By Barbara Pillsbury < email@example.com >
Submitted: February, 2002
Summary: A renegade New Kryptonian elder kidnaps Lois and Clark's newborn son.
On the mother ship, Major Ching was pacing the corridor outside sick bay. He could hear his wife, Zara, trying to work through the pain of giving birth to their first child, the child who would one day rule New Krypton. He wished he could be in there with her, helping her, but Kryptonian tradition disallowed the father being present during a birth. It wasn't logical.
However, due to the fact that this was a royal birth, two members of the Council of Elders were in the room to validate the entrance into the world of their new ruler. If Lady Zara gave birth to a son, that boy would become ruler when he was eight days old. If Zara gave birth to a daughter, Zara would continue on as leader until her daughter came of age, roughly eighteen years from now.
Ching was especially nervous and concerned as the baby had come early. The child wasn't expected for another month. He had hoped that they would be back on New Krypton and have the planet's hospital facilities available to them — being born on a space ship with its limited resources would be difficult especially if complications arose. He was worried, too, because Zara was in the midst of highly sensitive negotiations with the royal representative of Etar. The two teams had almost reached a consensus when Zara had gone into labor. Without her, the negotiations had come to a standstill. Ching knew that Zara would be feeling that she was neglecting her duties and it would weigh heavily on her and impact her ability to focus.
Lord Cir, the newest member of the Council of Elders was also concerned about the birth of Zara's baby. A daughter would continue the reign of Zara and Ching whose earth influence because of their association with Kal-el and Lois Lane while testing Kal-el for reinstatement as ruler of New Krypton two years before had altered the couples' view of the world. They had become emotionally jaded and ruled New Krypton with less logic, allowing their hearts and sentiment to sway them. Lord Cir had seen evidence of this sentimentality during the discussions with the Emperor of Etar. Lady Zara was conceding much; and, if a peaceful resolution would follow, much of Krypton's power would be diminished.
If, however, a son were born to Lady Zara, Lord Cir would become, as his post of domestic advisor dictated, the chief counselor to the new Lord and in all actuality then, ruler of New Krypton. Lord Cir had plans. In the event a daughter were born, drastic measures would be set in motion. He simply could not allow Lady Zara to continue as ruler.
Zara was nearing the end of the birthing process. The baby's head was crowning. Another push and the head was out. Lord Trey, the head of the Council of Elders looked over to Cir and nodded in anticipation of the event.
"Soon," he said. "We will have our new leader soon."
The doctor, a loyal friend of Lord Cir's told Zara to push one more time as he slid the shoulders of the baby out. The baby exited the birth canal and entered the awaiting world. Lord Cir, upon seeing the baby's gender, nodded to the doctor, who pushed a button under the delivery table. A gas started seeping into the room. As the red gas, a delicate mixture of red Kryptonite and a form of ether, rose in the room, Cir, the doctor, and the nurse quickly covered their faces and the baby's face with masks poised ready for this occasion, but Chief Elder Lord Trey and Zara soon were asleep.
The doctor cut the umbilical cord and suctioned the baby's mouth and nose. Its cries signified that the birth had been successful. "Quickly," the doctor said to the nurse, "take the baby girl and Zara away."
Lord Cir and the doctor dragged Lord Trey to another room. "Hurry," ordered Cir, "we have no time to lose. Doctor, your labor inducement drug worked more rapidly than anticipated. We still have some work to do on Earth. My aides have been busy preparing if this eventually occurred."
"You have found a baby boy to replace Zara's daughter?" Dr. Kri demanded.
"Of course," smiled Lord Cir.
On Earth, Lois and Clark were hovering over the bassinet, watching their son Chris as he lay sleeping.
Clark awoke first and kissed the sleeping woman lying next to him. She was obviously exhausted, having gone through such strenuous labor less than three days before. Clark knew that she had faced a lot, having to endure bringing the baby home yesterday afternoon while balancing Sam, Ellen, Martha, and Jonathan's wanting to be doting grandparents, with getting Chris settled in his new environment. After getting rid of the Lanes and Kents, she tried to acknowledge the wishes of friends about the baby and the Pulitzer. She also nursed Chris twice during the night. All of this would have tired out a long distance endurance runner but Lois was insistent that she could handle it all.
Clark wasn't sure that even he, Superman, had the strength to do what Lois had done the past few days. He marveled at her ability, her courage, and her just being there beside him. He thought back on their life together and couldn't believe that a life without Lois had ever even existed. She was so much a part of him, just like breathing. Clark couldn't remember what it was like without her — either without thinking about her, loving her, or feeling her close to him. Clark got up quietly, gently lifting the comforter so as not to disturb Lois, put his feet over the edge of the bed, stood up, and tiptoed out of the room.
Clark softly entered the nursery. Dr. Klein had told them that this was an impossibility, yet there he lay sleeping, breathing softly. Their son. How miraculous that seemed. Clark had examined him closely at his birth and even now continued to look at each part of him — yes all the requisite fingers and toes — and the dark hair so much like his own.
