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Clark Superman

Family Reunion - Chapter 48 - Out of Action

Title: Family Reunion
Author:  mr_beeto 
Fandom: Richard Donner and Bryan Singer's Superman MovieVerse (i.e., without Salkind corruption)
Rating: PG
Word Count: Chapter 48 - 6,103; Total - 206,889
Beta: dandello and htbthomas
Summary: AU Twist on Donner/Singer Movieverse: Tie the three films together into a cohesive whole, and provide a more credible and interesting reason for Superman to have returned to Krypton. The story starts here.

Chapter 47  ]     [  Table of Contents  ]     [  Chapter 48  ]

Author’s Notes:
Thanks again to the beta team of htbthomas and Shado Librarian, a.k.a. dandello.

Chapter 48 – Out of Action

Thursday, October 5, 2006 7:45PM EDT
Lois leaned forward in her seat at the crystal table in Superman’s Fortress, pensively studying the myriad display screens floating in the air before her.  Off to the right of the table was a life-size holographic projection which revealed Superman in his hospital room where he laid unconscious and also prominently displayed his vital signs in a floating window.  Also around the table were a number of smaller screens presenting the cable news broadcasts from the handful of North American stations that were still on the air or showing maps of the EMP-affected area on the East coast.  Another screen displayed the Planet’s web portal, and a small screen hovering directly over the table in front of her showed the text from one of the stories on the afternoon’s events that she had been dictating.

Once the narrative reached the point of Superman’s injuries, her gaze unconsciously shifted from the text document back to Clark and she reflected on her actions since the ordeal earlier.  Once Clark’s brush with death in the trauma ward was behind them, she had taken a hot shower and changed into the warm dry clothes that Lara provided – a shimmering white, long-sleeve, high-collared jumpsuit similar to the one Lara had appeared in.  Though initially annoyed with the choice, her disappointment quickly faded when she learned of the outfit’s environmental controls and felt its warmth radiate through her.

The thought of peaceful slumber in the Fortress’ comfortable guest quarters, as Lara had suggested, was inviting and Lois couldn’t deny her exhaustion.  However, she also couldn’t bear the thought of suspending her vigil and instead chose to return to Clark’s holographic image in the main chamber.  Her only concession to Jor-El and Lara’s demand that she rest was to sit at the table in front of the console platform rather than standing, once the hologram of Clark was relocated there.

Her vigil had been interrupted when Perry called on Richard’s satellite phone, insistently demanding the story on the EMP.  He pointed out that she was clearly the only person who seemed to have all the facts of the matter, which would normally mean a Planet exclusive.  Though they might not be able to actually print it this time, they could still license the story to other news outlets to make up for the lost print revenue.  Perry had also insisted that since she was part of the story, someone else would need to write up those details – preferably Clark, but Richard would do if her partner wasn’t available.  

Lois had reluctantly conceded his point and called Richard to join her at the Fortress.  Returning to Smallville to write up the story simply wasn’t an option.  She refused to leave Clark’s virtual bedside and didn’t need to worry about what the kids might overhear.  After summoning Richard to join her at the Fortress, she went to work pulling up all the available information on the afternoon’s events.

Since they were still operating under the special rules for Luthor coverage, she needed collaborating evidence to support the allegations against Luthor.  Fortunately, Jor-El had been able to reproduce video from his earlier scans of Luthor’s camcorder tapes and also produced composite images from the memories scanned from the minds of the criminals as they slumbered in stasis aboard the spaceborne protocontinent.  After editing out the kids from the recording, she uploaded video of Luthor’s incriminating ‘interview’ aboard the Gertrude, along with video of the missile launch from the ship’s stern.   She buried herself in the story and it quickly became a welcome distraction from her worry for Clark, though she did look over at his virtual bedside whenever one of the nurses showed up to check on him.

Her rumination was interrupted by Jor-El’s voice as he announced, “The transportation chamber will arrive at the portal in approximately one minute.”

“That didn’t take long,” Lois commented.

“The journey began approximately thirteen minutes ago,” Jor-El reminded her.

