When they found her in the `Honored Ones' area of the compound where women favored by the `Divine Missionary' were kept in seclusion, Lana was helping to tend his children by the other women. The children were wearing wire baskets on their heads, the better to synchronize their thoughts with their father and receive messages from the `Father.' She was wearing white robes with mystical symbols embroidered on it and a silver circelet to keep away impure thoughts. After everyone had gone to sleep, it was only then that the soldiers of fortune kidnapped her and got her out of there.
It took several sessions of deprogramming before she could finally use words that weren't in some Temple handbook or parroting the decrees of the "Divine Missionary."
"Why did this happen?" said Kyle Tippett, psychologist and deprogrammer.
"I . . . He promised me all the answers. He said that I would never be alone. He said that I would always be loved," she said, crying. "He was like God to me, making me feel special."
Pete was sitting across from Kyle in his office. "So, how is she?"
"We're making a little progress."
"How could she fall for all that? I mean I read all the reports the private investigator gave me and the whole thing is nuts. `Divine Missionary,' `Honored Ones,' why?"
Kyle Tippet sighed. "Cults are designed to suck people in. They go after people who feel a void, promise to fill that emptiness and slowly isolate people from anybody else who can pull them back. They give literature, say that everyone else is biased against them, take people on retreats, tell them how special they are, how only they were chosen. They slowly get more and more control over someone by cutting her off from everyone she knows on the outside, and even try to question their identity. When she first came in, Lana wasn't even going by her real name. She was going by her `honored' name of `Mariah.'"
"What are you going to do?"
"I don't know. We were already separated when she disappeared. I don't want to leave her when she needs this much help but . . . I love her but I think I fell out of love with her a long time ago. I was always the man behind the throne but she always wanted a man who was ON the throne. I think that's why she might've gotten tangled up with this. He must've offered her something that I couldn't give her. It's too bad that he turned out to be a total fraud." Pete sighed again and said, "Please keep me up to date on how she is." Pete got up from the chair to leave. "Send all the bills to me. Do what you think is necessary."
When the package appeared on his desk, Lex had ordered the contents to be tested. After exhaustive tests, they tested out to be what they appeared to be, a clip of Kryptonite rounds that would fit perfectly into a semi-automatic gun. The mysterious thing was the note that had accompanied the package.
"Meet me at the penthouse at midnight on Friday. Superman. P.S. Make sure to take the clip with you."
The message had shocked him deeply. Is he suicidal, thought Lex. He dismissed the thought out of his head. There must be some sort of trick, he thought. Perhaps he wants to try out some new Kryptonite-proof shielding and wants to use me as the shooter. He shook his head at that. He could get somebody else to help him test it or even set up a machine to do it. Why me? A bitter smile crossed his face. Perhaps it's all some sort of moral test. Sadly, I was always meant to fail.
The clip fit his gun perfectly.
He turned to see Clark Kent dressed in a regular business suit. "What are you doing here?"
"Lex . . . it's been such a long time . . ." Clark looked about to cry.
"I'm not waiting for you."
"I'm Superman, Lex."
Lex pulled his gun of the holster at his side and pointed it at the intruder. "I've got a gun. You're on my property. I suggest you . . ." He stopped when he saw Clark grab his chest as if in a great deal of pain. Confused, he could only watch as Clark pulled open his shirt and he saw the symbol on his chest burning an angry, painful red. "Oh, my God, you're really . . ."
Clark slumped to the ground as the burning red glow subsided. "I was the one who sent you the bullets, Lex."
Lex looked at his gun as if scared. "Why on earth would you send me Kryptonite bullets?"
"Because I know . . . this is something that you wanted to do for years now. Think of it as a parting gift." The symbol again blazed and Clark writhed in pain before him.
"How long has this been going on? Why are you . . ."
"A year before you left Smallville . . . It's a `present' from my biological father to keep me in line, to get me to do what he wants me to do."
"Why didn't you tell me? I could've . . ."
Clark tried to push himself up to a sitting position. "There was nothing you could do. Nobody could help me. All I could do was scare everyone else away so they wouldn't get hurt. But you wouldn't give up on me, so I had to try harder and harder to get you to leave. But I've been so alone for years. I can't stand it anymore feeling compelled to help people, to set things straight while knowing that I hurt so many people over the years, especially you."