Attached to the bassinet and dangling above Chris was a mobile made by Clark's mother. It had stars, a moon, the Earth, and a planet unknown to most earth residents — Krypton. Clark blew on it ever so slightly and it melodically tinkled while the sun shone in through the window. Clark thanked God for a healthy child and for parents like Martha and Jonathan who had made him the man he was and who would be the wonderful grandparents he was sure they were going to be. Looking at the mobile as it continued to turn above his sleeping child, he also thought about his biological parents, Lara and Jor-el, and wondered how they would feel if they were alive and knew they were grandparents. He ruminated, too, about how his son might also be a descendant in a long line of rulers of that far distant planet that had exploded over 30 years before. His mind flitted only briefly to thoughts of New Krypton and its rulers Zara and Ching, and wondered if they were as happy as he and Lois were.
Ching entered their stateroom and looked at the sleeping Zara. He, like Clark, could hardly believe the happiness that he now was enjoying with a loving wife. And Ching knew that his and Zara's happiness would only expand that feeling with the birth of their child. He knew he wasn't supposed to be sentimental as it was anti-Kryptonian but he couldn't help but feel joy as the love welled up inside him, knowing that Zara and he had brought a new life into the world. He gently stroked Zara's cheek and his joy turned to concern as he thought about the child. Apparently, there were some problems, but no one was informing him. Major Ching felt inept. He didn't want to leave Zara. Should he seek out the doctor? Should he attempt to find Lord Trey? Almost as in response to his thoughts, Dr. Kri stepped into the room and signaled Major Ching to step out in the hall.
Chief Elder Trey came to as Lord Cir waved a vial of an ammonia- like substance beneath his nose. "What happened?" he asked Cir.
"You fainted, Lord Trey," Cir replied, attempting not to show his distaste for the chief elder. The chief elder rose as quickly as he could to his feet.
"Was the child born?" he asked.
"It was a boy," Cir told him.
"Fine." Trey smiled. "We have much to do to prepare. The coronation will take place eight days from today. We must also contact Lord Belec and Lady Riaf, whose child is expected in two months. If they have a daughter, then a marriage between the two houses can be formalized. New Krypton must present a continued and united front as we proceed with negotiations with Etar.
Zara awoke and found herself in her stateroom with Ching sitting at her bedside. Ching kissed her on the cheek.
"It's all over," he said. "We have a son. He's being checked over by the doctor."
"Have you seen him yet?" Zara asked.
"No," Ching replied.
"I don't seem to remember anything about the birth," Zara said, concerned.
"I spoke to the doctor a few moments ago and he told me that, due to the child being somewhat premature, there were some minor complications," Ching informed her, holding her hand.
"Complications!" Zara exclaimed, frightened, and pushed herself up to a sitting position in her bed.
"Yes," said the doctor as the door to their stateroom whooshed open and he returned. "But everything is fine now. We have to run some tests, but that shouldn't take long and the baby will be joining you in a half hour or so."
"Are you sure everything is fine?" asked Zara.
Before the doctor could answer, Counselors Trey and Cir entered. "Emperor Krad of Etar sends his congratulations," Lord Trey informed Zara. "He has agreed to a postponement of three days and then negotiations can resume."
"According to our customs," Lord Cir reminded her, "you remain as leader until your son is eight days old, then you will then assume the role of Lord Mother while your son becomes de facto ruler of New Krypton, during which time he is trained in the Kryptonian ways."
"It will be up to us," Trey interjected, "as his advisors, to be in charge of his tutelage. And more immediately, if necessary," Lord Trey looked Lady Zara up and down, "to take over the Etarian negotiations with Lord Cir, here, as the chief negotiator."
"If, as it appears," Lord Cir interceded, "you are not up to the negotiations in three days, the council is ready to step in and complete them as they will only eight days hence be of necessity the ruling entity."
Zara was only half listening. She knew the Kryptonian law, and she and Ching had discussed the variations their life would take, dependent upon the gender of their child. She was concerned about the long-term impact the council would have on her son and on the current negotiations. But she had more on her mind right now. "Doctor Kri", she said, "I want to know how my son is."
"Everything is perfect," said the doctor.
As Clark looked at his "perfect son," the baby stirred in his bassinet and began to whimper. Lois, her maternal instinct on full tilt, heard the sound and awoke.
"Now who has the super hearing?" chuckled Clark. "Don't get up, I'll bring Chris to you." Gently, as only Clark could be, he lifted the baby up and brought him to their bed. Clark laid the crying baby down next to Lois, and watched with approval at how Chris locked on to his mother's breast and began to suck. Lois looked down at her son and then up at her husband.
Clark noticed how alike both his wife's and son's eyes were — that Soft, deep brown. He also noticed how alert Chris's eyes were while Lois's were brimming with a warmth and joy that, although similar to what he saw in them when Lois looked at him, were now filled with even more richness now that Chris was there. How much more happiness could they as a family possess? Clark sat on the edge of the bed and cupped his hand next to Lois's face. She sighed, knowing that familiar touch all too well. He leaned in to kiss her and then stroked his son's head, being careful to avoid the soft spot he had been taught about at their child birthing classes.
"I'll be right back with some breakfast for you." He smiled down at her.
Clark's smile always had a warming impact on Lois, and she put her fingers up to trace the outline of his lips. "Love you," she said.
Clark went down to the kitchen and began making breakfast for himself and Lois. He used superspeed to scramble the eggs, then his heat vision to cook them, as well as the bacon, toast, and to boil the water for tea. As he finished after a second or so, the telephone rang.
"Hi, Mom" he said as he continued to put the food on the tray. "Yes, everything is wonderful. Lois is exhausted, even if she won't admit it. I'm a bit anxious, but I guess we are doing fine. How in the world did the two of you handle me when I first came? I must have been a lot to take care of, especially since you weren't expecting me to soar into your lives."
