Two From Beyond: An Elseworld Tale

By Philip Mogul <> and Carolyn Schnall <>

Rated PG-13

Submitted: August, 2002

Summary: An Elseworld tale that tells the story of the last survivors of the doomed planet Krypton, Kal-El and his cousin Ailah-El, their escape from an exploding planet, their lives on Earth and the beginnings of Utopia they create with the help of friends, family and their soulmates — including a feisty reporter named Lois Lane.

CAUTION: This story contains some descriptive scenes that are of a violent nature. I set this warning for those individuals who may have difficulty with this kind of material and who still may wish to read this story.

Author's Note: Carolyn's name appears on the credit line, because in the revision of this narrative we had many intellectual and sometimes heated discussions about the story's development. While she didn't contribute to the writing of this narrative, Carolyn did help emotionally and intellectually and thereby helped move this tale to completion. Therefore, following my academic tradition (the sciences), those who contribute to a paper are entitled to be credited. So, I've included her name on the mast head of this story. I felt that it was only right, considering her supportive and intellectual input into this endeavor.

Before you embark on this mental adventure, I would like to thank Irene Dutch and Jenni Debbage for their beta reading and encouragement, and Joy Sowell for her tweaking and for her support. If it were not for these gals, this story — my first in this genre — would still be sitting on my desktop with its four siblings — all written during the spring and fall of 1999. Thanks, Ladies.

The delay in expediting this story was caused by an unexpected attack of by my Chron's affliction. This attack was so severe that I needed to undergo two rather severe surgeries all within a year. I'm just now starting to regain my strength.

For sometime now, I've wondered why my rather lengthy tale was composed. Thinking back, I recall that one quiet evening a thought struck me. After pondering its ramifications, I became angry at the abrupt cancellation of the Lois and Clark series. Perhaps angry is too strong an emotion. Let's just say I was very, very perturbed. So I decided to compose a story which began pre-Lois and Clark and ends with them passing from this life together. This tale is a complete story with closure.

This narrative is what many of you would consider an "Elseworld" story. It bears some resemblance to the canon of the Lois and Clark series, except for some of the characters themselves. With my imagined personages, I fashioned a story which I hope you will enjoy.

I must tell you that initially writing these narratives was like a catharsis. Lois and Clark stories allowed my mind to run free and helped calmed my nervous disposition. For some time now, I've been involved in some relatively complex technical writing program — a ten year project to compose two research monographs and a new kind of chemistry text book. If I have the years, I may even complete these academic tasks and write other Lois and Clark stories which I've outlined. From time to time I've said to myself, 'why bother?' Then I recall an old biblical statement that goes something like, "It's important to start an enterprise even if you are aware that there is a strong possibility that completion of your task is not feasible." In other words it's important to start a journey knowing you may not finish your trek.

It has been pointed out to me that the first section of this tale — entitled the Prologue — reads somewhat like a dissertation. It may have this overtone, since, for many years I was an academic who just dealt with technical works. Now I'm in the midst of a transition, learning how to write stories with dialogue and interactions between human subjects, not just forces or molecular interactions. This current FoLC story is my first in this genre, I have three other 'What If' stories similar to this one, but less science oriented and less extensive. They are still resting on my desktop. Other stories which I've hand sketched, since 1999, are stored somewhere under my desk.

I am aware that most people have little knowledge of scientific concepts. While I consider this condition deplorable, it is nonetheless a fact that I must deal with in the real world. Therefore, I have attempted to make any of the scientific concepts used in the story line palpable by applying analogies common to every day occurrences. I may have failed in this attempt, but at least I've tried. Except for the Prologue, the story does not hinge much on scientific matters. Please don't give up on this tale because of the first section. I believe it is a necessary to the entire saga. Tough it out.

The Prologue was written mainly to look at the political and emotional reasons why Krypton was destroyed and the rational for the conceptions of Clark and Alicia and their subsequent departure for Earth. The main action of this story essentially begins with the second section entitled "The Meeting."


[Story was started June 7, 1999; completed September 13, 1999].



Jor-El paused at the entrance to the laboratory situated beneath the El family's living quarters. As he scanned the room, Jor noticed Lara, his life partner and colleague, tinkering with some equipment. She was working expeditiously and with a calm that belied the urgency of her task. Lara's tranquil behavior masked the imminent catastrophe that she knew would soon devastate their home world, the planet Krypton.

Sensing Jor-El's presence, Lara briefly raised her head and saw her husband gazing at her with an expression of love that made her blush. In return Lara smiled at her soulmate with a radiance that magnified her beauty a thousand fold. After they looked upon one another for several seconds, she lowered her head and returned to her chores.

Jor-El's life partner, a mathematician and scientist by training, was in the final phase of electronically storing the knowledge the Kryptonian people had amassed over the aeons. As Jor watched, Lara was uploading Krypton's legacy to one of three interstellar vehicles situated at the center of their laboratory.

As Jor-El continued to look about the room, he recognized his cousin and spiritual brother Zor-El, like himself, a physicist, whose scientific expertise was in the disciplines of subatomic particles and molecular spectra. Working next to him was his wife Kennra, a physicist with strong biological interests. Both were busy preparing the navigational instrumentation for inclusion in the spacecrafts and performing the final diagnostic tests on each ship's interstellar generator. The interstellar generator was the heart of the spacecraft and was the hub of the ships intergalactic engine; an engine which would thrust the vessel across the cosmos to a destination nearly half-way across the known universe. When their spacecrafts were ready, they would carry a precious cargo: two infants upon an unimaginable journey, a journey, which if successful, maybe would be the salvation of their doomed people.

After looking over the laboratory facilities, Jor seated himself at a computer console and began once again to review the family's plan to save a portion of Krypton's civilization.

Soon after Jor-El became engrossed in the theoretical equations flashing across his monitor, Zor-El left his wife's side and walked toward the opposite side of the laboratory where he would inspect other equipment needed for their spacecraft's coming voyage. While he traveled across the room, Zor-El became aware of his kinsman. Jor- El, or Jor, as he was affectionately known by his family, was a controversial scientist who by his views and actions had antagonized the government's position concerning interstellar travel. This quiet, unassuming man was the theoretician of their group and its unofficial leader and guide.

Arriving at a new lab bench, Zor-El seated himself at a particular console. As he his watched his cousin for a moment, Zor started to recall the events which led to the current planet-wide crisis and their haste to complete a project which, if successful, could preserve Krypton's seed and its heritage.

As Zor started setting up a new series of experiments, his mind drifted back to a time nearly fifteen years ago. Kennra's soulmate recalled the day when he and Jor-El had presented vital information to Krypton's Science Council. The data they had inadvertently collected strongly suggested that element 126, a radioactive by-product of Krypton's major energy source, was undermining the geological stability of their planet — from the mantle to its core.

Zor recalled that the members of the Science Council listened politely and promised they would study the information which he and Jor-El had just submitted.

About a month later, Zor remembered noting in his diary, a communique from the Council informed Jor and himself that, while their experimental data appeared to be valid, their interpretations of the experimental information included certain assumptions which rendered their deductions suspect. The Council's response was a slap in the face to them both. The governmental agency had obviously kowtowed to the planet's financial interests — Krypton's planet-wide energy cartel.

To justify their actions, the Science Council informed the Council of Elders, Krypton's governing body, that because of the implications which the El data suggested they needed to perform their own in-depth geological study. The newer investigation revealed a fallacy in Jor-El's and Zor-El's deductions. In an attempt to placate the two renowned scientists, the Science Council indicated in their report that the failure of the El group to catch their error was due to an extremely subtle phenomenon which made the true nature of the test results nearly undetectable. The El error was only discovered by the Science Council's investigation team because of the massive man power and equipment that was focused on the supposed problem.

When the Science Council's official report concerning the El family's work was announced, the two cousins realized that Krypton was now on a path which would lead to its destruction unless he and his kin could find a way to re- stabilize the geological structure of their world.

Of course the El group appealed the Science Council's finding because a government agency had conducted the research that had nullified the El group's findings. Such research should have been carried out by an independent and highly reputable science contractor.

As they left the Hall of Science after the appeal hearing, both Zor-El and his cousin were well aware that because of the Science Council's cavalier indifference to the proper research procedures, any countermeasures to save Krypton would not be forthcoming any time soon. Any such moves by the Council could demonstrate that science agency to be fallible and maybe incompetent and discredit the government who always supported the Council's views.

Jor and his cousin Zor-El knew that the Science Council would move when the signs of Krypton's impending doom were at hand. But their efforts, at that point in time, would be useless.

However, all the Els could think about now was that their world and its people were moving closer to oblivion. Jor-El would now have to ask their colleagues for support. The geological changes would soon become irreversible.

In the coming months, the intellectual conflict with the Science Council moved into the political arena. As the arguments between the Council and Jor-El's family intensified, his group's research funds were suddenly suspended by the Science Directorate which cited conservation and a mounting deficit as their reason.

Again appealing the Council's decisions, the two El scientists were quietly informed that times were tough and their rather meager research funds were needed to support more fruitful projects. Jor-El was also told privately that his esoteric studies produced little or no immediate benefits to Krypton's people. He and his colleagues were wasting valuable resources. It was a subtle way of telling Jor that if he kept his mouth shut, research funds would be restored.

As they walked home from one of their many meetings with the appeal board, Zor-El heard his cousin mutter, "Unless we find a way to stabilize the geological structure of Krypton, the arrogance and stupidity of those fools will have doomed our people to extinction. All their political power and money will not buy a reprieve from death."

Then an angry Jor almost yelled, "Those idiots on the Council have forgotten a most basic scientific tenant. Theory guides, but experiment decides. They have ignored our data and applied their own misguided thoughts to our findings. Now they'll reap the whirlwind and take the planet with them."

After leaving their last meeting with the governmental bureaucracy, it was obvious to the two scientists that the Council's edict was the result of a political decision — one, unfortunately, with dire consequences for the inhabitants of their planet.

That evening it was decided that Jor-El and Lara and their kin Kennra and her husband Zor-El would live under the same roof to conserve their monetary assets. There was adequate room for both couples in the living quarters above the lab and the monies obtained from the sale of Zor's and Kennra's properties would be more than adequate to maintain them and their laboratory facilities until a time when Krypton no longer existed.

Over the next several years, instruments and construction materials for a new kind of interstellar spacecraft, were quietly acquired by the politically ostracized El scientists. From these scavenged materials, innovative probeships were designed and constructed. When the El's secret space project was at last complete, the performance of a revolutionary spacecraft was tested under a number of extremely stressful conditions.

It was during this testing period that Jor-El produced a mathematical model of a new subatomic particle. His view of this new subatomic fragment came to him in one of those spontaneous flashes of insight which people of genius get from time to time. In proving that such a particle actually existed, Jor-El utilized a ten-dimensional space-time paradigm created by his soulmate, Lara.

According to Jor-El's reasoning, his new particle did not resemble a point-like bit of matter, but consisted of a tiny one-dimensional loop like an infinitely thin rubber band. Such a subatomic shape would behave as an oscillating filament which Jor-El, with a literary flair, called a "flexible string or for simplicity just a string."

Jor-El's string theory, as it became known, added an even smaller dimension to the subatomic particle domain. The string, if it truly existed, could be viewed as a piece of microscopic material which behaved like a vibrating loop of matter. From Jor's studies it would fit well into the well- known progression of atoms to proton and neutrons, then electrons, and finally to quarks. Until now, these were the only accepted subatomic species.

As Lara came to understand Jor's new idea, she realized that the string concept, if valid, was the controller of all the wondrous happenings in the universe — through its vibrating characteristics. She was aware, too, that her husband viewed his subatomic particle as tiny one dimensional loops of energy which existed deep within the heart of all matter. Until Jor had further information, speculation about the string's properties and what it could do would have to be put on hold.

To test Jor-El's hypothesis, Lara received permission from the Science Council, which wanted to placate the El ire, to use one of the planetary computer networks. Such a computer web could generate mathematical equations for the strings (if they existed). Such expressions would describe, in an unambiguous way, the characteristics of her husband's new particle and illustrate how this subatomic fragment effected matter.

Seven months and eighteen days later, the world-wide computer system gave Jor-El, Lara, Zor-El and Kennra immense joy; the mathematical relationships associated with Jor's string particle had been produced and the results sent to Lara's desktop computer. As Lara and her husband stared at the monitor, hope of saving their people was once again rekindled in their hearts.

Although the computer results had raised the hopes of Jor- El's family group, they were all cognizant that a mathematical construct was not equivalent to a working artifact.

The El group was now well aware that if the string could be controlled, routine interstellar journeys would become an everyday event. It was their fervent wish that mastery over Jor's new subatomic particle could be achieved in time to save at least a portion of Krypton's heritage and some of the planet's population from the rapidly approaching catastrophe. If their ability to control the string was not successful, all remnants of their aeons-old civilization would perish when Krypton exploded and would wander, with the planet's debris, silently and forever throughout the immensity of space.

As required by law, the string theory results were sent to the Science Council for their evaluation. Aside from a note informing them that Jor-El's and Lara's information was received by the governmental agency, no further communication regarding Jor-El's new theory was ever received from the authorities.

After six months, Jor-El and his family were quite aware that Jor's remarkable views about the make-up of matter were deliberately being ignored. Because of the Science Council's inaction, it was now clear to Jor's family group that any kind of salvation of Krypton and its people was no longer possible; the destruction of the planet and the death of its population was now only a matter of time and that was running out.

The lack of interest in Jor-El's string studies, aside from the Council's obvious political bias toward his work, was also prompted by government's long standing philosophical views about interstellar travel. The opposition to such treks into the void had been strongly influenced by experiments performed nearly a thousand years earlier. From the analysis of these ancient data, the Kryptonian scientific community had concluded that the speed of light would always be a detriment to interstellar voyaging. Therefore, except for sending a few costly robotic trips to nearby star systems, space funding was severely curtailed, discouraging many interested scientists from venturing into this research area.

Over the next thousand years, space researchers, although now few in number, still attempted to hurl a spacecraft, at near light speeds, through the cosmos. Try as they may, the light barrier held.

During Jor-El's time, too, exploration of interstellar space was still limited because the speed of light barrier was still an impediment to long interstellar expeditions.

So, as it was a thousand years before, only star systems relatively close to Krypton were periodically explored.

Jor-El knew that as long as the velocity of light was perceived as a barrier, the Kryptonian scientific community would feel obliged to minimize the resources allocated for space research.

Knowing full well that acquiring funding for space research was a hard sell, Jor-El still joined those who hoped to achieve interstellar flight by studying and manipulating the natural laws governing light speed phenomena.

In his quest for space research support, Jor-El again antagonized many members of the Science Council. Because of his quarrelsome and irritating ways, many of his other works were either ignored or maliciously branded as hogwash. The continued political vilification of Jor-El's works by the Science Council, however, would, in time, reap its own terrible rewards.

As Zor-El reminisced further, he reflected on the space research debate. Zor recalled that while Jor-El's little scientific community agreed with the Council's conclusions with respect to the speed of light issue, they vigorously denounced the Council's decision to keep funding for interstellar research at near nonexistent levels. Such a program of discouragement would dash any hope of ever creating an intergalactic exploration program.

Sensing the Council's hostility toward any of his ideas, Jor-El, who by now had evidence that his string theory could circumvent the lightspeed problem, did not bring any of his new ideas into the interstellar fray.

As he left the Science Council meeting, Jor-El knew that his words once again had fallen on deaf ears and the task of trying to save some portion of Krypton's heritage would have to be borne by his family alone.

With a better than even chance that from his string particle a workable interstellar engine could be constructed before doomsday arrived, the Els set to work at warp speed. The El clan was well aware than even if such an engine could be fashioned in time there was only a small likelihood that a planet, suitable for Kryptonian habitation, could be discovered before their home planet was history.

Zor, still sitting at his console and recalling the past, chuckled as he remembered a very special day.

Because of the rapidly approaching date for the destruction of Krypton and its culture, Jor-El decided to abandon the traditional approach to researching new ideas. The time remaining to them would not permit years of slow, cautious, and tedious investigations coupled with exhaustive testing to finally produce a working model of a string-powered interstellar engine. As uncomfortable as Jor's radical ideas appeared, because of the time line, the rest of the family agreed with his proposals.

With the certain knowledge of Krypton's impending doom, Jor's clan now followed a very unorthodox research methodology, one that assumed that a premise being investigated was valid without any testing and proceed from that position. Therefore, the string theory was not only considered a credible concept, but would be regarded as a controllable physical entity.

Scientifically, of course, they were all out of their minds. However, desperate times throughout history had always fostered unorthodox approaches to very troubling problems, especially those that dealt with life and death situations.

Having made their decision, Jor-El's little scientific "family" began to acquire the equipment required for spacecraft construction. Begging and cajoling were often used to acquire the needed implements for their undertaking. From their tireless efforts, a small quantity of the critical materials were secured in a relatively short period of time. The amount, however, was not sufficient to build a large space vessel — one that could transport them and a sizable group of Kryptonians away from their dying world.

However, with the help of friends and colleagues, the four intrepid scientists managed to acquire the necessary material to fabricate twenty-three small interstellar probeships. Still, they were fortunate. The spaceship building material they had secured allowed them to construct the probes which now would be used to scour the universe for a safe haven for their people; a world which would be capable of supporting and nurturing Kryptonian life.

As the probeships were coming together, the data from the first string engine test firing was, to their surprise, very promising.

When the info from the string test reached him, Jor-El immediately ordered the joining of each interstellar probeship with a string engine.

Looking heavenward, Jor-El mused that for once providence seemed to be on our side.

After the probeships were completely assembled, Lara became aware that a small amount of material was left-over and placed in storage. In time, Jor's family group hoped to acquire more of this essential spacecraft building material and construct an interstellar ark.

While the probeships were being coupled to interstellar engines and readied for launch, Lara returned to the storage facility and measured the mass of the extra spaceship fabrication material. She determined that there was enough building material to manufacture several small interstellar vessels. These ships, Lara reasoned, could send a few Kryptonian couples to a world that could sustain Kryptonian life forms. There, in time, she remarked to herself, "Their people might flourish once again."

As Lara Looked at her computations once again, she suddenly conceived a daring idea. If somewhat smaller spaceships were constructed, Lara mused, there would be enough material to fabricate three vessels. If two of the spacecraft could each carry a baby, the third ship could be outfitted to carry Krypton's heritage electronically embedded in the fabric of the interstellar vessel.

Lara realized that her notion was too important to keep to herself. However, for the moment she would say nothing. When she felt that the time was ripe, Jor-El's soulmate would have a serious chat with her cousin Kennra. Together they would explore the ramifications of her ideas and decide upon a course of action. Then, they would talk to their husbands about Lara's rather audacious scheme.

But for now, while Kennra and Zor-El were monitoring the space probeship construction, she and Jor-El had to continue analyzing the mathematical relationships which placed Jor's string theory in concise scientific terms. These equations needed to create a methodology which could both activate and control the string particle.

After more than two years of exhausting research, Lara finally developed a set of empirical relationships which when combined with a specially designed generator could activate and guide the motion and direction of a string. The controlling mechanism was relatively simple to operate. It functioned like a light switch with a dimmer slide. The controlling device could modulate the desired string frequencies like one tunes a piano. It was the variation of the string's vibrational modes that controlled the motions of this subatomic particle and drove the device to which it was attached.

A bonus to Lara's and Jor's research endeavors was the discovery of a space-time compass. This unique instrument could function in both normal and multi-dimensional spaces. According to their studies, this instrument could guide a string-driven craft to any position within the known universe.

When Jor's and Lara's equations were again examined by the planet-wide computer network, the mathematical results indicated that Jor's string concept had passed from a theoretical idea to a working part of matter.

That evening, in the quiet surroundings of their lab, Jor's family group built the last of their string devices and tested them with the probeships. From the results of their trial runs, the El family knew that the speed of light was no longer a barrier to interstellar voyaging. Jor's string- driven ships now presented Kryptonians with a ticket to a new cosmic address.

During the testing of the interstellar probeships, the El family group was astonished to learn that the time required to travel between any two inter-galactic locations would be nearly instantaneous.

In essence, Jor-El's string engine would substantially shorten the distance between any two interstellar points, causing the time of travel from a starting position to some destination to be nearly nonexistent.

To further test the feasibility of Jor's new space engine, a special string driven ship combined with the space-time compass was assembled and readied for a test flight.

After several days of preflight inspection, a new kind of spacecraft lifted from the surface of Krypton by conventional means. Once in space, the navigational space- time compass computed the flight path to a star system about one hundred light years from El's home world. As the compass oriented the probeship, the string generator reduced the distance between the Kryptonian solar system and the probeship's destination by folding the fabric of space.

This shortening process can be viewed as shortening the diameter of each atom in the ship's flight trajectory by a small amount. In space, the each of the myriad atoms along any flightpath would, in essence, be slightly compressed.

The total effect of the reducing power of the interstellar engine, now called for simplicity an IE, would be analogous to pulling upon the African continent until it touched North America. Although this example is absurd, the distance between these two land masses would indeed be diminished and the time to travel from one continent to the other would be considerably diminished.

By using Jor's interstellar engine with a conventional spaceship, the cosmic distances between any two points could be shortened and travel between them reduced from billions of years to mere seconds.

After traveling to one's destination, deactivating the ship's IE would return the perturbed region of the universe to its original state. The resulting flight of such an interstellar spacecraft would be a new cosmic address — the ship would be in a new star system.

A string driven spacecraft could also be viewed as overlapping the regions of space between a spacecraft's original position and its destination. The effect would be like touching the opposite corners of a rectangular piece of paper as it was folded.

When Jor's clan launched their special probeship, its journey lasted less than two hours. As instructed, the probeship returned with samples from the selected solar system to substantiate its historic trip.

Upon the return of the test craft, Jor-El, Lara, Zor-El, and Kennra became jubilant. After the reverie had abated somewhat, a report was hastily prepared and sent to the Science Council.

Perhaps with this new information, the El family hoped, a small fleet of IE driven vessels could be constructed allowing a portion of Krypton's population to survive by leaving the planet before doomsday.

Unfortunately for the people of Krypton, the report informing the Council of the El family's new method of interstellar travel arrived during a very severe seismic event. These planet-wide discontinuities consisting mostly of ground quakes, disrupted all kinds of essential facilities. Therefore, the report was all but ignored for a considerable period.

Although the occurrence of such tremors had been steadily increasing over the past few years, the inept Science Council, playing the political game successfully, was able to deflect their ominous warnings.

However, shortly after the test probe returned to Krypton, the quakes had suddenly become more prevalent and their intensity many times more violent. The growing instability of the planet finally prompted the government to act. Unfortunately, because of its political influence, the Science Council was able to quash the government's uneasiness and the El report by launching an investigative committee to study the matter further.

As the seismic events became still more destructive, Jor-El and his family became aghast when they discovered that the ruling body of the planet, Krypton's Council of Elders, were doing virtually nothing but studying the situation. Only propaganda from the Council of Elders flooded Krypton's communication systems telling the people that everything was under control.

While the ruling council was attempting to pacify the people, the seismic conditions were steadily worsening. With conditions deteriorating, fear began to spread through the planet's population and the fabric of society began to deteriorate.

As the governmental apparatus become paralyzed by the impending chaos, Jor-El and his family increased their efforts to implement an interstellar flight system. Jor's clan was now well aware that their string driven spacecraft was the last hope of saving a few of Krypton's inhabitants and some remnants of Krypton's glorious past.

From information given to them by friends high in the ranks of officialdom, Jor-El and his kin finally knew that no governmental program would ever be implemented to build a fleet of life saving interstellar vessels based on the Jor- El design. The Jor-El family group now understood that any effective efforts to save a portion of Krypton's people and their civilization would depend on them and them alone. Things the family had discussed not so long ago now were rapidly coming to pass.

While the El clan was in the process of severing all connections with Krypton's governmental institutions, unknown to them and, to the consternation of Jor's political foes, the El clan's predictions about element 126 were proving to be all too correct. Because of the mounting planet-wide crisis, these facts had to be reported to those higher in the government — The Council of Elders.

To save face, the Science Council resorted to a favorite tactic of theirs — shift the blame. They told the powers that be that Jor-El's time-frame was faulty and the demise of Krypton appeared to be approaching at a much faster rate than the El clan had originally anticipated. Therefore, there seemed no urgency on the part of the Science agency to act for some time.

Listening to the Science Council's excuses and condemnation shocked the ranking government officials. After the trauma of disclosure had abated somewhat, the Science Council leaders were immediately executed for treason and the others in that agency were imprisoned to await trial.

The government then attempted a crash program to evacuate the planet. It was too late. Not enough time remained to rescue Krypton from its impending doom.

While the government brought all of its industrial might to bear to save their world, Lara was talking to her family. "I believe," she said, "the basic cause of Krypton's current plight was brought about by hate. The hatred of Jor-El by a politicized Science Council combined with natural geological forces are together causing Krypton's coming destruction. What a way for civilization like ours to go! No rational being will ever believe this story. Yet my friends it's all true."

"What we have here is a classic case of envy," Lara continued. "Jor-El, who you know to be a kind and gentle soul, was secretly scorned by many of his Kyptonian colleagues less able than he. Because of his scientific successes, mindless hatred for my husband steadily increased. Over the years, these rather insipid individuals slowly gained seats on the Science Council by political and other unsavory means and took control of that body. At the same time, my scholarly Jor-El, oblivious to the changing political climate, delved ever deeper into his studies of nature's mysteries."

"When Jor's successes continued, even though his funding was steadily curtailed, the jealousies of the Science Council members turned from envy to hate. It was the hatred intertwined with the political power of the Science Council that thwarted all of Jor's interstellar projects and eventually sealed Krypton's fate."

"Because of the Council's irrational behavior," Lara continued, "the planet-wide stage was set for havoc and chaos to run rampant throughout Krypton. It will end shortly with the destruction of this planet. The political folly of the science committees have set the stage that will be used by death to serve up a banquet of souls." As she finished her harangue, Lara wept. She cried for those who didn't understand and she sobbed for the unborn who would never know the beauty of life.

As Jor-El's group planed for some Kryptonians to survive the approaching doom of their world, the people of the planet began to panic. Fearing a revolution, the Council of Elders, disbanded the Science Council after reading Jor's and Zor's seismic report hidden in the archives of the Science Council. They then formed a special task force, composed mainly of academicians, to examine the El's squashed report, hoping against hope that it was flawed, but fearing it was not.

When finished, the results of the new seismic study thundered through the scientific community.

While nothing could be done to allay the time of Krypton's destruction, at least the truth was known at last.

During this revisionist period, a scared government began preparing for Krypton's end.

Like the government, Jor-El's family group quietly began protecting their home and laboratory. They placed a mud- like fluid around the foundation posts of their dwelling. While their home might oscillate severely during the coming quakes, floating in its mud encasement, the Jor-El family group knew that their home would survive, keeping them safe.

Soon after the El's house had been protected, Jor and his cousin Zor received an official notice from the Science Council indicating that his family's interstellar report had been received. As they perused the document, both men were not surprised to read that no action was ever enjoined to execute even those parts of the study which had proposed possible lifesaving features.

The governmental document was, of course, just procedural. Newly selected members of the Science Council were just following political etiquette as they cleaned up the mess their predecessors had left behind.

As in the case of the government's initial refusal to seriously consider the danger of element 126, there also could be many reasons for the Science Council's final catastrophic act in rejecting the El's interstellar proposal.

When Zor was showing Lara and Kennra the almost laughable message from the new Science Council board, Jor wondered what prompted this recent round of lunacy on part of this government agency. Was it political intrigue, jealousy, or the havoc caused by the ever increasing ground tremors? They would really never know. At this point in Krypton's history, it really didn't matter what the government did or didn't do. Time had run out and the El's report was no longer an issue. The point of no return had been reached and passed. Krypton was in its death throws. In less than five, or maybe as little as three years his world would no longer exist.

When the Science Council had failed to act on Jor's interstellar project, for all intents and purposes, Krypton had served itself a death warrant.

When the hated, jealousy, and political wrangling had at last become apparent to Jor and his family, they bemoaned the situation because of all the precious time wasted in their attempt to persuade the Science Council to support their interstellar project.

Furthermore, as more and more resources were being committed to control the ever increasing seismic activity now scourging the planet, Jor-El's family was made aware that no further material for their interstellar project would be forthcoming. Constructing a spacecraft large enough to carry their family to safety was no longer an option.

Lara knew it was now time to have that talk with Kennra.

The plan Lara had thought out some years before now dominated her thinking. It was an alternative course of action; a plan born out of both hope and desperation. With the imminent destruction of Krypton now at hand, she needed to present her ideas to the family as soon as possible. First, however, she needed to talk to her sister-in-law and dear friend, Kennra. Her approval of Lara's plan was crucial to Lara's scheme.

Later that day, Jor's soulmate approached Kennra who was busy incorporating biological and psychological equipment in all twenty-three probeships. Next to her was her life partner, who was placing optical equipment (spectrophotometers and interferometers) into the same vessels.

When the probeships scoured the universe, the biological and psychological tools in these craft would secure tissue samples and psychological profiles of life forms they encountered. Semen and ovum samples would also be obtained if the life-forms encountered reproduced sexually.

The spectrophotometers and interferometers in the probeships would survey the physical attributes of the life-bearing world and the characteristics of that planet's sun and the kind of radiation it emitted.

The light gathered by the spectrophotometers and interferometers would also guide the probeships toward star systems capable of supporting Kryptonian life-forms.

When Kennra finished her loading task, she noticed Lara gesturing to her.

Telling her husband that Lara wished to see her, Kennra followed Jor's soulmate to an empty room.

When the Kennra had seated herself, Lara closed the door and locked it. After she seated herself next to her kin, Lara said softly to her sister in law, "You know, of course, that we and our beloved soulmates will perish when Krypton explodes. Taking a breath, Lara added, "My husband is now computing the precise time for that catastrophic event, plus or minus a couple of days."

Kennra nodded and sobbed a little.

Talking more softly, Lara said to her cousin, "If we are fortunate, our probeships will locate a world whose inhabitants will possess psychological and physical characteristics similar to our own. More important, though, will be the biological compatibility between our people and those of the new planet.

Pausing for a few seconds, Lara dropped her bombshell. "Would you, my sister, consider bearing a child and sending him or her to the kind of planet I've just described?"

After recovering from the shock of Lara's rather bold statement and considering its ramifications, Kennra replied. "Yes I would my sister." Before Kennra could add to her reply, Lara remarked, "Given the chance, so would I."

Lara then told Kennra about the existence of three infant- sized space vessels she had secretly fabricated over the past several years.

Pausing to allow Kennra to considered ramification of her thoughts, Laura then added, "Since our family is now in possession of three interstellar ships, arks of life I call them, we could use two of these vessels to transport our offspring to the new world."

"What about the third ship?" Kennra inquired.

"The third ship," Lara replied, "could be used to house an electronic library and carry vital supplies. In the third craft, we could electronically archive the knowledge Krypton has amassed over the ages. If we can accomplish these objectives, Kennra, our little family could be the instrument that saves the genetic and public heritage of our people. And, through our progeny Krypton's wisdom may be passed on to a people far across the cosmos. Knowledge that could be of immense value to a burgeoning civilization whose people possess the same ethics and moral base as our own."

Listening to her sister in law, Kennra was at first taken aback as the full impact of Lara's proposal impacted upon her mind.

Gathering her thoughts, Kennra remarked, "You know, of course Lara, that such a world, as you have envisioned, must be discovered at least thirteen months prior to Krypton's extinction level event. We would need that much lead time for us to conceive, gestate, and deliver our first born, and prepare them for their cosmic journey."

Zor-El's soulmate then paused for a moment and again considered Lara's bold proposal. Thoughts like, was there any alternative to Lara's plan? Would their kids survive such a journey? It was a gamble. What were the odds of success? If her plan worked, Krypton's heritage and the knowledge its civilization had accumulated could be saved. These thoughts and a myriad of others flashed through her head. In the end of her catharsis, Kennra knew in her heart that Lara's plan was sound.

Gazing at her cousin, Kennra smiled and told Lara that she would support her plan. Lara hugged Kennra and said, "Let's go talk to the guys.

Before they left the room, Lara embraced her kin, conveying without words her profound gratitude to Kennra for her support and her courageous decision.

After supper that evening, Lara asked their men to join Kennra and herself in the general living quarters. There, Lara unfolded her plan and told the men of the three spaceships she had secretly assembled. When Lara finally asked the male members of her family whether or not they approved of her strategy, Jor and Zor-El both nodded their consent without so much as a moment's hesitation. Then Jor gave his soulmate a bone-crushing embrace. The die was cast; a concentrated effort would now be made to locate a planet which supported a population that was both physiologically and biologically compatible with their own.

Now it was time for both couples to think about conceiving a child. With Krypton's advanced technology, conception was never an issue in Lara's plan.

On the day following the families' historical gathering, all twenty-three probeships were made ready for immediate departure.

Several days later, as Lara entered the lab, she noted that Zor-El was adding a final piece of hardware to each probe. It was a string-based telemetry system. His communication device would allow information from the probeships to be continuously monitored as they searched the cosmos for their children's new home.

To increase the speed of communication, Lara wrote and compiled a computer program which would translate the probe's telemetry into an easy to read format as the data was sent back to probeship's embarkation point.

After launching the probeships, the four scientists began modifying Lara' starships that would soon make an incredible journey. Two ships were converted to carry a small child, one in each vessel, and the third was transformed into a library of sorts, which would carry Krypton's heritage and its knowledge base acquired over many millennia.

Slightly over eighteen months later, information received from probeship thirteen caused jubilation among Jor's family. A star system had been discovered, eight billion light years across the cosmos. In a solar system of nine planets, the third from the sun was a world very similar to Krypton itself. Earth, as the inhabitants called their world, orbited a moderate size star.

The physical attributes of Earth's people were nearly identical to their own. A scan of the genetic code of the planet's population indicated biological compatibility with Kyptonians. If a second check of the probeship's data agreed with the first informational set, then their children would be able to fit in with Earth's society and successfully mate with its people. The only major difference was in the nature of their suns. Krypton circled a red star, while Earth was a satellite of a G-type solar furnace.

While most of the physical characteristics of Earth: atmospheric content, gravity, orbital period and distance from its sun closely matched those of their home world, there were bound to be some differences.

Dissimilarities in star coloration, for example, about which Krypton and Earth revolved initially was a detail that concerned the El family. However, a rapid analysis of the new star's characteristics dispelled their fears. Radiation from a yellow sun, they discovered, would pose no threat to Kryptonian life forms. In fact, from a later examination of the new star, the El's found that the radiation generated by Earth's sun just might enhance their children's well being.

As they continued to study the conditions existing on Earth, Lara murmured, "Eight billion light years. When the time comes, our kids will be taking a mind-boggling journey."

The vastness of space between Krypton and Earth was incredible. For scientists accustomed to strange and unusual findings, the distance traveled by the probeship still evoked a sense of awe. The new planet and Krypton were separated by half the known universe.

The information from probeship thirteen also informed them that the new planet was civilized. However, by Kryptonian standards, Earth's civilization was not considered a technologically advanced society. In fact, the probeship data suggested that Earth's society was like Krypton nearly a hundred million years ago.

After receiving and reconfirming probeship thirteen's preliminary telemetry, it was recalled and was expected to arrive within the hour. If the more detailed physiological and biological data procured by the probeship was as encouraging, then phase two of "Operation Life" could commence — the conception of their children.

As soon as the probeship returned, Kennra rushed the physiological and biological information pods to the analyzer, while Zor-El started an in-depth study of the new planet's more subtle physical characteristics.

Five days later, a "conference" was convened. Zor-El's report was succinct and simply recommended that the new planet become the living sanctuary for their children and the repository of all of Krypton's knowledge.

Kennra's information required a more lengthy discourse. "I have determined," she told her kin, "that the physiological characteristics between us and the Earth people, are identical except for the special DNA inherent in our genetic systems. You recall the history of our society DNA project. Some seventy-five thousand years ago using well known biomedical engineering methods chromosomes nineteen and twenty-one were modified to enhance the general well being of our people. Other than those modified bits of our genome, we have on this new planet an almost a perfect genetic match between our two peoples. Zor-el then said to his family, "What we have fortuitously stumbled upon is a sister planet to our own. I wish we had the time to study the whys and hows of this fascinating puzzle."

After a slight pause, Lara said, "You believe that the people of Earth could possibly be descendents of marooned Kryptonian star sailors." Zor nodded. "Wow," Lara said, and added, "you're right, my husband, I wish there was time to research your views." Then Lara became more pragmatic and said, "Time is too pressing to study the hows or whys of this fascinating mystery."

When the group returned to the subject at hand, Lara remarked, "I want you to know that I've combined the semen and ovum gathered from several Earth inhabitants with their Kryptonian counterparts. The resulting fertilization produced a normal cell cluster.

After some discussion Lara added "You should all be aware that our engineered DNA will be transferred when an individual from Earth and another from Krypton produce offspring. It seems that our special engineered genes are a trait that will appear in all Tera-Kryptonian progeny."

Upon hearing the summation of Lara's analysis, Kennra mused, "Perhaps one path to immortality is to pass on your nucleic acids and that of your soulmate's to future generations?"

"You are getting philosophical," Jor-El said to Kennra.

"I know," she replied and then added, "Jor, do you believe in some form of continuation of life after we leave this plane of existence?"

"Do you mean some sort of life after death?" Jor remarked.

"Uh huh," Kennra replied.

After a slight pause, Jor said, "I must admit that I've speculated off and on for some time about the existence of a master creator and the kind of ethereal state people would enter when they pass on."

Taking a breath, Jor continued, "There are times when I feel very spiritual, and there are instances when I've doubted the presence of an all powerful being; a being who can affect the affairs of the universe including its advanced life forms. Why does my spirituality wax and wane? I'm not sure. I can't answer you with a clear and concise statement."

Smiling at his kin, Jor-El then added, "I must admit to you that from time to time I've questioned my skepticism concerning an eternal being." Clasping his hands, Jor continued his commentary by saying, "The only logical solution for my turmoil, it seems, is my inability to see and converse with such an entity face-to face. If I could communicate in some way with such a being, I could accept the existence of an eternal being and my psyche, I believe, would be a peace. Since there are no known means of measuring whether or not a master creator exists, my dilemma persists and I cannot find solace in this area of thought. There is no closure to my problem, a closure that my mind desperately, I must admit, craves. So my friends, I've remained dubious through the years about an all powerful presence, one who has the power to shape the universe.

After a moment or two of silence, Jor-El continued to expound on the concept of the eternal. "To tell you the truth," he said, "at times, during my contemplations about a G-D figure, I sometimes feel that all happenings in life are random events; but even in evoking such a logical thought, still I wonder about an eternal being. My perplexity exits because I know that the difference between faith, coincidence, and certainty is just a fine line.

"What irks me most," Jor-El added, as he continued to articulate, "is the question many people ask: 'why is science so devoid of spirituality?' Such a comment is asinine. This misunderstanding between science and religion I believe is the fault of our education system. Our instructional methods can't seem to differentiate between science, which is simply a process of investigation and the scientist, a person who may or may not believe in a supreme being. People should be aware that the primary function of science is to record and study observable items. The master creator, for example, if one truly exits, is not detectable by physical means and, therefore, cannot be recorded. Such an entity can't by definition be studied by the so-called scientific method. Of course, you all are aware that there is no scientific method. The so-called scientific method presented in our schools gives me the chills. It is a product of an education system which is scientifically illiterate. Each problem must investigated in a manner suitable to that particular study. There are many ways to approach a problem and each one can be classified as a scientific method.

"The scientist," Jor-El further stated, "is generally a pensive and slightly reclusive individual who ponders the forces which bind our universe together. My good friend and colleague, Gelefan, himself a scientist, strongly believes in a master creator or supreme being. He argues that the laws which govern our universe are not only breathtaking in design and function, but were created by an unseen hand. He contends that the so-called natural postulates that govern universal processes could not have occurred by random chance. Gelefan argues in this manner because there is a natural tendency for disorder to continually increase within our universe — the entropy factor. If entropy was the only driving force within the cosmos, Gelefan once declared, it would preclude the existence of life. My friend Gelefan believes that the master creator has controlled the entropy factor — the violence within the universe by creating a counter force, living entities.

"Gelefan also contends," Jor went on, "that life somehow reverses the destructive effect of the universal entropy processes and he believes that the master architect, created and placed living systems throughout the cosmos to impede the copious chaotic forces. From our numerous discussions concerning spirituality, Gelefan and I finally had a meeting of minds. He and I agreed that the most important item that exits on this and other planets was life forms; not material assets or power, but just living systems. In creating new life, random molecules are organized into what we call living networks composed for the most part of nonliving molecules.

"Shortly after we leave this plane of existence, Gelefan told me he believes that most departed souls will become less than a memory in a relatively short period of time. The possessions the departed one accumulated and held dear may no longer be treasured by a new owner and eventually be discarded as a useless or valueless item. He is convinced that nothing in the physical realm is forever. Only the soul, which is spiritual in nature, has permanence."

Jor-El then added, "If Gelefan's predictions are valid, in the coming catastrophe, all of our possessions and thoughts be they rational or nonsensical, will be swept away like a spring rain washes the air clean."

Continuing, Jor said, "My spiritual friend once told me that because all life has a finite life span, it should always be cherished like a gift. Love, which eventually binds our lives with another, is the most precious gift two individuals can share. That's why the act of creation, itself, is so highly regarded."

At this point in their discussion, Kennra interjected and reminded her cousin that the love of their people and the desire to save Krypton's civilization from oblivion was the dominant reason for their crusade and it was time to return to that problem.

Smiling, he nodded, affirming her poignant remark.

After Kennra's comment, a silence ensued for some moments. The group knew that their philosophical tete-a-tete had ended for the time being, at least.

Kennra broke their silence by commenting, "I've arrested the development of several Earth-Kryptonian cellular structures and placed them in a stasis chamber. It would be unconscionable to bring the beginning life forms to full term only to have them perish painfully when Krypton itself dies." The other family members nodded their approval of her actions.

Zor-El was next on the agenda. He reported that probeship thirteen had again been routed back to Earth. On this particular journey, the probeship was instructed to search for two nurturing families and implant a 'come hither' message in the minds of each chosen couple.

Jor's cousin then added, "When the babies reach their Earthly destinations, the implanted suggestion will draw their surrogate parents to our children's respective landing sites. When the selected families arrive at these locations, they will be compelled to retrieve their individual charges and hide the spacecraft. The couples to be chosen must be childless and possess an overwhelming need to love and nurture a baby."

"Of course," Zor commented, "you are aware that our children must be initially separated for their mutual protection. If one child is unfortunately discovered, the other will still have a chance of survival by being raised in a different household some distance away from its kin." The family was in full agreement with Zor's advice.

Zor-El then added, "We could use the metabolic rates of our offspring as a timing mechanism.

Lara added, "Their biological clock could be used to terminate the children's isolation from one other, say, soon after their sixteenth birthday."

Zor agreed with Lara, and then added, "I suggest that the auras emitted by our kids act as a seek mechanism at the appropriate time. After a few moments of debate, the family added both features to the children's survival package.

As Zor-El finished speaking, Lara chimed in saying, "I feel that each household chosen for our kids should approach the creator of the universe by a different path. I believe that, on Earth, they are called religious affiliations and the supreme being is referred to as G-D. Each child must learn about Earth's master creator from the persuasion of their surrogate parents. When our children rediscover their Kryptonian heritage and start families of their own, obviously with life-partners from among Earth's population, they will create their own distinct pathway to the Eternal one. What they create, of course, will be based, in part, on the religious customs acquired from their Earthly experiences and upon Kryptonian beliefs they will acquire as adults. Like all new approaches to the master creator, their religious practices will be unique to them. Someday, I believe, their views of spiritually will be incorporated into an innovative society establish by our progeny."

"I have a question," Kennra interjected.

"Why have you, Zor-El, my soulmate, created such an elaborate collection scheme? I would also like to know why our children should be pre-assigned to a specific family before alighting on Earth."

Lara looked at her husband and said, "I would like to respond to her query."

Jor-El immediately said, "Go ahead, sweetheart."

Hearing his affectionate reply, Lara gazed, for a moment at her life partner with eyes that seemed to gush love for her soulmate. While gazing at Jor-El, Lara thought to herself, "My life partner has become a much more romantic person over the years. I hope that when we pass beyond the pale, our life essences will remained lovingly entwined for all eternity."

Lara then faced Kennra and said, "As you are aware, our children will not only represent an extension of our love, but they will also be the only genetic continuation of the Kryptonian people. The information ship, which will accompany our kids will embody the accomplishments of our culture and will be their mentor as they mature. Our progeny and the library ship must not be allowed to become the property of iniquitous people. Therefore, those who will care for our offspring cannot be subject to a random selection process. The choice of specific nurturing families, who have been programmed to find our children, is necessary to reduce the chance that our children will be discovered by people who don't posses the proper moral and ethical values we cherish."

After hearing Lara's discourse, Kennra simply nodded, accepting Zor's collection scheme.

Ten days after Jor's clan had their last conference, probe thirteen again returned to Krypton. It had carried out the family's collection instructions. The two Earth families selected to nurture the Kryptonian children were Jonathan and Martha Kent of Smallville, Kansas, and Joshua and Sara Gerstein, residing in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Within a week of receiving the probe's information, both Lara and Kennra conceived. Two hundred and sixty-five and two hundred and eighty days later, two children were born: first, a daughter to Zor-El and Kennra that they named Alliah-El, followed by a son to Jor-El and Lara, whom they dubbed Kal-El.

Soon after Lara had delivered her son, Jor-El ascertained that just forty-nine days remained before their world would perish. That knowledge urged Jor's family group to greatly increase their activities. Final preparations to transfer Kal-El and Alliah-El to Earth were completed. The library container ship was loaded. Special message globes were programmed and commanded not to function until Kal-El and Alliah-El each neared their sixteenth year. These global bodies would be attached to each infant and would follow them throughout their lives. The globes would not only provide their children with needed information after they were activated, but would also be a chronicler of their lives on their new world.

As the four labored almost day and night during Krypton's final days, the seismic activity of their planet greatly intensified. Mountains crumbled and sections of the planet's land mass near the coasts were swallowed by the sea.

Nearing Krypton's end of days, huge seismic waves undulated through the planet's surface, destroying or damaging everything in their path. These phenomena appeared like ocean-born waves, but traveled rapidly through the mantel of the continental land masses.

These land waves produced large fissures, which disfigured the land. From these rifts, lava and poisonous gases gushed. One of the ingredients of the lava was a toxic form of element 126. This material, as it flowed, coated the surface of the planet.

The seismic energy cascading through the planet also spawned many tsunamis, extremely large sea-born waves, that devastated the islands and coastlines of the planet. Great shafts of subterranean material were thrust through the planet's surface and stood like huge tombstones that dotted the surface of Krypton. Some of these monoliths were two hundred feet or more in height.

Throughout this period of extreme planet-wide devastation, Jor-El's family remained relatively secure within their laboratory facility. Their living quarters had been seriously damaged by seven-hundred-mile-an-hour wind gusts which now continuously battered their city and made it well-nigh uninhabitable. Because of their planning, the subterranean sections of their home withstood nature's onslaught.

The days of the final preparations passed rapidly.

One evening, as Zor-El gazed at the family's motoring system, he became all too aware that their rendezvous with destiny was fast approaching. The visual display on his measuring instruments registered the bleak news. Only about fifteen hours remained until Krypton reached its crisis threshold.

While the time of Krypton's destruction rapidly approached, the babies were reluctantly placed in their respective space arks. During the short time in which Kal-El and Alliah-El had been part of their lives, the El adults had become very attached to their children. An indescribable bond of love had developed between the couples and their offspring. They did not want to abandon their babies. However, they were well aware that not sending their children across the universe to a new home was a sentence of death. With heart wrenching feelings of both loss and elation, two Kryptonian infants, the last of their kind, were secured within their spacecrafts and launched into the void.

As the interstellar ships rose from the planet's surface, Jor-El embraced his wife and placed his face into her hair and began to sob. Lara, hearing her beloved becoming distraught, hugged him tighter and placed her head just under his chin. She talked to him with quiet cooing words that helped settle his emotional state. He was aware of what she was doing to ease his pain and loved her all the more for her selfless act.

As death gazed upon her lovely countenance he kissed her tenderly upon her forehead and further tightened their embrace.

Like their cousins, Zor-El and Kennra were also in a lover's embrace. Their lips touched in an all-encompassing kiss that would last to time's end and beyond.

As Jor's family watched the monitor, they saw three spacecrafts begin their transit to a new solar system and a new life. Jor-El mused, "I am amazed and overjoyed that our project succeeded." Pausing for a moment, he added, "You know, guys, each of our investigations and tests provided us with a positive result after only a single trial. Theoretically, an endeavor such as ours should have taken a lifetime or more of study and frustrating experimentation to achieve such results."

Smiling at last, he added, "You, of course, realize what we accomplished? In less than a decade, we achieved the impossible."

Shaking his head in near disbelief of what he had just said, Jor-El added, "If I were a mystic or religious man, I probably would say that in our quest we were helped or guided by some benevolent entity. For what reason I still can't fathom."

When Jor-El grew silent, Kennra said, "You know, Jor, your statement about some mysterious entity may not be so far fetched. Personally, I believe we were aided in our attempt to achieve interstellar travel. Like you, I really don't know why we were helped."

Thinking for a moment, Lara broke out in a smile as she added, "Maybe the answer is so simple that we overlooked its meaning. I believe we were helped because our quest was the right thing to do."

After a moment of silence, Jor, looking at his soulmate reverently, replied to her, "You may be right, Lara. We chose life over despair and death. Perhaps the most essential element in our universe is the life force contained within its ever-expanding boundaries. Since we chose to preserve life and didn't renounce hope and didn't allow the forces of destruction to overwhelm our sense of purpose the master of the cosmos, in his/her infinite mercy, looked with favor upon us. Like, in marriage, we somehow had a meeting of minds."

Jor laughed and commented, "You know during the past several weeks, whenever I've pondered our children's fate, a euphoric feeling has touched me. This sentiment has not only strengthened my resolve, but has given me a feeling that all our work was not in vain. Whenever that feeling swept through me, the message it left was always the same and very calming. The epistle always implied that our children would be well, and because we cared and tried to help our people, a wonderful and meaningful future awaited our offspring and their descendants."

"Jor-El," Lara said, tears cascading down her beautiful face," I sense that you just gave us a glimpse of our children's future."

Zor-El quickly added, "Remember that discussion we had about the existence of a master creator."

"Yes," Jor replied.

"Well," Zor-El said, "you may get that face-to-face discussion sooner than you realize." Jor-El smiled at his spiritual brother, and simply nodded.

Lara then pressed her mouth to Jor-El's in a tender and passionate lover's kiss. Reluctantly separating from him, she murmured, "Our adoration for one another, my beloved Jor, will endure through all eternity as it has throughout our lives together. Don't ask me how I know, but I do. Just accept my prophecy, dearest."

As Lara continued to voice her love and cling to her soulmate, the rumbling sounds arising from the dying planet reached a crescendo. One third of Krypton's mass suddenly and violently blown into space by the force of a titanic explosion. The fury of the cataclysmic event thrust the remains of the planet from its solar orbit and hurled it into Krypton's fiery red sun.


As one travels the highways and byways of creation, there are always new beginnings. While rest is necessary from time to time, the mandate of life is to move forward, forging new pathways, not knowing whether one will ever complete the journey. While life never decrees a conclusion to an individual's aspirations, to pursue a goal is an imperative.

So it was, as Krypton perished, two infants, the last representatives of a doomed civilization, together with its accrued knowledge, survived a perilous journey and were about to make landfall on a planet half a universe from their now lifeless home world.

Unfortunately, fragments of the exploding planet were also captured in the wake of the interstellar ships and followed the spacecrafts to Earth. Eventually, these meteorites would become known as Kryptonite, element 127, a deadly substance for Kryptonians and their descendents.

The unstable element 127 produced during the nuclear disintegration of element 126 had spewed onto the surface of Krypton by the rampaging geological forces. This poisonous material coated the planet's surface and became part of the planet's fragments after Krypton's destruction.

Although a great civilization had perished, a new saga was now beginning in the shifting patterns of life within the universe; life controlled by a master creator and orchestrated by the forces of destiny.

The end of the beginning.


Soon after the Kryptonian civilization passed into history, three interstellar spacecraft entered the Terran solar system just beyond the orbit of Pluto. Upon emerging from the string-generated hyperspace, the interstellar drives shut down and conventional space engines were engaged. Once these normal space drives were fully operative, the three Kryptonian spacecraft hurled themselves, at near- lightspeed, toward the third planet in the star system — a planet called Earth by its inhabitants.

Arriving at their destination some three hours later, the three interstellar vessels went into orbit about the new world. When the surface coordinates had been verified and rechecked, the spacecrafts descended to their pre-assigned locations. Kal-El's ship landed near the Kent farm, in the vicinity of Smallville, Kansas, while Ailah-El's vessel made landfall close to the Gerstein home just outside Colorado Springs. The library craft plummeted toward the Himalayan mountains and came to rest within an ice cave near the summit of a lofty peak. Here the library ship would remain, in a semi-dormant state, until the two Kryptonian infants reached an Earthly age of twenty-six years. A telemetry link would monitor the El children and record the events of their lives as they matured. This information would be placed within a special electronic archive for future reference and study.

When the children's spacecraft made landfall, the "come hither" compulsion command immediately brought both the Kent and the Gerstein families to their respective touchdown locations.

Soon after the interstellar ships had alighted, each child found themselves in the arms of their new family. As the adults of both families held the children, both households instantly formed an unqualified loving bond with their Kryptonian infant.

After each child and their space vessel were taken to the Kent and Gerstein homes, respectively, nearly identical behavior patterns occurred. The Kents hollowed out a hidden chamber beneath their barn in which they placed the Kryptonian spacecraft and some special artifacts it carried. Likewise, the Gersteins excavated a camouflaged sub-basement under their home and set the ship from space within this underground hideaway. Then, both families, using the good auspices of their friends and neighbors, obtained birth credentials and social security numbers for each child. The children's documents were obtained, naturally, by sub-rosa means, and transcribed into the municipal records.

It should be noted for the record that the individuals aiding the Kent and Gerstein households were never told exactly how their child was acquired. No questions were ever asked, nor were any explanations expected. The Kent and the Gerstein friends and family members just assumed that a loving couple, devoid of children, had somehow managed to complete their family. Both households were fortunate in that their friends and neighbors were people who delighted in helping others when the need arose, and never questioned the circumstances.

For some years, both children and their adopted families lived relatively normal lives, aside from the fact that Ailah-El, now called Alicia, and Kal-El, whom the Kent's named Clark Jerome, were exceedingly more intelligent than their peers. By the time both Clark and Alicia entered their primary schools both children were demonstrating scholarship at the post-university level. Both children tended to excel in their science and mathematical subjects.

In addition to their academic prowess, other attributes surfaced as Clark and Alicia matured. Clark demonstrated exceptional writing abilities, with an added flair for poetry. He also developed art skills and became a very gifted painter, specializing in both oil and water-color murals. Alicia developed into a gifted essayist as well. She also blossomed into an incredible musician and became an accomplished artist on both the violin and piano. Alicia's passion for classical music and the technical mastery of both instruments would have classified her as a world-class performer if she had desired to follow that career path. Unknown to the world at large, these children were the Da Vincis of their age.

Almost from the beginning of their formal education, fortune favored both children with remarkable first grade teachers. Both of these educators, unaware of one another, recognized the genius of each child. They quietly, with the permission of their respective parents, performed an Otis Lennon IQ test to determine the intellectual potentials of these remarkably talented individuals. Unfortunately the data from the tests were so skewed that no significant IQ information could be deduced.

From the results of the IQ tests, both teachers could only conclude that Alicia and Clark had inordinately high intelligence quotients. Any other inferences from their testing would be pure speculation on their part. However, it was obvious to both educators that the mental abilities of Clark and Alicia were off the IQ scale and obviously too high to be assessed with any certainty.

Fearing that their children would be exploited if the IQ information became generally known, the Kents and the Gersteins independently asked their children's teacher to withhold the IQ results from their local School Board. If hiding their kids' IQ data could be accomplished, then the unusually high intelligence of their kids could be concealed from the public at large.

Fortunately, for both families, the children's teachers were born in large cities and were street wise. The children's educators were fully aware what crafty politicians, school administrators, and school board members would do with such information. They would probably use it to enhance their public image and line their pockets if they could. Understanding the nature of the political arena into which each child could be thrust, the two teachers unknown to one another knew instinctively what needed to be done. The IQ information had to be either concealed or falsified.

Each teacher clearly understood that if the IQs of their young student ever became public knowledge, the normalcy and maybe even the safety of a child and their family could be a risk.

Fate was kind to the Kent and Gerstein families. The street-wise teachers agreed to honor the request of Clark's and Alicia's parents and conceal the real IQ information and substitute spurious data in its stead.

To accomplish this task, both educators placed misleading IQ information in the children's permanent school records.

Many years later, Clark was to comment that their primary teachers behaved as if they were telepathically linked to a higher power.

Throughout his primary and secondary schooling, Clark's first grade teacher, Bill Matheson, when possible, procured books or manuscripts Clark's family requested. In time, "Uncle Bill," as Clark affectionately called him, became like a member of his household. He and Clark remained close throughout the remainder of the educator's lifetime.

Unlike Clark, Alicia did not have the same level of difficulty acquiring scholarly information. Her parents were both civilian employees of the United Sates Government. They were professors in the math and science departments at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Both Alicia's mother and father had earned doctoral degrees. Her mother's degree was in mathematics, while her father's earned doctorate was in physics. Because of her parents' academic positions, Alicia had at her finger-tips a vast source of scholastic information.

As Alicia and Clark matured, their intellectual pursuits became more and more multifarious. While their minds searched through many diverse intellectual disciplines, slow, but subtle, changes in their physiology were also occurring. At approximately seven years of age, both children had already developed an invulnerability which protected them from all physical harm. During the next nine years, other special abilities developed: heat vision, enhanced hearing, telescopic vision and microscopic vision, freezing breath, enhanced olfactory senses, and finally the ability to levitate. Near their sixteenth birthdays, their levitation skills developed into full flying capabilities.

While their unusual powers were emerging, these normally shy and sensitive children became even more solitary. Except for their parents, no other individual on the planet knew of their unique abilities. Hiding their special powers placed a strain on their relationships with their peers. They began to limit their contact with those whom Clark and Alicia considered normal. After each of their special abilities developed, it made them feel more and more isolated — they didn't fit in. They became more cautious toward friends and neighbors alike.

Loneliness was the result of their self-isolation. To escape the anguish caused by their self-imposed solitude, Clark and Alicia used their flying abilities to escape their seclusion by soaring into near space.

During the summer of his sixteenth year, just after commencement from high school, Clark flew high into the stratosphere and began floating somewhere between the Earth and the shimmering celestial bodies that were sprinkled throughout the firmament.

On one of his flying sojourns, Clark sensed the presence of another salient life force. Swiftly rotating his body, he saw not ten yards away, a young woman with green eyes and flaming red hair. When their eyes met, she smiled and he heard a voice coursing through his mind, which greeted him with a simple, but affectionate, "Hello, my name is Alicia Gerstein."

Clark, after regaining his composure, replied, "Hiya, my name's Clark Kent."

While Clark did not fully comprehend, at that moment, how he had spontaneously greeted Alicia telepathically, he innately understood that this would be the natural form of communication between them.

Smiling, Clark commented, "I think you and I need to have a rather lengthy conversation." She nodded in agreement to his suggestion.

Clark then said to the red headed girl, "I know of an island in the western Pacific basin that is relatively isolated. Would you like to go there?"

A resounding "Yes!" leaped into his head. He then beckoned her to follow him as he started to plummet Earthward. They both leveled their descent at about fifty feet above the surface of the Pacific Ocean and then flew west at hypersonic speeds to the island of Palau in the Micronesian Archipelago.

When they landed on Palau, both Clark and Alicia instinctively grabbed one another in a big hug. As they clasped each other, their personal auras overlapped. Their physical embrace initiated the beginnings of a life-long fraternal bond. This linkage would permit them to locate and communicate telepathically with each other throughout all time and space.

While they both realized that the bond between them was not romantic in character, they understood that the devotion each felt for the other was like that of a brother for a sister. As the euphoria of their discovery overwhelmed them both, they became somewhat giddy with the joy of their discovery. Alicia and Clark knew that neither of them would ever be lonely or isolated again. From that moment to the end of their lives, Clark and Alicia would behave towards one another, as do all loving siblings.

After holding each other for some time, they separated and sat down on logs which randomly covered the area.

As they were becoming accustomed to one another Clark said, "I wonder why we were separated from one another? Obviously, we have a common ancestry. Growing up together would have given us a sense of belonging. We wouldn't have felt so alone or alienated from our respective communities."

Alicia told him, "My Globe informed me that we were isolated from one another for our mutual protection, and for us to learn a different approach to G-D."

"Globe? What Globe?" Clark asked, somewhat perplexed.

"The Globe that was contained in our spacecraft," Alicia replied.

Shaking his head, Clark replied, "That Globe. As long as I can remember, it has always been in a dormant state. It just sits beside a strange ship my parents say brought me to them. It glows now and then and shows me maps of a strange planet and then shifts to an Earthly pattern."

"When was the last time you looked at your Globe?" Alicia asked.

"I haven't looked at my spaceship or its contents for nearly two years," Clark replied.

"That explains your apparent lack of information about your heritage," Alicia remarked. Continuing, she added, "The Globe which accompanied me only began to function during the past six weeks or so. It gave me a full explanation of the events that required our departure from Krypton." Pausing for a moment, she told Clark, "Krypton was the planet of our birth."

"Krypton?" Clark asked quizzically.

"Krypton, our birth planet, was destroyed during a cataclysmic event. Your Kryptonian name is Kal-El, and mine is Ailah-El," she replied. "The Globe informed me that two children had been dispatched to Earth, and would be separated when they reached their destination mainly for our mutual protection. Also, our separation was necessary for us to learn different ways to approach the creator of the universe. You, Clark, were taken in by a Christian family, while I became part of a household that followed a Hebraic tradition.

Gazing at her newly found kin, Alicia asked, "What is the central theme of both religious persuasions that were taught to us?"

Thinking about her query for a moment, Clark smiling said, "The revelation at Sinai."

"Correct-a-mundo," Alicia said as a smile spread across her face.

"Without that apparent revelation all of the moral and ethical teachings we take for granted would probably not have occurred," Alicia remarked.

"From our religious experiences," Alicia added, "I think The Ten Commandments — or decalogue — will become the spiritual nucleus of what ever kind of community we decide establish in the future."

Clark simply nodded, agreeing with her reasoning.

After a brief pause in their conversation, Clark went off on a tangent and asked Alicia, "Are we genetically compatible with Terrans?"

"Boy, what a non sequitur," his cousin remarked. Alicia then grinned at her kin and told him, "According to the commentary of our biological parents, we can conceive children with a life-mate chosen from among Earth's population. However, to insure that our Kryptonian parents were correct in this matter, I removed an ovum from my body and placed it with a semen specimen taken from a sperm bank. I'm happy to tell you that fertilization occurred. The resulting zygote appeared perfectly normal."

So, she added, "When and if we encounter soulmates and marry, conception should be a natural occurrence with our respective spouses.

Alicia then commented, "Let's leave the faith question and other pending spiritual issues for future deliberations. We should wait until we both have had an opportunity to contemplate a possible course of action in the metaphysical arena and ponder its ramifications."

Clark again nodded, endorsing her views.

He then asked, "Alicia, tell me about your family."

She smiled and quietly said, "My parents are educators. They are both professors, one in the Mathematics department and the other in the Science division at the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs. They own a modest house located just beyond the town limits. I'm their only child. While my parents and I are not genetically related, there is a spiritual and a very loving bond between us, which I believe, cannot be severed, even by death.

"Throughout the greater Colorado Springs area, we are known to follow the Hebraic tradition and are members of a local Temple. While we are considered part of this ancient persuasion, my parents and I believe that the dogmas of the past are antiquated and many of the current rituals of our persuasion have become abusive to the soul. Unfortunately, my views are not just limited to the Hebraic community alone. There seems to be a general feeling among many members of the various religious denominations within the Colorado Springs community that the religious institutions have strayed far from the needs of the people they are pledged to serve.

"In our household, like many others in our town, we give lip service to the clergy, but follow our own path to G-D. Most of our neighbors appear to follow a similar road. While we have studied many religious texts, our main avenue to sacred matters centers about the Ten Commandments and the sayings of the prophets. My parents are highly moral and ethical people and their statutes have become an essential part of my spirituality.

"I remember," Alicia giggled, "when my parents allowed me to start dating, I approached my father for advice about his views on boy-girl relationships. He gently clasped my hands in his and looked me squarely in the eyes and said, 'Your mother and I have provided you with all the moral and ethical tools you'll need for boy-girl encounters and other kinds of human interactions you'll discover as you journey through life. If you haven't heeded our teachings, then, as parents, we've failed.' He then kissed me on the forehead and walked away. I remembered, as I watched him stroll off, that tears were gushing from my eyes. For the first time in my life, I truly understood the meaning of commitment and trust and the anguish and joy of being a parent."

