"

"I'm fighting for my people," Clark says proudly. He X-rays some of the nearby buildings quickly.

"Don't you trust me? I assure you we're quite alone." Nor flings a Dray weapon at Clark and almost before it is caught he is following it with a forceful strike. The battle is on. In no time Nor has sent a blast of yellow force into Clark's chest, sending him backwards to the pavement. "Did I mention, I'm quite good at this," Nor boasts.

* * *

On the mothership, Zara is given a message. "Nor's men are safely in their barracks," she reports to Trey and Ching thankfully. However, Jen-Mai is nearby with a twistedly satisfied look on his face.

* * *

"Dr. Klein, what is it?" Lois asks urgently into the phone. "Of course you can trust me!... Even if it is a rumor, if you have information about who else had access to that kryptonite you have to tell me now!" she insists, as Colonel Cash, overhearing her, moves away carefully. "What did you say?" she asks after a pause, sounding as though she can hardly believe what she's hearing.

Jimmy and Perry, watching the fight below from the window, wince. "The guy just sucker-punched Superman!" Jimmy says.

* * *

The battle is raging fast and furious. Lord Nor is holding nothing back, relentlessly determined to destroy Clark, who is defending himself valiantly.

* * *

Colonel Cash has gone into a deserted room in the Planet and taken out his cell phone. "This is codename 'ready money'. It's a go-ahead on deployment of lethal gas in three minutes."

Lois enters in time to hear that last bit. "Lethal gas?"

"Yes, we're just covering our bets in case Superman can't beat this Nor guy in combat," Cash says, trying to sound casual.

"Ordinary gas wouldn't be lethal to Kryptonians, would it, Colonel... unless it was laced with kryptonite." Cash begins to leave the room. "The missing kryptonite's been in your hands the whole time!"

"I know tactics! Now if we take Nor down, his followers will cave. We just didn't have a way of getting to him."

"Not until you had Superman for bait!" Lois accuses.

"Will you excuse me?" the Colonel asks, finished with the conversation.

"Stop the gas!" Lois demands.

"No can do," he says firmly.

"Superman has saved all of our lives, even yours, thousands of times, and you repay him with betrayal?"

"It was a tactical decision," Cash tells her clearly. "Now, you have anything else you wanna say, little lady?"

Lois's face is, for a moment, flooded with rage as she sharply brings her knee up and connects with the Colonel's groin. He goes cross-eyed. "No," she answers in a satisfied voice as she leaves.

* * *

Down on the street, Clark and Nor struggle on, locked in combat, when Lois approaches the alley their fight has taken them into. "Superman! They're going to hit the two of you with kryptonite gas, you've got to get out of here!" she warns.

Clark turns his head to her, and Nor takes advantage of his lack of attention to send him reeling, knocking him down. "Only one of us leaves this place," he growls, moving in on Clark. Lois looks over her shoulder and sees a soldier opening a window nearby. "Your world is mine!"

"You've got to get out of here!" Lois repeats urgently.

Nor concentrates his force into a deadly blow, but Clark, reminded of what's at stake in this battle, finds the strength to stop the blow. To Nor's surprise, Clark manages to fling the weapon away from him. Clark quickly gets to his feet and lands some powerful punches.

Clark picks up his own Drei, looking at Nor with such burning intensity, and it's as though he's filled with a determination that can't be denied. Fighting for the planet he calls home, the freedom of a people he now knows are his, and the future he hopes to have with the woman he loves, there's no stopping him.

He begins to whirl the Drei, focusing all his force into it, and the 'S' on his costume begins to glow, until a bright beam is sent through the Drei as he slams it into Lord Nor, sending him flying.

Immediately Clark throws the weapon down and takes a few steps back, horrified by what he's done, alarmed that he might have killed Nor. However, Nor is still alive.

"You did it," Lois says quietly, stunned. "No doubts, no mercy, just the kill."

Clark just breathes heavily, relieved that Nor is alive.

"Clark, the gas, come on," Lois urges him.

"No, I can't leave him here, he's still alive." Clark gets Nor over his shoulders, but when he turns back he discovers that Jen-Mai has landed beside Lois, holding her prisoner. Ran and Drull also land in the alley.

"Nor had no intention of facing you alone," Lois says.

The two goons together aim their heat vision at Clark, burning into him and forcing him back. And just then the kryptonite gas is sent into their midst.