"Deep down", Martha said, "Jonathan and I always knew you were coming to us, and in our hearts we were prepared. Once you came, we worked together and supported each other and shared as much as we could. But most importantly, you were a great baby. You didn't fuss much and you started sleeping the whole night through quite early. I'm sure Chris will be the same. Remember, if you need help, we are always here."
"Thanks, Mom," he said as he put a rose in a vase and placed the vase on the tray. "I'm going back in to work today and this will be Lois's first day alone with Chris. You might want to give her a call later. I'll be checking in from time to time as well. Tell Dad 'hi.'"
Clark, looking at the time, quickly wolfed down his own breakfast and then brought the tray up to Lois. By this time, Chris had finished his breakfast, and Lois had put him in his bassinet.
She looked eagerly at the tray and said, "I'm starving."
Clark smiled, knowing that if Lois were hungry, all was right with the world. Lois smiled at the rose and smelled it. Clark set the tray down on the dresser, picked Lois up in his arms, put her in bed, then leaned down to kiss her. He restrained the urge to climb into bed with her, knowing that Perry was expecting him back at the office. With Lois finally convinced into taking a six-week maternity leave, Perry needed Clark back as soon as humanly — or maybe superhumanly — possible. But Clark was finding it really hard to leave his wife and child.
"Tell everyone at the Planet 'hi' for me," Lois said, noticing his hesitation. She pushed him toward the door saying, "Go," in that supportive way of hers.
"Remember," Clark said, "I'll be keeping my ears open, and if you need anything just holler." He placed the tray on her lap, spun into his Superman suit and said, "I'll take a quick look around the city before I go into the office."
He left their townhouse through the window, and the by now well-known red and blue clad superhero streaked across the sky. Heading out over the Metropolis sky line, he was so preoccupied with thoughts of getting to the Daily Planet and having to leave his wife and child after being with them both for a hectic but beautiful seventy-two hours, he did not notice the two menacing people lurking just at the side of their front stoop. The two hovered in the shadows, awaiting his departure. Their eyes glowed as they moved out of the shadows and toward the door at 438 Hyperion. Although the two were not identical, they both had long fingernails, stringy hair, white, pasty faces, rotten teeth, and their necks had the odd habit of cracking every minute or two.
Lois had just finished her breakfast when she heard the doorbell ring. She picked up the tray, took a quick look at Chris as he slept, then went down to answer the door.
Hi, Martha, Jonathan," she said in a surprised tone while ushering her in-laws into the townhouse and placing the tray on a nearby chair. "What are you doing here? You just left to go back to Smallville yesterday."
"Well", said Martha, "Clark just brought us here by Superman Express because he thought that maybe you really shouldn't be alone just yet. We're here to help."
"I'll get the tray and clean up," Jonathan said as Martha followed Lois up to the nursery. As the two women went upstairs, the phony Jonathan opened the front door, letting in a Kryptonian guard from the mother ship.
Arriving in the nursery right behind Lois, Martha cracked her neck.
"This is really wonderful of both of you," said Lois, not noticing Martha's strange action as she went straight to Chris and adjusted the blanket over him in the bassinet. "It really wasn't necessary, but I know how Clark worries."
"I bet you haven't even had a chance to take a shower," Martha said.
"No," Lois agreed, "I haven't"
"Well, go ahead, dear; we'll watch the baby," she said as Jonathan entered the nursery.
Lois acquiesced and made for the bathroom. As soon as she was out of the room, the phony Jonathan and Martha changed back into their rightful images. One of them picked up the baby and began downstairs with Chris, where the Kryptonian guard was waiting. Lois, coming out of the bathroom because of some instinctive feeling, saw the baby being taken out of the nursery and ran after them. The other Tez-like creature stopped her but she eluded his grip and got to the living room in time to see the baby given to the warrior. She ran to the baby, but the warrior grabbed her as well, forcing her into a cylindrical container before they flew both the baby and Lois away.
Just then the phone at 438 Hyperion rang and one of the Tez Creatures, changing into a phony Lois, answered the phone. "Yes, Clark," it said, "I'm doing fine. We're both fine."
The door of the stateroom aboard the space ship opened with a whoosh, and the nurse arrived bearing the baby boy, and carried him to his awaiting parents. She placed the baby into Zara's arms as Zara lay in her bed.
"He's beautiful," Lady Zara said. She tried to nurse him, but he wasn't hungry. "He doesn't seem to want to nurse."
"No," said the doctor, just arriving. "We have a wet nurse for him in the nursery. We thought that, given his early delivery date and the necessity of having you head this delegation over the next few days, we would prepare for the resumption of negotiations and inject you to dry up your milk."
"You did this without my permission!" Zara fumed.
"He did it with mine", said Lord Cir. Entering their stateroom, he unannounced, "This is the logical way to do things, remember that, Lady Zara."
"Calm down," Ching said. "We must follow Kryptonian law."
"I'm getting fed up with Krytonian Law," stated Zara. "And I thought you were supporting me on this, Ching. The last two years on New Krypton have been so wonderful. We have begun to see how important feelings are, how important love is. I know you love me. Please, Ching, be there for me on this."
Ching looked around at the Kryptonians and, making a difficult decision for him, walked to Zara's bedside. "I'm with you," he said, looking at his wife.
