Title: The New CircleFandoms: Smallville/Secret CircleCharacters: Chloe Sullivan, Whitney Fordman, Greg Arkin, Cassie Blake, Diana Meade, Mikhail Balcoin, Lucas Dunleavy, Faye Chamberlain, Byron Moore...Rating: TDisclaimer: Don't ownSummary: Chloe Sullivan had a normal-ish life before the circle and John Blackwell turned her life upside down and gave new meaning to the unexplained weirdness that goes on in Smallville. Now life's a witch, she's a part of a circle she's not too sure she wants to be bound to, and not only do they have to worry about Witch-Hunters, but unknowingly to them another circle is on the hunt too.
The plan had been to go confront Rao after the battle, but Greg had made Chloe see things differently and, to be honest, after sensing those spikes of power, she'd been too intimidated to go through with that plan. Instead she'd thrown herself into the reparation of Smallville and supervising the construction of Casa Balcoin. More and more refugees from the magical community were filtering into the town daily and, while there was still no news on the Sigans, at least one of the bloodline had to have survived because there was still communal magic. She hoped that wherever that Sigan was, he or she was okay. But it wasn't a concern that dominated her mind, the blonde having much more to think of as she worked with both mortals and witches, playing public relations as she saw to a numerous amount of projects.
One of the first she got up and running was the Vigilante Initiative, headed by Jake. Despite the controversy they'd initially received about the whole allegiance issue, they'd received an overwhelming amount of applicants for the program. Most of the candidates were young males, but there'd also been a couple of women interested, as well as older men. Jake was still in the process of tryouts, trying to find the people who would best suit the group. While he admitted that he might be a bit demanding, he'd been trained by the Witch-Hunters and expected only the best. Expecting anything else could get someone killed in battle.
Another little project she was running was the Veritas Project, which was just a fancy codename for what she called her sessions with Lionel Luthor, Genevieve Teague, and Faora Bloome as she tried to get as much truth out of them as she could about Rao Darkseid – which was why she called it "veritas" since it meant truth. So far, she hadn't gotten very much out of Lionel. He called Rao "The Traveler" quite a bit, went on and on about how he'd been betrayed by Rao, and how "this wasn't supposed to happen the way it did". Genevieve and Faora didn't seem to know much more than Chloe did, but they did seem to know something. Unfortunately, they were not sharing, the women staying silent and faithful by Lionel's side, instead merely inquiring as to whether there was any news as to the whereabouts of their sons. Lionel would always bring Chloe's attention back to him though, always managing to talk for hours without actually saying anything helpful.
Chloe had the sneaking suspicion that arrogance and the ability to annoy the hell out of her was a male head 'Six' thing though, because it was only her deep love for Adam that had kept her from telling his brother to go jump off of a cliff numerous times over the last couple of days. Thing is, she was sure AC, or Arthur (she did not feel like calling him by that pet name), was raised by a very proud, very sure of themselves (and apparently very superior and condescending) family. A part of Chloe was glad Adam hadn't been raised by the Tentagels because he wasn't anything like Arthur, who, yes, he had his good moments, but he rubbed her the wrong way too often! And the bad part was that she knew he wasn't trying to annoy her. Arthur Curry (mother's last name apparently) Knight was actually trying to help, sheknew it. But she guessed she was way too much of an uptight control freak who had too much on her plate, and he needed to stop going around "helping" her without her permission while half naked all the time.
Then again, Victor Stone wasn't anything like that, so there went her whole "the men who head the Six suck" theory. If anything, Victor Stone was a god among mice. He was amazing. Quiet, and yet when hedid speak, his insights were welcomed and timely. She'd come to rely on his advice and found herself seeking him out, especially when it came to Lionel and his issue. The Wylts had always been known for their intelligence, the BoS had spoken about their deep intellect and she was already finding herself leaning on the boy. When he'd informed her he had some ability with technomagic (whatever the hell that was), she'd enlisted the help of Van (who was also enlisted in the Vigilante Initiative) and Gabriel Duncan, who'd both serviced the Torch computers for her, to help him in his own little side project.
