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Clark Superman

Family Reunion - Chapter 49 - Top Secrets

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 49 - 6,513; Total - 213,402
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 48  ]     [  Table of Contents  ]     [  Chapter 50  ]

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

Chapter 49 – Top Secrets

Friday, October 6, 2006 7:30AM EDT
Lieutenant General Sam Lane yawned widely as he reviewed the latest Pentagon status updates in his office. His role in their current effort had kept him at the Pentagon past one in the morning and he was back behind his desk by six. Fortunately, the army had cleared enough of the surrounding roads that his trip home only took an extra half hour at that time of night, sparing him from complete exhaustion.

His mind drifted from the reports, and he reflected that the nation had suffered an unparalleled attack, with a greater geographical impact that any single attack or natural disaster in the country’s history. Everyone at the Pentagon had accordingly pulled long hours dealing with the aftermath. Their primary mission was to protect the United States, and they needed to make sure that those hostile to America didn’t attempt to exploit the disaster.

Another of their priorities was to provide whatever assistance they could in the recovery effort, and they found themselves assisting the overwhelmed Department of Homeland Security. They were also providing logistical support to local authorities and manpower to the extent that the law allowed. Most of that burden fell to the United States Northern Command, which had deployed mobile hospitals, set up temporary housing and food distribution centers, and reequipped local police. Their role was certain to expand if Congress authorized an exception to the Posse Comitatus Act to allow them to assist with domestic law enforcement, as Congressional leaders had promised. The law as it currently stood prohibited all but the Coast Guard from assuming that duty.

The Pentagon was also coordinating with the numerous allies who’d pledged people and equipment to help the country through the disaster. Though he gave them credit for offering their assistance, Sam concluded that when it came down to it, they were looking after their own interests, which were primarily economic. The United States remained the world’s largest economy, and such a massive economic disruption was certain to have ripples throughout the rest of the world. The disaster had shut down Wall Street, a half dozen of America’s busiest seaports were at a standstill, and hundreds of cargo ships were either anchored offshore, waiting for instructions, or diverting to other ports outside the affected region.

Sam suddenly noticed his difficulty keeping the text before him in focus and pushed himself back from his desk. He drained his coffee cup, and marched into the outer room to get more coffee. He’d just finished refilling his cup when he heard his aide, Sergeant Wayne Dumas, greet an unexpected guest. “Good Morning, General Maples, sir,” the man said deferentially.

Sam looked over to find Lieutenant General Michael Maples just inside the outer door. “Good Morning, Sergeant. Morning, Sam,” Maples replied courteously.

“Morning, Mike,” Sam greeted him.

Mike Maples seemed to suddenly notice the paper sitting on table between the guest chairs and exclaimed in surprise, “You’ve got this morning’s Planet? I didn’t think they’d get a printed paper out today. Metropolis is practically shut down.”

Sam observed his colleague as he picked up the paper and scanned the headlines, where he’d certainly notice Lois Lane’s byline marked up with a yellow highlighter. It was a habit Sam had begun years ago, after his daughter got her first job as a reporter. The simple gesture spoke volumes for his pride in her work, and reminded him of simpler days, when a preteen Lois would proudly show her father what she’d accomplished.

When the other man looked up, Sam pointed out, “That’s the outstate edition. They print locally about twenty miles south of here in the same plant that puts out local copies of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and USA Today.”

“Is that so?”

“One of our neighbors is a manager there,” Sam explained. After a brief pause, he added, “Something on your mind?”

“A couple things,” Maples confirmed. “I won’t take much of your time.”

Sam nodded towards his office and said, “Come on in. Make yourself comfortable.” Sam walked backed into his office, and added over his shoulder, “Judging by that paper, it looks like my Lois is still a few steps ahead of your people.”

“She might have made a decent intelligence officer,” Maples suggested as he entered behind Sam and closed the door behind him.

“She’d have made a great intelligence officer,” Sam corrected adamantly. “Need I remind you that the best actionable intelligence we got yesterday came from Lois? She’s also the one who tracked the first EMP back to Luthor and it was her investigation that dug up the evidence that practically nailed that bastard’s hide to the wall before all hell broke loose. And she did all that without any of our resources.”