Lord Cir looked angrily at the two current rulers of New Krypton. "You have sold us out!" he yelled. "Your sentimental approach to government has left us open to a reduction in our power among the nations in our confederation." He approached the bed. "You have reduced us to a whimpering facsimile of what we used to be. Lord Nor was right — you are not capable of ruling New Krypton and you have been duplicitous in its downfall. And, in Lord Nor's memory, I take over as ruler and chief advisor to your son. You will never be able to influence his upbringing at all, as you will be dead."
Cir pushed a button on his wrist and two armed guards came in. One held Zara at bay while the other, a Drey Master, using a large, baton-like weapon, attacked Ching. Although Ching, an able Drey Master himself, could have easily defeated the guard, he had no weapon with which to combat the oncoming unslaught. The guard easily downed Ching and then chained his unconscious body to the wall using a phosphorescent metallic device.
"Ching!" Zara yelled.
The nurse walked over to Lady Zara, took the baby from Zara's arms, looked quickly around to see if anyone was watching. But as all were involved, she leaned down and whispered to Zara, "Don't worry. Your baby is safe with me," and she headed out of the stateroom.
Dr. Kri prepared a syringe and injected the sedative into Zara's arm.
"Set the tribunal for seven this evening and prepare the chamber to have them disintegrated due to their treasonous acts," Lord Cir declared.
The nurse entered a room guarded by two Kryptonian warriors. She sat in a chair and began rocking the new ruler of Krypton until he fell asleep. She then placed the little boy in a crib and walked over to a second identical crib where lay a beautiful little girl. The nurse picked up the baby who had begun to cry and tenderly gave her a bottle.
Lois looked around the room she was locked in. Chris was gone and she was terribly frightened. The room was reminiscent of something but she couldn't remember what. She felt that she had been somewhere like this before. All she remembered was that she had been placed in a large container of some sort along with Chris and had been flown somewhere. She tried figuring out where the door was and ran around the room, hitting her fists against the walls and becoming more and more distraught. "Superman! Superman!" she yelled.
Shortly thereafter on Earth, a sonic boom was heard as well as a Whoosh, and then the nurse arrived on the door step of St. Anne's home for children. The nurse gently put the basket down on the steps and rang the bell. She was accompanied by a Kryptonian warrior but she hovered over the spot a few minutes to make sure that the baby girl was safe before flying away. Two nuns emerged from the door and picked up the basket. A note was pinned to a blanket. The red blanket had a royal blue crest that appeared to be a slightly misshapen letter B. One of the nuns, a young woman in her mid twenties, opened the note and read:
"Take care of our daughter Kalli. Their parents, of course, are new, and it makes us kry to put her on your doorsteps, but we have to. Although we have changed, we can just no longer keep or afford her. We hope that you will understand."
"Superman!" Lois shouted again, her voice almost gone. She thought she heard her son cry. "Chris! Chris, where are you?" she sobbed, sinking to the floor. Then a door opened with a whoosh, and there stood Lord Cir and the nurse with her son. Lois ran to Chris and grabbed him out of the nurse's arms. "What are you doing with my baby?!" she yelled, her anger mounting as only Lois's could. "Where are we? How did we get here? My husband will be here soon and then you will see who you are trifling with!"
"You mean Kal-el? He no longer has power here." Lord Cir laughed. "He gave up his power to Lady Zara who in turn, according to Kryptonian law, will be ceding it to me in a week."
"Lady Zara of New Krypton? Am I on a space ship? Where is Lady Zara? Where is Ching? I'm their friend. They know me."
"Lady Zara is indisposed and no longer in control. You have to deal with me. I am Lord Cir, policy advisor of New Krypton and personal counselor to the ruler of New Krypton, Zara's son — Ishma," he said, indicating Chris.
The familiar ding of the elevator sounded as Clark entered the Daily Planet newsroom. He grabbed a donut out of the box on the cabinet and made his way toward the coffee machine. Had it been less than a week since he and Lois last were at work together? He looked over at Lois's desk and missed her already. It would be difficult convincing Lois to stay at home the six weeks she was entitled to, but it would be more difficult for him to be without his news partner for the six weeks. The hottest team in Metropolis would have to be on hold for a while, and going after news stories would simply not be the same. However, now that Jimmy was a staff reporter, teaming up with him would be fun — but still not the same thing. Lois and Clark communicated in a special way — they knew what each other was thinking, they finished each other's sentences, they felt each other's needs, and their creativity was spurred on by the belief they placed in one another.
Clark wandered slowly toward his desk. "This," he thought, "is going to be a long day." He looked at the clock. Only 9:15. How was he going to last? He just wanted to go home to be with Lois and Chris. He reached his desk and half- heartedly glanced through his mail. Disposing most of it in the circular file, his eyes dropped to an embossed invitation that was placed on his desk.
'To Lois Lane,' it said. 'The Pulitizer Prize Board humbly invites you and a guest to the annual Ceremonial Luncheon at Low Library on the grounds of Columbia University.'
The invitation went on to give date and time. He pocketed the Invitation, knowing that Lois would want to frame it. He was incredibly proud of her as a journalist, as his wife, and now as the mother of his child. Clark turned on his computer and checked his e-mail. There were some work- related documents that were important but he couldn't get interested. Then he remembered that he had some pictures of Chris he could work on.
Perry came out of his office. "Jimmy!" he yelled.