After a brief instant to catch her breath, Alicia continued, "My parents are not passive individuals. They integrated their philosophical views and religious convictions in a conscious effort to help people. They have asserted on numerous occasions, both in public and at private gatherings, that all people on this planet are related and no one should ever be forsaken for any reason.

"Although my mother and father are well-known and admired scientists in their own right," Alicia told Clark, "I consider my parents' commitment to people their most meaningful contribution to society and, most likely, that endeavor will be the crowning achievement of their lives.

"My father summed up his and my mother's convictions when he once, "We are all our brother's and sister's keepers, and are equal in the eyes of G-D. When you turn your back on another person, especially one in need, you are mocking the creator of the universe.

"Many people can articulate a cause. Few, however, combine rhetoric with action.

"On one occasion," Alicia continued to reminisce, "George Milford, a farmer, had several consecutive poor harvests and could not satisfy his mortgage and other outstanding debts. The banks, in their inimical economic wisdom, began foreclosure procedures. Upon learning of the Milford's plight, my parents became incensed and called for a town meeting. At that gathering my father gave a most impassioned speech on the Milford's behalf. In my opinion, it was his finest hour."

"When he finished speaking," Alicia said, "Money was freely given in support of the Milford family. What monies the community freely contributed, in this cause, removed the debts of the Milford family and would cover their mortgage payments through the next harvest season. Additional funds were also raised so that the Milford household could acquire the necessities of life."

Alicia was about to end her narration, when Clark interjected, asking, "You gotta tell me what your father said to elicit that kind of assistance for a family that most people hardly knew."

Glancing at Clark, with a kind of Mona Lisa type smile, she asked, "Do you *really* want to hear what he said?"

Clark nodded.

Alicia then began to talk in hushed tones. "My father," she said, "arose slowly to speak to his neighbors and the friends and neighbors of the Milford family. You could see from his body language that my father was girded for battle. With controlled passion emblazoned on his face and his eyes filled with the fire of a zealot, he first gazed upon those folk who attended the town meeting.

After a few moments, he declared, "Human vultures, in the guise of honest brokers, have decided to literally destroy a family in our community. To cover up their real motives, people were told that these supposedly honorable lending institutions were foreclosing on a farm in the name of prudent business practices. In the name of good business, my father almost screamed, the most important commodity on the face of this planet, people's lives, was about to be sacrificed upon the alter of greed."

"As you all are well aware," My father continued, "during the past several growing seasons, George Milford's efforts, like other farmers in our area, to produce a marketable crop yielded relatively little in terms of real capital. The culprit for their plight has been the uncertain weather patterns brought about by El Nino.

"Because of the financial crisis wrought by the unsettled weather systems, many farmers in our township went to their local banks and request payment extensions on their outstanding loans. This process was generally just a formality for these thrifty folk. To my knowledge, the farmers in our area have always made good on their monetary obligations.

"This time, however, George's bank refused his request for a payment extension and immediately began foreclosure proceedings.

"Shortly before this particular town meeting was convened," my father said, "we discovered that the directors of George's lending institution had been privy to some rather interesting insider information. The bankers learned that the State of Colorado was planing to build a highway extension, which would cross a substantial portion of the Milford farmstead. Apparently, this information precipitated the plague of avarice within the banking community. This affliction of greed was especially severe among those banks which held the mortgage to the Mildford property."

As he continued to speak, my father became enraged and nearly yelled, "Of course, the honorable people at George's lending institution didn't bother to inform him of the road information.

"It shouldn't be difficult, my friends, to realize that the mortgage holders were also suffering from an attack of greedy guts. You know that disease of the rich. They looked upon George's crop failures and lack of information about the coming roadway as a golden opportunity; a golden opportunity for themselves not the struggling Milford family.

"To sum up," my father added, "I believe that what we have here is a case of legal thievery."

"When George informed his lending institution about his dire straights, the human locusts pounced. Bankers, who now had a wedge to break their mortgage contract with the farmer, marshaled their legal force to expropriate the Milford farm. If they succeed in this scheme, George and his family would be left destitute. You must realize that the Mildford's predicament matters little to the mortgage holders and their lust for more wealth.

"I want you to understand," my father continued, "that the state would pay a pretty penny for the Milford's right-of- away. By controlling the Milford property, the bankers and their associates would be in a position to become extremely wealthy by legally extorting more money from the state for the right of way across the Milford land that they now controlled. That, my friends, is the kind of game our friendly neighbor bankers are playing these days.

"What I am asking of you my friends and neighbors is very simple. Let's help George Milford and his family through their crisis and send a kick to those who place money above human needs, right in their collective derrieres."

"You know, folks," my father added, as he looked at bankers seated at the rear of our town hall, "Suppose we remove our accounts from the offending banking institutions and transferred them to another investment house in town. Would that send a message the greedy?"

"As I looked at the huddle bankers, I saw a collective blanch.

"My father then informed the meeting that bankers would try to delay such an action by telling people it would take several days or a week for you to get your money. That is an illegal move and they know it. But they would probably try. So just electronically transfer your accounts from one bank to another. Since no money has to be paid out it must be done immediately. This is a state law which must be posted in every banking institution.

"Now, who has the power? We, the people, can decimate any legal thieving bank by removing our capital from their institutions."

"After my father finished his oration," Alicia told Clark, he requested a vote on his proposition. It passed unanimously. George then faced my father and said, "I want to thank you and this assembly for saving me and my family from financial ruin and the dire consequences that would have surely accompanied the loss of our farm."

"Wishing to discharge his obligations when his finances permitted, George asked, "How, and to whom, was the loan to be repaid? You know I'll not be producing much revenue for some time. The State of Colorado will not be an economic factor until the road is under construction."

"My father again faced the town's people Alicia said, and asked that the following conditions be attached to the financial note issued to George Milford: My father requested that the due date of the loan be extended to the year 5000 A.D., and that repayment over that period should be in the form of contributions to charitable organizations. The repayment records, of course, would be kept by the Milford family. When he again asked far a vote, the result again was unanimously in favor of my father's repayment strategy.

"Then, my father addressed George. "There is just one more item of which you should be aware. Please leave two cents, in your will, for services rendered to the Town Council." The laughter that followed, eased the tension throughout the meeting hall.

"Then, with tears welling in his eyes, my father turned toward his friends and neighbors and asked, 'May I make a closing statement?' A resounding 'yes' echoed across the meeting room."

"Years ago," Joshua Gerstein said, "just after I had fulfilled the second of my rights of passage — the first having been discharged when I was eight days old — my father shared with me a philosophical vignette he had been told by his father. He placed his hand in mine and remarked that most things we acquire or cherish in life are inanimate items, things without a soul. Those objects, if they continue to exist, will belong to another when we are less than a memory. "Remember son," Papa said to me, "there are no pockets in a coffin. When G-D calls us, our soul departs this world as we entered it, with no earthly possessions. *Only people matter*…"

"Then he turned and faced me, Alicia told Clark, and whispered and repeated again, "*Only people matter*, my daughter" as he gazed into my eyes. Then he placed his arms about me and said in an emotional voice so all could hear, "To save a life is to save the entire world in time."

"Turning again to faced his audience Joshua Gerstein said loud and clear, "Today, my friends, we not only saved a life, but the lives of the entire Milford family. My household and I are humbly grateful that we as a community have chosen the path of life."

"When my father finished talking, there was a tumultuous ovation. I wept. From that moment on," Alicia said, "I knew the direction of my life — to help causes and those people who are dedicated to the well-being of all humankind. Somehow I will use my unique abilities to aid and protect my adopted world."

"Clark," she said smiling at her kin, "now it's your turn to acquaint me with your family."

"Aside from the fact that my parents, Martha and Jonathan Kent, are farmers, not educators, my family," Clark told Alicia, "was the mirror image your household. They marched for civil rights, during the sixties, my mother constantly shops for all types of clothing during close-out specials in the local stores and she hunts for living necessities at garage sales. What she purchases, Martha Kent gives to families in our town who have been devastated by flood, drought or other natural calamities. She also helps those who have been hit with other kinds of misfortune which can cause heartbreak and financial reversals such as severe sickness or death.

"My father is one of the directors of the Smallville Association. It's one of those small town banks which provides financial assistance to community. Because of our Association, my father is able to block real estate developers or financial tycoons from disrupting the quality of life in our hamlet."

Clark paused to collect his thoughts and then added, "Like your parents, Alicia, the central core of my parents' beliefs are those revealed at Sinai. Like many congregates of our church, they just pay lip service to the doctrines professed by our minister. It's the words and ideas of prophets and the ten commandments that are also the central core of their religious beliefs. You know, "What is hateful to me I must not impose on another soul. Things like that."

"When studying the ancient scriptures one Sunday, I remember my father became very excited. He had just learned of an ancient moral and ethical comment made by some ancient sage, whose name I unfortunately don't recall. This person's thoughts closely matched my family's spiritual views and have made a lasting impression upon me and my folks."

"What did this insightful man say?" Alicia inquired.

The biblical scholar, when asked to define his faith, replied, "Do justice and walk humbly before G-D. All the rest is commentary."

Alicia immediately interjected and declared, "Hillel."

"What did you say?" Clark asked.

"The sage's name was Hillel," she repeated. "He lived some two thousand years ago."

"Thanks for that information," Clark comment. "Hillel was certainly my kind of man. His thoughts have significance, even today. His thoughts have also greatly impacted upon my family's metaphysical beliefs, especially about how to treat one's neighbor."

As Clark finished speaking, Alicia remarked, "I think that a visit to our respective families is now in order."

"I agree," Clark said, "but, I think we should travel to your home first. It will satisfy my burning curiosity."

"Curiosity?" remarked Alicia.

"The globe," he replied. "I want to learn about our past, and your globe is active."

Smiling she said, "Then it's off to the Gersteins' home we go, we go…" Alicia teased, and then giggled.

Alicia's laughter was infectious. Before long, Clark had joined with her in near hysterical laughter. After the two Kryptonians, the last of their kind, managed to gain a measure of control over their emotions, they launched themselves into the air and flew, at near light speed, to Colorado Springs and their kismet.



The sun was near the horizon when Alicia and Clark descended into the rustic habitat behind the Gerstein home. Sara Gerstein was at that moment tending to her flowers and shrubs as she heard a "whoosh" signaling her daughter's return from one of her flying escapades. Looking in the direction of the familiar sound, she saw not one but two young people striding towards her.

'Two, two, two…' the number seemed to pulsate through her mind. As the amount of times the number two echoed and re- echoed through her head began to diminish, Sara became agitated and then acutely alarmed. In a near panic, she picked up a fallen tree limb, about the size of a walking stick, and attacked Clark, screaming, over and over, "You can't take her away from me. Never, never, never…"

Clark was not only surprised by the woman's aggressiveness, but also by the intensity of her assault.

From the fearlessness of her attack, Clark very quickly surmised that Sara Gerstein's ferociousness was the result of a natural defense mechanism to protect her daughter and to ward off the possible dissolution of her family.

After a few seconds, Clark grabbed Sara's arms and said in a quiet and calming voice, "Please stop. I am not here to injure Alicia or take her away from you." He repeated himself several times before Sara Gerstein began to calm down.

When Sara eventually composed herself, she looked at this strange young man and said, "What's your name?"

Clark Kent knew that the confrontation had ended and he quickly replied to her query. "I'm called Clark Kent and I hail from Smallville, Kansas.

When Clark again looked into Sara's expressive eyes, he became aware that she had formulated a superabundance of questions which she was just itching to ask him. To avoid a long and tiresome question and answer session, Clark took the initiative and quickly described the pertinent events of his life, which included the meeting with Alicia and their subsequent trip to Colorado Springs.

Pausing for a second, Sara said in a hushed tone, "You and my daughter were both born on Krypton and possess the same unique abilities." Sara's utterance was more of a statement than a question. Knowing what Alicia's mother's muttering inferred, the young Kryptonians still confirmed her half- question.

Sara, still taking to herself, remarked in an almost inaudible whisper, "Now there are two of you. Two from beyond."

Then in a more dynamic voice she declared, "Clark, my husband and I must meet your parents as soon as possible. We have so much in common. Tell me, what are their names?"

"Martha and Jonathan," Clark told her.

After a brief lull in their conversation, Sara said, "Clark, not only would we like to meet your folks, my husband and I must talk to your parents as soon as possible. Conversing with another couple who raised a super child will reduce the stress Alicia's father and I feel each day. Your abilities, my children, must be guarded at all costs. If your powers became common knowledge, all of our lives would become untenable. Your lives on Earth would become a nightmare. For us and the Kents, life as we now know it, would be lost. There even may be attempts on our lives by fanatics who hate everything and everyone who don't behave and look like them."

"Getting to know your folks, Clark, will allow our families to talk openly about our children without fear. We could finally be ourselves."

While Sara was emoting, her emotions became somewhat unhinged. She started to cry, almost uncontrollably. Clark pulled Alicia's mother close in an attempt to sooth her emotional outburst.

As Clark continued to hold Sara, she buried her head into Clark's shoulder and wept bitterly. While Alicia watched her mother's actions, she finally understood the anguish and fear that her mother, father, and Clark's parents had endured for their sakes.

When Sara finally looked into Clark's face, she saw eyes that were also moist with unshed tears. It was then that Sara became aware that she had unwittingly motivated an unsettled feeling in Clark by her poignant words and emotional outpouring.

After gaining a measure of control over her own emotions, Sara said, "I better call my husband and ask him to come home post haste."

Turning to the two super children, Sara remarked, "I know my behavior was somewhat unnerving. I want you both to understand that while Clark's arrival was a momentous occasion, his coming unleashed emotions that I've keep locked within me for a long time."

"While you are contacting your husband," Clark said, "I would like to take a peek at the holograms produced by Alicia's globe. Is that OK with you, Mrs. Gerstein?" Sara, finally able to smile, nodded affirmatively.

While Clark and Alicia descended into the Gerstein's hidden sub-basement to view the contents of Alicia's globe, Sara hurried off to telephone her husband.

As the two Kryptonians entered the Gerstein's subterranean chamber, they observed a globe, pulsing with an unearthly kind of light. As they approached, the globe, it began to hover stationing itself above Alicia's space pod.

When Clark reached for the floating orb, it lightly settled into his palm. As he examined the globe, Clark noticed that it felt cool to his touch and moved with an undulating rhythm. While Clark continued to study the globe, the light emanating from it increased in intensity and holographic images began to materialize. As Clark looked on in awe, the holograms coalesced into four human-like figures. The resulting pictorial forms had the likenesses of Jor-El, Lara, Zor-El and Kennra. When the holographic images had completely formed, the four images chronicled the saga of Krypton's demise. Included in the narration were the rationales behind Clark's and Alicia's conceptions and their exodus from Krypton just before their home world perished.

When the story of their beginnings and the intrigue leading to the extinction of Krypton were completed, the globe once again became inactive. As the globe became dormant, a spooky kind of stillness filled the chamber. Alicia then became aware that her newly discovered relative was quietly weeping. To comfort Clark, Alicia clasped her cousin and gave him a loving squeeze. Feeling her concern, Clark placed his head on her shoulder and continued to sob for a considerable period. When he at last regained control of his emotions, Clark kissed his kin on the cheek and sat down next to Alicia's space ark. As he regarded his blood relation, Clark mused, "I hope that during our lifetime, we can be as courageous and giving as our natural parents." Then he quietly just stared into space for a while.

When Alicia and Clark were about to leave the sub-chamber, he wondered if it would be possible for their parents to view the contents engendered by the Kryptonian globe. As soon as his thought ceased, an answer to his mental query reverberated through his head. It informed him that his notion was indeed possible.

"Who said that?" Clark said aloud.

After a slight pause, a message again pulsed through his mind as a mental voice answered, "Kal-El, you have been contacted by an artificial intelligence which Ailah-El, and now you, have chosen to call "the globe." My kind of intelligence uses telepathic transmissions — not verbal sounds — to disseminate information."

As the two young Kryptonian walked through the Gerstein home, they sensed another telepathic message flashing through their minds wishing them well — "as you both travel the highways of this world may a fair wind always be at your backs and good fortune be your lot."

Clark then asked, "If you can alter your transmission frequencies, as you indicated to us, please do as you indicated so Sara and Joshua Gerstein and my parents can view your holographic projections and hear your words."

"I am capable of implementing what you desire," the machine replied. "The transmission frequencies will be altered to accommodate the humans, as you've requested."

After regaining their composure, the two Kryptonians climbed the stairs and exited and sealed the hidden chamber.

As they walked toward the kitchen, Clark told Alicia that he had come to regard her more like a sister than a cousin. As Clark's words touched her, Alicia was deeply moved by what he said.

Turning toward Alicia, Clark saw her staring at him. Her facial expression seemed to light up the world as he and his spiritual sibling bonded into a unique family unit; a family that would endure for all time.

Later that day, Alicia told Clark that his sister remark was a beautiful gesture and his sentiment had literally bonded their souls and created something new that would always be special to them both.

As Clark and Alicia consider the future, the natural daughter of Kennra and Zor-El quietly blessed her new spiritual brother and the sublime partnership which had been created that day.

Reaching the kitchen, Clark poured some buttermilk for himself and his new sister. Then he commented, "You know, Alicia, I'm overwhelmed by the accomplishments of our Kryptonian parents. They were amazing people. What they achieved, I suspect, was borne out of love for their people and a desire to preserve Krypton's culture."

Clark then added, "I believe in time, my sister, we two will become the means of revitalizing the Kryptonian people and reestablishing their heritage."

"In their unselfish desire to preserve their culture and science," Alicia interjected, "I suspect that our birth parents provided us with the greatest gift they could bestow, or any living entity could give to their offspring — the gift of life."

As they continued to converse, Clark saw Alicia's father for the first time as he entered the kitchen. Clark arose and walked towards the elderly man and clasped his hands. Then they hugged one another. As they embraced, Clark said, "Dr. Gerstein," but was quickly interrupted by Alicia's father, who said, "Please, just call me Josh. My wife already informed me of the events that brought you into our lives."

Then the two men joined Alicia at the table where pie and a beverage were served. While they enjoyed their simple repast, Josh remarked, "Clark, Sara and I need to meet your folks post-haste."

Clark agreed and replied, "We'll arrange a meeting as soon as Alicia and I surprise "my" parents."

Sara added, "I hope that they don't react by attacking my daughter." They all laughed heartily, at Sara's remark.

"Nah," Clark replied, "My father will become speechless and mom will hug her to death."

As they continued to chat, Joshua asked Clark, "What are your plans for the future?"

He replied, "In the fall, I am matriculating at Yale University. My major areas of study will be physics, chemistry and mathematics and the like. Since I also have a great love for literature and creative writing, I will take as many courses in these academic disciplines as I can squeeze into my schedule. If my choices are limited, courses that stress journalism will probably be among my first preferences outside my major area of study."

As Clark was talking, Alicia started to giggle. Clark looked at her and asked, "What's so funny?"

His Kryptonian first cousin by blood and sister by their common wish said, "I'll also be attending Yale in the fall, and majoring in the same academic areas as you described. In addition, my Kansas cousin, I'll take courses which can link my love of science to my mathematical interests — like computer technology courses aimed at creating new research methodologies in the natural sciences."

After Alicia finished her surprise statement, Clark leaned over and gave Alicia a big hug. "Not only have I found my loving cousin, who is like a sister to me, but we share the same intellectual curiosity and interests." Then giving Alicia a serious look, Clark added, "Because of our common heritage, mutual affection and scholarly interests, I have this feeling that we two shall never be lost to one another again."

After Alicia's giggling stopped, Alicia's father asked Clark, "How are you financing your education?"

Clark responded, "I took a competitive examination and earned a full four-year scholarship to Yale. Room and board and other sundry expenses, however, were not part of the package. My expenditures in the nonacademic areas will be somewhat of a problem. Most of my family's capital is tied up into maintaining our property and the purchase and repair of farm equipment. With farm families, cash flow is irregular at best."

Hearing Clark's problem, Josh Gerstein remarked, "While our family's financial reserves are not exceptionally large, I do believe we have sufficient funds for my proposition." Looking directly at the young man from Kansas, Josh said, "Suppose that our two families rent a house in the New Haven area, one where Alicia and you can live while attending the university. Sara and I could provide the rent monies if your parents could furnish the foodstuffs. The cost to us," Josh continued, "would be about the same as if Alicia lived in a school-operated dormitory. By living in the same house," Dr. Gerstein added, "you two will have a measure of privacy and a much needed sanctuary. You'll find that it is essential at this time in your lives that your unique abilities remain hidden from the world."

Thinking over his house rental idea, Josh Gerstein again asserted, "I believe that my approach to your housing at Yale is sound. As I said, "My plan should ensue that your special abilities remain hidden and a non issue to the world at large."

"Furthermore," Josh added, "I don't want you to be concerned about Alicia's tuition; it has been waived. Academic reciprocity is a wonderful perk."

After some thought on the housing subject, Clark remarked, "I'm sure that my parents will be delighted with your proposition." However, Clark told the Gersteins, "Out of courtesy, You'll need to present your proposal to my folks and allow them to make up their minds about your housing plan."

"That's a given," Josh answered Clark.

When Joshua Gerstein and Clark Kent finally ended their tete-a-tete, the young man from Smallville looked around for his spiritual sister. Scanning the house he located her in her bedroom. She was pacing to and fro with a very pensive expression on her face.

Sensing Clark's presence, she telepathically told him, "We'll speak later. Right now," Alicia mentally said to him, "I need some space."

"A-okey little sister," Clark commented, as he severed the telepathic connection.

After having supper with the Alicia and her folks, Clark hugged Sara and clasped Josh's hand. This act of affection further served to deepen the growing bond between Clark and the Gersteins. Then, he and Alicia readied themselves for their trip to Clark's Smallville home.


At dusk, as Josh and Sara descended into the hidden chamber beneath their home to view the contents of the globe, Clark and Alicia ascended into the stratosphere and flew towards the western part of Kansas. The final quarter of their trip was at tree-top level to avoid detection by the radar network that blanketed the country.

Soon after dark, two figures alit near the Kent farm. They quietly moved toward the main house and slipped into the kitchen. There they saw Martha Kent sipping tea and reading the Smallville Post.

Sensing a presence, Martha looked up and saw her son, together with a lovely young woman, coming towards her.

Placing his hand on his companion's shoulder, Clark added, "I would like you to meet Alicia Gerstein of Colorado Springs, formally Ailah-El of the planet Krypton. She's family."

"That's nice," Martha replied, as she once again glanced at her newspaper while consuming more tea.

Several seconds elapsed before the significance of her son's remarks struck her. An aroused Martha Clark Kent quickly looked up and scrutinized her son and his lady friend. As Martha gazed at them, she gasped as she noted that Alicia Gerstein was levitating a few feet above the kitchen floor.

Martha then reacted like she was hit by a bolt of lightening and yelled for her husband. "Jonathan, come quick!" she cried out. Clark's mother then lost her composure and started to giggle.

Recognizing the concerned and compulsory nature of Martha's call, Jonathan rushed into the kitchen murmuring to himself, "What is it now…?" When he saw a young girl hovering above the floor adjacent to his son, he lost it and became dazed and speechless.

Alicia floated toward Clark's parents and settled to the floor in front of them. She gave Martha a meaningful hug and kissed her on the forehead. She then repeated her affectionate salutation to a somewhat stunned Jonathan Kent.

After Jonathan recovered and the Kents tenderly returned Alicia's greeting, Clark beckoned his parents and Alicia to sit down at the kitchen table.

When they were comfortable, Clark proceeded to explain how he and his spiritual sister met one another and what had transpired during the past few hours. He also informed Martha and Jonathan that the globe, sheltered in the alcove below the barn, should now be active, and would provide them with information about his and Alicia's origins.

As the elder Kents excitedly entered the hidden chamber under the barn, which contained Clark's Kryptonian artifacts, they saw their son's globe glowing and levitating several feet off the ground.

While the globe was informing the Kents about Clark's and Alicia's early history, the children from Krypton leisurely wandered around the farm. As they strolled, Alicia said, "Clark, how would you like to be a miner for a day or so?"

"More specifically," she added, "a super miner that gathered gold and other precious items?"

"What?" he replied, somewhat startled.

Before Clark could butt in, Alicia continued, "With our special abilities, we could procure enough gold and other precious items from the bowels of the Earth to take care of our financial needs and also sustain our parents for the remainder of their lives."

"That's a beautiful gesture," Clark finally answered, "but wouldn't it require procuring that stuff from territories claimed by other nations? I'd have a problem with that."

"Not necessarily," she said. "We could obtain the gold, gems, platinum, and other valuable articles either from the moon or the "ring of fire (a volcanic belt)," which encircles the Earth."

"In either case," Alicia argued, "the territory we would excavate would not belong to any individual or sovereign nation."

After Clark considered Alicia's mining scheme, he agreed to her proposition.

When Martha and Jonathan finished viewing Clark's globe, the Kents immediately contacted the Gersteins and invited them to visit their farm as soon as they were able. The Kents were hopeful that such a meeting could occur that weekend. After talking a bit, the Kents' wishes were fulfilled. A visit was arranged for the following Saturday. When the telephone conversation ended, Sara and Josh excitedly prepared for their trip of discovery.

The next phase in the saga of Alicia and Clark, the wayward waifs from Krypton, was about to begin.

As the Kent and Gerstein families were preparing for a historic meeting, their children were rocketing westward at tree-top level then descended to an altitude of fifty feet as they flew over an ocean that was Pacific in name. When they reached Hawaii, which intersects the ring of fire, they followed the lava-filled canyons and fissures to an isolated spot near the center of the great ocean. Then, Alicia and Clark plunged into the water and descended to the floor of the ocean. A large bin-like container was constructed at this point and awaited filling. From the ocean floor, two super beings bored into the Earth until they reached its mantle. Here they began gathering gold, rare minerals, and precious gems until they filled the bin on ocean floor.

The valuables collected by Clark and Alicia were first taken to the island of Palau. Here, the two Kryptonians shaped the gold into ingots and transported them, with the other valuable items dredged from the Earth's mantle, to Switzerland where they were marketed. The proceeds were then deposited into numbered Swiss bank accounts. When the sales were complete, the tally showed that the amount of gold sold had a market value of 1.64 billion dollars US. The gem stones and rare minerals fetched another 0.36 billion in US currency.

After the banking transactions were concluded, they streaked homeward knowing that the monies they acquired would protect their parents for the rest of their lives. Part of it would also be used to acquire scientific equipment for subterranean laboratories to be established beneath each of their parents' homes. In addition to research activities, the young Kryptonians envisioned their subterranean grottoes as places for inquiry and some serious contemplation. Of course, using their underground facilities for rest and relaxation were definitely not excluded from their plans.

After leaving Switzerland, the super pair flew directly to Colorado Springs, arriving at Alicia's home as the sun rose on Saturday — the date of the first Kent-Gerstein meeting. Following breakfast, Clark and Alicia transported the elder Gersteins to the Kent farm in Smallville.

As they were landing, Martha rushed out of the house and, after reaching Sara, embraced her. The men at first clasped hands, then hugged, slapping each other on the back.

Alicia, looking at Clark, saw the joy she felt in her heart also radiating from his eyes. The two children instinctively understood by their parents' simple acts of greeting that a new and larger family had been formed. The time of loneliness for both households had, at last, been altered to some degree.

After greeting one another, the entire group followed Jonathan into the farmhouse for a scrumptious breakfast. As they dined, Alicia told them about the mining and banking ventures that she and Clark had successfully completed.

When Alicia finished her tale, she asked Martha, "Do you know a banker in the Smallville community who can be trusted?"

"Sure," she replied, "Bob Wayne. We grew up together. He's now the president of the local bank."

Finding Alicia's request intriguing, Martha asked, "Why in tarnation would you need a banker?"

"Not me or Clark specifically," Alicia replied. "What Clark and I have in mind will be beneficial and useful to all of us." Before Martha could ask another question, Alicia asked, "Can you arrange for Mr. Wayne to visit the farm within the week?"

"I believe so," Martha replied, with curiosity written all over her face.


Several days later, Bob Wayne visited the Kent homestead. After a delicious lunch, with the Kent and Gerstein families, Clark began to talk. His comments were not to enlighten the newly formed Kent-Gerstein clan, but to convince the president of the Smallville bank to undertake a rather delicate financial matter.

Clark said to Bob Wayne, "We, sweeping his arm cross the Kent and Gerstein families, wish to create three special bank accounts, each of which will contain a sizeable amount of money. These accounts must be private, very private. No one, nor any government agency, must be aware of their existence. The monies to be deposited will come from a banking institution located in Switzerland. To allay your fears about the funds, let me assure you they were obtained by honorable and legitimate means. You know the Kent family well enough to appreciate that our word is our bond."

"Furthermore," Clark added, "my family and I will staunchly vouch for the integrity of the Gerstein family."

Bob smiled and said, "How much money would be involved, and what kind of accounts were you considering?"

Clark smiled and continued, "Initially, fifty-four million dollars, US, to be equally divided among three checking accounts. The names on these accounts will read Martha and Jonathan Kent, Sara and Joshua Gerstein, and Kal and Ailah Ellis."

As Clark finished, Bob looked puzzled and said, "Who are the Ellis'?"

Alicia grinned and chimed in, "Clark and myself. As the names suggest, we wish to remain anonymous."

Alicia then added, "In addition to the original deposits, about ten million dollars will be added to the Ellis account each quarter of the banking cycle. These quarterly deposits will occur indefinitely."

Clark remarked, "You know, of course, Mr. Wayne, money is just a bartering tool for us. If it's not benefiting people, money is really a useless commodity." Bob nodded accepting Clark's views as a maximum.

Collecting his thoughts, Clark then informed Bob Wayne, "You can use the monies in the Ellis' account to increase your profit margin at no cost to the bank. However, with these monies, you will be obligated to help people secure desperately needed loans, 'at no interest' to the borrower. The Ellis' account will provide the funds for such transactions. No mention of the monies' source must ever be revealed. Repayment of such loans will have no time limit.

"As I indicated previously, if repayment of a loan can not be made for legitimate reasons, the Ellis' account will absorb the loss. No questions, which could embarrass the borrower, must ever be asked. People have dignity and should not be coerced into discussing their forfeiture and never prosecuted for their inability to repay the loan. Is that clear?" Bob Wayne nodded in agreement with Clark's views.

"We understand," Alicia chimed in, "that what Clark and I have proposed is not smart banking, but it is good people business."

Bob Wayne looked at Martha and quietly said, "I was always aware that you had a kind and caring heart, but to encounter five others with the same good-heartedness and generosity was something I never thought to behold during my lifetime. I will be more than happy to help you and your family in these matters."

The Kent-Gerstein clan rejoiced when Bob Wayne agreed to manage the Kent-Gerstein banking arrangements. Then Bob made a toast as they celebrated an agreement between caring people. "To all caring people," Bob said, "may goodness be with them all the days of their lives."

Turning to Bob Wayne, Alicia hugged him, as a seal to their accord. No legal papers were ever signed and none would ever be needed.

When Bob Wayne departed, Clark said, "I still feel a little uncomfortable about this situation."

"Why are you upset?" Sara asked.

"Lying," Clark commented. "I've always been uncomfortable when I had to resort to such tactics. Afterwards I'm sorta depressed."

Alicia chided, "Lying. We certainly were not untruthful. Maybe we could admit to bending the facts somewhat, but outright prevaricating, never."

"Either way," Clark said, as he chortled at Alicia's comment, "the entire truth was not revealed to Bob Wayne. He's a good man who may have exposed himself to some risk by agreeing to our requests."

Alicia retorted, "There is no danger to Bob. What we are doing is legal. Revenues due the local, the State and the Federal Governments have been paid and will continue to be paid from the Ellis' account."

Clark sighed and said, "okay, okay, we'll go with it." From his facial expressions, it was obvious that Clark was still uncomfortable about the events that had just transpired. Alicia, sensing his mood, said to her brother, "There is an important Biblical comment or non statement, as you will, that may help alleviate some of your anxiety."

Clark raised his head and stared at Alicia with a questioning expression and said, "So tell me already." Alicia smiled and commented, "You should be aware that there is no specific reference to lying in the Ten Commandments. The reason for its omission probably has a definite bearing on our current situation. Let me begin by simply stating the obvious. No individual likes to be duped by the distortion, twisting, or the elimination of facts. However," she continued, "there are times when telling the entire truth can be counter-productive.

"For example," Alicia continued, "suppose you discover that a good friend will die say within three months. According to your views, Clark, you'd tell that friend the truth about his coming demise. Am I correct, Kal-El?" using his Kryptonian name for emphasis. He nodded, agreeing with Alicia's inferences.

Pausing for a few seconds, Clark's kin commented, "By telling your friend about his or her condition, don't you think you'd deprive that person of three months of contented living. Because of your disclosure, that individual may become depressed, fearful, and may sulk for the remainder of their life. You 'cous' would have been truthful, but at what expense? In my view," Alicia added, "Clark Jerome Kent could be considered a thief. In my mind, you would have become a highwayman, so to speak, who has taken the joy of living from a person who would soon pass beyond our ken. An individual who could not be helped, may now be isolated from his friends by sorrow and perhaps fear due to the information he/she was told about his coming death. Do you understand, now, why a statement, concerning lying, was never included in the document from Sinai?"

"Clark," Alicia further asserted," if you told Bob Wayne the entire unadulterated truth, our Kryptonian ancestry would probably have to be revealed. That would have placed him at risk and increase our own vulnerability. Oh, my noble brother," she teased, "when it comes to truth, you need a pragmatic person like me to filter the information — what details should be revealed and those that should remain unstated, especially when complete truthfulness may cause tragic consequences."

Alicia then grinned and said, as she dashed from the room, "I'll take that job until you find a capable life-mate, who will relieve me of that responsibility." Clark grabbed a glass of iced tea and scampered after her.

A few moments later, the family heard Alicia scream, "Clark, "I'm all wet. Maybe," she murmured, "I should have remained an island unto myself." Then she giggled.


During the following months, the Gersteins and Kents visited each other on weekends, alternating between Smallville and Colorado Springs; the method of transportation between these sites was, of course, by Kryptonian express. As the harvest conditions intensified, these meetings shifted more often to the Kents' homestead.

With the summer hiatus approaching, the Gersteins were making preparations to spend most of their down time with the Kents on their Kansas farm.

Josh was anticipating helping Jonathan with some of his chores and getting to know him better, while Sara and Martha looked forward to helping the socially disenfranchised people living in and around Smallville.

The farm setting would also give the Gersteins a tranquil spot to work on their research papers and prepare teaching materials for the coming academic year.

That summer, as their parents were bonding into an exceptionally strong family unit, Clark and Alicia visited many interesting places around the world — Paris one day, Tokyo the next. Because of their flying capabilities, Clark's and Alicia's geological knowledge of Earth and its cultural diversities increased like the speed of an hypersonic aircraft with its afterburners at maximum.

On a Sunday near the end of August, the Kents received a telephone call from their friend Bill Thompson, the sheriff of Smallville. Jonathan was informed that military-type individuals had been seen prowling around near his farm.

The phone call galvanized the Kents and Gersteins into action. They immediately implemented a plan which had been conceived months earlier.

Clark gathered his space vehicle and his other Kryptonian paraphernalia and rocketed into space. Alicia flew to Colorado, extricated her spaceship and globe and rendezvoused with Clark twenty-two thousand miles above the Earth. There, they parked their Kryptonian artifacts in a geosynchronous orbit above the Earth's equator, a spacial position that was somewhat south of the Kent farm.

About twenty minutes after Alicia and Clark returned from stashing their Kryptonian accouterments in their celestial hideaway, a small convoy of RV-vehicles arrived at the Kent farm.

Several minutes later a man came from the mechanized caravan and approached the Kent-Gerstein family and introduced himself as Jason Trask. From his mannerisms, they knew he was a military bigwig. His eyes also told them that here was a man on a mission and whose mental stability could easily be called into question.

As Trask stood before them, Jonathan politely offered him a seat and some lemonade which, of course, he declined.

After the cordiality of the moment had passed, Trask asked Jonathan in a more gruff tone, which of the individuals here are the farmers who ran this homestead. Jonathan motioned to himself, and then pointed to his wife and son. Jason then turned his attention to the Gersteins and asked in a somewhat more a combative voice, he sought to conceal, "And what, pray tell, do you two do for a living?"

"Who wants to know?" Sara sarcastically replied, with a smile that did not quite extend to her eyes.

Taken aback by Sara's somewhat truculent reply, he tried a different tact. With a more charming approach and in a gentler tone said, "Just curious ma'am." However, Trask's crocodilian smirk during the tete-a-tete with Sara, clearly belied his peaceful intent.

Waiting for an answer, Trask tried to make small talk with the Kents and Gersteins in a gesture of false friendliness. As their strained conversation continued, Clark's and Alicia's families slowly became aware of the cold and venomous temperament Jason Trask possessed. The man's threatening attitude could almost be sensed through his piercing snakelike eyes.

Within a few minuted of Trask's arrival, it became obvious that his mental state was becoming somewhat unhinged. The conversation between the Kents, Gersteins and Jason was forcing the sub rosa military leader into an uncomfortable emotional corner. To defuse the coming clash with this mental case, Josh, in a nonchalant manner, chimed in and remarked, "You know Mr. Trask, my wife and I are professors at the Air Force Academy. We instruct the cadets in math and science and also conduct research in these disciplines for Uncle Sam."

As soon as Trask heard that the Gersteins had military connections, his body seemed to relax. Jason then turned to a confederate and mumbled, "Check them out." A picture was surreptitiously taken of the Gersteins and sent over a special internet line to a secret location. Within minutes, Trask had received a positive verification to his query. Now thinking he was amongst friends, he said, "I know you must be very curious about my operation." Without waiting for a reply, he remarked, "I am one of the field directors of Bureau 39."

From the surprised look on Sara's face, Trask said, "You are aware of us?"

"Yeah," she replied. "From my limited information," she said to Trask, "you are alien hunters. Is that right?" Trask nodded his head confirming her question."

"What are you doing here?" Sara subtly inquired.

"Look at these photographs taken by our RADAR facility," he replied to her query. Sara thought, as she looked at his pictures, that his reply sounded more like a command than a request.

As Josh and Sara studied the pictures, they both realized that Alicia's and Clark's flight patterns had been recorded and traced to the Smallville vicinity. The technicians operating the RADAR system had obviously sent these photos to Bureau 39.

"It must be a relatively new microwave instrument," Josh comment. Its coverage apparently extended below the tree- top level — nearly to the Earth's surface.

To disarm Trask and his followers, Alicia's father casually asked for a metric ruler. Then using the coordinates on the photos with the metric straight edge, he deduced that the objects detected by the new RADAR were traveling about forty-five hundred meters per second (about ten thousand miles per hour) when they were recorded. After he handed his computations to his wife for verification, he informed Trask of his computations and also indicated that the trajectory of the objects were not natural. Josh further informed Trask that it looked like the RADAR had picked-up some sort of UFOs.

After Josh and Sara provided Trask with their analysis, one might think that the Bureau 39 commander had found a couple of long-lost relatives. So thorough and subtle was the Gersteins' ruse that Trask's attitude toward them and the Kents suddenly changed from a suspicious stance to a buddy, buddy attitude.

As Trask was talking, a cohort rushed to him carrying a rock that produced a strange green glow. Martha very quickly noticed that Clark and Alicia were acting as if they were in severe pain and nearing the point of collapse. After Trask had examined the strange rock, he pointed to the RV. The man carrying the glowing rock then hurried back to Trask's vehicle. As the underling left the area, Alicia and Clark quickly recovered their composure.

Just as Jason was about to continue his conversation with the Kent-Gerstein clan, a car came roaring into the area, stopping abruptly next to Trask. A man leaped from the car and ran to him, yelling, "The sheriff and a flock of deputies are on their way here."

Trask then introduced George Thompson to the Kents and Gersteins, saying, "These people are friends. They're our kind of people."

Nodding his adieu, Trask muttered, "It's most imperative that I leave. Take care of yourselves."

Before Jason could say anything new, Josh Gerstein, to further ingratiate himself with Trask, asserted, "Don't worry, if we're interrogated, you can rest assured that this meeting never occurred. In fact, as far as we're concerned you were never here."

Trask smiled and nodded as he rushed back to the convoy, which was already beginning to depart. Giving a final wave at the Kent and Gerstein families, Trask leaped into his RV and was off.

As the men of Bureau 39 disappeared down the road, Jonathan turned to George and asked, "What if Trask is stopped by the local authorities?"

Thompson replied, "Jason is a clever fellow. He has papers which state that he and his men are part of a geological survey team looking over this region."

As George walked toward his own vehicle, Martha heard Josh Gerstein mutter to himself, "Cleverness was nearly serviceable for everything, but sufficient for nothing."

Martha looked into Josh's eyes and smiled. She was taken by the philosophical candor quietly articulated by the scientist.

After George Thompson had taken his leave, and was out of earshot, Martha became very animated. She jumped up and shouted at her family, "We must do something about that glowing rock. I'm terrified. Our children's lives may be in jeopardy."

Adding to Martha's thoughts, Clark said, "I overheard Trask's men say that they located that glowing mineral in the Rocky Cove area."

At the mention of that name, Jonathan and Martha gasped. "What's so special about Rocky Cove?" Sara asked.

Martha replied, "That's where Clark's spacecraft landed."

"Tomorrow," Sara declared, "we'll start scouring Rocky Cove and its environs. That glowing green rock must be located and destroyed."


At sunrise on the following day, the Kent and Gerstein families started to scour the Rocky Cove area for the glowing rock they knew debilitated Kryptonians and maybe

Their search procedure was relatively simple. First, Alicia and Clark, using their penetrating vision, located the green mineral. Then their parents unearthed the rock and placed it in a lead container. Josh and Sara had to assure Martha and Jonathan again and again during their quest that a covering of lead would prevent the green rock's radiation from harming their kids.

Four days after their search commenced, the Kent and Gerstein families had covered some fifty square miles using the Rocky Cove area as the epicenter of their quest. At the end of this period, Josh calculated that essentially all of the rock from hell had been found.

Clark and Alicia then carried the dreaded green mineral, in a lead container, into space and propelled it into the sun where it would be obliterated.

Only the rock still in the possession of Bureau 39 had not been atomized in the sun's nuclear furnace. In the future, that small piece of glowing green rock, which would become know as Kryptonite, would cause Alicia and Clark some difficulty from time to time.

After the green rock episode was resolved, the Kent- Gerstein clan had a serious discussion concerning the new RADAR system blanketing the country.

Josh and Sara thought that they might have a solution to this particular quagmire. The Gersteins told the Kents about a contract they had received from the air force some years back. The project was concerned with stealth materials. One type, which had been rejected by the military as being too costly, was a fiber-like substance which could be made into a cloth like material. It could be dyed and, most importantly could almost totally refract microwaves used by the US defense systems. Josh, therefore, believed that any object encased in his stealthy material would be nearly invisible to any RADAR installations.

To further explore this possibility, Alicia flew to her Colorado home, staying very close to the ground, and gathered some of the stealth material. When she returned to the Kent farm, the testing of Josh's and Sara's idea commenced almost immediately.

Initially, Martha and Sara designed and fabricated two costumes from the experimental material. These spandex-like stealth suits were multi-colored. The Kryptonian "S" was emblazoned on the chest area and placed on the cape portion of the uniform.

After looking at the two Kryptonians in their special suits, two additional items were added to Alicia's costume. A mask encrusted with blue contacts and a dark colored wig were created to conceal her distinctive green eyes and flaming red hair. These distinctive parts of her anatomy could be revealing markers and place her in jeopardy. Clark, on the other hand, had the more common dark eyes and black hair combination and, therefore, would not require any additional accoutrements to conceal his true identity.

When both costumes were completed, Clark and Alicia tested their special raiment by flying their Kryptonian artifacts to an ice cave high in the Himalayan mountains — a cave which also contained and sheltered the library module.

As the last survivors of Krypton were returning to the Kent farm, Alicia said to Clark, "You know, my brother, our birth parents were certainly people to be greatly admired." Taking a breath, Alicia added, "Because of their accomplishments, they were able to bequeath us life. They may not be part of our physical family, but they, till times end, shall always be part of our souls." With tears issuing from his eyes, Clark simply nodded as he and Alicia continued to rocket toward the sunrise and a new day.

Scanning the newspaper that evening and for the next several days, they found no mention of strange objects flying through the sky anywhere in the world. Sara's and Josh's stealth fabric had worked to perfection.



A week before freshman orientation for incoming students, the Kent-Gerstein clan arrived in New Haven. The trip had taken nearly six days by conventional means from Smallville, Kansas to Connecticut. Soon after their arrival, Clark and Alicia purchased a rather large house in the suburbs and two used cars. Monies from the Ellis' account took care of these commodities. While Clark and Alicia were acclimating themselves to campus life, their parents tackled the house.

Each parent applied their talents to the renovation project. Jonathan and Joshua created various sets of blueprints to show their kids how to physically modify the existing structure. Martha and Sara addressed the task of decorating and furnishing the house after the structural renovations were completed. When both projects were completed, the house would become a home.

Within a few days of purchasing their New Haven residence, the Kryptonian kin, following their fathers' designs, gutted the house and constructed six small apartments complete with bath facilities and kitchens. A common living area, with a fire place, basic bathroom and dining facilities were also added to the main floor of the refurbished house. These accommodations would be used for parental visits and for classmates or friends that stayed the night. More importantly, their home would provide Clark and Alicia a relatively isolated environment, one that would help them conceal their unique abilities from the world at large.

When the house had been refurbished to everyone's satisfaction, the Kents and the Gersteins bid their children an affectionate au revoir and departed for plains of Kansas.

During the following week, Clark and Alicia slowly explored Yale's campus and its outskirts. On one of their treks, they decided to stop at the student union for their mid-day repast. Sitting at an adjacent table was a young man who looked to be in his early to mid twenties. He stood about six feet two inches, nearly the same height as Clark, and had blond hair tinged with reddish highlights. His eyes were nearly the same green color as Alicia's. From his aura, Alicia and Clark sensed that he was an affectionate individual. Their Kryptonian senses also revealed that this man possessed a compassionate and an altruistic soul. As they continued to watch the young man, they noted that his lunch was interesting to say the least. It consisted of two pieces of toast with jelly, and a cup of tea. Hardly enough, Alicia thought, to sustain such a rugged looking guy for very long.

As Clark and Alicia continued to observe the young man, another person, also in his early twenties, joined the green-eyed one. With their enhanced hearing, Alicia and Clark, unknown to the two young men, were privy to their conversation.

"Captain," the new comer said, "is that your entire meal?"

"Yeah," he responded. "Seth," the man with the jelly sandwich lunch said, "How many times do I have to tell you my name is David, not Captain."

"Military protocol is difficult to ignore or forget," the one called Seth replied.

David smiled, placed his hand on Seth's shoulder and whispered, "I know, but please use my name and not my former rank. It's embarrassing to me."

"You got it," Seth assured him. Then, looking at his friend's luncheon cuisine, he said with serious frivolity, "Are you on a diet?"

Seth then laughed a little at his own statement, knowing full well that the food David was ingesting meant that his army buddy was in some financial difficulty.

"Where is your mustering-out pay?" Seth then queried his friend.

"Gone," David replied.

"I used that money to pay for my aunt's operation."

"Oh. How is she?" Seth inquired.

"She didn't make it," David responded, as he wiped a few tears from his eyes.

"I'm sorry," Seth said.

"Thanks," David replied.

"So," Seth said, eyeing David's meager meal, "as I see it, you've essentially no money until our G.I. Bill funds become available at the beginning of the semester."

"Correct-a-mundo," David acknowledged.

"But that's in three days," Seth said somewhat shocked.

Before David could comment," Seth said to his old comrade, "Why don't you stay with me until school begins?"

"I can't pay you," David said.

"Just leave me two cents in your will for services rendered," Seth remarked, with a jovial smiled. "Do you know how many times you saved my life and the lives of the other guys in our outfit? How much is that worth?"

"I never counted," David said. "You don't ask what's the cost when your brother's life is on the line. If you are able to help save a person you just do it. That obligation comes from my tradition and the oath I affirmed when I was given my command."

Becoming pensive for a moment, Seth added, "Talking of combat, I always marveled at your ability to detect the enemy. It was kinda canny, you seem to be able to smell, hear, or see them even on the blackest nights. Did you ever figure out how you accomplished those stunts?"

"No," David murmurred, his voice a hushed whisper as he contemplated Seth's question.

"You know," David remarked, "Your comments have roused some vague memories from my childhood. "I sort of recall my great-grandmother, grandma Jenni, telling me just before she passed away that she and I shared a special bond. In fact, some years later, my uncle Mike told me that Jenni and I possessed very similar temperaments and physical characteristics. My Uncle also said that he sensed that our patterns of thought were nearly identical and I matched her zest for life."

Smiling, David added, "Except for my hair color, grand ma- ma and I always seemed to be in sync.

What color was your grand mother's hair," Seth ask his friend.

My grand ma-ma had a gorgeous crown of flaming red hair, even in her old age."

"You know," Seth, "she and my great-grandfather both lived more than one hundred years. They say when my great- grandfather passed away, she continued to sit by his bed, quietly weeping, and by the end of that day, she had joined him in death.

After their funerals, I happened to hear my parents and grandparents speaking about them. They sort of hinted that my great grand parents were linked by some kind of aura. Both my parents and grandparents believed that my great- grandmother Jennifer and her husband were soulmates. As I listened to their discussion, they also alluded to several mystical or spiritual concepts which had consummated their union. My relatives seemed to indicate that soulmates could not continue to survive in this plane of existence without their counterpart."

"Do you believe in that metaphysical mumbo-jumbo?" Seth inquired.

"I don't know," David replied. "But think of the possibilities, Seth.

"Wouldn't it be wonderful to love and be loved with such a depth of feeling that life partners could not bear to exist without one another? The sharing and caring between two such people would be far beyond what the bards could ever say in their poetic love songs and ballads."

Pausing for a moment, David added, "If only a portion of what my relations told me was true, what a life my great grandparents must have shared."

As his eyes became glazed, Seth heard his friend murmured, "A love that extends beyond forever. A soulmate that means more to you than life itself. Such things would fill my being with contentment, all of my days."

"Ah," Seth stated with some mirth in his voice, "so you are looking for a love beyond measure."

David looked at his buddy and said quietly, "Yep. I'm searching for that kind of a will-of-the-wisp." Then, turning, very serious he added, "And my search for such a life partner and soulmate will not end until I'm gathered to my fathers."

"For a scientist, David," Seth chided, "you are an incurable romantic. Maybe you should study natural philosophy instead of physics and mathematics."

"You know," Seth remarked furthered, "if I was not aware of your true nature, your comments would suggest that you were a rather timid guy, with no belligerent tendencies."

As Seth finished his teasing, both he and David started to laugh, almost hysterically.

When both men had regained a part of their composure, Seth asked, as he was about to leave the cafeteria, "David, my brother, will I see you tonight?"

"Yeah, if you don't hear from me to the contrary," David said. He then quickly added, "If everything is still A-okay that is."

As Seth was about to walk toward the student union exit, he suddenly recalled an item he'd read on some bulletin board. Turning, he nearly yelled, "Hey, David, I forgot to tell you that some guy in the science department is hosting a barbecue. It's for those students who will be part of that new accelerated science program. That means you, my friend. Now you can get some decent vittles, at least for today."

"Thanks for telling me," David answered. "Who's the benefactor of this timely feast?" he inquired of his army buddy.

Seth scratched his head and then said, "I believe his name is Azai L. Danzig."

As Seth spoke Danzig's name, the smile on David's face was suddenly replaced by a stark expression. A look, Seth recalled, which David would get just before a battle was to be joined.

"What's the matter?" Seth inquired of his buddy.

David placed his hand on Seth's shoulder and said, "When I first encountered Azai, for some inexplicable reason my senses perceived a man who was the personification of evil. Azai may radiate charm and friendliness, but I believe those manifestations are a lure to snare unsuspecting people and pull them eventually to their doom."

Pausing for a moment, David continued, "I know what I'm saying appears to be irrational, but that's the feeling that my psyche engenders."

Seth remarked, "If I was not aware of your unusual abilities, I would probably ignore your warning and believe you're a taco short of a combo."

"Azai, like Lucifer," David remarked to Seth, "possesses a blinding radiance that hides the rot and corruption that lurks below the surface of his essence. Seth, please seriously heed my warning about Azai."

"Okay, okay, I will," Seth promised. Then Seth reminded him, "I'll see you tonight," as he headed once more toward the student union's exit.

"That son-of-a-gun…" David smiled at a retreating friend. "He left me his sandwich after all."

As he began to enjoy his friend's thoughtful gift, David became aware that two people at an adjoining table, were quietly looking him over. When he raised his head and looked at them, the youthful pair began to smile. After several moments of staring at one another, the male member of the two arose and approached him.

"My name's Clark Kent," the stranger said as he drew near. I was wondering if my cousin and I can join you? Her name is Alicia."

After David scrutinized the pair, he commented, "By all means, please sit down, I'd enjoy some company."

While Alicia and Clark seated themselves, David sensed an aura which surrounded the two newcomers. He instinctively knew, without understanding why, that these individuals were somehow related.

Although David could not logically rationalize his feelings, he knew that Clark and the young lady with him were somehow destined to become close friends, and maybe something more.

When Clark and Alicia were seated, Clark said, "We would first like to apologize for eavesdropping on your conversation. When we heard that you were enrolled in the new special science program, our curiosity was piqued. We, too, are going to be part of that academic adventure."

David grinned and said, "What particular type of courses are you planning to emphasize in your studies?"

Clark replied, "I have an abstract bent. Therefore, I'll probably lean towards theoretical subjects. Physics and mathematics will most likely be the centerpiece of my academic program."

Alicia then added, "Although my interests parallel Clark's, my course arrangements will probably be split between the theoretical and the experimental areas. While my spiritual brother here will most likely delve heavily into physics and chemistry, I will add more mathematics and less science courses to my studies. Whenever possible, I'll include computer science subjects into my academic curriculum."

"What career path have you planned for yourself, David?" Clark asked.

"Like you and Alicia, physics and mathematics coupled with computer subjects will be the core of my studies," he briefly replied to Clark's query.

Realizing that David seemed quite compatible with Clark and herself, Alicia quietly inquired, "Would you like to form a study group with us when classes begin?" Seeing an anxious look in David's eyes, Alicia rapidly added, "I understand your uneasiness since you don't know us very well. Please consider the fact that you, too, are also a relatively unknown quantity to Clark and myself. Placing her hand on David's arm she remarked, "I have this innate feeling that you are our kind of people and we would like to know you better."

"I'd like that," David quietly informed Alicia. "I initially felt the same concerns about you and your Clark. However, I must tell you that within the past few minutes I've felt good about meeting both of you and do appreciate your invitation and accept your tentative offer with heartfelt thanks."

Then, smiling at his new friends, David remarked, "You know the old saying, 'Nothing ventured nothing gained.' So let's take a chance on each other. I'll bet we both will come out winners.

Then David said, "I have this strange feeling that we three are about to embark on a life-long adventure together. Why I feel this way," the ex-military said, "is a mystery to me. But, that sentiment persists."

"What about your friend Seth?" Clark inquired.

"Seth is majoring in business, so his academic bill of fare will differ markedly from our own," David told Alicia and Clark.

"Don't get the wrong impression of Seth, he's a good man," David added. "I intent we should maintain our contacts with him." Alicia then looked at Clark and then toward David. No words were spoken, but somehow a decision had been made to include Seth in their little group.

Gazing at Alicia, David asked, "Are you Clark's cousin or sister?"

"You picked that up, did you. I'm really his cousin. We use brother/sister interchangeably as a sign of endearment and our extremely close association."

David said, "I wish I had some one as close as you two seem to be. Only my friend Seth and I have a similar bond; a connection that was forged in the midst of a life and death struggle against a marauding horde of bandits from hell." Davis's modesty prevented him from telling Clark and Alicia about the battle of which he hinted. A conflict that in reality was waged between the forces of light and those of darkness for the lives of a village overflowing with defenseless people. Because of his leadership, the forces of light had been triumphant this time. The village that he and Seth, with a small band of military zealots, had defended, was saved by their heroic action. Because of David and Seth, with the support of their unit, numerous people escaped a horrible fate.

Seeing that David was uncomfortable about his military past, Clark changed the subject back to their school activities. Then the threesome began to chat freely about Yale and their future aspirations

As their conversations continued, Alicia asked David, "Could you tell me something of your family and your life prior to arriving at this academic temple? From your talk with Seth, you both seemed to have had rich and varied experiences."

"So, you want the story of my life," David smiled and simply said, "Fine. However," he added, "I would also like to know about your past doings."

Clark and Alicia both smiled and nodded, agreeing with David's request.

Taking a breath, David began, "I was born about twenty-two years ago to a couple who were dedicated to educating people which subsisted at or near the poverty level. As you can already tell from my comments, my parents had a great love for, and desire to help, people. To them, only individuals mattered. They constantly emphasized the notion that physical things would be here long after we were less than a memory and that more care should be given to the needs of our brothers and sisters. Especially those whose lives were being crushed by the demands of society.

"Unfortunately, when I was about seven, my father was shot and killed in his classroom by a deranged student. In the act of murdering my father, the crazed individual also slaughtered and injured seventeen other youngsters. When this horrible incident occurred, my mother seemed to immediately sense that her husband had been mortally wounded. I was home when this tragedy unfolded and I watched as a look of horror enveloped her face. She told me immediately, in a no nonsense tone, 'Go to your aunt's home and remain there!' As I was leaving our house, she whispered, 'Remember us always. Your father and I have loved you unconditionally and would have gladly forfeited our lives for yours!' Her voice then trailed off and she started to cry. That was the last time I saw her alive. She passed on an hour after I left the house."

At that point David became somewhat emotional. He placed his head on the table and began to quietly sob. Telling his tale seemed to have acted as a catharsis and released emotions that had been penned up for many years.

As David shuttered and cried, Alicia placed her hands on his shoulders and massaged them. She somehow knew that physical contact with this man would help soothe his anguish.

Once David gained some control over his emotional state, he smiled at Alicia. Then, taking her by the hand, he murmured, "Thank you" in a voice filled with sincerely and something else she couldn't at the time put her finger on.

Once David's emotional condition stabilized to be rational, he said, "Come to think of it, my grandparents, great- grandparents, great-great grandparents also left this plane of existence in the same manner as my folks."

David staring into space said, "I just realized that both life partners passing on together seems to be a common occurrence in my family line."

"A little scary," Alicia chimed in.

Smiling at Alicia, David remarked, "I wonder if the answer to my families' peculiar death patterns are explained in the document my aunt gave me shortly before she passed on."

David then removed a folder from his backpack, which contained a manuscript written in a strange language. He then said to his new friends, "No-one seems to be able to translate these writings. I think this document, if it can be translated, will unravel the mystery of my heritage and will provide the key to my puzzling abilities."

After a brief interlude of silence, Clark asked him, "How old were your great-grandparents when they passed on?"

David started to scratch his head and murmured, "I was about seven when they slipped from this world." In a more natural voice, David said, "That would make them more than a hundred and ten years of age." Pausing for a second, David added, "Something occurred on the day of my great great-grandparents' passing, a fact that I never shared with another living soul. To anyone but me, what I'm going to tell you would probably be construed as a supernatural event.

"When I entered the room where my great-grandfather was confined to bed, I saw my great-great grandmother sitting beside him with her hands clasped in his. They just stared at each other, not speaking, but I somehow knew that they were communicating. What I saw was a love so great that it literally blazed in their eyes making me feel like an intruder in a holy sanctuary. After my great-grandfather slowly passed from this life, his wife of nearly ninety years remained steadfast by his side. Within an hour of his passing, my great-great grandmother joined him in that timeless realm where it is said that all souls abide."

"I know it's a spooky story," David told his new friends, "but I was there and watched it happen."

He then added, "My family history seems to be spotted with unusual events. You should be aware that if everything occurs like it has in the past, you should expect me to exhibit strange behavior from time to time." Then David asked Clark and Alicia, "Are you two sure that you want to be associated with someone like me?"

Laughing, Alicia said in a reassuring voice, "It will be our pleasure to count you as a friend; maybe even a close friend. We'll be interested to see some of those unusual events you've hinted at."

David then rose, clasped Clark's hand, kissed Alicia on the cheek and started to move off. However, just before David left, Clark asked him to leave his great-great grandmother's document with them so it could be photocopied.

After David handed Clark the parchment, Alicia invited him to stay at their home until the school's dormitories became available for occupancy. David was only too happy to accept Alicia's invitation. With hardly any funds, he literally had no place to stay. While saying nothing, Clark nodded to Alicia indicating to her that he heartily approved of his sister's kind gesture. She had not acted out of character.

As he walked off, David thought, "I'll have to tell Seth of my new plans."

After David left, Alicia said to Clark, "The texture of his document is very unusual." "Yes it is," Clark agreed. "I used my x-ray vision to examine its composition, and I also attempted to sever a small piece from the main section for analysis. In both instances, I was unsuccessful."

Alicia chuckled and said, "I have a strange feeling that the fabric of David's document, and the language of its message, are not products of this planet."

Clark again nodded in agreement with her thoughts.

Taking Alicia by the hand, Clark said smiling, "Our first extra-terrestrial research assignment."

Then out of the blue, Alicia coyly asked her kin, "What do you think of David?"

Clark grinned and said, "During our conversation, I recognized that several subtle patterns of behavior started to take shape, all of which, I might add, made me extremely happy. First, my dear sister, I sensed that you were strongly attracted to David and he to you. Secondly, our three auras melded and we have been linked. Furthermore, sis, I feel that the auraic linkage between you and Mr. Finderman is the beginning of an amorous bond."

"Clark," she added, "I'll only be seventeen in two months; isn't that kind of young for me to contemplate a life partner?"

"Life partner," Clark replied somewhat startled by Alicia's statement.

"Yeah," Alicia rejoined. "That's what I've been contemplating since I've met David."

"Well," Clark said, "according the globe's information, the marriage time frame for Kryptonians who reached their sixteenth birthday appears to be nonexistent.

"Consider this situation carefully my sister. Remember that the artificial intelligence module informed us that Kryptonians mate for life. If David is to be your life partner, your mate, you two will have plenty of time and nearly ideal conditions to cultivate an intimate relationship."

"In any case," Clark continued, "all of our tentative information indicates that we have discovered the descendant of a Kryptonian woman and her Terran consort. It appears that she arrived on this planet and married an Earth man more than a century ago."

Alicia agreed with Clark's inferences.

As Alicia pondered her new amorous feelings, Clark had already concluded that David was the right person for his cousin and would, in time, become Alicia's future soulmate and husband. Because of this budding romance, Clark was anxious to learn more about their new acquaintance, especially about his origins.

Soon after David departed, Clark and Alicia left the student Union. As they walked across Yale's campus, Clark began to chortle. "What's so funny cousin?" Alicia asked. Clark said to her, "David may not have realized it yet, but he has just acquired a new family." As Clark ended his comments, brother and sister quietly smiled to themselves.


The next day, David arrived at Clark's and Alicia's home. When he walked into the house, all he could say was "Wow!"

Alicia hastened to say, "Our family helped us purchase and renovate it. When we finish our undergraduate schooling, we'll sell this place and move on. For now, it will serve as a home away from home, afford us sanctuary, and function as a place of study. Also, it will provide our friends lodging for overnight stays and living accommodations for those who need to stay for longer periods."

"I really appreciate your hospitality," David remarked as he removed his backpack.

Before they could say more, they heard a familiar bellow, "Lunch is now served by the chef of the house."

Alicia and David then sauntered into the kitchen and enjoyed one of Martha Kent's scrumptious recipes, courtesy of Clark's masterful culinary skills.

After the meal, David asked, "Clark, why be a scientist? You're a great chef and could make tons of money and be happy at the same time. Practicing the culinary arts would allow you to avoid the tedious and anxiety-ridden scientific problems that will certainly aggravate your life more often than not."

Both Clark and Alicia chuckled at David's quick-witted remarks.

Clark then said to his guest, "You're probably right, David, but I only like to cook for the fun of it and to make people happy with a good meal. Believe it or not," Clark added, "cooking also helps me relax. But to cook for a livelihood — no way, Jose."

After desert, David asked his host, "Where the heck did you learn to cook like that."

"I picked up most of my culinary fundamentals by watching and helping mom in the kitchen," Clark told his guest.

"Hey, Clark," David asked, "Could you teach me how to cook a la Kent style?"

"If I cultivate your cooking skills," Clark said smiling at David, "what can you teach me in return?"

When Clark finished his challenge, David's face became more serious as he whispered, "I can show you how to bathe in ditch water; throw a hand grenade farther than anybody in the neighborhood; survive in hand-to-hand combat using a modified Bowie knife/tomahawk combination; disable a tank by attacking it from the side with a helmet full of mud to clog its viewing slits; how not to let your fear terrify you into inaction; and a hundred other things that will keep you sane between tedium and delirium under battlefield conditions."

While David was sounding off his litany of misery, he slowly sank to his knees. His body began to tremble, and near-hysterical sobs of anguish seemed to flow from his soul. When Alicia sensed David's anguish, she rushed to his side and encircled him with her arms. He placed his face into her hair and wept. As she held him, their auras quietly melded, binding them together from that moment until time's end and beyond.