Lois rolled her eyes, rose from her seat, and headed towards the transportation portal in the front of the Fortress.  She walked through the imposing twenty-foot tall doors  out into the newly added entrance hall just as the hidden door in the side wall opened up, revealing Richard burdened with a pair of laptop bags over one shoulder and an old fashioned picnic basket in the opposite hand.  “Hey,” Lois greeted him wearily.

Richard looked over at her and commented, “Nice threads.”

Lois looked down at her jumpsuit and grumbled, “Jor-El and Lara insisted I wear this because of my alleged hypothermia.  I’ll change back into normal clothes later… but I’m keeping the boots.”

“That good, huh?” Richard replied casually.  He gestured towards the picnic basket and added, “Martha insisted on packing up a dinner for you.  There’s a thermos full of coffee, too.”

“Oh, thank God for Martha!” Lois exclaimed enthusiastically.  “You’d think that in the most advanced place on the face of the Earth that they’d know what coffee is … Some advanced civilization, huh?”

“Guess they don’t have much need for it,” Richard offered.  “I assume there’s some way to warm the food up?”

“There’s a kitchen in the East wing,” Lois answered casually.   “Follow me.”

“What’s through those doors behind us?” Richard asked, indicating the massive doors at the other end of the corridor.

“The arctic,” Lois explained.  “Jor-El says that the temperature’s around two below outside, down from today’s unseasonably warm five degrees Fahrenheit.”

“Oh,” Richard replied.  “Maybe I should have brought a jacket.”

“You’ll be fine inside,” Lois assured him.  “Just be grateful that there is an inside now.  A couple of weeks ago, this was still mostly an open-air structure.”

“When did Clark find the time for home improvements?” Richard wondered.

“He really didn’t need to.  The modifications were grown automatically.”

“Kind of like Luthor’s nightmare continent?” Richard inquired.

“Yeah, but without the nightmare… or the kryptonite, or the EMP,” Lois answered somberly.  “Well, at least Clark was able to get rid of that monstrosity, though it damn near killed him to do it.”

“I know.  Jor-El explained that to Ben and me before I came up.  He said that Clark fell from orbit, but that he’s ‘recovering’.  He didn’t go into very much detail beyond that.”

Lois sighed and then groused, “Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get anything useful out of that big floating head.”

“Big floating head?”

“You’ll see.  Anyway, Jor-El said that Clark’s cells are showing early signs of regeneration, but it’s going very slowly.  The process requires more energy that he’s getting now that the sun’s down.  And the idiots in charge at the hospital put him in an interior room without any windows for ‘security reasons’.  We’re going to have to do something about that.”

“What do you have in mind?” Richard asked.

“Let’s get inside and settled in before we get started on long explanations,” Lois suggested, and she turned back towards the door and waved her hand over a protrusion beside it.

“Authentication required,” Jor-El stated neutrally.

“Oh, come on!  I just came through!” Lois complained.

“That is the new security protocol that you insisted on,” Jor-El reminded her.

Lois huffed, and then irritably replied, “Fine.  Identify Lois Lane, pass phrase, ‘Reap the Wind’.  And grant Richard guest access to the Fortress on my authority.”

A thin line of blue light swept across the entrance hall and the interior doors then opened as Jor-El declared, “Identity confirmed and guest authorization granted.  You may proceed.”

-o-o-o-


Richard inspected the Fortress’ majestic architecture in amazement while following Lois inside.  He remained astonished that he was an invited guest at Superman’s Fortress and briefly overlooked the fact that the hero was also the shy son of Kansas farmers and Lois’ true love.  He recognized some architectural features from Luthor’s protocontinent and concluded that the Fortress was every bit as intimidating though far less ominous.  The pristine blue-white also struck him as far more majestic that the dingy green-grey of Luthor’s nightmarish creation.  It’s as much a Crystal Palace as it is a Fortress, he thought.

His thoughts were interrupted by Lois’ voice as she asked, “Were the kids any trouble?”

“Oh, they’re fine,” Richard assured her.  “Martha and Ben were going to run them both through some exercises after dinner.”

“Exercises?”