"Yeah chief," Jimmy shouted back as he made his way down the ramp and into the newsroom. "Be right there." He stopped at Clark's desk where Clark was scanning in the pictures of Chris to e-mail to Lucy. "Great pictures, CK," Jimmy said, then went in to Perry's office.
"Kent!" Perry bellowed as he leaned out of his office door. "How's the story on the aftermath of the California earthquake coming? I know you had to put it on tap for a few days, but you have had time this morning to finish it."
"It's done, Chief," Clark said. Clark changed programs, looked around the newsroom, then speedily finished the story. "It's on its way, Chief," he called out as he pushed the 'send' button.
"Great," Perry retorted. "It will go well with the piece Jimmy's working on now."
"Bye, CK," Jimmy yelled over his shoulder as he left the news room, eager to interview disaster relief workers and FEMA personnel on their way to Los Angeles and glad to have a chance to do something exciting. He was still reeling from his first- hand experience of the earthquake and knew that his first person account would read well.
Clark, still at his desk, checked the clock again. 9:30. Wasn't it ever going to be lunch? He planned to bring Lois a Pastrami sandwich from the nearby deli and spend the lunch hour with her but the minute hand appeared to resting forever where it was. For the time being, he returned to the e-mails he was sending out. He and Lois had gotten so many cards, telegrams, and flowers from well wishers that he wanted to start answering them all. He knew that if he did it at home, he could constantly use his superspeed to get a lot of it done; but Lois would want to be involved and he really wanted her to get some rest. So he decided to tackle the many responses there at his office computer. But as several reporters were hovering nearby watching a TV report, he didn't dare do it using his super powers and it was slow going — but not as slow as that dreaded clock. Every once in a while he would check around him, and if in the clear, he would speed type a few notes to friends. The notes, he hoped, would keep him occupied, as he knew that he couldn't keep his mind on starting any other stories. He felt a little guilty using company time to do personal chores, but he was there and available if anything came up and he had always given more than the required hours to the Planet. His thoughts kept drifting to Lois and the baby at home. Although he had only been away for less than an hour, he picked up the phone to call again.
"Hi, Lois. How's it going?"
"I'm fine. We're both fine."
"I love you, Lois," said Clark.
"I'm fine. We're both fine," said Lois.
Haunted by the repetition and the flat affect in the tone, Clark began to get scared.
"Lois…Lois!" She had hung up. Using his super hearing, he couldn't detect Lois or Chris at the townhouse. He bolted up, tugging at his tie, but Perry stopped him.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"I…I…" stammered Clark, and without Lois to back him up with a quick excuse, he got a fearful look on his face and ran from the office.
Arriving at the townhouse, Superman blew open the window and burst into the living room. There, sitting on the couch, was his father, reading the latest copy of the Daily Planet.
Spinning into Clark's clothes, he said, "Dad, what are you doing here? How did you get here? Is Mom here? Where's Lois and Chris?"
"Actually, we were at the airport when your mother and I called you this morning. You know your mother; she had a feeling she was needed here and she was right. After you left this morning, Lois really became depressed. Your mother called it the Baby Blues. She said it happens — a post partum depression. Lois needed to get away, so she and the baby and your mother just left to fly back to Smallville. I'm staying here to keep you company."
"This doesn't sound like Lois," Clark said as he sat down next to his father.
"Well, Lois has never had a baby before," Jonathan said. "This is all new to her and she is experiencing some new feelings."
"Something's wrong. I've got to get to Lois." He turned to leave, but his father stopped him.
"Clark, have I ever steered you wrong before? Trust me on this one. Leave Lois alone. She needs to be alone right now."
Clark walked to the living room window and looked out. "But dad, I have a feeling she needs me."
Lois sat nursing Chris inside the cold, sterile room of the space ship. She thought of the warmth of her bedroom back on earth — of the rocking chair that Clark's father had made, of the music box that played "Love Me Tender" that Perry had sent over, and wished she was home with Clark's arms holding her while she held Chris. Clark must be devastated, wondering where they were. At least she was with Chris now and that made things a little less scary. But Clark must be frantic. And Zara? How could she be a party to making Chris her son? Zara and Ching — she and Clark had gotten to know them; they wouldn't have kidnapped Chris. Using her investigative reporter ingenuity, she realized that they must really think that her baby is their baby. That meant that Zara must have had a baby too — then where was that child?
Sister Mary Margaret held Kalli in her arms. The baby was beautiful — light brown hair, hazel eyes, and so alert for a child that apparently was so young — and probably pre- mature, judging from her size. The two nuns rushed the baby inside and examined the infant girl. Both nuns — trained nurses — could tell that the baby was only hours old and somewhat premature, but in apparent good health. It looked like the baby had been ministered to somewhere and wasn't born without medical help. Sister Mary Margaret, having worked in a clinic in Hobbs Bay, was aware of children born to homeless women and simply dumped at the side of the road or in bus stations. This child had been cleaned, attended to, and cared for. Then why was it here? The blanket around her was so unique. Along the edges there were unusual patterns that almost appeared to be writing but in no language that Sister Mary Margaret was versed in. And the note left in the basket had an interesting phrasing to it. The nun knew that her next step was to call Child and Family Services and get the baby named a county ward so that little Kalli could be put in a foster home while awaiting adoption. There were many eager parents awaiting a child like this. But first, every resource must be exhausted to see if family members could be found. Sister Mary Margaret got on the phone and called Beth Perlman, a social worker and dear friend of hers.
