: I do not own Smallville, Superman, or The Cave...would be damned rich if I did!
. As LexCorp's representative and Meteor Freak, Chloe is used to 'weird', but when she and the McAlister spelunking team, along with Dr. Nicolai, Dr. Kathryn Jennings, and Alex Kim get trapped in the cave, she'll experience 'weird' on a whole different level. And not only are they trying to find a way out of the underwater cave, and trying to survive the attacks from the monstrous creatures below...but she has a distracting attraction to both McAlister brothers...who return the attraction and are naturally competitive with each other...
A Little Information:
You can consider this an Alternate Universe because while most things are the same as it is in Superman (Clark Kent is Superman and Lois Lane is his love interest and they work together in the Daily Planet) others are not the same (LIONEL Luthor is the bad guy) while Lex…founder of Lexcorp…is actually a good guy and Chloe’s boss.
Chloe graduated early from highschool due to extra credit and accepted Lex’s offer to join Lexcorp as Lex’s Representative and to help oversee various Lexcorp projects since he doesn’t want to be bothered, and trusts her judgment.
Chloe IS a Meteor Freak in this story, but she discovered her ability when she saved LEX not LOIS.
“You know that raise you gave me? It so doesn’t make up for making me do this.” Chloe complained into the satellite telephone to her friend and boss, Lex Luthor. She’d been stationed in the Carpathian mountains for three days now as they finally found an entrance through the collapsed church to the cave below, and while Dr. Nikolai was an interesting man to speak to, and she was in constant communications with Clark and Lois via internet and satellite phone, the young woman was going insane with boredom.
Lex chuckled on the other side of the phone, the sound causing Chloe to close her eyes as nostalgia and a little something else made her shiver. “Another raise and you’ll be getting a better salary than the Vice President.”
She pouted because he was probably telling her the truth. “I’m going to have to go underwater. Does Vice President Mannings do that?”
“Underwater?” Lex’s voice was immediately concerned, he knew all about Chloe’s fear of darkness and closed-in space due to her many misadventures, namely being buried alive and waking up in the morgue after being pronounced dead when she’d saved his life at the damns when he’d confronted his father about his inhumane experiments against the Meteor Freaks and the man had shot him, leaving him for dead.
“Yeah.” Chloe sighed, looking up at the beautiful blue sky that seemed so much more beautiful here in this side of the world. “They did the surface scans, the cave is huge.”
“Really?” And yet Lex was sounding less enthused about the project that’d had him sleepless with excitement only nights ago.
“Yeah.” Chloe went back inside of her personal tent, trying to be calm as she related to him what Dr. Nikolai had told her only hours ago. “There’s a river off the main cavern, and there’s nowhere it can come out for at least 90 miles.”
“That’s a lot.”
“Tell me about it.” Plopping down on her cot, Chloe winced at the discomfort, realizing with a sneer that ever since graduating and going to work for Lex she’d grown used to the easy life.
“Dr. Jennings, our biologist, has brought in Alex Kim, a cameraman to shoot the whole thing. I’ve actually seen some of his work on National Geographic, it was really good. They were all underwater scenes as well so I can at least assure you that he is top-notch.” She looked up at the top of her tent. “And Dr. Nikolai contacted, whom he assures me, is the best underwater cave spelunking team in the world. They’ll be in charge of the whole expedition and he promises me that with this Jack fellow in charge, I have nothing to fear.”
“You don’t have to do this, Chloe.” Lex’s voice was tinged with worry and with…with something else. It was the same something else that they’d both been feeling for each other and had been trying to ignore since she was in high school. “I didn’t realize the extent to what would have to be done. I’ll send someone else to--.”
“And lose the little respect they have for me by appearing like a child?” Chloe snapped, angry that Lex would do that to her. “No! They already have little faith in my abilities as overseer of your projects, as your right-hand woman. Hell, Lex, they don’t even see me as a woman, they see me as a 19-year-old girl. They don’t know that I’ve been working for you since I was seventeen, they don’t know that I’ve been with LexCorp since it began. All they see is a pretty, young face and great breasts.”
“You’ve been listening to Lois’ self-help tapes, haven’t you?” Lex teased once the last sentence escaped her lips.
“Now, Lex, if I told you I’d have to kill you, wouldn’t I?” Chloe giggled, bad mood gone in a second. She sighed. “I just want to do this. I want to prove to them--prove to myself--that you gave me this job because I am capable of doing it, not just because you’re my friend.”
She could hear the tender smile on his face. “You know that I have more faith and trust in you than I have in anyway, even Clark.”