Mike Maples smiled at Sam’s response and amiably said, “I hear she also rescued Superman yesterday – dove right into the Atlantic after him. You have every right to be proud of her.” He sat down in the guest chair and added, “Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about that debriefing we scheduled here with the SEAL squad commanders this morning. You got the meeting notice, didn’t you?”

“Oh eighty-thirty, room two bravo three one five.”

“Yeah. Well, the chopper will arrive early enough to give you a half hour or so for that private meeting you wanted with Daniels. Just don’t make him late for the debriefing.”

“I won’t. Thanks, Mike. I owe you one.”

Mike waved the morning paper in front of him and said, “Get that daughter of yours in here for a debriefing and I’ll call it even.”

Sam groaned and sarcastically replied, “You should have asked for the moon. It would have been easier to deliver…”

-o-o-o-


Richard groggily trudged down the stairs of Ben Hubbard’s house and towards the kitchen, still exhausted from a sleepless night but also tired of lying awake in bed. Martha had revealed the incredible tale behind the Earth’s guardian and his biological cousin/adopted daughter, but Richard was still left wondering about the history between Lois and Clark before he left to rescue Kara six years earlier. He’d replayed his interactions with Clark and Lois since the hero’s return from Krypton, now cast in a different light given his knowledge of his true identity.

Richard had also been overanalyzing his relationship with Lois, hunting for some scenario where he didn’t lose her to the hero and hoping that Ben had been right that he needn’t throw in the towel. Though he acknowledged that Clark seemed to be going out of his way to avoid interfering with their relationship, Richard concluded that that effort was as futile as his own. Lois’ heart had revealed itself through countless hints, and the inescapable conclusion was that her heart belonged to Clark.

Richard walked into the kitchen where he found Ben sitting at the table, reading the morning paper and sipping from a coffee mug. The old man looked up at him sympathetically and said amiably, “Morning, Richard. Looks like it’s a good thing we have a fresh pot of coffee.”

Richard sighed and asked, “Do I look that bad?” He pulled a mug out of the cupboard and walked over to the percolator to fill it up.

“Folks tend to get a bit more perceptive when they get older,” Ben replied softly. “I also know you’re juggling a lot of new information, and trying to figure out how it affects you.”

“I have a pretty good idea how this affects me,” Richard muttered. He sat down in the chair opposite Ben and then added, “I still can’t help but wonder about Lois’ history with Clark in light of these revelations, though. She talked about some of it last night, after we submitted our stories… Did they ever explain to you about Clark folding space-time?”

“Clark tried, but that super-science mumble jumble goes right over my head,” Ben admitted.

“I think I get the concept – that we repeated eight days six years ago, and only Clark remembers what happened the first time through,” Richard commented. “It certainly puts a different spin on things, like my assumptions on Jason’s paternity. Lois also shared a few anecdotes about Clark’s first days with the Planet, but it still barely scratches the surface. There was so much more that I wanted to ask about, but it just didn’t seem right to press the matter last night. Not when she was so distraught over Clark’s injuries. So I just sat there and let her talk, for as much or as little as she cared to.”

“That may have been more helpful to her than anything else you could have done,” Ben concluded. “I’m sure she appreciates that, just like I’m sure there will be time for deeper conversation later.”

The wall phone interrupted their conversation, and Ben rose from his seat to answer it. “Hello?” he said into the handset. “Of course, Martha. I’ll be right over… Oh, you don’t have to do that… All right then. We’ll tackle the repairs after breakfast. See you in a bit… Good bye.”

“Repairs?” Richard questioned.

“Kara had a bad nightmare last night,” Ben explained. “Clark usually keeps a close eye on her through the night, zooming his vision in on the house every few minutes from halfway across the globe. If he sees her starting to get agitated, he rushes home to calm her before it gets too bad. He obviously wasn’t able to do that last night, so we need to patch some holes in the wall. Martha’s decided to bribe me with a big breakfast before we get started. You’re invited, too.”

“You can count me in, for both the breakfast and the home repairs,” Richard informed him.