“Jason has to learn to control his strength,” Richard clarified.  “Martha thinks we should keep him home from school tomorrow and give him the weekend to work on that.”

“He didn’t break anything, did he?” Lois asked worriedly.

“Martha said not to worry about it.  The serving bowl he broke had seen its better day and Kara was able to bend the silverware back into shape.  Sounds like Martha was prepared for it.  She’s been using junk she picked up from rummage sales since Clark got back from Krypton with Kara, just in case.  I guess Clark was rough on dishes and furniture when he was that age...”

Richard stopped and fell mute as they passed into the interior chamber and saw Jor-El’s floating head scrutinizing the hologram of Clark’s unconscious form.  After a moment, Richard broke from his stupor and quietly commented, “Ah, so that’s the big floating head.  And Clark’s here now?”

“Yes and no.  Yes, that big floating head is Jor-El, and no, that’s not really Clark.  It’s just a holographic image generated from the probes that are monitoring him,” Lois said somberly.  “He’s still in that Philly hospital, though they really don’t know what to do for him beyond getting the kryptonite fragments out of his wounds.  None of those idiots have figured out that he needs sunlight.”

“He gets his power from the sun,” Richard quoted.  “How do we fix that?”

“Jor-El’s working on it,” Lois replied enigmatically.  She resumed walking towards the holographic displays and added, “Come on.  Let’s drop the laptops at that table and then head to the kitchen to heat up the food.”

Richard had just set the laptop bags on the table when Jor-El shifted his gaze to Lois and announced, “The starship is now in range.”

“Then energize already,” Lois commanded irritably.

“The term ‘energize’ is ambiguous,” Jor-El replied neutrally.  “Please clarify your meaning.”

Lois huffed and said insistently, “Beam down the sun lamps.”

“That was my intention,” Jor-El informed her.  Two bright balls of light then appeared on either side of Clark’s hospital bed.  Razor thin vertical rays of blue light appeared in the middle of the light balls and spread horizontally along the length of the bed as narrow rectangular objects materialized between them.  A moment later, the light faded away to reveal two floating objects resembling stretched florescent light fixtures.  The fixtures lit up, bathing Clark in a bright white light.

“Wow,” Richard murmured breathlessly.

“Voilà!  Sunlight,” Lois declared.  “And next time they check on him, Jor-El will enlighten them on the proper treatment regimen.”

Richard wearily, “That’ll keep the tabloids buzzing for awhile if it gets out.  ‘Superman’s Father Arrives at Son’s Bedside’.”

“We’ll contain it,” Lois insisted.  “Just one more thing we’ll have to work on tonight…  Bet you never thought the biggest story of the century would show up under your byline.”

Richard shook his head and added, “Not necessarily.  I was thinking about something Ben said to me before I came up – about not leaving too many clues back to the family or having people wonder where Clark’s been through all this...  I think it would be helpful if we used Clark’s byline on this.”

Lois nodded and sincerely said, “Thank you, Richard.  You don’t have to do that, you know.”

“It’s not a big deal.  I really don’t fight for bylines these days,” Richard told her.  He checked the tags on the laptop bags, picked one of them up and displayed it to Lois as he said hopefully, “Martha thought we might be able to get my laptop fixed here.”

“Oh, right.  Jor-El, Richard’s laptop was damaged in Luthor’s EMP.  Can it be fixed?”

Jor-El turned towards Richard and a blue aura briefly enveloped the laptop case before Jor-El informed him.  “The damage to the internal components is irreparable.  However, that appears to be the same machine that you carried through the transportation portal this morning.  If that is indeed the case, I can restore the machine to its state as it was when you passed through portal security this morning.”

“Yeah, it’s the same device.  But how can you restore it?” Richard wondered.

“A full molecular scan is performed every time you pass through portal security and the logs from those scans are sufficient to reproduce the object,” Jor-El explained.

“Would have been nice if you had mentioned you could do that earlier,” Lois grumbled.  “You could have ‘restored’ my purse and I’d have had my cell phone, instead of trying to work with that satellite phone which has almost no useful numbers programmed into it.”

