“Before the technological revolution that preceded the actual French revolution,” Lex said, like he was continuing a conversation and not preparing Molotov cocktails for a standoff with the nightmare beasts from inside the mists, “French cannon were engraved with the phrase ‘Ultima Ratio Regum.’”
Given time—heck, given internet access—Clark could have figured that one out, but in the interests of saving time he just stared at Lex instead.
“The last argument of the king,” Lex explained. He didn’t meet Clark’s eyes as his fingers ran over the rag-stuffed bottles, undoubtedly thinking that these particular arguments were likely to prove unpersuasive. Clark would’ve preferred the contents of Lex’s labs too, at this point, but they were lost to the mists now, and at least Lex had been able to improvise with the contents of his old office in the mansion.
If Lex had stayed in Metropolis after the latest scandal—if Clark hadn’t followed him to make sure he was behaving himself—
They might both be dead now with the rest. Clark forced himself to consider only the next steps. The monsters wouldn’t get easier to fight if he was distracted.
“Lex,” Clark said.
Lex looked up, and the dark smudges under his eyes made him look oddly younger, like they were back in the early days in Smallville. “If this is the part where I’m supposed to tell you ‘don’t,’ and to save it for when we’re safe—we’re not going to be safe.”
“I know,” Clark told him.
“Even if we make it to Kansas City—”
“Lex, I know,” Clark repeated.
Lex shut up then, and finally seemed to notice Clark himself. “How are you feeling?” he asked after a moment.
Clark didn’t need to worry about exposing his weakness to Lex, not now. If they survived, if they saved the world, Lex would undoubtedly try to weaponize whatever this was and turn it just on him. But Lex would wait, and Clark liked to think it was Lex’s weird sense of honor along with his ruthless pragmatism that would keep him safe from Lex until all other predators had been eliminated. “I could use some sun,” Clark admitted. “But I’ve been stable for the last couple of hours. I’m at about a third of my ordinary speed and strength. No flying, no heat vision, but I can still see further up and down the spectrum than a human, and if I concentrate I still have some enhanced hearing.” The cut from the thing with the razored tentacles was mostly healed, after five hours, which was better than nothing.
Lex frowned, distracted into scientist mode. “None of that should be happening, not if this is simple time displacement.” Only Lex could talk about what looked like the return of the dinosaurs as ‘simple,’ Clark thought with near fondness. “I need equipment.” In other circumstances, Clark would’ve expected him to kick over a table in frustration, but Lex was not quite as volatile as their hand-made explosives, and his minimal sense of self-preservation kept him from a tantrum.
“If this isn’t a scientific phenomenon—” Clark began, half hoping to distract Lex again into canned speech #33, ‘there’s no such thing as magic, only science we don’t know yet.’ But that must have been obvious on his face, because Lex glared him into silence.
“I’m currently working on the theory that it’s an extradimensional incursion, not that it matters when we have no access to S.T.A.R. or even a good SWAT arsenal.” Lex rubbed the back of his head and rotated his shoulders; he healed fast, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t hurting from four hours of emergency weapons assembly after twenty straight hours of dodging giant deadly beasts.
Clark finished packing all the nonperishable food he’d been able to find in the recesses of the mansion. Since the place had been in mothballs for years, opened only when Lex had reason to revisit old hurts, there hadn’t been much. It certainly wouldn’t last long if they found survivors along the way, and Clark wasn’t looking forward to that argument: even if Lex’s paranoiacally armored and reinforced limousine had room for a few more, they’d have to expose themselves for any rescue, and if they found more than five people—
Best not to get ahead of himself.
“Ready?” Lex asked, carefully hoisting his clanking bag, and gesturing for Clark to get the two other sacks waiting.
Clark nodded and they headed out towards the revised world.