And that made her smile softly, her cheeks tinting a soft pink hue. “Thank you, Lex. That--that means a lot to me.” Hearing the sound of a helicopter outside, she stood up rapidly. “I have to go, I think that the spelunking team arrived, and as the official Representative of LexCorp and yourself, I should be there for the greeting and introductions.”
“Take care, Chloe.” There was something odd in his voice. “Promise me that you’ll be careful.”
“Of course I will.” She sent him a quick kiss. “Now go do whatever you rich bastards do on your days off.”
His laughter was the last thing she heard before she cut off the call and headed out of the tent.
The blonde shielded her gaze from the flying dust with her hand, and watched as the helicopter landed, and it’s door swing open. A handsome, dark haired man stepped out, appreciation for the scenery and general excitement visible in his smile.
He was followed out by a handsome bald black man, and a beautiful, petite blonde woman who, judging by the large and heavy backpack she pulled on easily, was a lot stronger than she looked.
“Ah, yes, they have arrived.” Dr. Nicolai announced with a smile as he appeared by Chloe’s side, grinning with excitement.
“Are you sure they’re the best?” Chloe asked, keeping her stance and expression professional. “Mr. Luthor only wants the best.”
Dr. Nicolai smiled at her, as if seeing through her façade of cold indifference and seeing the young woman desperate to compete in the adult, male world, and liking her all the more for it. “Of course, Ms. Sullivan, I would only ask for the best with this cave.”
“Dr. Nikolai!” They both looked up to see a handsome blonde man with stunning blue eyes approaching them, shouldering a backpack, smile disarming. “It’s so good to finally meet you.”
“The pleasure is mine.” Dr. Nicolai shook his hand with a smile before turning to Chloe. “Ms. Sullivan, I’d like you to meet Jack McAlister, he is the leader of the group.”
Chloe shook the hand the blonde offered her. “Nice to meet you.”
“Jack.” Dr. Nicolai went on to say. “This is Ms. Sullivan, the representative of Mr. Lex Luthor and LexCorp—who are funding this expedition.”
Jack blinked in surprised, looking Chloe up and down as if unable to believe that the tiny, 5’4 blonde could hold so much power in her small, delicate and soft hands. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, ma’am. And on behalf of my team I’d like to thank you for letting us do this.”
“No need to thank us, we were told that you were the best.” She explained, pulling her hand from his. “And Mr. Luthor will only have the best.”
Jack suddenly grinned brightly. “Good to know that.”
Dr. Nicolai clapped Jack on the back. “Let me show you around.”
“What do we got?” Jack grinned, obviously excited to do this. They began to walk away before the handsome leader of the spelunking team stopped and looked back at her. “Not coming, Ms. Sullivan?”
Surprised that he actually expected her to do things and not just look pretty, as most of the people on this dig did, Chloe gave him her first, genuine smile. “No thanks, I’ve already seen it all, twice.”
Jack paused for a second, his gaze roaming her face, before he smiled softer. “Well, we’ll be seeing each other later then.” And with that he turned back to Dr. Nicolai, who grinned at both of them before continuing on in his tour.
“That’s the main cave, hidden under a church.” The Russian was explaining as they walked towards said find. “And half of the mountainside.”
Watching them go, Chloe shook her head and went to find Dr. Kathryn Jennings, the only friend she’d made while camping here. The older woman could understand the fact of being looked down on because one happened to be attractive, and they’d spent the nights in each other’s tents, talking about themselves and becoming close friends.
The blonde, used to the feeling of eyes on her, ignored this one as she headed towards the tent and found Kathryn looking into a microscope. She waved at Alex Kim, the cameraman Dr. Jennings had brought with her, before turning to the good doctor herself. “What are you looking at?”
“This microbe we found growing at the entrance of the cave.” Kathryn announced, not taking her eyes from the scope. “It’s the oddest thing ever.”
“Really?” Chloe asked, turning to look at the screen where the amplified version of what Kathryn was examining could be seen. She tilted her head to the side and observed the green thing, feeling quite ignorant. “Why?”
“Well,” Kathryn sighed, adjusting the zoom. “To begin--.”
“Hi,” A strong, male voice said from behind Chloe.
She jerked and turned to look into the face of the handsome, dark haired man she’d seen leaving the helicopter. He must be a part of the spelunking team then. “Hello.”
Kathryn ignored them, continuing to observe the microbe. “Fascinating.”
“What’s so fascinating about that green blotch?” Chloe wanted to know, turning from the handsome stranger towards the monitor once more, feeling frustrated.
Kathryn chuckled softly to herself in amusement, but didn’t offer any explanation.
Chloe glared at the scientist before turning back to the dark haired man, who was still there behind her. “How may I help you?”