“Which item are you referring to?” Jor-El inquired.

“It’s the white leather handbag I had with me when I took the kids to Metropolis this afternoon.”

“I have reproduced both items,” Jor-El informed her.  “You’ll find them in the dispenser on the second level.”

“Same place I got the towels and the clothes from earlier?” Lois asked.

“That is correct.”

“Thanks,” Lois replied.  She turned to Richard and said, “Tell you what, I’ll get our things if you’ll heat up the food.  Jor-El or Lara can show you where the kitchen is and how to use it.”

“Deal.”

-o-o-o-


Thursday, October 5, 2006 9:25PM EDT
Perry looked out the window of the helicopter and noted the scant few lights in Gotham City beneath them, yet more evidence of the severity of the second EMP.  The extent of the blackout surprised him, even though he had a pretty good idea what to expect.  After all, it was serious enough for them to cannibalize parts from the Planet’s presses and fly them to Gotham to fix the Gazette’s EMP-damaged equipment.  Perry had reluctantly conceded that it was the best option for both papers to get their print editions out in the morning, given the poor state the earthquake had left the Planet building in.  They were planning a combined edition, under the dual banners of The Daily Planet and The Gotham Gazette, and focusing primarily on the EMP and its effects.  Perry reflected that it would bear closer resemblance to a special edition than the morning paper, but at least they’d get a paper out, once Lois got the story in.

The profound lack of information they’d managed to gather before boarding the helicopter for Gotham had left Perry unsettled.  With most communications and transit systems disabled by the event, it had been hard to determine the true extent of the damage.  It was only through one of the assistant editor’s relatives at the Detroit News that they learned it had darkened half the Eastern Seaboard.  That was enough information to whet his appetite for the ‘Big Story’, but not enough to really know what was going on and far from adequate to go to press with – it was little more than a teaser.  Perry desperately hoped that Lois would be able to fill in the blanks when she finally filed her story.

Thoughts of Lois immediately reminded him of his startling discovery about her partner, Clark Kent.  All these years, and a simple pair of glasses hid the Earth’s greatest secret, Perry thought.  Who would ever have thought that Superman was actually a mild-mannered, award-winning Daily Planet reporter and father of two…  And those two kids could provide another generation of Superman exclusives for the Planet in a couple decades.  God, I hope I live to see that.  Perry chuckled and pondered, I wonder how he’ll explain them…

The pilot’s voice cut into Perry’s ruminations as he announced, “Gentlemen, we’re coming up on the Gazette and should be on the ground in a couple minutes.”

Perry turned to the Planet’s senior press engineer, Tim Sullivan, and reminded him, “Looks like you and the Gazette crew will have about an hour and a half to get all of the fried electronics swapped before we need to start printing.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to be able to start running the presses by eleven.”

“We’ll make that deadline somehow, but it’s not a lot of time when you consider how much we may have to swap out.  We won’t really know what we’re dealing with until we get it all opened up,” Tim replied.  He gestured towards the window and added, “Looks like we’re here.”

Once the helicopter’s skids touched the roof, two men rush over, rolling a cart in front of them.  Perry opened the door and heard one of them shout, “Let’s get the parts first!”

Perry squeezed out of the way so that Tim could load his boxes up on the cart, and waited until Tim and the two Gazette press operators were trotting away before he retrieved his overnight bag from under the seat.  Sam Foswell and George Taylor exited behind him, and the three men marched over to the access door where the Gazette’s editor in chief, Nancy Garrett, was waiting for him.  She was a slender woman just over 5’6” tall who looked years younger than the sixty-one years that Perry knew her to be.

Nancy ushered them inside the door and amiably teased, “It’s about time you got here.”

“Oh, give me a break.  The helicopter didn’t get to Metropolis until almost seven,” Perry protested.

“And the Planet’s EIC still can’t tell when a woman is joking,” Nancy replied.  She pushed the elevator call button and added, “By the way, if Lane and Kent ever get tired of putting up with an old curmudgeon like you, I’ll take them in a heartbeat.  Just wait until you see what they have in the story queue.  And that video–”

“What video?” Perry pressed gruffly.