Slowly, the integration of mortals and witches was underway, not without minor hiccups here and there, but that was to be expected. The younger generation was far more accepting of the changes. If anything, they were enthused with the thought of magic being real, and Chloe had a feeling that they were going to soon have a rise of Dabblers in the near future, but she didn't have time to worry about that. No. Now she was going over building plans with the General, using his expertise on defense, and having symbols drawn onto the buildings.
Pete, Clark and Lana were working with Justin and Tina supervising the installation of a seven foot-deep trench of red brick dust around Smallville, and another three rings of trenches on its outskirts, which was just the beginning of their defenses.
Julian, Lois, and (a still wary yet willing to help) Dinah were working along with Mrs Kent, taking a census of each and every business of Smallville and conducting a survey, taking pictures and such. They wanted to use the businesses as a network, not only as a living channel of information, but there were other plans and this was merely the first step being put in motion, the people of Smallville surprisingly eager to open their businesses back up.
Mikhail and Lucas worked along with Grant and the remaining Lost boys, who'd moved all their things from Edge City to Smallville during the last couple of days. They'd dismantled the warehouse completely, bringing it to the land behind where Casa Balcoin was close to being finished. Considering that John had had definite inside knowledge in this whole thing, and all of John's things were in that warehouse (or most of it at least), Chloe had Mikhail, Lucas and the boys going through John's books, seeing if they could come up with anything that could help them understand anything that was going on. She could also make a trip to see John's Echo, she knew that, but Chloe had too much going on at the moment and she didn't have time to sleep, much less visit the second cave system.
Faye and Byron were with his uncle in on a mission for her and, while neither of them had liked the idea of being away from Chloe for as long as it would take to do what she needed them to do, Byron was the only one she trusted Morgan Edge not to double cross and Faye was the only one she trusted to make sure Byron's good nature wasn't taken advantage of.
Diana's sweet nature had made her the perfect person to put as a witch/mortal liaison at the junior level, the brunette spending most of her time during the day out amongst the mortals in town, answering the questions they had about witches and witchcraft. She was becoming quite popular, especially amongst the younger generation, which was good because that was how Chloe had planned for it to go, was why she'd chosen Diana for the role and not Cassie or Faye, who were more abrupt (Faye) or awkward (Cassie) in their way of dealing with people.
Adam and AC were riding ATVs around the outskirts of Smallville and at certain checkpoints, overseeing the installation of special cameras that would help them know that danger was coming before it did.
Whitney and Greg were in charge of starting a group similar to Jake's, except instead of mortals, the "Suicide Squad" (Chloe did not approve of the proposed name of the team, but Whitney and Greg both thought it sounded incredibly 'cool') would consist of witches. She seemed to be the only one who had a problem with the name because, just like with the Vigilante Initiative, as soon as it was announced, the "Suicide Squad" received a ridiculous amount of applicants, leaving Greg and Whitney with little time to do anything but concentrate their efforts on the formation of the squad.
Cassie had somehow ended up working along with Mrs Arkin, Mrs McNulty, Mr and Mrs Fordman, and Mr Kent in a project that they wanted to wait to bring to Chloe's attention until it was ready. Until then, it was all shrouded in mystery, and considering the people working on it, Chloe was very intrigued with what exactly the project could be, but she didn't press for any details, the girl already busy as it was, giving them the time that they needed to do whatever it was that they needed to do.
That left her with a lot of time with Zatanna and Zod, two people she wasn't sure she wanted time alone with.
Zatanna had bound them together (quite permanently) by blood magic without even having introduced herself, and while Chloe could understand the logic behind it, a part of her had yet to come to terms with everything that, or the lack of say or control she'd had in the decision of being bound to someone for the rest of her life. Still, again, Chloe understood that at the time, Zatanna was living on the run, constantly being hunted by the Dragons, and she'd known that the only way to save herself was to bind herself to a Dragon. Chloe must have seemed like a gods-send at the time, and yet now that she was back, Zatanna was the surviving heir to the Le Fay House… but she was blood bound to the Darkseid House and unable to accept her position as head of Le Fay even if she'd wanted to (which, to be fair, she wouldn't have wanted to even if she could). That in itself had doomed the Le Fay House to never rise again as, how Zod had explained it, Zatanna's children would be bound to serve Chloe and her descendants, so there would never be any Le Fay who'd be capable of being a Head, someone bound only to their House and Clan.
