By Tara Smith <>

Rated PG-13

Submitted February 2000

Summary: After Lois is rescued by the mysterious Maggie, she discovers a very interesting connection between the young woman and her husband. However, before she has a chance to confront Clark, Lois and Jimmy are kidnapped and Maggie is left to do the rescuing. Maggie enlists Superman's help, but will the Man of Steel's aid be enough?

By Tara Smith <> (please note there are two underscores in the email address. ***

Lois slammed the phone down and swore.

"What's the matter, Lois?" Clark Kent, Lois' husband and partner, placed a mug of coffee by her right hand.

"Wilson's being released due to lack of evidence!"

"What? They had enough evidence to put him away for years!"

"I know," she flashed her husband a smile. They had acquired most of that evidence themselves, and had been following the trial for the past eight months. "Someone broke into evidence lock-up and stole it."

"Not again!" Ever since the current DA had been elected, there had been a high occurrence of Intergang-related cases being dropped due to lack of evidence, contaminated evidence, or stolen evidence. Lois and Clark had noticed that and begun an investigation. They had not yet been able to find anything concrete on the man, though.

"…and I never want to see you again!" The voice increased in volume and ended in a shout. The 'smacking' sound of a slap made Lois and Clark break off their discussion and turn to look.

Jimmy was standing in front of the closing elevator doors with his back to them. His shoulders were slumped as he stared after his girlfriend—or rather ex-girlfriend.

"Is this a sitcom or a news room?" Perry White's voice broke the stunned silence. "Get back to work! Jimmy! My office! Now!"

The babble of voices resumed louder than ever, apparently to make up for their silence a minute before.

"Do they have any suspects?" Clark asked.

"For the evidence theft? Not yet."

"It might be interesting to see what District Attorney Anders has to say about this," Clark mused.

"The DA's giving a press release tomorrow on the Wilson case in the park," Lois told her partner, returning to their investigation. "I can't wait to hear his excuse this time! They're almost as bad as yours were!"

Clark lifted an eyebrow at her. She was referring, he knew, to the excuses he used to give her when he had to run off and be Superman. Speaking of which, his superhearing cut in on international weather report. A typhoon was moving in on India's coastline, apparently the worst in a century.

"Um, Lois…"

She looked up at him and nodded. "Go. I'll see you at home tonight."

"Thanks, honey," he leaned down and kissed her briefly before hurrying down a corridor to the storage rooms. A whoosh of air a moment later blew papers around the room. ***

Maggie Carmichael strolled along the ledge.

She was dressed casually, in slightly scruffy jeans and a T-shirt which proclaimed in bold red letters "Superman Rules!" on the front and the S-shield on the back. With a tattered backpack hanging from one shoulder, she was indistinguishable from any other teenager. Except, of course, for where she was walking.

Maggie glanced down at the street—a mere twenty stories down. It was busy, even this early in the morning, but she knew there wasn't much chance of anyone spotting her from down there—not even Superman, who she had heard was helping with the aftermath of a typhoon in India. She'd noticed when she'd arrived in the city the night before that even here in the great city of Metropolis, home to Superman, people seldom—if ever—looked up. Nor was there much chance of a sighting from inside the building, since the building had not yet opened its doors to employees.

Finally she reached her goal, a place near the corner of the building with a great view of the Daily Planet, where the early morning sun wouldn't reach her for a while, and settled in. She laid her backpack on the ledge beside her and, pulling a paper bag and soda from her backpack, dangled her feet off the side, staring out over the city while she ate her breakfast—an assortment of snack crackers and snack cakes.

It was really a fascinating place, this city. She could understand why Superman chose to make it his home.

The lights in the office beside her came on abruptly, making her jump. Voices spoke softly, and she concentrated, willing her hearing more acute. When she could hear the words she paled, horrified. Kryptonite! Where had they gotten ahold of that? Superman was supposed to have gotten rid of the rest of that awful substance!

She stood up carefully and slung her backpack over her shoulder, trying hard to stay out of the light coming through the windows. As she did her foot caught on something hard, which clattered noisily to one side. The voices broke off abruptly and she froze, terrified that they would check the ledge.

"Is that window locked?" It was the first voice-a cultured sounding one.

"Yeah, boss."

"Check it, anyways."

