Cerion Vex knew death, and he didn't fancy his chances of going through that horrible and cold feeling once again. It was not entirely true, as Cerion didn't exactly know death.

Before he became Cerion of House Vex in Krypton, he had another name and was just an employee of a bank working in the HR department. Unfortunately, fate decided to throw a curveball in the form of a car accident that left him in the hospital for a week. At the end of that week, he died from internal bleeding, which the doctors were too late to find. He knew he was going to die, and he dearly wished some miracle would save him. That didn't stop his vision from going dark and a terrible cold spreading from his legs to his head. His last memory was the red, puffy eyes of his girlfriend, whom he should have treated a bit better in retrospect.

Contrary to his leap into the unknown abyss that was death, he woke up into the light, and a whole new world was waiting for him. It took him only a few months to piece together exactly what happened and where he was. Somehow, he ended up in the fictional DC universe and that too in Krypton before the planet went boom. Strangely enough, he was born into the house of Vex, which was supposed to die out with Nyssa Vex. Instead, he learned that he was a descendant of Nyssa's sister, Celia Vex, who happened to be his grandmother. He couldn't care less about that as he was bombarded with the enormity of the situation he was in at the moment.

His wish had been granted, and now he lived as Cerion Vex, albeit in a world that only existed in fiction. The situation became all the more problematic because he was living on a planet that was a ticking time bomb, not to mention there were very dangerous beings lurking out in the galaxy. He also feared the circumstances behind his rebirth, as it could only happen with quirky, omnipotent beings. He feared what that meant as every human soul was just a piece of entertainment for some random all-powerful beings, or did this happen by some cosmic mojo? He didn't know.

What he knew for sure was that he didn't want to die again.

Staying in Krypton was a death sentence, and he had no idea the exact year or date the whole thing would go boom. The only thing he knew for sure was that it would explode into a thousand pieces shortly after Kal-El was born. Therefore, his only option was to somehow escape the planet of doom at the exact moment of Kal-El's escape or perhaps even before that if he was lucky.

With this simple plan in mind, Cerion began his new life in Krypton. Ten years into his life, he realised that escaping Krypton before Kal-El's birth was just a pipe dream and an impossible one at that. Krypton's deep-space defence security systems ensured no unauthorised hyperspace launches could be possible. Most planets had space defences for threats from beyond space, but Krypton focused its firepower on its own people to prevent them from space travel.

The security was too tight, and gravity wells were placed around the planet to ensure nothing went in or out without the express permission of the Kryptonian military. At this point he realised that his time of escape had to align with Zod's military coup. He had no intention of standing in the guy's way as he didn't fancy dying at the general's hands.

He also doubted he could somehow influence the Kryptonian council to start preparing for an immediate evacuation. If Jor-El and Dru-Zod couldn't do it, then he was certainly not the guy to convince the council, and that was if the Council would even hear him.

The House of Vex 'was' very influential, but because of its association with the previous administration, they were very much on the blacklist. It took his father and mother every scrap of goodwill to even be allowed as low-ranking members in the Lawmaker's guild.

It took a lot of bribes and his father's marriage to a distant relative of one of the Council members to earn that goodwill. His own birth, which the oracle predicted, and his subsequent 'fate' to be a good member of the Science Guild also helped somewhat. This ensured the future of the Vex family lay in science and research rather than politics.

He didn't complain about his supposed 'fate' one bit, as that was exactly what he wanted. Being in the Military guild would put him under Zod, but he would be exposed to Jor-El in the Science guild. At least he hoped he would be exposed to the man before everything went nuts.

So, knowing that his life was at stake, Cerion put his entire being into education. His distant relationship with Jor-El helped speed up his entry into the science guild. At the age of fifteen, he managed to enter the guild, and for one year, he worked as an apprentice to Jor-El.

Working under Jor-El made him realise how much of a genius the man was. Jor-El was working on a ton of projects all at once. Alternate energy, increased range of Phantom drives, monitoring the seismic activities of Krypton, and research into artificial intelligence were some of the few areas that Jor-El was researching. The guy was Krypton's foremost scientific expert in about every major field. He recommended that Cerion be selected for the research team that focused on alternate energy, more specifically, energy extraction from Anti-matter.

It was a project under the direct oversight of the Kryptonian Council and Jor-El. The facility had yet to extract the energy sufficiently as research was ongoing, but the results were promising. If the extraction process could be efficient, then Krypton could stop the exploitation of the planet's core.

Cerion's involvement in this project allowed him to access the lab on the moon of Krypton named Koron. The moon base was damaged heavily in the last civil war and was now depopulated. Only a research facility, which was mostly automated, was left in the base. This access to the moon base allowed Cerion to access a ship.