Beth Perlman and Sister Mary Margaret had been best of friends since the first grade. They had shared all their experiences together: hated piano lessons, T-ball, Campfire girls, first dates. But ever since being in Mrs. Barber's social problems class in high school together, they both knew exactly what they wanted to do. They both wanted to go out and make a difference in the world. They had chosen different ways to do it, but they both had succeeded. And even though the world had continued to be filled with poverty, violence, and indifference, the two of them were not disillusioned. They knew why they were there and that they were destined to make that difference they had always dreamed about.
"Child and Family Services," Beth answered the phone.
"It's me," the nun stated.
"Hi, Joyce," Beth stated, using the Nun's given name and the one she always used when addressing her best friend.
"Hi, Beth. Listen, I had a young baby girl placed on our doorstep. But before we take her to court to get her named a ward, I just have some strange feelings that there is something wrong here and that she has family out there that would want her. Can we do some investigating first?"
"Sure," said Beth. "What do you have to go on?"
"Well, there's a blanket here with what I think is some mystical or strange writing on it that might give us a clue. Who do you know out there that knows a lot of languages?"
"There's Clark Kent down at the daily planet. I met him when he was helping two young boys who were homeless. He got a job for one and I got a home for the other. Jack, the older brother, told me a lot about how wonderful Mr. Kent is and that he knows a great many languages. Also, he might be able to put something in the paper about the baby that would get a response from the family."
Beth Perlman hurried down to the Daily Planet. As a very creative social worker, she knew that approaching a person in the flesh got a more positive response than trying to reach them on the phone.
"Is Clark Kent here?" she asked a sort of cute young man.
"No, he's not," said Jimmy, who had recently returned from his assignment and was just entering the newsroom as Beth emerged from the elevator.
"Well, this is sort of an emergency," she replied, looking at him intently.
Jimmy, appreciative of the pretty young woman's appearance and, sensing the concern in her voice, gave her Clark's address. "Why don't you give me your phone number?" Jimmy asked. "In case you miss him, I will try to get him to call you when he returns here."
Beth smiled. "Sure," she said, and rattled off her home number before hurrying out.
Jimmy looked at the number. At almost any other time in his young life, he would have pocketed that number and called Beth for a date. He thought of Sara Godwin in California. He looked at the number again and put the number on Clark's desk.
Clark paced the townhouse. He knew something was wrong. He couldn't sit idly by even though his father had assured him that all was well. Something just didn't feel right. His father had drifted off to sleep on the couch. Clark spun around and, as superman, headed to the airport. In one of the airport bathrooms, he reemerged as Clark and approached the ticket stand. Using his reporter's credentials, he attempted to locate Lois, Chris, and his mother.
"They are not passengers on this flight or the previous one," the attendant responded, looking at the computer screen. Clark, with a tug at his tie, hurried to the bathroom and flew out as Superman, searching the streets as he made his way back home. When he got there, his father was nowhere to be found. He called his mother at home in Smallville.
"Are Lois and the baby there?" he asked.
"No, Clark, is something wrong?" his mother asked.
"Have you and Dad been to Metropolis today?"
"No, has something happ.."
Beth rang the bell at 438 Hyperion and a worried Clark Kent answered the door with the phone still in his hand.
"Do you remember me, Mr. Kent?" Beth stated.
"Yes," Clark replied, only half listening as he was still frantic about Lois and the baby. "Beth Perlman, right? Ms. Perlman I'm really not in the mood for visitors right now."
"Mr. Kent, I really need your help. It's about a baby."
Clark looked at her anxiously, then ushered her in the door and told his mother, "Be Careful. I'll call you back later."
Lois watched Chris as he slept in her arms. The door to the room whooshed open, and the nurse came in, bringing some food and milk for Lois. "Let me check you over," she said.
"Leave me alone!" Lois cried
"I want to help," whispered the nurse. "You need this especially since you are nursing the baby."
"How can I trust you?" Lois whispered back.
The nurse took her own finger and drew the sign of "S" on her chest. Quietly, the nurse sat down beside Lois, looked caringly at the sleeping Chris and said, "I'm from the house of El. I pretended to be a supporter of Lord Cir because he is a madman and I was afraid of what he might do. I needed to be close to him so that I could help you if he followed through on his plan."
"What plan?" Lois asked in her reporter-like fashion.
"You see, Lady Zara gave birth to a daughter this morning but Lord Cir would have no power if the heir to the throne were a girl. Kryptonian tradition, which you know is strict, dictates that Lord Cir would be in control only if the child was a boy."
"They are planning to replace Zara and Ching's baby daughter with my son and kill me, is that it?" Lois asked.
"Yes, Lady Zara doesn't know that she had a daughter. She is not part of this."
"Where is the ba…"
"Kalli," said the nurse. "I placed her on the doorstep of an orphanage in Metropolis. I had to be careful and follow Lord Cir's orders until I could try to secretly get to Kal- el to help us. Two creatures from Tez's barbarian planet have imitated Martha and Jonathan Kent who are safe in Smallville," she said, anticipating Lois's concern. "They took the Kent's form to keep Clark from finding out that you have been kidnapped. But I have left clues, and if Kal- el is anything like his father, he will figure it out."
"You knew Clark's father?" Lois asked.
"Yes," the nurse answered, looking directly into Lois's eyes. "I'm Bri-el, Jor-el's sister. Kal-el — Clark — is my nephew."