As the footsteps of the man came closer to the window, Maggie looked frantically around for an escape route. She was in a section of concrete between two windows. If she moved either way, she would be in the light from the windows and be spotted by the men within. She did the only thing she could think of—she turned and jumped straight up.

She landed easily on the twenty first floor and pressed herself against the wall, trembling with nervouseness. If they had seen her…

The window below her slid open, then a minute later, closed. "Nothin' there, boss. Like I said, nobody's gonna hear us in here."

Silence. Then, "Very well. You have your assignment. Lois Lane will be at the Daily Planet at eight o'clock sharp, right after my press release. Superman should have returned from India by then. Make sure you do not fail."

"Sure, boss."

There was silence for another moment, then the door in the office below her opened and closed again.

She slumped back against the wall for a minute, limp with relief. Then she straightened. Lois Lane? They hadn't said anything about her before she'd interrupted them. They were probably planning on kidnapping her or something—she'd heard some rumors from her journalism instructor about Ms. Lane and how she was always getting personally involved in her stories. Superman was out of town, though! He couldn't save her from them this time! Not with kryptonite involved. Well, she decided grimly, she would have to do something about it, herself, then. ***

The Daily Planet loomed tall before her.

Maggie stood in a shadowed doorway across the street from the famous building. She brushed her hands against her jeans, then straightened her backpack again. Now that she was actually standing in front of the great newspaper, well, across the street from it, she suddenly wasn't so sure that she could pull it off. Thinking about rescuing Lois Lane from some low-life criminal and actually doing it were very different things. What if she hurt Ms. Lane while trying to rescue her? What if she tried and failed, and Lois was kidnapped—or worse, killed? Superman would undoubtedly blame her—he would be right to.

A screech of tires from up the street jerked her attention from her worries and back to the present.

A white van had just come around the corner. It was weaving erratically back and forth at high speed. Other cars were swerving frantically in an attempt to get out of the way. Someone screamed, and someone else yelled "Superman!"

"Lois! Look out!"

A woman staggered backwards from between two cars. Maggie caught a glimpse of a man, but nothing else, as her attention was focussed on the woman.

She didn't even pause to think, but ran forward as fast as she could, slowing only a little when she grabbed the dark-haired woman and moved her out of the way of the van. She'd built up too much speed for a sudden stop like she usually used for the safety of her passenger, so she spun around as she entered the alley beside the Planet building and crashed backwards into a dumpster.

The woman pulled herself to her feet as Maggie shook her head, a little dazed. She'd have preferred to hit something a little softer, actually, but, as her mother had always said, beggars can't be choosers. She would definitely have to work on her sudden stops some more, though.

"Are you all right?" the dark-haired woman reached down and gave her a hand to her feet. She wasn't very tall, even in the heels she was wearing, and she didn't look as—well—stunned as Maggie had expected.

Maggie started to nod, then grimaced when the strap of her backpack parted at the seam and fell off her shoulder. "Oh, no! Not again!"

She turned and bent to pick it up from where it lay at the base of the now demolished dumpster. "I hate it when this happens!"

She stuffed the strap into a small pouch on the backpack, intending to fix it later, and looked up to find the woman staring at her.

"Um, hi," she said uncertainly. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine. Who are you?"

"I'm Maggie…" Suddenly she remembered where she'd seen this woman before. "You're Lois Lane, aren't you."

"Yes, I am. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?"

"No! Yes! I can't talk to you!" Maggie quelled panic forcibly. This wasn't going exactly as she'd planned it!

"Are you sure? I'd only print what you wanted me to."

"No interviews! I don't want anyone to know about me!"

Lois smiled slightly. "I think a lot of people are going to know about you now. Superman is too far away to have gotten back quick enough to save me from the van back there."

Maggie sighed. "Okay. I'll answer a few questions. What do you want to know?"

Lois looked around, noting the crowd that was gathering at the entrance to the alley. Some of the people were watching them as well as the accident scene on the street. "Not here. Let's go someplace a little more private."

Maggie nodded. This was almost what she'd been hoping for, after all.

Lois closed the conference room door and lowered the blinds. She motioned Maggie to a chair and took one herself. "So, Maggie, where are you from?"

"Well, most recently I'm from California."

"Most recently?"

"I guess I should say from Krypton by way of California." She smiled nervously.