“Looks like Lois made it off the boat with some of Luthor’s home movies – very incriminating stuff,” Nancy explained.  “We’ll more than make up for tomorrow’s lost print circulation by licensing that footage to the television news channels.”

“That material came from a Planet reporter which makes it Planet revenue,” Perry reminded her adamantly.

“It all goes into the same pot, but don’t worry – the income will go on your books,” Nancy assured him.

Perry’s reply was interrupted by the ding of the elevator bell, announcing the car’s arrival.  A moment later, the doors opened, and the group walked into the elevator.  “Did their story explain what’s going on with the blackout right now?” Perry pressed.

“And then some,” Nancy replied excitedly as she pushed the button for the editorial floor.  “And it wasn’t just one story, either.  They’ve submitted a half dozen of them and every last one of them had more detail on this national event that all the other news media combined.  Of course, the big story is Luthor’s terrorist attack against North America.”

“What else did they say?” Sam asked curiously.

“Gentlemen, I’m not going to recite the stories from memory.  They’re in the review queue.  You can read them yourselves when you get time, but try to remember that we’ve barely got ninety minutes until deadline and still have a ton of work ahead of us.”

“Amen,” Perry stated seriously.  “Will we have the same setup as last time?”

“It’d be a little different,” Nancy explained.  “You’ll be sharing a guest office, instead of a conference room, so it’ll be a bit more cramped.  We’re using the conference rooms for computer labs until we get the fried desktops replaced.”

“Sounds like you got burned pretty badly this time, too,” Perry commented.

“Yeah, but we got a lucky break,” Nancy replied.  “Our IT department was in the middle of an equipment refresh – we lease our computer assets on a three-year cycle to keep with the latest technology, same as you do.”

“I think they did our lease refresh before Labor Day,” Perry noted.

“Well, ours was this week.  They had just finished boxing up all the old stuff for the truck to pick up tomorrow, but when the EMP hit, they dug it all back out.  That’s still only enough for about a third of our headcount, and it’s taking forever to image the old desktops.”

“Image the desktops?” George inquired.

“The terminology threw me too, when I asked about it,” Nancy admitted.  “Our IT operations manager said that they zero out the hard drives before sending equipment back, so there was no operating system or applications or anything on them.  They needed to reinstall all that from a master copy or ‘image’ and they call that process ‘imaging’.  Anyway, IT gave priority to setting up the computer labs before working on the getting the rest of the available desktops ready for deployment.”

Their conversation was interrupted by the elevator bell announcing their floor and the group stepped out into the newsroom.  Nancy led them to a small office next to the break room, which had four desktops spread across a wooden desk and a folding table.  “Sorry for the accommodations but this was the best we could do under the circumstances.”

“Speaking of accommodations…” Perry began.

“The local hotels have rooms but no way to get into them – the EMP fried the card readers on the doors,” Nancy informed him apologetically. “You’ll be Lucius Fox’s house guests for the night.”

“I suppose that’s a small sacrifice to make, for us at least,” Perry joked.  He turned to the others and his tone turned serious as he said, “Time to get to work, gentlemen.”

“Don’t forget we’re doing a combined edition,” Nancy reminded him.  “Once you’ve got the Metropolis section done, join me in my office to finish things up.”

Perry nodded absently and sat in front of one of the PCs and logged in while Nancy retreated to her office.  He quickly found the Lane and Kent stories and his eyes gravitated to the last of the six entries:  “Superman Overcome by Kryptonite, Falls From Orbit” by Clark Kent.  His eyes widened in amazement as he read of Superman’s fall and his evacuation to an “undisclosed medical facility”, where knowledgeable sources report that the Man of Steel “remained unconscious”.