-o-o-o-


Sam Lane analyzed the personnel file on his computer, searching for a strategy that would give him the advantage when Navy Lieutenant Alex Daniels walked through his office door. Daniels was a promising young naval officer and Sam concluded that it was unlikely that he’d be able to browbeat the missing details out of him. What are they hiding? Sam wondered. Whatever it was, Lois had admitted that she’d implied to Daniels that it was a classified military secret. In other words, Daniels believed that Sam Lane already knew the secret. Lois isn’t the only one who can bluff, Sam thought confidently.

Sam reflected that he wouldn’t have even known that something was missing from the report but for his daughter’s anxious call. Lois had confided that the events she was concerned about had occurred around the time of her initial extraction from Luthor’s sinking yacht. Judging from Daniels’ report, both Lois and her rescuers would have met their end without Superman’s intervention, which the SEAL officer had described as ‘Kryptonian assistance’. His description of the event was concise and to the point, with no hint of omission or subterfuge: They’d been trapped in the pantry, but Superman had pulled the yacht out of the sea, freed them from the pantry and had transported them to White’s seaplane before returning Daniels to the Navy Osprey. Whatever this is has to be huge, if Lois is asking for my help, Sam concluded.

He was interrupted from his analysis by the sharp ring of his desk phone, and he jumped back with a start. He recognized his aide’s extension in the caller ID display, and picked up the phone. “Yes, Sergeant Dumas?”

“Lieutenant Daniels has arrived, sir.”

“I’ll be right out,” Sam replied. He locked his screen, and marched out into the other room.

“General Lane. Lieutenant Alex Daniels, sir,” Daniels greeted as he saluted.

Sam returned the salute, and said, “At ease, Lieutenant.” He offered the younger man his hand in a warm handshake and added mirthfully, “I understand my daughter gave you nearly as much grief yesterday as she usually gives me.”

“It was my honor, sir.”

“Let’s take this into my office,” Sam replied. The pair withdrew to the private office, closing the door behind them. As they settled into their seats, Sam got right to the point. “I had a rather unusual phone call from my daughter last night that I was hoping you could help explain.”

“Sir?” Daniels replied uncertainly.

“She asked me to help you if there were problems with your report, and make certain something that you witnessed yesterday stays contained,” Sam explained somberly. “Now my daughter knows better that to discuss certain… details… over an unsecured line. Unfortunately, that leaves me in the dark as to what really happened. And your report doesn’t really shed much light on that, which is why I asked to see you.”

“Sir, everything in my report is accurate,” Daniels replied defensively.

“Of course. But we both know that something’s missing, don’t we?” Sam countered. After a brief pause, he added, “Relax, Daniels, I’m on your side. But if I’m going to be of any help to you during the debriefing at the bottom of the hour, I need to know what really happened. I have my suspicions, naturally, but I’m really hoping it’s not what I think it is.”

“What do you think it is, sir?”

“If you don’t already know, I can’t tell you,” Sam replied simply. He picked up a folder from his desk and perused the pages inside and continued, “Now in your report, you mentioned that you’d been trapped in the ship’s pantry when it went under.”

“Yes, sir. I thought we were goners.”

“But Superman saved you,” Sam stated seriously.

“Not exactly, sir,” Daniels admitted.

“I thought you said your report was accurate?” Sam questioned sternly.

“It is, though it’s possible that one might draw a different conclusion that what actually occurred.”

“And what actually occurred?” Sam asked insistently.

“Well, sir, I said in my report that the yacht was pulled out of the sea with ‘Kryptonian assistance’,” Daniels reminded him. “However, the Kryptonian who assisted us was not Superman, and there wasn’t just one… The Kryptonians, plural, who rescued us, were your grandchildren: Kara and Jason.”

“Jason?” Sam echoed in surprise. Only years of training kept his poker face from completely failing him after the astonishing revelation. That would make Superman Jason’s biological father… That can’t be, can it?

“Your daughter seemed a bit surprised by that, too. Apparently the little guy just started flying recently. He also saved his mother before we even got to the boat – by throwing a full-size, concert grand piano at the thug who attacked her.”