Lois looked at her quizzically. "You're obviously a lot younger than Superman is. Can you explain this?"

"Nope. I remember being put in the ship, then the next thing I remember is the ship being opened and some people taking me out." She shrugged. "I think my ship was slower than Superman's and it put me in stasis or something, 'cause that was only about sixteen years ago. I'm about eighteen, now," she added helpfully.

"Are you related to Superman?"

Maggie shrugged. "I don't know. My Kryptonian name is Sara, if that helps."

"Have you ever met Superman?"

Maggie took a deep breath to calm herself. "That's why I'm here. I have some information for Superman. His life is in danger!"

Lois put down her pad and stared at her. "How is his life in danger?"

Maggie shook her head. "I can't tell you! You're a reporter!"

"I'm also a good friend of Superman's. You can trust me."


"I'm not going to take you to Superman unless you tell me first."

Maggie sighed. "Okay. But you have to swear not to print a word of this, ok?"

"I won't print any of this. You have my word."

"I found out about it this morning…" ***

"How could you have failed!"

The man held the phone away from his ear, wincing from the volume of the yell. "But, sir, Superman's still in India!"

"Have you identified Lane's rescuer?"

"Not yet, sir. I'm working on it." He paused. "If it is another superbeing, it could complicate matters."

There was a short pause. Then, "Implement Plan B. We cannot afford a delay."

"But, sir, I could be caught!"

"Only if you fail. I suggest you do not." There was a click as the line was disconnected.

Clyde Anders set the phone carefully back in the cradle. His hand was shaking, he noticed absently. His masters were not people you could dissapoint and stay healthy. This time, he would carry out the plan himself. ***

"…heard me. I had to hide…" she broke off as someone rapped sharply on the door.

The door opened to reveal a good-looking man just a little older than she was. From the camera around his neck, she assumed he was a photographer. Maggie stared at him, suddenly feeling like she'd been hit by lightning. She smoothed back her hair, embarrassed by her rather scruffy appearance.

"Hi." He grinned at Maggie.

Lois had been looking out the window. She spun to face him. "What is it, Jimmy?"

"The driver of that van…it was Seth Greenburg." Jimmy was still grinning at Maggie.

Lois exhaled sharply. "And?"

"Well, he acted like he was on something. The paramedics had to restrain him."

"Who's Seth Greenburg?" Maggie asked.

"He's a legal clerk in the DA's office, and he was my source," Lois answered absently. "Jimmy, I want you to find out everything you can about that van. Maggie, you come with me."

Maggie stepped up beside Lois as they left the room. "Who was that?"

"What? Oh, that was Jimmy Olsen. He's a photographer here." Maggie put a hand on the woman's arm. "Does he have a girlfriend?"

Lois paused and shot a look back at Jimmy, who was still watching them. "Not right now."

Maggie grinned. "Good."

After watching Lois call several emergency rooms in a row, Maggie stood up.

"I'm going to get some coffee. Want some?" she asked Lois in a low voice.

"Sure. " She looked up at Maggie briefly. "Non-fat creamer, one sweet-and-low."

Maggie nodded and headed for the coffee station. As she poured the coffee, she looked around the room for Jimmy Olsen. He was heading over to Lois' desk. She concentrated as he spoke to Lois.

"Who's that girl?"

"What?" Lois pushed and held down a button on her phone. "Oh, right. That's Maggie Carmichael. Why?"

"You think she'd go out with me?"

Lois laughed softly. "It won't hurt to ask."

"Are you gonna pour that or just hold it?"

"What?" Maggie turned to see an irate Planet employee standing beside her, an empty coffee mug in one hand. "Oh, right." She finished filling the two mugs, added copious amounts of creamer and sugar to hers, fixed the other to Lois' specifications and headed back to Lois' desk.

"Hi," she said to Jimmy.

"Hi. Uh, Maggie…you don't mind if I call you that, do you?" She shook her head, and he went on. "Um, would you mind… I mean…"

"Jimmy! Where're are those pictures!" an older man bellowed.

"I'm on it, Chief!" Jimmy yelled back. Then, to her, "Um, I'll talk to you later, ok?"

She nodded, a little disappointed, as Jimmy ran off, and settled herself back in the chair beside Lois' desk.