Well, Kent obviously didn’t write this if Superman’s unconscious, Perry concluded.  But it doesn’t read like Lois’ work either.  It was only after reading through it a second time that Perry recognized a certain journalist’s overused expressions and bad habit of throwing an occasional extra ‘u’ into words like favorite , still following the British spelling six years after moving back from London.  Son of a…  This is Richard’s work.  He’s covering for Kent, Perry realized.  I wonder how long he’s known…

-o-o-o-

Ron Troupe lounged back in his recliner, nursing a beer as he halfheartedly attempted to entertain his friend, Jimmy Olsen.  The energetic photographer had been kind enough to offer him a ride home on the back of his scooter, and had managed to steer around the immobilized vehicles in the road.  It had still been slow going with all the pedestrian traffic and easily added two hours to his usual commute.  Lucy had, of course, insisted that Jimmy stay the night rather than face that traffic again on his way home, especially given some of the bad neighborhoods he’d have to ride through.

Jimmy’s infectious excitement had also helped the kids forget their fears.  Lucy had been frantic, too, but visibly relaxed when they’d finally made it to the house.  Ron had been quick to remind everyone that they had fared the disaster rather well:  Their friends and family were unharmed;  Although the walls of their house had countless new cracks, the house was still standing and wasn’t about to fall down;  Power and gas were out, but their refrigerator was full and they still had a working grill and camping stove, which meant a hot dinner and hot chocolate later;  They had no heat, but the temperatures were mild enough that they’d make it through the night comfortably with sweats and extra blankets.

They’d turned the apparent hardship into an adventure for the kids, camping out inside with a fire in the hearth and a camping lantern providing additional illumination.  Board games like Clue and Pictionary Junior kept the kids happily occupied, with the competition crowding out the fright from the events earlier that afternoon.  Once the games were over, the visibly fatigued children were ushered up to bed by their mother, leaving the two men to talk shop.

The men’s conversation was subdued with long gaps of silence, due in part to Ron’s thoughts again returning to the startling revelation that had left him preoccupied most of the evening.  Clark, my friend, when this is over, you and I are going to need to sit down for a long talk, Ron thought.  Geez, I still can’t believe one of my best friends has turned out to actually be Superman…

“Some day, huh?” Jimmy commented casually, interrupting Ron’s musings.

“That’s an understatement,” Ron muttered.  “I still can hardly believe everything that happened this afternoon.”

“Well, Superman’ll probably have it all straightened out in no time at all,” Jimmy assured him cheerfully.  “I just hope I’ll be able to upload the rest of my pictures in the morning.”

“I still think it will be your picture on the front page,” Ron opined.  “That memory card you gave Perry had the shot you took of Superman lifting the globe, right?”

“Oh, yeah!” Jimmy replied enthusiastically.  “Perry’s got to be happy with that one.  If that’s not ‘iconic’, I don’t know what is.”

“I think Perry was delighted with it, even if he didn’t say it.”

Ron heard a creak from one of the stairs and looked over as Lucy walked down, burdened with a bundle of bedding and carrying a lit flashlight in one hand.  She met her husband’s gaze and said, “I thought Jimmy might want a pillow and blankets.”

“Thanks, Lucy, but you didn’t need to bother,” Jimmy told her politely.  “It wouldn’t be the first time I’d sacked out on your couch with just the afghan.”

“This is a little different – it could get chilly in here overnight with the heat out,” Lucy pointed out.  She set the bundle on the end of the couch and added, “There’s an old pair of Ron’s sweats for you to sleep in, too.”

“I don’t usually bother with that stuff,” Jimmy began.

“Just make sure that my kids don’t come down in the morning and find you passed out in your underwear,” Ron interjected mirthfully, provoking giggles from Lucy.  “They’d need therapy after that…”

Jimmy blushed brightly at the comment and protested, “I’m not going to pass out.”

Lucy swallowed down her laughter and told the men, “Well, I don’t know how late you two are planning on staying up, but I’m about to turn in.”

“I think I’m ready to call it a night, too,” Ron decided.  He turned to Jimmy and said, “I can take that beer bottle if you’re done with it.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. I’ll clean up,” Jimmy said insistently.  “It’s the least I can do after all your hospitality.” He reached for Ron’s nearly empty bottle as he stood up, and the other man surrendered it before grabbing the camping lantern and following his wife up the stairs.

Once in their bedroom, Ron began emptying his pockets while Lucy closely scrutinized him.  Finally, she broke the silence, gently asking, “Do you want to talk about it?”

