By Joel Schuldt <email@example.com>
Submitted: June 2004
Summary: In part nine of the author's "Saga Series," Lois and Clark find themselves in an alternate dimension controlled by vampires.
> < Indicates thoughts
ALL CAPITALS- indicates stronger emphasis on word
All standard disclaimers apply. All characters in this story (except those of my own creation) are the properties of Mrs. Siegel, DC Comics, Warner Bros. and December 3rd Productions Ltd, Robert K. Weiss, and Tracy Torme; no infringements of any property rights are intended by their use.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is my attempt at merging two of my favorite shows- "Lois and Clark", and "Sliders". Some poetic license has been taken with regards to the "Sliders" aspects of the stories (technology, etc.) in order for it to mesh better with the story line.
This is the latest installment of my Saga series, all of which started in "Endings and Beginnings," then continued in "Storm Warnings," "Evil Resurgent," "Resolutions," "Sins of the Past," "Destiny," "Avatars," and "Twilight of Youth."
NOTE: With the sole exception of the Epilogue, the Alt-Lex and Alt-Kal/Alt-Clark that appear in this particular installment are NOT the same characters that have appeared in previous installments of the Saga.
As always, my thanks to Tricia for her editing skills and suggestions! And another thanks to everyone who has e- mailed me with their thoughts on the past fanfics! Thanks for your input!
I hope you enjoy.
And a special thanks to Bram Stoker for creating one of the most intriguing and enduring characters in literature today.
I welcome any comments or questions.
Through the inky blackness, a mournful wind howled through the trees in the park, sending their branches dancing. Without warning a brilliant, swirling light burst into being, accompanied by a thunderous roar. Tiny tendrils of lightning crawled across the maelstrom, adding their light to the spectacle.
Stepping out of the whirling vortex, dead autumn leaves swirling around her ankles, Lois cast a cautious eye around before turning to her companion.
"See, Clark?" Folding her arms across her chest, Lois's expression turned triumphant. "I TOLD you that you'd entered the wrong coordinates."
"I did NOT," Clark insisted, peering closely at the portal device's display screen. "I entered our Earth's coordinates, but -" Clark's voice abruptly died off, ending in a soft 'harumph' sound.
As her husband's voice trailed off, Lois turned to fully face him. "What is it?"
"The five-button," Clark grumbled. "It stuck when I pressed it." Lifting his eyes from scrutinizing the device, his eyebrows dipped in momentary concern. "And now it doesn't work."
"'Doesn't work?'" Stepping closer, Lois's voice rose fractionally as her eyes widened in alarm. "'Doesn't work?' Clark, that phrase is NEVER a good thing when it's used in reference to a mechanical device that NEEDS to work. ESPECIALLY when you might just be stranded in an alternate reality because of it not working."
Tucking the device into the pocket of his denim jacket, Clark gently took Lois into his arms. "Honey, it's no problem. Really," he added, seeing the doubt flare anew in her eyes. "All I need to do is find an electronics store."
"Like Radio Shack?" Lois suggested.
Clark nodded. "All that's wrong with the portal device is that one of the electronic contacts needs to be repaired. A few simple tools, a little time, and we'll be -"
With a blood-curdling snarl, the creature tackled Clark from behind, the force of its attack knocking Lois from his arms as it sent the hero sprawling to the ground. Landing atop of Clark, the creature wrapped pale, deathly-cold hands around his shoulders and began drawing him near with inhuman strength.
Thrusting his arm between them, with his forearm across the thing's neck, Clark's eyes shot open in surprise as his opponent's jaws opened wide- far wider than humanly possible- to reveal twin, gleaming fangs. Despite his best efforts, Clark could feel himself slowly being drawn inexorably closer to the gaping maw.
The pressure suddenly vanished from atop Clark as Lois, with a tremendous 'thud,' kicked the creature squarely in the side of its ribs, throwing it a fair distance away.
Springing back to its feet, the thing was about to renew its assault when twin beams of ruby heat struck it in the shoulder. Screeching in agony, casting a baleful glare over its shoulder, the creature vanished into the darkness.
Picking himself up off the ground, Clark dusted himself off as he tried to understand what had just happened.
Slowly walking up behind Clark, Lois glanced over his shoulder at the retreating creature. "Tell me that WASN'T what I think it was."
His own eyes following the creature's retreat, Clark shook his head in disbelief. "Unless I'm mistaken, Lois, I'd have to say that… THING that attacked us was exactly what it looked like."
"A… vampire?" Lois's whispered question sounded as though she hoped Clark would correct her.
Clark nodded faintly. "A vampire."
"Oh boy," Lois sighed worriedly.
As they walked down the center of the deserted city streets, both Clark and Lois continuously scanned their surroundings, their nerves on edge. Though they saw nothing, their ears picked up the unmistakable sounds of claws- or fingernails- scratching on stone surfaces in the shadows. The wind howled its morose tone as it whipped through the concrete canyons, kicking up loose papers and dirt as it went. Far in the distance, a dog began barking.
"LOVELY place," Lois commented dryly. "We should come here more often."
"Oh, I don't know," Clark quipped, trying to keep the mood light. "A few coats of paint, some flowers, a few pictures. Spruce the place right up."
In spite of his light tone, Lois could feel the tension underlying his words.
"We're being followed," Lois said with no uncertainty.
Clark nodded, sweeping his x-ray vision across the surrounding buildings. "Yeah, I know. But I can't see anything, though. There ARE people inside the buildings, however."
"It's nine o'clock at night, and the streets are completely deserted. No taxis, cars… nothing." Lois suppressed a shudder.
"I know," Clark agreed. "They're all inside their homes, huddled in interior rooms, holding crucifixes and stakes." His eyes narrowed with concentration. "As for whatever's following us… I can just catch glimpses of movement, but nothing more. Creepy."