Ten minutes later, Lois finally put the phone down. "Well, wherever they took him, it wasn't to the hospital. Jimmy!"

"Right here." Jimmy dumped a sheaf of paper on the corner of Lois' desk. "Here's all the info on that van. The owners claimed they didn't know it was missing. It turns out it belongs to a pharmaceutical company by the name of The Pegasus Health Group."

Lois picked up the sheaf and leafed through it. "Which we know is a front for Intergang, but can't prove."

Jimmy nodded. "It gets better. The Reliable Ambulance Co. owned the ambulance that showed up to take Greenburg away. I did a little checking, and it turns out that they're owned by the Pegasus Health Group." He grinned at Lois' surprised expression. "I guess I am learning something from you after all."

"Good work Jimmy. Now I need to know where the van was taken."

Maggie picked up the papers as Lois put them down and leafed through them herself. Her attention was focussed more on Jimmy, though, and she could practically feel him watching her.

He handed Lois a slip of paper. "Here's the address of the impound lot where the tow truck took it."

Lois grabbed her purse. "Come on, Maggie. We're going to the impound lot." ***

Maggie stood beside the open door of the van, watching while Lois clambered around inside.

"What are you looking for?" she asked.

"Clues. Anything that Greenburg might have been trying to get to me." She grunted in annoyance as her wristwatch caught on something. "You could help a little, you know. Maybe scan the van with your x-ray vision, or something."

"Um, well, that'd be a problem." Maggie shifted uncomfortably. "I, uh, can't scan through metal."

Lois looked up in surprise. "You can't? I thought you were Kryptonian."

"I am. I don't know why I can't." She shrugged. "I'm tough, but not impenetrable. I'm fast, but not as fast as Superman. Ditto for strength and my other abilities." She shrugged. "Maybe its because I was never actually on Krypton."

"You weren't?" Lois was sitting down, now, taking a break from her search.

"Nope. I can clearly remember a space station of some kind. I'm not sure, but I think it was after Krypton exploded." Maggie wrinkled her nose, trying to remember more. "I think the station was damaged, and there were some areas on the station where I felt weaker. There weren't very many adults there, and the ones who were, were very sick."

"Do you have anything from the ship that brought you here?"

"Not that I know of. I haven't gone through all of the stuff my parents sent me yet, though, when they sent me off to boarding school." She shrugged, then climbed into the van. "Let's see if there's anything I can scan, ok?"

Lois gestured expansively. "Be my guest."

Maggie took a deep breath, and concentrated, squinting slightly to improve the focus as she looked around the van. There were quite a few areas she couldn't see into, but they were mostly places like the engine and the glove box, where Lois had already checked. After a moment, she paused, staring at the front passenger seat. "Hmm. That's odd. There's a metallic tube of some kind wedged in the seat there. Let me see if I can get it." She squeezed her hand into the seat, and muttered under her breath. She grabbed it with both hands and pulled, bending the metal away from the base. A small metal tube fell out and rolled over to Lois' feet.

Lois picked it up and pulled it open. A small crumpled piece of paper fell out into her hand. She straightened it and looked it over. "Yes! This is just what I was looking for!" ***

Maggie exchanged a nervous look with Jimmy.

After their discovery at the impound lot, she and Lois had returned to the Planet to pick up a photographer—Jimmy Olsen, it turned out. It turned out that the good-looking photographer often helped Lois and her husband, Clark Kent, on investigations.

When they had gotten to the Planet, Lois had tried to leave Maggie behind. Maggie had told Lois in no uncertain terms that if Lois didn't take her along, she would just follow along behind. She'd seen how these people played it, and she figured Lois could use some back up that was a little less vulnerable to injury.

Now, they were standing outside the Reliable Ambulance Company, waiting for Lois to pick the lock on the back door. They had waited for the fall of darkness to come to the building. Strangely enough, Maggie had not yet seen the mysterious Clark Kent, despite the lateness of the hour.

Jimmy grinned reassuringly at Maggie, who was looking around nervously.

"Don't worry," he whispered. "Lois does this all the time."

"Really?" Maggie replied almost soundlessly. "I haven't! I've never committed a crime before!"

"Just remember, they're the bad guys. These people are working for Intergang. You've heard of them?"

"Who hasn't? They're the biggest crime syndicate around!"