Sam quickly recovered and somberly commanded, “Lieutenant, you are not to repeat what you learned about my family outside this room. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir. In fact, I’ve already given your daughter my word on that. Families are off-limits.”

“Damn right they are. Now, as for the yacht… you’re going to tell me everything that happened out there. And then you’re going to forget that it ever happened.”

-o-o-o-


Friday, October 6, 2006 10:05AM EDT
The shrill sound of a cell phone penetrated the darkness, and Lois reached a hand out from under the blankets, groping for it futilely but instead only grasping handfuls of air over the edge of the bed. The ringing stopped without Lois’ intervention, but instead of resuming her rest, she found the unexpected details of the past few minutes nagging at her consciousness. She reflected that although it was her habit to recharge her phone overnight on the night stand, it seemed to have rung from the other room. There also didn’t appear to be a nightstand. The mattress she was on was also far firmer than the soft foam one that she was accustomed to and it seemed to be round instead of rectangular.

Unable to ignore the puzzle any longer, Lois pulled back the covers and cautiously peeked out at her surroundings. Even in the dim light, she immediately recognized the majestic crystal of the Fortress and recalled the previous day’s ordeal. She had stubbornly refused to leave Clark’s virtual bedside and was nodding off at the table before Lara’s gentle encouragement finally convinced her to take advantage of the private quarters.

Lois threw the blankets off and sat up with her feet over the edge of the bed, yawning widely as she tried to blink away the last of her sleep. She stared unfocused at her lap for a moment before finally reaching for her boots, and marching decisively out of the room. Once down in the main chamber, her first priority was to check on Clark. The hologram still showed him sleeping, and his vital signs appeared little different that they were the night before.

She looked up at Jor-El’s floating head and asked, “How’s he doing?”

“His recovery is progressing as expected,” Jor-El answered simply.

“Care to elaborate on that?” Lois pressed irritably.

“My analysis indicates that his cells are regenerating at a rapidly increasing rate, as expected,” Jor-El clarified.

“And that means what, exactly?” Lois demanded. “How long is it going to take? When’s he going to wake up?”

Jor-El paused momentarily and then told her, “There is little to add to last night’s explanation. The cellular regeneration process has progressed from zero point seven percent complete to three percent, as expected, and it remains on track with initial estimates. There are now approximately fifty-four hours remaining before the regeneration process completes, and he is unlikely to awaken before then without substantial effort. He may also remain sleeping for a short time afterwards while his regenerated cells recharge under the sun lamps.”

“You could have told me that the first time,” Lois complained. She then fished her cell phone out of her purse and browsed the list of missed calls. She skimmed past a surprising mass of unfamiliar callers and paused over the most recent call. I wonder what Lucy wants, Lois thought and she dialed the voicemail number.

You have… twenty-nine… unheard messages. First message…” the automated voice informed her.

Lois groaned, and canceled out of her voicemail, this time dialing her sister directly.

Lois!” Lucy answered excitedly. “I take it you got my message.”

“Actually, no. I’ve got too many voicemails queued up ahead of you and don’t have the patience to go through them all right now,” Lois complained. “What’s up?”

Hold on a minute,” Lucy said. Lois could hear the noise from the kids in the background diminish and a moment later, Lucy added, “Sorry about that. Ron’s out with Jimmy, so I’m here alone with the kids. Just needed a little privacy… Well, back to why I called. The power’s still out here and according to the CNN mobile page, it could be out for a while. Well, the milk’s already starting to sour and the few stores that were still open have been picked clean. So, we were wondering… Do you think you might be able to beam down some supplies for us?

“Lucy, we don’t discuss those kind of things over the phone,” Lois replied anxiously. “We can’t risk being overheard.”

Oh, sorry,” Lucy replied meekly.

“The communications link remains isolated to the encrypted Kryptonian carrier wave,” Jor-El interrupted. “You are unlikely to be overheard.”

“Except by you, so stop eavesdropping,” Lois snapped. She returned her attention to Lucy and said, “Well, it appears that since we’re both using Kryptonian phones, the call is isolated to an encrypted Kryptonian comm network, so no harm this time. Still, as a rule, we don’t discuss this stuff over the phone. I still need to explain the rules to you and Ron about that stuff. I knew I was forgetting something last night.”