"But look at how many of the homes are deserted. Where are the people? We need to find out what's going on here," Lois said, forcibly driving away her own misgivings. "We need information."
Clark nodded. "Library or the Planet?"
"Both," Lois answered firmly. "But the library first. It's closest."
Fifteen tense minutes later, the pair found themselves in front of the city library. Gazing up the long flight of concrete stairs, her eyes roving over the darkened, cracked windows and decorative gargoyle statues atop the roof, Lois shook her head fractionally.
"What is it?" Clark asked.
"This just reminds me of the question everyone asks themselves at some point during a horror movie," Lois answered. Seeing Clark's confused expression, Lois smiled weakly. "Why are those stupid kids going into that spooky house?"
His own eyes ranging over the building, Clark nodded. "'Spooky' is right. Look at this place," he said. "From the looks of it, no-one's been here in a LONG time."
Taking a deep breath, Lois began ascending the stairs. "Good. Then we won't be disturbed."
Cautiously, the pair entered the abandoned structure, their every nerve on alert. Pointing down a hallway, Lois met Clark's gaze.
"You check the papers' archive. I've got an idea of where I want to check first."
Clark's eyebrows rose slightly. "And this doesn't bring to mind the second question everyone asks themselves during a horror movie?"
Lois, her attention directed on their surroundings, grunted in reply.
Leaning close to her ear, Clark's voice dropped to a whisper.
"Why are those stupid kids splitting up to search the spooky old house?"
An image flashed unbidden through Lois's mind: slavering jaws opened impossibly wide, needle-sharp teeth, crimson eyes, pale flesh.
"Good point," Lois added. "Papers' archive?"
Clark shook his head. "No. Let's start where YOU were wanting to look." Seeing her expression, Clark shrugged with a smile. "I learned a long time ago to trust your instincts."
Answering his smile with a quick kiss, Lois headed into the darkness. "C'mon."
"Would you mind telling me what it is exactly we're looking for?" Glancing over the isle of history books, Clark spread his hands helplessly. "I mean you wanted to search through this Earth's history. Well, that's a WHOLE lot of books, Honey."
Scanning her eyes over yet another shelf of dusty books, Lois fairly squealed with joy as she caught sight of a particularly thick book. Grabbing it off the shelf, she turned to Clark, moving past him as she marched to a nearby table. "This!"
"What is THAT?" Clark asked, gesturing to the massive book cradled in her arms.
With a loud thump, Lois set the massive tome down on the table. "Information."
Glancing down at the title, Clark's eyes widened in faint disbelief. "'History of the Vampyr,' by Abraham Van Helsing." Clark glanced up at his wife. "You've GOT to be kidding." Casting another glance at the windows, Clark shook his head. "What kind of a world IS this?"
Ignoring his disbelief, Lois ran her hand over the cover. With a creaking of old leather, Lois opened the book. After several seconds of speed-reading through the pages, she nodded her head slightly.
"According to this, Clark," Lois whispered, tapping the open history book in front of her. "The story of Dracula was based on an ACTUAL person."
"Right, it WAS. He was known as Vlad Tepes."
"No, Clark. I mean YES, it was based on Vlad Tepes. But on THIS world, Vlad eventually became an ACTUAL vampire." Meeting her husband's eyes, Lois's own widened slightly. "Count Dracula."
"You're joking, right?"
"I wish I was." Turning back to the book, Lois skimmed through the pages of the thick volume. "On THIS Earth, apparently, vampires are REAL, dating back centuries, even millennia. The first recorded incident dates back to ancient Egypt." Motioning to an illustration in the book, Lois shook her head in disbelief. "It's all here, Clark. Right down to detailed accounts of the Van Helsing family's recent war against Count Dracula and his kind."
"His kind?" Clark asked. "You mean there's more than one?" Warily eyeing the doorway on the far side of the room, Clark risked a glance back to his wife.
"'At one time, Dracula and his spawn were legion,'" she murmured, quoting from the book. "'Great battles were waged against the forces of darkness, and the armies of Light triumphed only just. Though a true victory was never achieved, the vampyric forces were maneuvered into an uneasy truce.'" Flipping through several more pages, Lois grunted in disappointment. "They don't mention how many vampires are left. Only scattered reports and sketchy eyewitness accounts." Closing the massive book, Lois tucked it under her arm as she stood. "All right, let's go to the newspaper archives."
"WAIT a minute!" Clark motioned to the book. "What are you doing? We can't just TAKE that."
"Oh, don't be such a spoilsport," she chided. "Look at it as… creative borrowing."
"Besides, Clark," Lois continued, not missing a beat. "Look at the amount of dust over everything here, not to mention all the cobwebs. This place hasn't been used in MONTHS. Maybe even longer. No one is going to miss this ONE book."
"Clark," Lois patiently explained. "We NEED information. These history books are our best bet. And THIS one," she added, tapping the cover of the massive tome. "This one tops my list." Drawing closer to him, Lois rested a hand on his chest. "I don't exactly feel comfortable doing this either, but I feel even WORSE about walking into a situation blind. We're up against creatures that don't even exist in OUR world." Puzzlement danced in her eyes as Clark gave a low chuckle. "What's so funny?"
"Just remembering the Lois that used to epitomize the expression 'going where angels feared to tread'."
Lois giggled. "Yeah, well that Lois has been replaced by one who has seen WAY too many horror movies in her time."
Clark's expression sobered as he sighed. "All right. We'll take the book. BUT," he added, seeing her triumphant expression. "We're bringing it back at the first chance."
ELSEWHERE IN THE CITY
Shuffling down the long hallway, its pale hand absently rubbing its injured side, the vampire neared the massive, opened door at the far end. Barely pausing, it scurried into the dimly lit room. Once inside, however, the vampire slowed its pace. In the center of the room, swathed in shadows, an ornately carved stone chair sat atop a small dais. The creature warily approached the throne, its reverent eyes never leaving the figure seated upon it.