Lois glared at them. "I could do with a little less chatter!"

The two dutifully shut up. Another minute passed, then Maggie, who was concentrating on her hearing just in case someone was to come up behind them, heard a sharp click from the door. Lois exclaimed softly in satisfaction and opened the door a crack. Then she pushed the door open wider and stepped soundlessly inside with Jimmy only a step behind her. Maggie hesitated a moment, then she, too, started to step inside.

As she did so, a door just a short distance up the corridor opened. The man who stepped through was holding a gun. "Nobody move!"

Jimmy grabbed Maggie by the arm and shoved her back out the door. "Get help!" ***

Maggie ran.

The commotion behind her told her that she had been spotted and was being pursued. She poured on the speed.

When the noises became lost in the sounds of the city around her, she slowed and came to a halt against a wall, gasping for breath. She turned, putting her back against the wall, and slid to the ground, still panting.

Oh, Gods! she thought. I deserted them! They needed me and I deserted them! Like a coward I turned and ran at the first sign of danger! Superman would never… She jumped to her feet, sudden inspiration making her grin. Maybe she could still help.

"Superman! Superman help!" she yelled, putting as much of her fear for Lois and Jimmy into her voice as she could.

There was a whoosh and a thud and she turned to see Superman, himself, standing just a few feet from her. He looked around, obviously expecting an emergency of some kind and seeing none. "Is there a problem, Miss?"

"Superman, thank the gods! Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen have been grabbed by…"

"Where are they?"

"In the Reliable Ambulance Co. building two blocks that way," she pointed in the direction she had come from.

"Thanks." He took off with a crack of displaced air.

"But they have…blast!" She sighed heavily, and said to herself, "They have Kryptonite!" She shook her head and ran after him.

She came to a stop just out of sight of the door Lois and Jimmy had gone in, and listened hard. They hadn't posted a guard! That was strange, she would have thought they would have. She poked her head around the corner, then went around it, still listening hard for the sounds of someone coming near.

It would probably be useless to try to 'look' through the walls for Jimmy and Lois. Intergang would undoubtedly have lined the room they put the two in with lead, to block Superman from looking in, which meant that she definitely wouldn't be able to.

She should have done this before, she realized suddenly. If she had, her new friends wouldn't have been captured. Well, she was doing it now, and maybe if she helped rescue them it would make up for her cowardice before.

She went quickly to the door and listened carefully. Nothing. She grabbed the door handle and twisted it. It had been re-locked, but that wasn't a problem. Standard door locks weren't made to stand up to even a weakened Kryptonian's strength. The knob broke off in her hand and she pushed the door open a crack, listening again. Again, nothing.

"Ok, Mags, where would you hide prisoners if you were the bad guy?" she whispered to herself as she crept soundlessly down the corridor. The door the man with the gun had come through was the most obvious way to go, so she stopped at it, again listening carefully. Once again, she heard nothing, so she opened the door and stepped into the room beyond.

It was small and unfurnished, and appeared unused. In fact, except for the man who had captured the two reporters, nothing she had seen so far indicated that the building was used by anyone. Could this company be a fake of some kind? What was it called, a front? Lois had mentioned that a company that was run by Intergang owned it.

She paused, uncertain. Was she really sure they were still there? Maybe they had been taken elsewhere. No, they couldn't have. There hadn't been enough time. Shaking off her indecision, she walked up to the door in the opposite wall and listened once more.

Voices! She concentrated hard, straining to understand.

"I wouldn't come any closer, Superman!"

She recognized *that* voice. That was one of the voices from the office, where she'd first heard of this plot! Apparently Superman knew who it was, too.

"It's over, Anders. Give me the gun, release the hostages and come with me quietly and your sentence will be lighter."

*That* voice anyone would recognize! The Man of Steel sounded like he was trying to live up to his nickname today!

"I don't think that will be necessary!" Faintly, she heard the sound of a container being opened. Then someone staggered back to thud against a wall. Then the sound of a gun being loaded and cocked. "One little kryptonite bullet and presto—no witnesses and no sentencing."

She couldn't stand by and watch! Not like she had when the New Kryptonians came to Earth! She wasn't going to be a coward this time!