Unfortunately, the ship was not equipped with a Phantom Drive, and other Kryptonian scientists were nearby with a whole platoon of military guards. But fate gave him an opportunity through Lara-El. Jor-El's wife was working on the same energy project with him, and that was an opportunity he used to his advantage. He kept a keen eye on Laura, and being close to Jor, he was on good terms with his wife. When Laura suddenly decided to quit the project, he knew the jig was up.

That's how he found himself before the house of the El family. Well, not all El's lived here. Jor and Laura indeed called this tower their home. As Cerion stepped out of his hover car on the landing platform of the tower, the doors opened to reveal Jor. Usually, Jor would never greet guests as it was Laura, the more social of the two, and that alone confirmed his suspicions.

"Cerion! What a pleasant surprise." Jor greeted with a forced smile.

"It's nice to see you as well, Jor, and don't try very hard to smile. It doesn't suit you."

His joke just floored the scientist, and Jor laughed awkwardly.

"I was curious about why Lara would suddenly quit the project. We were making stellar progress, and then she suddenly stopped one day." said Cerion, and then he conspiratorially leaned closer. "Has the core destabilised already? Is there no hope left?"

Having worked closely with Jor-El has had its perks. Cerion knew what was going on with Krypton, so he had some leeway with the lab and its facilities. He was also watching the core, which had yet to destabilise completely, but it was only a matter of time. Krypton had never seen such a phenomenon, and an exact timeframe was hard to predict.

"Not yet, but as you know, anything can happen. The council has refused even to stop the mining despite my best efforts. All I could get out of the last meeting was for the matter to be considered as an issue. The Council will deliberate on my findings and decide sometime later."

"You and I both know that is not useful. We are all dead anyway. Have you suggested an evacuation procedure?"

"I did, but they immediately shot that down. The Council is extremely concerned that it will only cause mass hysteria and has asked me to never speak of this again."

"Those fools will sentence this planet to ruin while they debate endlessly. We need to ensure at least something survives of Krypton. Perhaps we can send some children out into one of the colonies or a distant planet without the council's knowledge."

Cerion's suggestion took Jor by surprise.

"You are suggesting that we betray the trust of the council. We will be committing treason and heresy." Jor warned, but Cerion could see Jor was not bothered by his supposed treason.

"The council exists for the betterment of all of Krypton, but we both know that Krypton will die. Is it not our duty to salvage something from Krypton? We can't save everyone without the Council's cooperation, but we can at least ensure some children live through the disaster. Perhaps they will be able to give our race a fresh beginning."

Jor was silent for some time, carefully watching Cerion, and then seemed to let out a sigh.

"Come inside. We have a lot of things to discuss." Jor invited him inside, and history changed for better or worse; none of them knew.

After that conversation, Cerion was filled in about Lara's pregnancy and agreed to help them transport their son off-world. The next few months were dedicated to working out a new Phantom Drive that could open the hyperspace channel even under the influence of Krypton's gravity. The modified Drive also requires a longer range to escape any pursuers and for quick access to the destination. With Cerion having access to Jor's plans, he built a modified Phantom Drive on his own, which he planned to install on the ship docked at the moon base. For months, they planned and plotted while Laura carried the baby. Cerion had to work day and night for the chance to make his escape along with Kal-El.

Every day that he worked on the moon base was a risk. Cerion knew that he was a dead man if there was a whiff of treason from his side. The military was getting restless, especially with General Zod creating a ruckus against the council. All the higher echelons of various guilds knew what was happening with Krypton. The signs have started to become very visible for the council to dismiss them. Most of the water bodies on the planet were getting heated up rapidly. Most volcanoes were beginning to go active one by one across the planet. The seawater was getting desalinated rapidly, and all aquatic creatures were dying due to rapid climate change. Thunderstorms were now abundant on the planet, causing enormous destruction to remote settlements. Only the energy shields around major cities like Kandor have proved effective against thunderstorms. But such measures were only going to be effective for the time being. It was only a matter of time before even the most advanced cities of Krypton would suffer under the wrath of the planet.

Cerion was working on some of the firewalls when he received a message from Jor. "The flower has been delivered safely. It is class M. Laura wants a child, and we plan to name the child Kal-El."

The message translated to the delivery was successful; the child was male. They have also named the child as Kal-El. So he quickly replied, knowing that time was at stake and they had many preparations to see through.

"Congratulations. The procedure is ready to be enacted."

Minutes after Cerion's message was read, Jor called back all personnel from the moon base except for a few guards and Cerion himself. Cerion took control of the moon base and then shut down the gravity wells around Krypton. He didn't have to deactivate every gravity well but just those close to the moon. Jor would initiate the launch and trace a path for the launch vehicle straight for the moon. Cerion will have to take care of the guards after Jor give the signal, so he starts preparing.