"Strangers have entered the realm, Sire," the vampire said. "Two of them. In the park. A man and a woman. They stepped out of a whirlpool of light. I tried to bring them to you, but…" Glancing down in shame, the vampire fell silent.
"What happened?" Though the words were pleasant enough, there was no mistaking the command that lay beneath them.
"She burned me, Master," the vampire hissed. "With fire from her eyes, she hurt me!"
"Fire from her eyes?" Leaning forward slightly, the shadowed figure's eyes glittered a sullen red. "You are certain of this?"
"Your rash attack demonstrates your overconfidence," the creature's master rumbled. "It has been so long since we've encountered any resistance, we've allowed ourselves to become complacent in our hunts." For several long moments, the man brooded silently. Finally, he nodded. "Spread the word. I want these strangers found and brought to me. UNHARMED," he added, seeing the hungry expression creep across the vampire's face.
Bowing, the creature scuttled out of the room to do his master's bidding.
Sitting on his throne, shrouded in shadows, the man smiled coldly. "Strangers from a whirlpool of light? Excellent."
"THIS is the Daily Planet?"
Standing beside his wife, his eyes taking in the scene before him, Clark slowly felt the brief glimmer of hope begin to fade inside him.
Stretching into the night sky, its darkened windows like mocking eyes, the gray monolithic Planet building towered over them. Not a single light burned in any of its windows, and the only sound that came from the edifice was the sound of the wind through its deserted halls.
"Nothing," Lois whispered, her own eyes peering deeply into the structure. "The desks are empty, no pictures on the walls… nothing."
Clark turned away from the building, glancing over the city once more. "What is going ON here?" Clark growled in frustration.
"What do you mean?" Lois replied, her eyes still roving over the building's interior.
"We've been here for HOURS," Clark continued. "But have you seen ANY sign of this world's version of me? Any sign at all?" Running a hand through his hair, Clark snorted helplessly. "It's just…"
"I know why we haven't heard or seen anything about the Superman of this world."
Turning back to his wife, Clark's eyes shot open as he witnessed her calmly exiting the front entrance of the Planet, a newspaper clutched in her hand.
Strolling over to her husband, Lois held up the paper for him to see.
On its front page, the headline blared: 'WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TEEN OF STEEL?'
"It's dated eight months ago," Lois said, desperately trying to keep her voice calm.
"Eight… months," Clark repeated, trying to bring some sense to everything. Catching sight of the byline, Clark grunted lightly. "The article was written by this world's Lois-"
"Shh," Lois cautioned, placing a finger over his lips. Her brow knit in concentration as she canted her head to the side. "Do you hear it?"
After a moment, Clark nodded. "Yeah. It sounds like… wind moving over a flying body." Straightening up, Clark pointed down the street. "It's coming from that way."
Clark shook his head cautiously. "No, I don't think it is."
"K-Kal?" A soft, female voice asked from above.
Looking in the direction of the voice, Clark only saw a raven-haired blur before being tackled by the smaller figure.
"YOU'RE ALIVE! YOU'RE ALIVE!" Repeating the words like a mantra, the woman wrapped her arms around Clark's neck in a fierce hug as she both sobbed and laughed into Clark's shoulder.
"Ummm, Miss?" Clark's face crimsoned as he gently tried to pull the woman's arms from around his neck, then his eyes widened in shock as she resisted with surprising strength.
"Ex-CUSE me?" Lois snapped harshly, her hands planted on her hips. As the smaller female finally turned her head to face Lois, the reporter lifted her eyebrows expectantly. "Would you mind letting go of my husband?"
Wet, red-rimmed eyes stared at Lois from beneath a disheveled mop of black tresses. "H-Husband?" As she said the word, the smaller woman's eyes widened as she continued to stare at Lois, pulling slightly away from Clark yet keeping her arms locked in their death-grip around him. "You're… Lois, right?"
"What do you mean? How can Kal be your husband? He isn't old enough to get married." Looking back at Clark, the young woman's eyes shot open as she finally got a good look. "Great Rao, Kal! What happened to you? How'd you get so old?"
Clark smiled gently. "Umm, I think you might have me confused with someone else, Miss."
The young woman stared intently at Clark, her volcanic-blue eyes narrowing faintly. "Yeah," she finally said with a nod. "Yeah, I think I did." With a sad little smile, the woman released her hold on Clark and slid down to stand on the ground.
Walking over to the younger woman, Lois's own eyes softened. "What's your name, Honey?"
"Kara," she replied. "My name is Kara-El."
"While I would love to find out more about this world," Clark interrupted hastily. "I really think we'd be better off moving this conversation inside." Seeing his wife's puzzled expression, Clark tapped his ear. "Vampires not too far away. Even though there's three of us, I'd rather not tempt fate." With the final word, holding his wife's gaze, Clark glanced meaningfully down at Kara before returning his eyes to Lois.
Lois nodded in agreement to Clark's unspoken concern. Forcing a smile onto her face, Lois ushered the younger woman into the building, Clark following closely behind.
Once the trio had moved into the abandoned Planet building, making their way to Perry White's office, Clark finally relaxed somewhat. Lois returned from the cafeteria area with an armload of soda cans, dumping them onto the desk.
"No food left worth eating in the caf‚," Lois apologized. "But there were still plenty of drinks. A little touch of super-breath and voila!" With a flourish, she presented the frost-rimmed cans.
"Thanks, Mrs. Kent," Kara said, picking up a cola.
"Lois," she gently corrected. Seeing Kara's puzzled expression, Lois shrugged. "You're Kal-El's sister, right? Or the sister of a Kal-El, anyway. Then that makes us family."