At least for right now, she'd sent Zatanna over to see what it was that the Mayor had wanted, so that meant that she didn't have to deal with the both of them at this moment. Yes. The both of them.
Because talking about being bound for the rest of their lives, there was Zod and the whole "married" thing. Chloe hadn't told anyone about that (although she could tell Zatanna knew) and Zod thankfully hadn't seemed to think it was anyone else's business, but it was a serious situation. He wasn't pushing the issue now, but this was marriage and children! Multiple children! A loveless match and children! Damn it! This wasn't something she should be worrying about right now in the middle of everything else, and yet she was!
Still, Zod was being more than useful right now and there was no way she was going to kick him out. When he wasn't going over the security detail, he was giving advice that was actually quite helpful, and he also was a link to Rao that she couldn't sacrifice. He knew things about Rao that Lionel would never be able to begin to comprehend, and for some reason Rao wanted Zod in this plane, and that meant that Zod was useful (obviously) and that meant that if Rao wanted Zod, Chloe wasn't going to let him have him. No, she was going to keep Zod to herself. But, er, not how that sounded in her head.
It was also interesting to see how the Caves reacted to him.
"You don't need to be here if this bothers you so much," Chloe announced, though she had to admit that a part of her was amused by the fact that he was so visibly uneasy.
"I will not be scared away by a cave system," he informed her, hands clasped behind his back, a muscle jumping in his cheek, magic curling around him visibly, randomly crackling with electricity. "Especially when the cause is of your making."
"I'm not doing this," she informed him coolly, clasping her hands behind her back just to mock him out of spite as they continued walking down the tunnel.
"Not consciously, no," he conceded. "But I can feel your magic ingrained in each particle of dirt of this system. You are these caves." He raised an eyebrow as he sent her a sideways glance, those blues accusing. "Even if it is subconscious, you are to blame for my discomfort."
Chloe pouted slightly, realizing he might have a point and beginning to feel bad for it, especially when he flinched slightly at a particularly nasty sting of electricity. "Why do you think I'd subconsciously be hurting you?"
"It's not hurting me so much as causing extreme discomfort. Believe me when I say that I have felt true pain and this is far from even close to it." He sighed, as if the weight of the world were on his shoulders. "But I find your question interesting considering I think the reason is obvious." His blues rested on her. "You're married to me and you don't want to be. You are a young female of quite reasonably attractive features, incredibly powerful magic, and extensive wealth who could pick her own match should she wish to, but instead you find yourself locked into marriage with someone who not only is a total stranger, but isn't even your own race. You're young, you're trapped, and subconsciously, you're acting out." He took in a deep breath. "I understand."
Chloe frowned as she stared up at him. "Doesn't it bother you? That we're married and neither of us has a say in it?"
"It is our way," Zod replied, stoic as ever. "Our kind has always had our spouses chosen for us on the compatibility of our magics. You were not the first wife chosen for me."
Chloe stared at the man, remembering having heard about this before. "You said you had a wife and a child before – that they died." She paused before clearing her throat. "How?"
He stopped walking, pain flashing through his usually stoic face as he turned to face her in silence.
Chloe narrowed her eyes on him. "Does it have anything to do with why you wouldn't want me or the children we are not going to have, to live in Apokalips?"
He eyed her in silence before finally nodding.
The blonde could see the pain in his face and felt sadness for the Major. "You didn't love her when she was chosen for you, but you grew to love her, didn't you?"
Zod looked away, clearing his throat. "She was the mother of my son, Lor-Zod."
"Lor." Chloe smiled at the name before blinking as she realized something. "I don't know your first name."
Zod eyed her curiously. "I am the last of my family, I am Zod."
The blonde rolled her eyes. "You want to marry me but you don't want to tell me your first name?"
"I am married to you," he corrected, flinching at another electric shock.