“Talk about what?”

“Whatever it is that’s had you distracted all evening,” Lucy clarified.  “Something’s bothering you.”

“I’m not sure ‘bothering’ is the right word,” Ron mused.  “The afternoon was full of unexpected surprises, though.”

“No kidding.  Which one were you obsessing over?”

Ron opened his mouth to reply, but then suddenly snapped it shut.  He sighed, and finally said, “If I told you, you either wouldn’t believe it, or if you did, you wouldn’t get a wink of sleep.  Maybe it would be best to save this conversation for another time.”

“So my choices are being kept up all night because whatever’s on your mind is so shocking, or being kept up all night by your tossing and turning because you’re overanalyzing it,” Lucy concluded.  “Was it really that bad?”

“Not ‘bad’, per se,” Ron explained quietly.  “Just unexpected and some pieces of the puzzle don’t quite fit.  I really haven’t had a chance to talk it through with any of the precious few people who have all the facts.”

“What do you know about whatever this is?” Lucy asked patiently.

“I’d really rather not get into it.”

“Didn’t we just establish that this is probably going to keep us both up anyway?” Lucy pressed.  “Come on, Ron.  Spit it out.  We’ve never kept secrets from each other before.  Why should this be any different?”

“Because it’s the probably the world’s most important secret with very serious consequences if it ever got out,” Ron replied enigmatically.

“There’s no way you’re keeping it from me now, after a teaser like that,” Lucy replied with a chuckle.  “Don’t worry, my lips are sealed.  Now spill.”

Ron turned to his wife and recognized the Lane determination in her eyes.  He sighed, and after a moment of contemplation, he admitted in a whisper, “I just found out something… about Clark and his kids that I never would have imagined.”

Lucy snorted, and insisted, “Well, it can’t be that bad.  This is Clark we’re talking about.”

“And Kara, and Jason,” Ron clarified.  “Their… heritage… is very different than I expected.”

“Different?  You mean interracial?  Ron, our kids are interracial.”

“No, this is different.  The Kents are… Kryptonian,” Ron finally confessed in a quiet voice.

“Kryptonian?  You mean like Superman?” Lucy asked incredulously.

“Actually, Clark is Superman,” Ron corrected.

Lucy giggled and replied, “Clark?  Superman?  That’s simply not possible.”

“Keep your voice down!” Ron chastised her in a loud whisper.  After a moment he added, “I didn’t think that was possible either, at least not until I saw Kara and Jason fly.  And Perry confirmed it.”

“The kids flew?

“After Superman caught the globe, Jason was a little upset that he hadn’t rescued Lois yet,” Ron explained.  “The kids took off into the crowd, and I ran after them.  I followed them into the alley behind Restaurant Row just in time to see those two munchkins rocket up into the air and disappear into the clouds so fast that they left a sonic boom behind them.  Our good friend, Clark Kent, is Superman.  And his kids…  Oh, sweet Jesus…”

Lucy sat heavily on their bed.  “But Jason’s been so fragile,” she protested.  “There’s no way he’s got superpowers.”

“I don’t know if he has all of Clark abilities or how much Kara was helping him, but they were definitely flying,” Ron clarified.  “Lucy, this can’t leave this room.  Nobody can ever know their secret.”

“You’ve got that right,” an angry disembodied voice interjected.  Ron and Lucy looked in the direction of the voice and saw a dull glow at the foot of their bed grow bright and coalesce into a translucent vision of Lois Lane.  “You don’t breathe a word about Clark or the kids.  Understand?  Nobody can know about this.”

“Lois?” Lucy muttered hysterically.  “What - what happened to you?”

“Calm down, Luce, this is just a hologram,” Lois assured her.  “What, did you think I was a ghost or something?”

“Um, I–” Lucy sputtered.

“I’m broadcasting from Superman’s Fortress.  With half the Eastern Seaboard knocked out, I thought I’d check and make sure you guys were okay.  Good thing I did.”

“Lois, we weren’t planning on going public with this,” Ron replied apprehensively.  “But you know I can’t keep secrets from your sister.”