Kara smiled gratefully.
"Speaking of that, tell me a little bit about Kal-El. YOUR Kal-El," Clark added. "What happened to him?"
"There's nothing really to be said." Toying with the laces of her boots, Kara's expression grew distant as she took a sip of her drink. "Just before Krypton exploded, Mom and Dad bundled the two of us into the rocket and sent it away. We landed in Smallville and were found by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who raised us as their own." Her voice lowered into a saddened whisper. "At least, until they died."
Clark's face grew pale. "Died?"
Kara nodded, her own eyes echoing Clark's sorrow.
"What happened to them?"
At Clark's question, the Kryptonian woman's eyes blazed in hatred. "Vampires," Kara spat vehemently.
Clark placed a consoling hand on Kara's shoulder.
"After Mr. And Mrs. Kent died, Kal and I went on the run. Once the vampires came out of hiding, they began to spread across the globe like wildfire. We've been fighting them the best we can, but humanity has been on the ropes ever since," Kara finished, her head lowering.
"What happened then?"
"We've been trying to step up our actions lately, actively fighting them rather than just simply defending ourselves," Kara explained. "Kal- MY Kal- did what he could, forming us into small resistance groups, scattering us across the globe on every continent, establishing lines of communication. Mom always said that 'his uniform was perfect for embodying an ideal for people to aspire to.' And she was right; he became a symbol for everyone to follow." Shrugging, the woman ran a hand through her raven- black tresses. "He's gotten the last remaining survivors of humanity organized into a well-coordinated army. It's a SMALL army, though."
Clark smiled. "Pretty impressive for someone only in their middle teens."
"He's sixteen," Kara snapped peevishly. "He may not be a grownup, but Dad had the ship sleep-teach him on the way here with everything he'd need to know to help us live!"
"I'm not criticizing, Kara," Clark countered gently. "I'm VERY impressed with what he's managed to do here."
"Oh," Kara said, her face reddening slightly. "Thanks."
"Kara?" Lois leaned in closer, gently touching the young woman's arm, drawing her attention. "What happened to him? To the Superman of this world?"
"SuperBOY," Kara corrected. "He was taken. Kidnapped." Looking over to where Clark sat, Kara frowned at the unpleasant memory. "Dracula took him."
"How'd he manage that?"
Kara's eyes grew troubled. "Dracula used… someone… to draw Kal into a trap, and they overpowered him."
"Kara," Lois interjected, getting the younger woman's attention. "Something's been nagging at me. You said that Kal had formed the last of humanity's survivors into resistance groups, right?" At Kara's nod, Lois's lips drew into a frown. "Clark and I noticed quite a few people barricaded inside their homes as we crossed the city tonight. Who're they?"
A faintly horrified expression stole across Kara's face as she tried to remain calm. "Food."
"We can't let this go on," Clark muttered, staring at the far wall in thought.
"What'd you say, Kal?" Kara asked.
"I said we couldn't let this continue," Clark repeated.
"I don't know, Clark," Lois cautioned. "We're talking about taking on almost an entire planet of vampires. You saw how strong ONE of them was. What do we do about three or four of them at the same time? Or a dozen? Or more?"
"Not a WHOLE planet," Kara corrected. "Metropolis is the only city that's been completely overrun. Yeah, there're vampires elsewhere as well, but this is the only place where they've concentrated their numbers. Whether it's because of Dracula or whatever, they've decided that Metropolis is going to be their capital."
"So, if we can free Metropolis, then the rest of the world hopefully might not be much of a problem. What do the vampires have for weaknesses, Kara?" Clark inquired.
"Holy water, crosses, wooden stakes through the heart, sunlight, fire, beheading," Kara listed, counting off fingers as she spoke.
"In other words, pretty much what we've seen in the movies," Clark gently interrupted.
"Right," Kara finished.
"That's great," Lois agreed. "But it still doesn't change the numbers advantage they have."
"But it DOES help us a little," Clark countered. Seeing Lois about to object, Clark held up his hand, cutting her off. "The vampire in the graveyard caught me off-guard, Lois. With our super-speed, they shouldn't pose much of a problem, don't you think? We can stake them and be gone before they've even noticed us."
"Kill them?" Lois asked.
"They're already dead, Lois," Clark replied. "And if we don't do something soon, eventually Dracula might get the idea to make this world's Kal-El a vampire as well." Clark shook his head. "And then we- not to mention the world- be in a WHOLE lot of trouble."
"And I agree that it'd be terrible for that to happen," Lois continued. "But-"
"Lord Kal-El," Clark said, cutting off Lois's objection.
"What about him?"
"He's investigating alternate Earths. If he comes here looking for this world's Kal-El, and Dracula gets a hold of a timer…?"
Lois's hand lifted to her mouth in shock. "Then he might be able to spread across hundreds of dimensions." After several seconds of thought, Lois cautiously nodded her head. "All right, Clark. You've convinced me."
Glancing back and forth between the two adults, Kara slowly raised her hand.
Fighting to suppress a sudden smile, Clark nodded at the young woman. "Yes, Kara?"
"I hope SOMEONE is going to let me know who this 'Lord Kal- El' person is, and why you're so afraid of him?" the girl huffed impatiently.
As the trio glided slowly over the city, though her eyes never slowed in their inspection of their surroundings, Kara continued to instruct Clark and Lois on what to expect.
"Your average, everyday vampire can't do most of what you've seen in the movies," the young girl stated. "Turning to mist, shape-shifting into wolves or bats… those types of things are only able to be done by older vampires. VERY old vampires, actually."
As the young girl continued her narrative, Clark occasionally nodded, his attention returning periodically to the sky above.
"What's on your mind, Clark?" Lois asked.