* * *

Jimmy races towards the green-smoke-filled alley, and Lois stumbles out towards him, coughing. The military take up positions with their weapons, and as the gas begins to dissipate, they see Jen-Mai and the bald Kryptonian, Ran, first, both lying motionless on the pavement. Further in, Drull and Lord Nor lie partially over Clark's body. Lois runs into the alley, Jimmy a step behind her.

Jimmy pulls Drull away as Lois pushes at Lord Nor's body. "They didn't make it," Jimmy tells her when he discovers that Drull is dead.

"He's not dead, he's not dead," Lois murmurs with desperate urgency as she pushes at Nor, "you're not dead!" Jimmy helps her get Nor off so she can turn Clark over. She cradles him in her arms, unable at first to tell whether he's alive or not, until she brings her face closer to his and feels and hears his uneven breathing. "You're alive!" she whispers in relief. She glances up at Jimmy and continues to sit there, cradling his head.

* * *

Later, Clark is recovering on the bridal bed in the palace. Lois brings him a drink. "Here you go," she says, handing it to him and curling up beside him.

"Thank you, honey," he murmurs, looking very weak and tired. "So Nor and Ran saved my life?"

"Well, they saved your life by absorbing most of the gas with their bodies, after first knocking you senseless," Lois clarifies.

Clark chuckles slightly. "I keep telling you, there's some good in everyone," he teases.

Lois laughs. "What about Colonel Cash? He's in jail, by the way."

Ching and Zara are watching, both smiling. Then Trey comes in. "Kal-El? This will require your signature."

Clark moves slowly to the end of the bed, stands, and takes the scroll and pen Trey is holding out. "What is it?"

"Orders for my arrest," Trey tells him. Clark is about to protest, but he continues. "Now before you say more, let me assure you I accept full responsibility for the gravity of my acts. The ease with which Lord Nor appealed to my arrogance, my fear, my... mistrust of you... was shameful. Shameful! Further, I accept with humility whatever punishment you and the new Tribunal deem proper."

Clark lifts the pen. "And who will advise Lady Zara while you're in prison?" he asks. "She'll need the steady hand of a statesman to keep the factions in line."

"Well isn't that what you'll..." Trey halts. "I mean, aren't you...?" He makes little head-nodding gestures in Zara's direction.

Clark hands the scroll and pen back. "Trey, the more that I try to be Kal-El, the more I know that I am Clark. Zara will do what she's been prepare for since birth, rule wisely over New Krypton. Her place is there, with the man that she loves." He smiles at Zara and Ching. "Mine is here, on Earth..." He goes to stand beside Lois. "...With Lois."

Zara approaches him. "Good-bye, Clark. We are grateful beyond words." She gives him a hug, her eyes bright with unshed tears. When she draws back she gives him a smile. "I said once that you had been on this sloppy planet too long, and now I think it's true of me. For the first time in my life I have tears."

Clark smiles warmly at her, seeming pleased that her time on Earth has affected her, that she will take something special from this place back with her. Then he turns with Lois and they walk out of the bridal chamber together.

* * *

That evening the two of them are out on Lois's fire escape, watching the bright light of the mother ship as it leaves Earth. "It seems like years ago we stood at this window and said good-bye to each other," Lois muses, stroking his arm.

"That was the worst night of my life," Clark tells her.

She moves to sit on his lap. "Did any part of meeting up with your roots feel good? I mean, was it satisfying in any way, or was it a disappointment to you?"

"Maybe all of those," Clark says after a moment. "I kept waiting for this incredible feeling of connection, you know, like I was exactly where I belonged... but that's only happened to me once in my life."


"The day I met you," he says softly.

Lois smiles at him, getting teary-eyed. "For a spaceman you are the most romantic person I've ever known. Earth guys don't stand a chance against you." She touches his face gently, and kisses him.

After a moment Clark pulls away from the kiss. He pulls out the necklace he wears, with Lois's wedding ring still dangling from it. "I told you I'd keep it safe."

"As safe as your love for me," she remembers with a smile.

Clark moves Lois around to sit on the ascending stairs and kneels, so that they are level with each other. "Marry me, Lois, Let's not plan, let's not wait! Let's not let clone-makers --" She begins to laugh softly. " -- or psychotic psychiatrists, or women who shrink people into little people keep us apart. Just marry me," he pleads again softly, earnestly.

Lois smiles through her tears as she looks at him lovingly. "You know, that's precisely what I was thinking." She wraps her arms around him and they kiss... and kiss... and kiss...


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