We’re really going to need to get the full story on all that tech stuff,” Lucy declared. “Maybe you can pop in later, like you did last night?

“Maybe. Anyway, you said something about needing groceries?”

Right. Well, for now, it’s just the milk, but that list is going to start getting longer without the refrigerator running, which brings us to our wish list…”

Lois sighed and said irritably, “All right, let’s have it. What have you got?”

First on the list is an emergency generator.”

“Okay. What else?” Lois prodded.

Well since both the work laptop and home PC are probably fried, we’ll need something for Ron to file his stories. Ron said he’d help cover for Clark while he’s, um, you know.”

“I might take him up on that. Anything else?”

Add a fresh tank of propane for the grill – ours is getting pretty low. And the milk. Two percent. That’s really all we need right now,” Lucy informed her. After a beat, she asked, “Oh, do you think a generator could power the whole house, or will we need to run extension cords from one of those little ones? If it’s the whole house, some electric space heaters would be lovely – it got pretty chilly last night. And the gas is still out.

“I think you usually need extension cords, but that would still work for the refrigerator and a couple space heaters,” Lois told her. “Okay. I’ll give you a call once I’ve got everything scrounged up.”

Lois, wait. One more thing,” Lucy added urgently.

“What did you forget?”

Um, Ron and I were talking last night after you appeared, and we got to thinking a little about Superman’s technology…”

“I assume you’re going somewhere with this,” Lois commented impatiently.

Well, considering what little we’ve seen of its capabilities, it just seems that it could really speed up the repairs to the cities. And you clearly have access to it.”

“Hold on,” Lois replied, and she then lowered the phone and called out, “Jor-El, were you listening in on my sister’s question? Can we use this technology to help rebuild the devastated cities?”

“Kryptonian law strictly prohibits the use of our technology on less advanced societies,” Jor-El declared. “In fact, it is only though a family exemption that I have been able to comply with your requests thus far.”

“That didn’t stop Luthor from using that same Kryptonian tech to try to destroy half the planet,” Lois pointed out.

“That was also a violation of Kryptonian law.”

“So can’t you do anything to undo the damage from that abuse of Kryptonian technology?” Lois asked incredulously.

Jor-El paused a moment and then explained, “The law accommodates some exemptions under such circumstances but they are extremely narrow in scope, strictly limiting what can be done and also require the consent of indigenous authorities.”

“But there is a loophole.”

“There are exemptions allowed under similar circumstances to what has occurred,” Jor-El confirmed. “However, any action taken must fully comply with both local and Kryptonian law, and we cannot overburden our energy reserves while Kal-El requires that power for the sun lamps.”

Lois heard Lucy’s muted voice and brought the phone back up to her ear. “Sorry about that,” she said. “Looks like we might be able to do something, but there are strings attached. It’s going to take a little bit before we’re ready to do anything.”

Well, it’s got to be better than the months or years that the so-called experts on CNN are saying,” Lucy concluded.

The conversation was interrupted by another ring on Lois’ cell phone. “Hold on, Luce, I’ve got another call coming in… Never mind. It’s just Dad again.”

“He probably just wanted to know that you’re okay,” Lucy speculated. “Mom called us this morning, you know.”

“He already knows we’re safe. This is something else. I can’t do that conversation over the phone, and he’d freak out if I transmitted a hologram, especially given what I have to tell him. I need to go there and talk to him in person.”

-o-o-o-

Saturday, October 7, 2006 9:15AM EDT
Sam Lane felt his anger growing as he drove to his ‘offsite meeting’ with his daughter. The anger surfaced whenever he thought about the previous day’s revelation, though his heavy workload at the Pentagon had helped him avoid the troubling subject and kept his anger at bay. However, now that he was on his way to meet Lois at the Sheraton National Hotel, as she had requested, his anger came back with a passion. The Earth’s Guardian apparently had a thing for human women, and had knocked up his eldest daughter six years earlier, along with God only knows how many other women. There had to be at least one other, if Lois was caring for the man’s seven-year-old daughter, and if there was one, there were certain to be more.