"Kara?" As she turned to face him, Clark motioned to the sky above. "There's no cloud cover." Seeing her puzzled expression, Clark shrugged expansively. "Why doesn't anyone hunt the vampires down in the daytime? With no cloud cover, plenty of sunshine… they'd be sitting ducks."
"Dracula thought of that, and made contingency plans," Kara explained. "When he first arrived in Metropolis in secret, one of the first things he did was the construction of a vast maze of underground tunnels and catacombs."
"How'd he manage that?"
"Some of his… helpers established a construction company," Kara said. "Over time, they acquired numerous city contracts; refurbishing the old sewer system, the new aqueduct tunnels, renovating the old bomb shelters… that sort of stuff."
"And they used these opportunities to tie them all together into one giant underground stronghold?" Clark finished.
Kara nodded. "During the day, most of the vampires go into the tunnels to sleep. Some stay awake inside near the entrances to keep watch. In the beginning, the National Guard tried to burn them all out with napalm." Falling silent, Kara glanced away.
"What happened?" Lois asked.
"Dracula has them," Kara replied softly. "Their weapons as well. They work for HIM now."
"And since then?"
Kara shook her head. "Since then, no-one has gone anywhere near the catacombs. We just concentrate on staying alive."
Forcing a cheerful smile onto her face, Lois glanced around. "So, Kara, where are we headed for?"
Drawing to a halt in the air, with a grand sweep of her arm, Kara motioned to a tall tower in the distance. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the NEW Castle Dracula."
"LexCorp," Clark breathed, nearly sounding like a curse. "Why is it that we can't ever seem to get away from Lex Luthor?"
Kara frowned in puzzlement at Clark. "Now what?"
Glancing upwards, Clark shrugged. "We wait for daylight. But first, we need to get some supplies."
Inside the shadowy interior of the castle, Dracula broke off in mid-sentence, his posture stiffening as his eyes darted to look at the far wall of the chamber.
Gathered around him, his undead minions waited patiently for their Master to speak.
Canting his head back, eyes narrowed to slits, the Lord of the Vampires sniffed the air like a predator catching wind of its prey. Grinning wolfishly, he nodded to his minions.
Several hours later, the three heroes hovered high above the street, staring intently at the imposing monolith before them.
"So, what's the plan?"
Turning to face his wife, Clark scratched his chin in thought. "We'll take this in a three-pronged attack. Kara, you head down to ground level and start a commotion. Draw as many of them to you as you can. Lois, I need you to enter the tower at mid-level and start working outwards from there in your search for Kara's brother."
"And you?" Lois asked.
Jerking his thumb upwards, Clark smiled grimly. "I'm headed to the top."
Quickly kissing Clark on the lips, Lois drifted away, preparing for her mission.
"How am I supposed to get them to come to me?" Kara asked. "It's daytime."
"With this," Clark answered, handing the young woman several large plastic bags. Inside them, a red liquid gurgled and sloshed.
"Blood," Kara whispered.
Clark nodded. "When you get down there, knock the front doors open and scatter the blood around inside the lobby area. Now, they've blacked out the glass panes down there, so they'll probably be fairly aggressive as they approach." Meeting Kara's gaze, Clark gently placed a hand on her shoulder. "Once enough of them have been lured into the lobby, clap your hands together REALLY hard. That'll create a shockwave strong enough to shatter all the glass in there, including the skylight."
"And then the sunlight does the rest," Kara finished, a smile on her face.
"Exactly," Clark agreed. "Use your heat vision to weld the interior door shut and prevent them from getting back into the building. If it doesn't look like it's going to work, Kara, I want you to get out of there. Don't try and take them all on by yourself. Understand?"
Kara nodded. "Won't they think it's a trap, though?"
"Maybe," Clark conceded. "But remember- these vampires are little more than animals, and animals are ruled by their instincts." Smiling faintly, Clark shrugged. "And one of the MOST powerful instincts is hunger. Put enough food in the trap, and even the most cautious tiger can be caught."
Nodding once more, Kara began to descend towards the street below.
Taking a deep breath to ready himself, Clark turned to face the penthouse area of the tower.
"Ready or not, here I come," he muttered.
Inside the penthouse, Dracula chuckled. "He's coming." Facing his lackeys, the ancient vampire nodded. "The girl is heading towards the front doors. Arrange a suitable reception for her." As they scurried off to do their master's bidding, Dracula cracked his knuckles in anticipation.
"Their leader is mine."
Entering the top of the tower had been easy- far easier than Clark liked. Exiting the stairwell and entering the main penthouse floor, he quickly scanned the surroundings before he darted out into the corridor and began to move as fast as he dared to.
Rounding a corner at a dead run, Clark came skidding to a halt as he caught sight of the figure at the end of the hallway.
The man stood a good half a head taller than Clark did, his short, black hair slicked back from his forehead. The leisurely smile he gave Clark originated from behind a closely cropped goatee. Garbed all in black, Clark could feel the weight of the man's gaze, like a physical thing.
"Dracula," Clark whispered.
"At your service," the Count replied, bowing at the waist. A soft smile briefly played across his thin lips. "You were, perhaps, expecting Gary Oldman? Bela Lugosi? Christopher Lee?" A dark chuckle echoed through the hallway. "Mr. Oldman had the accent correct, but I by far preferred Mr. Lee's portrayal of me."
Casually walking down the dimly lit corridor, Dracula's smile returned. His eyes, set deep in his angular face, burned like twin crimson coals.
"You are slipping, Superman," Dracula purred, his accent rolling the words from his mouth. "You should know better than to face me in MY element."
The vampire nodded. "Not ONLY at night, but in my own lair as well." Chuckling darkly, Dracula shook his head in mock sadness as he continued to walk towards Clark. "Can it be that, in the modern day and age of your own world, you have NEVER seen any of the movies concerning my kind?"
