Title: The New CircleFandoms: Smallville/Secret CircleCharacters: Chloe Sullivan, Whitney Fordman, Major Dru-Zod, Greg Arkin, Cassie Blake, Diana Meade, Mikhail Balcoin, Lucas Dunleavy, Faye Chamberlain/Byron Moore, Adam Knight, Zatanna Zatara, Bart Allen, Clark Kent, Pete Ross, Jor-El, Vika Balcoin, Van McNulty...Rating: TDisclaimer: Don't own any original material used in the television series or artwork, they belong to their respective creators. I have merely tweaked them for my story.Summary: 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 match between Faye and Lana had started out with the girls on relatively equal ground, the dark haired warrioresses both professional as they sent hexes and dodged attacks. They were actually so on par Chloe could see the muscle in Nell's cheek ticking like a clock.
Lana sent a sideways glance towards her aunt, noticed her expression, and gulped before she returned her attention to Faye and yelled a curse, sending thorny vines racing towards the other girl.
Faye easily side-stepped each vine and hissed a spell, the vines slicing into long sections before falling around her. She then responded rapidly before Lana could even recover from how easily she'd defeated that curse, the symbol flashing on her forehead for a split second as the sliced thorny vines rose in the air and flew back at Lana at full force, wrapping around her ankles and wrists like shackles, thorns digging deep into her skin as they lifted Lana into the air and kept her suspended above the battle-ground, spread-eagle. Blood rushed up through the pierced skin and began to drip profusely onto the stone ground below.
Another thorny section wrapped around Lana's neck, yet not not tight enough to drive the thorns into her skin and draw blood.
Pete stepped forwards. "That's enough!"
Chloe's eyes narrowed on Nell, not understanding why she wasn't calling for the fight to end. Anyone could see that Lana was compromised and that there wasn't any way the girl could get loose. "Call off the fight."
"She can get out of this." The woman refused to back down.
A streak of panic filled Chloe's body.
"Damn it, Nell!" Pete's voice was desperate. "Stand down!"
"A draw isn't a bad outcome." It was Victor who spoke.
"There is no need for that." Nell's voice was hard as that thorny vine tightened dangerously around Lana's neck. "She'll get out of this mess. She's a Thoreaux."
"Aunt N-Nell-." Lana whispered, fear in her hazels.
"You will!" Nell snapped.
Lana closed her eyes tightly and shivered visibly.
Arthur, now far from bored, stared between aunt and niece.
The vine tightened around Lana's neck and began to draw blood.
Lana cried out as a tear escaped the corner of her eye.
Pete hurried forwards.
"I stand down." Chloe breathed a breath of relief when the vines stopped twisting around Lana, letting the bloodied, thorn-embedded girl drop into Pete's awaiting arms.
Nell smirked. "I won."
"Did you now?" Faye sneered as she moved towards Chloe.
"She gave up, both times." Nell held her chin up, pride in her smile. "A good leader never loses faith that her warriors will come through in the end. No matter what."
"A good leader looks after the well-being of those she commands, otherwise she will find that she doesn't have anyone left to lead anymore." Lex finally spoke, leaning hard against his throne. "If you wish to be a good leader, you should not allow your ambitions and desires to blind you against the well-being and safety of your own Circle. That is an offense they will hold against you and, in some cases, never fogive you for." He paused. "It is a lesson I have learnt the hard way."
"My... offense?" Nell sounded like there was something bitter in her mouth.
"You were willing to risk her life for your cause." Victor's voice and features were both emotionless. "If Chloe hadn't ended the fight your neice would've died."
"Lana would've gotten free." Nell insisted.
"No, I wouldn't have." Lana's voice was soft and shaken, the girl bleeding everywhere.
"The only reason Lana didn't die in this fight is because, like Chloe told us, this is a test, not an actual fight. Otherwise, she wouldn't be leaving here tonight." Faye appeared completely unrepent as she gazed upon the other girl.
That muscle began to tick in Nell's cheek once more. "I'm sure that-."