Her obvious annoyance seemed to amuse him. “I’m Tyler McAlister.” He grinned a boyish smile that was quickly melting her annoyed expression. “I’m the first scout.”
McAlister? Apparently good looks and roguish charm was a family trait.
She smiled at him in amusement. “I’m Chloe Sullivan, legal representative of Alexander Luthor, funder of this exposition.” For some reason she felt morbid satisfaction at his surprise. “And this is Dr. Jennings.”
Kathryn didn’t look up from her microscope, making a quick note on a piece of paper next to her. “Fascinating.”
Chloe glared playfully at her before motioning to the Asian man going over the camera equipment. “And this is Alex Kim, our cameraman.”
Tyler waved to Alex and the other man did the same before returning to his cameras.
Chloe grinned, watching as Tyler set down his equipment on the table next Kathryn’s. The blonde eyed the equipment with interest. “What exactly is that anyway?”
Tyler’s grin went from cute to adoringly proud. “It’s a rebreather.”
“Rebreather?” Chloe frowned, feeling more and more stupid as she hung out with these people.
“It’s like an oxygen tank, but better.” Tyler tried explaining, looking more comfortable now that they were talking about this. “With normal tanks you breathe in oxygen and that’s it, but with a rebreather you actually recycle your oxygen so you can use it again.”
“I didn’t know that was possible.” Chloe blinked, impressed.
“Yeah, it is.” Tyler grinned, tapping the rebreather unit with pride. “You breathe in one tube, exhale the other, and it cleans it so that there is no more carbon dioxide, and it adds a little more oxygen into it, and viola, you can reuse the same air.”
“It’s preferred for these kind of dives.” Kathryn spoke up, finally looking up from her microscope at them. Her shrewd gaze rested on the rebreather and she straightened, eyebrow raised. “It’s unusual for a rebreather. Who modified it?”
He seemed surprised that she’d noticed the difference. “That would be my brother, Jack.”
Aha--so they ARE brothers.
“Really?” Kathryn asked as Tyler began to undo the top of the rebreather and let her see the inside.
“Yeah.” Tyler nodded. “But I did all of the reprogramming, though.”
Chloe raised her eyebrow. To anyone else that wouldn’t have seemed odd, but she could sense the slight defensiveness in his tone.
Sibling competition, much?
“Why the canister?” Kathryn asked.
“We’re using lithium hydroxide to filter out the CO2.” Tyler explained. “It’s a little dangerous, but it’s much more effective than calcium.”
Kathryn looked impressed.
Chloe knew she looked as lost as she felt.
Alex came up from behind Kathryn and picked up a piece of the equipment, looking it over with interest. “Hope you got a redundancy for this meg.”
“There’s actually a triple redundancy.” Tyler announced. “It’s the backup, a primary, and a HUD.”
Kathryn turned to look at Chloe with an even more impressed look before returning her attention to Tyler McAlister. “So you can stay submerged for what, 18, 20 hours?”
“Twenty-four.” Tyler grinned at Kathryn and his gaze slipped past her to Chloe.
Chloe met his gaze and a small smile curled the sides of her lips, realizing that despite the fact that Kathryn was older, prettier, and far more knowledgeable, Tyler McAlister was grinning at her.
“Kate, Alex.” Dr. Nicolai’s voice caused them all to turn around and Chloe’s gaze immediately met that of the eldest McAlister. “This is Jack McAlister.”
“Dr. Jennings.” Kathryn shook his hand professionally.
“It’s a pleasure.” Jack replied sincerely.
“We read about some of your Yucatan expeditions.” Kathryn announced, smiling. “Pretty amazing.”
“Thank you.” Jack pulled away, eyes downcast, looking a little uncomfortable with the praise.
Intrigued, Chloe smiled at the handsome, blonde brother.
Jack’s gaze darted up from the ground and quickly met hers.
She blushed and looked away, but not before noticing his grin.
“And I understand you have a great interest in cave biology, Mr. McAlister.”
Chloe wondered why Kathryn sounded amused, so she looked at her friend and her eyes widened when she realized that the doctor was looking from Jack to her with a knowing little glint in her eyes.
Jack seemed to have picked up on it too, because he was looking more and more embarrassed. “I’m starting to.”
Chloe noticed Tyler shaking his head to her right, and she wondered what it was about those brothers that had them so competitive towards each other.
“And it’s just Jack, please.”
Kathryn looked at Chloe in amusement, her eyes saying I like this one, make a move, before she smiled at the eldest McAlister. “Kathryn.” She grinned brighter. “Perhaps you wanna see some samples we took?”
