Far Side of the World

by mobiusklein

"You are spending an awful lot of money on this trip to the New World," said Captain Gabe Sullivan of the Intrepid as he sat across the dining table from the chief sponsor of his upcoming voyage. He looked at the well-furnished mansion with mahogany furniture and ivory carvings and hand-woven carpets with intricate patterns and wondered why Lex Luthor would want to leave such comfortable surroundings.

"I consider it an investment," said Lex. "If I find what I'm looking for then it'll be money well spent." Lex took a decanter of Scotch and said, "Care for some?"

"Oh, that would be great," said Gabe as Lex poured him a glass. After adding a little water, Gabe took a sip and said, "Lovely stuff." It was much better than what he could afford on his salary.

Lex smiled and poured himself a glass as well.

"What is it that you expect to find?" said Gabe.

Lex took an object the size of an orange wrapped in red silk and unfolded the cloth, revealing a large brilliant crystal.

"Is that a diamond?" said Gabe, amazed at its size and clarity.

"No, it's not."

"Say what you like but it doesn't look like glass or paste," said Gabe skeptically. "And as far as I know, there hasn't been any word of diamond mines."

"It's not what I plan to find. It's what I plan to use to find what I'm after."

"I don't think it's a good idea to take it on board. My men are honest but that is enormous and incredibly tempting."

"It's not a diamond. It's something much more precious." Lex put his hand on it and it glowed. After a few seconds, an apparition of a tall, handsome man with dark hair in strange clothes appeared with hieroglyphs in a circle around and above his head. A foreign tongue was quietly being intoned. Lex took his hand off and all of it disappeared.

"What was that?" said Gabe.

"I found this in Egypt. I believe it to be an artifact from an ancient civilization that in many ways was much more advanced than our own. The reason I want to go to the New World is that a friend there sent me a piece of metal that he got in trade from one of the natives that had lettering much like the one you saw. The native said that it came from the West and said there were rumors of a man who came from the sky in a storm of fire claiming that he was sent by his father to rule the world with strength."

Gabe frowned. "I'm not sure I'd like to meet someone like that. He could be very dangerous."

Lex nodded. "Yes, he might be dangerous yet I need to meet him. I was hoping that my `gift' might get me access to him."

Gabe sighed. "If he is an emperor or a chief of a very large tribe then a gift like that might be your best option. I will say that I don't want word of this crystal floating about, it'll cause unrest among the crew."

"Of course."

"May I come in?" said Gabe outside Lex's door.

"Please do."

"We'll be reaching landfall within a few days," said Gabe as he entered Lex's quarters and closed the door behind him. He felt a certain melancholy while saying that. During the weeks it took to get to the colonies, Gabe had spent much of his free time with Lex, playing cards and enjoying some of the Scotch Lex had brought onboard. Lex would talk about the various places and he had gone during his quest while Gabe would entertain him with stories about the many voyages he had been on. Occasionally, he would wax sentimental and talk about his daughter and her hobby of writing stories about fantastically powered beings engaged in an eternal war of good versus evil. He would even break out the violin and joke with him about the quality of his playing.

"Thank God," said Lex as he looked up from his book. "I don't think I could have tolerated the cuisine for much longer."

"The cook's not going to be happy to hear that," said Gabe lightly then he became serious. "Even if your friend does confirm there is a man in the west who knows about that," said Gabe, sitting across from him and waving in the general direction of the wrapped red bundle on the table, "How will you get there?"

"I was thinking of using some of the goods on the ship to pay for a guide and a few men to accompany me." Seeing Gabe's pessimistic expression, he said, "I know that it will not be easy but . . ." He unwrapped the crystal and put his hand on it, letting it cast a bright light in the room before taking his hand back. "Ever since I found this, I feel compelled to find out who he is and what those characters mean. Occasionally, I feel as if it's my destiny."

"Destiny?" said Gabe. It was a word that he often heard used but rarely thought of in terms of his own life. It was a concept that he thought belonged mostly in fanciful stories that his daughter liked to write.

"You must want to laugh . . ."

"No, it's just that destiny doesn't seem to have much use for a man like me."

Before Lex could answer, the door to his room flew off its hinges and Gabe and Lex briefly caught sight of a man who looked very much like the apparition before he disappeared. It was only after his disappearance that they noticed the crystal was gone.

There was a general hubbub the morning after with various crew members claiming to have seen a man flying, landing, disappearing then flying away. As neither Gabe nor Lex wanted the crew to know about the crystal, they could not explain why he had come. As sailors were often superstitious, it took several stern lectures and threats of being put in the brig to get them to settle down and get back to the business.

When they landed at their destination, it calmed many of the sailors' fears and raised their spirits. In contrast, Lex was further depressed as he talked to his friend Colin Winchester who apologized for having no more information or artifacts for him. The natives of the area had suddenly become frightened and refused to answer any more questions. Colin had told him that it was obvious none of them would guide him to this man no matter how much he offered in trading goods and money.

Disheartened, he walked along the shore and looked back towards England. He had briefly thought of trying to head west by himself but knew that was utter lunacy.

"I'm sorry that you lost something that you treasured and on my watch," said Gabe.

"I don't blame you. Nothing could've stopped him. At least, you and a good number of the crew saw what happened so nobody will accuse me of being mad . . ."

"We'll leave as soon as . . . Hold on, isn't that . . ." said Gabe as he pointed in the distance at what appeared to be the man holding the crystal in one of his hands.

"Yes, it is."

Lex stepped forward but Gabe grabbed hold of his arm. "What are you doing?" Gabe hissed.

"He's the man I've come all this way to see. And he has my crystal," Lex said. "Now please let go."

Gabe let Lex go and could only watch as Lex walked up to the smiling man who was waiting quietly.

Lex put his hand on the crystal as if to take it away from him when the man put his hand on top of Lex's. The crystal lit up but there was no apparition this time. Instead there was a circle of ever-changing hieroglyphs rotating around their hands. Gabe stepped forward but the man gave him a severe look and shook his head sternly as if warning him to stay away. The man turned his attention back to Lex while Lex looked as if he was starting to understand something that was very, very good news.

Gabe Sullivan watched as the man put his arms around Lex and disappeared into the sky with him. He knew that it would be useless to raise an alarm and organize a search though he knew that people would look for him anyway. As he made his way to the colony, he felt a strange sadness because he had seen destiny up close and it had no use for an utterly ordinary man like him.

The End

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