“This isn’t our secret to tell,” Lois said adamantly.  “And if Superman’s enemies ever found out, it’d put all of us in danger.”

“Lois, we’re not going to tell anyone else about this,” Ron assured her.  “Not even the kids.”

“So Clark really is Superman?” Lucy murmured.  “And Jason’s flying?

“Surprised me, too.   We didn’t think that Jason would go ‘super’ until puberty,” Lois admitted.  She turned to Ron and asked, “Did anyone else see those two fly off?”

Ron shook his head and said, “I don’t think so.  They were hidden in an alley.  I barely spotted them myself before they disappeared into the clouds, and I didn’t notice a reaction from any of the pedestrians on Concord.  No way anyone would have stayed silent if they’d seen that.”

“And you said that Perry knows, too?” Lois asked anxiously.  “God, this is so out of control.”

“Perry said that he’s always known, that he was never fooled by the glasses,” Ron informed her.  “He was also adamant that he didn’t want you or Clark to know that he knew.  He said it was easier that way.  I’m not sure what he meant by that.”

“What an odd thing to say,” Lucy muttered.

“He probably realizes that Clark would freak out if he found out that Perry knew,” Lois declared.  “Beneath that spandex, he’s still just a shy farm-boy from a small town in Kansas.”

“Speaking of which… How can he be both from Kansas and from Krypton?” Ron inquired curiously.

Lois sighed and said, “It’s a long story, but the short version is that he was just a baby when Krypton exploded.  His escape ship crashed in a Kansas cornfield, where the Kents found him and adopted him.  Clark had a fairly normal childhood and didn’t find out about his heritage until he was eighteen.”

“But what about–” Lucy began.

“Luce, please, I’m really not up for the Q and A session right now,” Lois interrupted.  “The rest of the explanations will have to wait.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Lois told her.  She was silent for a moment, and then asked, “So, how are you guys holding up?”

“Well, this is a lot to wrap our heads around,” Lucy replied.

“No, I meant with the earthquake and blackout,” Lois explained.

“Power and gas are out, which means no heat, landlines and cell phones are out and the water looks and smells a little funky.  And the roads are parking lots,” Ron informed her.  “But we have plenty of bottled water in the garage, the grill and camping stove work fine, and the fridge is full, though stuff will start spoiling if we don’t get power back soon.  We’re okay for now…  Think you can give us a rundown on what happened?”

“Geez, I really don’t have the energy to go through that again,” Lois complained.  “Let me check and see if we can beam down a hardcopy of the stories we submitted earlier.”

“Beam down?  You mean like Star Trek?  ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ kind of beam down?” Lucy asked in amazement.

“That’s the general idea,” Lois confirmed.  “It doesn’t work for people, but things are fine…  Okay, the star ship is already in position for us to relay a transporter beam.  Hold on…”

A bright ball of light suddenly appeared over the top of the dresser with a razor-thin line of blue light appearing vertically in the middle.  The blue light split and spread horizontally as a stack of papers and a pair of cell phones materialized.  The lights faded a moment later.

“Okay, those are the Planet stories, which should explain everything,” Lois told them.  “I also replaced your cell phones.  We couldn’t recover your contact lists, but I copied the important numbers for work and family from my phone… Oh, you should know that you’re roaming right now, too.”

“But this is our home area,” Ron pointed out.

“The Metropolis grid is down, so we have to handle the calls through a Kryptonian comm network and route it back to cellular in San Jose.”

“Oh.”

“Now, if there’s nothing else, I need to get some sleep,” Lois said wearily.  “It’s been an exhausting day.”  Her apparition then faded and disappeared.

Ron reached over and pulled the stack of papers out from under the cell phones, his eyes shooting wide in surprise at some of the story titles.  “Good God,” he muttered.

“That bad?” Lucy asked tentatively.

“See for yourself,” Ron replied and he handed over roughly half of the pages to his wife.  The two then eagerly read through the amazing stories that Lois had left for them.

Chapter 47  ]     [  Table of Contents  ]     [  Chapter 49  ]

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December 2009

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