"The first time Chloe gave up, it was to keep her fighter from getting hurt, because despite the fact that he was obviously beaten in battle, Byron was about to charge Pete and she realized that. So she officially gave up the fight to force him out and keep him safe, from himself, and whatever was causing him to act so irrationally." Arthur surprised Chloe by having realized that. "The second time she gave up the battle was to keep your fighter from getting seriously hurt, because despite the fact that Lana was obviously incapacitated and in danger, your pride wouldn't let you end the match. You've proven what Chloe's said about you, that you have the knowledge to be a good leader, but have no qualms when it comes to hurting people if it gets you what you want."
Nell clenched her fists.
Lex's gaze went to Pete and Lana. "Take her to get those wounds tended to." The two flickered out of existence.
Victor's dark attention was on Faye. "You're dismissed."
Faye's gaze went silently to Chloe.
The blonde nodded.
Only then did the Prophet flicker and disappear.
Nell didn't look half as smug as she had before, her dark gaze on the younger witches. "Just because of your bloodlines-it doesn't give you the right to judge to me."
Chloe snickered at that. "Really? This coming from the woman who likes to remind everyone that she's the descendant of Countess Marguerite Isobel Thoreaux?"
Nell slashed a dark glare in her direction.
"You invoked the Concilium Delibero and as such you put yourselves in our hands." Lex clasped said hands in front of him. "Unless you thought that our age would make us easy for you to manipulate."
"You're obviously a smart woman, but your pride and arrogance are very damning when it matters the most." Victor had a way of saying things without any emotion or hint of what he was planning on doing, which made him quite intimidating on a judgment seat. "I agree with Chloe in that you shouldn't be allowed to have control over a group of younger, weaker witches. You'd abuse that authority, and even worse, not even realize that you are abusing it."
Nell began to sputter, her face white with rage.
"I also find your repeated attacks against the Balcoin Matriarch as an attack on the Four itself." Victor wasn't finished. "You have purposely been working behind the scenes to try and undermine her authority in an effort to raise yourself in the eyes of the people, and where I come from that is called mutiny, and no matter what reasons you have for it, mutiny is dealt with severely before it can lead to insurrection." He tilted his head. "Not that I believe you have the sway with the locals or newcomers to actually cause an insurrection, but I believe that you should be made an example of."
Chloe narrowed her eyes as she gazed between the men and Nell.
Nell was still white, yet this time it was more of nerves. "Example-?"
"Victor's right, we can't have you whispering about how dangerous it is to have a 'child' in office, and how there should be a more experienced person in charge, and all the other things our spies have brought back to us that you've been spreading around Smallville while trying to rally support for your cause. You've been telling people everything you've told us here: that Chloe isn't thinking of Smallville's good but is showing that she's a spoiled child who isn't capable of making adult decisions by keeping you out of the loop. You even went as far as accusing her of purposely putting Smallville in danger by not letting you be a part 'of the regime'-just out of spite towards you. That she knew that if you were in some sort of official position within her government, she might be in danger of losing her 'comfy job'." Arthur pursed his lips as he took in a deep breath and eyed the older woman, who grew paler and paler with each passing moment. "Why are you so surprised that we know about your little whispers, Nell? You weren't exactly discreet with your mumblings."
"And I find it funny that you actually thought people would believe any of that." Lex appeared genuinely amused. "The Thoreaux are powerful, yes, but their powers are nothing compared to that of the Original families-and to Chloe's magic?" His lips curled and he chuckled as he shook his head. "I think the only position in this organisation that could be open for you would be that of Court Jester."
Nell clenched her fists. "I deserve more respect than that!"
"Do you?" Victor asked seriously. "Do you really?"
Nell seemed shaken by the very question. "Yes."
"I don't agree with your opinion." His reply was blunt. "What have you ever done that merits respect? You didn't protect your own Circle, couldn't keep it from crumbling to pieces, and made no effort to try and rebuild it afterwards. You failed in every aspect as a leader." He wasn't finished. "Not only that, but you failed spectacularly at a much simpler task - at helping your niece form her Circle. Not only hasn't she bound one yet, but three of her Circle's prospective members have left because of you." He leaned forwards on the throne, eyes narrowed. "You crave power, just like your Countess, but you're not half as smart or powerful as she was. To be honest, I believe the best thing your niece could do at this moment would be to branch out from under your thumb because you'll only continue to take her down with you."
Nell was trembling, her eyes wide.