Even more aggravating was Lois’ steadfast defense of the man, though Sam hadn’t told her that he had figured out who Jason’s biological father really was. It wasn’t something that could be discussed over an unsecured line. A public hotel wasn’t much better, and they couldn’t risk anyone finding out about Jason. Sam was determine to cajole Lois into returning to the Pentagon with him for their private talk, using General Maples request to debrief her as an excuse. Sam knew his daughter well enough not to worry about her inadvertently revealing Jason’s paternity during the session.

Sam was forced to hit his brakes in the heavy traffic on West I-395, and it pulled him from his thoughts, causing him to reflect on the enormous reconstruction task ahead of them on the East coast. Though the army had cleared the major highways, the secondary and tertiary roads remained littered with cars, some of which were barely passable. The natural consequence of that situation was that the highways were swollen with traffic. Fortunately, the hotel Lois had chosen was less than a mile from the Pentagon, but the congestion still did little for his mood.

That deadbeat should be out here cleaning up this mess, Sam complained to himself. Instead, the Man of Steel lay unconscious in a Philadelphia hospital, with Sam’s repeated recommendations to send someone in to wake the bastard falling on deaf ears. They’d been too busy singing the man’s praises for nearly making the ultimate sacrifice to spare the nation from certain doom. None of them understood Sam’s newly found contempt for hero, and he hadn’t dared to explain his sudden change in attitude.

After spending an intolerable twenty minutes on the one mile journey, Sam finally pulled up in front of the hotel were Lois was waiting. He stopped the car, lowered the passenger window and barked, “Get in the car! We’ll do this back at the Pentagon.”

“Like hell we will!” she shouted back. She turned on her heel and shouted over her shoulder, “I told you, I’ve made arrangements, so park the car already. I’ll meet you by the parking garage stairs.”

“Lois!” Sam hollered.

“Are you coming or not?” she shouted over her shoulder while continuing to march into the hotel.

Sam swore as his daughter disappeared into the hotel, and abruptly gunned the engine and pulled around to the parking garage entrance. He pulled into the first available spot he found, which put him on the third level. Lois was again waiting for him when he trotted over to the stairwell.

Sam turned to his daughter and angrily told her in a loud whisper, “Damn it, Lois, would you please be reasonable for once. If this thing is too sensitive to talk about over the phone, we certainly shouldn’t be discussing it in a public hotel. It’ll be better back at the Pentagon.”

“Who said we were staying here?” Lois countered. “Besides, I don’t want some of your Pentagon pals getting wind of this. It’s better where we’re going. I’ll know that nobody will be listening in. However, before we go anywhere I need your word that nothing said here gets repeated, and by nothing, I mean nothing. It doesn’t get shared with your Pentagon pals, or anyone else, no matter what.”

“Lois, I already have a pretty good idea what you’re going to tell me.”

“I doubt that… Your word, Dad.”

Sam sighed in frustration and said, “All right, you have my word. I won’t repeat anything. Now can we get this show on the road?”

“Follow me,” Lois told him, and she then turned and began walking down the stairs.

“You know, I haven’t got all day for this,” Sam groused. “I only scheduled an hour, and already burned twenty minutes on a one mile trip.”

“I think we can still have you back on time, so stop worrying about it,” Lois said insistently. “Besides, doesn’t rank have its privileges?”

“Why do you always have to make a simple conversation so difficult?” Sam complained as he followed her down. “And how much of this urgent discussion would even be necessary if you’d been willing to tell me things before it became a crisis?”

“Dad, can this wait until passersby can’t hear you shouting? Just a few minutes of silence! That’s all I’m asking.”

“Oh, you’re asking for more than that,” Sam argued. “Much more.”

“Dad,” Lois said impatiently.

“All right, but you better come clean about everything once we get started,” Sam grumbled. He followed his daughter to the bottom of the stairwell, and was about to walk out the door back into the parking garage when Lois’ hand on his arm stopped him. He turned to her and discovered she had a softly glowing marble-sized crystal sphere in her free hand. “What that hell is that?”

“Just something to keep us off the surveillance cameras,” Lois explained.