"You said 'my own world,' Count," Clark replied. "What makes you think I'm not from here?"
"Do NOT insult my intelligence, Kal-El," the Count growled. "I know that, in spite of your uncanny resemblance to my… GUEST, shall we say? I know that you hail from an entirely different reality than this."
"And you come by this knowledge HOW exactly?"
Dracula continued to smile. "My senses are not confined to the paltry ones you mortals possess. Every fiber of your body screams of its alien nature to this realm."
Clark shrugged. "You're right, Dracula. I AM from somewhere else. And actually," Clark corrected. "I HAVE seen some of the movies. That's far enough, Count," Clark stated, pulling the cross out from behind his back and holding it before him.
Of all the reactions Clark was expecting, the one he received wasn't the one he was hoping for:
And kept walking.
"Oh, child," the vampire Lord chided. "You DO amuse me." Spreading his hands, Dracula's smile turned into a sneer.
"You mortals are ALL the same: you pull out a cross and expect the vampire to run shrieking into the darkness, cowering like a craven dog. One essential thing you must know about vampires, Superman, is they become more powerful as they grow older. As they grow in power, their tolerance to the various trappings of the self-proclaimed 'vampire hunters' grows as well, as Van Helsing found out much to his dismay." Motioning to the cross Clark held, Dracula chuckled. "For that little trinket to work, you will have to get MUCH closer to me."
With a blur of motion, Clark lunged at the vampire, arm extended. As he was about to place the cross against Dracula's forehead, the Count caught Clark's wrist, stopping him with a lurch.
"Nice try, CHILD," Dracula snarled. "But you'll not find me THAT easy to conquer!"
Tightening his grip, Dracula forced Clark to drop the cross to the floor. Then, with an almost contemptuous flick of his arm, he tossed the surprised Kryptonian against the wall.
"You see, Superman, I studied you- or rather, your younger twin- through the past few years before I was prepared to strike. I've noted your strengths and I've examined your weaknesses." In a heartbeat, Dracula had closed his hand around Clark's neck. "I've found that you are susceptible to magic." Tightening his grip, the Count lifted Clark off his feet, dangling him in the air like a side of beef. "I am the EMBODIMENT of magic, child! Magic of the darkest kind!"
Clark gasped as he fought for breath.
"I've been feeding on your younger twin, now, for quite some time," Dracula purred. "His blood has given me newfound strength! You might say that I've become a 'super' vampire." The vampire's dark laughter was an unpleasant thing.
Looking down, still fighting for breath, Clark did the only thing he could think of.
The blast of heat-vision, while not the most powerful Clark had ever created, struck the Count directly in the face, charring the undead flesh.
A gargling wail of agony filled the hall as Dracula dropped Clark to the floor, his hands flying to his face.
Scrambling to his feet, Clark dove for the cross lying on the floor across the way. Snatching it up, he whirled around to face the Count once again, only to find that the hallway now stood empty.
Several floors below, Lois stealthily entered the tower through a window she'd forced open. Lightly touching down onto the carpeted floor of the hallway, she swiftly relocked the window behind her before slowly creeping further into the building. As she moved deeper into the darkened structure, a soft sound made itself known to her ears. Puzzling at what it might be, Lois peeked around a corner and felt her blood turn to ice.
Hunched over a limp, dangling body, the creature continued to feed on the victim's lifeblood with a grotesque sucking sound.
Desperately attempting to stifle a scream, Lois backed away, colliding with the wall behind her.
The vampire's head jerked up, the lower half of its face glistening red in the dim light, its eyes alight with hunger.
"Hiya, Lois," the thing chuckled in a gurgling voice. Casually dropping the body on which he'd been feeding, the vampire licked his bloody lips in anticipation.
"G-Get away," Lois stammered. "Stay back!"
"Come on, Lois," the vampire chortled. "Don't you have anything else to say to a dear old friend than that?"
The creature's voice struck a chord of recognition in Lois's mind. "Oh my God," Lois whispered in a choked gasp. "Dan Scardino!"
"In the flesh, so to speak," the creature replied, wiping a sleeve across his mouth. "It's good to see you again, babe. You look GOOD." Another wet chuckled echoed through the hall. "Good enough to eat."
Attempting to smile, Lois motioned towards Dan's victim on the floor. "B-But you've already eaten, Dan. And besides, I don't think-"
The rest of Lois's words were cut off by a surprised scream as Scardino's hand shot out, grasping Lois's arm and hurtling her across the hall to collide with the wall.
"That was just an appetizer," Dan rumbled, jerking a thumb at the body he'd recently fed on. "I'm ready for the main course," he finished, his eyes roving suggestively over Lois's body as he drew nearer.
As Dan Scardino lunged for Lois, a dark blur slipped between him and his intended target, deftly plunging a wooden stake into the vampire's heart.
With a soft rush of sound, Scardino crumbled to dust.
Wiping off his hands, Clark frowned. "Damn, he was a vampire."
Lois shot Clark a stunned look. "You mean you didn't know?"
"Just kidding," Clark chuckled. "Just kidding, Lois." Looking back at the pile of dust, Clark smiled.
"You know, I never did like that guy." Nodding to himself, Clark chuckled once more. "Man, I hate to admit it but that felt GOOD."
Standing in the lobby of the building, blood scattered around the vast room like red rain, Kara's brow drew downwards in irritation. In the dark recesses of the room, she could see that nearly all of the building's two-dozen vampires had gathered, but none of them had ventured into the room itself. If she shattered the glass now, they'd be able to retreat to the safety of the building's interior without any trouble.
Mulling over the problem for several minutes, the faint hisses from the vampires barely registering on her, the young woman's eyes widened as she was struck with an idea. Pulling back her sleeve, she ran her thumbnail across the inside of her arm, the sharp edge slicing open her skin. Immediately, bright red blood welled up from the gash, dripping to the floor.