"Harsh, Vic, harsh." Arthur snickered before his gaze rested on the older woman. "You raised 22 other issues, and contrary to what it might've looked like, I paid attention to each and every one of them." He raised an eyebrow. "I want to address a couple of them." He got comfortable. "Number 14: the overflowing of newcomers into Smallville with no turn-away policy apparently even considered." He narrowed his eyes. "Have you considered that the witches coming here are refugees and if they are turned away you'll either be forcing them to join Rao's side, or are sending them to their deaths?" He cleared his throat. "Number 19: sending Rao's supporters out, unharmed. I do understand everyone's sentiments about this one, and clearly it was one of Chloe's more unpopular decisions, but if we start killing innocent children because their parents aren't on our side we're no better than our enemy." Arthur seemed like a completely different person as he spoke. "Number 09: Chloe showing favoritism towards those of the Original or Balcoin blood when it comes to her Circles, while ignoring the 'great stock' right here in town... I do not know this personally, but my brother has spoken to me of this and most of those of the blood of the Six, himself included, who ended up bound to her Circle, were not bound by her. Events led to that happening, and for a long time the girl fought the mere idea of having a Circle." He licked his lips. "And one of my favorites, Number 01: Chloe's intimidation of her brother's position as Secondborn, and her continual blocking him out of things, keeping him out of the loop, and failing to train him to take her place should anything unfortunate happen to her."
"It's the truth." Nell's voice shook.
Arthur's lips curled, his smile dark. "That would be awfully convenient for you, wouldn't it? For the Balcoin that's attached to your niece to be trained to take over and then for an... accident... to occur."
Nell's eyes widened. "I would never-!"
"You couldn't, you don't have the ability." Arthur seemed quite sure. "Even if something were to happen to Chloe, by your hands or not, and Pete were to take the throne, do you really think he'd live long enough for you to have the power vicariously through him?"
Chloe frowned as she eyed the Tentagel head, not liking what he was implying.
"I'm no Oracle, but I think it's more than obvious that should Chloe fall, and anyone other than her rise - but especially Pete Ross - the time of Balcoin bloodshed would return." Arthur sneered. "So far she hasn't had one attempt on her life for the throne by a bloodkin, which was unheard of for a Balcoin Soul. Believe me when I say that Pete wouldn't have the same experience leading, and as an outsider looking in I can say with certainty that if it even looked like she was grooming him to be the First, one of the others might grow anxious and do away with him prematurely to make sure he doesn't get the desire to rise."
"Pete would never-." Chloe stepped forwards.
"That might be true, but you're the only one who believes it." Lex finally spoke, seeming to agree with Arthur. "Like Victor and Arthur, I am on the outside looking in, and am able to see things that those close to the situation are not." He rested his cheek against his fingertips. "You might be a more trusting person with the former members of the potential Thoreaux Circle, but your Circles are not, and from what I've managed to observe they are normally wary and cautious enough to make up for your more trusting nature. But things escalated after your return from your captivity in Rao's fortress."
Chloe narrowed her eyes.
"I might not have been around personally during the whole ordeal, but I had eyes and ears which I left behind and who informed me of things when I returned, and from what I realized Clark, Pete and Lana were held captive by Rao as well. You traded yourself for their freedom. It was something your Circles never forgave them for, your Circles keeping them at a distance and being quite hostile towards the three of them." Lex a cunning smile appeared on his face. "And then suddenly I noticed Clark Kent being integrated once more and I wondered if maybe there wasn't more to it than just resentment." He paused for a moment before continuing. "It then made me wonder exactly how Rao had learnt so much about Chloe, especially when Clark and the others swore that they hadn't said anything, and I realized that one of them is lying. One of them sold you out, and for some reason, the Circles don't believe it was Clark."
Chloe staggered back a step. "Pete and Lana-."
"Were in love with each other and not only being tortured, but having to see the other being tortured, continuosly, for only the gods know how long." Lex interrupted. "One of them broke, one of them betrayed you, one of them probably doesn't even remember it considering the mind-games Rao is said to play on his captives. But I'm more than sure that your Circles must've come up with a convincing enough way to prove Clark's innocence, otherwise they've continued keeping him ostracised like they have Pete and Lana."
The blonde couldn't believe what she was hearing.
Lex's gaze went to Nell. "But you'd already figured that out, hadn't you?" He shook his head at the ever-paling woman. "You just hadn't realized that Chloe didn't suspect them."