When Clark looked into Alicia's and David's eyes, as they clung together, he knew, without fully understanding, that his sister had found her soulmate.

While Clark watched the romantic interaction between Alicia and David, the Kryptonian from Kansas became almost intoxicated from the joy that radiated from his kin and her new life partner. As Clark gazed at the romantic scene before him, he felt that something ethereal had suddenly sprung into existence and surrounded the future lovers.

Using a special device of his own design that allowed Clark to see auras of all kinds, he was slightly taken aback when he saw the intensity of the luminous radiation which surrounded Alicia and her soulmate, David. This bioelectric effect, Clark knew, said it all. These two were definitely slated to be mated.

As David and Alicia continued to cling to one another, the terrors and uncertainties of their pasts were purged from their souls. "I want to crush you to me," David confessed to her. "However, if I hold you any closer, I'm afraid I'll hurt you," he said. "Harming you," David added, "would rip me apart."

"You can't hurt me," she giggled.

David looked at Alicia as if she had lost her mind. Clark chimed in and said, "She's right you know." He, too, chuckled as he added, "Will you two please disengage from that all-consuming hug? I have something important to tell you and I want you both to hear what I've got to say."

After they reluctantly separated, Clark said, "David, please sit in that large chair across the room. At that distance, it will be difficult for you to be distracted by my sister and break your attention span. Please be patient and just do as I ask."

"David," Clark said, "Please pay attention. Alicia and I, with the help of a special globe, have a tale to tell."

"What are you talking about?" David queried Clark as he walked across the room.

Clark pointed to a glowing sphere that had zipped into the room and now hovered near its center. As an astounded David Finderman flopped into a chair, holographic images began to appear, which told Alicia's soulmate an astonishing story.

At the conclusion of the interstellar epic, David just stared at Alicia and Clark with a stunned expression on his face.

Seeing David's facial gestures, Alicia hurried to David's side and said, with some apprehension, "I hope and pray that what you've just discovered will not affect our relationship."

David placed his hands on both sides of her face, kissed her tenderly and quietly remarked, "Don't worry about us ever parting. We are joined by a bond of love and that, sweetheart, is forever."

Alicia's soulmate added, "My devotion to you cannot be measured in mere years but eons — from the beginning of time to its end." Then he took Alicia in his arms as tears of joy cascaded down her face and kissed her passionately and with deep and ardent affection.

David then led Alicia to a nearby chair and, after helping her to be seated, he began to pace.

As he walked to and fro across the room he said to Alicia and Clark that he didn't give a hoot where they were born.

"Like me," David continued, "you were raised on this planet from infancy. As far as I am concerned, that makes you as human as anybody else on this blasted world.

"In any case, my thoughts are really moot. Love is a function of the soul, not physical attributes or abilities. My love for Alicia binds her to me no matter on what world we reside."

After a slight pause, David continued, "I feel, in my heart and mind, that we are now a family of three. Long after we are dead and gone, people will still talk about this day and the events that will eventually spring from our new family."

He stopped pacing and within a moment the three of them were holding each other in a huge embrace as a family kind of love engulfed them.

When they finally released each other, Alicia and David went for a stroll to be alone with their love and to talk.

Alone in the house, Clark pondered the staggering events of the past few hours. He did not fully comprehend the full impact of what had happened, but he knew that something momentous and wonderful had happened. The three of them had started a journey down an unknown path. He knew that he and his new family would not live to see the end of their saga, but that didn't matter. He somehow understood that fusing Kryptonian and Terran bloodlines would produce something wonderful. A new people would emerge that would enrich both ancestral lines. The possibilities were awesome, but the rewards for both peoples, and maybe the universe, would be immeasurable.

While Clark was continuing to contemplate the future of his enlarging family, Alicia and David returned from their walk. The two lovers entered the den, and made themselves comfortable on the sofa. Alicia then scooted into the arms of her soulmate where they embraced and kissed one another passionately.

As the Alicia and David continued to embrace one another, they were engulfed in a blissful silence where there was an intimate meeting of their minds.

As the tranquility of the room caressed them, Alicia became aware that her soulmate was not paying attention to her. Looking into David's face she became aware that he was deep in thought. In the midst of a romantic interlude David was thinking hard about something or other. Giggling, Alicia commented, "It looks like I have a spaced-out soulmate for a life partner."

Startled by her giggling, David remarked "Huh, what did you say?"

"I said, my love, you appeared spaced-out."

"Oh, right," David sighed.

"I was thinking about my great great-grandmother's document. If only we could translate her message, I feel that a significant piece of her history could be unraveled and it could tell me more about my roots."

Shaking his head, David continued, "We'd need a comparison between my ancestors unknown language and English; something like the Rosetta Stone. You know that inscribed rock which linked ancient Egyptian and Greek. If we had something like that, we could easily decipher my great- grandmother's message."

"What we need is a good library with a universal translator," Alicia said laughingly.

"Library, a library," David murmured. Suddenly his eyes lit up.

Watching David's face, she witnessed his facial expression change from a wistful outer appearance to one of serious deliberation.

After catching his breath, David nearly shouted at Alicia. "Your Kryptonian library module, hidden in the Himalayas, may be the key to my… our dilemma."

Anticipating David's next thought, she said, "It will only be available to Clark and me after we reach our twenty- sixth year. Until then, I don't think the library will be of any help to us."

Not entirely satisfied with Alicia's reasoning, David turned to Clark, who had just returned to the room, and inquired, "What do you think would be the best course of action in the case of my family's mysterious document?"

"In my view," Clark responded, "we should ask the library module to translate your great-grandmother's manuscript. What's the harm? The worst that could happen would be a rejection to our request. "

David then chimed in, "I don't think Jor-El or any of his family would surround the library complex within an absolute impediment based strictly on some biological time. To forbid the use of the library in all circumstances would be illogical. Would Jor-El and his family wish to deny knowledge which was needed to cope with emergency situations? I think not. If I was one of your parents, I would allow for certain kinds of queries to be expedited, especially when such questions could eliminate possible danger or alleviate stressful situations which could, at some future time, place our group in jeopardy. Therefore, my friends, I think that we should consult the Kryptonian library module and ask its help with the translation of my great-grandmothers document."

Listening to her soulmate's arguments, Alicia had to support his views. Clark, to Alicia's surprise, also agreed with David's notions.


At moonset that evening, Clark and Alicia donned their stealth outfits, while their newest family member dressed in thermal clothing. David needed mountain climbing garments to protect him from temperatures in the minus forty degree range. To protect her soulmate from detection, Alicia wrapped David in a blanket made from stealth material to make his silhouette nearly invisible to the global RADAR systems each country employed for its defense.

When they were all completely outfitted, Alicia lifted David in her arms and rocketed into the stratosphere followed by Clark.

When Alicia swept David in her arms, her aura protected her beloved from the extremely harsh and uncomfortable flight conditions of the upper atmosphere as the two lovers journeyed to the mountains of Nepal.

Holding David close to her breast as they soured, Alicia and David soon were nearing a particular ice cave high into the Himalayas.

As the three adventurers entered the library module's lair, the temperature within the den rose rapidly to seventy degrees Fahrenheit. The artificial intelligence — AI, housed with the library module, had altered the conditions in the cave to accommodate David's presence.

Standing in front of the library module some minutes later, David asked Clark, "How does one communicate with this doohickey?"

"Doohickey?" Alicia asked in a surprised tone.

"Okay then, how does gizmo sound?" David laughed.

"Either doohickey or gizmo is quite satisfactory to get my attention," a formal monotone thought pulsed through David's head.

Alicia and Clark were somewhat stunned when David and the AI unit started their tete-a-tete.

As soon as Alicia and her spiritual brother, Clark, recovered from their shocked condition, Clark whispered to the Library module, "Did you really talk to me by mental imagery?"

"Yes," was the crusty telepathic reply.

"My G-D," Clark mumbled, "The library module is alive."

"I'm an artificial intelligence, not a living entity," the module responded Clark's statement.

Clark mentally responded, "Logical communication between entities of any sort means to me that you are alive."

"Why do you take that position?" the AI unit inquired.

"You can reason and communicate," Clark replied. "I know that you were constructed from inert materials, but Jor-El or some other Kryptonian must have given you the ability to think and communicate. Sometime from the point of your inception, until now, you've developed a logic of your own. Library module," Clark continued his argument, "You may not be a carbon-based being nor conceived by DNA combinations and are not a product of a live birth, but in my mind you possess all the elements of life save one. You cannot reproduce."

"Ah," replied the library module, "I can duplicate myself."

"QED, my friend," Clark said, "You most assuredly are alive. If my comrades agree, I will provide you with a proper name." David and Alicia nodded their assent.

Smiling, Clark said, "In the presence of my family, I dub thee Charlie I."

"Charlie I of Krypton and Earth," Clark added.

As David was returning to Alicia's side the three travelers heard a subdued and affectionate, "Thank you," pulsed through their minds.

"Ye G-Ds and little 'golleywogs'" Alicia declared, "Charlie I just demonstrated sensitivity."

"Charlie I," Alicia said, using the library module's new moniker for the first time, "we have document here that David believes his great-grandmother drafted. It is written in a strange tongue. No individual or device on this planet has been able to decipher it. Clark and I believe that this manuscript is the key to David's past. Could you take a look at it?"

"Place the document upon my scanner table," Charlie I directed.

When the document had been positioned as instructed, an almost instantaneously thought pulsed through their minds.

"Yes," the image stated, "I can translate this document. Please give me a few moments to study the manuscript."

Several minutes latter, Charlie I then informed them, in its usual droll monotone voice, "The language is Kryptonian."

Within a few seconds of his declaration, Charlie I translated, duplicated, and printed the manuscript in English. As an added bonus, the library module provided them with a complete English-Kryptonian dictionary. Alicia, Clark, and David now had their intergalactic "Rosetta Stone."

David picked up the translated document and with trembling hands gave it to Alicia. He said in a hushed voice, "Please read it. I'm too nervous, sweetheart."

She lovingly kissed him on the cheek and began to read David's great-grandmother's mysterious message.

"To My Descendants," it began:

"I, Jennifra, daughter of Rom-El and Jara was born on the planet Krypton. After arriving on Earth, I changed my appellation to Jennifer, to accommodate Earthly customs and help avoid detection.

"As I matured on my home world, I excelled in the scientific and mathematical disciplines, which appeared to be a dominant family trait. Throughout my educational period, I was encouraged by my parents and teachers to study the astronomical disciplines. My academic immersion into these specialties led me eventually to Krypton's space program. Accepted into the interstellar division of Krypton's small space program I was assigned to a unit which investigated methods of driving a spacecraft faster than the speed of light. Our society's scientific and engineering problems when dealing with interstellar travel had been plaguing Krypton for some considerable time — nearly eight centuries.

"Because of the many failures in our program, governmental funding had been reduced to the bare minimum. Just enough to allow a small space program to exist. To make the situation worse, most nongovernmental space projects were not funded at all.

"One day, while piloting an experimental spacecraft, I unknowingly created a wormhole and was drawn into this space anomaly. When I emerged from this space-time distortion, my spaceship was hovering above the third planet of a yellow star. My instruments indicated that intelligent creatures existed upon this new world and they were 99.9999… percent physically and biologically compatible with Kryptonian life forms.

Looking at my distance monitor, I was informed that I was more than eight billion light years from my home world. The data on my monitor was incredible. As I faced the numbers on my screen, I almost panicked. While my body pumped copious amounts of adrenaline around my body, I checked and rechecked my instruments. In the end, I was forced to accept the knowledge that I was a star sailor eight billion light years from home.

"Stunned at first that Krypton was nearly half a universe away, I set about considering my options. After pondering my situation at length, I accepted the reality that I was marooned for life in the vast reaches of the cosmos. After dealing with that sobering thought, I programmed my space vessel to orbit the third planet, and spent some time studying the habits of its people, the flora and fauna, and other useful data that I would need to survive on the planet's surface.

"About two weeks after entering this new solar system, I landed my spacecraft in a desolate desert region on what was called the North American Continent. I stayed with the ship for the next several months, studying the physical structure of this world and gathering more data about the planet's inhabitants. I had already determined that the culture of this world was essentially pre-electromagnetic (no radio, television, etc.).

"As my exposure to the solar radiation increased, I began to notice that I was developing unusual abilities, some of which included acute long-range hearing, telescopic and x- ray vision, invulnerability to physical harm, heat vision, and finally I was able to defy gravity and soar. Flying helped me immensely, since I could now visit major population centers on this new world, a planet the inhabitants called Earth.

"Finally, concealing my spacecraft in a secluded cave in "Death Valley" and engaging the ship's cloaking device, I left the desert region and flew to a populated center.

"Later, when I was settled, my soulmate and I moved the spaceship to our Massachusetts home. Only myself, my life partner, and our descendants would ever have access to my spacecraft. The coordinates of its location are listed on the last page of this document.

"Soon after leaving my spacecraft, I flew to Heidelberg University, a prestigious German academic institution. By using my newly acquired super abilities and Krypton's advanced technical devices, I was able to place a fabricated vita within the school's files. This fictitious data, along with other pertinent information, informed the inhabitants of my new world that I, Jennifer Ellis possessed the degree of Doctor of Science from Heidelberg University.

"With my new abilities, I then mined nearly five million dollars in gold from the mountains in Peru and opened bank accounts in Switzerland and New York.

"Several months later, I replied to an ad for a physics, chemistry and mathematics instructor and received an interview at Williams College in Massachusetts.

"The interview, I felt, went quite well.

"As I waited for either an affirmative or negative reply to my application for a teaching position at Williams College, my enhanced hearing overheard an interesting conversation, which had a direct bearing on my employment possibilities at the school.

"There was one individual, Murray Luthor, who was vehemently opposed to a female teaching at an exclusively all men's institution. Most of the other faculty members seemed neutral about my gender. However, there was another professor, Michael Lang, who vigorously opposed and attempted to discredit Luthor's biased remarks. Michael first indicated that I was eminently qualified for the teaching post. To further influence the university board, he added that my credentials and accomplishments were the finest he'd even seen and from what he had heard at the interview I would be a credit to the college.

"Pausing for a second, Michael told his colleague, that if they remained detached from this gender matter, the faculty would essentially be siding with Luthor, which would make them chauvinistic by default.

"Michael then vigorously continued, 'What does the gender of an individual have to do with their ability to perform a task. Just because a woman is a walking incubator during her gestation period does not alter whether or not she has a competent mind. I, for one, do not care what gender an individual possesses, nor the color of a person's body, or the ethnicity an individual professes. All I would want to know,' Michael concluded, is 'can that person do their job and do it well. Please don't allow Luthor's prejudices to effect your decision whether or not to employ Jennifer Ellis as an instructor at our school.'

Seething, Luthor retorted, 'I knew your ancient views, Michael, would cause you to support that… that female.'

"'You're right, Murray. I'll support or defend any person that has been assaulted unjustly either from a warped intellect like you or an individual who uses physical means to acquire what he or she desires. Fortunately for humankind, my kind of thinking, as you put it, Luthor, has been a rather sacred tradition among my people for the past four thousand years.'

"'Some day, your people with its ethical standards will be annihilated,' Luthor spat out with hated in his voice.

"'I think not,' Michael replied.

"'How can you be so sure?' Luthor smirked.

"'My people have a very powerful friend,' Michael quietly, but forcefully declared. A friend who champions justice, charity, and other acts which support the needs of people."

"Needless to say," Jennifer wrote, "I was hired.

"By the time I received tenure three years later, Michael and I had been married for nearly two of them, and I was pregnant with our first child.

"About a year before our daughter's conception, we had our final confrontation with Murray Luthor. With the use my special abilities, Michael and I were able to discover that Luthor was involved in a scheme to defraud the school. If successful, Murray would have walked off with millions of dollars, at the same time forcing the college into bankruptcy. A first-rate academic institution would have perished had Luthor had succeed.

"When we confronted Luthor about his scheme, he, of course, angrily denied our accusations. He then resigned his position to avoid prosecution, and left for Metropolis vowing vengeance upon us and our family.

"As I reminisce about this period, I can proudly say that good had triumphed over evil. While my feelings were inexplicable, I knew that this was just the first round in a never ending battle between our families — our seed would champion justice, while Luthor's would be the exporter of evil. When I told Michael about my thoughts, he just stared at me for a few seconds and then unhappily nodded agreeing with my sentiments. He then told me that he also had similar dreams about good and evil. In his vision, Michael said to me that he saw a descendant of ours aided by other Kryptonians, who will war incessantly against evil, and the face of that malevolence was Luthor's. When my husband finished telling me about his vision, he was shaking.

"Although I felt that there was some meaning behind Michael's nightmares, I laughed jokingly at Michael's scary vision to calm his uneasiness and sooth his psyche. He then smiled at me, knowing full well what I was trying to do. Finally, my soulmate reached out and embraced me, holding me close. We were both more than content to remain in that position for a considerable time.

"You should know that just prior to our marriage I made Michael aware of my origins. To prove the truth of my words, I demonstrated my unique abilities and showed him the spaceship. To my amazement and joy, he accepted me and my unique abilities without any reservation.

"Immediately after my revelation, Michael took me in his arms and kissed away all my remaining fears. As Michael held me, I realized that we had a lifetime kind of love which could overcome all things which threatened us and our special union.

"After much discussion, we decided to keep my enhanced abilities a secret. Furthermore, Michael and I also resolved not to allow the advanced science of Krypton to be disseminated among the nations of Earth. We both felt that such a move would be like giving world shattering weapons to children. The Terran society was not ready to utilize Kryptonian technology wisely.

"For a year or so after our marriage, it appeared to our colleagues that our research activities were in limbo. We learned later that those at the college expected this kind of behavior. It was obvious to them that working out our marital routines would naturally take precedence over academic research for some period of time. Our behavior was not only expected, but our colleagues felt that our behavior would help strengthen the love between us. They were much wiser associates than Michael and I realized at that time in our lives. What they didn't know, of course, was that Jennifer was a Kryptonian. Her people were a very family-oriented society where individuals mated only once during their lifetime and only when a soulmate had been found. As you will discover, my descends, all Kryptonian marriages are lifelong. It's almost humorous when I finally realized that I had to journey halfway across the universe to find Michael Lang, my soulmate, life-partner, and lover.

"While our colleagues thought that during our honeymoon period we were learning how to live together, which was in a large measure true, Michael and I were also actively investigating what were the factors that produced my special abilities.

"From our inquiries, we discovered that my power source was the result of the sun's radiation, a G-type star. The solar activity activated special genes, on chromosomes nineteen and twenty one which allowed my body to become a huge reservoir allowing me to store vast amounts of energy.

"From the ship's library, we discovered that about seventy- five thousand ago, Kryptonian bio-scientists had modified particular bits of genetic material to improve the intelligence and strength of the Kryptonian people. The major part of this modification centered around chromosomes nineteen and twenty-one.

"Later, by observing our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, we found out that my special genes (K-genes we called them) were a dominant trait and would be inherited by all of our descendants.

"So now you know that the chromosome modifications which my Kryptonian ancestors engineered are dominant traits and will be passed on to all offspring of our lineage.

"Michael and I also learned that unless both parents had active K-genes, the special Kryptonian abilities would, for the most part, remain dormant unless stimulated. To revitalize the K-genes, we discovered that electricity was the activating agent.

"We constructed a device that would reactivate the K-genes of a mixed marriage and could also duplicate the special K- genes. Our activation-duplication equipment could be used to combine K-genes with the DNA of Earth folk if the need arose.

"Therefore, any human could be given super powers and become a Terra-Kryptonian hybrid by using our electric bridge device. We were quite aware that such a transformation would have to be wisely monitored. A super human gone wrong could cause great havoc or even destroy the world.

"The diagrams needed to construct the K-gene equipment, with explanations, can be found in addendum two of this manuscript. The instructions are also encoded in electronic wafer three in Series A of our notes.

"As we matured and our family enlarged, we decided, instead of secretly giving scientific information to the world, as it was needed, we resolved to accelerate the rate of advancement of Earth's society by subtly helping our colleagues discover explicit knowledge so they then could achieve their desired technological goals and feel a sense of achievement. If you study history, our dear descendants, you will note that scientific and technological progress during the twentieth century expanded at an increasingly rapid pace.

"A year after our daughter Cindy Jennifra was born, we constructed a hidden laboratory several levels beneath our home. It was then that we retrieved my spacecraft and moved it to our hidden underground laboratory.

"Over time, I taught Michael much of the Kryptonian science stored in my ship's library module. From this knowledge, my soulmate's fertile mind conceived a stream of new ideas. With my advanced engineering skills and his ideas, new devices took shape in our scientific sanctuary. My husband and I created a thin electronic wafer which, when placed upon a person's forehead, transmitted information from the wafer directly into an individual's mind. The journal you are now reading has been placed on one such wafer. We hope that the wafer technology will enable us to transmit our story to each succeeding generation of our family more rapidly. The electronic wafers can also be used as educators to teach the Kryptonian language and other subjects to our descendents. Michael also wants Jennifra, my Kryptonian appellation to be included in our family line as each child's middle name. He says, in that way, my forename and origins will not perish in the mists of time. To me, my name and its remembrance is not really all that important. However, my beloved soulmate is adamant about this point, so Jennifra will remain part of our family line.

"During most of our lifetime, Michael and I used my spacecraft to explore Sol's solar system. We saw the remains of an extinct civilization on Mars, observed the primordial life forms on Io, and studied the remains of a space vessel which crashed on Titan uncounted millennia ago.

"In the course of time, Cindy married Nathan Lieb and they conceived one child, Debra Jennifra. Both Cindy and Nathan were scientists and worked and taught at Metropolis University.

"In the fullness of time, Debra married Paul Finderman. After David Jennifra, our great-grandchild, was born, Nathan used the electrical procedure and acquired the Kryptonian special genes and the abilities they engendered. The Liebs then duplicated Jennifra's spacecraft and left the Sol solar system to explore part of the known universe. They first traveled to the Centauri ternary star system (our nearest celestial neighbor) and then set course toward the perimeter of the Galaxy. To keep in contact with their Earth bound family, Nathan created a telemetry system which continuously sent deep space information to the hidden laboratory beneath our Massachusetts home.

"By using the electrical method, Nathan had increased his life span to about two hundred and twenty years. Since soulmates pass away at nearly the same moment, Cindy's life expectancy returned to its original length. Her life span had been reduced to that of a normal Earthling when she married Nathan.

"I had asked Michael early in our marriage if he wished to use the electrical apparatus to increase our life expectancy. He declined, saying that the meaning of our life was not in its length of time a person walked the Earth, but in an individual's contribution to the human condition.

"'In a more pragmatic sense,' he said to me, 'since an extended life span would eventually necessitate faking our death and reconstituting our lives at another location, any meaningful purpose to our existence would be disjointed by such a permutation.' My beloved husband also asserted, time and time again, that our love, through the binding of our souls would endure beyond forever. We therefore, would always be together in more than just a spiritual sense. So, my descendants, while my logic could not confirm or deny Michael's convictions, I went along with his arguments. To tell you the truth, somehow I know that his spiritual views are valid. He told me and our children, over and over again, that it is what you accomplish with the time allotted to you that really matters, not the length of your journey through life. So, whether you live a hundred years or two hundred years matters little if your allotted time on Earth was squandered.

"As I now watch my great-grandson, David, mature, I see in him the intellectual curiosity Michael and I bequeathed to our line. I also see in him the warrior instincts of my beloved father. As we enjoy our great-grandson, Michael and I both know that he is the last generation of our line that we will be privileged to see and enjoy. My aura has protected Michael and me from the biological ravages of time for nearly ninety years. Now, as we approach our hundred and twentieth year, we both are only too aware that the strength of my aura has diminished to a level where death will very shortly claim our mortal forms.

"So, my dear descendants, I hope I've given you a glimpse of our family's beginnings. As I look back, my life seems like a fairy tale. I traveled nearly halfway across the universe and still found my soulmate. To me, that discovery was a miracle and a confirmation that the creator of all things is a reality. Some would call it luck, but it could be a manifest destiny — inevitability guided by the forces for good that are at work within the cosmos. Soon now, my beloved husband and I will be in a position to have some of our philosophical questions satisfied — those concerning our chance meeting and the existence of a ultimate cosmic life force."

"To you, our beloved descendents, Michael and I leave you with our undying love.

"Jennifer Lang beloved of Michael, nee Jennifra, daughter of Krypton"

As Alicia finished reading the translated document, David removed a smaller wafer from his wallet and remarked, "I never understood the significance of this little device, till now."

When David placed the wafer upon his forehead, he gasped.

A few seconds later, David commented, "The wafer essentially repeated the information we extracted from my great-grandmother's manuscript. It also provided me with a working knowledge of the Kryptonian language."

He then gave his wafer to Alicia. When she placed it upon her forehead, nothing occurred. She looked puzzled.

"Of course." David suddenly said as he clasped Alicia's hand. With his fingers entwined in hers, he again placed the wafer on her forehead with both their hands covering the electronic device.

Alicia's eyes widened and she smiled at him. "It worked," she exclaimed.

David repeated his hand clasping action with Clark. As in Alicia's case, the results were same.

Clark then said to David, "Apparently, only your aura can activate the wafer."

"Apparently so," David replied.

"Now," Clark added, "our family has a working knowledge of our ancient tongue. The Kryptonian language is no longer a dead communication medium. They were all immediately aware that the revival of the Kryptonian idiom would be very useful when the total Library system became available to them."

As silence fell in the cavern, Alicia remarked to David, "Sweetheart, your roots are no longer a mystery. Also, we've discovered the whereabouts of your great- grandparent's laboratory. I'm sure we'll learn a lot when we investigate its contents."

David turned to Charlie I and said, "Could you please keep in touch with us?"

"Will do." Charlie I replied.

David then asked the AI unit, "Can we three visit you here on a regular basis?" I'm sure there is much that my family would like to discuss with you. We promise not to violate any of the taboos surrounding the library module until the proper time has arrived."

"The answer to your interrogatives," a metallic like monotone voice responded, "is affirmative."

Looking at his Kin, Clark said, "Folks, I think it's time to go home."

"Goodbye, Charlie I, see ya soon," Alicia remarked, as they soared into the blackness of the night and set a course for their New Haven abode.


Soon after their Freshman classes started, Clark, Alicia, and David, with several other physics students were asked to take a series of examinations because of their unusually high school and national testing credentials. The results of these special examinations elevated Clark and his other family members to Sophomore ranking. This unusual achievement so intrigued the university that the Psychology Department wanted to examine the intelligence potential of these exceptional students. When permission was obtained from Clark and his house mates, a series of IQ tests were given to these three cerebrally gifted sophomores. The eventual conclusion arrived at by the psychology people was couched in a general statement. The psychology report essentially stated that Alicia, Clark and David possessed an inordinately high intelligence potential which the IQ examinations used in this experiment could not properly ascertain.

Privately, the Psychology Department, in a confidential report to the university, suggested that the intelligence of the tested physics students was way off the high end of the accepted IQ scale. A final note suggested that these special students would be a credit to their profession and in time an asset to the world.

Another young lady, Margot Montane, also was elevated to sophomore status because of her exceptional performance on the Physics Department's advanced placement test. Sometime during the next several weeks, she joined David, Alicia and Clark as a regular member of their study group. By the end of the first semester, both Margot and David had moved into Alicia and Clark's off-campus abode. While Margot was not privy, at that time, to Alicia and Clark's secret, she, nevertheless, was considered as part of the off-campus family. During their first Summer hiatus, from the university, Clark went home to Kansas to help his father with the farm, while David and Alicia split their time between Colorado Springs, the Smallville farm, and David's ancestral home in Massachusetts.

While in Massachusetts, David and Alicia spent a great deal of time exploring the hidden laboratory beneath the old Lang homestead. All that Alicia and David discovered during their search of the Lang lab was communicated to Clark telepathically.

Margot went home and essentially 'vegged' during her first summer away from the university.


A week before classes began for their second year at Yale, Clark, Alicia, David, and Margot arrived at the Kent- Gerstein home in New Haven eager to get started. As they entered the house, they all realized that only two more years of study were required to satisfy their Bachelor's requirements. It was time for them to begin thinking about graduate studies.

As usual, several days before the commencement of classes, a party was held for all returning science students at the Physics complex. To David's ire, Azai Luthor Danzig was again sponsoring this shindig. This year brought an entourage with Azai — five bully boys furnish by the Luthor family. After a few hours of reminiscing and sharing some beverages and snacks, Azai invited a few people back to his pad. One of those he asked was Margot Montane.

While David wanted to prevent Margot from attending Azai's private shindig, he knew that didn't have the right to manage her life. Although his buddy, Seth, and Margot had been dating rather seriously since the latter part of last semester, as far as he knew, they had not seriously committed to one another. As Margot was ready to leave for the private soiree, all that David could do was to tell her, "Be careful; Azai has an unduly large libido. I've heard, from those in the know, that his apartment was created for his sexual excesses — it's supposed to be a den of seduction."

When she heard David's pleas, Margot giggled and gave him an incredulous look and moved off to join the group going to Azai's late night gathering.

Unfortunately, David's fears were realized all too soon.

Later that evening, there was a knock on the door at the Kent-Gerstein home. A few seconds after answering the door, Alicia screamed, "David, Clark, I need you, *now!*"

Both men literally flew to the front door. There they saw one of Azai's bodyguards carrying Margot's limp body into the house.

Clark quickly grabbed Margot from Azai's hireling and carried her to the couch. Azai's flunky casually said that she got "hammered" and passed out. Then their boss, Danzig, told them to take her home. After Alicia thanked Azai's men, they left rather hurriedly.

As Margot lay on the sofa, David removed a small sample of blood from Margot's finger and hurried to a small lab in the basement of the house. Clark called after him and asked, "What the heck are you doing? She needs help."

David replied, "You and Alicia take care of her for the moment. I'll join you in a few minutes. Something smells to 'high heaven' here. I'm gonna find out just how drunk she really was. You know Margot was never an excessive imbiber of spirits."

Clark and Alicia nodded and began to help Margot Montane — a very close friend.

While David was measuring the alcoholic content of Margot's blood system, Alicia applied cold compresses to her friend's forehead. As Margot slowly began to regain conscious, Clark came from the kitchen carrying a vitamin cocktail that would help oxidize the ethanol in Margot's body.

After Margot drank the vitamin elixir, Alicia helped her to her room. As Clark's kin helped Margot disrobe, she noticed blood on her undergarments. When she removed these items from body, Alicia became both horrified and angry at what she saw. Staring her in the face was bruised skin and dried blood on Margot's thighs and the upper portions of her legs.

After a minute or so, unnerved by what she seen, Alicia almost lost it. She retched in the wastebasket and started to shake.

Hearing Margot moan brought Alicia back to reality. She became quite aware that her friend was in need of immediate help. Realizing Margot's plight galvanized Alicia into action. First, she helped Margot take a much-needed shower. The washing process was not just an act of cleanliness, but it also helped remove the emotional rot and corruption which had infested Margot's body and mind. After bathing Margot, Alicia put her to bed. When the healing properties of sleep finally claimed Margot Montane, only then did Alicia rejoined Clark in the living room.

When Alicia saw her spiritual brother, she began to cry and then scream almost hysterically as the thought of what happened to Margot hit her like a sledge hammer. Seeing Alicia coming apart at the seams, Clark jumped up and held his cousin tightly. By his actions, Alicia's very distraught emotional state began to settle down somewhat.

A few minutes after Alicia regained control of her emotions, David rejoined them with a perplexed expression on his face. As he approached his housemates, he announced that Margot's blood alcohol level was as normal as ma's apple pie.

After hearing David's unusual message, Clark remarked, "You know, I'm really not surprised. Margot has never been more than a timid social drinker, at best."

"However," David added after Clark became silent, "I did find traces of a strange substance in her blood. Based on the negative alcohol test and her apparent 'loopyness', I believe that Margot, unknowingly, ingested some kind of drug. From my rather expeditious analysis of her blood, it appears that the properties of the unknown substance possessed tranquilizing properties. My results also suggested that this particular drug would quickly render a person senseless and would mimic the effects of an individual who consumed too much booze. It looked like someone managed to get his/her hands on a custom-made drug."

Alicia then remarked, with a slight quiver in her voice, "Your information supports my observations and their obvious implications." She told them what she had discerned when she'd examined Margot's body.

When she finished her remarks, Clark whispered, in a voice filled with loathing, "She was drugged then raped."

David just stared into space, revulsion strewn across his face; hatred mounted in his breast. Loathing for the individual who perpetrated this heinous act was beginning to consume him.

Alicia could feel the tautness in David's body and was aware that the rape scenario had enraged her soulmate. From the look on David's face, she knew that he wanted revenge.

It was Clark who finally brought David back to reality and soothed his burning soul.

While Clark was convincing David that a physical attack on the perpetrator of this horrible act was not the way to go, Alicia was awakening Margot.

When the household had returned to some semblance of order, Clark announced that they were taking Margot to the emergency room located in the school's medical facility.

As Alicia and Clark were escorting Margot to the car, David called Seth and told him to meet them at the school's medical center. After a brief explanation to his buddy, he hurried to join his family.

A few minutes later, Clark, Alicia, David, and Margot were driving rapidly through the nearly empty street of New Haven to the school's medical facility.

When they arrived at the hospital, Seth was already waiting for them. Seeing Margot's blotchy face, he became very anxious. Seth's stomach tied into knots and he nearly lost his supper. Over the past year, he and Margot had become very close; although no commitment had been announced, people who knew them could say with some certainty they were a couple without a commitment.

Sensing his pain, David took his friend to the side of the building and explained the entire situation surrounding Margot's condition. Seth was devastated, but like most warrior types, found the courage to deal with the current crisis.

After speaking with David, Seth rushed to Margot's side, clasped her hand in his and said with deep feeling, "Everything will be fine. I want you to remember that no matter what happens I will never abandon you. Please Margot, you must believe me, because my words are my bond. I love you, and nothing can alter that reality as long as we both live."

Looking deep into Seth's eyes, Margot knew that his words were not just empty platitudes. She squeezed his hands as a sign that she understood his sentiments and accepted his bond of love — a forever kind of love.

A few minutes later, the staff placed Margot in a small cubicle. Margot's housemates seated themselves by her bed and waited with Margot Montane for a physician. Seth stood next to her cot and continually caressed her hands.

After nearly fifteen minutes had passed, a young man in the traditional hospital garb, entered the cubby and announced quietly, "I'm Dr. Klein." Immediately after introducing himself, the young physician said in a most unpretentious voice, "Please, just call me Bernie."

Looking at her chart, Bernie asked, "What appears to be the problem?"

Taking a deep breath, Clark explained all the particulars and then requested that vaginal fluid be extracted from Margot's body and checked for semen.

After examining Margot, Dr. Klein agreed and left the room to obtain the equipment he needed to expedite the analytical procedure.

When Dr. Klein returned, several minutes later, he asked Margot's friends to leave the room. Alicia, Clark and David did as Bernie asked, but Seth refused to leave Margot's side. He sat next to her bed and held Margot's hand to give the woman he loved what support and comfort he could. Seeing that he could not persuade Seth to leave, Dr. Klein shook just his head and began setting up his equipment.

When Bernie began the medical procedures, Seth and Margot closed their eyes and intertwined their hands even further.

While Bernie worked, Margot took a peek at Seth, who by now had buried his face in her hands and was invoking some sort of prayer. As he mumbled the words to his incantation, she felt his hands tighten still more in an effort to sustain Margot in her hour of need. She knew at that moment that Seth and she were… What did Clark say? She thought for a moment and suddenly the phrase "soulmates" flashed through her mind. "Yes," she murmured to herself, "Seth and I were truly soulmates."

When Dr. Klein finished, he proceeded to his lab where he performed the final phase of his medical analysis. After Bernie left Margot and Seth, Clark, Alicia and David returned to Margot's cubicle.

After what seemed an eternity, Bernie returned, and confirmed that Margot was indeed raped. As Dr. Klein was about to leave, Seth asked him, "Do you have family somewhere in the Minneapolis area?"

"No," he replied. "Why do you ask?"

Seth replied "My last name happens to be Klein."

Bernie smiled and said, "Sorry, no relatives in Minneapolis. " Then he turned once more and left the room.

When Clark and the others returned to the New Haven house, they put Margot to bed.

Returning to the living room, Seth said, "Which one of us will have the pleasure of castrating that SOB? If there are no takers," he added, "I'd like to volunteer."

"Who are you taking about?" Alicia asked.

"Azai L. Danzig, that son of Satan, the perpetrator of all that's evil. That's who!" Seth answered her with venom dripping from his lips.

David then grabbed his friend and said, "I understand how you feel, but we can't take action until we have facts, hard facts; hard facts, do you hear me? We need incontrovertible proof. Otherwise, you're the one who will do jail time, if you lay a hand on Azai.

"Anyway, that debaucher probably has powerful political connections who will do everything possible to protect his derriere."

Tears of frustration formed in Seth's eyes as he admitted that his buddy David was right.

Looking at David and the others, Seth commented, with anger and frustration evident in his voice, "You're right of course, but my gut feeling tells me that Azai is responsible for all of Margot's pain. It's her pain that's tearing me apart."

While David was trying to console Seth, Clark was on the phone contacting people who were at also Azai's private shindig.

Having talked to a number of people, Clark told his friends and family, "It appears," he said, "that Azai persuaded Margot to see his new engineering project. They left the party together, but Margot never returned. Azai, however, rejoined the party by himself, some forty minutes after he and Margot left the gathering."

Clark said to Alicia, "Please stay with Margot. The guys and I have a rendezvous with a violateur de femmes."

"Where is this so-called rendezvous going to take place?" Alicia asked.

Giving her a smile, Clark replied, "We're paying Azai a little visit at his pad." Alicia also noticed that there was no warmth in her brother's voice nor in his eyes. Like David's and Seth's faces, it was filled with the fire of hate and disgust. She also noticed that David's and Seth's bodies were tense as if they were about to go into battle.

As the threesome were about to leave, David said, "Clark, Seth, promise me you won't lay hands on Azai. In our present emotional state, I'm quite sure he would die a most horrific death." Clark and Seth both looked at David and reluctantly agreed with his logic.

David then turned to Seth, and further remarked, "I know your promise to me is very tenuous, because of your love for Margot. When you confront Azai, your first wish will be to tear that bastard limb from limb and feed his body parts to the fish. *Just don't do it.* Let the law and the university handle this situation."

"I'll try to control my hatred for that man," was all that Seth could honestly say at that moment.

David added, "Since my anathema for Azai has cooled somewhat, let me deal with this defiler of women, this beast that walks among us." Smiling he added, "All that I'll do to Azai will be to break his limbs and reassemble his face.

"In that way," David said, "He'll live, but in lots of pain. And when I'm finished with him, Azai's appearance, I assure you, will be repulsive to all that see him — especially to women."

Looking at his friend's faces, David knew that his long- winded pseudo-farce had the effect he wanted. It soothed Clark's and Seth's inner tension and made them look at the reality of the situation in a more constructive way.

After a few minutes, when all the friends were lucid, they said good-bye to Alicia and left for their encounter with a reprobate — Azai L. Danzig.


About thirty-five minutes later, two warriors and a man from Kansas stood before Azai's den of iniquity.

David knocked on the door, which, after several seconds, was opened by a person who possessed gorilla-like features. After asking for Azai, Clark, David and Seth were admitted to a rather lavish pad. The trappings were obviously chosen to ensnare the unwary and to satisfy Azai's sexual desires.

A few minutes after entering Azai's palatial apartment, Margot's defiler met them in his living room. "Like my pad?" he said to Clark and his friends. "As I'm fond of saying," Azai told them with a sneer, "it's a great home away from home."

As they listened to this boastful debaucher, Clark, David, and Seth were quick to note that six bodyguards accompanyed the always wary Azai.

Each of his goons looked like they were ready to do battle and destroy, with relish, any person that their master pointed out. However, the lord of the seraglio was curious and, therefore, had greeted them with his usual crocodilian grin. While Danzig attempted to mask his true feelings and intentions, Clark's unique abilities helped him get a handle on Azai's true intent. The kind of deception Azai was using he learned from his uncle Lex Luthor; Lex the psychopathic godfather of the Luthor clan.

After all of the formalities had been effectuated, Azai came straight to the point and wanted to know the reason for their visit. The crafty seducer knew his visitors were not here on a social visit.

Clark then handed him a folder containing evidence that incriminated one Azai L. Danzig in the rape of Margot Montane. Azai, somewhat shocked, sat down on his opulent couch and began to read the inculpating information.

After reading the documentation for several minutes, Azai looked up and asked in a grim voice, "How am I supposed to reply to these obviously fallacious accusations?"

Clark said, in a formidable voice, "As you undoubtedly have read in the dossier we've compiled, you have been implicated in numerous sexual assaults by women named in the articles of incrimination. To blunt these allegations, it would be in your best interests to submit a semen specimen to Dr. Klein, at the university medical facility. It, of course, will be compared with the specimen found within the body of Margot Montane. She, it seems, was your latest victim. In her, we have the physical evidence needed, when compared with your own sexual fluid, of course, that will either clear your name or dam you to hell."

Azai snickered, "If I submit to your request, I will just provide you with the definitive evidence you're seeking.

"You know, of course, that any statements I make will not stand up in court. They would be refuted by the sworn statements of my hirelings here. So, therefore, I can tell you, in all honesty, I did the deed. I must tell you that our dance of lust was most enjoyable, at least from my perspective.

"Of course, you already know that I'll deny those incriminating statements and disavow that any type of copulation between Margo Montane and myself ever occurred. As I already told you, The testimony of my confederates, here, will corroborate my attestation. My innocence in these matters will be sustained."

"You misbegotten son of a nameless father and unknown whore!" Seth screamed.

After Seth's emotional outburst, Clark, and his mates just stared at Azai with disgust and hatred blazing in their eyes.

As Azai gloated over his supposed triumph, Clark said quietly, "Tomorrow, we'll turn our evidence over to the Board of Regents. For such serious charges, they will be required to convene a tribunal which will be required to render a judgment upon your guilt or innocence in this matter. I'm sure they will insist that you provide a semen specimen to support your claims of innocence. If you refuse, I have no doubt that your expulsion from this university will happen rather quickly. The data in the folder you've perused we'll be given to the Board of Regents after your hearing. I have no doubt that it will remain as a blot on your university record to be scrutinized by interested parties for all eternity."

Hearing Clark's logical and philosophical utterances linked with the Board of Regents, Azai knew that Clark was right and the jig was up.

As Clark watched, Azai stupidly ordered his bodyguards to attack his tormentors yelling, "Break their arms and legs, and toss the rubbish out."

Seth remarked to David, "I'll cover your right flank, just like in that skirmish at Hyndai Pass." David smiled as he and his friend awaited the assault from Azai's thugs.

The confrontation lasted no more than a dozen seconds. The broken bodies of Azai's hirelings were strewn about the room. David then glared at Azai contemplating what to do with this disciple of Lucifer, when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking around, he heard Seth say, "He's mine." As David looked on, he saw his buddy and dear friend advance on the debaucher of his beloved.

When Azai saw Seth approaching, he panicked and very foolishly drew a knife and assaulted his adversary.

Seth disarmed Azai, as the rapist lunged toward his foe. In the melee that followed, Seth broke Azai's right arm and smashed his right leg. With a straight-arm thrust the ex solder shattered his assailant's nose and broke his left cheekbone. When the brief confrontation ended, a bloodied Azai crumpled to the floor, screaming from his excruciating pain.

David walked over to Azai, who by now was in a fetal position, and said "You will withdraw from the university and vacate the campus by sundown tomorrow and take your bully boys with you. Make a sign that you agree."

Azai made no motion. David grabbed Azai by the hair and banged his head three times against the floor. He said, "That's to get your attention." He then repeated his demand. Azai nodded and sobbing said, "I'll go."

As David moved away from the broken form of his antagonist, Azai swore vengeance against the entire group. David turned and said angrily, "Don't make any foolish moves. You don't know the environment in which I grew up," David added, his eyes brisling with hate. "My friends and acquaintances, the ones that are still alive, that is, are in a very unique and unsavory business. If anything were to happen to me or my friends, rest assured that you and your entire family would be suddenly dead and yours and their mortal remains would be fed to the fish. I assure you that your demise and those of your family would be no great loss to the world. If I was a betting man," he continued, "I'd wager that in a relatively short time after your family's passing, their names would be less than a memory."

"You're bluffing," Azai moaned.

"Can you afford to take that risk?" David replied, as he, Clark and Seth left the Azai's apartment and disappeared into the inky blackness of the night.

Before dawn of the next day, Azai and his cronies had vacated Yale's campus and its environs.


For the next few weeks, university life, for those living in the Kent-Gerstein household, approached an idyllic setting. Seth moved in, classes went well, and Alicia and David had a successful test run of Jennifra's duplicating- modification apparatus.

During their experimentation, Alicia and her soulmate discovered that the Kryptonian equipment used a high voltage electric discharge to modify an individual's chromosomes — nineteen and twenty-one to specific.

Once the correct chromosomes had been altered, the unique abilities of the treated individual would be activated by the sun's solar radiation.

On a Saturday morning, some six weeks after Azai's departure, Margot announced that she was pregnant. To Margot's relief, those living with her in the Gerstein-Kent house were very supportive of her gravid condition.

As those living in the Gerstein-Kent New Haven house congratulated and showed their support for Margot, Seth quickly moved to her side and held her close whispering in her ear, "You know how I feel. I will you love now and forever more.

With a stunned look on her face, Margot clasped Seth to her breast and burrowed her head into his neck, while she murmuring, "I love you too. I've loved you for such a long time."

"In my wildest dreams, I never thought you had feelings for me," Margot said to Seth, as she caressed his face.

"I think I've loved you from the moment we met," Seth answered her. "I was just too shy to do or say anything about my feelings."

As Margot looked at her beloved, she said, "This baby is really a blessing. Because of the child I'm carrying, we found one another. I only wish it was our child, not just my kid that's growing within me."

Looking into Margot's eyes, Seth said, "The baby you're carrying is ours. While I didn't sire the kid, nevertheless, when he or she is born, we will be the parents of that baby. That's for sure. That's for dang sure."

Pausing for a moment, Seth added, "Although many people can create life, only those who raise a child can truly be called parents. They're the ones who slug it out over the next twenty years or so in a valiant attempt to raise a decent human being.

Taking Margot's hand, Seth quietly said, "We'll get married as soon as possible." Lacking a ring, Seth kissed Margot passionately to seal his commitment to her. As their lip lock intensified, Margot's arms encircled her beloved's neck as she mentally thanked G-D for helping her find this wonderful man.

When they finally separated, Margot put her head on Seth's forehead and whispered, "Yes, I'll be honored to marry you. I'll love you until forever is no more."

When Margot and Seth announced their intention to marry, all hell broke loose in the house.

After the commotion subsided a bit, Seth announced that if it was all right with his fiancee, he and Margot would be married the following week. Margot nodded her agreement.

Seth then asked David to be best man, Alicia to be the maid of honor, with Margot's approval, of course, and Clark would act as one of the witnesses.

As he finished speaking, Seth looked at Margot, and to bolster her spirits he remarked, "My love for you is more important than life itself. My feeling for you, beloved, increases day by day. It's time for us to bond into a soulmate unity which will last beyond time itself."

Gazing at Margot, Seth added, "I believe that we have been conscious of our love for some time and were to shy to commit to one another. Even without the events of the past weeks, we eventually would have acted upon our feelings, which would have resulted in our physical and spiritual union. But, my dear, because of unusual circumstances, we must dispense with all the courtship formalities and marry sooner than expected. After all sweetheart," Seth added, "I don't want our child to have a derogatory appellation attached to her or his name."

Margot then smiled at her fiancee, while tears cascaded from her eyes from the joy and sorrow that overwhelmed her at the same time.

Holding her tightly, Seth asked, "Is everything in a go mode?" She answered him with a kiss, a kiss that wiped away all the fears and uncertainties that she and Seth possessed. Margot's and Seth's hearts, at last, were full.

When the emotional commotion in the house finally settled down, Seth, Alicia and Margot wandered toward the kitchen to prepare the evening meal.

As the others also moved towards the dining area, David quietly asked Clark, "Could you take me to see Charlie I this evening." Gazing at his brother to be, Clark nodded his okay. Although very curious, Clark asked no questions.

As David and Clark were about to leave the house later that evening, David turned toward the kitchen and yelled, "Clark and I are going on an errand. See yah when we return."

Thirty minutes later, David, after telling Charlie I about Margot's condition, was having a serious scientific discussion with the library module. He wanted to know if the DNA from the original male donor could be replaced with another DNA bundle before the gestation process was completed. To David's surprise, Charlie I replied affirmatively and transferred the required physical and chemical data needed for such a process directly into David's and Clark's memories. As they were about to depart, Charlie I said to David, "Are you aware that your genome is Kryptonian?"

"No," David responded. "How can that be? I don't possess Clark's or Alicia's unique abilities."

"Remember Jennifra's manuscript?" Charlie I reminded a somewhat confused David Finderman. Smiling, David's spiritual brother nodded his head indicating to Charlie I that he understood the library module's subtle message.

To refresh David's memory, Charlie I reminded him of information that Jennifra's message had told him and was ingrained in his memory. "Since Jennifra was your great- grandmother and her soulmate was from Earth, the special DNA you inherited from her was presently in a dormant state.

"As Jennifra had explained in her manuscript," Charlie I reiterated, "the Kryptonian bioengineers and scientists insured that the special DNA of their species would always be the dominant factor when propagation with a different genetic species was successful. When that type of mating occurred, the special Kryptonian genes would be preserved through all successive generations. However, they would remain inactive unless treated with an electric stimulator similar to the gene duplication and transmission device described in her document."

"Wow," was all David could say at that moment. David added when he recovered his reasoning, "I never thought that I could inherit my great great-grandmother's unique abilities."

"Read your ancestor's document more closely," Charlie I advised.

Thanking the library module for its assistance, Clark and David returned home.

As they entered the house, Alicia said, "You two have been away for nearly two hours. I was starting to worry."

David kissed her on the cheek and whispered, "Clark and I had a conference with Charlie I."

Her eyes opened in surprise and asked, "Was your mission a success?"

"From a scientific point of view, yes. Our conference was more successful than I dared hope."

Alicia smiled and took his arm as they walked into the kitchen, where they met Seth and Margot enjoying a mug of herbal tea. After David and his fiancee seated themselves, Margot said, "You and Clark were gone for nearly two hours. Is everything okay?" David laughed and said, "I've acquired two new mothers."

Teasingly, David said, "Another worrier in the house." Margot gave him a look that said what the hell brought on those remarks.

Seeing Margot's confusion, David remarked, "Everything's fine, Margot. I apologize for my foolish comments."

David then, in a serious tone, said, "Seth… Margot, I have something very important to talk over with you guys."

Hearing the serious tonicity of David's voice, Margot and her fiancee immediately gave David their wrapped attention.

"Suppose," David continued, "that Azai's DNA could be replaced by Seth's in Margot's unborn child. This would make the unborn child the biological offspring of Seth and Margot, not Azai and Margot. Would you two consider going through such a procedure?"

Margot and Seth looked at each other and simultaneously said, "Yes. That would be great, if it can be done."

Margot then added, "From my limited knowledge of biology, what you are contemplating, David, is beyond the scientific know-how that presently exists on this planet."

"Upon *this* planet, yes," David said.

Before David could inform Seth and Margot about the Kryptonian DNA conversion procedures, Clark entered the room, carrying a syringe, and asked Seth if he could extract ten cubic centimeters of blood from him. Seth, although mystified, agreed to Clark's request.

After obtaining Seth's blood sample, Clark deftly sidestepped all questions, and rushed to the basement lab where he began preparing the DNA conversion serum.

Before either Margot or Seth could begin interrogating David, he asked them to follow him into the living room. There, Alicia was waiting for them with her Kryptonian globe hovering in the center four feet above the floor and radiating an intense luminous light.

Somewhat stunned, Margot and Seth still managed to ambulate to the hovering globe and attempted to learn how the floating object defied gravity.

After a few moments of studying the globe, Margot, with an incredulous look, said, "Please guys, explain this… phenomenon. Seth and I don't understand what's going on here."

David told them to sit down and listen to a tale which included the glowing orb. In his story, Alicia's soulmate incorporated holograms and sound projections to emphasize the validity of what they were told.

At the conclusion of David's presentation, which also included his own odyssey from childhood to the present, Seth and Margot were simply speechless.

After a few moments of silence, Alicia quietly spoke to Margot and her significant other and made it clear that none of the information David told them must ever be divulged to anyone outside of their family.

Margot then looked at Alicia inquisitorially and remarked, "You consider Seth and I as part of your family, don't ya."

"You better believe it" Alicia answered her hew new sister.

Alicia continued, "Any future which you and Seth will have will have is irrevocably tied to everybody in this house. Smiling, Margot mused, "It would be nice for all of us to possess those special powers illustrated in the globe generated holograms. Then, we all would be one super family." Alicia nodded at her new sister and said, "Why not?"

"If my timetable is correct," David remarked, "in about a month, our special modification device will be fully tested and be ready produce what you so eloquently expressed. Then, my sister, there will be three more super beings flying around this world of ours. More," David added, "When we have our own kids. The special chromosomes that will be created in your bodies are dominant sex linked traits and, therefore, will become genetically transferred to our descendents till the end of time."

One more note, David added. "Since you two will possess super genes and mine will be reactivated, you should know that we will develop abilities which will be identical to Alicia's and Clark's powers."

"Moreover," David continued, "the child you're carrying, Margot, will naturally develop these unique abilities as it matures. This child, and others you two will conceive, will pass on their special chromosomes to their progeny. The same is true for the rest of us."

As David was finishing his comments, Clark re-entered the living room with a syringe filled with the DNA conversion serum. Walking over to Margot, he asked her permission to introduce a clear yellowish fluid to her body. Without hesitation, she agreed to his request.


About six weeks after the DNA conversion fluid was injected into Margot's body, Seth and his soulmate visited the school's medical facility and requested to see Dr. Klein. When Bernie recognized Seth and Margot, he grinned and congratulated them on their recent nuptials and wished them every happiness.

Thanking Dr. Klein for his good wishes, Seth quietly asked the physician, "Can we talk to you privately?"

Agreeing to the Seth's request, Bernie led them into his office and closed the door.

When they were all seated, Margot said to Dr. Klein, "I want you to take a tissue sample from each of us, including Margot's fetus, and compare them with respect to their DNA content.

Before Bernie could answer her, Margot told Bernie most emphatically that if he decided to carry out their request, he must promise not to discuss the results of his findings with any of his friends or colleagues. In fact, no one outside our special household must know that such a procedure was ever carried out.

Dr. Klein gave them a quizzical look, but after some discussion, agreed to Margot's terms.

As they waited for the results of Dr. Klein's analysis, Seth held Margot in his arms, enjoying their closeness and the love that flowed between them.

Several hours later, Bernie returned to his office and handed the couple a computer print-out of his DNA study. Even before Seth and Margot pursued the printed output of Dr. Klein's results, Bernie's facial expression said it all. The print-out just confirmed what Bernie had telegraphed Seth and his spouse. There was no doubt that Seth was the father of Margot's fetus. No trace of Azai's DNA sequences could be found in the genome of the unborn child.

When Margot and Seth were officially told the test results, they already knew that the Kryptonian DNA conversion serum had been successful beyond all imagining.

Standing, Seth murmured quietly, "Thank G-D for Krypton's scientific achievements and the miracle it wrought." Margot, clutching Seth's hand, whispered "Amen."

When Margot and Seth finally looked at Bernie, they could both discern the unspoken questions mirrored in his eyes. She placed her hand on Dr. Klein's shoulder and said, "The science that displaced the rapist's DNA and substituted it with that of my husband's genetic material is still an experimental procedure and is top secret. As you promised, please keep what you've learned close to your chest."

The Kleins, Seth and Margot, were fully cognizant that the Kryptonian DNA switching process would not become available to humankind for some considerable time, and most certainly not in their lifetime. Such a manipulative DNA technique, in the hands of unscrupulous individuals, could do irreparable harm to the human genome.

Before Seth and Margot left the medical facility, they once again thanked Bernie for his help and cautioned him again not to disclose his findings to anyone, especially the world scientific community. He agreed to wait until this new DNA process was published in a prominent journal before publishing his own data.


Soon after the DNA conversion process had proved successful, the testing phase of the DNA modification apparatus was successfully concluded. Then, David's dormant super genes were revitalized, Seth and Margot were provided with modified chromosomes which also provided them with super powers.

With the modification equipment now completed and the control of David's, Seth's, and Margot's new unique abilities mastered, the remainder of the academic year proved to be relatively uneventful.

As Memorial Day approached, Clark decided to visit his folks, while Alicia and David journeyed to Colorado Springs to spend the holiday with the Gersteins.

Because Margot's delivery date was very close — the middle of June — she and Seth stayed close to home.

While the others of their clan visited their folks, Seth and Margot checked and fine-tuned the arrangements for their new arrival.

Right after the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the weather around New Haven became unstable. A horrendous rain storm invaded the area and stalled. The deluge it produced inundated the region flooding roads, disrupting telephone communications, and leaving many people stranded. As the fury of the storm increased, power lines were swept away and large trees were toppled. With communication down and roads impassible, emergency services were nearly paralyzed.

About nine P.M. one evening at the height of this horrendous storm, Margot's "water broke" and soon thereafter her labor contractions began and steadily increased.

Even before Seth could make some sort of a decision of how to proceed, the frequency and the intensity of Margot's labor pains suddenly escalated. Her unusual labor condition forced the issue. He and Margot would have to deliver their baby at home and by themselves.

Measuring the amount of dilation Margot's birth canal as a routine check, Seth was astonished to discover that his soulmate had nearly reached the transition point in her delivery cycle.

Reaching any hospital by phone was no longer be an option — the phones weren't functioning. Driving through the storm to a medical facility was also out of the question. The roads were blocked by debris and fallen trees. And to make matters worse, the streets leading to the university flooded.

While he was still pondering his options, Seth became aware of Margot's rapidly advancing labor, now nearly at the delivery stage. Realizing how close Margot was to delivering their child, nearly caused him to panic.

Gaining control of himself, Seth grasped Margot's hand and told her as calmly as he could, "My love, bringing this baby into the world is now up to us, us alone." Looking heavenward, Seth murmured, "Oh G-D don't let her freak out on me."

As Seth's words washed over her, Margot began to cry. Although calm at that moment, fear of her advancing labor and impending delivery of her first born was slowly stealing her rationality. She knew that it would be a struggle to keep focused during delivery of her baby.

Realizing that his wife was losing her ability to think rationally, Seth garbed Margot and shouted at her saying, "Snap out of it, I can't do this alone. You and I must work together or our baby may be still born." Seth didn't tell Margot that without her cooperation, her life could also be in jeopardy

As he prepared to help Margot bring their child into the world, Seth thought about his treatment of his soulmate. Yelling at Margot was way out of character for him. He just didn't know what else to do to help his wife maintain her sanity and focus during the coming stressful situation.

When Margot calmed down for a few minutes, Seth, moving at super-speed, acquired the medical information he would need about a home birth from the family's library.

After reading the how to's of the birth process, Seth rocketed about the house, collecting the essential items for the baby's delivery.

When everything was in readiness, it became a waiting game.

As Seth place Margot's hand in his, the expectant father was not a happy camper, to say the least.

While waiting for Margot to reach her transition state, Seth recalled something he'd learned during a senior health seminar in high school. He jumped up and zipped down to the corner store and purchased some half-dozen unused newspapers.

Returning to the house, Seth checked his wife. It was nearly time for her to start pushing. While he waited those last few minutes, Seth sterilized bedding material, placed it on the floor and put his wife upon the soft makeshift bed. He next filled two plastic tubs with water. Using his super-breath, Seth cooled the water in one tub to about fifty degrees Fahrenheit, and heated the water in the other tub to near ninety degrees of temperature with his heat vision. Alcohol, blankets, and the unused newspapers were then positioned near the birthing area.

"What are the newspapers for?" Margot asked and then grimaced, as a particularly nasty contraction made its presence known.

Grabbing her hand to give her emotional support, he said, "The inside pages of a newspaper are nearly sterile, because newspapers are produced by a mechanical device and have not been contaminated by human contact." As he talked, Seth measured the birth canal again and told Margot, "You are eight and a half centimeters dilated. Don't push, even if the urge becomes overwhelming. Fight it baby." Margot nodded, just as another contraction racked her body.

As the time between contractions continued to decrease, the duration and the pain of each one seemed to increase exponentially. Seth sensed by the look in Margot's eyes that she was about ready to start pushing. Measurement of the birth canal confirmed his gut feeling. Margot was now ready to deliver their baby.

Smiling at her to bolster his soulmate's spirits, while at the same time being scared stiff himself, he sent a telepathic plea to Charlie I and requested that the library module summon the other members of the family.

At that moment, Seth desperately needed his family's support and assistance. As he leaned over to assist his wife, Seth damned himself for not calling his kin for help sooner.

While he prayed that help would arrive in time, Seth took a moist cloth and cleansed Margot's body of its perspiration. After sponging her down, he again measured the birth canal and found that she was finally fully dilated. He thanked G- D that the transition time was over and told his wife that they were now ready to begin the final phase of the birth process. Placing Margot's legs in his home made stirrups, he positioned himself to coach his wife and to receive their baby.

Looking into Margot's eyes Seth said quietly, "When I tell you to push, bear down and count to ten. Then ease off." After pushing for several minutes in this manner, nothing seemed to be happening. He used his x-ray vision and found that the baby was in a breach position. The birth of their child could not occur unless the baby was turned. Seth knew what to do, but he became anxious, which nearly caused him to freeze.

As Seth felt himself slipping into a mental abyss, he reached deep into his psyche and drew upon his energy reserves and used them to regain control of his emotions.

He then said to his wife, "Dear, I must enter the birth canal and turn our baby. It must be done now or our child will go into distress and die." What he didn't tell her was that her life too would be in jeopardy if he wasn't successful.

Catching his breath, he told his Margot, "As I turn the baby, you may feel some pressure. Remember that what you feel will be me rotating our child. Are you ready?"

Margot replied in a frightened voice, "Ready."

Using his x-ray vision as a guide, Seth was successful in correcting the baby's position in the birth canal.

Twenty minutes later, a daughter was born to Seth and Margot Klein.

Seth immediately cleared the fluid from the baby's air passages and severed the umbilical cord. He then dried and cleaned the baby with a sterile soft towel. As Seth was about to push on Margot's abdominal region to help remove the after birth and some clotted material from his wife's body, he suddenly became aware that their was daughter was not breathing.

Grabbing the infant, he gave the baby a smack on her rear with no results. Almost panicking, Seth began to plunge his daughter alternately into the tubs of cold and hot water. He continued this procedure for nearly twenty seconds, becoming more and more frantic as time passed.

Suddenly, there was a piercing cry. Life had won the battle over its opposite number, this time.

Seth again quickly dried his daughter, placed her the sterile portion of a newspaper and then wrapped her and the paper in a blanket. He then placed his daughter in the arms of her mother. He then resumed pushing on Margot's abdomen to retrieve the afterbirth and remove any blood clots that had formed during the birthing process.

Seth worked on his wife for nearly an hour. Only when his x-ray vision indicated that all of the unwanted birth- related items in her uterine area had been expelled, did he cease pressing to clear her abdomen area.

When all that Seth could do had been completed, he picked up his wife and daughter and flew them to the school's medical center.

Fortunately their aerial trip was not observed. Entering the hospital, Seth called for Dr. Klein who arrived almost immediately. Seeing what Seth was carrying, he hustled them into an empty room, where he thoroughly examined Margot and her new born daughter. After the check-up, he asked Seth to allow Margot and the baby to be admitted to the hospital and stay overnight. He wanted to monitor them both to make sure that mother and daughter were A-okay. Seth agreed, providing he could stay with them. "No problem," Dr. Klein replied and made arrangements for a room with a crib and an extra bed.

Several minutes after Seth had flown Margot and their baby to the medical center, Clark, Alicia, and David arrived at their New Haven home. Discerning the condition of the den area, they hastened to the hospital. As Seth and Margot were discussing names for their new daughter, three newly arrived super-beings suddenly invaded their space.

After a round of hugs, kisses and back slapping, Alicia asked, "What name have you guys chosen for this little munchkin?" Margot replied, "We're gonna call her Jessica Rose."

Clark lifted up Seth's and Margot's first born while Margot said, "Here's to Jessica Rose, the newest member of the Klein family and a very special addition of our people."

"Here, here" echoed through the room.

Slapping Seth on back, David said to Margot, with tears in his eyes, "You two have a beautiful daughter and have given her an exquisite name." Margot reached for David's hand and squeezed it murmuring, "Thank's, my brother."

As the super family chatted amongst themselves, Clark sat in a chair and became somewhat pensive.

Noting Clark's thoughtful mood, Alicia said lightheartedly, "A penny for your thoughts cuz."

Clark looked at Alicia, smiled, and said to all present, "You know, Margot's statement 'our people,' spoken in a nonchalant manner, was more than just a carefree phrase. Think about its meaning," Clark said.