“They’re probably not working anyway, after the EMP,” Sam commented impatiently.

“Better safe than sorry,” Lois declared. She placed her hand on the wall, and said commandingly, “Open Sesame.”

Sam’s eyes flew wide open in astonishment when the floor in front of them disappeared to reveal a crystal staircase. “What on God’s green earth?”

“I’ll explain at the bottom, when nobody can hear us,” Lois replied tersely. She started down the stairs and added, “Coming?”

Sam quickly caught up with his daughter, and as they reached the bottom, he looked up to see the concrete floor rematerialize above them. “Jesus,” he muttered.

Before another word could be spoken, Sam noticed a razor thin wall of blue light pass from one side of the passage to the other and he suddenly found himself enveloped in a cocoon of light, unable to move as a male voice declared, “Intruder Alert.”

“Override. Identify guest as Sam Lane, my father,” Lois commanded.

Sam was suddenly free of the cocoon, and stumbled as his mobility returned. He caught himself and demanded, “What the hell is this place? And what the hell was that?”

“It’s a Kryptonian transportation portal, which is protected by some rather aggressive biometric security,” Lois explained. She wiped her hand over some markings on the wall, and a hidden door opened into a small chamber with a bench along three sides. Lois walked into the chamber and added, “You can’t blame them for being anal about security after what happened. Anyway, you weren’t recognized. You are now, and with that portal entrance closed, nobody can hear us. We can talk freely now.”

Sam followed her into the chamber and complained, “You mean to tell me that goddamn alien installed one of these things right under our noses? There are some people in this town who wouldn’t be the least bit pleased to hear about that.”

Lois sat down as the chamber door closed and stated authoritatively, “Smallville.”

A disembodied voice announced, “We will reach the destination in seven minutes forty seconds.”

“Smallville?” Sam inquired.

“Smallville, Kansas. It’s where our safe house is,” Lois explained. “Oh, and the portal under the Sheraton is my doing. I needed a way to get here quickly despite all the airports in the region being closed. Superman doesn’t know about it yet. And nobody else in this town is going to find out about it because you gave your word not to reveal our secrets.”

“Oh, you mean secrets like Superman fathering your child?” Sam retorted. At Lois surprised expression he added, “Yeah, I know about that, and about my grandson saving your ass at sea when his deadbeat dad was too busy to be bothered with it.”

“Too busy? That’s not how it was at all,” Lois snapped angrily. “Have you even bothered to read the reports on what he was dealing with in Metropolis Thursday?”

“I read them all,” Sam answered brusquely. “I also read a report from a Navy SEAL commander who I spoke with privately yesterday. He had some very interesting things to say about the rescue from Luthor’s yacht.”

“He promised us he wouldn’t out the kids,” Lois complained.

“He didn’t,” Sam declared impatiently. “There’s not a word about them in his report, and nothing to suggest that anything’s missing. The report actually implies that Superman rescued you. And before you go blaming Daniels for anything, try to remember that it’s your own damn fault for lying to him, telling him that Jason was a classified military secret and that I’d nail his hide to the wall if he spilled the beans. He assumed I already knew.”

“Well, I had to do something to keep him quiet and keep the kids safe,” Lois replied angrily. “If people ever found out about them…”

“And exactly how many of ‘them’ are there?” Sam pressed. “Jason’s obviously not the only one, if the alien dumped his bastard daughter on you. And what if one of them isn’t as well behaved as Jason is? They could become public menaces, for Christ sakes!”

“Dad, it’s not like that at all!”

“And what makes you so sure?” Sam demanded. “I simply cannot understand how you can continue to defend this cad after he left you alone and pregnant like that, along with God only knows how many other victimized women.”

“And I can’t understand how you can so quickly condemn someone without having all the facts, especially when we’re talking about someone who has continuously put himself out there to protect the innocent,” Lois shouted angrily. “Damn it, Dad, will you please shut up for two minutes and let me explain the facts to you!”

“What’s to explain? The so-called hero is seducing innocent women,” Sam insisted.

“Like hell! I know for a fact that I’m the only one he’s ever been intimate with, and he was far more innocent than I was,” Lois countered fiercely.