She knocked the door down and ran forward, taking in the scene in one look. Lois and Jimmy were tied back to back to one side. Superman was against one wall, just pushing himself back to his feet. The man with the gun—and undoubtedly the kryptonite as well—was across the room. Fortunately, he was far enough away from her that the deadly substance didn't affect her. Standing beside him was the man who had captured Lois and Jimmy. Without pausing to think, she threw herself in front of Superman just as Anders fired.

Pain seared along her ribcage and she fell across Superman. The world went dark. ***

Anders swore as Maggie threw herself in front of Superman, taking the bullet that he had meant for the superhero. Superman, now shielded from the effects of the kryptonite, went into action.

He threw himself into the air, flying at super speed at the man who was pointing a gun at Lois. He took the guns and squeezed them into an unuseable lump of metal. Then he untied Lois and Jimmy and used the ropes on Anders and his thug.

Lois was up instantly, coming over to Clark.

"Are you all right?" she asked in a low voice.

"I'll be fine," he answered at a similar volume.

"Lois!" They turned to see Jimmy turning Maggie over from where she lay on the floor.

"Oh, no!" Lois ran over. "Let me see her, Jimmy!"

He turned Maggie so Lois could see the wound. She pulled apart the hole in the shirt, and muttered something under her breath. She looked around the room, and her eyes lit on her purse, which had been discarded in one corner of the room. "Superman, I need my purse."

Clark retrieved it for her, and backed away again, knowing what she intended to do. She had, after all, done the same thing for him, when he had been shot.

Lois searched around in her purse one-handed. After a few seconds, she came up with a small knife. She pulled it out of its sheath and, working quickly, cut the cloth away from the wound. She carefully inserted the knife into the wound and under the bullet, prying it out.

"Superman! I need the lead case he had it in!"

He went over to the bound men and searched through Anders' pockets until he came up with the case. He tossed it to Lois.

She placed the green bullet carefully inside and closed it tightly.

"Here, Superman." She offered him the case. "Take care of that, would you?"

He accepted it gingerly. "Thank you, Ms. Lane. You should be all right, now, while I go get the police."

She smiled wanly up at him. "Would you mind getting my husband, too?"

He grinned at her and nodded. "He'll be here in a few minutes." ***

"Maggie! Maggie, wake up!" a familiar voice called her.

"Mmph." She was very comfortable and didn't want to wake. She snuggled closer to the man holding her. Somehow it just felt right.

"C'mon, Maggie. You've got to wake up, now." Now she placed the voice. It was Jimmy Olsen, and he sounded worried.

Suddenly, her memory returned. She opened her eyes to find herself gazing into the very worried face of Jimmy Olsen. She felt strangely weak and sluggish.

Jimmy looked up for a minute. "CK! Lois! She's awake!"

Rather abruptly, Maggie realized she was lying partly in Jimmy's lap. He had his jacket wrapped around her and she pulled it closer, suddenly feeling cold.

They were still in the room where she had found the little group, she saw. Superman was gone, but the two men were tied up against one wall with Lois standing over them. A strange man turned at Jimmy's call and came over to them. He was dressed in a neat business suit and was wearing a tie with a multicolored geometric design on it. Something about him seemed incredibly familiar.

He knelt beside her. "How are you feeling, Miss Carmichael?"

"Like I've been run over by a train! Where'd Superman go? And who're you?" He seemed vaguely familiar, but she couldn't quite place him.

"I'm Clark Kent." He grinned magnetically. "Lois' husband."

She moved a little in Jimmy's hold and he released her and helped her to her feet. She staggered slightly and Jimmy put an arm around her, steadying her. She leaned on him, suddenly feeling a lot better.

She listened for a minute, straining to hear the sirens that should be coming. Nothing. "Hasn't anyone called the cops?"

"Superman said he'd notify them," Lois said, coming up beside her husband. Clark put an arm around her shoulders. "They should be here any minute."

Maggie bit her lip. Lois hastened to reassure her, "Don't worry. Superman took care of the kryptonite."

At that moment, the sirens she had been expecting started wailing. A few minutes later, they stopped abruptly just outside the building.

The cops that came in evidently were used to cleaning up after a Lois Lane adventure, for they took the criminals out and read them their rights with a minimum of fuss. The statements took only a little longer. The paramedics who had come with the police bandaged Maggie's gunshot wound. When she refused to go with them back to the hospital, they suggested that she have it checked by a doctor and left.