Looking at the baby for a few seconds, Clark added, "Those of us in this room all possess unusual physical abilities and exceptional mental capabilities. If our existence were known, ask yourselves how would the greater part of Earth's population react to our presence?"

As Clark stared at his kin, he knew that they understood. Shaking his head, he commented, "The people of this planet do not have a good track record when dealing with differences. This is especially true when you see how existing ethnic and racial diversities treat one another. The notion of 'treat the stranger as thyself' is a magnificent concept. Unfortunately, at present, it's just an ideal. Most often this beautiful thought is ignored because of fear. Terror of the unknown often clouds the public's mind when it comes to the unknown. Fear of the stranger can generate such mindless hatred that people's blood lust would cause unimaginable death and destruction."

"What are you're inferring?" David asked Clark.

"I'm suggesting," Clark answered David, "That until the mistrust of the outsider wanes, we should not acknowledge the existence of our emerging people."

After listening to Clark's comments, Seth said, looking at his daughter, "I am in, this includes all of us."

After listening to the family's discussion, Seth chimed in commenting, "The Terra-Kryptonian (TK) people, who came into existence with the aid of some Kryptonian technology, would be considered aliens if they knew we existed. Aliens in the minds of our neighbors because of their innate fear of the unknown. They would view us with suspicion and as a possible threat to their society. Therefore, I strongly favor that we remain cautious when dealing with cousins on this planet."

"Although it is not logical nor wise to speculate about the future of our family," David remarked, "I feel that we as a people have been created by destiny for some sublime task. However, until conditions change on Earth, I agree with Clark and Seth. We must conceal the existence of our emerging society for our mutual protection, so eventually we can fulfil our kismet."

"Furthermore," David added, "a new beginning requires a new covenant. I know that we've talked about this idea before, but now, with the birth of this precious baby, I believe it's time we acted on that notion. After Margot and Jessica are strong enough to travel, we should retire to the Kent farm and consider a new perspective for us and our descendants."

When David concluded his remarks, they all looked at one other and silently nodded their heads.

A direction had been chosen and the trail marked. The march toward Utopia had begun.


A month later, the entire family journeyed to the Kent homestead. Clark's and Alicia's parents also were included in this assemblage. In fact, they were also invited to be working members of the first Terra-Kryptonian conclave.

For the first few days at the Kent farm everybody relaxed. The preparation for the coming event had pretty much exhausted everybody and frayed their nerves.

As the family tried to relax, Sara and Martha spent most of their time spoiling Jessica Rose. They said it was their prerogative as acting-grandparents to pamper the child.

Of course Seth protested, but his words fell on deaf ears.

Margot just laughed. She knew that this was a no-win situation. A return to a so-called normal routine for Jessica would have to wait until she and Seth and their child returned to New Haven.

After the family's R and R had calmed everyone's frazzled nerves to some degree, Clark summoned everybody to a meeting, which would take place in Martha's dining room. The agenda for this gathering was to define the ethical and moral protocols for their newly evolving community.

Clark started the dialogue by contending that the central core of their spirituality should be the revelation at Sinai — the Ten Commandments.

He asked, "Does anybody here disagree with this recommendation?" No one challenged his proposal.

David added, "There are many philosophical texts that I believe should be included as historical references and guides, which can help clarify and enhance the way we approach the divine." Again, none of the assemblage disagreed with ideas placed on the table.

While contemplating other notions, Margot remarked, "You know guys, what we're doing is removing the dogmas of the past and casting out the overbearing ceremonial rituals which have evolved over the ages."

Josh Gerstein then commented, "Margot, I believe you have summed up the ethical and moral foundations of a new tradition."

Nodding his head, as if agreeing with his own thoughts, Josh then added, "What about practical issues like marriage, baby naming, war, etcetera, etcetera?"

"The naming of children," Alicia answered her father, "should still be the prerogative of the parents. Names and dates of newborns ought to be recorded on a parchment-like substance obtained from Charlie I." She passed out samples for them to examine.

"It's nearly indestructible," Alicia told her family, "and it can be used for recording marriages, baby namings and a host of domestic things about individual families. These items could be stored for posterity when access would be universal. All official documents should be encoded within the crystal structure of stabilized diamonds and stored in electronic safes. In this way such information would also endure for eternity."

"If there are no nay sayers," David commented, "I vote that we accept Alicia's proposal." The silence that followed his remark was like thunder roaring across the sky shouting *yes, yes, yes…*

Then Seth chimed in, "The possibility of war or fighting for one's own survival will necessitate a military presence within our community. I personally believe that all members of the Terra-Kryptonian people, should be warriors as well as scholars. Military training, therefore, should be mandatory."

Seth was fully aware that there would be strong opposition to his military proposal. War was an abhorrent estate to their group.

So, before any nay sayers could speak up, Seth strengthened his position by quoting Thomas Jefferson, who had proclaimed "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

"Does Jefferson's thoughts answer those who may be somewhat leery about a military presence among our people?" Alicia's father said, "I think you and Jefferson would have made a great team. From my knowledge and experience during World War II," Josh remarked, "I, for one, will support your proposition."

With some reservation the super family agreed to include Seth's military position supported strongly by Josh and David.

Martha then reintroduced the marriage question. "Matrimony," she said, "is such a vital link between souls and the divine that it shouldn't be taken lightly. If the matrimonial pillars of this new society we're creating are strong, a sound and loving family structure will be forged and can be easily maintained. I believe that from such a spirituality oriented and loving family we will create and perpetuate good ethical and moral values generation after generation."

"Martha," Alicia said, "to alleviate not only your concerns about the nature of marriage and our people, David and I have prepared a protocol for celebrating connubiality. I guess it's time to present our recommendations to the family." Without further adieu, Alicia began to read the framework of a matrimonial contract that she and David prepared.

"(1) The Groom, when placing a plain gold ring on the right index finger of the Bride, should make the following statement: "By this ring, you are consecrated to me as my wife in accordance with the Ordinances of the Terra- Kryptonian people, G-D's edicts expressed in the Decalogue, and the longing of our souls."

"(2) The Bride, when placing a plain gold ring on the right index finger of the Groom, should make the following statement: "I belong to my husband as he belongs to me. This ring is a symbol that you are my soulmate and is a proclamation of my love and devotion to my life partner until times end."

Alicia continued, "Both my fiance and I felt that each participant in the ceremony should express a separate but equal statement. However, the actual binding process is the same: a ring, placed on the right index finger. The right index finger was chosen because it contains blood vessels that are directly connected to the heart, the traditional seat of love. You should note that in our declaration statements, the right index finger is pointed in an upward position, acknowledging and giving honor to the Eternal one."

Pausing for a moment, Alicia added, "David felt that by exalting the creator of the universe, by the pointing gesture, the marriage would affirm the struggle between life and chaos, good and evil. In that way, the ceremony would then take on the trappings of hope. For, from the union of two soulmates would come forth children who would carry the life force of their parents to a time that neither would live to see." David then chimed in, "If this ceremonial proposal is acceptable, Alicia and I also have prepared a formal marriage contract for your perusal."

After talking amongst themselves, Martha speaking for the family said, "We accept the mechanics of the nuptial ceremony, but the family would like to hear the wording of your marriage contract. Both together should be a package."

Alicia nodded and spread a collection of papers, taken from her briefcase, over the kitchen table.

She then said to her family, "David and I fashioned this Marriage Document to be witnessed by a minimum of three individuals, who should not be directly related by blood to either the Bride nor the Groom. All others present who wish to affix their names to the certificate of marriage may do so. While we believe that our declarations in this Marriage Contract can be altered by either the bride or groom to suit their own particular needs, the general format should not be modified."

The following sentiments," Alicia promulgated, "are the feelings that David and I wish to express during our nuptials. They can be used as the guidelines, if you like, for all other such marriage documents."


witnessed before those present on The …Day of The Month of … (year) …, The Covenant of Marriage Was Entered Into At (place) … Between The Bridegroom … and The Bride …

Who Both Declare:

"May we be consecrated to each other by the tokens of love we gave and received. Let our souls be forever intertwined in a flowing tapestry of hope and trust. May our home be rich with wisdom, sharing ideas as equals and best friends allowing love to gently comfort our quiet times and enrich our joy. May we create a home that embraces our family and friends with laughter, warmth, understanding, and loving kindness.

"May the love that we share increase with the passage of time and our devotion for each other endure beyond forever. Set unwavering love as an everlasting seal upon our hearts and minds for it is a bond that is stronger than death.

"Let it be further known that we take each other in love and tenderness. We take each other in faithfulness. May our hearts beat in unison in days of joy and in times of tribulation. Let our lives together be illuminated by our people's heritage. May our love for each other last from the beginning of our time together to time's end."

The Covenant of Marriage Has Been Signed According to the Traditions of the Terra-Kryptonian People that had its beginnings with the patriarchs and matriarchs of our community.

Groom …

Bride …

Witnesses (sign below)

Alicia summed up by saying, "After the ceremony, the tokens, which will probably be the wedding bands, can be worn on the third finger of the left or right hand, which is traditional among Earth folk."

Clark then asked, "Are there any objections, amendments or additions? Is anybody opposed to this document?" There was a chapel like stillness following his question.

"Okay," Clark declared, "We have the framework for a marriage document."

Seth then raised the question about which holidays would be commemorated.

"From both of our traditions," Clark said, "I propose that just two holiday seasons be celebrated: first, combine Chanukah and Christmas into one, and call it 'The Festival of Hope'; the other combination should be that of Easter and Passover.

"The Easter and Passover holidays both represent beginnings. Without Passover, Hebraic thoughts and the revelation at Sinai would never have occurred and Christianity and Islam would never have evolved. I suggest we simply call this holiday season 'Genesis.' "

"While I agree with your proposal," Seth remarked, "I think we should add a third component to our holiday agenda."

Clark looked at Seth and said, "OK, let's hear your idea."

"In the fall of the year, I believe that we should have a day of introspection. A day in which we review the past year and attempt to change our natures for the better by improving upon those things which have troubled us. We could do this evaluation individually or as a group. In retrospect, maybe both in a group *and* individually would be the ideal way to go."

The family believed that Seth's thought was a sound idea, since, in time, the community would wield great power and with such power must go well-thought-out responsibilities. The community's muscle must always be tempered with prudence, for their sakes, and for the world on which they dwell.

To add support to Seth's idea, Margot very solemnly remarked, "The concept of self and group evaluation is perhaps much more important than we think. Immense power can foster ghastly immorality. A corrupt society, no matter how powerful, is doomed to dissolution. Remember that our future descendants have a rendezvous with destiny. The future of the cosmos may depend in large measure upon our family and the society it creates. Therefore, we and our descendants must see to it that our journey to that special time and place, refered to as utopia, be guarded and preserved at all costs."

"Are there any objections to Seth's proposal?" Clark polled the group. There were none.

"The last item on the agenda," Clark remarked, "refers to the kind of government we want to establish for our community."

For a moment there was silence, then Sara Gerstein said, "Why not subsist without a formal kind governmental system?"

The entire group gazed at Sara in bewilderment after proposing her revolutionary idea.

When the chatter had died down, Sara smiled at her family's befuddled looks and continued, "The members of the community, which we are creating, all possess IQ's that soar into the intellectual stratosphere. Because of your sense of commitment to one another and to all people throughout this world, you already are emulating the statutes revealed at Sinai."

Sara then added "Governments are constituted to generate laws so that societies can function. Mankind, unfortunately, has not progressed beyond this societal contrivance. This governing mechanism is necessary because there are evil individuals living within every society who must be monitored and controlled for the good of the whole. Our present institutions persist as a safety net and act as a deterrent to such individuals. Intelligent people, with strong moral and ethical commitments, need no such constraints. Your minds will govern your actions, and our new community will function for the good of the whole."

"What you are proposing, Sara, is a pure democratic society," Clark quietly insinuated.

Sara teased, "Yes my son, I think you've got it."

"While I like your notions, Sara," David chimed in, "what mechanism would you use when a change in our society's rules are required?"

"Since you're all Terra-Kryptonian or Krytonian as the case maybe, you all possess fantastic IQ's, are highly educated in diverse disciplines, and already work for the betterment of your fledgling community," Sara reminded them. "Is it so hard to envision the formation of a committee which would be empowered to create a law(s) which could rectify the inadequacy within your society. When a new law would be suggested, it would be sent to the community at large, to be scrutinized and commented upon. Then it would be returned to the committee for clarification and with recommendations. When completed, the new law would be voted upon by the entire population. With vast scientific expertise in our group, voting could easily be done electronically, from any point on the planet."

"We'll have to make voting mandatory for all family members, since it's by the ballot that our community will maintain its freedom. After the vote, of course, the committee would dissolve, since it would no longer be needed. When another law is required, a new committee would be formed and the process repeated."

Alicia asked, "What do think of my mother's proposal?" Agreement again was unanimous. They all knew, however, that a serious debate still remained to place Sara's ideas into a workable format.


As Jonathan and Clark walked from the farm house to enjoy an afternoon together, CK's father placed his arm about his son's back and said, "Clark, what you and the others accomplished, in the past few days, I feel will affect eternity. Maybe it's my sense of pride in you and the others that makes me say these things. However, I believe your mother and I and the Gersteins have witnessed the beginning of something wonderful…magnificent. While your mother and I have little time left to enjoy the wonders and joys of this world, we can't complain. Martha and I have been twice blessed. Our first blessing occurred when we found you as a baby and secondly, to have been witness to the beginnings of a marvelous adventure which you and your fantastic friends have begun is truly a miracle. You young folks are lucky. You'll live more than two hundred years, if Dr. Klein is right, and be able to see the dawning of a Utopian culture which, in time, may be the salvation of this world."

Clark smiled at Jonathan and with tears flowing from his eyes, embraced his father.

While there was no logical reason to subscribe to Jonathan's prophetic reflections, Clark had a gut feeling that his father's presumptions were cogent.

As Jonathan moved off, Martha approached her son. She said, "I want you to know that I've taken extensive notes describing the entire course of this conference. What do you want to do with my comments?"

"Your memoranda, mom, will become part of our archives." He then added, "Place everybody's name on the document and we'll transfer your notes to that special paper Alicia talked about and place the finished product in the family's archive. Yours, mom, will be our fist link with our posterity. Assuming Alicia's remarks about her special paper are true, your comments will be read and commented upon for all eternity or as long as our community survives."

"Who will want to remember me?" Martha giggled. "You'd be surprised," Clark remarked, "you'd be surprised."

Clark looked at his mother with serious eyes and quietly said, "I have a feeling that our names will be a part of this new community of ours for as long as it exists."

Placing his mother's hand in his, Clark, with philosophical insight, said, "You know mom, I believe that if a name is remembered, that person's essence will never die and be lost to his people. I've had this conviction for some time that those of us here today shall live in the hearts of our burgeoning society for all time. I know it sounds crazy, but I can't get that thought out of my head." He then kissed Martha on the forehead and began walking toward David who just arrived on the scene.

Martha just stood there watching her son move off. She was so overwhelmed with joy that tears of happiness flowed continuously from her eyes. "It was hard work raising him," she recalled, "but the man that Clark had become through Jonathan's and my nurturing efforts, would alter the fabric of the world. Common folk, like me and my friends, would not have to live in uncertainty or fear. Because of him," Martha murmured quietly to herself, "and the newly created super community, I feel that people of this world would begin to walk from the darkness of the past toward the dawn of a new day." Martha, looking heavenward, thanked G-D that she and her husband and the Gersteins had lived to witness this remarkable event.

While members of the new super community were milling about the Kent homestead, a shimmering light suddenly appeared in front of the farmhouse. Its appearance caused the chickens to scurry in all directions and the other farm animals to become agitated. When the light finally subsided, one could see a modified carriage cast in a style that was very popular during the late nineteenth century. As Clark regarded the scene, a man clothed in what appeared to be Victorian type garb emerged from the surrey.

Tipping his hat, the stranger announced in an English accent, "My name is H. G. Wells."

"Herbert George Wells, the writer," David said in a rather stunned voice.

After a few seconds, David continued, "You're dead! You passed away in nineteen forty-six," he added sitting down with an incredulous expression on his face.

Wells then doffed his hat to David when Alicia's soulmate acknowledged his authoring status, and replied, "In theory I would agree with you, David, however, since I am a traveler in time, dates take on a rather fuzzy significance."

Calming himself, Clark queried Wells, "Sir, what's your purpose for moving through the time-space continuum?"

Wells responded to Clark's question, directing his thoughts to the entire family. "I'm sort of a defender of the time line which stretches from the remote past to a place called Utopia by its inhabitants.

"You should all know," Well's informed them, "From this auspicious gathering, and the formation of your super society, you have embarked on a journey that will result in the Utopian community of which I spoke."

Questioning Wells further, Seth asked, "If you are a guardian of the time line, can I infer that there may be trouble along your temporal thoroughfare?"

"Occasionally," Wells smiled, "there are renegades who wish to destroy Utopia by disrupting the time stream." Wells then walked over to Margot's little girl. "Is this Jennifer Rose?" Wells asked. Margot smiled and nodded. "She'll be a magnificent woman in the future, and will contribute greatly to the TK people," Wells happily informed Margot and the others. He then looked at his watch and said, "It's time for me to leave. Before departing, I do have a request to make."

"What is it?" Seth inquired.

"May I visit you again at some future time?" Wells asked. Alicia replied by saying, "I believe that I speak for myself and the family when I say you'll always be a welcome guest at our house."

Adding weight to Alicia's statement, everyone nodded in agreement to her comment.

Just as Wells was about to take his leave, Clark asked him, "Since you say that our future is known to you, can you tell me whether or not there is a soulmate for me?"

Wells smiled and said to the young man, "Oh, yes. In fact, you and your life partner, and your descendents will figure prominently in the evolution of the Terra-Kryptonian community."

"Thanks for telling me," Clark replied. "At least I know that my travels through life won't be lonely and without love." Then, shaking Well's hand, Clark wished the time traveler G-D speed."

Wells then climbed back into his unique machine, tipped his hat, and disappeared into the murkiness of the time stream.


The next day the newly incorporated super community returned to their New Haven home.

Their final undergraduate year was relatively uneventful, except for one item worthy of note: David developed what his family called "TDs" — teleportation doors. This contrivance allowed nearly instantaneous movement between any two places on the planet. It felt like walking between two adjacent rooms in a house. The TDs were later discovered to be a ten-dimensional highway which could link any two locations throughout all time and space.

The TDs were first linked from the New Haven house to the Kent farm, the Gerstein's Colorado home, and David's great- grandmother's laboratory. Clark and Alicia modified David's invention so it could be activated through the auras exuded by each family member, the Gersteins, and the elder Kents.

The gate was relatively easy to operate. After activating a TD portal, a person would pass through what appeared to be a large picture frame into an antechamber. Once within this virtual room, they would precede to a control panel located in the center of the room. Imbedded in the control board were an array of switches. Activating the proper switch sequence would generate another entryway that appeared on the adjacent wall. The traveler would then simply pass through the second opening and arrive at their destination. As the traveler departed the TD network, the portal would automatically close concealing the TD gateway.

David's device was a blessing. It would allow travel between any two points on Earth without the possibility of detection. They knew that the new RADAR units coming on line could track any kind of flying object anywhere on the planet. Trask, they knew, was still out there hunting his obsession, alien invaders. His mania had so wrapped the man that he had developed psychopathic tendencies.

The TD turned out to be a wonderful device for the family. David, for example, could be whisked to his great- grandmother's Massachusetts laboratory-home or visit his in-laws in Colorado, all within a few seconds.

When the family eventually became more proactive, other TDs sites were created at strategic locations throughout the world. Reaching these destinations by the TD network would be significantly faster and safer than flying from one location to another. Time saved by using the TD system could literally be the difference between life and death for people enmeshed in life threatening difficulties.

As commencement from Yale approached, the super community applied to various doctoral programs at the California Institute of Technology. All were accepted. Near the end of May of their commencement year, Clark cautiously flew, by a circuitousness route, to Pasadena and bought another house. Like their home in New Haven, it was located in a residential area on the outskirts of the city. After the purchase was concluded, Clark installed a TD unit in the new residence and teleported back to his New Haven home

While the super clan waited for the commencement ceremony which would officially end they undergraduate days, the family kept itself busy by teleporting back and forth to their new house and modifying it according to their specific needs.

That summer, five super beings traveled to California by conventional means. Seth remained in New Haven. He needed another semester to finish his combined program — Business major and Mathematics minor.

Seth, like his wife, Margot, had also applied to Cal Tech for admission to a mathematics doctoral program and had been accepted — his graduate studies would begin in the middle of the coming academic year.

Seth's classmates felt sorry for Seth. They were under the illusion that he would be separated from his wife and child for many months — they being three thousand miles to the West. Little did Seth's peer group know that each evening, using the TD network, he would travel to the sunshine state to be with his beloved wife and daughter.

Some six months after his family relocated to California, Seth graduated from Yale, with honors, and passed his MBA exams. He then rejoined his family in California and entered academic life at Cal Tech.



Three years and seven months later, six super-beings were settled in what they hoped would be their permanent home for the foreseeable future. It was located at 348 Hyperion Avenue in the city of Metropolis, a great cultural and economic center, on the Eastern seaboard of the USA. While David and Margot obtained positions at STAR Labs, a prestigious research institution, Clark and Alicia enrolled in a one-year graduate journalism program at Metropolis University.

While Bernie Klein introduced David and Margot to their colleagues, Clark and Alicia attended a soiree welcoming new students to the journalism school or J school as it was fondly called. As Clark and Alicia mingled with their classmates, they saw an elderly gentleman standing in a corner of the room. Curious, they moseyed toward him to introduce themselves.

When the three converged, Clark held out his hand and said, "Hi, my name is Clark Kent, and this is my cousin Alicia, who I often refer to as my sister."

Taking Clark's hand, the older man remarked, "You're that close,"

"We're that close," Clark replied.

The older man smiled, and said, "Pleased to meet ya both. My monicker is Perry White."

Clark said, "Looks like you are also a corner commando, Mr. White."

"Et tu, Mr. Kent," Perry commented and smiled.

"Absolutely," Clark replied. "I like to stand in a corner and observe the social players with their mating plumage in full display rather than frolic with them." Clark then added, "My sister here is protected from such social snares because she is an engaged lady."

"Engaged lady… 'Holy Cow' Alicia, I just remembered," CK stammered. "Your wedding is at the end of the month."

She grinned at Clark and simply responded with a torrid "Yep. It's about time," she teased, "you caught up with the important happenings in the family."

"Okay, okay, I got your message. I'll try to be more aware of the mundane," Clark teased Alicia in return.

As Clark turned again toward Perry, the older man asked, "What newspapers are you two affiliated with?"

"We are not reporters," Alicia responded. "There were openings in the masters class, so we took a shot and applied. To our surprise, we were accepted into the program.

"In our field, Perry, journal space is quite limited. By learning from professional writers, we hope to acquire skills that will help us write in a more proficient fashion and allow us to explain the substantive material in our articles more clearly."

"What paper do you work for?" Clark asked.

"The Daily Planet," Perry replied.

"That's a fine newspaper," Alicia replied.

Perry's voice rose a little as he said with pride, "It's the best newspaper in the world!"

"Best, like all adjectives, is a relative term," Clark said to him.

"You two talk like some sort of scientists," Perry teased. After his playful statement, Perry noticed the grin on both Clark's and Alicia's faces.

Then the realization hit him. They were scientific types.

Before Perry could say anything more, Clark remarked, "Yes we are. Alicia and I have earned doctorates in physics."

Alicia then chimed in and said, "Please Perry, don't divulge that information to anyone in the class. We just want to be accepted as plain old Dick and Jane, students who are earning a masters degree in journalism."

Perry smiled and said in a warm and friendly voice, "As Elvis is my idol, no one will hear that bit of gossip from me, little lady."

The Editor and Chief of the Daily Planet looked at these handsome, highly intelligent people and realized, without knowing why, that he had just made two new friends. Their relationship, his gut told him, would deepen with time.

As he looked at these two kids, Perry realized that they didn't ask about his position in the Planet organization and didn't seem to care. All these kids seemed to want was to make a friend. These are the kind of people, like my Lois and Jimmy, that I want to know and would like to keep as life long confidants.

This, for Perry, was the most refreshing and profound experience he had in many days. How many times in the past had so-called "friends" tried to exploit his editorial position to further their own ends?

He had, in his long tenure in journalism, and would probably do so again in the future, tried to help sycophants who ask for assistance to attain their goals. As long as people were not hurt in the process Perry would help. However, to trust and befriend those kinds of people was far from his style.

In front of him were two youngsters who just wanted to be friends. In his world of dog eat dog, their attitude was very refreshing. He had to know more about these kids.

"Where do you come from?" Perry asked.

"My parents live in Smallville, Kansas. Alicia's home is in Colorado Springs, Colorado," Clark answered Perry's query.

"How can a brother and sister have two different home towns and possess dissimilar last names?" Perry remarked.

Clark rapidly explained, "We were separated shortly after our births and adopted by two different households, fortunately, with very similar family values. About eight years ago, we discovered one another. During this time, we have formed an extremely close brother-sister relationship. The only human interrelationship which is stronger than our togetherness, I believe, exists only between soulmates."

"Soulmates," Perry quipped.

"A soulmate," Alicia declared, "is a life partner, a person that fuses with you in a spiritual sense and makes a unbreakable whole from two separate individualistic parts. A whole, I might add, that is stronger than the sum of its biological components."

Perry replied, "May Elvis help me, I don't understand your philosophical mumbo-jumbo, but that doesn't stop me from liking you both."

"Isn't that what it is all about, Perry — liking and helping people?" Clark replied.

Perry smiled and shook his head, agreeing with Clark's notion and saying to himself, another of the rare breed.

"Look," Clark said, "since none of us are enjoying this shindig, let's get the heck out of here."

"Where we goin?" Perry asked.

"We'll go to our house, Perry, where I'll cook you a great meal."

Perry's eyes lit up when he heard the phrase home cooked food. "Son, he said, food is a go sign. Let's vamoose, guys."


After the home cooked meal, Perry said, "Clark, you could make a fortune being a chef. You're a great home-grown culinary magician."

"Sir, my mother is the cook in our family; my skills are only a pale imitation of her culinary skills." Perry noticed that Clark not only praised his mother, but did so with reverence.

Nevertheless, Perry praised the boy by saying, "Son, it was a great meal."

As Perry watched Clark's facial expressions when money had been briefly mentioned, he realized that his comments about a career which focused just on earning money seemed to bother the young man.

While Perry browsed about the kitchen, Clark turned to Perry and said in a reflective tone, "My other family members and I never seriously considered doing any thing just to procure money. To us, money is a bartering tool. It has no intrinsic value of its own. Most who seek to acquire money for its own sake, we've noticed, do not exhibit sound ethical and moral values or use their accumulated wealth wisely."

After pursuing the money issue a bit further, Clark said, "I've noticed that many individuals who acquire great wealth tend to use their riches to acquire power. Power, unless its limits are understood and controlled, generally becomes a corrupting influence upon the user and on society. Although you and I know that corruption spawned by the unwise use of great wealth may be short lived, the results still can be calamitous. The fabric of society can be torn asunder causing chaos in the world. I may be over simplifying the situation, but history seems to be on my side."

"Perry," Clark continued, "my friends and I chose to study the sciences because any tool, when used properly, can benefit humankind. In your field, like pure scientific research, one generally doesn't earn much money when compared to other kinds of business activities. However, people like you and I and our close friends and associates know that helping one person is like assisting the entire world in time. In my view, individuals who help other people are the true heroes of our world."

Perry scrutinized Clark and Alicia and replied, "Journalism is like science in that regard. It tries to help people and discredit those that would exploit their neighbors." He pondered a bit and then said, "With your attitude, you guys may want to consider investigative journalism as a career possibility."

"This may surprise you Perry, but Alicia and I have been considering that very option. Working as a journalist would give us the opportunity to work with people and also remain active on the scientific scene." Clark added, "My laboratory is in my head and all the supplies that I need are some relatively simple tools — a pencil and a note pad. Alicia is in a similar position. The kind of computer she would need to aid her research is already in her possession."

Pausing for a moment, Clark continued, "While the writing skills we need to be a competent journalist can be mastered, the nature of the newspaper establishments themselves are a big question mark. There appears to be a trend toward tabloidism in the newspaper business. Neither Alicia nor I can stomach slander. Once you defile a person's good name, a stigma will be attached to that individual for life — even if she or he is eventually absolved from any wrongdoing. My sister and I would be devastated if we were involved in such a situation. We'll closely watch the journalistic scene and listen to our classmates over the next year and then make our decision. Who knows what the future may hold for us?"

At that point, Perry somehow knew that his new friends were much more than just highly ethical and moral individuals. They possessed a nobility of character that he could not quite comprehend, but one he could certainly appreciate. Their convictions echoed his own. He also rationalized from their conversation that Clark and Alicia were not only fine people, but that the friendship that was being forged between himself and two scientists would endure any differences they would have.

His thoughts were interrupted by Alicia calling them for dessert. Perry put his arm around Clark's shoulder as they returned to the dining room and said, "If dessert is as good as the main course, I'll have to diet for a week."

As he sat at the table thoroughly enjoying his desert, Perry thought, "Finding these two young people was a G-D send." Not since the passionate and lively times he once shared with Alice, his wife, had he felt so at ease and spunky. Reminiscing, Perry again realized his life had been a lonely and isolating existence since he and Alice had gone their separate ways.


As the year progressed, the friendship and working relationship between Perry, Alicia, and Clark, the class called the three musketeers, matured from a friendship to nearly family status. When Alicia married David during that year, Perry was the only outsider privileged to attend the traditional ceremony at the Gersteins' home. The new covenant marriage ceremony was only observed by the ten family members, eight of whom wrote their names on the wedding document, as witnesses. Jessica Rose was beaming after she signed. For the first time in her life, she had been accorded the rights of an adult.

Near the end of the academic year, Perry visited his old friend, Professor Jonah Jurgens, who was the director of the J. School graduate programs. He asked, "How are Alicia and Clark faring with respect to the rest of their class?"

Jonah replied, "Perry, you old warhorse, if I were in your position, I'd hire them on the spot. At the beginning of the program, they were just somewhat better than the average writers in the class. As the year progressed, the improvement in their writing skills has been phenomenal. At present, they are the finest investigative journalistic writers that I've ever had the pleasure to shepherd."

"Are they as good as Lois Lane?" Perry queried.

Jurgens smiled and responded, "I wouldn't want to bet on the difference."

Perry just grinned.

"Looking at their recent papers," Jurgens continued, "I found that Alicia's writing was unique unto herself, while Lane's and Kent's styles appeared to be complementary. Clark's writing tends to sing and his articles really took- off when it came to the 'touchy-feelly' stuff. The work projects he's submitted over the year have a poetic quality. His prose generally flows and piques the readers' interest nearly from the start of his article. Lane's writing, as you know, is more analytical in character and more heavy hitting; Lois' writing is like a lecturer who presents a topic in a choreographic sequence. Put them both together and you'll probably have the finest reporting partnership of the century. Of course, Perry, you know that all of my comments are just my humble opinions."

Perry smiled and thanked his old friend and colleague for his views.

The last phase of the J. School program was farming the students out to local newspapers for some practical experience — the J school's outreach program. This gave Perry a chance to push Clark and Alicia toward the Planet. He contacted his friend and colleague Alan Jacobs, who was now Acting Editor-in-Chief, while Perry attended the J. School during his sabbatical year.

With Perry's strong recommendation, invitations were sent to Clark and Alicia requesting them to do their J. School outreach exercises at the Daily Planet.


About one month prior from commencement, Alicia and Clark began their association with the Daily Planet. Alan Jacobs partnered Alicia with Barry Williams, at the Science Desk, while he asked Clark to edit several articles Lois Lane had left in some disarray when she left hurriedly on an overseas assignment.

Lois had been sent to Istanbul to investigate the drug trafficking between Turkey and major U.S. population centers. Eventually a great expose would appear in the Daily Planet based on her investigation. Heads in high places would roll and Lois would achieve yet another Kerth for this article.

By the end of the J. School's outreach program, Alicia demonstrated remarkable mastery of the skills needed to run the Science Desk. The current Science Editor had such faith in her that he felt that it safe to attend a local conference and left Alicia in charge of his desk.

Clark, on the other hand, was asked to make major revisions on six of Lois Lane's unfinished articles. In one particular story dealing with the poor condition of senior citizen housing, he added, after further researching the area, nearly thirty percent more relevant data to Lois' original piece. In the other Lois Lane's articles which Clark edited, he used the new technique of sidebars, which enabled the writer to narrate a secondary story within the major theme. This story within a story technique improved the clarity and strength of the original pieces. When Clark finished his outreach exercise, he duplicated the old and revised versions of Lois' stories and submitted them to the J. School as his final project.

At the end of the academic year and their master's degree program, Alicia and Clark were finally informed about Perry's relationship with the Daily Planet.

To Perry White's relief, this revelation did not alter the intimate friendship that had developed between himself and his two young proteges.

At commencement, both Alicia and Clark received the only academic journalism awards given to their class.

After the J. School's various commencement functions, Perry offered both Clark and Alicia jobs as Daily Planet reporters. Alicia would become the Science Editor. She had been highly recommended for this position by Barry Williams, who was on the verge of retiring.

Clark was offered a special assignment; he would travel with Alan Jacobs, who had been assigned the task of establishing a Daily Planet wire and financial news service in Singapore. Clark would spend a year editing and assisting Alan in the creation of this enterprise. At the end of his Singapore tenure, he would train a new editor — a person not yet selected. Then he would return to Metropolis and become an investigative reporter for the Planet.

Clark accepted Perry's offer.

"Using the TDs," Clark reflected, "I can travel back and forth to my Hyperion Avenue home at will."


About two weeks after Clark and Alan departed for Asia, Lois Lane returned to her familiar haunts and home away from her apartment, the newsroom at the Daily Planet. With her she carried a blockbuster story. It would make the drug lords of the world run for cover. Getting herself a cup of coffee, Lois settled down to review the unfinished articles on her desk. Lane planned to spend a week or so completing and polishing her articles and send them to the chief for editing. Publication, she was confident, would certainly follow.

When she searched for her works in progress works, she observed were two piles of papers. One contained her original manuscripts, while the other stack included the same material, but, the articles had, she noticed after a quick perusal, obviously been edited.

Sitting at her desk, Lois began to seethe. Her temper went from a calm to near hysterical in a nanosecond. Turning toward Perry's office she yelled, "Chieeeeeeeeeef!" Perry blanched as he heard Lois screech, and scooted to her desk.

As he arrived, she stammered, "Whaaat haaaaaappened…to my articles?! Who worked on them?" Before Perry could explain, Lois yelling said, "Nobody, and I repeat, nobody touches my copy on the pain of death. Whoever did this will suffer my wrath."

Perry eventually calmed Lois down and then quickly explained what had occurred.

His explanation seemed to placate her to some degree. When Perry had departed, however, Lois' anger resurfaced. In a sarcastic tone, she asked, "Does anybody have any info on this scuzzball Kent?"

A face Lois didn't recognize spoke up and remarked, "I believe he hails from Smallville, Kansas. That's all anybody on the newsfloor knows for sure."

"Ah ha, a hack from the sticks," she snorted.

Alicia became livid at Lois' outburst and quickly distanced herself from "mad dog Lane."

Returning to her work station at the Science Desk, Alicia murmured to herself, "Lois Lane is certainly living up to her callous and uncompromising reputation."

From now on, Alicia would, whenever possible, make it a point to avoid *the cantankerous and self-centered L. Lane*.

As Perry watched Alicia react to Lois, it was obvious that his top reporter had alienated herself from yet another person. By Lois' huffy comments, Clark's sister wouldn't want to know the Lane woman on a more personal level. Too bad, Perry thought to himself. Lois has created another wary associate and became isolated from yet another staffer.

During the next several weeks, Lois, after bring her emotions into line again scrutinized the articles revised by Clark Kent and decided to submit the edited stories for publication. Over the next several days, Lois' articles appeared on the front page of the Daily Planet, with just her by-line. No mention of Clark's contribution was made in the form of an acknowledgment. When Alicia became aware of what Lois had done, she silently seethed with anger. She felt the hurt for her brother, who deserved better.

For days, Alicia's anger quietly simmered over what Lois had done. That woman had simply appropriated what another had contributed to her work as if they were her own ideas. Lois had used the rational that Clark was merely a student while he worked on her material; therefore, she felt justified in excluding him from any recognition whatsoever.

This was an excellent example of the self-centered and I- want-it-all attitude that was the mark of mad-dog Lane. While Alicia was welcome to join Lois' circle of female associates, she would only dealt with Lois and her women companions on a professional level. To her, they represented the female side of the chauvinism issue. Discrimination in any form disgusted Alicia.


Several weeks after Lois appropriated Clark's contributions to her publications, without so much as a thank you or by your leave, Alicia received an urgent email from her husband. With his communique, David transmitted an attachment, which contained nearly a dozen coded astronomical photographs. By safeguarding the pictures, Alicia knew they had originated on the family's space platform located in the vicinity of Mars. By the format of the message, Alicia was aware that the pictures had been obtained by the clans' super electronic telescope. The Mars station was relatively small, not like their Centauri station, and was designed essentially for research work and the surveillance of objects passing around or through the solar system. It was powered by a fusion reactor operating within the asteroid belt. The energy generated by the fusion facility was continuously beamed to the Mars station, supplying all the platform's power needs. The asteroid-based reactor would provide would almost limitless energy to the Mars station for a billion years or more. There was also a back-up energy source installed on the space platform itself for emergency purposes. It, too, had an extended lifetime — approximately a thousand years. As part of the TD network, travel between the Mars platform and Earth was an easy and rapid trip.

The creation of the Mars space station and its observatory had been recommended by Josh Gerstein. He convinced the family that they should begin a search for star systems which could support Terra-Kryptonian life forms. Although the use of such worlds probably would not be needed for thousands of years, their descendants, at some point in time, would eventually require more living space and would need to establish themselves on other worlds.

Seeing the value of Josh's recommendation, the super family started to search the heavens for a new cosmic address. When the project was inaugurated, those present knew that their search could take several generations. Those present today would, in all probability, not be around when the family's objectives were finally realized.

In addition to their search for new worlds, the astronomical instruments were also set up to monitor the movements of space objects as they crisscrossed the Sol star system.

After studying the astro-photographs from the Mars station, Alicia grabbed her phone and tried to contact Perry. Realizing that her intercom system was malfunctioning, she turned to Lois and asked if she could use her inter-office telephone. Lois, annoyed at being disturbed, only glared at Alicia.

Giving "mad dog Lane" a contemptuous look, Alicia then asked Bob Dune if she could use his phone. "Sure," he said with a smile.

"Thanks." Alicia replied, as she frantically dialed Perry's office number.

Answering his phone after several rings, Perry responded in an annoyed tone, "Hello, this better be important or you're fired." The chief had given orders not to be disturbed until after lunch.

His administrative paper work was burying him and he had to get it done. Taking him away from the newsroom also annoyed the hell out of him and made him cranky.

When Alicia heard the chief's voice, she ignored his sour tone and quickly said, "Perry, it's Alicia. It's imperative that I see you immediately."

Perry realized from her tone that some kind of emergency was imminent and replied in a softer voice, "Sure, come on over my friend." Alicia then jumped to her feet and rushed to Perry's office.

Lois just sat there, stunned, during the entire episode. Not in her recent memory had an employee called Perry White by his first name. And for him to call her 'friend…' Lois knew Perry acted like a father figure to all those in the newsroom, including herself, but friendship was not a word she would choose to describe Perry's association with the Planet's news staff.

Lois often felt that the smell of fear was what Perry liked to sense when he collaborated with the bullpen people. So Lois pondered, "Where and how did this friendship thing develop between the chief and Alicia?"

Maybe, Lois concluded, Alicia was a very close relative to either Perry or Alice.

"In all the years I've known the chief," Lois recalled, "Perry has been affectionate, at times, but he never called me *my friend.*

"Even today, with my stack of awards," Lois thought to herself, "I still wouldn't have the guts to address him by his first name."

After nearly a half-hour meeting with Perry, Lois saw Alicia emerge from the chief's inner sanctum, with an ashen appearance.

The Science Editor slowly returned to her work area and sat down at her desk. Watching her, Lois noticed that Alicia phased out and just peered into space.

As Lois had watched the scene unfolding between Alicia and Perry, her curiosity deepened exponentially and now neared a frenzied pitch.

Seeing Alicia sitting at her desk apparently doing little, Lois slowly stood up and sauntered over to her Alicia's workstation. She said in a soft calm voice, which belied her inner feelings, "I seem to be out of the loop here. *What in tarnation is going on between you and the chief?*"

In an attempt to get Alicia to open up, Lois added, "You know we're both women in a man's business. That alone should make us allies, if not friends. So tell me, please," as Lois looked into the chief's office, "what's causing Perry's frenzied activity?"

The Chief was, at that moment, rapidly pacing around his office, tossing his arms in the air, and talking on the phone at the same time. The expression on his face telegraphed to Lois *big, big story.*

Hearing the sound of Lois' babbling, Alicia snapped out of her semi-dazed condition and listened to her pleadings. Remembering what this woman had done to her brother brought out her claws.

"Lois," Alicia suddenly declared, "we may be colleagues, but we are certainly not confidants."

Pausing for a moment, Alicia then told the Planet's premiere investigative reporter, "While I'm not privy to the events which caused you to despise and distrust men, I am appalled that you let it warp your sense of gender reality. To place all guys in the same category is downright absurd, if not imbecilic.

"I've heard that stupid phrase you use constantly that men are testosterone driven sex machines. What would you want them to have — estrogen and behave like you? I think not. Just be thankful that nature created two genders — viva le difference."

Adding to her harangue Alicia continued, "Now that I think about it, your temperament makes you suspicious of most peoples' actions. You have erected walls to distance yourself from most individuals, especially men. That group of emotionally impaired women who gather regularly at your desk are mainly there to nourish your insecurities and support your lack of confidence in people. You refer to them as friends, Ha! Lois I don't think you have friends. You use people and then discard them when they no longer meet your needs. Baby, you better straighten out your emotional baggage or you're going to be a bitter and *lonely spinstress*."

"But, to be honest, Lois, there is particular reason that has kept us from becoming more than just colleagues," Alicia added. "You published six articles without acknowledging the effort of a person who labored long and hard to make them worthy of publication. He happens to be a very close friend and classmate of mine. I don't like thieves in any guise."

Lois, now steamed, was about to vigorously rebut Alicia's insinuations, when she noticed a very good-looking man come up behind Alicia and kiss her on the cheek. Lois was taken with this man that had striking green eyes with a sprinkling of red mixed throughout his flaxen hair.

Alicia quickly whirled around, her eyes ablaze. Recognizing the perpetrator of the kiss, a torrid smiled suddenly spread across her face. For a moment, the two lovers just stared at each other. Watching them, Lois could feel the deep affection flowing between Alicia and the man, which for a brief moment transported them into a world of their own. The look in both Alicia's and the newcomer's eyes made Lois feel that she had stumbled into a hidden sanctuary of sensual delights. As Lois Lane continued to gaze at Alicia and the magnificent specimen of a man, she found herself hoping, no wishing, that one day some guy would come into her life and fill her with that kind of fiery passion.

While continuing to watch Alicia and her Romeo, the man reached out his hand and gently caressed her cheek. Then, he slowly pulled her to him, their arms gently encircling one another. The kiss that followed was very passionate, causing Lois to blush. When the newsroom staff became aware of the two lovers, the usual whistles and catcalls erupted throughout the bullpen. The catcalls were naturally ignored by Alicia and her soulmate who had been transported to a universe for lovers only.

The commotion caused Perry to rush from his office and yell, "What in Elvis' name is going on here?" As he saw David and Alicia holding each other, Perry became quiet. He smiled and slowly returned to his office, muttering, "Love in the newsroom — what's next?"

When relative calm finally returned to the workplace, Alicia realized that she and David had really caused a ruckus. She quickly climbed up onto her desk and shouted, "May I please have your attention?" With all eyes upon her, she announced, "I would like you all to meet my husband, Dr. David Finderman."

In the moments that followed there was a mixture of the usual recognizable sounds — hiya, hi there, congratulations, does he have a brother… Lois was stunned by Alicia's statement. Then she noticed a small band of gold on Alicia's left hand. Some investigative reporter you are Lane, Lois chastised herself. How did she miss such an obvious token.

After things quieted down, Lois quietly asked, "How long have you two been married?"

"Nearly a year," Alicia replied.

Again, Lois mentally kicked herself.

"What a dope," Lois thought to herself. "Nearly a year, and I didn't recognize the signs. Am I beginning to lose my instincts?" an insecure Lois Lane muttered to herself.

As Lois contemplated her observational and deductive reasoning abilities, Alicia said, "Lois, personally, I don't think this is a very satisfactory situation. As the finest investigative reporter on the Planet's staff, or maybe one of the best in the world, I think you should know what's coming down the pike."

Lois was momentarily stunned by Alicia's platitudes, especially after the way the science editor criticized by her earlier.

Recovering her equilibrium, Lois asked Alicia, "Okay, I'm out of the loop. Where do we go from here?"

With Lois' question still echoing in Alicia's mind, the sub rosa superwoman took Lois by the hand and literally pulled her to Perry's office. David simply followed them "down the yellow brick road."

As Lois and Alicia seated themselves, David closed the door and closed the shades. Alicia then said to Perry, "I think we should include Lois in our circle of secrecy."

"Are you sure that's wise?" Perry asked. His remark came as a shock to Lois, since the chief had always trusted her and treated her like a daughter. She wanted to scream at him for making her feel so undependable, but *for once* she wisely held her tongue.

David, realizing how Lois must feel, said to her, "Lois, we are being extremely cautious for several reasons. First, you need to understand that Alicia, myself and my other family members do respect the freedom of the press. So, If you want to publish what you're gonna be told, no one will attempt to impede your decision. The choice to print or not to print what you hear is yours and yours alone. But Lois, you also must be willing to accept the consequences if you reveal to the world what you are about to learn. I must tell you that publishing what you are about to be told may cause riots or a general breakdown in the fabric of world order. Civilization may collapse because of what you disclose in a Planet expose."

As David spoke, Lois became apprehensive, but at the same time she became excited and very interested in hearing what David had to say.

While David gathered his thoughts, Lois became antsy and said excitedly to Alicia's husband, "So spill it, already."

Taking a deep breath David said, "About a week ago, I observed, with the aid of a very reliable and rather advanced astronomical instrumentation, a large celestial body in the vicinity of the Earth. As you are aware, any object detected near Earth is always investigated. So I plotted the hyperbolic trajectory of this large mass and compared it with the orbital path of our planet. I was horrified, to say the least, when my computations indicated that this piece of space junk would collide with the Earth in seventeen months and eleven days. To be more precise, this 'E.L.E.' will occur between 2:11 and 2:12 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. The impact will occur somewhere in the Indian Ocean."

"What's an E.L.E.?" Lois asked.

"An E.L.E.," David said, "represents the first letter of three words — Extinction Level Event."

"The dimensions of the asteroid coming our way is about the size of Texas. To place this event in its proper perspective," David added, "the dimensions of the meteor that probably caused the extinction of the dinosaurs was only a fraction of this baby's size."

Not quite grasping David's message, Perry intimated, "Then we can expect that this space stuff will just cause some random extinctions upon impact?"

"*No, Perry*," David replied, "If this asteroid collides with Earth, *total extinction* of all life on this planet will result. That's what E.L.E. really means."

"All life," Perry gasped.

"All life will perish," David whispered with a hint of dread in his voice.

For one of the few times in her life, Lois was speechless. Alicia, however, began to question her husband, using scientific language and concepts that neither Perry nor Lois could totally comprehend.

As Alicia and her husband were conversing, Lois started to wave her hands and yelled, "Whoaaaaa… Guys, Perry and I can't understand what the hell you're 'talkin' about."

"I'm sorry, Lois," Alicia replied. "I'm tying to authenticate David's results by asking him about the corroboration of his data."

Placing his arm about Alicia's shoulder, David responded to his wife's question by telling all present that, "Clark, Margot, and Seth had already confirmed my calculations."

"In addition," he added, "the observatories at Palomar Mountain, the Arecibo Radio Telescope, and the Hubble Space Platform also concurred with my sighting and the conclusions based upon my observations."

As their mini-conference ended, Lois said "Thanks guys for taking me into your confidence." Looking at Alicia and her husband, Lois added, "How could I write a story about the possible ending of our world? The chaos which would result from such a story would be unimaginable. For now, this reporter will just be a silent and supplicating observer. If you'll let me, I'd like to help you try to resolve this crisis."

"Your help will be greatly appreciated," Alicia replied.

"One more thing," Lois remarked. "David, you and Alicia were conversing in scientific lingo, language which Perry and I couldn't fathom. Where did you guys pickup that twaddle?"

"Lois," Alicia replied, "all of our family members possess earned doctorates in physics and Mathematics, with different sub-specialties."

When Lois looked at Perry, he smiled and nodded, corroborating Alicia's statement. Lois shook her head in disbelief. "Well," she said, "Now I know whom to ask about the science stuff the police and governmental agencies use in their investigations." Then she started to giggle. Her mood was infectious, and soon they were all laughing. Lois' statement was kind of ludicrous compared to the coming E.L.E. Her comments, however, did help break the tension that hung like a storm cloud over Perry's office.

When their chortling mood had passed, David faced Lois and asked her, "Are you still seeing Lex Luthor?"

"Yeah," Lois replied. "On occasion, we have dinner and go to the theater."

"Please say nothing to him about this rather sensitive situation."

"Why," Lois asked?

Pausing for a second, Davis commented, "To me, that man is the quintessence of evil on this planet. There's no telling what he'd do if he knew of the E.L.E."

"I'm really surprised to hear that you believe that of Lex," Lois commented, but Lois assured David that she would honor his request.

As Alicia's husband was about to leave the Planet, Lois asked David pointedly, "I'm curious, why do you consider Lex an abomination? The hate in your voice was unexpected."

"It's not purely hate for the man, Lois," David replied. "If my emotional responses to Lex Luthor were that strong, I would simply kill him. Slaying him without proof that warranted his execution would be against all that I believe. I wish I could say the say the same about Mr. Luthor." Pausing for a moment, David continued, "In my mind, hating is on the same level as eradicating a person's life for some flimflam reason. The only time I could take a life without needing a reason would be in battle, or if someone or something threatened me or my family. If Lex ever caused me to hate him, G-D help the man, because, Lois, only G-D could."

Lois thought that David's statement evoking G-D was a bit strong. Before Lois was about to pose another question, Alicia's soulmate remarked, "I must admit that Lex, to me and my family members, represents the personification of evil. I personally view him as the devil's disciple — Lucifer's number one boy straight from the dominion of Hell."

After David cogitated a bit more, Alicia's soulmate continued berating Lex Luthor, remarking to Lois, "that Lex had a knack of radiating a mesmerizing beauty that hid the rot and corruption lurking just below the surface of his earthly projection. To you, Lois, Lex appears as a suave, cultured individual. That personification of him is the facade which Luthor presents also to the world large."

Lois pondered David's rather strong philosophical remarks and then asked him, "If you believe that Luthor is such an evil person, why would Lex date someone like me? He certainly is well aware that I oppose any force that would injure people. If I felt he was like that, in my book he would be despicable."

Then David added, "Lois, do you really want to know why Lex dates you?"

"Yep!" the Planet's top reporter answered him. Lois nodded her head.

"Lois," David then said, "Lex wants you for his wife."

Shaken by David's comment, Lois quickly inquired, "Why would a fabulously wealthy and eye-appealing man like Lex Luthor consider me as mate material?"

"Because, my dear Lois," David answered her, "Luthor views you as a prize baby producer, like a filly on a stud farm. You, my dear Lois, are a brilliant and a dynamic individual. As a bonus, which makes you even more alluring, is the quintessential fact that Lois Lane is a stunning woman, easy to look at. Believe me, Lex sees your beauty and has an inexplicable desire to control your life, of course, after remaking you in his image. You know his G-D fixation. When he's accomplished your redesign, he'll use you as a show case as you seductively hang on his arm at gala functions. Producing a child with you, he believes, will perpetuate his line with very intelligent and good- looking progeny. I'm convinced that after you have served him socially and biologically, Lex will attempt to keep you away from your kids while subtlely removing you from his social calendar, claiming his wife's nurturing duties as his primary excuse. This will allow him to party without any intrusion."

When you attempt to interfere with Lex's nurturing agenda, Luthor will shower you with opulent luxuries and provide his wife with various kinds of diverting amusements. You, Lois, will be treated like a woman in a harem. He will not allow you to have much influence over your children. Lex will try, by any means, to keep your imprint out of the nurturing process. Luthor wants the children he sired molded in his image. Luthor will also use your kids and your maternal instincts to break your spirit, which he knows will eventually send you into depression. At that point Lex will pack you off to a sanatorium for cure. There, I'm sure, after extensive treatments, Lois Lane Luthor will pass from this world, freeing Lex from any further obligations to a spouse and free to fully resume his prenuptial life style.

"Study him, Lois. Let your investigative instincts come to the fore. Don't be mesmerized by his suave ways. He can't maintain his masquerade indefinitely. If you are vigilant, when he slips up, you'll be able to see Lex's true self."

"What a horrible depiction of my future," Lois murmured after David finished,

"The future of your conduit through this life is in your hands, not Lex Luthor's," David responded to Lois' gripes. "The choosing of a life partner, Ms. Lane, must be a joint happening for an intimate and lasting relationship like marriage to be successful," David said as he concluded his remarks.


As David, Alicia, and Lois were leaving Perry's office, Lex Luthor stormed onto the newsroom floor accompanied by two rather large ape-like escorts — men short on brains, but long on muscle. When Lex recognized Lois, he suddenly oozed charm and exhibited his best crocodilian smile before remarking, "I just came by to remind you of our date this evening. Remember, we must be at the opera by eight. I've also planned an ambrosial supper at Louie's after the opera. I'm sure you'll enjoy both."

After Lex had dictated the conditions of their date to Lois, he turned to greet the others that were with her. Recognizing Lois' companions, Luthor remarked, "If it isn't Dr. David J. Finderman and Dr. Alicia Gerstein-Finderman. I wonder," he said cynically, "what intrigues you two are conjuring in your pot of sorcery."

"We don't need witchcraft to figure you out, Luthor," David said sarcastically. "You and your demonic aspirations, I'm sure, will soon pass into history."

"I hope not," Lex responded giving his best toothy smile.

After a pause in his rhetoric, Luthor remarked, "Why does that family of yours constantly oppose my projects? Wasn't it enough to blacken the good name of Azai?"

"Are you implying that Azai didn't deserve to be expelled from Yale?" David responded.

"*No*," Lex shouted vehemently. "For an affair that was mutually acceptable to both parties, he most assuredly shouldn't have been forced from the university."

"Let me remind you, Luthor," David caustically declared, "The finding of the university committee was that Azai raped a young lady. There were more than twenty witnesses to attest to that fact, Lexipoo. If I were not a peaceful man, I would have torn Azai's limbs from his body — after first castrating him, of course — and then fed his body parts to the bottom-feeders that dwell in the Hobbs river. They're probably the only scavengers who wouldn't become ill by dining on his putrid flesh."

Angered by David's castigation of his relative, Luthor venomously replied, "A peaceful man indeed." If I remember correctly, Captain Finderman, you were a Special Forces officer in command of a United Nations Peacekeeping Unit. As I recall, your brigade put themselves in harm's way and battled rebel forces within the Hyndai Pass near New Kowloon. Of course you are aware that your interference resulted in more than four thousand casualties among the rebel forces. A man of *peace*, Ha."

"You are remarkable, Lex," David interjected. "You can make defending the freedom and lives of a village sound like an affront to mankind."

"Are you calling me a liar?" Lex retorted with anger, anger that, just for an instant, revealed his evil soul. As David had told Lois, "Be vigilant and you'll see through his mask." This time Lois was watchful and saw and felt the evil oozing through Luthor's thin veneer.

As Lois was being enlightened, David replied to the master of evil, "No Lex, you're just a distorter of facts." David added, "You just told a very abbreviated version of a military engagement and bent the factuality of the event to suit your purposes. I'm sure it was done to both embarrass me and impress Ms. Lane. So for the sake of truth, I'll attempt to set the record straight. If there is any doubt about the veracity of my statements, the events which I'll describe can be found within the archives of the United Nations."

"First, my command consisted of thirty-six people: thirty- five men and a woman. The woman was an Israeli officer. Her name was T'chaylet bat Yehudah Lev HaCohen. She was, and still is, a very courageous young lady. During the battle, she took a serious hit, which I was compelled to treat because our unit lacked a medic."

"What kind of wound did she receive?" Lex sneered.

"Shrapnel pierced her left breast," David said. "I removed the shell fragment and sutured the injured area. Then, without saying a word, she returned to the fray. *Any further questions, Lexipoo?*" David's responded, his voice thundered.

With those present now staring at him with bated breath, David added, "Before committing my command to combat, we all voted whether to stay or withdraw. That vote was taken after considerable discussions, which involved every individual in the unit. Since we all were to be the principal players in a life and death drama, it was fitting to include all the potential combatants in the decision- making process and make them understand the consequences of our actions. The battle conditions that confronted us were far beyond those that would be expected for military personnel. It should be noted that when the unit voted, the result was unanimous to commit ourselves to battle. I was very proud of my command. Their commitment showed me that I was allied with men and a woman of unusual valor. The bravery they displayed by their decision was more than I could ever express in mere words.

"Lex," David continued to address him, "you called the attacking force rebels. They were bandits."

"After the warriors of my command voted, we placed ourselves between the brigands and twenty-five hundred men, women and children living in a village located in a valley below the pass. Sergeant Seth Klein, with five men, were on my left my flank, while T'chaylet and seven others dug in on my right. I and the remainder of my force held the center.

"The hostilities lasted for three days. Toward the end, the combat was extremely vicious. During the last engagement we battled hand-to-hand. When the bandits finally broke and withdrew, our unit had sustained nine dead and twenty-seven wounded."

"When I look back on this operation, I wonder, at times, whether I and my comrades made the correct choice. From a military view, it was not a sound decision. However, I still believe in my heart that, in the end, we made the right choice. I am convinced we made the correct choice, Lex, because twenty-five hundred people will continue to see the sun rise each morning and set in the evening for the remainder of their lives. And Luthor, the adults of that village a hundred years from now will still be able teach their sons and daughters about the beauties of creation."

Looking heavenward for a moment, David then commented, "Personally Lex, I don't think you're capable of understanding the compassion and caring that went into my unit's decision to stave off those bandits. To place themselves in harm's way for people who will never know that my command existed or what they did in their behalf is something you'll never understand. What we did came from our hearts. At a moment in time, all that we knew was a fundamental fact. Some of our brothers and sisters were in serious danger and we were their keepers. If we had withdrawn, that village and its inhabitants would have been decimated by your so-called rebels. When our decision was made to stand and fight we became their shield. At that moment in time, I believe we became G-D's warriors and protectors of man.

"Try to comprehend what I'm trying to tell you, Lex, it may lead to your salvation."

David added, "I always have heeded what my parents taught me long ago — only people matter. The grave, for all those who live, is our final destination. Remember too, Luthor, that there are no pockets in a coffin. Always try to be charitable to those in need and be kindly to those who are downtrodden and broken in spirit."

When David finished his version of the Hyndai Pass skirmish, Luthor continued his harangue.

"For your efforts," Lex sneered, "our government presented you and Seth with some sort of badge that honored your so- called courage. What was the inscription on your decoration?" Luthor mused. "Ah yes, I remember," he said, "it was rather a simple statement for putting one's life on the line. Valor, I believe was the word was." Just one little word for putting life and limb in harm's way. Not a very good return for risking your life," Luthor snickered.

"I was right, you still don't get it, Lex. Let me say it one more time. The only thing in life that really matters is people. Try to get that through your psychopathic thick head that without people there is no meaning to life."

David then added, as he pointed at Luthor, "You steal men's souls by corrupting their reason for living. When they've done your bidding and you're done with them, nothing remains for your pawns but death; with their death, there are no witnesses to incriminate you in any villainous acts.

"Luthor, I'm sure, you have benefited greatly from the havoc your stooges have wrought while they lived. No doubt that your illegal operations have greatly strengthened the economic base of your industrial complex."

After ending his tete-a-tete with the master of evil without allowing Luther to continue his loathsome arguments, David angrily flung his hands in the air and started for the newsroom exit.

As David moved off, Lex coolly said, "I fear that you and Margot Klein better start looking for other employment opportunities." David stopped turned to face Luthor and asked, "Why, do you know something we don't?"

"No," Luthor replied nonchalantly, "but since I am on the STAR Labs board of directors, I have it on good authority that several redundant positions will be terminated in the near future."

"To save money, of course," Lex quickly added.

David retraced his steps and again came face to face with the devil's number one boy. Looking directly into Luthor's beady eyes David said, "So, revenge is your game. You're going to exercise political and financial muscle to rid STAR labs of some alleged excessive research position. In this way you hope to redress your warped notion of Azai's innocence. Well, I'm not surprised. I was wondering how long it would take you to corrupt or buy off the other members of the STAR Labs governing committee to get at Margot and myself."

Luthor nearly lost his seemingly unruffled presence by yelling, "Are you calling my actions spiteful and vindictive or maybe unlawful?"

"If the shoe fits, wear it," David scoffed rather loudly. As David's insult thundered across the bullpen, Lex's two bully boys started moving towards David with hostile intent. As they approached, David smiled and said, "Gentlemen, I am by nature a man of peace. If, however, you attempt to injure me, I will naturally defend myself. In doing so, I wouldn't be surprised if I break your arms and legs in the process. I promise, though, that I won't cleave your heads from your ape-like bodies. In that way you'll enjoy the exquisite and excruciating pain that I will inflict upon your persons. But, look at the bright side. You'll both be alive."

When David finished his velvety warning, Lex held up his hand and stopped his two muscle men from advancing any further. David once again turned and this time left the newsroom.

"Ah, boss," Max, Luthor's number one enforcer, remarked, "we could have taken him easy."

Lex scowled remarking, "I think not. He would have taken you apart a piece at a time and flung your remains to the vultures."

When David left the Planet, Alicia went back to her desk.

As Alicia sat at her desk, a warm glow enveloped her. David's wife had learned something wonderful about her husband, something that he felt too embarrassed or shy to reveal on his own. It was almost laughable that she had learned it from the devil incarnate himself. Luthor had provided her with information about David's past that would made her kvell for sometime to come.

Alicia smiled inwardly at Lex's attempt to slander her husband and Seth. It had miscarried and humiliated Lexipoo instead. "Lexipoo," she quietly repeated and chuckled. Alicia liked the new moniker David had bestowed upon Luthor. She liked it a lot.

While David was leaving the Planet, Luthor, who was now well aware of his public affairs fiasco, tried to recoup his dignity by expeditiously changing the subject. This tactic availed him naught. It was obvious to all those on the Planet newsfloor that Luthor had inadvertently praised a noble act by attempting to degrade the man who was responsible for its implementation.

Lex had foolishly did himself in and revealed his true self to Lois when he attacked and tried to belittled a noble humanitarian action. By Luthor's mouthings, David and Seth had been raised to celebrity status to all who witnessed the verbal exchange between Dr. Finderman and Lex Luthor. While David was somewhat chagrined over his new status, Alicia felt that recognition of David's and Seth's selfless behavior was long overdue.

As Lois silently observed the verbal altercation between Lex and David, her mind was freed from the mesmerizing affect that Luthor's debonair persona had upon her. Like so many other people, Lois had been enamored by Lex's power and wealth, suave appearance, and charming personality. In Lois' case, there was also the personal attention he lavished upon her in an attempt to bind the Planet's ace reporter more closely to him. His objective, of course, was to achieve complete control over Lois so she, like many others, would do his biding without question.

After calm once again settled over the newsroom, Luthor maneuvered himself over to Alicia's desk. When David's soulmate looked up and saw Lex Luthor standing there, Lois, who was nearby, noted that Alicia's face exhibited a gracious smile, a facial expression which did not extend to her eyes. If Lex noticed her demeanor, he chose to ignore the warning indicators she was clearly communicating.

As Lex attempted to sooth Alicia, he placed his hand upon her shoulder. A flash of indignation momentarily illuminated her face but Lex's hand stayed, causing Alicia to say in a contemptuous voice, "Get your grubby paws off of me."

Lex foolishly ignored her warning and trifled with the back of her neck.

Lois could hardly believe what followed. Alicia seemed to grab Lex by his shirt and fling him about fifteen feet through the air. His airborne journey ended when he collided with a newsroom wall. Seeing the unconscious form of their boss, Max and his partner rushed toward Alicia to avenge Lex. Standing to meet their assault, Alicia met them head-on, and within a few seconds they lay unconscious at her feet.

"Wow," thought Lois, "this gal is a highly skilled martial arts practitioner."

Perry rushed over to Luthor and helped revive him. When fully conscious, Lex screamed at Alicia saying, "I am going to have you arrested for assault. Then I am going to sue you and the Planet for all you got!"