Sam visibly recoiled at his daughter’s bald statement, and after a moment’s pause, he asked pointedly, “Then how does he have a daughter? I know that you didn’t give birth to her.”

“He adopted her, after bringing her back from that disabled Kryptonian ship,” Lois informed him. “Remember the story about why he left six years ago? He left to answer the distress call from his uncle’s ship. It was too late for his aunt and uncle, but they managed to keep their daughter alive in stasis. Superman’s adopted daughter is actually his biological cousin.”

“His cousin?”

“Yes, his cousin. A seven-year-old who survived a holocaust, but lost everyone she’s ever known. She’s literally been transplanted onto an alien word, and almost lost another father a couple days ago. She’s had a tough time of it, including some horrible nightmares that have had her practically knocking the walls down. And he couldn’t abandon her. Not in space, and not here on Earth. He did what he always does and tried to help her the only way he knew how – by adopting her. He also doesn’t make the distinction between ‘adopted’ and ‘biological’. As far as he’s concerned, Kara is his child on equal standing with Jason.”

After a momentary pause, Sam said grouchily, “He still knocked you up and left you alone and pregnant.”

“We didn’t know I was pregnant when he left. We didn’t even think it was possible,” Lois explained. “And even if we had known, he still would have had to go. Kara would have died otherwise.”

Sam stared at his daughter for a minute and then asked curiously, “Why are you so protective of him, when the public perception is that you’re not even on speaking terms?”

“And what would you have us do, Dad? Publicly acknowledge Jason’s paternity?” Lois countered. She paused for effect, and then explained, “We cannot leave a trail of breadcrumbs leading from Superman back to me or the kids, so no, there’s no public interaction between Lois Lane and Superman and there’s not going to be. Privately, we’ve been working together rather closely, which brings us to a rather confidential subject.”

“And the rest of this isn’t?”

“It all is, but this may be the biggest secret of all, which you can never tell anyone,” Lois explained.

“Lois, I already gave you my word. What more do you want?”

“It’s too important to take chances with. I wouldn’t even consider telling you this if Superman hadn’t insisted on it before… before he fell,” Lois continued. “But after the incident with Daniels, he thought that we needed to tell you the full truth.”

“What else is there to tell?” Sam wondered.

“Well, for starters, he’s been here on Earth quite a bit longer than anyone realizes.”

“How much longer?”

“He was barely three when he got here,” Lois informed him. “He grew up here, went to college here, got himself a day job, paid his taxes. He’s had a very normal, boring life outside of being Superman. Oh, and not that it’s any of your business, but he’s even offered to pay five years back child support for Jason. I refused to accept it. He can’t afford it, and he needs what little he has for Kara.”

“What does he do for a living?” Sam asked curiously.

“He’s a reporter,” Lois admitted nervously. “Um, actually… actually, he’s my partner at the Planet, Clark Kent.”

Kent?” Sam echoed incredulously. “That clumsy milquetoast?”

“You’re sworn to secrecy, remember,” Lois said adamantly.

“I know, I know,” Sam complained. “You sure he’s really Kent?”

“Positive,” Lois assured him. “The clumsy and timid thing is an exaggeration to cement people’s first impression of him as some country rube. Even if they notice the resemblance to Superman, which almost nobody does, they’d never imagine that he really is Superman under that ugly suit.”

The conversation was interrupted by Jor-El’s voice as he announced, “We have arrived at the Smallville portal.”

The door opened a moment later, and Lois stepped through. “Come on. Let me introduce you to Superman’s family. And after that we’d like to get your opinion on a proposal of ours.”

“A proposal?”

“On how we might be able to use Kryptonian technology to reverse the damage Luthor caused,” Lois explained. “There are a few conditions we’ll have to work around, but I think we can pull it off…”

Sam looked at his watch, and muttered, “Let me see if can clear my calendar for the rest of the morning…”

“Here, you can use my phone,” Lois offered.

Sam nodded his acknowledgment as he accepted his daughter’s phone and called his Pentagon office.

[  Chapter 48  ]     [  Table of Contents  ]     [  Chapter 50  ]

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December 2009

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