"Not in my books," she countered. "We'll be married when you propose with a breathtaking engagement ring, I accept all teary-eyed, we have an epic bachelor/bachelorette party, and then wedding. That'swhen I'd count us as married. Until then, you're just some Dragon I know."
Zod eyed her in confusion. "I do not understand half of what you referenced. Engagement ring? Bachelor/bachelorette party?"
Chloe shook her head at him. "So that's it for you Dragons? Your magic hunts down the female and claws her up and she coughs up an insect and then Mazel tov? You're married?"
"Mazel tov?" He frowned.
She ignored his question.
He frowned, giving up waiting for her to explain, taking in a deep breath. "There is usually more to it than that. We just have not gotten that far yet."
Chloe's eyes widened. "So we're not really married?"
"Yes, we're married." He seemed tired of having to repeat that. "I am referencing tradition, as you were referencing what I am guessing to be different traditions associated with marriage."
Chloe sighed, disappointed.
Zod flinched at another zap of electricity, closing his eyes as he took in a deep breath, only opening his eyes once he'd regained his composure. "You know, my ego is beginning to be bruised by just how badly you do not want to be married to me." He cleared his throat. "I am considered a very desirable match. My blood purity traces back just as far as Councilman Seyg's, and I can count on this hand the Dragon families who can boast of that."
She sent him a sideways glance before beginning to walk once more. "I have a feeling your ego, just like every other part of you, is sufficiently strong enough to handle anything I could throw at it."
He fell into step with her. "Apology accepted."
She squeaked, turning her wide eyes on him. "I wasn't apologizing!"
"It sounded quite like a veiled apology," he informed her.
"Well, it wasn't!" she assured him. "I have nothing to apologize for!"
"Your intonation implies that I, on the other claw, do."
"You tried to kill my friends and sisters," she reminded.
"They are humans who were also being used by Rao as trades to tempt me to come to this world," Zod reminded as well.
"You tried to kill my friends and sisters," she pressed, not caring about any reason behind the action, just the action itself.
"This has obviously insulted you," Zod muttered.
"This has obviously surprised you!" she snapped. "I know that they are 'mere humans' to you uppity Dragon Overlords, but they're my family! You better than anyone else should have known better!"
His eyes flashed as he snarled. "I did not tell you about my wife and son for you to throw their deaths in my face at your own convenience."
"I am not doing that," she snapped back at him. "I'm trying to get you to understand that my family are just as important to me as you wife and son were to you. Humans or not, doesn't make any difference." She glared as she stormed closer to him. "How would you like to know that you were married to the person who had killed your wife?"
Zod narrowed his eyes as he stared at her, silence passing long between them before he took in a deep breath. "I… see your point."
She was actually surprised that he did.
"While I did not actually kill any of your family, which is something I'd like to point out, I did try to kill them, which I will admit was not a well thought out move." Zod seemed annoyed to have to admit that. "It was strategic at the time, though less strategic now that we are not in Apokalips and in your world. I should have calculated the possibility of this happening and weighed the chances better. Had I done so-"
She glared at him. "They are the lives of the people I love. Stop talking about them as if they're mere chess pieces you can move around to your advantage!"
He flinched as he got an extra hard electric shock from the angry magic crackling around him. "I am quickly coming to the conclusion that there is no pleasing you. You are just of a miserable disposition."
Her mouth fell open, a gasp escaping her lips before the girl gave him an even stronger shock out of pure spite, his hair standing slightly from the static electricity accumulating around him, Chloe taking an evil little sense of pleasure from his hiss as she stormed past him.
Somehow luck was on her side and he was silent the rest of the way, obviously fighting the desire to pat down his hair, something which made the corner of her lips tilt with amusement. Zod infuriated her unlike anyone she'd ever met, but the pompous Dragon amused her without trying to and it was in moments like these when she needed a little chuckle, even if it was a dark one.
"You can wait out here," she informed him, stepping into the darkness.
Obviously, he stepped in with her, refusing to listen to her.
Chloe could feel a thousand eyes on her as the Wisdom of Ages appeared around them, their eyes glowing in the darkness. "Francis? You around?"