When Luthor had finished his tirade, Murray Singer sauntered over to Alicia's desk and said, so all could clearly hear, "Luthor, you put your grimy hands on this woman's person. Then your lap dogs tried to assault her. Alicia did what any lady in her position would do: she defended herself. I'll swear to that on a stack of Bibles. If you have me killed or abducted, my statement, as you are well aware, will still be accepted in a court of law. To make doubly sure of that fact, I'll write out what I've seen and heard and have it notarized and placed with the Planet's attorneys for safe keeping."

Luthor, realizing once again that he had been outmaneuvered, smiled and said, "Let's forget that this incident ever occurred. Okay?" He then held out his hand to Alicia in an attempt to extradite himself gracefully from his debacle.

Alicia did not offer to clasp his hand, but said very succinctly, "This affair is closed. Now get away from me." Her stinging words signaled to Lex Luthor that she and not he controlled this situation. Luthor attempted to smile at her, but his insides were seething.

"Luthor," Alicia added in a cold voice, "do not, I repeat, do not come near me again. As my husband was wont to say, "If you do, G-D help you, because only G-D could!"

Lex bowed and hastily left the newsroom along with his two stooges.

Just before Luthor left the premises, he turned and glared at Alicia and scanned the newsroom. At that moment, Lois, once again, beheld the pure evil that oozed from every pore on Lex's distorted face. He not only hated Alicia, but every individual who had witnessed his humiliation. "Caution," Lois thought to herself, "should be the watchword of the Daily Planet, until the House of Luthor was history."

As Alicia was preparing to close up shop for the day, she said to Lois, "On your dinner date with Lexipoo this evening, may the Eternal one watch over you and protect you." Placing her hand on Lois' shoulder, Alicia added, "Tonight, Lois, you'll be mentally fencing with a master of deception. Be charming, but make no commitments." Lois smiled at Alicia and thanked her for her warning and support.

While Lois was slowly meandering back toward her desk, Alicia called Perry on the intercom and said, "Chief, I'm reminding you about your supper invite for this Friday. We begin serving at 6:30 p.m. Just before she broke the connection, Alicia whispered into the phone, "It's family night."

Alicia was about to exit the newsroom when Perry rushed over to her and quietly asked, "Can I stay over?"

"Of course," Alicia responded in a subdued voice, "we have plenty of room.

"Good," Perry said, clapping his hands. "I wanta spoil Jennifer Rose."

"Good night, Perry," Alicia smiled.

"Good night Alicia," Perry cheerfully replied.


At Seven thirty P.M. sharp, Lex arrived in front of Lois' apartment and rang the bell. The cagey reporter was waiting for him and left her apartment as soon as she opened the door. Lois didn't want be alone with Luthor in closed quarters of any kind. Once she stepped into the hall, Lois felt somewhat relieved. Taking his date by the arm, Luthor immediately escorted her to his waiting limo.

After a beautiful rendition of "Semiramide" by Rossini, they had a delectable meal at a luxurious waterfront club — Louie's Shore Restaurant.

As they were enjoying dessert, Lex opened his campaign to make Lois his wife. He quietly and calmly said to her in his most charming manner, "Lois, have you ever considered matrimony?"

Lois stared at Luthor and gave him a guarded smile and said, "Yes, if the right person came along."

As Lex continued his crusade, Lois' brain went into overdrive. She had to subtly extricate herself from this situation, a happening that Luthor no doubt had very carefully orchestrated.

Listening to Lex, Lois thanked heaven that she and David had that conversation this afternoon. Armed with David's thoughts and the knowledge she gained from the newsroom altercation, Lois, at last, recognized the monster hidden beneath Luthor's charming facade. As was often said in the original Star Trek episodes, "May the winds of fortune favor the foolish." Boy, had she been foolish — idle-headed enough to become involved with the beast of Bavaria, Lex Luthor. She now needed those winds of fortune to strongly blow in her direction.

While picking at her dessert and smiling at Lex, Lois suddenly understood the actual meaning of the Star Trek phrase. Those few words represented the power of creative thought. Thoughts, if used properly, could help a person extradite himself/herself from a seemingly impossible situation. With this realization coursing through her mind, Lois calmed herself and began to evolve a counter-strategy.

As Lois listened, Lex artfully inquired of her, "What would you consider an ideal spouse?"

That was her opening.

Lex's statement about an ideal spouse was the wedge Lois Lane was looking for to remove Luthor from her social life.

With a broad smile, she articulated her answer serenely and with finesse. "The man I would choose for a life partner would have to display many of the following attributes. These would include fidelity, a true partnership — making all major decisions together — giving and receiving equal amounts of love and attention to one another, mutual respect, be a compassionate person not only to me but to others as well, sensitivity to the needs of people, placing his life partner's necessities ahead of his own, and be cognizant that beauty comes from the soul, and can't be found in the wrapper.

"There is a final stipulation that my husband must accept as part of our union," Lois added in a serious intonation.

"What's that?" Lex eagerly inquired.

"I don't want any children. If we were to conceive, he must accept that an abortion would be forthcoming."

When Lois had completed her litany of marriage particulars, Lex just stared at her. His face had an ashen look as he prepared to reply to her list of do's and don'ts regarding a marital union with her.

"My dear," Luthor responded, oozing all the charm he could muster, "I'm sure we could consider all of your marriage views negotiable, except your last item. Children we conceived must be brought to term. I need an heir to inherit and continue the kingdom I've been forging."

As Lex paused to further collect his thoughts, Lois remarked rather contemptuously, "How can marriage vows and commitments be negotiable? Either you love someone and accept their views or you don't. If you consider things between a husband and wife as negotiable, there is no meeting of the minds and, therefore, no marriage. For me, there is no middle ground in this arena."

Lois hoped that her incompliant attitude would startle Lex and make him wary of a union with her.

Still in the hunt, Lex said, "Lois, think what a child of ours could accomplish. With your brains, drive and intuitiveness, combined with my cunning and desire for building large corporate structures, our child could attain enough financial power to essentially control the world. I would be happy to raise our offspring. You wouldn't have to be involved, except for occasions such as holidays and birthdays. With my wealth, you could enjoy yourself to your heart's content. You'd be free to do what ever you desire, except, of course, for the few obligatory events, some of which I've touched on."

As Lex paused, Lois suddenly realized that David was right. Lex just wanted a human hatchery. "My G-D," Lois thought, "it's *deja vu,* but with a different voice. If it wasn't sacrilegious, I'd acclaim David a prophet."

Gazing at Luthor directly, Lois knew she had him in a corner. Her list of uncompromising marital articles would now begin to unravel what ever relationship Lex thought he had with her.

Thinking rapidly, Lois mind came up with an endgame strategy, one she was confident would bury once and for all Lex's intrigues aimed at marrying her. The child scenario was the key to this drama. She looked Luthor straight in the eyes and declared, "Lex, you should know that I cannot abide anything related to the child scene. I loathe everything to do with pregnancy. I don't wish to deal with morning sickness, losing my figure, the general discomfort that accompanies the gestation period, and the excruciating pain that accompanies birth. *No*, Lex, children are definitely *out*."

When Lois finished her quiet but prolonged speech, she noticed a subtle change in Luthor's behavior. His eyes and his body language suggested that his pursuit of her as a trophy wife was over. Smiling to herself, Lois knew that Lex would maintain the facade of a relationship with her to maintain his standing in society. Luthor jealously guarded his public image. So Lex would still continue to date her for perhaps several months to keep up pretenses. But as time went on, the frequency of their social encounters would slowly wane. Sometime in the near future, they would cease to see one another. When that day arrived she would celebrate with five martinis.

After dessert, Lex took Lois back to her apartment. He bowed and kissed her hand and then departed after giving her a smile that never reached his eyes. When Lois entered her lodgings and closed the door, she slowly sank to the floor muttering to herself, "It's finished. *Thank G-D*, it's over."


At the Planet the next day, Lois informed Alicia that her husband's analysis of Luthor's intentions was brilliant, right on the button. Alicia asked in a hushed voice, "Has your relationship with Lex ended?" Lois nodded affirmatively and beamed as she made her way back to her desk. Taking a deep breath, Lois joyously tasted her freedom. She felt like a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

The remainder of the week proceeded without much activity in the bullpen. For the Planet's staff, this was a welcome respite. Generally the newsroom operated at a furious pace.

While a busy bullpen was the mark of a successful newspaper, the current slowness was a blessing to the Daily Planet's employees. It was a time which would allow them to recharge physically and emotionally.

As Alicia was leaving the newsroom on Friday afternoon, she reminded Perry, once again, about dinner at her place that evening. He winked and said, "I'll see ya'll tonight, Promise."

At six-thirty that evening, Perry arrived at the Hyperion Street home. All the members of Alicia's household had already gathered and were patiently awaiting the arrival of the Daily Planet's Chief Editor.

When Perry entered the house, he immediately encountered Clark Kent with whom he had talked by phone earlier that day. So Perry knew that only a few hour earlier Clark was at his Singapore desk. Scratching his head, Perry murmured to himself, "How in tarnation did Kent get here so fast?"

While Perry was trying to figure out how CK traveled between Singapore and Metropolis in so short a time, Clark approached Perry and extended his hand. As their hands clasped, Clark said, "I know you are astonished to see me here. Be patient and all will be explained. First things first; let's eat."

After enjoying an elaborate and delectable meal, Clark and Alicia took Perry aside while the other family members cleaned up.

Seating themselves in the den, Clark said, "Perry, the people gathered here this evening probably represent the greatest group of scientific talent which has ever graced this planet. I say this to you without pride or vanity, but because it's simply the truth. Our main objective, for the present, is to serve humanity and, at the same time, remain hidden from the world at large.

"To accomplish our goals we have developed certain tools. One device is called a teleportation door, a 'TD' for short. Once a TD gate has been setup, it allows a person or a group of people to travel nearly instantaneously from one location to another anywhere else on Earth. For example, there is such a gate in my Singapore apartment and another here in this house. So getting here was like walking through a door into another room."

"If you wish, we'll place TD's in your home and office and connect them to our transportation system. Once your TD's have been set up, you'll be able to travel between your personal portals to any other site on the teleportation network. There are two locations that you should not visit alone, for safety sake." Clark pointed to one button on the control panel marked 'Mars platform' and another switch which specified 'Massachusetts Laboratory'."

When Perry saw the Mars platform designation, he asked, "Does that name signify what I think it means?"

"Yep," Alicia replied.

"Great Caesar's Ghost," Perry almost shouted, "how did you get there?"

"By spaceship," Clark remarked. He then activated a viewing screen so that Perry could gaze upon an array of the family's interstellar cruisers.

After Perry stared at the view screen for a few minutes, he stared at Clark and blurted out, "Wow."

Regaining his composure, the chief said, "Now I can really appreciate that statement of yours about the greatest assemblage of scientific talent this world has ever seen gathered under one roof, yet."

After Perry's somewhat robust statement, both Alicia and Clark laughed. Then, Alicia motioned for Margot to join them. Asking Seth to watch their daughter, Margot mingled with Clark, Alicia, and Perry.

Perry noticed that Margot was a carrying a syringe. "What's that for?" the chief asked, pointing nervously at a rather large syringe.

"Margot is going to place a DNA fragment into your body," Clark replied.

Alicia the told Perry, "This DNA residue is the key that activates the TD system. When this biological material has been added to your body, you will be able to operate the teleportation doors at any of our sites. The TDs are inert to everyone except those who possess our special DNA key. Our family members, of course, and a select group of people have been given access to our family's TD's through this special genetic material."

As Margot deftly was adding the genetic material to Perry's body, the chief declared, "I'm flattered and, at the same time, honored by your trust."

Clark squeezed his shoulder and said, "We all consider you as one of our family."

"I have one more question," Perry said. "What happens if I am coerced into activating a TD portal?"

Margot told him, "Your biological key will not function if you are under any kind of threatening situation, whether they are physical and/or chemical in nature."

As the family began moseying toward the living room, Margot gave Perry two TD gates with built in cloaking devices. The chief was then instructed how to install the units.

One TD Perry White would install in his lodgings, while the second portal would be placed in his private apartment at the Planet. It was situated at a secluded spot towards the rear of his office.

As Perry pondered his new status within Alicia's household, he heard Seth state that two important matters needed to be discussed. "First," the young man said, "was the Nightfall asteroid."

"Nightfall?" asked Perry as he gave his new family members a puzzled look.

"That's the name the scientific community — the ones who are aware of the space junk's existence — have bestowed upon the killer asteroid headed our way."

"It's the same space debris, Perry, which you, David, Alicia, and Lois talked about at the Planet a few days ago," Clark reminded the Planet's editor-in-chief. "Oh," Perry remarked as he shook his head. "Your name for the killer rock is very apropos. Permanent night descending upon the Earth. All life becoming extinct. What a finish for this world," Perry concluded, the tone of his voice telegraphing his concern.

After Perry's comments, Clark remarked, "If we need to discuss that murderous hunk of space garbage in public, just refer to it as Nightfall. Those inside the loop will immediately understand the significance of that appellation. Others overhearing your conversation will probably assume that you're discussing something at the end of the day, not a conversation concerning a possible world's end scenario. Then, turning to Alicia, Clark said, "Please inform Lois about this new wrinkle in the asteroid saga."

"Will do, brother," she replied.

Clark, turning to David and Margot, asked about the status of their new weapon system — referred to as the ULW — and their newfangled spacecraft.

Margot replied, "Clark, our theoretical concepts and their test constructs have proved out and seem to be remarkably reliable. Personally, I believe that they are forever kind of ships — never break down and indestructible."

Then Margot added, "David has begun to synthesize more stabilized neutronium. Turning to Perry she explained, "Stabilized neutronium is fabricated from neutron particles, placed in a matrix that is maintained within a nanodegree of absolute zero. The matrix is mixed with Neonthium and the result is an extremely dense solid material which is both ductile and malleable."

"As far as we can ascertain", Margot also added, "this new substance appears to be nearly indestructible. Not only does it have the potential to function as a universal building material for all our future devices, but it can be utilized to protect our community against any kind of attack."

After Margot finished her report, David chimed in, "As Margot told you, the ULW system is functioning well. We'll incorporate this weapon system into all our stabilized neutronium spaceships."

"Talking about interstellar spacecraft," David continued, "Margot and I have started to assemble six such vessels. Naturally, these ships will be fabricated from stabilized neutronium. These spacecrafts, which we like to call K- ships, should reach full operational status in about ten weeks."

"That's very good David," Clark said placing his hand on his kin's shoulder. "With all the obstacles that have plagued us over the past few months, I'm very surprised and, at the same time, extremely happy at the progress were making."

As David slipped in beside his wife, Perry asked, "Alicia, a point of information, if you please. I'm familiar with most spaceship terminology, but what in Elvis' name is a ULW."

Looking at Perry, David said, "I'm sorry about that, chief. My faux pas."

Directing his thoughts to Perry, David said, "The ULW represents the first letters of the phrase Ultimate LASER Weapon.

"The ULW system, which uses a unique high powered LASER, is housed in a stabilized neutronium mount so it can be incorporated into whatever contraption requires its use. The special LASER in this weapon can produce more than a trillion times the energy of its gamma ray counterpart. The power supply for this device comes from a small fusion reactor housed within the stabilized neutronium mount that holds the special LASER.

"Are you are familiar with gamma rays, Perry?" David asked.

"To certain extent," the chief replied.

"Then you should be aware that gamma rays transmit high energy photons. When controlled, they are often used to treat some cancers and other diseases. The full destructive capacity of gamma radiation generally occurs when these rays are released during nuclear detonations."

"As you all know," Margot added to the family's general discussion, "our theoretical work into ULW's and other devices are still ongoing projects at STAR Labs. To protect our research, no information alluding to our projects can be found in the STAR lab library index. All of our gadgets and research results are currently being stored and/or constructed and tested at two locations — in the laboratory facilities below this house and at our Massachusetts site."

At this point in the conversation, Perry intervened and asked, "Why are you guys so concerned about fabricating space vehicles and super weapons?"

Before Clark or any of his kin could speak to Perry's question, the chief continued and remarked, "If your doohickeys could destroy Nightfall, I think you guys should have crunched the asteroid. By not acting, you've caused unnecessary fear and allowed financial resources to be wasted which are desperately needed elsewhere to help the disadvantaged.

"From my unofficial sources," Perry added. "I've learned that a large spaceship, code named The Messiah, is secretly being constructed by the U.S. and Russia with additional input from other technically advanced nations. The cost, I'm told, is astronomical."

Pausing for a moment, Perry continued his harangue. "From what I've been told, The Messiah will carry extremely powerful nuclear tipped missiles to the vicinity of Nightfall. When the ship arrives at a predetermined position near the asteroid, the missiles the ship carries will be launched at the space junk. The wallop from the nuclear bombs, so I'm informed, should be enough to utterly destroy that killer planetoid. So it appears to me that your building programs directed toward Nightfall's destruction are redundant and really not needed."

When David sensed an opening in the chief's babble, he quickly chimed in and responded to Perry's query and his irrational criticisms.

Perry, Alicia's soulmate replied, "We are a community which must remain hidden for reasons I'll explain later. Secondly, for its own self-image, the Earth must believe that its technology was able to cope with this crisis. Therefore, The Messiah had to be built. And you're right, the money for its construction has been essentially squandered. The ship that is being built is not capable of doing the job. In our own way, we will see to it that those monies are put back in Earth's kitty.

"Look at the positive side of The Messiah construction," he remarked. "If the nations of this world believe that the Earth's technology overcame Nightfall, funds will become available and will be funneled into a myriad of research projects. The spin-offs from these projects will be a boon to Earth's commercial sectors. For example, it cost twenty- eight billion dollars to put a man on the moon. The US economy has had an infusion of more than three trillion dollars from that nation's initial investment. All the calculators and computers now in use were a direct result of the moon venture.

"Thirdly, The Messiah, as you were told, will not succeed for several reasons," David stressed. He then began to elaborate upon his statement.

"Since Nightfall is surrounded by meteor swarms, as The Messiah approaches the asteroid, there is almost a hundred percent possibility that the spacecraft will collide with some of the meteoric debris. When that event occurs, the ship will either be disabled or destroyed. Even if the vessel is fortunate enough to launch its nuclear cargo, the effect of the subsequent detonations will be ineffectual. It will be like hitting an elephant with coconuts. That's assuming that Messiah's nuclear payloads ever strikes the asteroid. There is a good chance that meteor swarms around that huge space rock will disable or tear apart the nuclear bombs, rendering them useless."

Seeing the logic of David's arguments, Perry said "Why didn't you tell the government about your analysis and then suggest a viable plan?"

Responding to Perry's comment, Seth said, "First, the bureaucrats would discount our claims. We, even in the guise of an independent contractor, are an unknown entity and the government is tied to big business which unfortunately practices wholesale greed. The companies building the spacecraft are now profiting even beyond the dreams of Avarice and are not likely to give up their golden goose. They would, by some scientific mumbo jumbo, discredit our input."

After a slight pause, David added, "You've also forgotten, Perry, that politically oriented people, especially those who hold elected office, are beholden to companies who give large campaign contributions to their respective parties. Even if they could get beyond the political issue, I very much doubt that they could influence any decisions at this late date. The people in charge of the mission at this point in time would find someway to hinder our efforts and in the mean time discard our views about their suicidal and ineffectual mission to Nightfall as hogwash. How could we prove our point without revealing ourselves?

"Anyway, most people in public office seem to be very shortsighted. They don't look much beyond the events of the day, let alone consider what will happen tomorrow. The primary focus of bureaucratic organizations is to maintain the status quo. From that view, the bureaucrats then will go with what has been tried and tested even though it will not work in another situation. Even knowing The Messiah project will fail, they will still help it along. Nothing seems to matter but to do something, even when you are aware that what you're doing will accomplish nothing at all. When death is staring them in the face, they will cry out but still blame others for their failure."

"That's kind of a cynical view," Perry insinuated.

"Well yeah," David said, "but, after having dealt with military protocol and STAR Lab's board, it's difficult to consider another perspective.

"Another," David told the chief, "deals with the war-like nature of Earth people. If they got their hands on just a small part of our technology, I fear that this planet would shortly be engulfed in a global conflict and the human population would end up as charcoal briquettes."

Then, Clark added to what David said, "Even if Seth's and David's thoughts could be discounted, you know that the governments on this world would not try anything new when their hides are on the line. On that point alone, they would probably argue that there just wasn't enough time to build and test new devices in their battle to survive Nightfall before it plunged into our planet."

After Perry's views were addressed, Seth asked his brethren, "Are there any further objections or questions concerning our present course of action?" No one at the table spoke up. "Then," Seth declared, "we'll continue to make use of the STAR Lab's computing and laboratory facilities until David and Margot are forced out by Luthor's group. When they're terminated, the main operations will move to the Hyperion Avenue facilities." Clark then added, "We must be ready to act within fourteen months and seventeen days to destroy Nightfall or that piece of space junk will pulverize this planet and all life will cease to exist."

Alicia solemnly remarked, "As soon as enough stabilized neutronium has been created, we'll all be needed to fabricate our interstellar ships and the ULW weapon system — and I do mean all of us. That means you, too, Mr. Editor and chief."

Perry nodded and commented, "I'll tell ya all Elvis stories and whistle while you work. That should help, I think." There was a sound of laughter in the room as Perry's humor helped diffuse the tension.

After the laughter subsided, Alicia pointed out, "Once all the components have been produced and assembled, we'll rendezvous with the asteroid as planned. There, we'll use the ULW to reduce the planet killer to manageable segments by slicing it along its fracture lines. Then we will descend to each asteroid section with fusion bombs and burrow to the center of each piece. Once at the core, we'll activate the nuclear devices and leave. When the nuclear devices detonate, the force of the resulting explosion should reduce each subdivision of the asteroid to space dust."

"It is very important that no one be aware that our family was involved in this world-saving event," David reminded his kin. "The secret of our existence must be maintained at all cost. The safety and future of our people depends on our anonymity and it must not be compromised."

No one uttered a word after David's remarks, but you could see by the expression in everybody's eyes that they were very much aware of the consequences which could result if they were to be discovered during the Nightfall operation.

By the time the meeting was adjourned, Perry had come to realize that with the advanced technological skills at their disposal, these unique people could have easily built a Space Ark and left Earth to its fate. However, they had chosen to stand with their Earth cousins, at their own peril, and make a concerted effort to save the planet. He felt both proud and humble that these magnificent people had included him within their inner circle. "Upon my life," he thought to himself, "how could I or anyone in the know ever think of betraying them?"

But Perry was aware there were nut cases out there that would like nothing better than to butcher these fine people. It was the old stranger syndrome, all over again. Destroy what is foreign to you or what you don't understand.

After the Nightfall problem had been put to bed and the family members were about to disperse for the evening, Seth said, "Please, nobody leave just yet."

When things quieted down, Seth calmly intimated that another important issue was looming just over the horizon.

Clark moaned, "Another bugaboo?"

Alicia giggled at Clark's comment, as Seth remarked, "I'm afraid so. Lex Luthor is attempting to take control of the Daily Planet. He has his agents buying up Planet common stock as soon as it appears on the exchange. In addition, it looks like Lex himself is actively striving to purchase the preferred stock belonging to the publishers. He's adding a sweetener by offering the suits vacation homes and spiffy new cars if they sell to him." Perry gasped as he heard Seth's report.

Taking a deep breath, Seth then added, "His current stake in the Planet is about twelve percent, up from around five percentage points over the past week."

When Margot's soulmate finished his remarks, Perry chimed in and, almost pleading asked, "Isn't there anything that we can do to thwart Luthor? He's out to destroy the finest paper in the world."

"Yep," replied Seth, to Perry's panicky appeal. "I've formulated a strategy."

"Thank G-D," Perry commented to Seth's remark.

Looking at his friends, Seth commented, "After I've finished, I'd appreciate any input or suggestion that could improve my plan." Then, taking a deep breath, he said, "The first thing I believe which should be done is to create an independent non-profit foundation. With that kind of financial organization at our disposal, we'd have an easy conduit to monetary assets. With monies from a non-profit foundation at our disposal, all the outstanding stocks and bonds linked to the Planet could be purchased at prices which Luthor's financiers would be reluctant to beat — say two or three times Luthor's highest bid. I'll bet the greedy suits on the Planet's board would jump at such a monetary offer."

"Do you really think the suits will go for such an offer?" Perry nervously asked.

"If you were offered one million dollars to sell something and then someone else offered you three times that amount, who would you sell to? I don't think we have to ponder about that answer, do we?" Seth said to Perry.

"We, however, must act as soon as possible. Certainly before Lex has a chance to maneuver the Planet's board members into his camp."

"When we take control of the Planet, I suggest that we change the Daily Planet's governing structure from a commercial venture to a non-profit organization. This transformation would force Luthor to sell his interest in the paper — there would be little or no financial advantage to owning stock in a non-profit organization for such an entrepreneur as Lex Luthor."

Perry said, somewhat disheartened, "I wouldn't know where to begin such a campaign."

Seth calmly chimed in. "I already started this process by contacting the Lara and Jorel Foundation. Their C.E.O. appears very interested. They don't want a world-class newspaper falling into the clutches of a scoundrel like our own Lexipoo."

Clark and Alicia smiled at each other when they heard the name of the foundation. It was their financial organization, named after Clark's Kryptonian parents. It was initially created to protect CK's and Alicia's Earthly parents and provide them with ready cash. Now another noble enterprise would be protected under its umbrella.

"If we can carry this off," Perry remarked, "how will the paper be run?"

Seth replied, "Perry, I have considered that problem and put together a tentative action plan. You and the Planet employees can change, modify, or fine-tune any of my suggestions as you deal with the everyday issues of running the paper. Remember guys and gals, I created this action plan in haste and only as a stopgap measure."

"What is your plan?" Perry anxiously inquired.

"The governing body of the paper would consist of the Editor-in-Chief and representatives from all the Planet departments. Except for the Chief, all the board representatives would be elected by the rank and file members of the newspaper. From this elected board would come the directives for the newspapers operation.

"Let me say again, the Planet's operational procedures can be changed or modified to meet the changing needs of the paper by a majority vote of the Planet's elected council. My initial intent was to create a provisional scheme, not the final operating policy for the paper."

Hearing Seth's plan, Perry became very enthusiastic. If they were successful, any future attempt to take over the Planet would be near impossible.

"Perry," Clark said, "call the suits."

When Perry left the room to start the ball rolling, Margot, giggling, said, "A-mining we will go, a-mining we will go…" Soon everyone at the table was singing along and laughing.

When Perry returned, they could see by his face that Seth's efforts were justified. "As soon as the monies are paid," he said, "the paper will be ours, and operating within a non-profit format."

"Perry," Clark asked, "could you baby-sit for Jennifer Rose tomorrow?"

"Sure," he replied. "What's up?"

"Oh," Clark said, "we going to acquire the funds for the Planet's purchase. Other monies we have are in a trust fund for the family and are not available for the Planet's acquisition. So we need to tap other sources."

Perry just nodded his okay.

"Before we retire for the evening," Clark said, "There is still another item which I believe we should consider."

"As you all know," Clark said, "Kal Ellis is the pseudonym I use when submitting copy from Singapore to the main Planet facility in Metropolis. Recently, these articles have begun to suggest a rather disturbing trend.

With all eyes on CK, Clark continued, "The info I used for my pieces strongly indicate that LexCorp has been indirectly responsible for armed aggression against some islands in the Celebes and Banda Seas. To cover up these militant thrusts, LexCorp's legal department created such a morass that the courts quickly reached an impasse. In the ensuing atmosphere of uncertainty, LexCorp applied political pressure on the governing bodies of the assaulted islands, which it continually increased over time. LexCorp's political muscle eventually caused any litigation against the giant corporation to be discontinued.

"The Ellis articles also revealed that militaristic attacks by other LexCorp subsidiaries were made against some remote villages on the islands of Gomumu, Jolo and Mayu. Thanks to the military help secretly provided by David and Seth, these aggressive incursions were turned back. Unfortunately, Lex again managed to avoid legal accountability for these actions.

"With his army of attorneys, Luthor was able to distance himself from the armed altercations asserting that LexCorp had little control over their subsidiaries in matters occurring outside the states. To further protect Luthor's image, Lex's jackleg lawyers were able to deflect any censure away from LexCorp itself leaving the C.E.O.s of the subsidiary companies to bear the brunt of the legal system. With Lex's direction, his shysters branded the C.E.O.s of the embattled companies pariahs and had them thrown to the legal wolves. This tactic essentially removed Lex from further scrutiny by most of the fourth estate. Luthor and his LexCorp organization seemed to have come out of this legal encounter smelling like a rose.

"However, unknown to Luthor, an editorial by Kal Ellis in the forthcoming Sunday paper edition of the Planet will substantiate that one of the more of the recent failed military incursions can be directly linked to LexCorp through one Nigel St. John. A document signed by St. John, one of Luthor's closest confidants, was captured during a military engagement on Jolo. Its contents clearly show that Nigel ordered the assault upon villages on that particular island.

"It will be interesting," Clark remarked to his family, "to see just how Lex maneuvers in this situation.

"What really bothers me," Clark remarked, after a pausing for a few moments, "is the reason for these aggressive thrusts. At first I thought mineral wealth was the target. However, when I investigated the area where the military actions occurred, it became apparent that the mineral availability did not make any kind of land grab monetarily attractive. The only thing all the sites seemed to have in common were large cave systems with an abundant fresh water supply in the area.

"One item," Clark added, "which was found in a mercenary staging area proved to be of some interest." He showed the three unusual looking plants immersed in fresh water. He handed the specimens to Alicia and asked her to identify the flora.

In taking the specimens, Alicia murmured, "These plants are certainly strange looking, but there is something vaguely familiar about them. I just can't seem to jog my memory sufficiently at this moment to recognize the parents of these hybrid plants.

"Is there a time line for the analytical information you need?" Alicia asked her brother.

"ASAP, sis," Clark replied. Then he yawned and said, "Guys we're all tired. Let's hit the sack."


Early the next morning, five super-beings flew to an area within the ring of fire that crossed the Java Sea. Here they mined nearly a trillion dollars in gold and other precious items from the Earth's mantle. The monies received for this mineral wealth were then deposited in several numbered Swiss bank accounts.

With the monies obtained from their mining activities, control of the Daily Planet passed to its employees through the sponsorship of the Lara and Jorel Foundation early on Monday of the following week.

At noon on that self same day, Lex Luthor stormed into the Planet newsroom with four of his attorneys. "Before you say anything, Lex," Perry cooed, "you should read this notarized document."

After Luthor looked over Perry's report, he handed it to one of his attorneys. As Lex's legal eagles studied Perry's informational paper, Lex slyly remarked, "So that's why Nigel disappeared with a hundred million of my money."

As they stood there awaiting Lex's attorneys' comment on Perry's document, the chief inquired of Luthor, "Are you still going to stubbornly maintain that LexCorp is squeaky clean and not responsible or at least involved in the recent military onslaught referred to in that captured document? In the past cases," Perry insinuated, "I could, at least, understand the quandary in the courts about indicting you, but this time, Nigel was directly connected to the parent company. To make matter worse for all concerned, is the fact that he was one of your lieutenants. I do believe, Lex, that the consequences of these particular militaristic actions must be assumed by the directors of LexCorp. In my mind Luthor, that means jail time for *all* the culprits."

"We'll let the courts decide that point," Luthor said with a crocodilian smile. Perry reluctantly had to concede that point. After all, one pillar of a modern state was the quality and the manner in which it exercised its laws.

"Lex," Perry drawled, "there is one more item that we should discuss." Lex looked at Perry with his perspicacious smile and waited. In a very low-key tone, Perry told Luthor about the Planet's new non-profit status and the control mechanism that would govern the paper. As Perry drawled, the smile on Lex's face slowly was replaced by a blank stare followed by a frown.

Perry drove the dagger deeper by quietly saying, "That stock, which you hastily purchased, will no longer generate a large dividend. Probably, until the paper is thoroughly reorganized, no dividends will be available for maybe a decade. "If I were you," Perry suggested, "I would try to recoup the principal by selling it to the Lara and Jorel Foundation. I'm sure they would be most generous considering the situation." Perry then added, "I'm authorized to offer you sixty cents on the dollar for your stock. Tomorrow the price will be forty cents on the buck. Then it drops another twenty cents. I'm sure you can appreciate the trend, Lex. Let's hope you'll make the right decision. I'm sure your entrepreneurial instincts will help you in this decision."

After Perry presented his official offer to Luthor and his cronies, inwardly the chief exulted in Luthor's financial debacle. Although Perry's facial expressions showed nothing to his adversary, inside he was ecstatic when he informed Lex of the financial cul de sac into which he had been maneuvered. To Perry, at that moment, it was like catching the largest trout in the world.

Before leaving the news floor, Luthor, ever the gentleman, curtly said, "Thanks for your advice, Perry." Nodding graciously to his antagonists, Luthor, seething at his loss, left the Daily Planet building with his retinue of sickening sycophants.


After Lex had left the Planet building, Clark Kent entered the newsroom and proceeded to Alicia's work area. Looking up, she smiled at CK as he placed a kiss on her forehead. Clark then lifted her from the chair and gave her a loving bear hug.

Lois, who had watched this gorgeous guy move across the bullpen with the grace of a feline, was curious about Alicia's actions toward this strange guy. When Clark finally headed toward Perry's office, she strolled over to Alicia and asked, "Who was that?"

"He's my brother, Clark Kent," Alicia replied.

Hearing CK's name, Lois was somewhat puzzled. "If he's your brother, how come you two have different last names?"

"We were separated at birth and adopted by two different families," Alicia replied. "About seven years ago, we found one other."

"Since we reunited, the quality of our lives has soared."

Accepting Alicia's info, Lois casually said, "Tell me about him."

Replying to Lois' query, Alicia said, "I don't really have time right now, but why don't you come by the house later in the week for dinner? I'll cook us a nice meal and we can talk about Clark or about anything else you want to discuss."

"That would be nice," Lois said. "Just two women having a rap session."

Smiling, Lois accepted Alicia's invitation and then returned to her desk. "It's interesting," Alicia thought, "She doesn't link Kent, the past Planet intern, to the man she just asked about. Pity."


As Clark entered the Chief's office, Perry clasped his hand and said, "Thanks for comin' CK. I know you're rushing to finish up your Singapore assignment and get state side." Clark just nodded.

While Perry puttered around his desk, he continued to talk, saying things like "Alan indicated that you did an incredible job in establishing the editorial department at the Planet's Singapore wire service. He also told me that Rita Montoya, the woman you trained as your replacement is doing a bang up job. Nice going Clark. The Planet really appreciated what you did during your Asian assignment."

Watching the chief, it became obvious to Clark that Perry was leading up to something and was not comfortable about broaching the subject.

As Clark was politely listening to the chief's babble, Perry started to pace around the office. He suddenly stopped and faced CK. "Clark," he declared, "I want you to join the Planet's staff here in Metropolis and be partnered with Lois Lane."

"There, I said it," Perry murmured.

Clark, smiling at Perry's rather brusque approach to his query, said, "My dear friend, I really can't accept your offer. You know very well that creating a partnership is akin to marriage. Except for the intimacy, nearly all other aspects of a marriage exists between partners of a news team."

Looking Perry straight in the eye, Clark continued, "In my opinion, Mad Dog Lane or Lone Wolf Lois are fairly accurate descriptions of a woman who likes to work alone. Be that as it may, after the way she treated me in the past, how can you ask me to trust her? I have feelings which she callously hurled on the dung heap. What she did, Perry, still smarts. While I don't hold grudges, my psyche keeps telling me avoid her at all costs — she's big trouble. Lois", Clark added, "is not the type of woman I'd ever take to Kansas to meet mom. Anyway, the way I feel about her would probably doom the partnership you've proposed almost from its inception."

"Are you sure?" Perry asked. Clark nodded re-enforcing Perry's question.

Okay, the chief continued, "Will you consider a staff position as an independent investigative reporter?" Perry was very persistent in his attempt to hire CK.

"No," Clark replied letting Perry down.

"While I would really enjoy the kind of work you've proposed," CK told his friend, "such a position would bring me into direct competition with Lois on a daily basis. What I had in mind was to freelance for a while. I promise you, Perry, that you'll get first crack at all of my stories."

"I guess that ends our little talk," Perry said in a disgruntled tone.

"Don't be so upset, chief." Clark said, "we'll see each other every Friday for supper at our Hyperion Avenue home. Maybe in a little while something will turn up where we can join forces.

"I guess for the present, my dream of having you at the Planet is on hold," Perry quietly said.

"After the Nightfall incident has been resolved," Clark quietly remarked, "we'll look at your list of job suggestions once more. For now, freelancing will be best for me." Then Clark added in hushed tones, "Freelancing will allow me more time to help David and Margot prepare for that dad-burned asteroid."

Clark then shook Perry's hand, left his office, and returned to Singapore to complete his tenure on that island nation.


Early the next day, Perry came charging onto the newsroom floor and climbed on a desk. He excitedly shouted, "Listen up! Listen up everybody!"

When the staff had quieted, he announced that Lois Lane had been nominated for a Kerth award and was being considered for a Pulitzer. He yelled, "Let's hear it for Lane! Yeah, yeah, yahoo, yahoo…"

When the din in the office finally subsided, he walked over to Lois, kissed her on the cheek and gave her a great big bear hug before returning to his office. He was so proud of her that he felt as if his chest would burst with pride. Lois, for her part, was on cloud nine for the rest of the day.

When Lois arrived at the Planet on the following day, Perry immediately summoned her to his office and closed the door. His eyes were sad, with a hint of tears that threatened to pour from his eyes. Asking his top reporter to be seated, he got right to the point and told Lois that her Pulitzer nomination had been withdrawn. As Perry's words penetrated her mind, she started sobbing, quietly saying, "Why, why, why…?"

After Lois had calmed down somewhat, Perry said to her, "When I was informed of your new Pulitzer status this morning, I immediately phoned Jane Simmons, the executive head of the Pulitzer nominating committee, and asked her the same question."

She told me that the J. School faculty had informed the Pulitzer committee that the article about "The Care Of The Elderly" which was the story nominated, had a second author, Clark Kent, who was not listed. The people at the J. School explained that, as an intern, Dr. Kent had added about forty percent more material to the controversial article. Furthermore, they told the Pulitzer committee that CK had edited and modified the entire piece and should have shared in the award.

"They had copies of both your original story and Kent's revised version. It was the revised version that was published without adding Kent's name as part of the by-line or acknowledging his contributions to the publication in some other manner. Because of the integrity issue, the faculty members of the J. School strongly recommended that your nomination be withdrawn. Faced with these disconcerting facts, The Pulitzer Council agreed with the J. school's recommendation and removed your name from consideration."

As Lois just sat there speechless, Perry murmured. "Now I can fully appreciate the sentiments that Clark hinted at a few days ago."

"What did he say?" Lois meekly asked.

Placing his hand on Lois' shoulder, Perry told Lois what he and Kent discussed earlier in the week.

Thanking Perry for his honest remarks, she rose and was about to leave his office,when the chief said, "Hold on darlin, I've something to say to you."

Pausing for a moment, Perry remarked, "Lois, you are probably one of the best, if not the finest, reporter I've had the pleasure of working with during my long career. One of the fetishes that seems to stifle recognition of your work is your lousy habit of distancing yourself from people and pushing them from your life. While I know the reasons for your abrasive and standoffish behavior, your colleagues don't. Or, if they do, they don't want to deal with your irritating behavior.

"I've known because of your poor upbringing and terrible past relationships with men you've become a loner and an ultra suspicious person. Lois, it pains me to see that you're unable to separate the good guys from the pack and tend to take up with the wrong kind of men. Lex Luther is a good example of that kind of deportment.

"Kent, on the other hand, whom you flung aside, represents one of the good guys. I was hoping by letting him edit your work, I could initiate something first-rate between you two. My heart ached when my plan backfired. You looked at Kent's editing of your copy as an unforgivable affront and then shoved him out of your memory. That to me, was the tragedy. A partnership between you two maybe could have formed a bond that would have sustained both of you throughout your lives. Even if working with Kent didn't lead, let's say, to marriage because of your ingrained fears of men, I do believe it would have led to a strong and happy relationship like successfully married couples only, in your case, without the intimacy."

Perry then added, "As you get older, Lois, you'll find that the burden of your job will become ever more demanding. The right partner, like a good marriage, would have helped maintain your strength and your excellence over time. Kent, I believe, would have been that kind of partner for you. His writing style complements yours. His finished articles sing like the one withdrawn from the Pulitzer nomination. Your passion and his ardor for journalism would have led to an unspoken understanding between you both. I feel that you two would have formed a pact that, in time, may have led to something finer and possibly more intimate."

Continuing after taking a breath, Perry added, "Under stress, Lois, you tend to exhibit tremendous exuberance, while Clark remains relatively calm. You often are impetuous, while Clark is patient. You, my love, are spontaneous and intuitive to CK's pensive nature. Do you remember the statement you made? 'I'm looking for a partner, who is my equal, to share my life.' Well, I believe you found him that day when you reviewed his work and compared it to your own. In your pride, you tossed him aside by denying his contributions to your work. Now, you are not only paying a price professionally, but a harsher forfeiture may be the result of your cold-bloodedness — a life of loneliness and an unfulfilled heart."

After a few seconds more of contemplation, Perry shook his head and mused, "Why do people tend not to recognize and discard the beauty and joy that comes within their reach?"

Looking at Lois, Perry added, "I believe that together, you and Kent could have fashioned probably the greatest journalistic team of the century. And maybe, just maybe, by partnering with him, your forlornness could have been appeased and your love-starved soul would have found its life partner and you your destiny."

Lois stood up and then said to Perry, "Why haven't you ever talked to me like this before?"

"What was there to talk about?" Perry responded, "All the guys you dated were from hunger, especially that Luthor fellow. Lex, by far, was the worst of the bunch."

As Lois walked back to her desk, she paused at Alicia's writing table. She quietly said, "Perry informed me about your brother. I guess our dinner engagement is off, huh?"

"That's up to you," Alicia remarked. "As far as I'm concerned, our get-together is still a go." As Lois smiled at Alicia with gratitude in her eyes, David's soulmate quietly said, "See you for dinner at week's end."


After Lois and Alicia had cleared the air, Lois felt comfortable seated at the Science Desk next to David's life partner. In the relaxed atmosphere that had enveloped them, the two lady reporters began to chat. As they were conversing, David and Margot Montane-Klein showed up. As Lois and Alicia became aware of the two STAR Labs scientists, David calmly said, "You're looking at two unemployed science researchers. Lex's hint about our sacking has today become a reality. To be specific, we were not terminated because of our work; that would be too crude for Luthor's palate. Our positions were simply liquidated. The board cited redundancy and budgetary constraints as the reason for our dismissals. Of course, there were no other research slots available for us to fill. So, with a letter of regret, Margot and I were sent packing."

"Don't worry Alicia, when we exited STAR Labs, nothing tangible was left behind. Margot and I started with emptying filing cabinets, and departed leaving our note lockers and computer data bases devoid of any useful information, information that could be useful to LexCorp. Now, like Clark, we can devote most of our energies to the Nightfall project."

"Can I imply from your rather sarcastic remarks," Lois rejoined, "that you are not unhappy about the termination of your employment?"

"Give that lady a cigar. She's right on the money," Margot replied with a wide grin on her face.

"You know, of course, we really just hung on to help Bernie. From Lex's veiled threat some weeks ago, our departure from STAR Labs was not unexpected. Dr. Klein kept us well informed about Luthor's intrigues which were solely aimed at having us removed from the STAR Labs facility.

"Now that this expected happening occurred," David added, "we can devote our time to more life-saving ventures." David kissed his wife on her cheek. Then he and Margot left for their Hyperion Avenue home.

"Your husband's quite a hunk," Lois commented to Alicia. "Where the heck did you find such a brilliant and gorgeous guy? I know the way you and he look at each other that you're both crazy in love."

Staring into space, Alicia said, Yeah." Then she followed her simple declaration with a little ditty:

*"My Husband's Love Is In His Eyes, His Voice, His Gentle Hand*

*It Shows Itself In Looks And Smiles That I Understand.*

*My Husband's Love in the Way His Tenderness Shows Through In Every Touch And Word And Deed That Shows He Cares For You."*

"Wow," said Lois, "Your talent is wasted on a newspaper, gal. You could be one hell-of-a poet. How can you express such beautiful feeling with words on the spur of the moment?"

"I don't know Lois. Something touches my soul and my words start to sing. I think it's a family trait. You know, a genetic thing."

"We better get back to work," Alicia then remarked, "or Perry will have us for breakfast." Lois nodded and sauntered back to her desk.


At the end of her working week, Lois found herself at Alicia's home for the first time. As she entered the living room, a young girl literally flew into her arms. Lois was surprise by the youngster's actions and amazed at the distance the girl had leaped — nearly fifteen feet. Looking straight into Lois' eyes, the small girl said, "Hiya, my name is Jennifer Rose Klein."

Gazing at the beautiful child, Lois said, "Glad to meet ya. You know that was some jump. For a moment, you seemed to be flying through the air."

Alicia coughed and quickly remarked, "Jennifer has very springy legs." Then she turned back toward the oven and nearly choked trying to stifle her giggle.

Attempting to divert Lois' attention from Jenny's Olympian leap, Alicia asked her guest, "Would you like a glass of wine?"

"That would be nice," Lois replied. "After this week, I could use the soothing effect of a little wine. It should help calm my nerves.

By the time Alicia asked Lois whether she preferred a white or red vintage, her desire to giggle, thank heaven, had subsided.

"Red," Lois replied.

Holding Jennifer Rose on her lap, Lois slowly sipped her wine and began to chat with her hostess.

In a few minutes, the two women were conversing like two long-lost relatives. As they talked, Seth walked into the room, saw the women engrossed in a babbling marathon and smiled. He interjected himself for a moment and greeted their guest. "Glad to see you, Lois. Don't let Jennifer Rose take advantage of you."

Seth then walked across the room, gave both Alicia and Lois a kiss on their cheeks and picked up his daughter. As he carried Jenny out of the room, giving her a loving squeeze, he said, "Let's go see Mommy's new painting."

As both women looked at the tender scene, Alicia suddenly jumped up and moved quickly to the bathroom. Almost immediately, Lois could hear Alicia retching. Several minutes later, her hostess returned muttering, "I thought that only happened in the morning."

Lois looked at Alicia and inquired, "Are you pregnant?"

"Yep, very pregnant," Alicia responded.

"When is the baby due?"

"Our kids should be born some time in mid-April," Alicia replied.

"Babies," Lois gasped. "How many?"

"Three — two girls and a boy."

"Three!" Lois said as she held her breath and nearly choked.

"Yes. David and I are going to be very busy parents. We have several advantages, though. Our family will help out and David will be working at home. Being here, David will take on the duties of main nurturing parent for a while. He'll be the house-husband."

"He doesn't mind that role?" Lois remarked.

"No," Alicia declared, "He's a very loving and understanding person. David feels as I, that gender shouldn't play a role in deciding who stays at home with the children. In a family unit, the conditions that best serve the household should take precedence over all other factors. Since our laboratory is in the sub-basement, he can easily work at home and take care of the kids. My job takes me out of the house most of the time. During the day, his domain will be the home area, while mine will encompass the Metropolis scene."

"Of course, when the children are new-born, we'll both be at home with them. Later, when our kids have been weaned, we'll vary the major parenting tasks to maintain our sanity and sustain the best nurturing set up for our little ones."

"However, if David has a meeting or job that must take him from the house, I'll work from home using the phone and the internet. You know Lois, we're lucky to have Perry as a boss. Without blinking an eye, he graciously agreed with our child rearing strategies."

"Some day," Alicia said, "I believe that a person will be able to live in Colorado and work for a concern in Boston or even London. Communication with his or her employer could easily be maintained over a visual modem uplink. Think of it, nurturing children and working out of one's home as an everyday occurrence. This kind of work, I feel, will have many beneficial consequences for the family. Of course, everything we do is like a two-edged sword. One of the negatives could be the stifling physical interactions between people. If home teaching were in this package, the sociology of the world community would have to undergo some major modifications."

Lois nodded in agreement. Then the Planet's star reporter's face took on a more somber expressiveness as she said, "Unfortunately, your beautiful portrait of future happenings is predicated on how successful we are in dealing with Nightfall. If we fail, no one will be around to test your views."

Alicia smiled and remarked, "Don't fret yet. From our research results, I can tell you, off the record of course, that Nightfall will soon be history."

Getting a little philosophical, Alicia commented, "Our children, like all kids, are a link to the past providing us with love and commitment in the here and now and are the hope for tomorrow. If I didn't have faith in these sentiments, children for David and I wouldn't have been an option. I don't believe that the destruction of the Earth is just another random cosmic event. That its extinction wouldn't effect the larger scheme of things. Our presence on this little world, Lois, I feel is significant. I concluded long ago that we and this world were created for a purpose. Perhaps we'll never know the entire whys and wherefores of our existence, but maybe, just maybe, we are the precursors of something really fine. A society that in the future will guide the cosmos to a special destiny."

When supper time approached, the family began gathering in the dining room. As the food was being placed on the table, Lois could sense the camaraderie among the entire group. The chit-chat was light as Lois and Alicia's family partook of the delectable foods. As Lois gazed at everybody, she somehow knew, without knowing why, that she had been accepted by the 348 Hyperion Avenue clan.

Towards the end of the meal, David rose and said, "Alicia and I wish to make an announcement." While all eyes focused on David, Alicia moved to her husband's side. David then said, "In April of next year, our immediate family will increase by three. We have conceived triplets — two girls and a boy."

After the congratulatory statements were expressed all around, Seth rose and said, "Margot and I are also expecting three new additions — two boys and a girl."

After yet more congratulations, Margot began to giggle. Sensing what Margot was thinking about, Alicia began laughing, saying, "No match-making in the womb."

As Alicia's subtle humor struck home, the entire group broke up and roared with almost uncontrollable laughter. After some semblance of calm returned, Margot reminded the group, "…only soulmates marry. Our new additions, like all of us, must each discover their own life partner."

"True, true," David concurred, nervously chuckling. "They're already contemplating matrimony and the kids aren't even born yet. Must be a hormone imbalance."

As David was muttering to himself, everyone moved to the living room.

While Lois and the family were excitedly talking about the arrival of six new babies, Perry White's booming voice was heard, saying, "Sorry I'm late folks," as he entered the room. "Got held up at a board meeting. Luthor, it seems, tried to break the non-profit foundation status of the paper. Thank heaven the courts ruled in our favor."

"So, 'Lex the Lizard' got himself skewered once again on the sword of justice," Seth commented. "Couldn't happen to a nicer chap."

Seth, of course, was smiling as he gave Luthor his well deserved zinger.

After Seth's Luthor comment, Jenny ran across the room and leaped into Perry's arms. He kissed the youngster on the cheek and bounced her on his knee. Margot, watching the antics of Perry and her daughter, became a little annoyed and said, "Perry, every time you play with her, Seth and I have a devil of a time keeping our daughter in line. You spoil Jen terribly."

Perry, with a twinkle in his eye, replied, "It's the prerogative of a grandfather to spoil his granddaughter. It's then the obligation of the parents to correct any undesirable effects caused by grandpa's actions." Then Perry White, gruff editor of the Daily Planet, began to belly laugh.

Margot threw her hands in the air and sulked. She had lost her battle with Perry over her daughter's behavior problem, and she knew it.

As Perry settled in, he was told about the pregnancies. With a twinkle in his eye, he commented, "That's great, now I'll have more kids to love and to spoil."

When Perry ended his chipper baby comments, quiet groans could be heard from the Finderman and Klein families.

Lois looked at Perry. She could hardly recognize him. He was relaxed and jovial; no wonder Seth and Alicia could call him by his first name. He was part of this family and it was obvious that they treated him with love and respect.

While it was obvious that Alicia and her kin regarded Perry as one of them, Lois was all too aware that Perry also considered David's wife as a daughter.

Lois was happy and relieved that she could now share the burden of the chief's loneliness with the Hyperion Avenue clan. If anything happened to her, these people would be there for Perry, especially as he aged. At last, at long last, a nagging concern about Perry's future welfare had finally been lifted, somewhat, from Lois' shoulders.

As the festivities at the Hyperion Street house went into high gear, Alicia pulled Lois aside. She took her to the garden area at the rear of the house. Here they could talk without being interrupted. Alicia initiated the conversation by saying, "I am sorry about your loss of the Pulitzer, Lois. Clark told me that he was very upset about the nomination withdrawal. He felt that the school should not have interfered in such an implacable manner. You know what Clark probably would say about the J. School's actions if he were here — let those who are not guilty of sin cast the first stone. Knowing academic institutions," Alicia comment, "I'll betcha you could find all kinds of sleaze among the faculty who pelted you, Lois. The ones who try to grind down others for reasons known to themselves are generally the ones who are expert in the art of political back stabbing and slander.

"The J. School's actions aside, I must admit, Lois, that I was angry and I'm still somewhat peeved about your conduct concerning my brother's work on your behalf.

"In an attempt to calm me down," Alicia added "Clark told me some time ago that a student didn't have rights to a by- line on a major publication. Although that rule is not written, it is sort of a loose tradition. My brother then informed me that because of that custom, giving a novice any sort of recognition was at the discretion of the reporter. To tell you the truth, Lois, I wasn't aware of the politics associated with either by-lines or acknowledgements. At the time Clark was busy with your work, I was intensely involved in learning more about the technical aspect of the newspaper business.

"What really upset Clark were your comments, which implied not so subtly, that he was a professional thief. Those comments emotionally upset him. You see Lois, Clark has spent his entire life helping other people without expecting any reward. When Perry asked him to work on your articles, Clark assumed that he was again in a position to render some help. So your insinuations were like a knife thrust through his vitals.

"While I'm still not happy with the way you treated Clark, I must admit that, during the past year I've noticed a change in the way you deal with people. I must tell you that the way your social skills have ameliorated is remarkable. I'm aware of how difficult it is to alter one's modus operandi. I suspect that the Lex affair and the Pulitzer loss caused you to seriously re-evaluate your life. Introspection is not easy. Most individuals cannot endure the pain of looking inward. You did it and modified your lifestyle for the better. Unfortunately, most people don't believe that your transformation is real.

"Why won't people understand that I have changed in so many ways?" Lois remarked to Alicia.

Alicia smiled and said, "Lois, you are, and always will be, a feisty lady with a fiery disposition. That's you, period. When you occasionally flare up, people will look at Lois Lane and say 'same old, same old Lois.' Most people, unfortunately, only look at the cover of a book and not its contents. That's why your true friends are few in number. I want you know that you have become a trusted friend to me, Lois, and I now consider you, like Perry, as a member of my family. From now on, you are always welcome in this house. In time, perhaps, the loneliness that encompasses your soul will only be shadows of past events."

"Thanks for your vote of confidence Alicia," Lois remarked, as she hugged her new sister.

"I'm aware that Clark is returning to Metropolis next week," Lois added. "What do you think will happen if we meet?"

"When you meet," Alicia replied.

Continuing, Alicia remarked, "Clark would always treat you with respect and if you need his help, he'd take care of you to the best of his ability. My brother has a happy heart and tends to bring joy and peace to people where there was none before. That's the nature of the man."

"While he never mentioned anything to me," Alicia added, "I don't think CK ever had an intimate relationship. Casual sex is not his bailiwick.

"Clark once told me that he viewed one night stands like two dogs copulating in an alley and then going their separate ways. In both cases, no love was involved. However, to give the dogs their due," Clark told me, "the canines were attracted by pheromones for procreation purposes.

"I suspect my brother would have to be deeply in love to be intimate with someone," Alicia said to Lois.

After a lull in their conversation, Alicia remarked, "To work with my Gentle Ben brother, Lois, and bond with him, you'll have to earn his trust. If you can use your skills to help build relationships between people, I'm sure you can forge a nexus with Clark." Pausing for a moment. Alicia added, "If you can forge a loving relationship with Clark, then I believe that the two of you will fulfill your destiny."

"Those thoughts of yours are somewhat enigmatic," Lois remarked.

"Let's leave it that way, for the present," Alicia remarked. "You should be aware by now, Lois, that Clark will probably do his best to avoid you. He feels that any meeting between you and him will just conjure up painful memories. Because of what occurred between you two in the past, you, Lois, must now become a compassionate aggressor. It will be difficult. There are things now occurring that will cause Clark to focus the sum total of his energies to eradicate or at least neutralize three items — Nightfall, Luthor, and Trask."

"Who's Trask?" Lois asked.

"He's a deranged person who hunts us," Alicia replied. "But that's a story for another day." As they sat in the garden, both Lois and Alicia knew that they had a meeting of the minds and were now fast friends, close confidants who would remain so for the remainder of their lives.

After several minutes of quiet, they rose and returned to the house and rejoined the festivities.


A week following Lois' and Alicia's tete-a-tete, Clark Kent returned to Metropolis; his Singapore assignment was at an end. After resting for several days, CK began his freelancing activities.

After several days of inquiry in the Hobbs Bay area, Clark was able to send several articles to Perry. These articles, if acceptable, would be published under his own byline, CJ Kent.

Since Perry was overloaded with work, he asked Lois to edit Clark's copy. Mainly out of curiosity, Lois agreed to Perry's request. As she reviewed CK's articles, Lois realized that Clark wrote as well or better than she did. The Planet's top reporter also noticed that his prose flowed with a sort of musical lilt which enticed the reader immediately into the story. Alicia, sensing Lois' interest in Clark's material said nonchalantly, "I'm glad that Clark's writing again." Lois shook her head in total agreement with her friend's comment.

Several days later, Clark entered the newsroom. He walked over to Alicia and gave her a kiss on her cheek. She looked up, smiled and said, "What brings you to our chaotic bullpen my ever pensive brother?"

"Perry asked me to stop by," he replied.

As he was about to head to Perry's office, Clark felt a hand lightly rubbing his back. He turned to face Catherine Grant, the Planet society columnist and sometimes vamp ogling and pawing him. She said, "How about a pick-me-up tonight, big boy?"

Although Clark was startled, he managed to keep his cool. Smiling, he remarked, "Cat, please don't touch me or offer me sexual favors. I don't lust and one night stands are not me. When I find the right woman, intimacy will be a natural consequence of our forever love."

Cat quickly answered, "There's lust in love."

Clark countered, "Yeah, but that kind of lust is tempered by the regard which lovers feel for one another. Pure lust to me, Cat, is like two dogs copulating. No emotional bonding and no commitment other than procreation is involved. At least the canines are drawn together because of their biological needs."

After his remarks, Clark continued toward Perry's office. Cat walked off mumbling, "I'll try again later." Lois and Alicia looked at each other and chuckled.

As Clark entered the chief's office, he said, "Hi, Perry."

The Editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet clasped Clark's hand and said, "Glad to see ya. Do I have a job for you, if you want it of course. Have a seat son." Clark nodded and waited for Perry to continue. After a few seconds, the chief said, "Clark, Dr. Antoinette Baines, the flight control director of the space station Prometheus, is giving a press conference at the launch facility later today.

"At the cape?" Clark asked.

"No son, it's being held at the new space center just outside of Metropolis. I'd like you to cover that media event."

"That sounds fine," Perry.

"You and Lois should be able to put this baby to bed for the morning edition."

"*Lois*?" Clark remarked, nearly losing his composure.

Hearing the distaste in Clark's voice, Perry looked CK square in the eyes and said, "Lois is probably one of the finest investigative reporters in the world today. Unknown to most reporters and technical people, you're probably the best scientist that ever walked this world. For this assignment both yours and Lois' formidable talents will be needed."

"Perry," Clark replied, "it's not that I don't recognize and appreciate Lois' abilities, but the attitude she nurtures clashes with my views about how to deal with people."

"Clark, my boy," Perry added, "Lois has changed dramatically since your intern days. Trust me on this."

Then Perry added, "According to my sources, there's something funny going on down at the space center. We have to find out what it is before more people get killed."

Clark grinned, "Okay, Perry, Lois has a partner for this space stint. G-D help me," Clark sighed as he walked out of the chief's office. The Planet's chief chuckled.


Early that afternoon, Lois and Clark bid adieu to Perry and headed for the Space Conference. The colloquium was to be held at the Space Agency's central offices — call the "Hub". Since their destination was about two miles from the Planet and the day was fair, Clark convinced Lois to walk to their destination.

As they strolled toward the space facility, they met Linda King, who was a staff reporter for the Metropolis Star. She, too, was headed to the space colloquium and without asking, joined their company. "Pushy broad," Lois thought. As they proceeded across town, Lois became aware that Linda was looking at Clark with bedroom eyes and giving CK her most radiant come hither smile. Lois realized that this was not the first time Linda had exhibited this kind of behavior. Lois had been told by her colleagues that this was King's standard operating procedure when she wanted to get her claws into some male. Clark was a gorgeous guy and catalyzed hormonal flushes in lots of women. While she didn't like Linda's behavior, Lois could tolerate the Star reporter's lustful attitude if she kept her hands off of Clark.

However, when Lois overheard Linda King mutter, "What a hunk, I wonder what's he's like in bed," Lois' dislike for the King woman rapidly escalated to anger. Lois' claws came out ready to tear Linda apart

As Lois began to brood about the developing situation, Linda began hitting on Clark. She started her assault by asking, "Would you like to have dinner with me this evening or any time soon? We could make great music together."

There was no mistaking the meaning of Linda's lustful thoughts. Linda then flashed Clark another sexy smile and waited expectantly for his reply.

Lois noted that Clark became uncomfortable and looked at her with a "help me"' expression on his face.

Aware of Clark's plea, Lois remarked to her adversary, in a pleasant voice, "I'm afraid that's not possible. Clark has dinner with me nearly every evening. It's part of our operating agenda. You know how it is — eat and work at the same time."

Linda glanced at Clark, who nodded in support of Lois' fabricated 'so sorry' explanation.

Upon reaching the Conference Center, Linda separated from the two Planet reporters and sought other unattached colleagues — meat for her overactive libido.

As Linda strolled away, Clark moved closer to Lois and whispered, "Thanks. I owe you one." Looking into Clark's beautiful eyes, Lois could sense that his gratitude came from the heart. While Lois and Clark scanned the conference area which was rapidly filling with people, CK whispered to his partner, "Linda King is just another Cat Grant with a bit more sophistication." He then took Lois by the arm and escorted her to their assigned seats located near the podium.

As Clark and Lois waited for the colloquium to begin, she said to her partner, "You know, Kent, I was really happy to help you out with that King hussy. I always get a rush when I can frustrate her designs."

"Lois," Clark said, "your finesse was elegant and I was quite impressed by the quickness you solved my problem. I don't function well around aggressive women."

After a few seconds, Clark added, "You've changed, Lois, and for the better, I might add." Pausing for a moment, Clark continued, "I no longer see a Lois Lane against the world, with an all for me attitude. You seemed to have somehow leaned that other people matter too, and sometimes their needs are more important that your own. That's a hard lesson to master, especially for an adult. I'm proud of you, Lois."

After Clark's unexpected praise, Lois just sat there and glowed.

At two-thirty, sharp, Dr. Baines approached the lectern. The conference was about to begin.

As Project Director, Dr. Baines gave the introductory comments. She used about twenty minutes to explain the space station program and its objectives. At the close of her remarks, a model of the launch vehicle was brought into the conference hall and placed near the rostrum. The model was a cut-away representation of the launch vehicle, so that the press corps and other dignitaries could easily observe the internal parts of the ship.

When Clark studied the mock-up power source of the launch vehicle, he became aware that condensers, instead of heaters, were positioned directly above the Venturi engines, the spacecraft's main thrusters. Alarmed, Clark raised his hand and was recognized. He said, "Dr. Baines, I am curious about the engine configuration. The shape of the hardware positioned directly above the thrusters resembles condensers."

Baines smiled at him and replied, "It seems you have some technical savvy, Mr. Kent. Your analysis is correct; those particular items do represent condensers."

Clark immediately asked, "Wouldn't a condenser tend to impede the ions in the combustion chamber and inhibit the propulsion power of the space vehicle? If I'm correct wouldn't the current configuration of the launch engines cause the space vehicle to explode upon lift-off."

Dr. Baines then snickered and quipped, "Your analysis is not only inaccurate, but inappropriate. You stick to reporting and let the scientific experts take care of the technicalities concerning the space launch."

After Dr. Baines finished her harangue, quiet laughter rippled through the audience. As the laughter quieted, Linda King remarked to Lois, "Perry sure picked a loser this time."

While dismissing Linda's slur as sour grapes, Lois really didn't understand why Clark had made those comments about the launch engine. However, considering her partners scientific credentials, there must be a pretty good reason for him to comment as he did. Dr. Baines' ridicule of Clark's comments was uncalled for, unless, of course, she was attempting to cover up something. Ridiculing a legitimate question, as she did, would tend to deflect the seriousness of Clark's query.

Although Baines' sarcastic remarks to Clark about his apparent faux pas engine comments did tend to make her partner appear foolish in the eyes of the press core, the directors' criticisms, Lois noticed, didn't seem to phase CK.

Lois was delighted when she realized that her partner had a tougher skin than she had presupposed. "That was a good thing to know about Clark Kent," Lois thought to herself. Smiling inwardly, Lois, thought to herself, "You, Mr. Kent, are becoming a very interesting person."


That evening, Clark and Lois wrote a joint article about the space station conference. They, of course, included Clark's concerns about the safety of the launch vehicle. In their story, the reporters indicated that they expected an explosion upon lift-off of the launch vehicle due to its faulty engine configuration.