“Yeah, yeah, sure.” Jack nodded, beginning to follow Kathryn to her microscope. He reached Tyler. “Hey bro.” He smiled. “Double-check all the rebreathers.”
“Yeah. One in 14.” Tyler nodded, tense.
Jack shook his head and followed Kathryn towards the little laboratory she’d set up in the back of the tent.
Chloe watched them go with a raised eyebrow before turning to Tyler, who was looking down at the rebreather unit in his hand. “You two have the sibling competition thing down to an art, huh?”
He looked up at her in surprise, as if he’d expected to be left alone. “I thought you’d go see those samples?”
She grinned and shook her head. “Nah, I don’t understand those sort of things, and while Kathryn does her best to explain them to me, I just end up feeling stupid.”
He grinned brightly, his face lighting up immediately. “Boy do I understand that.”
“What you said to him, to Jack, 1 in 14…what does that mean?” Chloe asked, picking up a piece of the rebreather he was examining and looking at it as if it were an alien artifact.
“It’s the number of divers that die each year.”
Tyler explained, returning to checking the equipment, a tranquil, comfortable lull passing between them.
Chloe looked up and was nearly blinded by the flash of light. “Alex Kim! You’re going to blind me one of these days!”
The handsome Asian smiled unrepentantly at her from behind his camera lens. “I wanted to get a picture of you where you didn’t look like you’d sucked on a lemon.”
Chloe mock-glared at the Asian man, whom she liked more and more as they hung out together. “One day, Alex, one day…”
“Promises promises.” Alex taunted juvenilely.
Chloe rolled her eyes, grin bright, before turning to Tyler, who was watching her with a smile.
The younger McAlister noticed a plastic Ziploc bag and a decaying piece of material inside. “What’s this?”
“It’s all that’s left of some poor guy they found in the mouth of the cave.” Alex explained, looking up from his camera.
Chloe nodded, making a face at the remains. “It’s also where they found the microorganisms that Kathryn finds so fascinating.”
Alex turned and grinned at Chloe. “You know that she goes on like that just to pique your curiosity, right?”
Chloe gasped and Tyler laughed at her outraged expression.
Chloe winced as she walked under the moonlight that night after leaving the group meeting in the communal tent. “No need to shout, Lex.” She sighed, running a shaky hand through her wind-blown hair. “I’m nervous enough as it is.”
“I refuse to let you do that, it’s insane!” Lex’s voice rang loudly through the satellite phone, so loudly that Chloe had to pull the phone from her ear, and yet she could still hear him perfectly clear. “I am not letting you risk this!”
“Lex, just, listen to me. We’re doing this tomorrow and you need a representative there, and I want to do this, despite the fact that it scares the shit out of me.” She stopped and looked up at the sky. “Jack analyzed the readouts, he says that there’s an enormous cavern about 300 feet down just below the cave entrance. Dr. Nicolai’s already named it Titan Hall because of how amazingly large it really is.”
Lex was silent, listening.
“There’s a sump, which leads to some underwater passageway--.”
“I don’t see how you would want to do this, it’s--.”
“Let me finish, Lex.” Sighing, Chloe continued on. “We’re going to try and find a dry cavern somewhere in the system where we can set up advance base camp, and Dr. Nicolai and Kat--Dr. Jennings--, can gather their samples.” She paused. “And I will look for what we need found.”
Lex sighed in aggravation. “Chloe, look, they aren’t that important. I don’t want you to get hurt just because of some legend--.”
“Lex,” she sighed. “I want to do this. If that Kawatche legend was right, then this should be it. It should be there.”
“But I just can’t put my head around how the Kawatche Indians would know about something happening in Romania.”
“We’ve seen stranger things, Lex. This is Childs Play.”
“I just wish you weren’t the player.”
“I’m going to be in the hands of the best.” Chloe sighed, walking towards the entrance of the cave, not even realizing that she wasn’t alone anymore. “Lex, nothing is going to happen to me, I’m going to be fine. And it’s only 12 days. Right? I mean, you can live without my nagging for that long.”
He didn’t even chuckle. “Chloe, I don’t want you doing this. If I’d realized--I only thought you’d have to go there, look pretty, and, I don’t know--I haven’t been on top of this project, you know I left it in your hands from day one.” There was a sigh of agitation. “If I’d known that you would have to go underwater, in a fucking cave for 12 days--.”
“I need to do this, Lex, and Dr. Nicolai has trust in this team, and they look professional.” She closed her eyes, tired. “There aren’t a lot of people who inspire trust from me, but Jack does, and I think--.”