"Soup's on, boys," Kara laughed. "COME AND GET IT!"
The hissing grew louder as the creatures moved in.
Walking briskly back towards the penthouse, Clark hoped that Lois could find his younger self without too much difficulty. As he'd hoped, his x-ray vision had revealed that the majority of the vampires in the building had indeed moved towards the front entrance of the building where Kara waited. As he watched the mass of undead begin to flood into the lobby area, Kara brought her hands together with a thunderous crack that reverberated throughout the tower, allowing the sunlight to flood in through the broken panes of glass. Almost immediately, nearly all the vampires present burst into flame as the light touched their skin.
Clark chuckled. >One problem down. <
Approaching the ornately carved doors, Clark threw them open without hesitation and entered the penthouse. Across the room, Dracula waited, lounging unconcernedly in his throne.
"Superman," Dracula murmured silkily. "You are swiftly becoming a most annoying problem. Ah well," he sighed. "I would like you to meet my lieutenant." Shifting his eyes to the massive door at the far end of the room, Vlad's eyes narrowed slightly.
Turning to face whatever new threat was approaching, Clark's breath caught in his throat as he recognized the approaching man.
Staggering slightly, the disheveled man stumbled towards the throne, his sunken, forlorn eyes never leaving Clark's. The suit the man wore hung limply on his desiccated form, the tattered and dusty fabric reminding Clark of a burial shroud.
"I believe you know him," Dracula sneered. "Superman, meet Lex Luthor."
Clark was speechless in horror as the wasted shadow of his enemy painfully crept up beside his master. Dracula, his own eyes dancing with cruel delight, smiled broadly at the former executive's plight as he neared him.
"Well, Lex," Dracula snickered. "Have you nothing to say?"
"K-Kill me," Alt-Lex pleaded. "Please, kill me."
"Oh, we'll have NONE of that," Dracula scoffed with a smile. "After all, Lex, it is to YOU whom I have to thank for my new domicile."
With a grand sweep of his arm, Dracula laughed boisterously.
"From here, Superman, my army of the undead will sweep across the world. Nations will fall to us, and the human race will become our servants." The vampire Lord's brow dipped slightly, as if an unpleasant thought had occurred to him. "You, however, have outlived any usefulness you might have possessed. I have the one of you already." Glancing over to Alt-Lex, Dracula motioned for him to proceed. "If you would be so kind?"
With an animalistic roar, Alt-Lex lunged at Clark.
Glancing around the room, Kara slowly nodded to herself in satisfaction. A slight breeze wafted into the room, sending faint tendrils of ash into the morning air.
At the far end of the room, the stairwell door burst open as Lois strode into the room, the unconscious figure of young man cradled in her arms.
"Look what I found," Lois cheerfully called.
Meeting the older woman, Kara gently brushed an errant strand of hair back from the young man's forehead, smiling through the tears coursing down her face.
Straining to hold the slavering vampire off, Clark looked into the eyes of Alt-Lex. Hunger and horror warred within the burning orbs; hunger for Clark's blood, and horror at what he'd become.
"Lex," Clark snarled, straining with all his might. "PLEASE! Snap out of it! Get a hold of yourself, man!"
Alt-Lex's only response was to redouble his efforts.
Pushing against his opponent's chest with all his remaining might, Clark heaved Alt-Lex across the room, gaining a momentary breather for himself.
No sooner had the vampire hit the ground than he was scrambling back to his feet, leaping across the breadth of the room in a frightening display of power and hunger.
As the undead creature tackled Clark, the duo fell to the floor in a tumble of arms and legs, each of them fighting for the upper hand. Finally, coming to rest on the far side of the room, Clark managed to pin Alt-Lex to the floor, a wooden stake in his hand poised above the vampire's heart.
"Please, kill me." Alt-Lex's eyes fixed both in sick dread and eager anticipation at the stake Clark held to the vampire's chest. As he met Clark's own eyes once more, his face grew despondent.
"For the love of God," Alt-Lex whispered hoarsely. "Release me from this damnation."
"I-I can't, Lex," Clark replied. "If you're able to fight this curse enough to ask me for death, then there's SOMETHING of you left in there. I CAN'T kill you!"
Alt-Lex's eyes darkened in anger. Shifting his hands down to Clark's shoulders, the former businessman yanked his enemy closer to him with all his might.
Clark's face echoed his own horror as the stake plunged into Alt-Lex's chest, impaling the vampire's heart.
As his body began to crumble, Alt-Lex's twisted visage was transformed into one of tranquil peace.
Outside the building, Lois carefully lowered the younger Kal-El to the ground. As the sunlight poured down onto his upturned face, Alt-Kal's pale skin began to regain a healthier complexion.
With a low groan, he slowly sat upright.
"Take it easy, big brother," Kara cautioned. "You've been out of the sunlight for quite some time."
As the two youths continued their conversation, Lois felt a relieved smile come across her face as she saw Clark exiting the building and join them.
"Nice to see you, Honey," she said, wrapping her arm around his waist.
"Likewise," Clark replied with an answering smile.
Glancing towards the building, Lois frowned. "Dracula?"
"Dracula escaped," Clark said. "While I was fighting Lex, he made a break for it."
"You fought Lex?" Lois's surprise was evident in her voice. "What happened?"
Clark glanced away. "He was a vampire."
"Hey," a young voice said.
Turning as one, Lois and Clark both smiled as Alt-Kal approached them on slightly shaky legs, supported by his sister.
Running a hand through his unruly hair, Alt-Kal smiled. "Just wanted to thank you for getting me out of there," he said, the ghost of a troubled frown passing across his face as he rubbed his neck. "It was… pretty bad."