Cerion watched as the ship returned after transporting all of his colleagues. Now, almost twenty guards were left in the base, and he knew just how to take care of them. But the coup had yet to start, and Jor had not given him the signal. So, Cerion used this time to make his own preparations. He took the command key that would override the base's security systems and inserted it into the prime slot. For a brief moment, the security alarms blared in the base before everything returned to normal.

"This is Cerion-Vex speaking. Please don't panic. This malfunction is the product of a new command key designed for this experimental procedure. For the duration of this experiment, no one is allowed to leave the base under any circumstances. Please maintain your positions and cooperate. Thank you."

With that part of the plan over, he directed the droids to replace the ship's Phantom Drive with the modified Drive. While this was happening, he began to set some explosives and poison gases around the base. The Antimatter chamber would be sealed with him staying inside, and when the time was right, he would take care of the facility's armed guards. For hours, he waited, all the while hacking into the generators powering the gravity wells close to the moon. Then, all of a sudden, Jor's voice came through the comms.

"Cerion! Are you there? Can you hear me?"

"I can hear you, Jor. What's happened? Why are you delaying the launch?" Cerion asked as the time that they had planned was passing away.

"I was held up by Zod. The General has launched his coup. I am on my way to the tower, but a full civil war is being fought here. Are you ready up there?"

"I am ready. On your signal, I can deactivate the gravity wells."

"What about other orbital forces?"

"I doubt they can intercept the launch, especially with the civil war. I am already getting reports of the fleet descending into the planet. Even if they decide to interfere, I have some other contingencies in place."

"We owe you, Cerion. Thank you for everything."

"Thank me after the plan succeeds. Launch Kal to space Jor and leave the rest to me. May the light of Rao be with you."

Cerion cut the connection and initiated the program to clean up the lab.

"Initiate STRIKE protocol."

"Command key accepted. Initiating STRIKE protocol."

The holographic image of the lab flashed into existence, and several yellow spots in the image began to pulse, signalling the start of poisonous gas infusing into the breathing air. While this occurred, Cerion began to gear up with a re-breather and battle suit. He loaded his gun and adjusted the settings to kill mode. He could stun any stranger, but what was the point? All of them were going to die anyway, and he didn't need some fool to wake up from a stun gun and foil all his plans.

"Initiate Project WISDOM and standby for Project DISMANTLE."


Project WISDOM was the protocol to hack into the archives of Krypton and store specific data regarding technology and military secrets in a separate databank on the ship. Project DISMANTLE, on the other hand, was designed to secure Kal-El's escape. With the lab under his command key, he set out of the lab's secure vaults straight for his ship.

He carefully navigated the tunnels of the lab, ensuring that there was no life signature to any of the guards stationed at the facility. As he came across the final tunnel to the dockyard, he noticed his armband projecting two life signatures.

'They must have used a rebreather and escaped the effects of the poison gas.'

He took out a small metallic ball and quickly threw it into the tunnel straight for the two surviving guards. The ball flashed red and exploded, which was his cue. He threw himself into the tunnel and began firing his gun indiscriminately. Cerion shouldn't have bothered because the guards were already dead, as their rebreather was damaged in the explosion itself. With the path clear, he opened the tunnel doors and made his way to the ship. Thanks to the emergency lockdown he initiated, the ship's crew were also stuck in the lab, which made commandeering the ship all the easier.

He sped towards the ship as fast as possible, taking a speeder from the dock. When he finally arrived near the ship, he saw all the drones loading the ship with supplies for the long trip. After ensuring all supplies were loaded into the ship, he occupied the command chair, waiting for Jor's signal.

"Weapon's status?"

"All weapons online."

The drone that he had dubbed as Optima reported diligently.

"Shield's status?"

"Shield at 100%."

"Status of the Phantom drive?"

"Fully operational."

'Looks like all there is left to do is to wait for Jor's signal.' He thought.

Suddenly, a pop-up barged into the main screen with Jor's face on it.

"We are ready for the launch, Cerion."

"Good. We are ready over here, Jor. Send in Kal and leave the rest to me. Do remember that we have only a half-hour window. After that, my position will be crawling with the Kryptonian fleet." said Cerion as he initiated the DISMANTLE protocol.

Jor just nodded before the screen abruptly cut off.

Cerion increased the range of the ship's sensors, and he immediately noticed the launch of a ship from Krypton.

"The gravity wells have been disabled, Lord Vex. Project WISDOM has also run its course," reported Optima

"Good. Looks like it is time for our escape as well." said Cerion as he received the command key containing Project WISDOM. He secured it inside his tactical belt before taking the ship out of the base and began to move steadily outside of the moon's gravitational pull.

"Lord Vex, several vessels are in pursuit of Kal-El." Optima reported.