After their article had been completed, they asked Perry not to print their piece until just after the launch of the spacecraft. Lift-off was scheduled at 4:30 a.m., about six hours from now. If the ship didn't explode, they would modify their copy before it went to press. A side bar would then be added apologizing for Clark's comments at the space conference.

After getting Perry's approval on their space article scheme, Clark said "good night" to the bullpen staff and told Lois that he was going home to rest. He then expeditiously exited the Planet and disappeared into the night sky.

When Clark entered his Hyperion Avenue home, he was met by Seth and David. As the three spiritual brothers consulted with each other, Seth quietly asked, "Do we become functioning super-beings tonight?" Clark nodded and replied, "Tonight we will become the dynamic threesome. Seth added, "I think that we should be in position above the launch site by four a.m. The others agreed.

As they waited to H hour, David mused, "I still can't fathom why Baines is using that engine configuration in the launch vehicle."

"I don't know why myself," Clark responded. "Baines is a very capable scientist."

"Because of her abilities," David comment, "she rose rapidly to a leadership position in the UN space ministry."

Listening to his brothers, Clark got a notion and said, "Unless, of course, someone has paid her handsomely to make the UN space station program to at first falter and then fail."

"That's kind of a harsh accusation," Seth retorted.

"You're right, Seth," Clark replied. "I hope for once that my gut feeling is wrong. Dead wrong."

"Yet," David chimed in, "such a scheme makes a lot of sense. There are vast sums of money at stake which would make it a tempting gamble for an aggressive, unscrupulous person like Lex Luthor. In fact, I was informed just this evening that LexCorp has a launch vehicle on the pad ready to go and all of their ground personnel have been recalled to Luthor's space site."

Seth replied, "That could be a coincidence."

"I don't believe in coincidences," David and Clark spoke out simultaneously.

"Let's look at the facts again," David chimed in. "The only known non-governmental establishment that has space capabilities is LexCorp. If the UN can't reach the space station within the next few days and redirect Prometheus' trajectory, it will incinerate as it plunges back into the atmosphere; If, however, LexCorp can reach the space station shortly after a UN failed attempt, LexCorp could attempt to claim the space station by right of salvage."

"What a horrific court battle LexCorp would precipitate if Luthor attempted such a maneuver," Seth remarked.

"True," David said, "and as I indicated earlier, if any person had the grit to attempt such a coup, it would be Lexipoo."

"Remember," David reminded them, "possession is nine-tenths of the law. As the UN and LexCorp battle in the courts, Luthor's companies will still be in possession of the space station and be able to produce medicines and other special crystalline materials that would put billions upon billions of dollars in Luthor's coffers. With his increased financial resources, Lex's powers will be vastly increased and his goal of world dominance would be one step closer to reality."

"David, you do paint a vivid picture of a very unpleasant earthscape," Clark intimated as he shook his head. "You've painted a scene where I can visualize thousands of people shouting 'Hail to King Lex, sovereign of the world.' " As CK uttered his rather sardonic statements, he shuddered.

"Gentlemen," Seth interrupted, "it's time to save three astronauts from passing beyond the pale."

As they were about to leave, David and his brothers sought out Alicia and Margot. Upon finding their gals, Clark asked, "Are you coming along?"

"No," they both said. "If we're needed," Margot told them, "we'll be there to help out. In our present gravid condition, Alicia and I feel that we shouldn't place our unborn children in harm's way."

Clark said, "With your invulnerability, I doubt that any physical activity could injure the babies."

"That's probably true," Alicia replied, "but why take any unnecessary risks?"

"True," Clark replied. After saying au revoir to the gals, the super guys left for the space station launch site.


At the Planet, Perry, Lois, Jimmy and some of the night staff had gathered to watch the space launch. Linda King also showed up several minutes before lift off. Her article had already been promulgated in the Metropolis Star. Fortunately for the Daily Planet's reputation, Perry had heeded Clark's request and would not publish their article until after the launch.

As the people at the Planet waited for the space event, Linda remarked to Lois, in a jeering tone, "I see that Clark's not here. He probably doesn't want to subject himself to any further humiliation when the launch turns out to be a monumental success."

Lois did a slow burn when she again heard Linda's debasing comments.

Turning away from the King woman, Lois remarked, "Are you so sure, Ms know it all Star reporter?"

Gathering her composure and not looking at her onetime college roommate, Lois added, "That was damn unkind of you to refer to Clark's question to Baines as being both foolish and witless. Considering Clark's background, his questions were right on the money. That statement in your article was completely unnecessary for your story line and you know it. You purposely included that remark to mar Clark's reputation. Suppose Clark is correct? You'll have to apologize to him."

"I will never apologize to that Kansas yokel in this or any other century," Linda vehemently said. "I'm sure you know, Lois, people have short memories. They'll forget about my article. However," Linda persisted, "those self same people will remember my comments about Clark not being very bright. That will linger in their minds."

"Because of my article," Linda continued, "Kent's views in the future will always be challenged and will not be taken seriously by some of our colleagues. I'm betting that people will remember the bad things said about him. They usually don't recall who said them or whether or not they're true. Remember your Shakespeare — Julius Caesar, I believe."

Lois then faced Linda and said in a very angry tone, "So you purposely discredited Clark because he refused to date you?"

Linda responded, "Yeah. If he had accepted my offer, I believe it would have been a memorable evening and Mr. Kent would have kept his reputation intact. I got even with him for his foolish faux pas. Vengeance can be so sweet, don't you think, Lois?"

While listening to Linda, Lois recalled a philosophical saying, "Those who seek vengeance, in the end will inherit the wind."

After that philosophical thought swept through Lois' mind, Linda's admissions again hit her like a tornado. The Star reporter, Linda King, was acting like a spurned lover and was using the press to debase the person who supposedly turned her down.

As strong angry emotions began coursing through her body triggered by Linda's blatantly insensitive remarks, Lois suddenly realized just how much she had changed during the past year. Even before her metamorphosis, Lois would never have used the power of the press to extract revenge, even on her worst enemy. For someone else to do such a thing nauseated her. Over the past year, Lois had somehow learned to understand and empathize with people who were in distress. Because of Alicia and the others in her new family, Lois was at last learning how to help and empathize with those who suffered emotionally or physically from some inordinately stressful condition.

After having her verbal donnybrook with Linda King, Lois turned her attention to the Planet's huge monitor. As she stood there, Lois' mind again focused on Clark and the possibility that he could be wrong about the failure of the coming space launch. If Kent's views were invalid, Lois knew that all of her influence and those of the Planet family would be needed to help CK withstand the ridicule that would hit him like a ton of bricks. Could Clark stand up to his colleagues and survive in the news business? Those questions kept going through her mind as she awaited the coming space event.

Lois was drawn back to full consciousness of the activity when she heard the countdown commence on the newsroom monitor. Two minutes and counting… Fifty seconds and counting… Then ten, nine, eight… and then, the magic words "Lift-off!"

As the mighty sound of the lift-off was heard, a large man- made space bird, with flames spewing from its engines, started to rise. At an altitude of about one hundred and fifty feet above the pad, the launch vehicle started to shudder. Flames and smoke could be seen billowing through the frame of the vehicle. Immediately after that, fire breached the spacecraft's skin, a horrific explosion followed, ripping a gaping hole on the ship's port side just above engines — the location where the condensers were positioned. A few seconds after the first explosion occurred, the entire spacecraft disintegrated as the ship blew up and was engulfed in a titanic fireball.

While fragments of the spacecraft were still falling to Earth, Lois was scurrying to her computer and LANed the Lane-Kent article to Perry. Within the hour, the Daily Planet's morning edition, containing Lois' first team effort with Clark was on the street. It was an article that Perry knew would be an award-winning expose.

While Lois sat at her desk viewing the tragedy unfolding on newsroom monitor, Linda King again made her presence known. Glancing at the screen, Linda commented to Lois, "I don't understand how Kent could take one look at the launch vehicle mock-up and know it would fail. That would take remarkable scientific talent backed by knowledge of a very advanced kind." To placate herself, Linda remarked, "Just beginner's luck, I suppose. You know, Lois, that article you wrote with Kent is Kerth material. Too bad," Linda murmured. She then turned and walked sullenly toward the exit of the Planet newsroom.

Although Lois pretty much loathed everything about Linda King, she was aware that Linda was correct about one thing. The space story by "Lane and Kent" would probably earn them a Kerth — their first together.

As Lois watched Linda exit the newsroom, the Star's reporter's remarks about Clark surfaced in Lois' mind and again caused her to become irate. When Lois finally settled down, she began to focus on Clark's attributes.

In the past few days, Lois had become quite aware that Kent was one hell of a journalist. Aside from his writing talent, Clark Kent had a knack of making his articles sing and drew the reader into the story. His scientific abilities were uncanny. He just proved that point to the dismay of many of Lois' colleagues who had wanted him to fail. Lois knew something that most people in the news business didn't. Clark Kent, her partner, had an earned doctorate in physics. So why did she ever doubt the suitability of the questions CK threw at Baines? Lois knew her insecurities were probably at work when Clark queried Dr. Baines, the project director of space station Prometheus. Lois would have more faith in her partner from now on. As she moved back to her desk, she mentally chastised herself. To have earned an advanced degree in physics, Lois realized, should have alerted her to the fact that Clark… Dr. Kent … no doubt had outstanding analytical abilities and was quite aware that something was amiss when he studied the launch vehicle's design.

Thinking about her partner on this assignment, Lois was beginning to appreciate that in addition to Clark's intellectual strengths, he happened to be one gorgeous guy — a hunk. She also recognized over the past few days that with all of his physical and mental equipment, Clark Kent was an unassuming and gracious individual.

"Clark Kent," Lois murmured to herself, "you're becoming a more interesting guy with each passing moment."


As the UN spacecraft was in the throws of coming apart at the seams, three supermen flew to the doomed launch vehicle, ripped opened a side panel just prior the ship's final explosion and snatched three astronauts from the jaws of snapping death. After extracting the crew from the dying ship, they transported the space sailors about two miles from the launch pad and set them down on the beach. The experience of flying without a conveyance of some sort was very disconcerting, to say the least. Two of the astronauts passed out from fright, and the third became somewhat dizzy and dysfunctional from his aerial adventure.

When found by the shore police, the astronauts babbled about being pulled from their doomed ship by exceptionally strong beings who flew. Their utterances, of course, were considered the ravings of men traumatized by a near death experience.

When the astronauts were located, Clark Kent was with the press party accompanying the shore police. He recorded all that transpired and then scooted back to the Planet.

Arriving at the paper, Clark made a beeline to Lois' work area and asked his partner if he could borrow her laptop for an hour or so. To Clark's surprise, Lois even offered him her chair. He thanked her profusely and began to work on his article. Lois noticed that many of her colleagues were staring at 'Mad Dog Lane' in disbelief. Not within the memory of many Planet employees had Lois acted graciously and shared her computer, or anything for that matter, with another soul.

When Clark completed his article, he asked Lois to edit his copy and make any pertinent comments, additions, or deletions she deemed necessary.

As Lois took Clark's article, he sat down in a chair next to Lois' desk and closed his eyes. He hadn't slept in nearly three days and his body desperately needed to renew itself. A nap would help restore his body's energy reserves. The fatigue caused by his lack of sleep had literally knocked Clark off his feet.

About an hour later, Linda King came bouncing into the Planet's newsroom. Clark's sensitive hearing detected Linda's noisy entrance which roused him. Lois, seeing that Clark was awake, handed him the revised article. He read it and beamed at her. Together, he and Lois had produced another fine article. After he added her thoughts to the article, he LANed the piece to Perry.

As Clark was sending Perry Lane and Kent's latest article, Linda waltzed up to him. Placing her hand on CK's shoulder she remarked, "My editor asked me to inform you that there's an investigative reporter position waiting for you at the Star." She added, "You can name your own price, within reason of course."

"Not interested." Clark's reply was almost immediate.

"Not even at twice the salary the Planet could offer you?" she scoffed.

"Money is not an issue," Clark remarked. "Wampum, to me Linda, is simply a bartering tool. You'll lean someday, I hope," he continued, "that happiness and money are not synonymous." Clark then added for good measure, "For my tastes, the Metropolis Star's articles tend to lean a bit too far in the direction of tabloid journalism. I'd have terrible problems writing in that genre. No, Linda, I'm afraid your paper's journalistic style is not for me."

"Does all your writing have to be based upon clear facts and absolute truth?" Linda queried.

"Yep," he replied. "As close to that mark as possible."

"I can't do slander or write articles that are accusatory without hard facts. Perry's influence on me has only reinforced my own views along these lines."

"I'm sure you are aware, Linda, that once a person has been sullied by an accusation, that individual can never regain his or her good name, even when that individual has been proven to be innocent of the charge or charges levied against him or her. It's one of those injurious social blemishes that mar our society. No, Linda," Clark continued, "tell your boss 'thank you for the offer,' but I like what I am doing. More importantly, when I'm working at the Planet, my association with the highly competent and ethical people who work at this paper has been exhilarating. And, quite frankly, Linda, I happen to like these folks very much."

When Lois heard his word "like," her heart rate took-off like a rocket.

"Perhaps," she hoped, "Clark's forgiven me for my atrocious behavior toward him before he went to Singapore."

As Linda was leaving the Planet, Clark went to see Alicia. Seeing CK saunter towards his sister, Perry left his inner sanctum and strolled over to Lois. He gave her a front page mock-up of the paper's afternoon edition. "There was Clark's article," Lois said to herself. Looking closer at the story, Lois nearly jumped out of her skin. The by-line of the piece also included her moniker. The credit line read, "Lois Lane and Clark Kent."

When Lois realized what Clark had done, she sat down at her desk and started to quietly sob. As she wept, Perry comforted her.

When Clark heard Lois' distress, he scooted to her desk. She looked at him with tears running down her face and said, "Oh Clark, that was a magnificent gesture, putting my name on your article and in the first position, too. Oh, please forgive me for what I did to you last year. I feel so ashamed."

Perry White was shocked when he heard Lois ask to be excused for her past behavior toward Clark. This was a first. As long as Perry had known Lois Lane, he had never heard her ask another soul to pardon her actions. Something unique had occurred. As Perry continued to listen, Clark said to her, "First of all, you worked on *our* article, therefore, you earned that by-line. Secondly, I forgave you a long time ago for your faux pas. One can't dwell on the past. What's done was done. My parents taught me, as a kid, you should forgive and then move on. The reason that I was initially reluctant to work with you, Lois, was predicated, not on any past infractions, but the trust issue which might have come between us. Trust and sincerity are the strengths that truly bind partners together and ensures that they will function as a team. When Perry brought us together, I had to re-evaluate my position relative to what previously occurred between us. I decided to take a chance, hoping from your experiences over the past year or so, that you'd mellowed and had become more of an understanding person."

Clark then pulled her from her desk chair and gave her an endearing hug. As soon as his arms encircled her, Lois' heart rate began to accelerate toward Mach one. From her emotional response to his hug, Lois knew that something wonderful was happening between them. Lois' problem now, was how to communicate her harmonious and amorous feelings to this very sensitive man. She was well aware that communicating her feelings to CK could be very tricky, very tricky indeed.

As she gazed at Clark, she noticed that a serious appearance began to dominate his facial expressions. "A penny for your thoughts," Lois teased.

Her humor and teasing helped ease his anxiety. He looked at her and said, "The story we just published may bring trouble. Big trouble. A man called Trask may cause a great deal of difficulty. In fact, that man could be detrimental to me and my family's health. In fact," Clark added, "detrimental may be too soft for Trask's potential actions. Maybe, I should have used deadly instead?"

"Clark, who is he?" Lois asked with concern.

"He's a deranged viper," Clark answered her, "bent on destroying everything, people included, who appear, in his view, to be different than the norm."

"Clark," Lois replied, "you know we don't have to print our article."

Warmed by her concern, Clark remarked, "Not publishing our story is not a solution to the Trask problem. Other papers will certainly disseminate the same kind of information. It's that kind of lore which will draw Trask to this city, like a moth to a flame. Do me a favor, Lois," Clark said. "Please tell your friends and informants to be on the look out for a man who calls himself Trask or Colonel Trask."

Lois shook her head as she quietly said, "A-okay CK."


While Lois did not see or hear from Clark during the next few weeks, she was aware from her sources that he was busy investigating two story lines: a sudden rise in illegal drug trafficking around the Hobbs Bay area, and the disappearance of numerous homeless people throughout the metropolitan area.

Eighteen days after the space launch incident, Clark again walked into the Planet's newsroom. After greeting some of his friends, he asked Lois and Alicia to accompany him to Perry's office. When they all had settled down, Clark asked Alicia what she'd discovered about the strange plants he'd asked her to study.

"While my investigation has not been completed," Alicia replied, "the data I've so far obtained strongly suggests that those flora are a mutated form of the poppy plant — the one used to make opium." She then added, "One of the major differences between the original and the mutated plant variety lies in their cultivation environments."

"The mutated plants," Alicia informed them, "were a water variant — a new aquaculture species."

Pausing for a moment for her info to sink in, she added, "The water variety of the poppy plant, although mutated, can still be used to produce large quantities of raw opium. Once the crude opium has been obtained, all that is required is a relatively simple purification procedure to obtain a pure product. I don't have to tell you the street value of the narcotic. Those who controlled this poppy source could acquire untold riches which would make the wealth of ancient kings and the monetary strength of modern nations pale into insignificance."

When Alicia finished talking, Clark opened his briefcase and placed several unusual looking plants on Perry's desk.

Pointing to the flora, Alicia excitedly said, "That's the same kind of plant you gave me to study."

"Yep," Clark replied. "I located them in the Hobb's Bay area earlier this week." Then CK asked, "Perry, do you have any copies of my Singapore stories handy?"

Perry went into his closet and produced four dispatches by Kal Ellis. Lois gasped in surprise and almost yelled, "*You're* Kal Ellis?"

"Yeah, Lois, that's me. I had to use an alias or Lex, with his political clout, would have forced the Singaporean government to have me cashiered from the island."

After all four articles were spread upon Perry's work table, Clark said "Lois, see if you can see a common thread connecting those stories. Ignore the material dealing with the mineral wealth in and around the villages. There doesn't seem to be an interconnection with those commodities."

While Lois read, Clark paced to and fro waiting for Lois' analysis. About thirty-five minutes later, Lois looked up and smiled. Before she could say anything, Clark said, "Let me make a guess and see if you agree with my inferences." She nodded. Clark then remarked, "The only things that the villages seemed to have in common were caves filled with a renewable fresh water supply."

"Bingo," Lois said smiling. Then she added, "Don't forget they also had people in common."

Clark looked as if he had been struck by a bolt of lightning. He grabbed Lois, picked her up like a rag doll, kissed her on the forehead and yelled, "Whoopee!"

"What happened?" Perry excitedly asked.

To control his excitement, Clark sat down. "It all fits," he muttered, "it all fits and Lois found the final link."

All eyes were on Clark as he began to speak. "Luthor," he said, "wasn't looking for mineral wealth in and around the villages his forces assaulted. Lex was interested in a renewable and copious water supply to grow his aquatic poppy plants and he needed the caves to conceal his illegal activities. The natives were also a necessary part of his equation. They would be used as the slave labor to harvest the poppy crop and prepare the drugs for market. Since he was foiled in southeast Asia, Luthor naturally looked elsewhere for an easily hidden site for growing, harvesting, and finally manufacturing cheap opium."

Banging his desk, Perry angrily reiterated CK's thoughts. "Lexipoo needs an environment that has good concealment, lots of water, and manpower.

"Yep," Clark replied.

Unfortunately, Clark added, "Metropolis meets all of Lex's criteria. The reservoir system will provide him with the needed water for his operation. The grottoes in and around the city will furnish the security to safeguard his illegal drug works. And, the homeless souls wandering about the city will supply him with a work force to do his bidding.

"So," Lois continued, "Our industrious and adaptable sub rosa financier, Lex Luthor, has built a poppy farm right under our very noses. Homeless people in and around the city are disappearing because they are being forcibly conscripted into Lex's illegal labor battalion. Since the fresh water need for Lex's operation can be recycled, the amount of water unlawfully taken from the city's cisterns can't be measured. Also, how many people venture into deep grottoes? It could be hazardous to their health, so people would naturally avoid them. It may surprise you, but not many people know the location of the cave sites around the city. So you see that Luthor's security problem is miniscule. Once he establishes his factory, Lex can manufacture death in large quantities and in relative safety."

"Great shades of Elvis," Perry emoted when CK finished talking. "If this scheme gets into full swing, he can sell drugs at the same price as a piece of candy. When he gets enough people hooked, Luthor could control or influence the affairs of our country or the world, maybe. Clark," Perry asked, "Do you have any idea where in Metropolis he's set up his opium facility?"

"Yeah," Clark replied. "It's somewhere near the Metropolis reservoir. Probably close to Hobbs Bay. The area is filled with derelicts, homeless people, and just plain undesirables. His unpaid work force would be among those types. Who would ever look for people that disappeared in the Hobbs Bay region? People's movements in that area are just too fluid.

"If we would've looked a little closer at Luthor's movements with more of a discerning eye, the signs of Lex's activity were there to see. In fact, they are as obvious as the noses on our faces. Illegal drugs are becoming abundant in the Hobbs Bay area and are as cheap to purchase as a shot of rotgut whisky. Furthermore, if you look at the police reports you'll see that homeless people are disappearing from the Bay area at an unusually high rate."

"Wow," Lois chimed in, "Clark, I think you're right on the money. All of those missing people would certainly provide Lex with a large labor force. In addition," Lois commented, "the amount of inexpensive drugs that are spreading through Metropolis like wild fire strongly supports a nearby drug manufacturing site, one that's in or near the city. Now if we could locate the caves being used by Lex's people, all the pieces of your hypothesis should fall into place. Then we could notify the police and crush Luthor and his thriving drug enterprise."

Clark smiled at Lois' intuitiveness.

Looking at Clark's face, Lois became even more excited as she remarked, "You've found the caves that contain the necessary water reserves, haven't you?"

"Yep," CK replied. "They're located near the city's principal reservoir, about five hundred feet below street level. Alicia, please notify the family of our findings. In the meantime, Lois and I will try to find a surface entrance that leads to the poppy plantation and the drug factory."

As they left Perry's office, Lois asked, "Do you have a clue as to where to begin our quest?"

He nodded and said, "Yeah — the Metropolis aquifer."

"Of course, of course" Lois mused, as she gazed into Kent's face. As their eyes met, Clark smiled at her and Lois' heart melted.

After saying their adieus, Lois and Clark left the Planet building and made a bee line for the Metropolis aquifer.

Thirty minutes later, two reporters entered the pump station just above Metropolis' main reservoir. This building provided direct access to the subterranean passages which lead to most of the aquifers under the great city. As they entered the underground corridor system, Clark noticed footprints on the muddy floor of the passageway. He pointed them out to Lois, who quickly understood their significance.

Following the muddy tracks through the maze of passageways which were cut through the heart of the rock itself, they noticed that the many sets of shoe imprints converged into a single trail that headed in a specific direction. The two reporters walked in silence until the bemired boot tracks suddenly vanished at the face of a rock wall. Almost immediately, both Lois and Clark started searching the wall area for a hidden mechanism that would reveal a concealed doorway. When Lois finally turned her back to Clark, he was able to use his x-ray vision and locate the switch which was cleverly camouflaged at the base of the wall. When Lois once again faced Clark, he showed her the concealed toggle switch. Without saying a word, Lois reached forward and activated the mechanism. As the two reporters watched, a portion of the wall shifted, revealing an elevator shaft descending into the bowels of the Earth.

Clark wanted to call the police immediately, but Lois became excited and said she was going to take the elevator to its destination immediately, with or without him. Watching his partner, Clark realized that Lois didn't have the patience to wait for the police and no amount of logical articulation could stop the intrepid Lois Lane. But Clark made the attempt anyway.

"Lois," Clark remarked, "your antics are madness. You want to ride this elevator 'to G-D knows where' without knowing what lies at the end of your descent."

No matter what Clark said, Lois remained adamant about taking the elevator to its terminus. She smelled a big story and "Mad Dog Lane" was going to get there first, no matter what.

As Lois started toward the elevator, Clark continued to urge Lois to wait for back up. No amount of pleading could dissuade her from her folly.

Since Clark could not abandon his partner, he followed Lois into the elevator.

There were only two buttons on the operating panel: one for up and the other indicating a downward direction. Once inside the lift, Lois pushed the down button. As they descended, Clark prayed that he would be able to protect her.

When the elevator reached it terminus, Clark estimated the length of the elevator shaft to be about five hundred and fifty feet. The Kryptonian made his estimate from a guess of the lift speed and the time required for the elevator's descent to its one and only stop. He informed Lois of his computational methods and results as they exited the elevator into an illuminated cavern. Pausing for a moment after they exited the lift, both reporters heard shouts and other noises coming from some distance away.

As the two reporters cautiously made their way toward the distant sounds, they became aware that others were nearby. Assuming that these unknown individuals would not be the friendly type, the reporters sought cover from time to time, as they cautiously trekked toward the ever increasing din.

After several more minutes, the two intrepid reporters peered over the rim of a man-made cavity that housed a small lake. Racks covered with mesh were partially immersed in the water. Growing on the mesh were plants; plants like the ones Clark had given to Alicia to study. Scurrying among the aquatic poppies and caring for and harvesting these plants of death were men, women, and children of all ages. Walking among the workers along the periphery of this poppy plantation were heavily armed men dressed in military garb.

Scanning the subterranean farm, the Planet reporters noticed among the aqua farmers men toting whips. These brutish individuals would strike out at members of the labor force when they perceived sluggishness by a worker. Lois and Clark also noticed towers located at specific intervals around the perimeter of the lake. Each tower was occupied by several individuals brandishing automatic weapons. CK and his partner soon realized they were viewing part of a modern slave labor facility geared to the production of opium based products.

As the shock of what they saw wore off, Lois started to take pictures of the poppy farm; a scene right out of the official Nazi concentration camp manual. While they continued to watch the horror before their eyes, Clark and Lois watched one of the guards locate a fatigued worker. The poor woman had obviously collapsed from pure exhaustion. After examining the female worker for a moment, the guard drew his pistol and shot the prostate woman in the head.

Seeing the pitiless murder, Lois and Clark felt like their insides were being torn from their bodies. Recovering from their stunned condition, Lois placed her head on Clark's shoulder and started to sob.

After Lois regained her composure a few minutes later, the two journalists began documenting the anguish of the enslaved aquatic farm workers using a VCR and thirty-five millimeter photographic equipment.

Before returning to the elevator, Lois removed the film from her camera and concealed it in her undergarments. While Lois was hiding the exposed film on her person, Clark carefully concealed their video equipment in a crevice along the path leading back to the lift.

As Lois and Clark neared the elevator on their return trip, they were suddenly encircled by a group of armed men. The leader of the group told the reporters to follow him or else. The 'or else' was all too obvious. They were taken to a windowless building and confined within a small room.

Incarcerated and alone, Lois said, "I'm sorry, Clark. We're gonna die, and it's all my fault. I have this terrible habit of doing things on the spur of the moment and not worrying too much about the end result. I don't know why I get involved without considering other options or the possible consequences of my acts."

After a few moments of silence, Lois added, "You know Kent, the fact that we'll lose the greatest story of the decade doesn't seem to matter any more. The fact that I may have doomed you to an early grave is tearing me apart."

When she finished babbling, Clark hugged her. He said, "We're still alive, and where there's life, there is always hope. Let's just go with the flow for now. There's always a way out; our escape route just hasn't presented itself as yet. Just be patient and alert."

As Lois looked at Clark, with tears streaming down her face, he told her, "I promise you this, Lois, you'll see the sun rise on the morrow. And when old Sol sinks below the horizon tomorrow evening, Luthor's empire will be in shambles."

Lois looked at Clark to see if the shock of capture and the possibility of death had caused him to have a mental breakdown. When she gazed upon Clark's face, the look in his eyes was clear, and there was something else there, something she couldn't quite place.

After a brief period of silence, Lois said, "Clark, I have things that I wish to get off my chest. First, I want to apologize to you for not adding your name to the by-line for those six articles of mine you edited last year. You did a magnificent job. Perry was right, as usual. Ours could have been a great partnership."

Clark interrupted her babbling and said, "Lois, I've told you that I have already forgiven you for what you did. That faux pas happened and we can't change the past. It's the future that's important. Let's go forward together as full and equal partners."

She was about to respond to him when the door opened and Murray Singer, another Planet reporter, was tossed into the room. His face was battered, but he still had enough presence of mind to grin at them. A minute or so later, he lost consciousness.

Lois immediately reached into her handbag and withdrew a small bottle of water and a small flask containing alcoholic spirits. Clark used the water to wash Murray's face which helped revived him. Lois then gave Murray a shot of liquor to give his body a kick start.

When Murray became more lucid, Lois asked, "What in G-D'd' name are you doing here?"

Singer looked at her and replied, "I found my wife's notes listing and describing Luthor's criminal associations and activities. You remember, Lois, my wife was murdered before she could send her information about Luthor to the authorities. Ever since Lillian's death, I've been trying to get the goods on Lex, the butcher, that filius populi."

Catching his breath, Murray continued, "Then I foolishly announced on the newsroom floor that I had the goods on Lex Luthor and would bring the beast to justice at long last. How stupid of me. One of Luthor's moles heard my foolish boasting and reported it to his boss. On my way to the police station, I was abducted and brought here. If I don't make it, and you guys are able to escape, there are copies of my wife's incriminating evidence in a locked computer file named Lillian. The numerical code is the date of birth of Perry's wife.

"I miss Lillian so much," Murray moaned. "She was a woman, beautiful of soul, with a heart as big as all outdoors."

Gazing at them for a moment, Murray suddenly asked, "How in blue blazes did you two get here?"

Smiling, Lois filled him in.

After being told of the drug scenario, Murray remarked, "It kinda looks like we're gonna leave this world together." Murray then grinned at his colleagues and commented, "May I say it's been a real privilege to have known you both?"

Murray then peered into space for some moments and remarked, "Clark, you're the kind of person that I would have liked for a son." His voice dropped to a whisper as he said, "My wife and I were unable to conceive. A child was one of the things we longed for and was missing from our lives. When we first found out that we couldn't have kids, I had to be her strength as well as my own. Lillian took it so hard and nearly went down for the count. If she had died at that moment in our lives, I believe that I would've given up the ghost and followed her to the grave."

"What helped save Lillian and myself," Murray said to Lois and Clark, "was a bit of philosophy my grandmother told me many long years ago. After some incident in our family, she said, Murray, 'When one door closes, G-D sees to it that another one opens. You have to be wise enough to see that door.

"Remembering her home-spun comments and by using the strength of our love, Lillian and I forced open another door, a portal to a different life path. Following that trail we were able to combine our strengths and together forge a joint career aimed at helping people improve the quality of their lives. In journalism one can accomplish much by honestly using the written word to battle injustices and to prevent societal inequities from trampling the hopes and dreams of average people."

Perking up a bit more, Murray continued, "When I watched you, Clark, I imagined *my* imagined child with the same high moral purposes and lofty ethical standards, helping others, never holding a grudge or attempting to get even. If we are fortunate to get out of here alive, it is my fervent wish that you find a life partner worthy of you, Kent." Placing his hands on Clark's shoulders, Murray added, "I don't know why I know this, but somewhere deep down I know that you'll make a wonderful husband and an exemplary father."

After Murray finished his remarks, he closed his eyes. His breathing became more shallow as his body slowly, but irrevocably, weakened. As Clark regarded Murray's deteriorating condition, Lois placed her head on Clark's shoulder and sat in silence, savoring their closeness.

An hour or so elapsed before the door opened again. "The boss wants to see ya," a Neanderthal type man told the three Planet reporters. He then brandished a pistol and ushered them to more lavish quarters in an adjoining building. Clark carried the injured Murray Singer as they were forcibly moved.

"The boss lives well, even below ground," Clark said to Lois.

Entering their new accommodations, Clark and Lois helped Murray to a chair and then seated themselves while awaiting the boss, whom they were fairly sure was Lexipoo.

Several minutes later Luthor and his nephew entered the room. When the master of evil saw Lois and Clark, he commented, "It appears that the giblet and the charismatic and beautiful Ms. Lane are on to our drug operation. Too bad," Lex snickered.

As Luthor surveyed his captives, Lois looked at Clark and they both nodded to one another. Their intuitive guess that Lex was the crooked entrepreneur who ran drug farm operation was right on the money.

Gazing at Lois, Lex commented, "My dear you look as radiant as ever. Why you even joined forces with this farm-sired jester, I'll never understand. You know, of course, to reject my overtures of marriage and then choose this schlemiel to be your partner was an affront to my dignity. When your life is extinguished, the sting of that insult will be expunged from my psyche and I'll forget you. Trust me on that. Memory of you, Lois, will fade as the petals on a lovely flower do as it perishes."

"My pet," Luthor addressed Lois again, "I have an exquisite death planned for you and your associates. I'm literally going to squeeze the life from your body and those of your friends and then mash your remains together with theirs making three into one." Then Luthor's face mirrored the pure evil of his soul. After a moment more of contemplation, the Devil's number one boy let loose with a maniacal laugh as he said, "*Squeeze* — what an ingenious thought. A spirit-*crushing* idea."

As the sound of Lex's insane laughter split the air, several watchdogs dragged three helpless laborers into the room. They were a married couple with a five- or six-year- old toddler. "These people are not working up to snuff," the leader of the guards grunted.

Upon hearing the guard's report, Lex grimaced, picked up a pistol, and calmly walked over to the disheveled family. Without saying a word, he executed each one by shooting them in the head. Causing death by his own hand seemed to have a calming effect on Luthor. At that moment, Clark's belief that Luthor was a psychopath had been fully justified. His belief that Luthor greatly enjoyed all kinds of destructive and amoral acts, especially the taking of life by his own hand, had been barbarously confirmed.

Awakened by the gun fire, Murray Singer was also witness to Luthor's slaughter of three helpless people just for pleasure of the act. The murders Murray witnessed triggered an unbelievable loathing within his being. The injured Planet reporter became highly agitated and screamed at Lex, declaring, "You have murdered G-D's creation. By this horrific act, you have mocked the Eternal One. As Pharaoh of old, you will feel the wrath of the Lord of Hosts." The expression in his eyes became unearthly as he said, "The downfall of the House of Luthor is at hand." Then Murray, exhausted from his emotional outburst, fell silent and very nearly collapsed.

A few seconds after Murray's censure of Luthor, Azai, smiling, walked over to him and fired three bullets into his abdomen. He turned and said, "A belly wound is very painful uncle; a person injured in the abdominal region usually takes a long time to die." Smiling, Azai added, "The special way I shot Murray will cause him to suffer a great deal before he finally expires."

Luthor smiled at his nephew and said "A chip off the old family block. Nice touch. Remind me to give you a bonus for your work today."

Murray, lying on the floor with life oozing from his wounds, said in a weak but fervent voice, "It's because of people like you that G-D — my G-D — created *Hell*. I curse you both for your unholy deeds. Those who commit atrocities upon their brethren will in due course see the destruction of their own house and inherit nothing but the wind. For what you two have done this day, may the Creator of the universe isolate you from the haunts of man for all time." Lois and Clark then watched as their colleague and friend again lapsed into unconsciousness.

As Azai sneered, he remarked, "Murray did get quite philosophical at the end, didn't he, Uncle?"

"Shut up," Lex yelled suddenly and glared at his nephew.

It was obvious from Lex's attitude that Murray's choice of words had touched Luthor's psyche. The reporter's utterances and the intensity of their articulation seemed to convey more than just a dying man's last thoughts. If Lex had any religious convictions, which is doubtful, he might have considered Murray as a holy messenger, an emissary sent to notify Lex that his actions this day had sealed his fate for all eternity." Even for Lex Luthor, the Devil's number one boy, Murray's words filled him with a very uncomfortable feeling.

Clark was angry at himself for not having reacted to help Murray. Fighting through his self reproach, CK knew that the killings happened so rapidly that he was momentarily stunned into inaction. In this instance, the deliberate murders he and Lois witnessed took them completely by surprise. Not only were the homicidal acts done quickly, but his senses were numbed by the brutality of the act itself. His psyche still could not totally accept the truth that was all too obvious; Lex and Azai had killed three people and injured another just for the thrill of the act.

After Murray collapsed from his gunshot wound, Clark sat on the floor and held him in his arms. The older reporter's tirade against Luthor would be emblazoned upon CK's memory for the rest of his days. While Murray's promulgation was not logical in a pragmatic sense, Clark had a gut feeling that Murray's prophetic statements would somehow come to pass.

Luthor turned to one of his lackeys and asked, "Has the compactor been cleaned?"

"Yeah," came the reply.

Lex then turned to Lois and Clark and said, "When I'm finished, your molecules will be inseparable. My harvesting compactor will *squeeze you two together* until your pulverized remains will be indistinguishable from your original mashed bodies. Then, in a sense, you will dwell together forever." He then looked at Murray and said, "Include that piece of slime with Lane and Kent in the crusher." Lex then gave them a maniacal grin and left the room.

As Lex was leaving the scene, Clark picked up Murray. Then Azai and his bully-boys nudged their three captives to a compactor and pushed them into the squeezing chamber. Once inside the crusher, Clark placed Murray's unconscious body on the floor and seated himself by his friend.

After a few moments Lois, too, sat beside Clark. Gazing at CK she suddenly hugged him and tucked her head under his chin and started to cry. He caressed her face and ran his hands through Lois' hair trying to calm her near hysteria. She looked into his eyes and said, "I believe that, given time, something wonderful would have developed between us."

"It already has," Clark said brushing his lips over hers.

She then placed her hands on his face and gently pulled his lips to hers. The kiss was at first tender and full of promise and then deepened into in a ardent kiss, a kiss that took them soaring beyond time and space. After several breathless seconds in their lip lock, Lois and Clark reluctantly ended their first osculating venture, but continued to hold one another in an impassioned embrace.

After chortling for several seconds, Lois said softly, with acerbic tonicity, "As I'm about to perish, I find my soulmate. How ironic."

"We are not dead yet," Clark whispered in her ear, "As soon as I check for surveillance devices, we're going to get the heck out of here."

Clark nearly used a swear word, Lois chuckled to herself. That would have been a first. After chucking inwardly over Clark's almost swearing milestone, her mind drifted back to his statement… "we're going to get the heck out of here." She didn't understand his reasoning at all.

When Lois ran his words over in her head once again, she believed that their impending deaths had caused Clark's mind to crack. Glancing quickly at his face, however, she saw clear eyes and an air of self-confidence. Although bolstered by his attitude, Lois was still frightened by the prospect of an unknown future controlled by the whims of a madman. Trying to calm her nerves, Lois sought reassurance by asking, "Clark, are you sure we can escape from this place? It appears to me," she added, "The only way out of this trap is by going over the walls of our prison."

Looking up, Lois continued, "The compactor panels seem to be nearly a hundred feet high. Clark, we'll have to fly to escape this tomb."

He smiled and uttered a, "Ye-es-ss."

As Clark articulated his simple, but startling, statement, Lois stared at him with wide eyes, unable to reply. While Lois continued to gaze at Clark, he picked up Murray with one hand and gathered her to him with his other arm. As soon as Lois and Murray were secure in his grasp, Clark levitated, moving more rapidly with each passing moment until they cleared the compactor's walls. Then he set a course for the elevator shaft. Once they arrived at the lift, the threesome quickly ascended to surface.

Emerging from the elevator shaft, Clark disabled the lift and flew Murray and Lois to the nearest hospital. Landing in the shadows, he put Lois down and carried the injured reporter into the emergency room. As soon as Clark entered the ER, the attendants rushed to them and quickly placed Murray on a gurney and rushed him to the operating theater. Clark followed the ER team. As they were prepping Murray for surgery, Clark informed the attending physician that Azai Luthor Danzig had inflicted the bullet wounds. Murray became conscious long enough to confirm Clark's accusatory statement. As Murray was drifting into unconsciousness once more, Clark told him that he would return after his surgery was finished and he was out of recovery. CK then quickly returned to his partner.

Lois was standing where Clark had left her, somewhat dazed by the events of the last few minutes. He nudged her arm and said, "Lois, you'll have to call Henderson and inform him what happened." She nodded and ran to the nearest phone. When she had finished talking with the police, Clark flew them to his home.

When they arrived at the Hyperion Avenue house, Lois had recovered enough to ask Clark her first question. "What the hell are you?"

As soon as Lois' words left her mouth, she regretted what she said. The look in Clark's eyes told her of a terribly deep hurt. Her words had inadvertently classified Clark as a thing, a nonhuman, something akin to the bogeyman. Unless she could rectify her foolish statement, her remarks could create another barrier between them; a gulf so wide that this time it could separate them for good.

After a few seconds, Clark responded somewhat perturbed, "Lois, I'm still Clark, not a thing or a beast. These extra abilities I possess allow me to do things which assist people in times of need. By maintaining my anonymity, I can live like a normal person."

"Do all members of your family possess powers like yours?" Lois asked with an air of incredibility.

Saying nothing, Clark took Lois by the hand and entered the house. Finding Alicia, Clark, with Lois in tow, proceeded toward his sister who was quietly reading on the sofa. As they approached Clark's kin, Lois, out of the corner of her eye, saw Jennifer Rose levitating in the adjoining room, playing with her father. Lois' mind reeled as she saw the youngster tumbling through space. "What kind of people have I fallen in with?" she mused.

As they grew near, Alicia looked up and smiled at them. Clark then told his sister that Lois now knew about the family's unique abilities. "I'm afraid this faux pax was entirely my fault, Sis. Will you do me a favor?" Alicia nodded. "Please tell Lois about the origins of our family, starting with our Krypton beginnings. Right now," Clark said, "I'm too upset to be lucid."

Leaving Lois alone with Alicia, Clark retired from the living room murmuring, "To Lois, I'm a thing, a non human thing." Her thoughts kept echoing and re-echoing through his head.

Shaking his head, Clark said to himself, "And I thought eventually we would be accepted and the family could make a home on this planet. I don't think that's possible anymore. Josh was right; we must look elsewhere for a permanent home."

Hearing part of Clark's musing's, Lois was horrified that Clark and his people might now contemplate leaving Earth. She was sure that her foolish remarks had catalyzed Clark's thoughts about such an exodus.

Watching her brother exit the room, Alicia was well aware that if Clark attempted to talk with Lois at this moment, their conversation would likely degenerate into a dreadful argument. As her brother disappeared, Alicia grasped Lois by the hand and led her into the study.

Once Lois and Alicia had settled themselves, Alicia began to inform Lois about the evolution of her family.

As Lois was being enlightened, Clark booted up his computer and wrote his rendering of the drug conspiracies/Luthor story. When he finished, he became aware that Lois and Alicia were still chatting. So he left Lois a note indicating that Lois should add her contributions to their drug article, backed it up on a disk Clark had already prepared and printed out a hard copy of the finished copy for each of them. Clark then gave a copy of his drug story material to Seth and left for the hospital to visit with a critically injured friend, a friend who could be dying at that very moment.


When Alicia and Lois eventually left the study, Seth walked over to Lois and handed her a hard copy of Clark's take on the drug story and a computer disk which contained an electronic version of the print out. Lois was also given an informative note from Clark. Seth then told her that her partner was on his way to the hospital to see Murray Singer. She thanked him and then seated herself at the computer, completed the Luthor/drug expose and emailed it to Perry.

While she watched Lois complete the drug expose, Alicia decided to enlighten Lois further by taking her, via the TD system, to the family's Centauri star system platform.

When Lois got up from the computer, Alicia quickly guided a startled Lois through a TD portal. Emerging from the teleportation network on the Centauri station, they met Margot, who was busy collecting and sorting more astronomical data, information gathered during the previous twenty-four hours.

Lois was fascinated by her view of another star system and the space surrounding the family's main station called 'sanctuary.' Recovering from her astonishment, Lois went into reporter mode and asked, "Why was this facility established?" she inquired of both Alicia and Margot.

Margot responded first, "We've set instruments on this platform to monitor all objects that travel within or through the Sol solar system which also backs up our Mars station. That's how we discovered the Nightfall asteroid. Primarily," she continued, "we are searching for Earth-like planets for future use by us or our descendents. Although the new worlds we discover may not be used for a considerable time — a thousand or even ten thousand years — eventually our people will require additional living space and the worlds we discover now will be needed at that future time.

"We think that a cluster of such planets has been located. They are about fifty thousand light years from Earth, on the other side of the galactic core."

When Margot finished her mini lecture, she asked Lois for permission to inject her with a DNA fragment. Like Perry, she was told that the DNA residue would act as a special key, a key that would allow Lois to travel through the family's TD system unassisted.

Lois agreed and the DNA key was inserted into her body.

After the DNA injection was administered, the three women continued their talk. Alicia gave Lois the same instructions which were furnished to Perry. Then she provided Lois with a teleportation portal for placement in her own apartment. With Lois on-line, the users of the TD network had now increased by one.

Lois said, looking at her friends, "I am on the horns of a dilemma. I don't know where the ethical boundary exists between publishing and not disseminating news. I have in my possession perhaps the greatest story of the century — or maybe of all time — and I am in a quandary about publishing my information."

"A story about supermen and superwomen would bring me plaudits from all sectors of the journalistic world. Furthermore," Lois added, "Publishing such a story would probably rank me with the most famous reporters of the modern journalistic era." After her little speech, Lois looked at Margot and Alicia and just shrugged.

To alleviate some of Lois' fears, Margot said, "We will not attempt to interfere if you do decide to publish an article about us. Obstructing enterprises who freely and honestly hawk their product is not part of our code."

"If I decide to publish an article about the family, what will happen to you?" Lois inquired.

"Our family would cease to exist in its current form," Alicia said. "The name Clark Kent, for example, would vanish and he would disappear. We would build a secure sanctuary somewhere on Earth and go into hiding. Of course, the TDs would still operate for both you and Perry throughout your lifetimes. You would be welcome to use our transportation network. No one would stop you."

"I know the uncertainty about writing about our super family will be pure torture," Margot remarked, "but the decision to publish or not to publish is yours, Lois, and yours alone."


When Clark returned to Metropolis General Hospital, Murray had been moved to a private room. Before seeing his friend, Clark talked to the resident on the floor and was advised that Murray's chances of survival were slim to none. As the physician carefully couched his words during their conversation, a sense of impending foreboding swept through Clark's soul. He somehow knew that Murray's time on Earth was fast running out.

As Clark approached Murray's room, he could sense his friend's life force rapidly ebbing away.

Entering the dying man's room, he saw Jimmy sitting by the senior journalist's bed. As he walked across the room, Jimmy turned and Clark could see from his facial expression that the young photojournalist was having great difficulty controlling his emotions.

As Clark approached Murray's bed, Jimmy said, "He is such a good person. What kind of creature could deliberately steal his life by shooting him without just cause?"

"Just cause," Clark murmured, "is a misnomer.

"People," CK added, "may give lip service to the concept of justice, but rarely support it unless they are forced to act — like in a war — or they're motivated by a profit motive to do so. That's why the Lex Luthors of the world become so darn powerful."

Clark told Jimmy, "I'm also talking about a guy named Azai Luthor Danzig, the nephew of Lex, another man who doesn't possess any feeling or compassion for others; a man who revels in his power to control and enjoys the destruction of life.

"Knowing Luthor's cunning," Jimmy remarked, "I'll bet he gets himself and Azai off."

"Not this time," Clark said with conviction. "Justice will be swift and to the mark. Believe me, my young friend, when I say that justice will be served. In this case, there will be no plea bargaining."

Jimmy looked at Clark and somehow knew, without knowing why or how, that CK's words were not just idle banalities.

As Jimmy watched, Clark took a damp cloth and began to gently cleanse Murray's face and body. He did it with such tender care that the effect nearly brought tears to the young man's eyes.

While Clark was trying to give Murray a measure of comfort as his life waned, Singer's eyes opened and he gazed at Clark. After some moments he said, in a weak whisper, "You know that my wife and I could never have children. We did so desperately want a child."

"You told me," Clark, replied smiling at his friend.

Jimmy noticed that as Murray said those few words to Clark, he had to pause and struggle for breath. As the dying newsman's respiration once again became more controlled, he continued, "If we had been blessed with a son, my wife and I would have been doubly blessed if he grew into the same mold as you: a man with integrity and compassion, always striving for truth and justice." After coughing for several moments, Murray asked CK, "Would you mind if I sanctified you, my friend? Lacking any offspring," he added, "I never had the pleasure of doing so to a child of my body."

"I would be honored," Clark said, his voice becoming emotional.

He moved close to the bed and Murray placed his hand upon Clark's head and repeated the ancient words of his people:

"May the Lord bless you, and guard you. "May the Lord show you favor, and be gracious to you. "May the Lord show you kindness, and grant you peace."

After Murray concluded his benediction, he gently grasped Clark's hands and smiled. Then he closed his eyes for the last time.

Clark just sat there with his hands still entwined with Murray's with tears silently cascading down his face. He then turned to Jimmy and asked, "Please inform the nurse of Murray's passing."

Jimmy nodded and left the room. A few minutes later, he returned and said to Clark, "Let's go."

"Jimmy," Clark said, "you go. I'll remain until the undertaker comes for Murray's mortal remains."

"Why are you staying?" Jimmy asked his friend.

"In his persuasion, a body must never be abandoned," Clark answered his young friend.

"The soul returns to G-D, who gave it, while the body returns to the Earth. You know the old saying — dust to dust. From the ancient scriptures of his faith, you are commanded not to leave G-D's ultimate creation alone after his or her death until they are returned to the earth. I will honor the statues according to his beliefs as a tribute to a righteous man."

As Jimmy left the hospital to tell Perry the heart rendering news of Murray's passing, Clark sat by Murray's bed staring into space with their hands still entwined. After a while, he said softly, "Shalom, my friend. Shalom."


The next day, Murray Singer was laid to rest next to his wife in the hallowed ground they would share for all eternity. Four people attended his interment: Perry, Lois, Jimmy and Clark. They all grieved at his passing. He would be missed.

Immediately after the funeral, Clark returned to his Hyperion Avenue home and called a meeting of the entire clan. While the family was gathering, he was apprised of the Lois situation.

After hearing the 'publish or not to publish' scenario, CK remarked, "The ball is in her court. All we can do now is wait for her to make a decision." The remaining family members were all in agreement with Clark's comment.

After Clark finished his remarks, Alicia added, "My brother, we're all aware that Lois is probably your soulmate. If she decides to publish an expose about us, you know that our family must go to ground. The worse part of our concealment is its unknown length. If our seclusion from the world were to last more than a generation as measured on the human time line, you, my brother would remain without a life partner for the rest of your days. Lois would, of course, have passed on."

"I am aware of the issues," Clark replied. "I'm also quite cognizant that if such a situation occurs it will be very difficult for me. As you all know, I have longed for a soulmate and children. If I must forgo those life experiences for the good of our family, so be it."

As they sat around the table, Clark's demeanor became somber. He quietly remarked, "You all know what happened to Murray Singer. From the knowledge gained from Murray's tragedy, I've come to a conclusion that one of us must expose him or herself to the world as a champion of the people. He or she will espouse our credo and oppose all kinds of corruption. I believe the two suits — one for a male and the other for a woman — Mom made will provide the chosen one the anonymity that will be needed when it's donned."

After some discussion, the vote was unanimous to accept Clark's idea. "Ladies," David said to Alicia and Margot, "I don't think this is an activity for you." The group laughed at such an obvious truth. Their gravid conditions were now most obvious.

After the laughter subsided, Clark then made a plea, saying, "I am single, therefore, this crusade should fall to me. If I perish, I have no bonded life partner who would forfeit her life because of my demise. On the other hand, the demise of either David or Seth would cause the passing of their soulmates, orphaning their children."

Because of Clark's logic, there really couldn't be any discussion about his request. Reluctantly, the family approved his petition.

"We need a name for you," Seth remarked.

Alicia's eyes brightened and declared, "Lois has given us a name. She called us 'super people' — so let's call Clark "Superman." All those that agree say aye."

"Aye," they all shouted, grinning.

Alicia commented, "You know Superman is not a bad name for a super hero's moniker. The symbol of the El household does look like an unusual S." Smiling, she added, "I'm convinced that the El emblem and Superman, the world's new super hero, will become synonymous."

"Before we adjourn, we have several more items that must be discussed," Margot chimed in. "First, congratulations to Lois and you, Clark, for that article about the downfall of the aqua drug ring. The Lane and Kent article also demolished the House of Luthor. Your family also wants to thank you, Clark, for that article about Luthor's other illegal activities and giving the by-line to Murray Singer. That, my brother," Margot said in serious tone, "was a most gracious and unselfish act." She then walked around the table and gave Clark a loving hug.

Clark blushed a hundred different colors and quietly said, "Thank you, thank you all."

Alicia then remarked in the strongest terms, "Lex and Azai have gone to ground. They must be found and soon. When we find them, they must be apprehended and brought here. Our home will then become a temple of justice and this family will be Lex's and Azai's judges. Lex and Azai will be held accountable for their actions against humankind and tried for their crimes under our Law. If they are found guilty, their punishment will be both swift and merciless."

"We cannot execute them," David reminded his brethren. "However, if they are found guilty as charged, I have a plan to rid the world of these evil men without terminating their disgusting lives."

"Go on," Margot remarked with interest.

"What I propose is to maroon them in cloaked space stations. In these solitary prisons, there would be ample food, necessary supplies, medical robots, and telemetry so they could receive radio and video programs from Earth."

"Where would you place these prison platforms?" Clark inquired.

"In orbits around Io and Titan, moons of Jupiter and Saturn, respectively."

"A splendid idea," Seth replied. "All in favor of David's proposal, say aye." Again the response was unanimous.

"Let's go find those vile creatures who call themselves members of the human family," David said with obvious anger and disgust in his voice.

"Wait," Margot declared, "There is one more very important item that must be thrashed out."

Margot started to speak slowly and with concern. With their super senses, all could feel her unsettled emotional state. She said, "When I was checking the Nightfall info, I discovered that the Mars and Centauri platforms sighted an alien spacecraft passing through the Sol solar system moving sunward. The data also showed that it used surveying equipment as it journeyed through our solar system. I brought the information to Charlie I for his input. Although the ship had been modified, Charlie I informed me, that although modified, the vessel was undoubtedly of Kryptonian design."

After Margot had advised them of the alien spacecraft sighting, the room went stone silent. "What can we do?" Alicia inquired, shattering the deafening stillness that engulfed the room.

David then quietly remarked, "It's now a waiting game. Until another ship is sighted, our posture should be to watch the heavens and prepare for all eventualities. At present, let's concentrate on destroying Nightfall and disposing of Lex and Azai."

The family unanimously agreed with David's suggestion and adjourned the meeting.


Two days after the Hyperion Avenue meeting, Lex and Azai were apprehended at their stronghold on the island of Damar in the Banda Sea.

Clark and David then transported these packages of evil in human garb to their home in Metropolis. There, after a trial conducted by the Clark's clan, the two murderers were sentenced to be separated from humankind for life. Following the hearing, they were immediately transported to their prison platforms. As suggested earlier, the space stations were placed in geosynchronous orbits around Io, a moon of Jupiter, and Titan, a satellite of the planet Saturn.

"How shall I log the Luthor's and Azai's trial in the Archives?" Seth asked. After a brief pause, Alicia replied to his question. She said "write the following: 'It was the judgement of the tribunal that Lex Luthor and his nephew Azai Luthor Danzig be marooned in the vastness of space for all time.' " Then she added, "Also state that by the swift actions of the modern Kryptonians living on Earth two highly dangerous megalomaniacs were removed from the haunts of humankind and so passed into history."


The next day, the legend of Superman was born. He appeared for the first time in the skies over Metropolis — frustrating a bank robbery and saving hostages. As time passed, it seemed to many that this enigmatic being centered his activities around high profile crimes and calamitous natural events — robberies, rapes, muggings, drug operations, earthquakes, floods and other perilous happenings which plagued society. Quietly, however, Superman helped victims of fire, car accidents, and a host of other low profile life-saving activities. These little known deeds helped countless numbers of ordinary people. In time, the world community would come to recognize all of his unselfish acts.

In his freelance capacity, Clark wrote an exclusive about Superman and sent it to the Daily Planet. It was a blockbuster of a story and was printed on the front page of the paper. Lois, of course, knew the identity of the new superhero.

Reacting competitively to Kent's Superman article, Lois then wrote a series of stories about the Hyperion Avenue family. She LANed these articles to Perry for his perusal. Lois attached no particular guidelines to these special stories.

Her stories about the super family was prompted in part by envy. Kent's Superman article made Lois somewhat resentful because CK didn't share the by-line with her. So, Lois' knee jerk reaction was to top Kent, who she now viewed as a friendly competitor.

Owing to her impulsive and competitive nature and without thinking about the consequences of her act, Lois' wrote her super family articles and sent them on to Perry. Driven by jealousy, perhaps, Lois was blinded and failed to realized that her super stories were not only foolish, but potentially injurious to herself, Clark, and the Kryptonian clan.

Later that day, as Perry was reading Lois' stories about Superman and his family, Clark sauntered into the chief's office. Seeing CK, the Planet's editor handed him Lois' pieces and asked, "Were Lois' stories accurate?"

As he read Lois' articles his lips tightened. Then, relaxing a bit, Clark replied to his friend, "Yes, Perry, Lois' information is correct."

With Lois' articles in Perry's possession, Clark had to assume that his family was about to be exposed to the world at large and would be in grave danger. Clark knew that he had to act quickly to protect his kin. He instituted the family's emergency plan by initially sending a telepathic message to Alicia.

A few seconds later, Alicia entered Perry's office and remarked to Clark, "Your call came through loud and clear."

"Call?" Perry chimed in.

"It was a telepathic message chief," Clark replied.

He then looked at Alicia and quietly told her that Perry knew about the family and their special abilities. He then pointed to Lois' stories. Alicia gasped as she rapidly read Lois' articles.

As Alicia was reading Lois' copy, Clark turned to Perry and asked, "Can you delay the publication of these pieces for several days, two at least?"

As Perry was pondering CK's request, Clark was sending another telepathic communique to Margot. Her reply indicated that two days would be sufficient time for the family to gather their belongings and then disappear.

When Clark again looked at Perry, the older man smiled and said, "Okay son, I'll do it. I don't like holding back news, but you and your kin are on the hot seat and lives may be at stake. Anyway," Perry chuckled, "The Planet is the only paper in the world with this kind of information. When the time comes, we'll still scoop em all."

"To tell you the truth my, friends," Perry somberly added, "If it were up to me these stories would just vanish. But they're not my articles. Lois' stories are award winning pieces and that gal's been chasing a Pulitzer ever since she started working at the Planet."

As Clark and Alicia were about to depart through Perry's TD portal, the chief asked, "Will Superman continue to be around?"

"Yeah. When he's needed," Clark replied. He and Alicia then entered the teleportation system and vanished.

Later that day, Lois asked the chief what he thought of her stories about Clark and the super family. "They're sensational, Lois," Perry told her. "We'll publish them in two or three days. I have Jimmy taking pictures of things that will jazz up your pieces. There's no rush to publish. We're the only ones who have this info."

"Oh, my G-D," Lois said, almost hysterically, "You *can't* publish those stories!"

"What! Then why did you send them to me?" Perry asked Lois.

"All I wanted from you was to tell me whether or not my articles were written with exactitude and style. I was planning to give them to Clark for his family's archives. And I also wanted you to know the kind of special people that were living among us here in Metropolis."

Perry smiled and hugged Lois. "Thanks for keeping 'Mad Dog Lane' in a bottle," Perry said to his star reporter.

"Do you think I could ever betray my dear friends?" Lois remarked to her editor-in-chief.

"No," Perry replied. "Neither could I," he informed Lois. "While I believe that all news should fall under the purview of publication, I'm glad we'll withhold this information from the general public. The ramifications of publishing this kind of information would be extremely dangerous to the family and the world at large."

"Anyway," the Planet's chief editor continued, "It was a good history lesson. I learned a lot from your stories about the super family and what they stand for."

Lois, with a surprised look on her face, said, "You didn't know?"

"I do now," he declared and grinned. "Now, skedaddle," he said, "I'm over my head in paper work."

As Lois was departing, Perry hollered after her saying, "Remember darlin' when you assume you make a donkey out of you and me." Waking toward her desk, she heard Perry chuckle.

Unfortunately, Perry was so overwhelmed by Lois' super family stories and exhausted by his inordinate work load that he forgot to inform his ace reporter how CK and Alicia had reacted to her articles.

It wasn't until the end of the day that Lois happened to enter Perry's office again. Finding him resting, she remarked, "You know chief, I haven't seen Alicia all day. In fact, Jimmy told me that Clark had passed through the newsroom earlier. I wonder why he didn't say hello to me."

Lois' questions snapped Perry out of his meditative state as he recalled the verbal exchange between Clark and his sister. Facing Lois, Perry said, "Darlin, after I showed CK your stories he became upset and called Alicia. When she read your copy, Alicia also became unnerved. After we talked for a few moments they left through my TD portal, the one I placed in the wall of my changing room."

Rapidly collecting his thoughts, Perry shouted, "Great Elvis' Ghost, I believe that CK and his sister assumed that those stories of yours would be printed by the Planet, exposing their family to the world. Such openness would, they believed, place them and their friends in harms way! From Clark's and Alicia' behavior, I think the family was planning to split."

Perry reached for his phone and called the Planet's accounting department and asked for Seth Klein. He was informed that Seth had left rather quickly earlier in the day. Perry was also advised that Seth appeared to be rather perturbed when he departed.

As Perry and Lois were considering the developing situation, two letters arrived by special messenger. Both simply were a statement of resignation. One was from Alicia and the other was signed by Seth Klein.

Both Perry and Lois knew they had to act immediately and rectify a misunderstanding before it could cause irreparable harm to all concerned. They both rushed to Perry's TD and transported themselves to the Hyperion Avenue house. When they arrived, Lois and Perry found the house devoid of both furnishings and people. They then visited all but three of the TD sites on the network, finding the same results. The Centauri Platform and Mars Station were avoided, and the button assigned to "Charlie I" was also not used.

Returning to Perry's office, both Lois and her boss were already in a melancholy humor.

That evening, after pacing around her apartment for several hours, an exasperated Lois Lane entered the TD system and transported herself to Charlie I's ice cave high in the Himalayan Mountains. As she exited the TD portal, Lois saw a glowing object pulsating at the back of the cave. As she stared at the illuminated body, she finally could make out a body shape that suggested some kind of flying vessel.

"Where the heck am I?" she wondered.

"In an ice cave located high in the Himalayan Mountains where the TD network carried you," a thought reverberated through her head.

"Who's sending thoughts to my mind?" Lois asked vocally.

"I'm called Charlie I, and it is my essence which is communicating with you," the telepathic thoughts revealed as they reverberated in Lois' head.

As the words continued to stream into her mind, she noticed that the ship-like structure at the rear of the cave pulsated with a greater intensity as she communicated with Charlie I.

Lois walked toward the ship and directed her thoughts at the object. "Are you the material form of Charlie I?"

"Yes," a telepathic massage slid into Lois' conciseness.

"Okay, I understand now," Lois murmured to herself.

Directing her thoughts toward the glowing object, Lois asked, "May I pose a question?"

"Certainly," Charlie I reply, "as long as you don't ask questions about the data base contained in my library."

Nodding, Lois inquired, "Do you know where Clark, Alicia and the others are now residing?"

"Yes," Charlie I replied, "but I have been forbidden to divulge that information. Can I be of further assistance?" the AI asked her.

"Yes," Lois responded. "Please inform the family that the articles they feared will not be published. The entire super family story episode was a terrible misunderstanding. Ask Clark Kent or Alicia Gerstein Finderman to contact me." Then Lois thanked Charlie I and returned to her home via the TD network.


As Lois was driving to a foiled bank robbery, which involved hostage taking, a man entered her car when she halted at a stop light. Lois was about to punch out his lights when she recognized David Finderman as her unexpected guest.

"Drive," he said as the stop light changed to a go status.

As they moved off, David said, "Clark is covering a hostage situation at the robbery scene so he asked me to act as his surrogate. He wants you to know that he apologizes for his reaction to your supposed articles about our family. For the sake of our clan, he had to assume the worst case scenario. CK had to behave as he did for the clan's protection. We have returned to our Hyperion Avenue home and you are welcome to join us at any time you choose. Clark also needs to talk to you and resolve the outstanding issues which still exist between the two of you. Please tell Perry that he, too, is always welcome at our home."

David was about to exit the car when Lois blurted out, "Why should I talk to Clark? I don't need him. He ran before he talked to me about my super family stories. CK didn't trust me. How could we build a relationship when there is a barrier of mistrust between us?" After a pause in their conversation, Lois added, "What will talking resolve? No, I do not think Clark and I should ever see one another again socially."

After listening to Lois' tirade, David became silent. For the remaining part of their trip to the robbery site, the strained stillness in the car persisted. When Lois finally halted her car near the hostage site, David emerged from the car and started walking briskly away. Suddenly he stopped, turned and retraced his steps until he stood face to face with a still hostile Lois Lane. "While it's really none of my business what you decide to do, Ms. Lane," he said, "there are certain facts that you should know."