Lex leaned forwards in his throne. "This Council considers Prunella Potter, Lana Lang, and Pete Ross potential enemies to the peace and stability of the magical community as a whole."
Chloe's eyes widened in horror. "Wait a minute-!"
"And it's our right to cast judgment on the offenders." Lex ignored her as he gazed down at Nell.
"We want to thank you, Nell, for invoking the Concilium Delibero and thus giving us all an equal say in the matter, otherwise Chloe would probably go easy on you again. This truly did end up working out for the best of the magical community as a whole." Victor's smile was cold. "If you hadn't invoked the Concilium we wouldn't have had the power or authority to pass a judgment which Chloe would've been bound to stand by, as are the rules of the Concilium." He eyed Nell. "You will remain there are we deliberate."
Nell froze, literally.
Chloe took in a deep breath as she steeled herself.
"Don't give us that look," Lex chided with a smirk. "You are the Balcoin Soul, and the only one who actually seems to live up to that description. We too are living up to our positions as heads of our respective Clans."
"And this is a matter that not only concerns you any longer." Arthur eyed her. "Nell Potter has become a thorn in everyone's side, and by trying to play her games she could endanger not only our protection - but the people's peace of mind - which is something that we cannot have."
Victor agreed with a nod. "She must be made an example of."
Chloe could see she wouldn't change their minds, and she decided not to fight for Nell, especially when she really didn't want to. "Pete and Lana-."
"I stand by what I said earlier." Lex shook his head and stopped her before she could begin.
"I agree with Lex," Arthur admitted. "I've been wondering the same for a while, actually."
"As have I." Victor took in a deep breath.
"They went through the hidden loyalties test-they don't bare his mark!" Chloe defended.
"And yet your Circles still consider them an enemy." Lex clasped his hands in front of him as he eyed her. "You are too trusting with those you care about, Chloe. Too... humane... but I suppose they are some of your virtues. But they also mean that those around you have to become harder individuals in order to better protect you." His gaze went to the other men. "I suggest that until her Circles can use whatever methods they did to clear Clark Kent on Lana lang and Pete Balcoin, that they be isolated and detained."
"You want to imprison them?" Chloe couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"Until their innocence or guilt can be proven, I believe that is the most... humane... solution I can offer you." Lex assured her. "My father would've ordered them tortured until one of them broke and told us the truth."
Arthur took in a deep breath. "So would mine."
Victor nodded in answer to Chloe's look.
"I'm sure your Circles didn't torture Clark Kent," Lex offered. "They seem to, mostly, live by your code of ethics."
Victor appeared to be in agreement. "Also, he doesn't seem to harbor any ill feelings towards them."
"So it has been decided what is to happen to Peter Ross and Lana Lang..." Arthur's gaze shifted towards the frozen woman in their midst. "Now, what do we do about her?"
Chloe was too worried about Pete and Lana to really care. She was out-voted anyway, so it didn't really matter what she thought. These three were going to do whatever they thought needed to be done to protect the magical community, and to some degree, protect her.
"Whatever the punishment is, it has to be public so that it can dissuade anyone else from following in her footsteps." Lex's voice was a murmur.
"We can't exile her because she has too intimate a knowledge of Smallville and what has been done to fortify it." Victor, as always, made a good point. "So, unless we're going to revive the practice of public executions..."
Chloe looked up at that.
Lex smirked. "I believe I can offer an alternative."
Everyone turned to face him.
Lex eyed Chloe thoughtfully. "What do you know about the Balcoin Halls of Thrall?"
"The what?" The only female member of the Original heads asked in confusion, a sinking feeling in her gut.
"What about the Thrall War?" Lex wanted to know.
Victor blinked. "That could actually work."
"Say what now?" As always, the blonde felt as if she was the only one who didn't know about herself, her abilities or her family and family history.
"Really? You don't know about the Thrall War?" Arthur blinked in shock as he moved in discomfort on his throne. "Those were some seriously scary times to be alive. I'm surprised that you don't know about them considering you have the Balcoin Book of Shadows. It was such an important part of the Balcoin history I was sure they would've recorded it in there."
"While I'm interested in the history lesson, don't get me wrong, what does this have to do with Nell?" Chloe stared between the men, growing more and more nervous.
Lex's lips curled in a smirk.