"Well, we can't have that now, can we." Cerion muttered as he needed Kal-El to be on earth else the timeline would go to shit. Besides, his own escape depended on the absence of any enemy ships.

Cerion gave full power to the ship's engines and took it straight to intercept the ships on Kal-El's tail. Within a few minutes, his ship's sensors picked up signatures of four ships.

"Plot their course and engage battle mode."

Immediately, Optima came through and began to project the course of the ships. He let the first one fly past him as it was the ship of Kal-El and then greeted the other three with a rain of fire. At the angle they were fighting, they had to depend entirely on virtual display because they were under the cover of Koron, one of the moons of Krypton.

Cerion winced as his ship shook under enemy fire.

"Shields at 90%."

"Arm Dismantler Cannon." He ordered as he pulled his ship through evasive manoeuvres. When the screen showed the cannon achieved 70% power, he fired the weapon in the general direction of the enemy ships. A bright silver light pierced through the vacuum of space and punched through two enemy ships in a blink. His naked eye could observe the bright explosions in the space before him.

"Kal-El has escaped from the Rao system, Lord Vex."

"Good. Now, let's make our move and join little Kal." He said as he turned the ship around and blasted straight back.

"Engage the Phantom Drive."

"The gravity wells are being reactivated, lord Vex. Their systems are rebooting. It seems there was a failsafe in the system." Optima warned

"When will the Phantom Drive activate?" Cerion asked in a panic.

"Not before the gravity wells are re-engaged."

"This Phantom Drive is a modified version. It can withstand the strain of gravity wells." He consoled himself even though he knew he never tested the new Drive in extreme gravity. 'Looks like I will just have to wing it.'

His ship violently shook as the gravity wells suddenly came online. A few minutes later, the Phantom Drive came online as well.

"Engage the Phantom Drive!" he shouted in alarm as the gravitational intensity increased. He could hear the metal frames of his ship warp under the pressure. There was a flash of white light and a violent tug. He could listen to the warping of metal under the immense strain, and in a jiffy, he was airborne. All of a sudden, he felt as if he couldn't breathe, and his body felt like it was being squeezed through a narrow tube, and then he knew no more.

1st January 2000

Phil had worked closely with Nicholas Fury throughout his career in SHIELD. In those long years, he had never seen Nick Fury, now the Director of SHIELD, being this anxious. His eyes traced the Director, who anxiously paced back and forth in his office. Phil couldn't blame the man. Even though he was skittish, his Director did it for both of them. Who wouldn't be skittish, especially when the Director of NASA calls in and reports a space-time anomaly was detected close to Earth? Keep in mind that this call came right after celebrating the New Year and the arrival of a new millennium.

When SHIELD was mobilised, and all its firepower was focused on the sky, NASA reported the phenomenon was over. An alien object was floating aimlessly in space, spinning close to Earth. The Director immediately called in some favours and locked out NASA from the entire process, and SHIELD took over. After all, SHIELD did have some expertise in handling alien invasion, which was not much, but they were more qualified than any other agency. The Director had the option to blow the object up, or he could capture the object and bring it back to earth. The Director chose to bring it to Earth, especially after their analysts pieced together that the object in question was an alien. That alone was enough for Director Fury to send a Quinjet and bring the dead alien back to the base.

Just letting the corpse float around in space would be ripe for disaster. The body would inevitably be drawn into Earth's atmosphere, and who knows what would happen after that? There is also the distant possibility that some other space agencies of the world may also take notice, and if they do, then the knowledge that there were aliens around would only spark mass hysteria. The retrieval operation was named Blue Lotus, and SHIELD's best agents were in that Quinjet.

"Director Fury. Do you copy?"

With that, the crew of Operation Blue Lotus broke the radio silence.

Phil stood up from his seat, looked at the Director calmly, and gave a nod of support. He watched his colleague slash boss press the button on the communication device.

"Agent Hill, report."

"We have collected the package, sir. But you will not believe this. The alien is still alive. Both heartbeat and pulse are steady."

Phil exchanged a look of surprise with the Director. What kind of an alien entity can survive the vacuum of space?

"What should we do, sir?"

Phil noticed that the Director was silent for a few minutes before he took a deep breath.

"Bring it in, Agent Hill. Your mission remains the same."

"Yes, sir."

With that, the comms cut off, and there was radio silence again.

The Director sagged into his chair with a sigh.

"Interesting days are ahead of us, Coulson. The new millennia is off to a good start." said Fury with a shake of his head.

"At least we didn't have an alien invasion, sir. We might even benefit from a diplomatic exchange if the alien is friendly." He tried to lighten the mood.

"I don't have to tell you that in this line of business, we can't afford such luxury." said Fury

"Prepare for the worst, and you won't be surprised." He said grimly

"Indeed. I want you on this right away, Coulson. You have direct oversight."

"Yes, sir."