“This is the second time you’ve mentioned this Jack,” there was something odd in Lex’s voice. “Who exactly is he?”
“Jack McAlister.” Chloe frowned, wondering what was wrong with Lex. “He’s the leader of the team. Look, Lex, I know that I’m one of the only people you can trust in, and that you take care of the few friends you have, but you have to let me do this. How dangerous can it be?”
There was a wry chuckle on the other end of the satellite. “You should know by now never to say that. Every time you do you almost die.”
“And yet I always seem to survive.” She grimaced, remembering how her meteor powers were very well the reason for that. The blonde sighed and turned, freezing when she saw Jack McAlister crouching over the side of the entrance to the excavated ruins of the church. “Lex, I have to go, okay?”
“Call me before you leave.”
“I will.” She smiled before hanging up, placing the satellite phone in her back pocket, and smiling at Jack. “Hey. I thought you were with the others, you know, having a drink and reliving embarrassing old times together?”
He grinned at her, standing. “Nah. I don’t like to drink before doing a job.”
“I like that policy.” Chloe smiled, looking down at the darkness in the hole in the ground, and the metal ladder leading down into the depths. “So, you here for a reason or were you just so excited about tomorrow?”
His blue eyes went to the darkness of the hole. “I can’t help but keep wondering, why build a church all the way up here? It doesn’t make any sense. Why here?”
“I might be able to help you with that.” Chloe finally felt useful. “I asked that myself when Lex found out that this place might exist, and I did some research. That, along with the tiles and certain artifacts we’ve been able to uncover at this dig prove that my theory was correct.” She grinned proudly. Kathryn knew microbes, Jack and Tyler knew caves, she knew myths. “They built the church to seal the cave as a display of God’s protective power.”
“Who’s they?” Jack asked, seeming truly interested.
“Holy men.” Chloe smirked, looking down at the darkness of the hole. “And not only Romanian either. There are certain writings down there, in the church, that are English, Latin, and other languages, proving that holy men from all over the world had something to do with the sealing of this cave.”
Jack frowned, his blue eyes searching hers. “Makes you wonder why they’d go to all of that trouble just to seal this cave.”
She appreciated his openness of mind. Most people would scoff at how ‘superstitious’ the people of the ‘olden days’ had been, and yet Jack seemed cautious. “Well, we were able to salvage a mosaic from the church, and it tells a story about the Knights Templar.”
“The Templars?” Jack blinked.
“Yeah.” She nodded, leaning in closer as if sharing a secret. “It tells the story of the Templars entering the cave and fighting these winged demons.”
“Demons, huh?” He raised an eyebrow at her and smirked.
“Yep.” She smirked back.
“Did the Templars win?” He finally asked, earning points in her book for not just sneering and shaking his head in disbelief.
“Unfortunately, no.” Chloe frowned, remembering why she hadn’t shared this little information with Lex. “The creatures won, and to make sure that they didn’t come up and destroyed mankind, the cave was sealed.”
“Well, I’m glad those things really don’t exist.” Jack laughed, somewhat nervously, looking down into the darkness as well. “I’ve swam with sharks, but demons? Um, I would really like to pass on that one.”
“I would pass on the swimming with the sharks bit myself.” She grinned at him, glad that she too didn’t believe in demons. Sure, she’d seen from freaky shit in Smallville, but those were because of the meteor rocks, and she doubted that this had anything to do with that. Still, she hadn’t told Lex about the legend because she knew him, knew that he’d force her to come home if he’d found out about it.
“It’s not half as dangerous as they make it out in the movies.” He grinned, tilting his head to the side and watching her. “As long as you don’t get stupid it’s safe, and it’s also the adrenaline rush of the century. It’s amazing to swim next to those creatures. They’re underwater tanks.” Dimples appeared in each cheek. “I’ll have to take you along with me one of these days.”
“Thanks, but no thanks.” Chloe shivered, hugging herself, smile gone. “I’m terrified of things like that. I mean, I’m terrified of the dark, and of closed spaces, and just the thought of being down there for 12 days gives me the shakes.”
He frowned. “Then why are you here, Ms. Sullivan?”
“Chloe, call me Chloe.” She smiled weakly at him. “I have no intention of calling you Mr. McAlister, so you might as well just call me Chloe.”
“Chloe…” He smiled softly at her. “Why are you doing this if it frightens you?”
She looked up, green eyes meeting blue ones. “Because some things are more important than one’s fears.”
He grinned. “I agree.” Hearing drunken laughter from the communal tent, Jack sighed and turned to look at her. “Why don’t I walk you back to your tent?”
Smiling, she nodded, and they walked side by side in silence into the darkness around them