"A Dragon." Francis didn't appear, his voice echoing unhappily in the room. "Why did you bring one of them in here?"
Zod raised an eyebrow. "Why not say that bravely to my face?"
"This isn't the time or the place." Chloe glared at him.
"These spirits only had power because of my kind and yet they want to look down on us?" Zod snarled, eyes going reptile. "Let him show himself! I'll show him that even in this form, we hold power over him!"
Francis must have been wondering the same thing because he paused before clearing his throat and addressing Chloe. "You have need of us?"
Chloe nodded. "When I was in Apokalips and the family was in need of me, the Caves called out to me." She cleared her throat, ignoring the look of intrigue Zod was giving her. "All three Caves."
"Ahhhh," Francis' voice announced. "You want to know about the Genesis Caves."
"Yes." Chloe moved closer to the sound of the voice. "When I returned, I could feel the Bleeding and the Crystal Caves connected once more, but the Genesis Caves were gone. And I feel that, with the battle with Rao obviously on the horizon, that the Genesis Caves might hold information that I could use."
"And you want information as to how to get to the Caves," Francis determined.
"I've already tried the Balcoin Symbol," Chloe informed the voice, having already known that she could use it to travel back and forth from the Bleeding and the Crystal Caves. "But it doesn't work with the Genesis Caves."
"Of course it doesn't. You haven't made a connection with the Genesis Caves as you have with its sister Caves. You have to do it manually, as you have with both the Bleeding and the Crystal Caves," Francis declared sagely. "You have to travel to the original entrance to the Genesis Caves and from there you will have to pass many tests and trials to prove yourself to the Caves. It isn't like its sister Caves. It will not hand over its trust and loyalty, its power and secrets, so easily."
Chloe licked her lips. "If I had the three Caves linked, would that help? In the case of a fight with Rao?"
There was a pause, and then, "Let me just say this: if you can link the three caves, then you stand a chance against Rao." There was a sigh. "Your husband will serve you well on this trip."
Chloe paused. "Which one?"
Zod blinked, sending her a sideways glance. "You have more than one?"
"Well, for a while they used to think Whitney was my Magic-husband. But they might realize you think you're my Dragon-husband." She licked her lips, flushing in embarrassment. "I just want to make sure that I know which husband they're talking about."
"Take them," Francis simply said. "You'll need both of your Circles if you wish to succeed."
Chloe looked up in surprise. "How-?"
"Your palms," Francis merely stated.
Chloe looked down at her palms, realizing way too late that each symbol was glowing slightly.
"Also, my magic flows through your soul. Even though I am a ghost, I still have a connection to my magic to a small degree," Francis responded, causing her to look up into the darkness in surprise. "A part of me is relieved that my magic didn't disappear when I died – that it lives still – though I have to admit that a part of me hates you for having it." He sighed. "And another, larger part, feels sorry for you. Even if you hadn't had the Darkseid magic inside you, with my Dark Magic and John's… You're doomed to never having the life or magic a Balcoin woman used to have." There was an odd tone in that voice, an obvious warning. "Thanks to me, the Balcoins will never have the magic they used to have." There was a pause. "The Balcoin women used to be great healers, did you know that?"
Chloe nodded. "I've heard."
"How is this relevant?" Zod wanted to know.
Chloe glared at him.
Zod hissed as once more he was zapped by her annoyed, electric, visible wisps of magic.
"This is relevant, Dragon, because Vika Balcoin created the Genesis Caves," Francis replied harshly. "It is almost a certainty that one, if not more, of the tests she will have to face will have to do with the Original Balcoin magic, which she does not possess."
"She is half Dragon." Zod raised an eyebrow. "I doubt it will be a problem."
On one hand, he was being encouraging, on the other hand, the arrogance was just outstanding.
"You forgot that this is the woman who married a Dragon, was used to their magic and had Rao's explicit trust. He would have taught her everything about it, especially about how to ward against it. It was how she was able to help send him back to Apokalips," Francis declared. "Do not be too sure that Chloe being half Dragon will be a benefit to her."
Zod frowned, silenced.
Chloe gulped, much more nervous than she had been before as well.