"Oh." This was almost an escape of breath on Lois's part.
"I was awaiting Kal-el's arrival on New Krypton to take his rightful place as our ruler when Lord Nor tried to take over Earth. I heard about Kal-el's decision to remain on Earth after the death of Lord Nor, and his encouragement of Lady Zara's choice of Lieutenant Ching for a husband," Bri- el continued.
"Clark stayed on Earth because he believed in the people of Earth and valued his life there," explained Lois.
"And because he loved you and the two people who raised him." Bri-el smiled. "I knew that Clark's remaining on Earth must have been for a good reason as I understand he is a fair, just, and compassionate man, and I wanted to meet him. I miss my brother and longed to see his son. But I didn't want to influence his decision by letting him know that I existed."
"I know he would want to meet you." Lois returned the smile.
"Then as Dr. Kri's nurse, I was let in on Lord Cir's plan. Not only would I have the opportunity to meet my nephew, but I could help him and Lady Zara and Ching, who I have come to admire over the last two years."
"Where are Zara and Ching?" Lois asked.
"They are in the next room awaiting a tribunal who will demand immediate disintegration."
"I have witnessed one of these tribunals," Lois sputtered. "It is a Kangaroo Court. When is the tribunal supposed to meet?"
"In two hours," Bri-el informed her.
"We have to save them," Lois stated.
"Or Kal-el does," his aunt responded hopefully.
Back on Earth, Beth Perlman was trying to interest Clark in the story of the child left at St. Anne's. Clark listened politely but his attention began waning when he realized this had nothing to do with Lois and his son.
"Please look at this," Beth argued and showed Clark the blanket and note.
Clark recognized the writing on the blanket as Kryptonian although he couldn't read the words. But more importantly he realized that the crest on the blanket was that of the house of Ra, the house of Lady Zara.
"There's something strange about this note," Clark said.
"Yes," Beth stated. "I thought so too. Look at the way the word cry is spelled — with a K. I believe there's more to this than meets the eye."
"Hmmm, you might be right. Maybe I can see something special in it," Clark told her. He took the note and, looking over his glasses, used his super vision. He quickly noticed that some of the letters were darker than others.
"Take care of our daughter Kalli. Their parents, of course, are new, and it makes us kry to put her on your doorsteps, but we have to," the note said. "Although we have changed," the note went on, "we can just no longer keep or afford her. We hope that you will understand."
Reading only the darkened letters Clark deciphered: Kalli, heir of new krypton. we have changed cjk for her. we hope you understand.
"CJK," Superman thought. Christopher Joseph Kent.
"They have Chris and Lois!" he shouted. "I think I know where Kalli belongs. "Beth, you'll just have to trust me on this. I can get Superman to help us. Thank you for everything, Beth." Clark hugged her and closed the door on the surprised social worker.
Sister Mary Margaret looked up in surprise as a second later, Superman landed at St. Anne's. "Sister," he said, "Beth Perlman sent me to pick up Kalli to take her home." With the little girl cradled in his arms, Superman headed skyward. Surveying the skies way above Metropolis, he eyed the familiar mother ship and made his way toward it.
Lords Trey and Cir were sitting at a conference table with Emperor Krad.
"Given some complications with the birth of the child," Lord Cir was explaining, "Lady Zara will not be able to complete the negotiations."
"If Lady Zara needs additional time," Emperor Krad said graciously, "we can wait longer. We were very close to completing our work."
"You don't understand," Lord Trey stated. "Our Kryptonian law places Lord Ishma on the throne eight days from today, and Lady Zara's position as the Lord mother does not entitle her to a role in these types of negotiations. This would be left to the members of the Council of Elders who are represented by Lord Trey and myself. We can finish the negotiations."
"Well," Emperor Krad said, "as long as both of you hold to the opinions of Lady Zara and have her full support, we can go on."
"Stop!" yelled Bri-el as she entered the conference room. "Lord Cir does not have the support of Lady Zara. He wants to overturn all that she has done."
"Silence!" Lord Cir commanded. "Emperor Krad, this woman is a nurse stationed aboard this vessel. She has no voice here," he fumed.
An armed guard moved toward Bri-el and proceeded to drag her away.
"Lord Trey, you are an honest man, please listen to me," Bri-el pleaded as she was forced out of room. "I'm from the house of El and I must be listed to!" she screamed. "Lady Zara had an infant girl and Lord Cir has replaced her with the son of Kal- el."
"She is insane," Lord Cir insisted.
"Wait," Emperor Krad said. "I want to here this woman."
"As do I," Lord Trey commanded.
"And I," came a voice from the door of the conference room.
All turned to see Kal-el entering carrying a baby.
Superman, aka Kal-el, approached Lord Trey and presented him with the baby. "This," he said, "is the true heir and daughter of Lady Zara. Somewhere on this ship is my wife and son. Now take me to them."
Lord Trey looked confused. Cir arose from his chair. "No half-breed is going to tell me what to do."
"Shut-up and sit down," barked Emperor Krad.
"Who is this man?" the Etarian representative asked.
"I am Kal-el, son of Jor-el," Superman said, reaching out one hand and taking Bri-el's hand in his. "I was one-time commander of New Krypton and I am supporter of Lady Zara and protector of Kalli, the next ruler of New Krypton.
"Lord Trey," he went on. "You know me. Lord Cir is lying. Don't let him make a fool of you. You have been subject to such treachery and deception in the past. Don't let it happen again. Trust in what Bri-el is saying and in what I am telling you."