The police did a quick search of the building, and discovered a get-away car parked in the alley behind the building. Maggie positively I.D.'d the driver as the man who'd pushed Lois in front of the van that morning. He, too, had been cuffed and taken away in a squad car.

Lois and Clark had then ushered Jimmy and Maggie out to Lois' Jeep and driven back to the Planet. Apparently, they had to hurry to get the story in for the evening edition. ***

One man watched the District Attorney and his hired man chivvied out to the waiting squad cars with interest. When Lane and Kent exited the building with Jimmy and Maggie in tow, he turned discreetly away and pulled out a cell phone. He pushed buttons, then, when a man's voice answered, he said simply, "Plan B failed."

"Acknowledged. Return to base."

The man closed the phone and vanished into the shadows of the buildings. ***

Lois' husband, Clark, was an extremely fast typist—another thing which made her thing that, just maybe…oh, well, it wasn't any of *her* business.

"So, Maggie," Clark began. "Lois tells me you're Kryptonian?"

They were standing next to the coffee station in the newsroom. Maggie, for one, was starving, and was loading her coffee mug with as much sugar and creamer that she could. Clark Kent, she noticed, was doing the same. She glanced at him quickly. Could he be…ah, never mind. It wasn't any of her business, anyway, she reminded herself once more. If he was and wanted her to know, he'd tell her eventually.

"Yep." She took a long drink of her liquid candy, draining the cup, and reached for the coffeepot again. "And before you ask, no, I don't really know why I got here ten years after Superman did. My parents didn't tell me much before they put me in my spaceship."

"You remember that?" he sounded startled. Well, maybe he didn't.

"Mmm hmm. I was about two, so I don't remember much more."

"Superman's spaceship had a globe with it—the navigational system, I think—there was a message from his parents on it. Do you …"

Maggie looked up from her newly loaded coffee mug, surprised. "I don't know. If there was, it's probably with my parents' things in storage where I put it after they died last year." She reached for a jelly donut and bit into it. "Yumm!" She had no idea where Clark had gotten these donuts since she was sure the donut shops in Metropolis were closed by now. It didn't really matter, though.

Jimmy came up beside her. "Wow! That's what? Your fourth donut?"

"Fifth, actually." She grinned at Jimmy's expression.

"It's a good thing you have a super metabolism! I'd get sick if I ate like you!"

"Jimmy! Get in here!" *That* was Perry White, the managing editor and obvious authority in the newsroom.

Jimmy grimaced and hurried off. Maggie cast a sympathetic smile at him, then turned back to Clark. "Do you think you could get Superman to give me a lift to California to check it out? I mean, I could run, but it would probably take a little longer."

"Sure. I'll be right back." He turned and went down a corridor.

A few minutes later, Superman drifted in an open window and over to them. Lois looked up from her computer and smiled at him, then went back to her work.

"Clark said you needed a lift?"

Superman Airways, Maggie thought, smothering a giggle, then nodded. ***

Maggie stared at the globe warily.

She and Superman had flown to California in a very short time—shorter than usual when he was carrying a passenger, apparently. That was undoubtedly because of who she was.

They had searched through her parents things—her by hand, Superman by x-ray vision—and had discovered the globe in a small box in a suitcase belonging to her mother. Also with it was a drawing of a spaceship. Superman claimed it looked a lot like his own—a little less polished, maybe, and a little bigger, to judge by the surrounding objects in the drawing, but then *she* had been a little older than Superman when she was placed inside, and it had been in space longer.

They had taken the suitcase and all of its contents and flown back to Metropolis. She was now sitting on Lois and Clark's couch in their home.

"So you say it should activate and give me a message when I pick it up?" The globe still lay in the suitcase on top of a manila envelope that contained the drawing.

"That's what Superman said happened," Lois agreed.

"Well, I guess it can't hurt, can it?" She reached down and picked it up.

Instantly, the globe started to glow, and the surface changed to show the landmasses of Krypton instead of Earth. Maggie jerked her gaze up from the globe as the image of a regal looking woman formed and began to speak.

"My darling daughter, Sara! I am your mother, Dena. If you are hearing this, then you have survived the terrible journey I sent you on. If I had kept you here, you would have died with the rest of us, and I couldn't bear that thought.