Pausing for several seconds to collect his thoughts, David said rather caustically, "If you and Clark don't resolve your differences, then both of you will travel the highways of this and other worlds alone. Not resolving your differences will make what I've said a near certainty. If you persist in your inflexible attitude, it is almost a fore-gone conclusion that you will acquire the pungent bite of bitterness that loneliness fathers over time."

Taking a deep breath, David added, "Imagine yourself, twenty years from now, entering your apartment and seeing a tank of fish and four walls enclosing a space as silent as a tomb. There will be others who will be sharing your lodging by that time. You already know them. They are called loneliness and despair. Such roommates will further embitter your spirit and slowly isolate you from your associates and eventually destroy all of your friendships.

"It's a world of twos, Ms. Lane. That's what nature intended for our species. There, however, those who search in vain all their lives for a life partner and forever tread the Earth in solitude. Imagine the anguish of their loneliness if you dare. Then there are other people who find bliss, only to turn their back on their soulmate for some foolish or unthinking happenstance. Once the soulmate bond has been severed, vanity and probably ego will further separate the lovers and, in the end, the lives of two people will be shattered as surely as if they had never met."

"I once heard a rather simplistic ditty which sums up my inadequate rhetoric — 'To err is human, to forgive divine.'"

Pausing for a brief time, David said, "I have found that one kind word can warm the heart for a lifetime. While Clark has initiated a reconciliation between the two of you, it's now your decision that will forever affect both your lives. Remember it takes two to tango, Lois." This was one of those moments, David knew, when the fates of two lovers hung on the actions of a single individual.

Turning about, David remarked, "Goodbye, Lois," as he turned his face homeward and walked off.

Lois waited until David disappeared around a corner and then continued to the hostage scene. When she arrived, Lois saw Superman hovering above the bank while the police moved closer to the robbers' roost that had been set up in the bank. As the police continued to close in, one of the banditos scooted undetected to the apartment building across an alley at the rear of the bank and hurled an incendiary device through an open window of a unit that was part of a housing complex. It exploded causing a torrent of flames, which immediately began racing through the apartment and rooms that made up the housing unit. In a few minutes several buildings were engulfed in the conflagration. The screams of the trapped tenants could be heard above the roar of jet aircraft flying just overhead and the sirens of the fire engines racing to the blazing inferno.

Superman immediately flew into the hellish fire and as rapidly as possible brought out the bodies of both the living and the dying. In the confusion, the bank robbers abandoned their hostages and escaped into the dense smoke that covered the nearby streets.

After nearly three hours of struggling, the police and firefighters working together with Superman managed bring the fire under control and also preserve a host of lives. With the fire under control, a weary Superman gazed at the dead, people unnecessarily slaughtered by a fiery carnage brought about by heartless criminals. As Lois looked on, she could see that Clark was disheveled and heartsick. Tears washed down his face. She knew deep down that CK's heart ached for those he couldn't save.

While Lois continued to watch the fire scene, she noticed Linda King walk over to Superman and say sarcastically, "If that's the best you can do, who needs you?" Throwing her head in the air, she strolled away to interview an injured firefighter. After that hurtful barb, Clark put his head down and flew off into the gathering dusk.

As Lois looked on, she saw a sensitive and caring man being berated by a low-life journalist. For the first time in her career, Lois felt loathing for a colleague. But while she could feel his hurt, Lois realized that the reconciliation of their differences was a horse of a different color.

When Superman took to the air, he flew west to Smallville. Arriving at his boyhood home, he chatted for a time with his parents and then dined with them before returning to his Metropolis home via the TD network. Reaching his Hyperion Avenue abode late that night, Clark showered and went to bed exhausted and disheartened. Lois had not come.


Over the next several months, Clark, as Superman, established a routine which conserved his strength and maximized his time with the family.

As the Daily Planet reported in its monthly sampling of the crime rate, felonies and misdemeanors were on the decline. This, the Planet pointed out, seemed to be primarily due to the Man of Steel. People could once more walk the streets of Metropolis without fear, especially at night. When all appeared well for Metropolis' residents and the Kent clan, Bureau 39 stealthily rolled into town.

With the crime rate declining, Clark was able to resume his freelancing activities and, on occasion, he visited the Planet to converse with Perry and Jimmy.

During this relatively calm period, Alicia started her maternity leave and would be absent from the bullpen for about five months.

Lois and Clark were talking, but basically on a hello- goodbye basis. Lois wanted revenge because she felt Clark didn't trust her. She wanted Clark to beg for forgiveness. Unfortunately for Lois, Clark either was unaware or didn't understand Lois' moods swings nor her desires. Where women were concerned, Clark was as naive as they come. From Lois' inactivity in the relationship category, Clark reasoned that Lois Lane ceased caring for him. So the Man of Steel went his unhappy way without a soulmate. And Lois, waiting for Clark to come begging, assumed that he also had no more interest in her. As David had warned, Lois' and Clark's life paths were beginning to diverge.

The family was well aware that the separation between Clark and his soulmate was becoming very serious. If this situation was allowed to continue much longer, the clan was well aware that Lois' and Clark's bonding auras would dissipate. If such a situation resulted, the potential life companions would, in all probability, never form a final intimate union. Lois and Clark would lose one another and drift through life alone and lonely.

Two people, each on their own lonely quest, going nowhere in particular.

Because of Lois' apparent uncaring attitude, a kind of lethargy had already enveloped Clark. He buried himself in research, his Superman duties, and even began to remove himself from the social scene. The lonesome traveler syndrome was slowly beginning to take hold and fashion Clark's behavior as a single and forlorn individual who would travel solo through life until he left this plane of existence.


Several weeks after the members of Bureau 39 had established themselves in the Metropolis environs, they struck. Bureau 39 first isolated the Daily Planet and then assaulted the building as if it was a military objective. The people on the newsroom floor were captured in a swift and bloodless foray. When the newsroom was secure, Jason Trask entered his conquered domain.

Trask gathered Perry White, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and other prominent staff members in the conference room and said, "Which of you knows Superman well enough to send for him?"

"Why do you want to see Superman?" Perry inquired.

"I don't want to see him, I want to kill him," was Jason Trask's malevolent reply to Perry's question.

"If killing Superman were possible, which I doubt," Lois insinuated, "why would you want to destroy someone who is helping the world?"

"His helpful activities are a facade Ms. Lane," Jason answered her with a hysterical harangue. "Superman is a psychological warrior. When his tactics lull this planet into trusting posture toward his kind, Superman's people will invade and annihilate all human life on Earth."

"That's a ridiculous premise," Perry shouted.

As Lois was about to speak, a member of Trask's brigade entered the room and gave him a nearly shredded sheet of paper. After studying the paper's contents for some moments, he mumbled, "Gerstein."

A few minutes later, Trask was ready to leave the newsroom. He had his men order a hypersonic aircraft readied at a nearby military facility to carry him and some hand-picked troops to a special destination.

As the crazed Trask left his newsroom, he ordered his associates to maintain covert control over the Planet.

"Allow the paper to function normally," he instructed his men. His orders were to insure that none of Bureau 39's sub rosa activities would be discovered prematurely. As Trask finished his instructions to his men, he informed his subordinates to expect his return in four to five hours.

When the deranged leader of Bureau 39 departed, Lois returned to her desk and started to write the Trask story. It would be published after he and his men either left or were driven from the Planet building. As she worked on her article, Lois realized that she needed information about this renegade organization which was apparently run by a psychopathic leader.

Looking around, she saw one of Bureau 39's grunts standing near by. Rising from her desk, Lois casually walked over to him and started her subtle questioning with the simple phrase, "I'm curious."

"Curious about what lady?" Trask's bully-boy replied. "How does Trask plan to kill Superman?" she asked him. "Everybody knows that the man of steel is invulnerable."

"That's top secret," the guard replied.

Nodding, Lois returned to her work station.

After contemplating Lois' query for a few seconds, the sentry remarked, "Wait a moment, sister."

With those words, Lois looked up and watched the guard crossed the room to a cache of special material. Picking up a leaded case, he then returned to her desk carrying the metal box. When he opened the container, Lois saw for the first time a rock that would become known as Kryptonite. It was green and pulsated with an eerie, high intensity light. Looking at this strange object, Lois, without understanding why, began to fear for Clark's safety. There was no rational reason for her to harbor such sentiments, but her instincts were in charge of her psyche at that moment.

After Lois had seen the green glowing rock, the guard returned it to the holding area. When the sentry left, she returned to her story hoping that her expose wouldn't also become Superman's obituary.

A little more than four hours after he left, Trask returned to the newsroom with a pleased look on his distorted countenance. The men who accompanied him were obviously terribly distressed.

While Trask went to confer with his second in command, his escorts, who guarded him on his sojourn, sat down at a desk close to Lois' work area.

Perry, who had joined Lois, heard these guys discussing their trip. They had apparently traveled to Colorado Springs and made a surprise call upon Sara and Joshua Gerstein. Something had been found in the Gerstein home which made Trask homicidal. In his unstable mental condition, Trask had murdered the two Gersteins, calling them traitors to humanity. After looking around, one of the men shaking his head remarked, "Jason Trask is way, way around the bend. He's a taco short of a combo to say the least. This obsession with aliens has totally destroyed his reason and will eventually cause the end of Bureau 39." The other members of Trask's paramilitary unit near Lois all seemed to be in agreement about Trask's worsening mental condition and the state of their organization.

"The Gersteins," Lois said, "Aren't they related to Alicia?"

"Yep," Perry replied. As Lois gazed at her boss, she saw a look of despair begin clouding his face and tears beginning to pool in the chief's eyes.

Then the full recognition of what happened hit her like a ton of bricks.

"Oh, my G-D," Lois murmured, "they're Alicia's parents and they've been taken down by Trask." The Planet's ace reporter, losing control of her emotions, placed her head in her hands and cried. "What a tragedy," she mused, tears falling on her hands. "The Gersteins," she sobbed, "will never have the joy of seeing their grandchildren."

"And Alicia," Lois thought, "poor Alicia has had the two major pillars of her life destroyed by a madman."

"What are we going to do, Perry?" she moaned, "What are we going to do?"

As Perry and Lois were moping, Seth walked into the newsroom. He was immediately snared by Trask's commandos. After being searched, he was incarcerated in the conference room. Surprisingly, without any interference from Trask's men, Perry and Lois nonchalantly crossed the bullpen and joined Margot's husband in the conference room.

When Perry and Lois linked up with Seth, Lois told him what she and Perry had overheard from Trask's storm troopers. Following Lois' disclosure, all three decided not to say anything to Alicia until her parents homicide was confirmed.

Pausing for a moment to gain control of his emotions, Seth sent a telepathic distress call to his soulmate, Margot, informing her that he and the Planet newsroom personnel were prisoners of Bureau 39 and the paper itself was under siege. When Seth finished his telepathic communique, he became aware that both Lois and Perry were staring at him. "I know what you're thinking," Seth said to them. "You must realize, if I used any of my super-powers, the family's cover would be compromised. Help must be external. Margot is now notifying Clark and David and they should be here shortly."

Some ten minutes after Margot and her husband had conferred, Clark and David, clothed in their super outfits, descended to the floor of the newsroom. Trask's men immediately began shooting at them with all types of weaponry. Because of their photon induced auras, the bullets, beams and other kinds of projectiles and rays had no effect on them. After the assault on the super beings ceased, Clark zipped around the news floor and appropriated Bureau 39's weapons. Trask's followers were then marched to a storeroom and locked in. The authorities were then alerted and were on their way to pick up Bureau 39's goons.

Before Clark and David had a chance to search for Jason Trask, he suddenly appeared at the door of Perry's office carrying a lead container. He had a strange smile on his face. As Clark moved to apprehend leader of Bureau 39, Trask opened the lead box. As he did so, Clark felt the pain of a thousand cuts as the radiation from the green colored meteorite coursed through his body. With a groan, he fell to the floor.

"I win," yelled Trask, dancing wildly around the bullpen. As soon as Clark slumped to the floor, David was at his side. While he too felt the effects of the Kryptonite, their effects on David were somewhat different. While they were still very irritating, the radiations from the meteorite didn't fully incapacitate him.

Realizing what had brought Clark down, David nullified the green's rocks impact on Clark by snatching the lead container from Trask, closing the box and welding it shut with his heat vision. He then grabbed Trask and tied him securely to a decorative stone column.

When David turned to see about Clark's needs, he saw Lois washing Clark's face with a damp cloth. Noting Lois' actions with some amusement, David watched as Lois helped CK to a chair. As soon as Clark was comfortable, Perry came over and asked in a whisper, "Son, are you okay?"

A shaken CK nodded, then whispered, "Hurting chief, but definitely not down for the count."

As Clark and Perry conversed, David procured a sun lamp and set it over Clark and turned on the light. The rays from the lamp had an immediate revitalizing effect on Superman. Clark Kent aka Superman was definitely on the mend.

Within fifteen minutes or so, Clark was nearly back to full strength. He sent a telepathic thought to David: "Thanks brother, I'm nearly back in fighting trim. No permanent damage from the Kryptonite's radiation. Its debilitating effects have almost passed."

Then Lois chimed in, "I'm glad there were no lasting effects caused by that blasted green rock."

When Clark heard Lois' comment, he looked puzzled.

"Did you received my thought transmission to David?" he asked Lois.

"I think so," she replied. Clark scratched his head and sent another telepathic message to David, asking him to tell the family that both Lois and Perry were joining them for dinner that evening.

He again looked at Lois.

With sparkling eyes, she asked Clark, "What time should Perry and I show up for the banquet?"

Clark then stood, gave her a hug and said smiling, "About 7:30." As they held each other for a few moments, she thought about the Gersteins' murders and Clark being felled by that horrible green rock. Then, Lois Lane, for the first time in her life, looked beyond herself. All of her petty frailties such as revenge melted away. Lois suddenly understood that a life shared by love was the cornerstone of existence. She then understood that everything paled before a journey through time by two united soulmates.

Just as Lois and Clark were enjoying their emotional embrace, they were disturbed by an agitated George Thompson who rushed into the newsroom. Knowing something was going down, Clark telepathically sent Lois a message telling her, "I'll see you later. Don't go away, we still have much to talk about."

Lois laughed at the lighthearted mood she sensed in Clark's mental message.

When George saw Trask, he said to Superman, "Thank G-D you apprehended that maniac. He just murdered Josh and Sara Gerstein!"

George's news hit Clark and David like a boatload of kryptonite. While David wanted to terminate Trask's life immediately, his moral and ethical commitment to justice could not be denied. Clark then told Lois again telepathically that she and Perry should come to the family's Hyperion Avenue home as soon as possible. Clark then picked up Trask and, with David, flew off.

When Clark and David arrived with Trask in tow at their Hyperion Avenue home, David notified everybody that there would be a special meeting of the entire family that evening. He then locked Trask in a room and asked his wife to join him in the living room. As David was about to join his soulmate, Clark asked, "Do you want me to be around when you tell Alicia about her parents?"

"No," David replied. As CK rose, David added, "Thanks for offering my brother."

Clark placed his hand briefly on David's shoulder, nodded, and walked toward the kitchen.

Soon after Clark left the area, Alicia came bounding into the room and playfully kissed her husband on the cheek. She then embraced her soulmate and gave him one 'hell' of a passionate kiss. Sensing something was amiss, she asked, "What's the matter? Please tell me."

David sat her down on the sofa and softly said, "Alicia, there has been a tragedy, a horrible tragedy. Both of your parents have been murdered by Jason Trask."

After a brief pause, David said to Alicia, "I want you to know that we have him in custody." Gazing at his soulmate, David was acutely aware that Alicia was now emotionally traumatized. Feeling his soulmate's pain, her hurt was devastating his own emotional stability. David took a deep breath and tried to pull himself together. The stress was just too overwhelming and he broke down. David's sobbing could be heard throughout the house.

Alicia just stared at her husband whose own tears were cascading down his face. Her trauma was so overwhelming that she was unable to utter a word. As Alicia sat next to her husband nearly paralyzed, David took her in his arms and just held her as his tears fell on her golden tresses. Feeling her husband's love enveloping her like a warm blanket, Alicia placed her head on his shoulder and he heard her begin to sob. She had finally begun to grieve.

Soon after Alicia started to emote, she placed her forehead on David's brow. Her tears now mingled with his as they both wept for their tragic loss and the deprivation to their unborn children.

Finally, from Alicia's throat, came a sound of abysmal wailing that pierced David's heart. Her emotional outburst was the only way Alicia could deal with a grief so great that it tormented her soul.

Alicia's uncontrollable anguish lasted for more than an hour. After regaining some semblance of control over her emotional state, she asked her husband if he could write the eulogy for her parents.

David kissed his wife and answered her in a quiet voice, "Thank you for asking my love. It will be an honor."


While David was consoling Alicia, Seth boarded the TD and journeyed to Colorado Springs to hasten the work of the coroner and to acquire two caskets. Early in the afternoon, Seth located and purchased two appropriate coffins. Once the caskets had been acquired, Seth used the TD system to transport the burial containers with the Gersteins' mortal remains to the Kent farm.

As Seth was completing his grisly mission, Clark went to his boyhood home to further expedite the funeral arrangements. After embracing his parents, Clark told them his grim news. Martha and Jonathan, as Clark expected, lost it. They were struck dumb with grief.

While Seth was talking to the funeral director in the small Kansas town, Clark was patiently waiting for his parents to regain control of themselves. Finally, after a few minutes of quiet weeping, Jonathan took a deep breath and asked, "Son, what do you want us to do?"

With unshed tears pooling in his eyes, Clark said, "See Father Thomas and Rabbi Fine. Have them consecrate a parcel of land of your choosing for a cemetery, one in which we all can be interred when our time comes to leave this Earthly realm."

Jonathan looked at his wife who nodded, agreeing with her son's request. Jonathan Kent then placed his hand on his son's shoulder and said, "It will be done as you asked."

"When will the funeral take place?" Martha inquired, still sobbing from the shock of the tragedy.

"Tomorrow at noon," Clark replied, as he turned toward the farm's TD entrance.


When Clark returned to Metropolis, he found Alicia and Margot sitting in the living room. Seeing her brother, Alicia asked, "May I ask a favor of you?"

Clark hugged her and replied, "Anything within my power, little sister, anything you want."

She smiled and said, "In my father's and mother's faith, women who are carrying life are not permitted to enter a place of death. To honor them, I will not go onto the cemetery. Margot agrees with my parents' traditions and will also refrain from entering the confines of the cemetery.

"Could my parents' graves be placed near the line separating the hallowed earth of the cemetery from the non- consecrated soil? Margot and I could then stand just outside the cemetery boundaries and still be part of the grave side service. In this way, I feel the spirit of my parents' traditions will not be violated."

Clark agreed with her intent. "You know, Alicia," Clark said solemnly, "that you and Margot are setting a precedent for all future generations of our people." Both Margot and Alicia nodded. CK then kissed his sister and Margot on their foreheads and quietly scooted toward the kitchen.


Later that evening, the entire family again acted as a tribunal for humankind, and sentenced Jason Trask to be marooned on a space station orbiting Pluto for the remainder of his life. After the sentencing Seth and Clark executed the clan's judgment, tout suite. Although Trask, like Lex and Azai, would become just a memory, the suffering he caused would linger long into the future.


At the newly created cemetery site on the Kent farm, a somber group of individuals gathered to pay their last respects to two awe-inspiring people — Sara and Joshua Gerstein. To everyone's surprise, George Thompson had come to pay his respects. In his condolences to Alicia, she could sense that George was a decent person, a man who had been caught up in the slippery slope of governmental politics.

Unable to challenge Trask's ascension to the leadership of Bureau 39, George could only watch as Jason's thinking became more and more skewed while his power steadily increased over the UFO agency.

George was flustered by the events of the previous day and was himself tormented and near collapse. He blamed himself because he could do little to deter Trask's bloodthirsty plans. George soon became aware that he did not suffer in a vacuum. The entire clan knew how much he was being tormented by Trask's heinous acts.

As Alicia watched the government man, George was showing signs of severe depression. True to her high-principled spirit, Sara and Joshua's daughter acted to prevent a good man from becoming seriously ill for something over which he had virtually no control. She took him in her arms, kissed him on the cheek and, with kind words, told him the fault of this, her parents' loss, was not his. In the end, his head rested on her shoulder where he wept bitterly. In the midst of her sorrow, Alicia, true to her traditions, had reached out to saved another's life.

After facing down his devils, George turned to Clark's clan and announced, "Although I know who and what you are, you don't have to worry. I'll never disclose your secret. The knowledge that I possess will be buried deep in my soul and will go with me to the grave when I'm called by the Eternal One."

"Who knows?" he added, smiling, "You may need a man in government service to provide you with a helping hand and avoid the pitfalls of life from time to time."

In a short period of time, George's words would seem almost prophetic.

At noon, the burial service of Joshua and Sara Gerstein got under way. When the coffins were completely covered with earth, Alicia and Margot approached the interment site and halted just short of its boundary. Standing there for a few seconds, Alicia tried to prepare herself to read the eulogy which her husband had composed.

As she began to read David's tribute to her parents, she became distraught and her words faltered.

David was at her side in a flash. She said to her soulmate, "Beloved, please read the eulogy for me."

Taking his wife's hand, David, in a quivering voice, began to articulate the tribute he had painstaking written for the Gersteins.

Taking a deep breath, David began, "My family and friends, please forgive my inadequacies in this attempt to praise Sara and Joshua Gerstein, the parents of my beloved soulmate Alicia. It is nearly an impossible task to adequately pay tribute to two such people cut down in the prime of their lives leaving much unsaid and much undone.

"Over a time that has been all too short, it was my good fortune to know and love, and be loved by, Sara and Joshua Gersteins, to feel towards them as if they were my own flesh and blood. Although Alicia and I understand the reason for this unfortunate tragedy, our hearts cannot fully accept the fact that Sara and Joshua have passed beyond our reach. Maybe we never shall.

"The grief my wife and I share will be felt more acutely when our children are born.

"Sara and Joshua were alternately giddy and ecstatic over their expected grandchildren, grandchildren who will never know the loving warmth of those two gentle souls. Rest assured, Alicia and I will do all in our power to make sure that our children will know their grandparents, even though our kids, like us, will be separated from Joshua and Sara by the wall of eternity."

As David continued to speak, Alicia felt his hand tighten around hers. She became aware through their auras that her soulmate's inner self, his essence, had began to falter as the grief of the moment began to engulf him like a gigantic wave. If left unaided, Alicia knew that his emotional ferment would overwhelm his senses and impair his ability to complete his task. By connecting her inner strength with his, Alicia could feel the turmoil in her husband recede as he now was able to fight off the debilitating gloom which threatened to engulf his being.

With Alicia's hand entwined in his, David drew in a deep breath and continued, "It is difficult to realize that you, our beloved parents, are no longer in the land of the living and that your nurturing has been stilled for all time. Alicia and I, with your family and friends, are gathered before your earthly grave and unhappily bear witness to this grievous fact. In all of our eyes, your spirits still live and your love will be everlasting and be a blessing. Parents' love is eternal, even as the Creator's love is infinite.

"How can Alicia ever repay you both for all that you have suffered and endured to provide her shelter and protection until she reached the age of mature judgment and independence? Alicia and I, with our family and friends, can offer you, our dear parents, only tender tears and loving thoughts. If, at times, we have failed to show you our devotion and appreciation and have been thoughtless and ungrateful, we ask for your forgiveness. In tribute to your praiseworthy memory, we will endeavor to remember all of your worthy deeds performed in the land of the living and try to emulate them in our lives."

As David again paused for a moment, Alicia felt her life partner's legs begin to buckle. Before he sank to the earth, she grabbed him around his waist holding him upright. In doing so, Alicia summoned what little strength she could muster to support David's sudden weakness, an infirmity induced by his mounting lamentations for her parents, an emotive sorrow that was overpowering his soul.

As Alicia again helped stabilize David, she was reminded again that she had married not only a very courageous man, but one that could feel deeply for others. While aware of his valor in battle, she knew that combat was a physical event which could be viewed and lionized by the masses. Alicia's soulmate, at this moment in time, was fighting a battle against grief. It was a silent conflict and would bring no hurrahs. To clash with yourself for a noble undertaking, one that would never be recognized, was the most courageous act she could envision. It was a struggle that every person, at some time in their lives, would face. Because of her husband's actions, Alicia became suddenly conscious that those who quietly struggle with the vicissitudes of life were, in truth, humankind's real heroes.

When Alicia again became aware of her surroundings, she heard her soulmate say, "At this time of sadness, when loved ones have been taken from us, most think of a person's death as something we have lost. Instead, my friends, it should be viewed as something we have had. In our grief, we tend only to remember how empty our lives have become by the demise of loved ones. We are forgetful of how full and rich life was before their passing. Forgotten are the many days and years of happiness we enjoyed while Joshua and Sara were still among the living. Many praise the Creator for their treasures while they still have them and cease to praise the 'Architect of the Macrocosm,' when a cherished item or loved one has been taken from us. One should understand that the Creator of the universe never gives, the Creator only lends. Remember my friends, life is just a loan."

As David continued to deliver her parents' eulogy, Alicia realized that her husband was turning the funeral service into a celebration, a celebration of her parents' lives.

Only a person who has faced death countless times could view life as a festival. Viewing a sunrise on a battlefield must have appeared to him as a G-D given gift. From his array of harrowing experiences, he fervently embraced that ancient statement, "Choose Life, For It Is The Only Thing We Know."

When her mind rejoined the others once again, she heard David say, "When the Master Creator claims his own, should we rebel? Instead of murmuring against the Creator's judgment when precious things are taken from us, let us be grateful to G-D for allowing them to have enriched our lives. Let us therefore view the past cheerful days not as a loss, but as a gain. We have had treasured moments with the Gersteins and now they have ended. Let us turn their departure into a new beginning, a beginning that inspires new courage, nobler tasks, a more universal look at life, and a commitment to the welfare of our people and to all humankind."

"If you will indulge me," he said, "I would like to read a poem in the Gersteins' honor."

"Go ahead." Seth quietly said to his brother. The others silently nodded.

David pulled a tattered piece of paper from his pocket and read the final tribute to his and Alicia's beloved parents.

"Tender as a parent with his children The Creator is merciful with his people. The Master of the Universe knows how we are fashioned; The Creator remembers that we are but dust.

The days of the living are like grass; The living flourish as a flower in the field. A wind passes over the flower and it is gone, And no one can recognize where it grew,

But the Creator has compassion for His people, The righteousness of the creator to their children's children remains Age after age, unchanging.

Although my flesh may fail, the Master of the Universe is the strength of my heart; the creator is my portion forever."

When David finished his tribute to the Gersteins, Alicia fully understood the depth of David's sorrow and how much it had escalated as he spoke the words of the eulogy. It was a poem from the heart. Her parents, when they lived, had somehow touched David's soul and his grief at their passing would forever be buried deep in his being. David's mourning was as much for her as for himself. Alicia would have to ask her husband some day how he had come to love them as much as she.

Gazing at her soulmate, Alicia began to understand and appreciate David's agony. It was not just the passing of Sara and Joshua, but her pain that caused his soul to be in turmoil.

Throughout her parents' funeral, Alicia had come to realize that David had sustained her with his love and understanding while he hid his own grief. It was during the eulogy that she became acutely aware of what he had endured for her sake. Alicia resolved, at that moment, that for the rest of her life she would make sure that David was continually and overtly aware of how much she cherished him.

At this moment in time, Alicia's adoration for David, her beloved soulmate, soared through her being like a sublime hymn engulfing a cathedral.


As Perry and Lois returned to the farmhouse, he casually asked his star reporter about her relationship with Clark. The chief knew that any intimacy between Lois and CK had cooled to a point where their contact was mainly on a hello-goodbye basis. Love for one another had essentially disappeared from their lives.

After a slight pause, Lois remarked, "Perry, the major issue between Clark and myself is how we interpret the word trust. Even when I told you my articles were meant for his family's archives, Clark's reaction caused him and his kin to move themselves to a place of concealment. Clark apparently didn't trust me not to publish my articles."

"Lois," Perry chimed in, "you never told me that your articles were not for publication. When Clark read them, he had to assume the worst-case scenario for his people's sake. He had to act as if Mad Dog Lane was going to expose his family to the world at large."

Lois was stunned by his words. What had she done? In the excitement of the moment, she must have neglected to tell Perry that her stories about the super family were informational only and were definitely not for publication. Because of her oversight, a condition developed where Lois became both hurt and angry over something she had inadvertently brought about. In her distraught state of mind, Lois had felt slighted. She wanted revenge and to that end Lois acted harshly towards Clark. Her actions probably wrecked what could have developed into a budding intimate relationship. Unless she could somehow make amends, it would be a lonely life for her. The only man Lois could truly love would be lost to her.

As Lois reminisced, she recalled the time when Clark first began working with the Metropolis branch of the Planet. She knew then that he had a thing for her. Still she pushed him away. When they finally started to develop a relationship while periodically working together, she discovered that he kept things from her. Using her past disastrous relationships as a bellwether, she discarded him as she would the garbage in her apartment. Instead of looking forward and asking Clark why he had been so secretive, she considered him to be in the same category as the scum who had hurt her in the past. So she moved on leaving Clark in her wake. Now she realized he had a higher concern, the protection of his kin — his super family. Oy, what had she done.

To make matters even worse, she had not asked Clark for an explanation of his and the super family's behavior about why they packed up and disappeared. Their lack of communication and her vengeful attitude over the last few months had undoubtedly created the current horrible scenario. Interaction between herself and Clark's clan had all but disappeared.

Because of Lois' vindictive behavior, her partnership with Clark had degenerated. The two of them were now just casual working acquaintances. "Not a good situation for romance," she mentally castigated herself.

Reevaluating her circumstances, Lois knew that she needed to rectify her appalling misjudgments, and quickly, or CK would soon vanish from her life.

It now aggravated her no end that her actions had abrogated the beginnings of an intimate relationship which, she knew, had been very special to herself and Clark.

Now, mentally bashing herself, Lois assumed most of the blame for her current social predicament. She knew that her traumatic childhood and past romantic interludes had been the conscious and subconscious driving forces behind her assinine behavior. But Lois understood that her complaints about her past really were no excuse for the present situation. Every person needed to be treated as a person, not be grouped with Lois' past hyena-like paramours or the horrific Lane family conditions she endured as she matured. Both scenarios were beyond her total control.

Because of her past romantic woes and her dysfunctional family influences, Lois had tried a new tactic with Clark, one where you strike first and question later and you are the loved one who takes and gives little in return. Well, her new approach was disastrous. In fact, Lois' scheme to romance stifled her budding relationship with CK. If she didn't made amends quickly, there wouldn't be a future with Clark.

Lois had learned the hard way that she had to turn her back on her past federal disastrous affairs. She was discovering that if she wanted a true loving relationship, honesty and trust between both partners were the main bulwarks of togetherness. As she was now all too aware, her unconventional approach to romance was proving to be a another disaster of a different kind. One which was causing an end to what could have been a life long love affair — a la marriage.

Now re-accessing her game plan, Lois recoiled inwardly as she recalled her recent idiotic exchanges with Clark. Her vocal alienation of CK after the poppy farm episode was adding to her social and romantic woes. If she and Clark were to part, G-D forbid, Lois knew that she would really be the *big, big* loser, a lonely life-long loser.

After lunch, Lois sought out Clark. She was informed that CK had gone for a walk. Lois immediately left the house and began searching for her friend. After a few minutes, Lois located Clark standing over the fresh graves of the elder Gersteins. She was about to go to him, when she heard his thoughts coursing through her head.

"I'm going to miss you guys," Clark thought to himself. "The way in which you loved one another taught first Alicia, and added to my own views, about the true meaning of affection. While my parents share the same kind of loving relationship as you did with Alicia, they could never answer my most intimate questions. You did that for me. For that I shall ever be in your debt.

"It's not that I have a better understanding of women's behavior from our discussions, but at least you gave me a better perspective about that elusive emotion people call love. Not that it will do me much good. I found my soulmate, but for reasons I don't quite comprehend, she has rebuffed my affections. Since my life partner has apparently rejected me, I am preparing myself for a solitary existence. It won't be pleasant, I know, but life must go on. There's so much to do. So, if I'm lucky, the despair of having loved and lost will only affect me just before I fall asleep when my mind is freed from the day's toil. "

Pausing for a moment, CK added, "I'll probably write some poetry, use my abilities as Superman to help the peoples of this world and do research in theoretical physics with Charlie I as my partner. These activities, I hope, will help ease the pain of my loneliness. While I'll never conceive children of my own, Alicia, fortunately, is of my blood. My genome will not be lost when I pass on. It will be perpetuated through Alicia's descendants. Interaction with David's and Seth's kids should help ease some of my torment by not being able to beget children. You know, because of my Kryptonian heritage, conceiving children could only be accomplished between soulmates. Since no other woman could act as Lois' surrogate, children are out of the question. Surrogates, I'm afraid, are not the Kryptonian option."

Clark added, with some bitterness, "I won't be there at the moment of my child's birth, share the kids' birthdays with my spouse, be there when he/she starts school, or hold them when they are hurting. There is much I will miss. But the worst day of my life will occur when Lois expires. Under present conditions, this will occur about two hundred years before I, too, leave this plane of existence. From the time of her death to my demise, I shall grieve for her every day. There is no other love for me. But apparently my soulmate is unaware of my feelings. So be it."

Sighing, Clark thought, "It hurts to know that she and I will die alone. This is what we must endure for not consummating our love. Lois will never understand the soulmate concept and how it drew us together once upon a time. In rejecting our love, she will be consumed by her inability to successfully form a meaningful intimate relationship. The gratification and stability of a successful congenital partnership will always be beyond her grasp. Lois will be continually frustrated by her inability to find a suitable life partner. As the repetition of her failed relationships increase, my lost love will become more angry with those people who have found the happiness denied her. She will curse the night as she rejects one suitor after another. In time, no guy will date her. When this happens, as it must, she truly will be alone.

"When Lois' working years have run their course," Clark continued with his inner thoughts, "she will be more alone than ever. I envision her becoming more bitter with age. As life continues to run its course, there will come a time when Lois will curse the day she was born. Eventually, my friend will resign herself to her fate and wait impatiently for death.

"My situation will be somewhat better. I will be able to function until I am near death. When I'm incapable of functioning, the family will care for me until I expire and join you in this hallowed ground."

"You know," Clark said, talking at the Gersteins' graves, "it's almost amusing to contemplate that one can truly love a person who loathes your very existence. Maybe it would be better for me if I leave Metropolis and start over somewhere else. In that way, any pain caused by an occasional meeting between Lois and myself could be greatly lessened."

Pausing for a moment, Clark, with tears cascading down his face, said, "Thanks for listening my friends. May you rest in the arms of the Lord forevermore."

Clark then hung his head and then said several prayers. Then, staring into the heavens, he suddenly levitated and flew into space. There he floated between the Earth and the stars adorning the firmament, tears covering his face.

Lois was momentarily stunned at what she had just overheard. She had somehow tuned in to Clark's private telepathic frequency. As Lois stood there, she surmised that during the past few months, her mind and Clark's must have somehow linked. "For that to have happened," Lois thought, "we must have become soulmates — our auras must have formed a bond." Her supposition was partly based on what she had learned from Alicia: only true life partners can become spiritually attuned. Her telepathic experience with CK's graveside talk had pretty much confirmed Lois' suppositions.

As Lois thought over her past adventures with Clark, she reckoned that their auras began to link their souls when he carried her from the compactor. Clark also told her, at some time or other, that soulmates possess two kinds of telepathy: one for general conversations, and a personal frequency for soulmate use only.

Lois chuckled and thought, "I could have fun with Clark by listening to his innermost thoughts and use that information to tease him."

"Really," her conscience mentally slapped her, "any teasing games at this juncture, I don't think would be unappreciated by Clark. Such gestures just may push him over the edge. Or your teasing shenanigans could be the catalyst which drove him from Metropolis. If Clark ever left the city, you would most likely never reconcile your differences and reconstruct what you've nearly destroyed. Of course you may not want to become romantically involved with Clark. Maybe friendship is all you want," her conscience concluded.

The voice of Lois' conscience then reminded her, once again, that a meaningful relationship with Clark Jerome Kent was right now hovering by a fragile thread above an abyss of loneliness.

Thinking more about her soulmate, Lois realized with out a doubt that she couldn't lose Clark. He was a straight shooter and had become an integral part of her psyche.

As she pondered her dilemma, Lois knew that Clark would not use her like Lex and Claude or all the other men who desired her love on their terms, terms which included curbing her independent spirit and bending her spirit to their will.

"If I could re-establish my relationship with Clark," Lois thought to herself, "he would give me all the attention I crave and never expect or demand anything in return." What she brought to their relationship would be hers to give, and hers alone. Not only would she have total freedom with Clark, Lois was well aware that he already considered her life to be more precious than his own. Her happiness and safety, Lois was beginning to realize, would outweigh all other issues in Clark's view of a close relationship with her.

The question now remaining for Lois was, what did she want to do about the present crisis which was, at present, destroying their soulmate bond? Should she attempt a reconciliation or walk?

As she was contemplating her options, Lois' conscience goaded her by asking, "If you decide to walk or manage to re-establish a low level friendship with CK, who will keep you warm throughout those long cold winter nights? That's assuming CK remains in Metropolis."

In an answer to her inner voice, Lois remarked with a snicker, "I'll use an electric blanket."

"Could that appliance be the father of your children if you wanted to go that route?" came a quick sarcastic reply by her inner-voice.

"That's a low blow," Lois countered inwardly.

"You're correct, Lois," her conscience replied. "I just don't want you to throw away a meaningful life filled with love and fulfillment. Remember, my conscious partner, there are two kinds of payoff: loneliness and bitterness and a Lois Lane who faces the world alone, or the love and commitment between two true life partners. It's your choice."

After debating with herself for sometime, Lois began to wander aimlessly along the trails that crisscrossed the farm.

Somewhere during her walk, Lois stumbled across a treehouse just visible in the lush canopy of trees growing close to one another in a small grove. Looking at the tree house, Lois thought to herself, "That's the kind of play thing I could've used as a kid."

As she was staring at the tree house, Martha Kent came strolling along another path that also lead to Clark's refuge. When she reached Lois, Martha stopped and said, "You're Lois Lane, aren't you?"

"Yeah," Lois replied, "I was just admiring that tree house. You know, I almost missed it. It's very cleverly hidden in the foliage."

Martha smiled and remarked, "Clark spent a considerable amount of time in that tree house. He called it his Fortress of Solitude.

"You see, Lois," Martha continued, "when Clark began to develop his powers, he had to pretty much keep away from his peers or risk the possibility of revealing his unusual abilities. It hurt me terribly to see him hide so much of himself and to endure the mocking insults of our neighbor's kids — you know how cruel children can be. Clark suffered a lot, but always in silence. He carried his wounds without complaint. His patience paid off. Look at what he and Alicia helped to create.

"It was a blessing when Alicia arrived on the scene. I thought that they would be soulmates but, alas, David was the one for her. When he started to talk about you, I was hopeful that a relationship would develop between the two of you. You know Lois, you're the only girl that he spoke about in an affectionate way. A mother knows those things. Then he suddenly stopped talking about you and I could see the pain in his eyes.

"Jonathan and I were, of course, upset. We were hoping you would be his life partner, his soulmate. It appears that our expectations were just the aspirations of two old fuddy-duddy parents. For some time now, Clark has been talking about going to another part of the world. I think he is waiting until Alicia's and Margot's babies are born then, I think, he'll relocate. The TDs will allow him to visit us and the family as often as he likes. In that way, he'll not feel the full sting of his isolation."

Martha gave Lois an unhappy look and said, "See yah later."

Later that evening, Clark returned to the farm.

Upon seeing her brother, Alicia said, "Been floating?" as she pointed toward the stars. Clark nodded and replied "Yep. It helped assuage my soul."

As his pregnant sister waddled off, Lois approached Clark and remarked, "You know 'big guy' I think we should talk."

"What about?" he asked.

"Us," she replied.

He looked straight into her face and said, "There is no us, Lois. You destroyed any possibility of that happening by your behavior towards me and my family. The emotional bond which started to connect our souls was shattered by your idiosyncrasies, many of which I still can't fathom." Bowing to her, Clark turned and walked off.

Lois then ran to the porch. She did not want to cry in front of everybody. Alicia saw her scurry from the room and followed her. As she entered the covered area outside the house, Alicia was shocked to discover Lois crying hysterically. It took a bit of doing, but Alicia managed to quiet her. When Lois had sufficiently calmed down, she told Alicia what had occurred between herself and Clark.

Then Lois asked Alicia, "How can I control this telepathic mind set that has formed between Clark and me? I don't want to infringe on someone's personal conversations, especially somebody who apparently doesn't want me in their life. Lois then added, "I also want to preserve my own privacy."

Smiling at Lois, Alicia said, "See me when we return to Metropolis. You and I have much to discuss, and a great deal to do to put things right."


Several days after Lois returned to Metropolis, Lois used her TD portal to reach Alicia's place. They had lunch, after which David's wife showed Lois how to use and control her telepathic abilities. She explained that there were two areas in her brain that could both send and receive thoughts. One was similar to a private telephone line that only she and Clark could use, the other telepathic connection could be utilized to communicate with any another person in the family or the entire clan simultaneously, if she so desired.

Lois was also shown how to guard her thoughts from telepathic intrusions. With Alicia acting as a guide, Lois practiced her new mind skills until her responses became automatic.

After the Planet's star reporter had mastered her telepathic ability, Alicia asked Lois to accompany her to the Family's main laboratory located many hundreds of feet below their Hyperion Avenue house.

Entering the TD system, they were both whisked to the family's laboratory grotto, which had been hewn from bedrock some fifty stories below street level.

As the women exited the TD system, Alicia's husband David was waiting for them. He said, "Are you ready?"

"Ready for what?" Lois inquired with some apprehension.

Alicia then informed her that, "The entire family, including Clark, still consider you as a member of our clan. Therefore, David and I have decided to make you an equal partner by providing you with your own super abilities."

Shocked, Lois asked Alicia and her husband, "Why would you want to do such a thing?"

"First," David answered her, "your life span will become the same as ours — about two hundred and twenty years. Alicia and I believe that you and Clark will somehow reconcile your differences and form an intimate union. By furnishing you with super capabilities, you and Clark will age at the same rate. So, when you do finalize your soulmate status, your aging processes will be in sync. When the time comes to pass on, your deaths will occur simultaneously. Leaving this plane of existence at the same moment is part of the soulmate mechanism. Because of this death feature, Lois, grieving by a surviving soulmate simply doesn't occur. This condition is genetically inherent in all soulmate couples and will be passed on to our progeny and hopefully to yours as well."

"Second," David added, "while I pray this never comes to pass, we may need your strength and cunning to survive in the future. More importantly for you, Lois, is the fact that you'll be able to meet Clark on equal terms. With balanced mental and physical strengths you'll be able to coerce him, if necessary, to talk about those matters which have interrupted your budding romance."

Lois smiled. She liked the last reason the most. "Okay," she told Alicia and her soulmate, "let's go for it."

Alicia set up the electrical replicating device and David fastened Lois to the apparatus.

Within thirty minutes, Lois and Alicia returned to the living room of the Hyperion Avenue home. Seating herself in the den area, Lois commented "I don't feel any different."

Smiling, Alicia said to her new sister, Lois, "In your mind, visualize yourself levitating." As David's soulmate watched, Lois started to rise. "Now think stop," Alicia telepathically communicated her thought with Lois. Almost immediately, the Planet's top reporter stopped rising and just hovered in midair. Then Alicia said, "Envision yourself moving downward." As Lois conjured up that image, she moved toward the floor and returned to her chair. When Lois was again seated, the intrepid reporter was laughing, almost hysterically, tears running down her face.

"Success," Lois shouted, "The replication process was successful."

While Lois reveled in her new abilities, Alicia became somewhat sober and said, "My sister, I know that at times you like to act as a scamp and take revenge upon people you consider hurtful. The powers you received were never intended to be used to satisfy one's whims, especially in the revenge department.

"I point that out, Lois," David added, "because Mad Dog Lane was noted for that knee-jerk reaction."

Alicia then giggled and said to her new kin, "No peeking at male pectorals or other parts of their anatomy. Got it?"

"Got it," Lois replied

Then Lois remarked, "You guys take all the fun out of living." Pausing for a moment, the Daily Planet's star reporter started chortling as she said, "Okay, Okay, I'll be a good girl. It will be hard, but I'll try my best to abide by your stodgy rules."

David and Alicia were both content and smiled at Lois. A new family member had just punched in.


After Lois' somewhat reluctant acceptance of all the clan's regulations, the three of them partied, celebrating the creation of another super-being. As they made merry, Lois asked Alicia, "Where's Clark? I've haven't seen him for awhile."

"He is back in Asia," Alicia informed her. "Alan has given him a desk at the DP wire service office in Singapore. He's again freelancing under the Kal Ellis pen name."

"Why Kal Ellis?" Lois inquired.

"His Kryptonian name is Kal-El," Alicia told her.

"Oh," Lois replied.

"Hey guys, do you think it would be wise to visit him?" she inquired of the Findermans.

"No," Alicia replied. "Let him stew about your relationship." Then she added, "You should be aware that Superman's presence in Metropolis is being maintained by our TD network. In this way, no-one will be able to correlate the disappearance of Clark Kent from Singapore and the sudden appearance of his alter ego over Metropolis. "Another thing Lois," Alicia remarked. "Let's keep your super status a secret from the rest of the family; at least, until you have been thoroughly schooled in the use of your new abilities.

That's a good idea," Lois commented, and agreed to Alicia's wishes.


For the next several months, the events in the lives of Earth's new Kryptonians progressed in an almost normal fashion. David took Lois to a remote island several times a week and trained her in the use of her unique abilities. He also began advancing her martial arts skills to the masters level. As Lois learned to control her new skills, David taught her strategy and how to fight as part of a military detachment. Lois, to her surprise, soon became very adept at her new capabilities. While Lois did not enjoy the fighting aspect of her training, she understood its purpose — defense of her person, the clan, and the Earth itself.

As David was teaching Lois about the physical know-how of her unique abilities, Alicia educated her in the mathematical and scientific disciplines related to Earth and Krypton. To Alicia's delight, Lois demonstrated quite an aptitude for mathematics and a remarkable talent in her scientific studies.

When Lois questioned Alicia about why she had to master the math and sciences of the Earth and Krypton, she was told that the super family was a technical society and each member had to be well versed in these disciplines. Other areas were encouraged but their survival was strongly linked to the math and science areas.

Lois, too, was astounded at how scholarly she had become. Her new genetic imprint had not only provided her with a thirst for knowledge, but allowed her to learn at a prodigious rate. As Alicia had informed Lois after she was subjected to the electric transformation treatment, the IQ of the Planet's star reporter was enhanced many orders of magnitude beyond what Earth people consider genius level. Alicia also cautioned Lois not to read, key board or move unusually fast. Such quirky behavior would definitely be an attention-getter.

To her constant thrill and surprise, Lois could read a thousand page book in less than two seconds. Her memory, like the rest of the super beings at Hyperion house, was nearly photographic. Lois' new powers roused in her a new zest for learning and she read voraciously.

During one of her visits to the farm, Martha and her husband presented Lois with a suit. "How did you know that I had acquired super abilities?" Lois asked.

"Alicia told us," Martha replied. "She felt that you needed some pseudo-parents to look after you. You know, easy going people to converse with, people you'll need to talk to from time to time to just blow-off steam."

Martha's and Jonathan's attitude towards Lois told her that the elder Kents were very fond of the gal from Metropolis. When Lois was around, they acted like she was their daughter, a child they never had.

After Lois had spent a number of weekends visiting and chatting with Jonathan and Martha, the Planet's audacious reporter asked them, "Would it be a good idea to see Clark? If I push myself into his life, he still may run from me."

After a slight pause, Martha slapped Lois on her back and bellowed, "Go get 'im."

Then Lois and Martha both giggled, while Jonathan burst forth with a resounding belly laugh.


About a week later, Lois had flown to Singapore instead of traveling through the TD network in order to test her improved soaring skill. Arriving at her destination, she walked to the Daily Planet extension and sought out Alan Jacobs. When they met, Alan gave her a huge hug and welcomed her to the island nation. Then Lois asked, "Is Clark here?" He pointed to a desk in the corner. She strolled over and tapped him on the shoulder. When he looked up and saw Lois, he smiled.

"That's a better reception than I expected," Lois thought. As she seated herself next to Clark, she noticed a new article of his with the by-line reading Kal Ellis. "For you to use that aka," she commented "that must be some scathing piece.

"It is," he replied. Clark then inquired, "What brings you to this DP outpost?"

Lois smiled and said to Clark, "Both Alicia and Margot are in labor."

"You know," Clark remarked, "Margot is nearly two and a half weeks past her due date and Alicia is early by about the same interval of time. That time frame is very curious, very curious indeed. It almost seems that fate has taken a hand in these births."

"Alan," Clark then shouted to wire serve chief, "I'm going Stateside for a few weeks."

Jacobs grinned at his friend and colleague and waved goodbye.


Several minutes later, Lois and Clark arrived at the Hyperion Avenue house via the TD system. Clark and Lois then spun into their super personas and flew immediately to the hospital. As they walked toward the waiting room, Clark asked Lois, "How long have you possessed your super abilities?"

She replied, "I went through the transformation process about two months ago."

"Have you mastered everything?" Clark asked, as they moved toward their destination.

"I'm not an expert yet, but I am capable of using all of the powers equally well. In addition to learning to control my new acquisitions, David has also been teaching me to become a combatant — a warrior. You know, for a G-D forbid situation that we all hope and pray will never occur." Clark chuckled at her last statement knowing full well that Lois had been, and always would be, a warrior at heart.

Upon entering the waiting room, Lois and Clark were met by the rest of the family. Perry rushed over to them and gushed, "I haven't been this excited since my own kids were born." He looked at Clark and Lois and verbally reflected, "I wonder what their kids will be like? Boy, will I get a charge out of spoiling them."

Not realizing the emotional shock waves his words had on Lois and Clark, Perry, after patting the two reporters on the arm, wandered back to his seat.

Clark, on the other hand, blushed and moved casually away from Lois. When he reached a chair next to his parents, he plopped down.

As Clark moved away from Lois in near panic, she was thinking, "Having kids with Clark would be nice. But first there's gotta be a marriage. Marriage would be a good thing."

The little voice of her conscience reiterated what Lois had thought and said, "Marriage would be great, which means, of course, that your relationship with CK must get back on track. Hmm…" Lois then reflected, "You know, Clark wasn't negative about the idea of kids. He just became a little embarrassed and panicky and ran for cover. I wonder" she mused, "how much I could push our relationship before he would bail?"

"Go for it kid," her conscience nearly screamed.

Okay, okay, just go away, Lois told her inner voice. When her conscience quieted down, Lois started to scheme.

Considering her game plan, Lois reminded herself, "Don't blow this one, Lane. I think Clark's interest in our togetherness has been rekindled. The flame may be low now, but the most important fact is that he's showing some interest in me. Let's see if I can entice him to a nice dinner with moi, at Angelina's sometime soon."

While planning her next Clarkian move, the entire family was apprised of Lois' newly acquired abilities. There were congratulations all around. Lois was deeply moved by the sincere way she was congratulated by the family. Then the clan settled down to await the miracle birth.

Perry was especially overjoyed. He said, "Lois, now you can do super-snooping without Clark's tagging along and without giving me a heart attack when you're on the hunt."

"I don't know, Perry," she replied, "Two heads are still better than one. I could still use Clark's input. Anyway Perry, I'm very fond of CK and would like to have him as a partner."

Everybody in the room got Lois' drift and either laughed outright or politely chuckled.


After a labor of nearly ten hours, two boys and a girl were born to Seth and Margot Klein. Two hours later, Alicia presented the Finderman family with two girls and a boy. The Terra-Kryptonian people had been enlarged by six very highly-spirited infants.

Two days after the births of six unique children, four ecstatic parents and their babies left the hospital and returned to their Hyperion Avenue home. Although overjoyed by the newborns, seven adults were hard-pressed to care for six frisky babies. Their sleeping patterns were not regular and their feeding schedules were not in sync. Breast- feeding was a nightmare. Rest for the parents and other family members was rare and was soon deemed a luxury.

Fortunately for the super clan, by the end of a month, the rhythm of the household was slowly returning to some sort of normalcy. It was at this point in time that Lois began talking to Clark about having dinner together. To her surprise, Clark was not opposed to her idea. Several days later, Lois and CK were seen entering Angelina's and were seated at a secluded table.

As they dined, they at first kept the conversation light. Clark asked Lois how she was coping with her new abilities. She in turn inquired about his theoretical studies concerning space-time. With her enhanced mental abilities, Lois understood the underlying principles of Clark's novel ideas. CK also told her about his new Kal Ellis story.

While imbibing an alcoholic beverage, Clark quietly said something that made Lois' heart flutter: "Lois, I wish you had shared the by-line with me on the Ellis article. Together, I'm sure we would have written a more solid story. You know, two competent individuals can usually produce a better product than one person alone. "

"He's opened the door," Lois thought, as she calmed her emotions and prepared to enter the dragon's den.

"Clark," Lois asked, "How would you like to resume our Planet relationship, from before I impulsively wrote that article about our family?"

Having taken the plunge, Lois held her breath.

As she watched Clark's face, Lois saw a smile appear on his gorgeous face. Clark's eyes twinkled, which Lois knew expressed something more than just a happy feeling. Taking one of Lois' hands in his, CK quietly replied, with deep affection, "Yes I would. I've been thinking about us for some time and finally came to the realization that only fools stay angry indefinitely. If I could have figured out how to broach this subject earlier, you and I would have been enjoying dinners like this much more often." After a pause, Clark added, "And perhaps becoming more intimate in the process."

Clark then gave Lois a rose and walked to Lois' side of the table. He helped Lois to her feet and they hugged one another. As they touched, they felt a surge of mutual love, as their auras gushed through their bodies linking their souls. As Lois and her soulmate gazed at one another, their eyes revealed the adoration each felt for the other.

As Clark continued to look to the future, he sighed and said, "You know Lois, we really can't go back to the past. That episode in our lives is over. You wanting an apology without inquiring about causes, and me too stubborn and hurt to persuade you to talk and resolve the issues between us. That whole affair, as I look back, was pure lunacy. Remembering our foolishness, Lois, is important so that we don't repeat our mistakes. We must bury our past grievances and move on."

"Just what are you getting at, my philosophical and romantic friend?," Lois laughingly teased.

Clark caressed her face and said, "We are soulmates, you and I, Ms. Lane. Our bickering and teasing will not entirely end until our souls are enveloped in an all consuming love, a forever kind of love."

"That kind of love can only truly result when two people are married," Lois whispered.

He nodded in agreement and kissed her passionately on her lips. As the intensity of their kiss escalated, Lois' and Clark's arms encircled one another and crushed themselves to each other. They remained that way until air became a necessity, even for super beings, and they were reluctantly forced to separate.

After their emotional reconciliation a happy calm enveloped them.

As Clark held his future life partner, he remarked, "When we marry, beloved, our souls will blend together to make two essences into one, the sum of which is greater that the parts." Lois looked a little concerned. "Don't worry," Clark quickly assured her, "Our individual entities will blend, but not disappear. They'll function in tandem for the good of the whole — *us*. If we are in disagreement over some issue or other, our joined souls will help us find the best solution to our differences. The condition, of which I speak, will not fully function until we are intimately bonded."

"Is that why Alicia and Margot never seem to argue with their husbands?" Lois inquired. Clark nodded affirmatively.

"I guess," Lois speculated, "being half-Kryptonian doesn't negate bonding between lovers because of a spat." After thinking for a moment, Lois added, "It maybe that being any part Kryptonian will still provide that individual those unique abilities we possess."

"I believe." Clark added to her thoughts, "the abilities we possess are a dominant genetic trait and will be passed on to all our descendants for all times."

Out of interest using what little genetic knowledge she possessed, Lois brought up some interesting ideas and in doing so used the phrase Terra-Kryptonian hybrids. Some of her words sort of struck a sour note in Clark's soul.

Holding Lois closer, he said, "From the clan's macro analysis of our genomes when compared with a sample of normal humans, the results strongly suggested that there are no Terra-Kryptonian people. Lois, when we looked deep down into the genetics of all the people living on this planet, we discovered that we're all the same. I have to make one modification, some of us possess unusual capabilities. Because of our discovery, we pondered what to do about the name of our clan. We decided that the Terra- Kryptonian name will maintained by us and our descendents for historical reasons to honor both planets. Two civilizations which contributed to the creation of our family."

"What makes you think that the family's data is correct my love?" Lois inquired.

When Lois said, "My love," Clark's heartbeat jumped into high gear.

Regaining some control over his emotional state, Clark told Lois that, "Kryptonians and Terrans, according to the clan's statistical data, were essentially identical — the same species. Our information strongly indicates that two supposedly different life forms are in fact a single genetic line.

"I suspect," CK continued, "if we did an in depth molecular study on the DNA of all people on this planet, I'd be willing to bet you that we'd find that the genetic material between us and what you would call normal humans would be the same. The minor exception would be the modified chromosomes fabricated by a bioengineering process developed by the Kryptonian scientific community seventy to a hundred thousand years ago.

"If what you say is really true," Lois remarked, "That would explain why David was only slightly affected by the Kryptonite. His slightly different Kryptonian DNA, which mutated somewhat over time, gave him a measure of protection."

"Another factor that strengthens my argument," Clark remarked, "is the fact that conception between our two peoples seems to be normal. It is known by the scientific communities — Earth and Krypton — that only individuals of the same species are readily compatible."

After thinking a little more about Clark's presumption, Lois said, "If you're correct, then David's human DNA did protect him from the full effects of the Kryptonite poisoning."

"We can also assume," Clark added, "that the transferred or altered genes are probably still susceptible, to some extent, to Kryptonite radiation."

"That's why," Clark said to Lois, "he alone had felt the full debilitating effects of the meteorite."

"If you don't mind Clark, I'll write up our thoughts on this subject and place them in the archives. Let future generations debate whether or not our analyses concerning this subject has any validity. We, my love, and our kin have much more pragmatic things to accomplish during our lifetimes. I'll also suggest that they research the notion that marooned star sailors colonized Earth in this planet's remote past."

After their philosophical tete-a-tete, the two lovers just gazed at each other and held one another's hands in blissful silence. Sometime later Clark said to his soulmate, "Lois Lane, I love you with all my heart, even more than life itself. Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"

Lois just looked at him, speechless. After a few moments of silence, Clark began to believe that he had presumed too much. He lowered his head and said to Lois, "Please forgive my effrontery. I've obviously placed you in an embarrassing position which was not my intent."

When the silence between them continued, Clark became uncomfortable and rose to leave. As CK was turning toward the exit, his motion brought Lois out of the warm fuzzy stupor that Clark's proposal had created. Seeing her soulmate rise and start toward the exit, Lois immediately realized that Clark believed her silence signaled that his offer of marriage had been rejected. As she watched, Lois now knew that his apologetic words and sudden desire to leave the restaurant were to lessen the embarrassment between both of them. Before Clark could begin moving away from the table, she grabbed his hands and pulled him back to a chair.

Lois then looked at Clark with a mischievous grin said, "*Now Mr.* who's making a foolish assumption? Clark, your declaration stunned me for a moment. Don't for one moment believe that I don't love you. I adore you, sweetheart, and I accept your proposal with all my heart."

After gathering her thoughts, Lois then asked Clark, "Don't you think that we're rushing rather expeditiously into marriage?"

"No," Clark said most emphatically. "You and I are soulmates. The only action, which keeps us from becoming a truly united couple is crossing the intimacy threshold. In Kryptonian society, which is also our family's custom, becoming truly intimate with a life partner can only be accomplished by entering into a state which the Earth people call wedlock."

Lois added, "You know that planning a wedding will take some time."

"No," Clark intimated. "We will complete our union by using the rules in the family's new covenant. Our parents can plan a traditional wedding or reception, as they wish, to satisfy any obligations they feel are necessary for friends and relatives. I hope that this will be the last time that a traditional marriage ceremony must be endured by the people of our clan.

"Then, my darling," Lois remarked, "we should get married as soon as possible."

Clark then kissed her passionately and long, after which he placed an engagement ring on the third finger of her left hand. It was a blue-white two-carat gemstone — emerald cut — with two baguettes, each fifty-five points in weight, seated in a traditional platinum setting.

After they both recovered from their passionate highs, Lois telepathically informed the rest of the family of their engagement. Almost immediately, thoughts of 'Congratulations!' 'Way to go!'… thundered through their heads making the lovers a little dizzy. When the hullabaloo had quieted, they left the restaurant and strolled into their future.

As they were returning home, Clark said to his fiancee, "With all that's about to happen, I don't think we'll have much of a honeymoon right now." He reminded her of Earth's impending collision with Nightfall." Then he added, "And there's that unknown Kryptonian type spaceship which been seen near Earth. Both events will keep the family hopping for the foreseeable future." After giving her a kiss, Clark remarked, "Unfortunately these events represent our highest priorities right now. All of us must remain vigilant and stay close to our Hyperion Avenue home."

When Lois heard 'spaceship,'" she asked, "Clark, what spaceship, where did it come from? What does it represent? Has the ship landed?" As Lois automatically slipped into reporter mode, her tendency to babble also came online and her verbalizations went into high gear. As the quantity of her questions and their rapidity began to increase at super speed, Clark gently placed his hand on her mouth and quietly said, "Take it easy love. I'll explain everything. Just hold your horses for a moment."

When Lois quieted, Clark then quickly filled her in on the Mars and Centauri stations.

Becoming pensive, Lois remarked, "Those sightings could prove to be very interesting. They could very well be the story of a lifetime."

"Always the reporter," Clark laughed and again kissed her tenderly on the lips.

After pondering Clark's information for a few more moments, Lois said "I sure hope they come in peace."

"I'll drink to that," Clark answered her with a concerned look on his face.

Then in a more serious vain, Clark remarked "I hope you're right sweetheart and the appearance of that spacecraft represents the beginnings of a peaceful and a mutually beneficial relationship between two cosmic peoples." Lois noted that his response to her peace comment was whispered in a prayer like fashion.

Gazing at her soon to be husband, Lois commented, "I sense you're worried about that unknown spacecraft and what it could mean for Earth's future." Clark silently nodded, telling Lois telepathically that she had struck at the very heart of his uneasiness.

When they were again comfortably settled in the living room of their Hyperion Avenue home, Lois asked her brand new fiancee when he thought was the most auspicious time for them to be married. He replied, "This weekend, if possible."

She thought for a few seconds and replied, "That's okay by me."

Clark kissed Lois and put his arms around her as they both snuggled close. He then picked up the phone and called his folks. When Martha answered, Clark said, "The family's coming out this weekend to celebrate a wedding. Lois and I are going to formalize our union." Listening to his mother for a moment, Clark said, "Yeah mom, I think it will be a wild time. And mom, tell dad we'll be using the new marriage precepts from our family's concordant for our nuptials."

After a stunned silence, Martha said, "What about our relatives and Lois' family? Clark, aren't you aware that there should be four families represented at this affair — two from grooms household and two from the brides family. That's not even including the friends of each family."

"Don't worry mom, we'll plan to have a traditional wedding or reception, whichever is best, to satisfy the Kent and Lane relations including the friends contingent. You and Ellen can have the joy of planning such a bash."

"Thanks loads," Martha said sarcastically.

"I'm sorry, Mom, but Nightfall is approaching and other situations are coming into focus that we must address. If our union can't take place this weekend, who knows when we could be married. Lois and I are of the same mind. I don't think that we could tolerate being separated a moment longer than this weekend."

"Okay, Clark, this weekend it is," Martha said, and murmured, "I love you son. Make sure you give Lois our love."

"Will do mom."

Just before Clark hung up the phone, Martha softened her voice and said, "Your father and I are really looking forward to seeing you and Lois at week's end."

While he was talking to his mother, Lois was informing the rest of the family about their wedding plans. As she was explaining the arrangements, Margot and Alicia were admiring her engagement ring.

As they continued to talk, Alicia asked, "Where did Clark get such a beautiful and highly unusual betrothal ring?"

Lois smiled and said, "He mined the diamond on Mars and obtained the platinum for the setting from Africa. By using his heat vision, he fashioned the stone into an emerald cut and purified the platinum for the setting. He then combined the diamond with the setting and, voila, an exquisite engagement ring." After she finished her short narrative, Lois laughed and said, "Let's put the following advertisement in the local paper — Super-crafted jewelry can enhance your romance. Please call for a quote."

Following Lois' pun, the three super sisters became hysterical and rolled on the floor laughing their heads off. They were of no use to anybody for the next few minutes.


Returning from the Kent farm to Metropolis immediately after their marriage, Lois noticed that the wall which had separated their apartments had been removed.

Seeing their new home, Lois remarked, "Clark, this is more space than we'll need."

"For the immediate future," he replied giving Lois a cryptic smile.

She playfully punched him in the arm, and said, "We'd better try to prevent pregnancy until the current unsettled conditions are resolved."

"That is easier said than done," Clark mused.

Lois shook her head and asked in a rather serious tone, "What if we did conceive? Would that complicate your life considering what lies before us and our kin?"