Lord Trey looked at Cir. "Have him taken away," he ordered his warriors.
"Emperor Krad," Lord Trey announced. "Lady Zara and I will be back at the negotiating table in three days. Thank you for your patience."
Meanwhile, Lois dressed in one of Bri-el's nurse's uniforms, simply walked out of her cell with Chris in her arms, and headed to the adjoining cell where Zara and Ching were detained.
Ching, gaining consciousness as he heard the whoosh of the door, recognized the woman in the nurse's uniform. "Lois," Ching whispered, surprised at her presence and straining at his bonds.
Lois went straight to Lady Zara, urging her to wake up. Zara awakened and, seeing Chris in Lois's arms, reached out for him.
Lois quietly stated, "Zara, this is my son, not yours."
"Then where is my baby?" Zara cried.
"Here," Superman said as he entered the room. "Lady Zara, meet your daughter Kalli." And he placed the baby in Zara's arms. Then Superman rushed to Lois. "Are you and Chris all right?"
"Yes. Scared, but much better now that you're here."
Ching, fully awake and freed from his bonds by Lord Trey, moved to his wife. "Zara?" he looked at her questioningly.
"Ching, this is our daughter," Zara responded.
Lord Trey explained, "Cir has been arrested and will await a tribunal decision on his plot to take over New Krypton. Bri-el of the house of El has been named to the Council of Elders in his place. Lord Kal-el, uh, Superman, has once again insured that New Krypton will be led by a just and wise ruler — you, Lady Zara — and that the future of New Krypton will be secured in Kalli, here."
Bri-el walked toward Lady Zara. "I named her Kalli. I hope you don't mind."
Lady Zara looked at Kal-el and said, "No, Kalli is perfect."
Superman put his arm around Lois and leaned down to kiss her.
"Now Superman," Lord Trey coughed. "As dictated by Kryptonian custom, the future Lady Kalli of the house of Ra requires a mate."
Lois and Superman eyed Lord Trey. "And your son from the house of El would…" he started.
"I think this is our cue to exit," Lois said as she gave her familiar flying signal to her husband.
"Yes, right," Superman agreed.
Superman put out his hands to Bri-el. "I know you will be there for Zara and Ching," he said to her. "I…I," he stammered.
"Yes, I know," she said to him, taking his hands. "Your place is on Earth and mine is here. Besides, I have a little girl who needs me, too."
"Of course," said Superman. "Kalli will have a protector in you."
"Yes, she will," began his aunt, "but I meant that I also have a daughter — Kara — waiting for me at home. So good bye. Tell your parents they did a wonderful job raising you and that I know my brother would be grateful to them and proud of you. And although I'll miss you, just getting to finally see you and the man you have become has been enough."
Superman, very carefully carrying his treasured cargo — Lois and Chris — flew them into the nursery window. He set them down and spun into jeans and a T-shirt. Then he went downstairs and quietly dialed the phone.
"Well," said Jonathan Kent after listening to his son's story, "that was some experience, son."
"But Lois and Chris are really all right?" questioned Martha on the extension.
"Yes, Mom, everything is fine."
"Bri-el sounds like a remarkable woman." Jonathan hesitated. "Maybe one day…"
"Ishma-el," mused Martha.
"What mom?" Clark asked, wondering what his mom was thinking.
"In the Bible, Ishmael was banished from his land but it was prophesized that one day he would lead a great nation," she injected.
"I know," said Clark. "In Moby Dick, Ishmael is unclear about who he is and he seeks out a life at sea to discover himself. He is the narrator, the story teller."
"Your son," Jonathan said, "will be a great man if he is anything like his father. He may lead a nation one day or become a writer, helping the world to discover themselves, or he may be a farmer. But he will know that he is loved and that is what creates greatness."
"Parenting is scary, Clark," his mother said, "but your father is right. Loving him is what counts."
Clark sat on the floor next to the chair and looked up lovingly at his wife and son.
"Lois", he said. "I don't think I have been more scared in my entire life. We spoke a lot before we knew we could have a baby as to whether you and I should even have one because of all the risks. At times I thought it was a rationalization to make us feel better because we couldn't have a baby. But now I don't know. Being parents is so scary."
"Clark, I thought the same way. Metropolis is a place that has experienced evil aliens, vampires, Jack the Ripper possessions, and just everyday murders, robbers, and arsonists. It seems like a terrible place to raise children. Our world is a violent one with hijackers, terrorists, and possible germ warfare. But if every family thought that way, none of us would bring children into such a world. Then there would be no one here in this world to change it. You have changed Metropolis by just being here. You have made it a better place to live and continue to make a difference. You can't do it all but what you have done helps. I remember what you said on the day you left to go to New Krypton — that all of us are heroes. Parents have to be heroes each and every day. Our son will one day grow up to help others and be a hero whether or not he has super powers simply because he has a father like you."
"And a mother like you," Clark chimed in. Clark continued to look at her with love that impossibly grew even more that day as Lois sat in the rocking chair and gently rocked Chris to sleep.
Very softly Lois sang along with the music box.
*Love me tender, love me sweet
Never let me go.
You have made my life complete
And I love you so*
She, too, looked lovingly at her husband as the music continued and then she joined in once more.
*For my darling I love you
And I always will.*
Barbara Pillsbury Megats1776@yahoo.com