This is the first of several messages for you. There is much to tell you, and I do not have much time to record them in. Listen closely, my daughter, and learn."

The woman vanished and was replaced by a busy room where four people, including Dena, were working frantically around what appeared to be the frame of a spaceship like the one in the drawing. All appeared weak and, as they watched, one staggered and nearly fell. One of the others caught him.

"The space station we have lived on for the past few years since Krypton's explosion will not support us for much longer. Fragments of our beloved planet lodged in the hull of the station and have been affecting our health. None, not even you, have escaped the effects.

"We know that Lord Jor-El sent his son, Kal-El, to a planet he has deemed suitable. We are programming your ship to follow his, in the hopes that he is correct and Earth is a suitable home for you.

"My only wish is that your father, Tal-Ra, could be here to see you off. My hopes, all of our hopes, are with you."

The image vanished and Maggie placed the globe back in the suitcase. She brushed a tear off her cheek and sighed. ***

"DA Arrested…" Maggie read the headline proudly. "District Attorney Clyde Anders was arrested last night…this is so cool!"

They were back in the Daily Planet's newsroom. She was sitting on Clark Kent's desk, looking over the headlines for which she was partly responsible. After the revelation last night from her mother, the Kents had invited her to spend the night at their house. She had accepted, mainly because she didn't have any other place to stay.

"So, uh, CK — you don't mind if I call you that, do you?" He shook his head, and she went on. "So, you say that you and Lois were *already* investigating the DA for suppressing evidence? How do you …never mind. I don't really want to know." Maggie re-folded the newspaper. "So, what was the deal with that informant? Do *all* of your sniches try to kill Lois?"

"Not usually," Lois said from behind Maggie. Maggie just grinned. She had heard Lois coming up from behind her — her powers had only taken about a day to return to normal, surprising everyone.

"I got a phone call from him this morning, actually. He apologised for nearly running me over. He was trying to bring me some information when he was caught and drugged by one of Anders' goons." Lois walked over to her husband and put her hands on his shoulders. "Hi."

He grinned up at her. "Hi."

Maggie rolled her eyes. "Ok, people, focus here! I still have two…no make that three more questions. First off, what's with this interview here with me? It's on the third page and it makes me sound like I'm here to hold back the forces of darkness one handed!"

Clark laughed. "Well, you did say you wanted to help Superman, right?"

"Yeah." She gave him a guarded look, uncertain of where he was taking this.

"And you did say you were going to stick around in Metropolis for a while, right?"

"Uh huh."

"That's all it really says." Clark patted her hand reassuringly.

Maggie shot him a suspicious look, but went on. "Ok, second—what was the deal with them trying to kill Superman? I mean they had a kryptonite bullet, and kidnapped Lois and Jimmy, and stuff. Do you have any idea why?"

Clark nodded. "I'd say Intergang knew we were close to exposing the DA as one of their people and had him take steps to end our investigation. They must have seen Superman when he helped us."

"So what's your other question?" Lois asked.

Maggie grinned. "Where's Jimmy? He's taking me to see this new Casper Van Dien movie—you know, 'Methuselah's Children'? It's supposed to be really good!"

"Ah, I think that would be him just coming out of the elevator."

Maggie half turned and spotted Jimmy, then flashed Clark a grin. "Thanks, pal."

She slid off the desk and ran to meet Jimmy at the ramp. "Hi, Jimmy!"

"Hi, Mags. You ready to go?"


They stepped into the elevator, and she paused, hand over the buttons. "So tell me, Jimmy, is it always this…um, eventful around those two?"

Jimmy laughed and shook his head. "You have *no* idea!"


(or is it???)

The room was dimly lit. None of those gathered at the table could clearly see the others' faces. The one at the head of the table settled back in his chair. "Despite Anders' failure, we will continue with our plan."

"But Superman still lives! If he finds out…" one objected.

"The plan was partly successful," a woman at the far end of the table said. "They believe Intergang was behind the attempt."

"We will take care of Superman when and if he becomes a problem." The leader dismissed the others objections with a wave of his hand. "We have more important things to concern ourselves with." He laughed softly as he surveyed the map that was part of their table. "Metropolis will soon be ours!"

Continued in "The Black Circle"…