"No problem," Clark replied, clapping the youth on the shoulder.
His eyes narrowing at the LexCorp tower, Alt-Kal frowned once more. "Am I seeing things, or are all the remaining vampires heading down into the tunnels?"
Clark nodded in agreement. "Yeah, they're abandoning the building." Suddenly, Clark's eyes lit up as an idea formed in his mind. Turning to Kara, he smiled. "Kara, I need you help me with another little project of mine."
Answering his smile with one of her own, Kara nodded. "Just name it."
Turning to his younger doppelganger, Clark's smile grew. "I'll need YOU as well."
Several hours later, as the sun shone down from above, Clark nervously paced back and forth in front of the LexCorp tower, his body tense with anticipation. Gathered around him, but at a respectable distance, several members of Alt-Clark's resistance group softly talked among themselves.
A massive rush of air heralded the arrival of Lois, Kara and Alt-Kal as they landed beside him. In Lois's arms, his face white with fear, a brown haired man dressed in black faintly shook.
"You found one?" Clark asked his wife, stopping before her.
Lois nodded. "I had to go nearly three counties away, but yeah. I did."
Clasping the quaking man's hand firmly in his own, Clark shook it gently. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Pastor."
"C-Could someone PLEASE explain to me what's going on?" the Pastor asked.
"In a moment, Sir." Glancing towards Alt-Clark, Clark's brow rose slightly. "Are all the vampires in the tunnels?"
Alt-Clark nodded, his face a mask of confusion. "The sunlight is keeping them all underground. What ones that had taken cover above ground Kara and I drove down into the tunnels. There's hundreds of them down there now."
"And ALL the entrances to the tunnels have been located?"
Once again, Alt-Clark nodded. "As you asked, each one has been opened up to the sunlight. My operatives have fire hoses fed into each of them, and we have a steady supply of water from the reservoir."
"What about the soldiers Dracula had turned?"
Alt-Clark shook his head. No sign of them at any of the entrances. If they're still there, Dracula must have taken them with him into the deep tunnels."
"What now?" Kara asked.
"Flood the tunnels," Clark growled.
Nodding to a nearby associate, Alt-Clark sighed as the man rushed off to relay the order. "I still don't see what good it'll do. You can't drown a vampire."
"I know," Clark answered. Turning to the priest, Clark smiled. "When the tunnels have completely flooded, Pastor, I need you to do us a favor."
Clark's eyes hardened. "I need you to bless the water."
Kara gasped in astonishment, her eyes alight. "Bless the water?"
Facing his younger counterpart, Clark smiled coldly. "Those vampires are about to find themselves knee-deep in holy water."
"And we're sure this'll kill Dracula?" Alt-Clark asked.
Clark shrugged. "If he manages to get inside a sealed room, he'll be trapped down in the depths of the tunnels with nothing but holy water waiting above him."
Alt-Clark smiled darkly. "Good."
Standing on the roof of the Daily Planet building, the city below sparkling in the twilight, Clark shook Alt-Kal's hand warmly. "You sure you don't need us to stay around a little longer?"
Alt-Clark shook his head. "It's been five days with no sightings of vampires in the city. And if Dracula DID manage to get away, he won't find me as easy of a target again. That I can promise."
Hugging Kara tightly, Lois smiled as the young girl hugged her back equally as fierce.
"I'm going to miss you, Lois," Kara said, a slight hitch in her voice.
"Me too," Lois answered, her own eyes misting over. As she pulled back, she stared earnestly at Kara. "I'll be back in about a week. Promise."
Kara nodded gratefully.
Watching as the two women finally separated, Alt-Clark smiled as Kara stood beside him. Glancing over to Clark, the young man's eyes sparkled.
"So that's our wife?" Smiling broadly as Clark nodded, Alt- Kal chuckled. "She's HOT!"
With a half-smile, half-scowl, Kara elbowed her brother in the ribs.
Rubbing his sore side, Alt-Clark laughed. "It got you to smile at least."
"Let's go, Bro," Kara said with a chuckle. Waving one final time, the two youths took to the air, disappearing into the distance.
"Looks like you really bonded with Kara," Clark said, activating the portal device.
Lois nodded absently, a thoughtful look on her face.
Taking his wife by the hand, Clark led her towards the waiting wormhole. "Something on your mind, honey?"
Smiling broadly at her husband, Lois nodded.
"And that would be…?" Clark continued, trailing off.
Quickly kissing him on the lips, Lois's smile grew even wider. "Kids."
And with that, she pulled them both into the maelstrom of energy, Clark's response swallowed up by interdimensional space.
ON AN UNINHABITED ALTERNATE EARTH
The room was dark, save for twin small lights that cast their light on a blocky shape far beneath them. The metallic surface of the rectangular block reflected the overhead light's brilliance back in a muted form. Standing beside the object, his body rigidly still, Lord Kal-El stared intensely at it.
"Hello again, Viantaa," the deposed overlord murmured, lightly running the fingertips of one hand over the cool surface of the coffin. "I just came by to tell you that things are going as planned. Very soon, now, I will regain everything -" His voice choked off as he clenched his eyes against a sudden surge of tears. "- NEARLY everything that was taken from me."
Kneeling down beside the coffin, Lord Kal-El's voice roughened with sorrow as he clapped a fist to his chest. "I swear to you- I will have my vengeance! I will rid our people of the traitors that control their destiny." Returning to his feet, the former ruler's hand shook briefly with his rage before he was able to quell it. "And those who are responsible for your death will pay."
Spinning on his heel, Lord Kal-El strode towards the door, his face a mask of barely controlled fury. Sparing one final glance back at the resting place of his heart, a single tear made its way down his cheek.
"I… miss you, my love."
With that, the Kryptonian man exited the room, allowing the silence to return.