"Clark . . ." Lex's voice cracked with pain. He hadn't said the word in years, couldn't bring himself to say the first name of the man who had betrayed and lied to him too many times until now. "Are you asking me to kill you?"
"Yes, yes, I am."
It was quiet for a second. Lex snapped. "It's a trick. It's . . ." His voice trailed off as he saw Clark begin to crawl towards him as the scar forming the symbol lit up again. As Clark got closer and closer to Lex, he slowly began showing the effects of Kryptonite poisoning as he got closer not only to the bullets inside the gun but also the ring on Lex's finger that held several carats of the accursed material.
"I don't blame you for not believing me but I've told you who I am."
"Too late," whispered Lex.
"I'm not asking for your forgiveness, just your help. My father keeps telling me to kill you but I won't. But I don't know how long I can hold out. Lex, you have to kill me before I really hurt you." Sweat soaked the back of his shirt and rolled down his temple. "I'm sorry for lying, sorry for deceiving you, sorry for hurting you but this is all I can offer you. " He managed to get on his knees and opened his arms so Lex could have a clear shot.
After hesitating, Lex shot three bullets into Clark's chest. Clark fell back and writhed in pain. Lex knelt down and wrapped his arms around his former best friend, holding him close. "I've got you. I've got you. I'm here, I'm here."
It took a while for Clark to finally die. Even after he was dead, Lex felt reluctant to let him go but wanted to continue whispering all the things that he hadn't gotten to say from declarations of love to angry condemnations to pleadings for answers. After all, there was more than three decades worth.
3. Call of the Siren
"What's that on your plate?" said Chloe, pointing to the thinly cut pieces of red meat on Lex's plate. There was also a small dish with ponzu sauce for dipping.
"Mermaid meat," said Lex. They were sitting at the dining table in his penthouse.
"Oh, come on," scoffed Chloe. "I bet it's just Kobe beef."
Lex smiled enigmatically. "Eating mermaid meat is supposed to make you immortal, according to Japanese legend." He used chopsticks to pick up a piece, dipped it into the sauce and ate it with obvious relish.
"You want to be immortal, Lex?"
"I want to be immortal in all senses of the word," said Lex.
Chloe looked terribly amused. "I think I'll pass."
"Your loss. Tell me if you ever change your mind. I just find it fascinating that the legend of mermaids and creatures like them are a global phenomenon. There are tales from Germany, Ireland and even India. You have heard of the legend of seals who shed their skin and turn out to be pretty women."
"Of course," said Chloe. "Mermaids and the like are very much symbols of temptation and forbidden fruit . . ."
"Leading men to their doom."
Chloe raised an eyebrow. "I hope you're not hinting something."
Lex laughed. "No, no I'm not. In the Odyssey, Sirens, though not technically mermaids, sang their songs to entice sailors to crash their ships on the rocks to their deaths. Only Odysseus heard them and avoided a like fate by being tied to the mast while his crew had stopped their ears with beeswax to avoid hearing the treacherous song. During the Middle Ages, mermaids became symbols of danger to one's soul." He took another slice and obviously relished the taste.
Chloe looked at her own plate of sashimi and ate a piece of fatty tuna. "Well I think I'll stick with what I'm having for today." However, she looked a little curious about what Lex was so obviously relishing.
"Will you be coming next week?"
Shortly before Chloe was coming to have dinner with him, Lex went down into a secret level underneath the basement of Luthercorp. It was a level nobody but he was aware of. He carried a small leather bag with him. He let the security system scan his retinas for verification of his identity.
The door opened to show a naked man tied to a lab table with straps studded with green crystal "Lex, please . . ." he said, looking quite ill and his veins pulsing a luminescent green.
However, Lex always took care to seal his ears so he couldn't hear any lies or deceptions that would steer him off course. He pulled out a scalpel from the leather bag . . .
Author's notes: Ningyou is the Japanese word for "doll" The kanji break down to "man" "shape." Ningyo is the Japanese word for mermaid. The kanji break down to "man" "fish."
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