"Not a bit," Clark emphatically replied, "I'd just worry like hell."

"Me, too," Lois said, "Me, too."

Clark took his bride in his arms and kissed her with an intensity that Lois, in her wildest dreams, could never have fantasized. As their deeply felt passion overwhelmed them, all communication between them and the outside world ceased. A time of enchantment was beginning for the lovers.

Gazing into his soulmate's eyes, Clark lifted his bride and carried her to their boudoir.

That night Lois and Clark reached unparalleled heights of emotional and physical love as they consummated their marriage. Feelings were shared that night which they could vividly recall for the rest of their lives.


The next morning, enjoying breakfast together for the first time as husband and wife, Lois said, "My husband, I have a request."

Clark knew from her tone and word usage that something interesting was coming down the pike. His intuition was further reinforced by the feelings he sensed across their private thought conduit. So he just replied, "Yes, sweetie. What can I do for you?"

Taken slightly aback by his new term of endearment and the lack of any wariness in his voice Lois said, "To be true partners, I think we should try to do everything together, at least, for all major events."

To Lois' surprise, Clark agreed with her suggestion." Getting Clark's encouragement, Lois then continued, "I'm happy that's the way you feel." After pausing for a moment, Lois continued asking, "So, it would be okay if I became your partner when you're doing your Superman thingamajig?"

After Lois had made her point, she readied herself for a full blown fiery dispute which happily didn't occur.

However, while Lois waited for Clark's answer, she sensed his uneasiness about her request. She received her info subtly via their intimate telepathic connection. The thoughts she received indicated that CK disagreed with her request on emotional grounds. She realized from their soulmate connection that Clark would respond to her in logical terms and in the best interests of their union. So, before Clark voiced his views, Lois already knew that Clark would not reject her request.

Lois, who still didn't fully understand the meaning of their special telepathic connection, became a little upset. Lois believed that heartache and disappointment would be the result of her eaves dropping on Clark's thoughts. So Lois temporarily blocked the telepathic bond that was a continual link between her with CK.

As she continued to await Clark's reply, Lois suddenly understood why her kin had little or no domestic strife: their unique telepathic linkage. In time, Lois hoped that hers and Clark's special mental bond would meld and allow them to function as a team — true partners. But right now Lois concluded wrongly that such a connection would only aggravate her soulmate.

Unknown to Lois, Clark immediately felt the interruption of the telepathic connection. What Lois had done hit Clark like a ton of bricks. He became quite upset.

Clark then touched Lois on the shoulder said softly, "Sweetheart, please don't shut me out by closing down our telepathic conduit. That linkage makes us unique. Your actions have really upset me. I understand because of your past experiences, you've learned to be extra cautious when dealing with people, especially if the situation can be uncomfortable and maybe stressful. Honey, we are now two halves of a larger entity: us. Please believe me, I would never do anything either to embarrass or hurt you. You are me as I am you."

When Clark finished speaking, he could feel their mental nexus again take hold. For the remainder of their lives, neither Clark nor Lois ever again severed their unique connection. With the aid of their special linkage, the misery Lois had suffered from her past affairs and her dysfunctional birth family became simply a dim memory. Her anxieties, in a short period, were replaced by a strong loving trust which she and Clark cherished through their lives.

Soon after Clark voiced his concerns about their special telepathic bond, he told Lois, "I sure as heck would be foolish not to welcome your collaboration as my super partner. I'll worry at times, but that's our emotional connection switching on."

As Lois listened, CK added, "You were right to ask about sharing my moonlighting activities. That kind of activity will definitely strengthen our togetherness — our devotion to one another. Working together in our super hero capacity," Clark continued, "will surely make us true partners in just about everything we do. I even thought up a superhero name for you sweetheart. How does Ultra Woman strike you as an aka?" After thinking about the name for a moment or two, Lois simply remarked, "I like it. It's a pretty snazzy moniker."

Of course, Clark added, "You'll need to wear a mask of some sort; your face is too well-known not to be covered when you appear in the guise of a super hero."

She knew through their telepathic connection that her husband had finished communicating with her. Lois then replied, "I really like my super name. Thanks honey. It has lots of pizazz." Becoming more serious, Lois added, "Clark, if I became pregnant, Lois Lane Kent would have to retire from the super hero scene until our child was born and weaned. There's no discussion about that scenario," Lois informed her husband. Thinking about what she had just said, Lois giggled and remarked, "I'll probably nudge you to take maternity leave with me." Clark just chuckled at her teasing and gathered her into his arms.

After Clark released his soulmate, Lois commented, "You know, sweetheart, that you and our children will always take precedence in my life."

"I feel the same way," Clark replied.

They again embraced and this time held one another for quite some time, as the love they savored girdled them like a warm cocoon.


As they were finishing breakfast and were considering a return to their boudoir, an urgent telepathic message from Seth informed them that George Thompson had arrived and asked to talk to the entire clan. Clark and Lois were also informed that George seemed frantic and appeared on the verge of a breakdown. In response to Seth's communique, Lois sent a telepathic reply saying, "Hold the fort Seth, we'll be down in a few minutes."

Lois then turned to her husband and asked, "How did you know that I was going to answer Seth? I sensed your presence as I was sending."

"I always sense what you are about to do sweetheart," Clark answered her. "I believe it's due to our auras which provide us with the ability to behave as one unique individual when the need arises."

After a brief pause, Clark explained to Lois, "I know that I blame our auras for many of our combined abilities. Darling, I must tell you the family's data about auras is miniscule or nonexistent at best. It's frustrating. I wish that the clan could do some serious research in this area, but, as you know, there are far pressing problems which must be faced at present. So sweetheart, all that anyone really knows about our auras is purely speculative. Personally, baby, I think our overlapping auras are the thing that allows soulmates to function as one. If my view has some validity, the aura could be electomagnetic in nature. If I'm only partially correct, that would mean that the aura phenomenon has an electrical component."

She pondered his thoughts for several moments and asked, "How long do you believe it would take the family to unravel the aura mystery?"

"Maybe a lifetime or more," Clark replied to his bride. Then he took Lois in his arms and kissed her tenderly and with intense passion.

"If we don't stop this hanky-panky," Lois remarked, slapping her soulmate on the derriere, "we'll never get downstairs." Clark just laughed as Lois gave him a saucy grin.

The newlyweds then leisurely dressed and descended to the family's primary gathering location on the main floor. As Lois and Clark entered the congregating area, they saw George Thompson pacing quietly along the periphery of the back wall. Before they could get comfortable, Margot came into the room and said, "Everybody to the kitchen for some tea and cake."

David put his arm around George in a friendly gesture and said, "Come on my friend, let's chow down."

Once everybody was settled in and refreshments served, David, in a calm voice said, "What seems to be the problem, George?"

The government man replied, "The Messiah has started toward its rendezvous with Nightfall. I've just had a good look at the crew's operational orders." Taking a deep breath, George continued, "The entire Messiah project is doomed. Unless something is done, in a short while life on this planet will become extinct. We, my friends, are approaching the dawn of an E.L.E."

"An E.L.E?" Lois repeated George's statement.

Taking her hand in his, Clark said to his new bride, "The term E.L.E. is an acronym referring to An Extinction Level Event."

"Oh!" Lois remarked and then remained silent.

"What were their operational orders?" Clark asked George.

In a tenuous quivering voice, George answered, "A spaceship -The Messiah — is leaving Earth's orbit and should contact Nightfall and in four days. After establishing an orbit about the asteroid, the crew of the Messiah will attempt to locate the fault lines running through that massive piece space junk. Once these geological imperfections have been located, nuclear-tipped missiles will be fired into the asteroid and lodged at the fault locations to be detonated in sequence at a later time. The prevailing view among officialdom is that the asteroid will separate into several pieces by the nuclear explosions. It's also been assumed by the politicos that the resulting smaller asteroid fragments will be scattered by the explosion and realign their trajectories so none of them will intersect Earth's orbital path. When this happens, according to their plan, no massive collision with Earth will be possible. This plan is viewed to be nearly infallible by its military planners and a few scientific sycophants who wish to curry favor with the government. The political establishment is now committed and will not consider any alterations in its overall Nightfall strategy."

When he had finished talking, George put his face into his hands and muttered, "Fools! They're all egotistical and incompetent fools."

Regaining some semblance of control over his motions, George simply stared into space muttering, "It's over. Our planet is history." After a minute or so, Lois poked George and then asked him "What's wrong with the government's plan or should I say their military's strategy for The Messiah's mission?"

He looked sadly at Lois, took a deep breath, and replied, "The atmosphere surrounding Nightfall is filled with meteors of all shapes and sizes. Most of them are traveling randomly and at high speeds within a gravitational field surrounding Nightfall. These meteorites will probably rip the Messiah to shreds long before it can get into launch position for its nuclear missiles. If, by some miracle, The Messiah's crew does fire its nuclear payload, the effect will be like throwing spit-balls at the Rock of Gibraltar." In despair, he added, "The entire project must have been dreamed up by politicians in an opium den. On paper it looks good, but in reality the project is a disaster. The military's plan is like the flat earth theory which was conjured up long ago and supported by religious zealots."

David put his arm around George and said, "Calm down, my friend, and believe me when I tell you all will be well. Earth will experience more sunrises than can be counted before it ceases to support life."

At that point, Clark chimed in telling George that his family has been planning Nightfall's destruction for more than a year. He then added that the hardware for this task has been completed.

Pausing for a moment, Clark continued, "After we launch our spaceships we dubbed 'Asteroid Killers,' they will shadow the Messiah until it reaches the asteroid. We are taking two vehicles on this venture. One spacecraft will be our back-up system. The second ship will follow us via an electronic signal. Its flight trajectories will be automated and mimic our primary ship trajectory, as it travels across the void."

"We have planned well," David added. "Our mission must not fail or Earth will become just an historical footnote in some thesis one of our descendants will eventually write. Of course, such a manuscript would, by necessity, be composed on another planet, a planet which my family and as many Earth survivors we could save would colonize soon after the E.L.E."

"You should also know, George," David remarked, "that The Messiah's crew will not see us or electronically sense our presence. Both of our spacecraft will be cloaked. When we and the Messiah approach Nightfall, the Earth craft will be protected from the meteor swarms by an undetected force- shield projected from our back-up ship. After they've launched their nuclear payloads, we'll allow a few meteors to penetrate the skin of The Messiah. A message will then be broadcast to the Earth spaceship as meteors impact their craft, telling the crew to enter their escape pods and leave the mother ship. When The Messiah's escape pods have been jettisoned, we'll transport them, via tractor beam, to an area within our protective force screens and place the Messiah's crew into a state of suspended animation.

"Then we'll use a ULW to separate the Nightfall menace into three sections by cleaving the asteroid along its fault lines — flaws in the asteroid we've already plotted. When that has been accomplished, Lois and Clark will descend to one asteroid subdivision, Alicia and I will fly to the second segment, while Seth and Margot descend to the third fragment."

"Each couple will bore to the core of their respective asteroid fragment and place and arm a fusion device at the required location. After all the family members have returned to our ship, Asteroid Killer One, we will set the detonation timers and move away from the asteroid segments. Just prior to the fusion detonations, the Messiah's crew will be awakened and their escape pods will be thrust rapidly Earthward.

As we and The Messiah's crew move rapidly away from the asteroid segments, all of us will witness the fusion explosions which will turn the killer asteroid segments to space dust."

"One more thing," George asked. "What's a ULW?"

Clark said, "It stands for 'Ultimate Laser Weapon.' The L specifies a special a LASER projector, which emits an extremely high energy beam which can rend most kinds of matter. That's all you really need to know, George." The government official smiled at his friends and bowed to David's logic. Then George added, "Any further esoteric information about your weapon system would probably go right over my head, anyway."

A low chuckle rippled through the room following George's comment.


When the time arrived, the family's Nightfall plan worked flawlessly.

On their return to Earth, George asked one further question. "If you guys had the technology to obliterate the asteroid, why didn't you simply neutralize the threat to Earth months ago?"

"A very good question," Clark replied. "If we had done as your logic suggested, the Earth governments would have definitely known that intervention by some third party had saved the planet. That realization, we believe, would have eventually caused apprehension throughout the world community. How foreboding about an unknown presence, it's hard to say. However, our family believes that the Earth governments would sooner or later conclud that somebody, or some force, obviously technologically superior to Earth's scientific base, had aided them — in their hour of dire need. The world would at first be very grateful. In time, because we would remain unknown, the government of Earth would begin to suspect the long range goals of their unknown saviors. Unfortunately, it is the nature of humankind to be suspicious of unfamiliar people or secretive things and to assume a worst case scenario. At the world's current level of social development, to think about someone or something that is technologically superior to Earth's scientific and military establishments would be very unnerving. Since life beyond this planet is still a touchy subject, at best, our intervention eventually would have precipitated an intensive search for off-worlders. We suspect that the creation of many secret administrative units similar to Bureau 39 would have resulted from our direct interference in this crisis."

"By using our sub rosa approach to the Nightfall problem, the crew of the Messiah are now being heralded as the saviors of Earth. The frenzy of world acclaim for their supposed feat will rival that of Charles Lindbergh. In the ensuing celebrations and political hullabaloo, participation from an outside source will not be considered and our family's phantom-like life style will be preserved.

Lois added, "With our anonymity once again intact, the security of our family will be assured." When Lois completed the summing up of the family's position in this matter, George could see that all of his friends were in full accord with the stated security issues.

When all the rhetoric finally ceased, George remarked, "Thanks, guys, for that enlightening tete-a-tete."

"If I could credit G-D for your life saving intervention in the affairs of this planet," George added with conviction, "I could have to believe, without reservation, that this family came into existence at just the right time to save this tiny world from destruction." Then George smiled at the heros of Earth and the saviors of humankind and for an instant looking heavenward whispered, "Thank you."

As George gazed at his remarkable friends, he thought, "The Messiah's crew was alive and the Earth was unscathed. What more could any person really want from this operation? The actions of these extraordinary individuals had given Earth and its people another chance to live out their lives — maybe, just maybe as G-D intended."


The next day at breakfast, George wanted to ask one or two more questions of his friends. The family told him to fire away when ready.

After finishing his meal, George commented, "You know many people will ask why Superman didn't do more to ameliorate the possible life or death circumstances brought about by Nightfall."

Margot told George, "We'll tell the public, using the Planet as our clarion, that the asteroid was much too large for even a super being to handle alone. Lane and Kent will stress in their exclusives that Superman's people were too far away to send help in time."

"That's very good reasoning," Seth chimed in.

Gorge nodded and then inquired, "How will you guys rationalize Ultra Woman when she suddenly appears on the scene?"

Lois commented, "Superman will tell the world that Ultra Woman had been in transit between their home world and Earth for some time and arrived shortly after the Nightfall affair. Clark will also stress in the Planet article that Superman's wife endured her arduous journey not only to rejoin her husband but to aid him in his crusade against the forces of evil, which attempt to ravage Earth from time to time."

As George was rising from the table, he remarked looking at the newlyweds, "Lane and Kent are going to make one heck of a reporting duo and a fabulous super couple."

"Thanks, George," Lois and Clark said in unison.

Lois, turning to her husband, then commented, "I'm glad you put my name first in our by-line, George," Lois teased, sticking her tongue out at her spouse. Poking her finger in Clark's chest Lois also added, "Remember, husband I'm the senior partner in our reporting collaboration." By the time Lois Lane-Kent finished her jesting, there were belly laughs and giggles throughout the room.

As George was preparing to leave the Hyperion Avenue home, he turned and said to his friends, "It's really been an honor and a privilege to know y'all. You've restored my hope for the future expectations of this little planet. For myself, and the people of Earth, I salute you."

When George opened the front door, Clark asked him, "Where are you headed now, my friend?" He briefly stopped and replied, "First, I am going to find a quiet and untroubled spot and thank G-D for the existence of the super clan at this critical time in Earth's history. Then I'm going to say a prayer in which I'll entreat the Eternal One to forever watch over you and protect your family. When I've finished praising G-D, I'm going home. Once I get there, I'm going to hug my wife and kids and watch the sunrise."

Stepping into the street, George turned one last time and inquired, "Can I come to see y'all, from time to time?"

They all smiled and replied with a resounding, " Yes."

As George finally hit the sidewalk and was moving away from the Hyperion Avenue home, Margot yelled out, "Feel free to drop in any time you're in the neighborhood."

The next day, Lois and Clark walked into the newsroom hand- in-hand. They immediately proceeded to Perry's office and kissed one another in front of Perry. The chief smiled and said, "Do you guys have something for me?"

"A Superman exclusive by Lane and Kent dealing with the near Nightfall catastrophe," Lois replied.

Looking at them, the chief remarked, "From your behavior, I take it that you two are now a permanent thing."

Clark kissed Lois on the forehead and said, "A very permanent thing, chief." They then left Perry's office and headed for their desks.

"Copy boy!" Perry bellowed, "Get this front page exclusive to the printer pronto and tell him it better be in the next edition or else. Now git."


For the next seven months the Terra-Kryptonian family lived nearly an idyllic life. During this period, the children grew at a prodigious rate and were now walking or trying to run, without assistance, about their Hyperion Avenue house. The Klein and Finderman kids' mental capacities marched in lock step with their rapid physical development and they were now capable of communicating telepathically with their kin.

As the super family's new arrivals became more and more active, Martha and Jonathan setup a day-care facility at the farm. The family's TD system made traveling to and from the Kent day-care center most convenient. When they were free, other members of the family would often help the elder Kents with their nurturing tasks.

Lois and Clark, during this period, moved into high gear as investigative reporters. Seth financially streamlined the Planet's monetary system, Margot spent considerable time on the Mars and Centauri Platforms, and David helped Bernie at STAR Labs transform some of Clark's theoretical ideas into working models.

Also during this relatively carefree time, Martha and Ellen put together a traditional church wedding for their children. It would be held in Clark's hometown. The Kent farm would be used as the marriage site to accommodate the number of people expected.

At the traditional Smallville nuptials, Lois nearly caused a spectacle during the ceremony. As she walked toward the alter, she began to levitate. It was Clark's almost frantic telepathic message that quickly brought Lois back to reality and averted an unearthly scene. If anyone saw anything unusual, nothing was ever mentioned.

After a lively traditional reception at the Kent farm, Lois and her soulmate honeymooned for fourteen carefree days in Hawaii.

Many years later, Clark, thinking about Lois' levitation faux pas realized that some of the local guests must have seen the mishap. Statistically, there was no way around it. Realizing what could have resulted from that incident, Clark once again became profoundly grateful to the Smallville community for their understanding. Smallville, Clark recalled, was a small Midwestern town where loyalties and people's lives were far more important than tons of money. "What ever happened to such notions?" he wondered.


A few weeks after returning from aloha haven, Lois and Clark were relaxing and watching the Klein and Finderman children frolicking about the room. As they observed the family's future, CK said to his bride, "I hope our kids will be as good as these guys."

She smiled at him and adamantly replied, "They'll be as good sweetheart. Probably better."

Clark chuckled at her tenacious response. "Anyway," he remarked, in another six months those kids will be a year old and begin their formal education. Their time of endless fun in the sun will come to an abrupt end.

Lois was amazed at Clark's statement about the children's schooling. "Are you sure?" she asked her husband. Shaking his head Clark told her, "Because of their Kryptonian heritage, they'll be ready to start school when they reach their first birthday.

Pausing for a moment, Clark added, "We'll all be their teachers. Each of us will contribute to their education, either singly or in groups."

As he held Lois close he commented "We'll do whatever is required to make them the best people on this world or any world. When I say best, I not only mean academically and physically, but morally and ethically as well."

After a few moments of contemplation, Clark reiterated his hopes, saying it almost like a prayer. "I hope, as they age, all our kids will attain wisdom, wisdom with a strong moral and ethical anchor. Look at what Lex Luthor did with the knowledge he procured and mastered. Without the support of a healthy moral and ethical foundation to balance his immense power, Luthor's nature became evil and destructive. In the end, his unethical and immoral practises destroyed him."

To aid the educational process of our kids, Charlie I has already made several duplicates of the library module. One, resembling a hutch, was already in the study of the Hyperion Avenue home. Here, the clan adults studied the knowledge and wisdom of Krypton and Earth. Another was in the children's playroom, camouflaged as a toy box. Jennifer Rose, now five, had a library module of her own residing in her bedroom. It was fashioned to appear as a chest of drawers.

A library module had also been placed in the school set-up on the Kent farm. Here, it took the form of a chalk board and video set-up. Charlie I created holographic teachers in the form of Jor-El and Lara as one teaching pair, and Zor- El and his wife Kennra as the second set of instructors. The family's adults would act as mentors to the children after each lesson. At five years of age, each of the younger children were to be given their own Kryptonian library. Having their own information center would make their learning process progress at a prodigious rate while also allowing the child more flexibility with their lessons. The learning modules they received as tots, would remain in their care throughout their lives and be passed on to their descendents or be returned to Charlie I for safe keeping.

Jennifer Rose, at five, had just completed what Earth educators would consider her freshman college year. By eight, her scholarly equivalent would be comparable to a doctoral level. At this point in her learning schedule, she would be totally immersed in the advanced Kryptonian disciplines continually supplied by her own library module.

The family was already quite aware that Jenni had exceptional mathematical and science abilities — a chip off the old block Seth was apt to say. When she matured, Jennifer Rose would be a blessing to her people and the world at large.

In addition to her academic prowess, the five year old possessed the disposition of a warrior and a very loving nature.

Music was her other passion. She decided early on to be a concert pianist as a cover for her future super activities. As a musician, she could often be in a position to acquire important information without arousing the suspicions of her hosts or their guests. Such was the thinking of this imaginative five-year-old. If you talked to her parents, they'd tell you she was five going on thirty.

Like most things, the family had long range plans.

The extended game plan for Jenni and the other kids was to integrate them into the world community which would allow their talents to help advance Earth's burgeoning civilization.

By the time Jennifer Rose and the others of her generation reached sixteen, they would enter a university. Jennifer, her siblings and the rest of the super family's children would matriculate to higher institutions of learning. Since the childrens' education would not be predicated upon traditional classroom instruction, an entrance examination would naturally be required. Clark and his kin didn't worry about the outcome of such testing.

Public education in their formative years would be a waste of time for the family's progeny. The knowledge possessed by the super kids, at five, was already many millennia in advance of their Earth peers.

Jennifer Rose, like the other super children, needed to attend a university, but not for the academics it provided. Commencement from such higher learning institutions would provide the super kids with legitimate credentials making it easier for them to move and function within Earth's society without attracting much attention.

University attendance would help their children better relate to normal Earth folk. It was very important that Jennifer and her kin strengthen their social skills. Since they were educated in a home environment, the super children would be relatively isolated from other kids as they matured. Because of their isolation, their social skills could be lacking when in the presence of regular people. Therefore, socialization could only be accomplished by interacting with and studying the ways of people. The family was quite aware that during their children's lifetime, they would be collaborating with Earth people from all walks of life. To guard their secret and protect the family, their kids would have to fit seamlessly into Earth's multi-ethnic communities. By attending a university, the social aspects of the super kids would be brought up to snuff. The university environment would also maximize their children's prospects of meeting a soulmate. If a life partner was not around, parties would allow them to find out what they liked and disliked about the opposite gender.

But, that was for the future. Now was a time for learning and growing up in a very special community.

During this relatively calm period, Alicia and her husband used one of the family's interstellar spacecraft and located David's grandparents.

Finding them in the depths of space, Alicia and David brought them and their antique vessel back to earth.

After a very festive reunion, David's grandparents returned to their exploration of the cosmos using a newer string- driven spacecraft. They promised to return each year for their great-grandchildren's birthdays and other special events. Their new ship was also programmed to return their mortal remains, when, in the course of time, they left this plane of existence. When their passing occurred, they would be interred with their ancestors in G-D's acre. G-D's acre was the name given to the memorial park consecrated on the Kent farm.


The relatively placid period for the super clan ended abruptly almost seven months to the day after the Nightfall peril had been neutralized. It occurred during breakfast when Margot quietly announced that the unidentified spacecraft had returned to the Sol solar system and was even now orbiting Earth.

After a stunned silenced, Clark asked, "Is the ship cloaked?"

"No," Margot replied.

"Holy cow," David gasped, "Every control panel connected to a space monitoring device must be lit up like a Christmas tree."

"Is the spacecraft planning to land?" Seth excitedly inquired.

"The telemetry we're receiving," Margot replied, "indicates that the ship is setting up to make landfall." From our calculations she continued, "It appears that the landing will occur in the Sahara desert, some fifty miles South of El Waddi."

"We've got to be there when that ship touches down," Clark said rather emphatically. "Where's our nearest TD portal relative to the landing coordinates?" David chimed in.

Alicia responded, "My parents' apartment in Jerusalem is the closest TD gate to the spaceship's landing coordinates.

"Jerusalem is about two thousand miles from the actual landing area," Lois remarked. She then added, "I guess the first leg of the journey for Clark and I will be by the TD network to Jerusalem. From there, we'll fly the remaining distance to the spaceship's projected landing site."

Before any of the others could object to her articulation, Lois asserted, "Clark and I don't have offspring to raise, while the rest of you have that obligation. If any of you were to go on this mission and be killed, your children would be orphaned."

After Lois' statement, there was dead silence. *No-one* could dispute her logic. Lois and Clark were the obvious choices to rendezvous with the unknown spacecraft.

While the general population of the world was unaware of the impending space visitors, Perry was informed by Lois on the following day. Lois knew that the chief had to be advised, because she, her husband, and Seth would have to quickly leave the newsroom when the unknown spacecraft began its final approach and made its descent.

Later that day, the United Nations announced to a stunned world that an unknown spaceship was circling their planet. The international organization told the world community to stand by for further information. Following the UN broadcast, a tense lull hovered over the Planet's bullpen. All of the reporters on the news floor wanted to rush over to the space port to get what breaking info they could glean from officialdom.

Daily Planet reporters, like others around the world, were keenly aware that this could be the story of the century and they wanted in on it. However, the general routine and stability of Metropolis' Daily Planet, possibly the world's best newspaper, was masterfully maintained by the paper's superb editor in chief. He kept his stable of news hounds at bay and would to do so until news came that the ship was definitely in a landing pattern. Perry was also aware that Lois and Clark were secretly preparing a blockbuster exclusive about the extraterrestrials. He didn't want to have their story ruined by a pack of half crazed journalist running all over creation. He thanked his lucky stars that the other newspapers in Metropolis and in cities around the globe were following a similar policy.

After nearly four days of circumnavigating the Earth, the unknown spacecraft started its descent. When Margot recognized the landing sequences, she informed Lois and Clark, who immediately began their journey to the ship's landing site.

About fifteen minutes after the Kents' arrival in the touchdown area, the spaceship alighted within a quarter mile of Margot's projected position. "When we get home," Clark said, "I'm going to give Margot a big hug. Her computations were right on the money."

"No, you're not," Lois replied.

"Do I detect a note of jealousy from my beauteous wife?"

"Not jealously, just a prudent spouse," Lois said and chuckled. As she finished her teasing, Clark pulled Lois to him and gave his wife a very passionate kiss, a kiss which continued for several very satisfying minutes.

During their ardent gesture of affection, Lois' legs became jelly-like, and if Clark had not been holding her, Lois was quite sure that she would have collapsed.

Punching him on the arm, Lois said in a husky voice, "Keep that up, buster and we're going to find the nearest hotel and forget about making contact with these extraterrestrials." He laughed at her comment as they both watched the vessel from beyond, beyond, settle softly onto the hot desert sand.

As soon as the dust settled, Lois and Clark levitated and moved slowly toward the spaceship. As they drifted, Clark projected a steady flow of telepathic messages to the vessel's occupants, if any; the ship could be robotic.

Tuning in on Clark's mental images, she heard him project over and over, "Welcome to Earth. Please send an emissary to meet with us. It is most urgent that we converse immediately."

Suddenly, with their enhanced senses, they could feel an excitement mount within the spacecraft. Several minutes later, a hatch opened and two individuals emerged and floated towards their Earth counterparts.

When the two envoys were within a few meters of the Kents, they stopped and smiled. Telepathically, the male representative said, "I'm very happy to meet you. I'm called Ching and my partner is my much adored wife, Zara."

"We are happy to welcome both of you and others of your people who came with you to our world." Clark then telepathically conveyed another message to the extraterrestrials. Pointing at Lois, he said, "This is my wife Lo-El and I am called Kal-El. We are also known by our Earthly names, as Lois and Clark."

At the sound of their names, Zara and Ching becomes extremely excited. Clark could sense that they had a myriad of questions. Realizing, however, that military forces from numerous earthly nations were right now rapidly converging on their position, Clark quickly suggested, "Can you refrain from questioning us until we reach our citadel?"

Ching and Zara agreed to Kal-El's request. They felt the urgency in his mental communique.

As Clark was conversing with Ching and his wife, Lois began placing a cloaking device on the spaceship.

"What's she doing?" Zara asked Clark.

"She is installing cloaking equipment on the hull of this ship. It will prevent detection of your vessel when we move it to a safer place."

"Let's get moving," Clark urged."

As they were returning to the spacecraft, Clark told Zara and Ching that, "this area will be crawling with a host of aircraft and land vehicles from scores of earthly nations, people I don't think you'd want to meet right now."

When Lois completed her task, she, too, followed her soulmate and the two off-worlders into spacecraft. When everyone was aboard, the hatch was sealed and the ship headed for Smallville. The flight from the Sahara to Kansas was smooth and uneventful.

As they guided the spacecraft toward its destination, Lois and CK discovered the occupants of the ship were indeed Kryptonians.

During their brief journey across the world, Lois and her soulmate noticed that the number of individuals in the spaceship were few in number — fifteen pairs of life partners and eight children. "Are these all that escaped from Krypton prior to its destruction?" Lois asked Zara.

"Not Krypton," Ching's wife replied, "We are refugees from a tyranny that engulfed New Krypton."

"Tyranny," Lois whispered almost in disbelief. She looked at Zara and noticed that her eyes were beginning to fill with tears. As Ching's soulmate started to sob, Lois embraced her and tried to ease her pain.

As Lois comforted Zara, she observed the displaced children. Their eyes told a tale of fear and brutality, which words or thoughts could never begin to describe. "It appears," Lois murmured to herself, "traumatic effects inflicted by despotic regimes upon defenseless people appear to be a universal constant."

"Under despotic regimes," Lois remarked to Clark, "children were always the ones who were most grievously affected."

When the spacecraft reached the Kent homestead, CK activated a hidden portal hidden in a heavily wooded area on his parent's farm. Beneath the entranceway was a large landing facility and storage area. Originally, it was intended for the family's own space vessels, scientific equipment, and some domestic furnishings.

After they landed and disembarked, Lois and Clark led the group to the dining facilities within the citadel.

As Zara looked on, she watched as food was placed on the table by beings not unlike herself. She smiled when she saw an elderly woman start washing the hands and faces of the children. She could sense a feeling of concern and affection emanating from that person. Clark moved to Zara's side and whispered, "She's my mother."

Zara replied, "Jor-El and Lara chose your nurturing parents wisely."

Clark squeezed her hand and moved off. Although overwhelmed by the gratitude of her kinfolk, Zara retained her normally unexpressive countenance. In time, she and the other exiles would become as animated as any of their Earth counterparts. But for the moment, a deadpan look was the rule of the day.

After their repast, David enlisted the aid of twelve men and women from among the newcomers. He took them through the TD system to the family's Hyperion Avenue home. That afternoon, twenty new housing units were hastily constructed. Instead of building upward, the new condominiums were built off a shaft that descended perpendicularly into the Earth. As David look on, he was gratified that the new arrivals would have furnished accommodations by evening.

Later that night, Ching and Zara's group were taken to their new Metropolis residences. After each newly-arrived Kryptonian family had inspected their living quarters, they assembled in the living room with the Kent, Klein and the Finderman families. Clark asked Ching to inform their Earth cousins about the history of the New Krypton group. Ching then deferred to his soulmate Zara, since she had been the chronicler for their community on their home world which they called New Krypton.

When Zara rose, she kissed her husband, and proceeded to a lectern set up near the rear wall of the family's principal gathering area. "My father, Sor-El," Zara said, "was a close friend and associate of Jor-El and his cousin Zor-El. His association with the Jor-El group of course included their wives Lara and Kennra.

"My father," Zara continued, "was one of the few scientists who looked at the data received from Jor-El's family group with an unbiased eye. From his analysis of Jor-El's information, he too, realized that Krypton was doomed unless immediate steps were taken to reverse specific geological disturbances. So, soon after receiving Jor-El's data, my father, Sor-El, requisitioned a large quantity of spacecraft building material. He didn't want to be in an all or nothing position if the government was unresponsive to Jor's information.

"Because of Sor-El's favorable political connections, the needed supplies were speedily acquired. With this material, several large spacecrafts were fabricated at a remote space port. When completed, the spaceships enabled some twelve hundred Kryptonians to leave their home world. By my father's quick action, these few souls were saved from certain death when Krypton exploded some years later."

"It was also fortuitous that before Krypton's destruction and the launching of his spaceships, Sor-El and his colleagues had discovered a habitable planet in a nebula close to our present galactic cluster. I believe the Earth astronomers call it the Andromeda nebula. It should be noted that when Krypton perished, most of the adults in our group were infants. From what I've been told," Zara continued, "after a lively debate it was decided to call our new home world New Krypton."

Zara then added, "As the New Kryptonians started to build a new civilization, there arose a man who called himself Lord Nor. With a talent for rhetoric and political intrigue, he soon drove a wedge between the intellectuals and the working-class peoples. This insidious scheme was accomplished by Nor's propaganda mill, which declared that the intellectuals were parasites and made New Krypton's society suffer by their lack of useful work. We were subtly called thieves by Nor's propaganda innuendoes. Because of the unreasonable hatred fermented by Braxton Nor and intensified by his subliminal propaganda, any kind of bizarre deaths were soon attributed to us.

"To Nor's surprise and his eventual misgivings," Zara continued, "his propaganda campaign unleashed a series of pogroms which essentially destroyed most of the creative and industrious people on New Krypton."

"Those murdered included musicians, scientists, teachers, engineers, poets, writers, theologians, and philosophers. Any individual who demonstrated the slightest intellectual tendency was not spared. Nor's lust for power had fostered a genocidal mentality. His unbridled use of propaganda had unleashed events that devoured the scholarly and technological base of our world."

"In this room," she remarked, "are the only survivors of the New Krypton holocaust."

As tears appeared in her eyes, Zara told them, "We managed to survive because our school was having an outing some distance from the main population centers. Since most of us were soulmates, our parents were not concerned about our behavior. This excursion to our planet's 'Outback' was a gift from our teachers for our studious endeavors and successfully completing our assigned studies during the past academic year.

"We first heard of the slaughter when some of Nor's militaristic followers rushed to our picnic area and formed a protective barrier around us. Later in the day, we learned that by strong-arm tactics, Nor was able to re- establish a semblance of order in the cities."

"From the time of the genocide until we left New Krypton, our group was isolated from the general population.

"We were certain that Nor wanted to create from our seed a new class of intellectuals devoted to himself and his institutions."

When Zara took a momentary break, Ching reached over and dried her eyes. He then caressed his wife's arms and attempted to subdue her anguish triggered by the retelling of their history which included the decimation of their families.

Continuing, Zara told her audience, "To rebuild a new Kryptonian civilization, Nor was aware that a vast work force would be needed. So this Lord Nor character, now the master of New Krypton, again used his propaganda mill and seduced the general population into doing his bidding. By using subliminal suggestions imbedded within his general proclamations, he was able to convince most of Krypton's populous to greatly increase their reproductive rate — ten to twelve children per household was considered an ideal family size. At the time we escaped from New Krypton, the general population had already increased to nearly one hundred thousand souls.

"From those newly born, ten thousand were chosen and are now being trained as combat soldiers only loyal to Lord Nor. We called them grunts. These warriors, I'm sure, will be used to crush any future uprising aimed at re- establishing a free society on New Krypton.

"At present, Nor is firmly entrenched as the autocratic leader of the world. From the increased population, Nor's government has identified a handful of technologically- oriented individuals.

"While the knowledge and working skills of the newly trained engineers are not up to our abilities, they still will be able to create weapons and repair the now unworkable machinery scattered about the New Krypton."

"Over the past two years," Ching chimed in, "there was increasing pressure upon our group to join his population expansion program and to bear and train a cadre of technologically-oriented offspring. To effectuate our participation, rations were continually reduced causing continual hunger within our group. Because children require a prodigious amount of food as they grow, they bore the brunt of Nor's tactics and suffered the most.

"Aroused by the children's plight and our own increasing health problems, we convened a secret conference. It was chancy, but we did it. Nor had spies everywhere. If we were caught, it would have meant immediate death for all of us.

"Although we knew that conditions would become harsher because of our noncooperative attitude, we still decided to stand fast against Nor and never surrender to Nor's diabolical wishes. Realizing that our noncooperation stance would eventually lead to the execution of our small community, we resolved to commandeer a spacecraft and leave our world."

"After frantically analyzing Jor-El's intergalactic maps, we discovered Earth's cosmic coordinates and, soon thereafter, stealthily departed New Krypton. We thank the Creator of all things for our safe journey to this world and guiding us to you, our brethren."

When Ching finished his portion of the presentation, Zara again remarked, "It's my belief that Nor will eventually come after us. That means he'll probably mount a military expedition once he discovers this planet is inhabited and its military technology is inferior to New Krypton's weaponry."

"You my wonder how he could find this world in the immensity of space," Zara said. "Unfortunately, my friends, he too, possesses Jor-El's interstellar information. When Nor's people are able to decipher Jor's coded data and learns the cosmic coordinates of Sol three, the master of New Krypton, accompanied by his military forces, will waste little time in coming after us and, I believe, attempt subdue the Earth after he's surveyed the planet."

After a brief pause, Zara added, "I can feel your questions, which are also plainly etched on your faces. Why should Lord Nor attempt to conqueor Earth? It would stretch his forces to a point where he couldn't contol either New Krypton or Earth.

"Remember Nor is a megalomanic. The master of New Krypton is filled with himself and has illusions that he can do and possess all that he wishes.

"I'm fearful that the tyrant of New Krypton will endeavor to conquer Earth when he becomes aware of the incredible resources this planet possess. If there was a chance that a military expedition could be successful, Nor would gamble and invade Earth. He and his council would be of the same mind.

"If Nor did conqueror Earth, he'd take all of the technologically trained people to New Krypton as slaves. He would probably slaughter the intellectuals and destroy Earth's libraries. Earth's civilization, of course, will collapse. The peoples of this planet will be thrown into a Dark Age, which could last tens of thousands of years. By destroying Earth's intellectual base, Nor believes he would prevent any possible reprisals against New Krypton long into the foreseeable future."

"What would be your estimated time-line for an encounter with Nor's forces?" David inquired of Zara.

"From two to five years," was her best guesstimate. Ching and the other members of the New Krypton exiles pretty much agreed with her time projection.

"Clark," David said, "We must contact George Thompson."

Clark nodded in agreement.

Then CK then turned to Ching and asked for the spatial coordinates of New Krypton. After Ching gave Clark the New Kryptonian information, Zara asked David why Clark wanted her home world's comic address. As David motioned to his wife, he replied, "Alicia and I will go to New Krypton and place several cloaked surveillance satellites in orbit around your home world. In this way, we'll be able to constantly monitor Nor's activities."

Zara and Ching were obviously relieved by David's remarks. Aside from their small colony on Earth, the people on New Krypton represented the last living vestiges of living Kryptonians in the known universe.

Ching then said to David and his wife, "I must admit that I was afraid that you would destroy New Krypton to prevent a possible invasion of Earth."

In responding to Ching's concerns, David remarked, "One of the weaknesses inherent in most democratic societies, and ours is no exception, is in their inherent mechanisms which does not allow such a community to attack a perceived threat.

"Most free societies on this planet must have hard data or be faced with an obvious military conflagration before they will commit to battle. Democratic countries, I've found, will do almost anything to avoid a war. However, I must tell you that when free peoples finally commit to battle, they will fight fiercely and to the death if need be to defeat their foes. Their objective is to rectify a wrong and return to their generally peaceful ways.

"So, Ching, you and Zara worried in vain. As you see, our deportment must be defensive in nature. Nor's aggression must be exposed or detected before we can respond with force. However, being aware of Nor's potentially belligerent plans, we will definitely be prepared for war and remain vigilant." David further added, "Our credo also stipulates that life may not be terminated unless we ourselves, our family, or this planet are directly threatened. We believe, as do many Earth nations, that rhetoric is not a justification for killing. However, as in this case scenario, it can be a catalyst for massive defensive measures."

As Alicia and David were preparing for their journey to New Krypton where they would position surveillance satellites in special geosynchronous orbits about the planet, Clark asked Zara, "Do you and the other exiles wish to join our family group?"

"Yes," Zara replied with delight evident in her voice. With tears pooling in her eyes, Zara added, "You have offered us, the exiles from New Krypton, a new life and we are more grateful to you and your family than I or my compatriots can express either in thought or deed." She then hugged Clark, as an expression of the commitment which bound the two Kryptonian communities.

When Zara had seated herself by her husband, Margot rose and addressed her new kin. She began by saying, "I am truly overjoyed that you have decided to join our clan. Together, we can produce something greater than either could separately.

Pausing for a moment, Margot said, "Through our two families which are now one, I firmly believe the Kryptonian people will again flourish and be a force for good throughout the cosmos."

"I'm sure you are all wondering how I can make such a statement," Margot added to her prophetic dialogue. "In the course of time," she continued, "we know that some of our children can be expected to find soulmates from among the Earth's population. With the genetic mixing which will naturally occur between our peoples, you may think that Kryptonian DNA will be diluted and become a minor component in our descendents genome. This is not the case. When the electo-transformation process is used, the special DNA modification will be added to the gene pool of each Earth recipient joining our community. Since every Earth individual who joins our family group will become a Terra- Kryptonian, the Kryptonian DNA stock should remain a genetic constant. Also, from your information, our genetic studies in this area have shown that the DNA of Earth folk and the so-called pure Kryptonian strains are nearly identical. Aside from our unique abilities, the DNA of both peoples seem to be identical. So discussion on this topic is really fruitless until more data is acquired. It is my belief," Margot further remarked, "that any further genetic research comparing us to Earth people will provide little or no additional useful information."

"However," David added, "To add a tidbit for you to think about, it is our contention that the current population of this planet are descendants of Kryptonian star sailors who arrived here through some aberration in the space-time continuum. We've some evidence that a worm hole formed and propelled the current Earth people to this solar system about two hundred thousand years ago. Being marooned, they settled this planet before the culture on their mother world embellished the DNA of Krypton's inhabitants by bioengineering methods. The other members of our original family have come to believe this hypothesis has validity. We think that the sudden appearance of Homo Sapiens on Earth was really the arrival of Kryptonian space explorers lost in the vastness of the cosmos. With their superior technology, they would have quickly subdued and eliminated any indigenous people on Sol three as they colonized this celestial body.

"While we can not positively prove our premise, the 99.9999… percent genetic compatibility between our two peoples strongly support our contentions. It is our opinion that the name chosen for our new society — the Terra- Kryptonian people — is really a misnomer. It was selected for historical purposes, to inform our future progeny about the blending of peoples from two planets — Earth and Krypton.

"To help dispel any disbelief that you may harbor about our supposition, we have set up a series of experiments for you to study. If you like, you may take blood and tissue samples from those of us who underwent the electro- transformation process and compare it with your own biological specimens. Also, if you wish, blood and tissue samples from the children procreated by Earth/Kryptonian couples will also be provided for you to study."

For the next three hours, the new arrivals gathered data and made comparisons. As the older family members watched, they could see veils of skepticism slowly dissipate and acceptance of their views take root.

When the investigation had been concluded, Zara addressed the gathering. She said, "All that you have told us appears to be credible."

"*Appears* to be?" Lois chimed in.

Zara looked at her, smiled, and said, "I'm talking to you as a scientist. Nothing that individuals measure can even be considered to be an absolute finding. From our measurements it appears that your deductions have a probability of 99.9999… percent of being valid. As you said, the Kryptonian people are alive and well and living on Earth. And, my friends, through us and them, the modern Kryptonian people will live again." Pausing, Zara said in a prayer-like fashion, "And hopefully some of those now living on New Krypton will help regenerate our unique people and its culture."

"If the people on New Krypton survive Nor's tyranny," Ching whispered to his soulmate. Zara just nodded.

Clark then addressed the gathering. "Folks," he said, "as our older family members know, our children begin their formal education at a year old. So, tomorrow, the newly arrived kids will take a TD excursion to their school house at the Kent farm. Each youngster five years of age and older will be given a library module to be kept and used for the rest of their lives. This information center will help them enhance their scholarship and hopefully help them gain a measure of wisdom as they mature."

Zara and the other exiles were informed that it had been decided that a library module would be part and parcel of every household. To protect the library units, the newcomers were told that each home information system would be disguised as some normally recognizable household fixture. For example, in the room they currently occupied, the newcomers were advised that the library unit had been disguised as a hutch which sat in the corner of the room.

Then the newcomers were also informed that each individual family within the clan would decide how they wished to conceal their home library system and where to place it within their abode.

All present were well aware that it was important to protect this knowledge source, as it contained most of the information acquired by Krypton's extinct civilization. All known Earthly information to date, had also been added to the library module. With the arrival of Ching, his soulmate, and the other exiles, a section dealing with New Krypton and its role in the universe would soon be included in the family's information system.

"I can see from your faces," Clark remarked, "that you are somewhat stunned from what you've just learned."

"It's all true," CK reiterated. "Alicia's and my natural parents sent Krypton's knowledge and its philosophical truths with their two infant children when they were sent into the void — destination Earth.

Placing her hand on the hutch, Lois added, "Much, much more than two babies were saved from the Kryptonian holocaust." Hearing Lois' declaration, the older members of the clan shook their head in agreement.

As Clark was about to end the meeting, David and Alicia moved toward the front of the gathering and told Clark they wished to address the meeting. Nodding, the Findermans move to the Lectern.

"Hi," David said to the entire clan. "I just wanted to apprise everybody that the surveillance satellites have been positioned around New Krypton."

"What do we do now?" Garth-Ra, one of the new arrivals, asked David and his soulmate.

"Now," Alicia replied, "We watch and prepare. In the words of a very wise Earth philosopher-statesman, 'Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.' "

Clark then scanned the group for more questions. "Since no more inquires were pending," he said, "this meeting is at an end, let's get some chow." After Clark's last statement, he heard several family members mumble, "That's a great idea, I'm starved." CK just smiled.

As the new and larger family moved toward the kitchen, Zara approached Clark and asked, "Are you always the moderator at these family's meetings?"

"Heck no," he chortled. "We all take turns at that job. If you like, you can guide the next family confluence."

"Smiling at her cousin," Zara said, "You really do run a free society."

"Not me," Clark said to her, "but *we.* Our family functions within an unfettered system controlled by its totality."

"Yes, of course," she declared. "It will take us some time to fully appreciate that fact. It looks like I and my fellow exiles have at last found a home which is free in the truest sense of the word."

"Your adjustment to our family and its ways will happen faster than you realize," Clark told her.

Then Clark took his wife by the hand and strolled with Alicia and David toward the dining area. Alone for the moment, Zara and Ching sat down and reflected upon Clark's words.

As the Kents and the Findermans walked toward the kitchen, CK remarked, "We'll have to start training our new brethren in the arts of war as soon as possible."

"This week," David declared. "We'll begin this week."

Before entering the dining-room, Alicia told Clark that "Seth believes that George Thompson should be brought to our Hyperion home post-haste." CK nodded and walked to a computer located across the room. A few minutes later, the family was informed that a communique had been emailed to George. His reply was "I'm on my way."

While they dinned, David told Clark that, he and Margot were beginning to manufacture the new infantry weapon. It was a rifle in design, but in reality a smaller adaptation of the family's large ULW heavy weapon system.

When David finished his brief report, Lois chimed in, "It looks like we've covered all our bases for the moment. Let's hope our efforts will be able to safeguard all that we cherish."


Two days later George Thompson arrived just in time for breakfast. During the morning meal, the New Krypton situation was discussed with their friend who was familiar with the Washington political establishment and its bureaucracy.

After breaking bread with his friends, Thompson returned to the nation's capital.

By the end of that week, two thousand seasoned fighting men were encamped on the Kent farm. Each warrior had been very carefully selected.

After they had settled in, Clark addressed his new neighbors and comrades in arms.

"My friends," he began, "in the coming operation, not only must we be a well trained cohesive combat unit, but we also must become like a family, be it a military one. You are all aware, I'm sure, that when one goes into battle with comrades strongly bound to one another, the fighting strength of that unit will be many times its numerical size. In the coming months it is hoped you will become such an operational fighting battalion.

Pointing at David and Seth, Clark told his new neighbors, "You will be trained for the coming conflict by two of my closet friends who happen to be members of my own family. In fact, they're my brothers."

Another thing, if you see myself or other unfamiliar people training with you, don't be alarmed. All of us who will be involved in this operation must become skilled in the art of war for the coming military engagement to succeed. And, succeed we must, for our planet to survive."

"When you first arrived, you were all inoculated with a special serum. It is composed of a particular biochemical agent which will induce your body to manufacture a specific pheromone. It's unique. The chemical substance you'll secrete will allow you to identify those individuals who are part of your team and can be trusted. Similarly, it will identify a potential enemy. This agent has another use. It will act as an inhibitor and prevent you from inadvertently discussing anything about your role in the coming campaign. Anybody not involved in the coming military action will be treated by the pheromone as persona non grata and it will prevent you from talking about your current assignment. After this conflict has ended, the effect of the serum will be partially nullified. You will be able to discuss your part in the coming battle, either with friends or acquaintances, but any discussions linking you to my people will still be repressed.

"You must understand that my family must be protected. Some of our allies may in time view us with suspicion, especially government flunkeys, and may attempt to harm my clan. This we cannot allow. Therefore, by using the serum I talked about, you can lead normal lives and not have to fear that you will inadvertently divulge information which could be injurious to us. While we cannot overtly aid you after the conflict, be assured that we can and will secretly help you and your families if and when the need arises.

"In return for your service, my people will see to it that you and your families live healthy and long lives. If you need financial assistance for any worthy endeavor, it will be forthcoming, no questions asked. How to contact us for such assistance has also been encoded in the pheromone. You will know what to do in times of trouble or financial need without knowing why. When you have need of us, we will be there. That's a promise you can bank on.

"You'll note that this training site is not like the usual military facilities. If you wish to bring your families here, they are welcome. We'll help you establish a home in and around Smallville. For you single guys, off-duty time is yours to do with as you please. Go see your girl friends, your folks or paramours. Have fun. Remember, if you want to discuss the events unfolding here with wives or children, those individuals must be inoculated with our serum. Otherwise there will be a barrier between you and them concerning your role in our military unit and its function in the upcoming operation. I personally recommend the serum route.

"We're quite aware that you are all in top physical condition, and possess knowledge relating to many kinds of weapon systems. Even though your tactics are first-rate, you'll still need to become familiar with some new and innovative maneuvers and master weapons that are, at present, unfamiliar to you.

"Therefore, until the new weaponry arrives, you will spend a lot of time in the classroom and the gym learning and perfecting new methods of hand-to-hand fighting and guerrilla strategies."

"There is one more item of which you should be informed. Bear with me, please. It is a difficult concept for me to express, for I am not a warrior by natural inclination, but a scientist. I've always viewed my main task in life as to helping not injuring people. Times change and one must alter their objectives. So, my compatriots, our destinies are linked and I, like you, must think and act like a soldier.

"In a military operation, our profession is one where death is an expected occurrence, especially in a military clash when the fighting becomes hand to hand. Any of you who fall during the coming campaign should not fear for your families or loved ones. They will be looked after until the third generation." Pausing for a moment, Clark looked heavenward and ended his remarks by saying, "Thanks for hearing me out, guys."

Before Clark left the field, he said, "Guys, there's one more thing I must tell you. I don't like I have to say, but say it I must. Our mission if we are obliged to fight, will be strategic. We can't give the enemy a break. Send them to hell."

As Clark turned and walked away from the gathering, his eyes became moist. His emotional outburst, he knew, was caused by the knowledge that many of those fine men he'd just addressed would not survive the coming hostilities.


Within a month, the first batch of Clark's ULW rifles had been completed and delivered to the military encampment. These weapons were produced from stabilized neutronium and were powered by a small fusion source housed within the core of the weapon. Modified Bowie knives and tomahawks, also fashioned from the stabilized neutronium arrived six weeks later. These weapons, like the rifles, would be married in a sense to each soldier in their encampment through their DNA. If a soldier's weapons were lost or he was slain in battle, the arms would immediately become inert and then disintegrate. In that way, neither the enemy nor any other individual could use the personalized weapons for nefarious means.

When all of the fighting implements had been distributed, David increased the intensity of the training sessions. Discharging the ULW rifles rapidly with accuracy was stressed over and over again. With the ULW devices, the warriors learned to disable or destroy mechanized vehicles of all types and to either incapacitate or kill advancing grunts. In addition, advanced martial arts techniques were incorporated into their training program, emphasizing the use of the Bowie knife and tomahawk in pitched battles at close quarters. On the edge of each hand-held weapon was a thin film of Kryptonite to ensure penetration of the lethal instrument into a New Kryptonian. By the end of the year, each member of the family's defense team could take on ten or twenty of the enemy and have a fair chance of surviving. Furthermore, each warrior of Earth's special defensive team was also taught to fight alone, if necessary, or take command of a unit, when the battle conditions warranted such action.

Within fifteen months, all preparations needed for the coming battle had been completed. Combat readiness was maintained by continual military exercises. In time, these drills were minimized to allow the combatants to spend more time with their families and loved ones.

As Earth's warriors were preparing for the coming conflict, the surveillance satellites were providing the family and their allies with information about the kind of offensive maneuvers Nor would employ in his war of conquest. Because of this knowledge, David devised a brilliant counter- strategy, which was incorporated into the special forces' training programs.

During the preparation period for the coming conflict, the family had many discussions. It was decided during these sessions that the exiles from New Krypton would function as a reserve force and be the guardians of the family's juvenile population. They didn't want them to be placed in the disquieting position of killing kin. Aside from Clark, Seth, David, Ching and their spouses, who would be in command of the ground campaign, the other family members would operate spacecraft, which would be equipped with the larger and more powerful ULW weapon systems. They would attack Nor's fleet. Some of the Terra's fleet would attempt to disrupt the troop transports as they landed their infantry on the Earth's surface while other war vessels would annihilate New Krypton's supporting spacecraft. When New Krypton's war vessels had been eradicated, Earth's spacecraft would then turn their attention to the ground campaign and support the defense forces involved in the ground operation.

As preparations for the coming battle intensified, information from the surveillance satellites revealed that Nor was now in firm control of New Krypton, having liquidated all political rivals, even those in his own camp. As his power increased, so did Nor's inflammatory rhetoric. His speeches became even more incendiary, revealing the master of Krypton's growing maniacal passions. Segments of Nor's speeches were often recorded by Earth's spy satellites and broadcast to the farm community so the people living there could better understand the character of their new foe and maintain the fighting edge of Earth's elite combat brigade.

The Norian speech that doubtlessly created an espirit de corp among those training and living at the Kent farm site was heard one hot summer's eve.

Nor's address began: "My fellow New Kryptonians, in the coming battle with the Earth scum, remember that our foe is not a desirable life form worthy of continuance. These low life and vile creatures cannot dream and are incapable of enhancing civilization. Like the dinosaur, they are a dead end street in nature's supermarket. In the coming conflict, consider them only as disposable organic garbage."

Pausing to allow his rhetoric to sink in, Nor then added, "I want you to regard the inhabitants of Sol three as made up of two components: one as laborers for us to use as we see fit and a second group as just a raw material source for products to be manufactured by our industrial military complex.

"The bodies of those who perish in our work battalions will also be added to the raw materials we shall rip from the bowels of Earth. When the survivors of Sol three are no longer needed to work for us, they, too, will be expunged and their body parts fed into our production furnaces…"

As Nor continued to rant and rave, an unnatural hush descended over the farm's population. The tyrant of New Krypton had escalated his program of conquest to one of planet genocide. If Nor succeeded, the people of Earth would cease to exist. From Nor's discourse, the population living on the Kent farm were now aware that if New Krypton succeeded in its conquest of Sol three, Earth would become a lifeless planet.

At a particular family meeting soon after Nor's inflammatory and Hitlarian address, Clark was asked to explain their defensive/offensive tactics. He sought to defer to either Seth or David, but they both declined. Seth said, "The plan was your idea, therefore, both David and I feel you should be the one to describe its operation." So Clark, the reluctant warrior, slowly walked to the front of the room and began to articulate Earth's battle strategy.

In Clark's description of the special force battle plan, he informed his kin, "From our knowledge of Nor's strategy, his military planners believe that they have discovered a basic flaw in the militaristic posture of most Earth nations. Our planet's military establishments, the New Krypton leaders have noted, tend to rush the bulk of their forces to a particular site or territory to either defended or attack at a specific location. By operating in this manner, they observed that Earth forces tend to bunch-up their troops when they were deployed. To counter this ploy, Nor's military planners have devised a scheme, what they termed 'the Wedge and Trap Maneuver'. In their strategy, they plan to encircle and destroy Earth's forces piecemeal.

"Their military gambit," Clark told the family, "will be initiated by driving a tight wedge into the defensive perimeters of an Earth legion. When the wedge has penetrated the defensive line, it will rapidly deploy to the rear of the defensive perimeter. Once this maneuver has been completed, the wedge unit would hook-up with another spearhead, which will diagonally penetrated the defensive position and engage the front line troops. When the two attacking units had completed these maneuvers, the trap will be complete according to Nor and his general staff. The New Krypton's assault battalions would then link their spearhead units and surround the embattled Earth grunts. After linking up, Nor's believes that the forces entrapped by New Krypton tactics would be pocketed for annihilation.

Clark then added, "While the New Kryptonians will eventually develop super abilities — after several weeks' exposure to the Earth's sun — they will be quite vulnerable to normal Earth weaponry for some days after they land on our planet. Therefore, to keep his losses to a minimum, while waiting for Earth's sun to do its work, Nor will move to immediately seek a decisive military engagement with Earth's defense forces. If need be, he will force a confrontation. New Krypton's leaders believe with their superior weapons they can inflict a series of rapid and crushing defeats upon Terra's armies. While Nor believes that his military forces could capture Earth by their military successes, he is cognizant that the psychological turmoil which will obviously result from the collapse of Earth's military establishments will be a large factor in their conquest of the planet. Nor is also banking on the people's irrational fear that would force their various governments to capitulate without putting up much of a fight."

Pausing for moment, Clark informed his kin that failing in his first attempt to subdue Earth, Nor had a back up strategy. He would have his troops go into defensive positions and delay the Earth forces from pushing him off the planet long enough for their invulnerability and other unique abilities to develop.

"Remember," Clark told his family, "while the sun on New Krypton may possess a yellow tint, it was not as intense as our sun. So, when Nor's minions first arrive, their super- powers will not be activated."

"Since our ULW weapons will be effective against the New Kryptonians at any stage of their super-power development, we can choose the time and place to engage Nor's forces. Of course," Clark added, "we'll only act if Earth's military has not been able to defeat Nor's forces. We still have our own agenda of anonymity to maintain."

As Clark paused in his presentation for a moment, David chimed in saying, "Although our friend George Thompson will attempt to dissuade Earth's military from using a fixed defensive posture when the New Kryptonians attack, we know his arguments will not be persuasive. He lacks the, so called, proper military credentials and will be politely, or maybe not so politely, ignored."

"How will we stop Nor and his minions if our views are not heeded?" Lois inquired.

"Our game plane," David answered, "will use a defense in depth strategy. We'll create defensive rows of infantry extending deep into the interior of our defensive zone. When Nor's forces begin to form their wedge formation and attack a group of our warriors, they will dissolve their position and fall back to a second defensive queue and be incorporated into its fighting perimeter.

"When Nor's forces strike at the second defensive skirmish line, they will discover that it's somewhat more difficult to penetrate.

"As in the first case, the second defensive line will dissolve and become part of a third echelon just as Nor's troops attempt their encirclement scheme. So the deeper Nor's forces penetrate our fortified domain, the stronger their opposition will become. Our troops will continue this military strategy until the New Kryptonian grunts are faced with a nearly impervious wall of warriors. Once this condition has developed, Nor's troops will have, in essence, reached an impasse. At this point, the New Kryptonian soldiers would now be deprived of their main operational plan. Their primary strategy, essential for their conquest of Earth, would now be rendered useless.

"While our defense-in-depth strategy is being implemented," Clark continued, "David, on the right wing, and Ching, on the left, will begin to encircle Nor's forces with two brigades of fighting men. David's and Ching's pincers will close when the New Kryptonian troops assault our final defensive position.

"When the encirclement of Nor's forces has been completed, David's and Ching's troops, together, will assault the New Kryptonian grunts from the rear, while our frontal troops join in the attack. When this phase of the battle begins, I'm convinced that Nor's troops will either have to surrender or be annihilated.

"Are there any questions, additions, or deletions to this plan?" Clark solemnly asked his brethren. While there was some discussion, no modifications to Earth's battle plan was proposed.

When the military discussions ceased, Lois moved that the battle strategy be approved as presented. The vote was unanimous. The die was now cast and the destiny of humankind now hung in the balance.


Aside from the military activity at the Kent farm, the Terra-Kryptonians and the special combat force team tried to maintain normal routines.

Schooling, for example, for the youngsters, was intensified to keep the children's vivid imaginations occupied.

Lois and Clark continued their award-winning journalistic ventures and earned their first Pulitzer that year. The winning article was an exclusive interview with the newest superhero, Ultra Woman, the consort of Superman.

Within a year of Ultra Woman's arrival, the combined presence of two super-powered beings had driven most of the criminal element either into sub rosa organizations or, in most cases, out of the city completely. People could again walk the streets of Metropolis without fear.


Nearly three years after the appearance of Superman's companion, the long awaited invading force from New Krypton landed on the plains of South Jersey. It was an ideal place to begin their conquest. By occupying this Jersey location, the invaders had crippled and, in some cases, severed the links between the capital of the U.S. and the highly- industrialized North-eastern part of the country.

Crushing the American military machine would, in the New Kryptonian view, severely demoralize the remaining community of nations.

After landing, the hostile forces moved rapidly toward New York City, the seat of the United Nations. Once in control of the UN facilities, Nor believed that he could easily dictate terms to the world at large.

As they approached Mount Holly, New Jersey, the New Kryptonian legions were confronted by a rapidly deployed American force assembled to defend New York city and its environs. In the ensuing battle, nearly forty percent of the US troops were either killed, wounded, or captured. With their superior weaponry, ten thousand New Kryptonians, now flushed with victory and a voracious appetite to destroy, pursued the fleeing remnants of the US battle group and, in the process, decimated all places of habitation along their line of march. As resistance to their advance toward New York and the United Nations complex dwindled to mere skirmishes, Nor's forces became less cautious.

Unknown to the New Kryptonian's military establishment, Clark's family and the its combat battalion had several hours warning before Nor's invasion fleet landed their troops on the Jersey shore. They, therefore, were fully prepared to act when the invasion began. As the people in the path of the New Kryptonian forces fled, a combined special combat force quietly took up defensive positions blocking all approaches to New York City and beyond.

As Seth watched the New Kryptonian juggernaut advance, he murmured, "Soon many mothers on both sides of the aisle will have reason to weep."

Hearing his brother's remark, Clark added sadly, "Indeed they will… indeed they will."

Upon reaching East Brunswick, the New Kryptonians eagerly assaulted the city almost with abandonment and came head to head with the first defensive line of a fresh battle group. When the defensive line suddenly dissolved and repositioned itself at a second fortified position, the invaders again attacked with great enthusiasm. Again, as they were about to break through the Earth aegises, the defenders again slipped away and merged with still a third defensive bulwark. As Nor's troops continued to attack each succeeding defensive line, set up by their Earth foes, the tyrant of New Krypton noticed that his troops' ability to penetrate each new defensive position was becoming more and more difficult. He also became aware that the casualties among his troops were beginning to mount at an alarming rate.

At the sixth repetition of the Terra-Kryptonian gambit, Nor knew that something was terribly amiss. At this point in the battle, the New Kryptonian leader was at last becoming aware that his military position was becoming untenable. Unfortunately for Nor, his awareness of the military situation came a bit late. As the dictator of New Krypton attempted to withdraw his forces and regroup, he realized they were being assaulted from the rear. Ching and David were closing the pincers and in a little while would have the invading army completely encircled. When encirclement was complete, the Earth's forces would immediately attack and destroy New Krypton's military units. However, before the pincers could be completely occluded, Nor flung his soldiers into a small opening which still existed and escaped being pocketed. In the mean time, as the New Krypton forces were charging through the closing pincers, the remainder of the special Terra-Kryptonian battalion, commanded by Seth and Clark, mounted a frontal counter- attack. Nor, seeing the attacking Earth force, sent twenty percent of his army to repel the unexpected assault. It was a suicidal tactic, but it saved the core of Nor's army for the moment, at least.

As the attack of David's and Ching's forces intensified, confusion within Nor's camp mounted. With the turmoil in the New Kryptonian ranks increasing, Nor's ability to make decisions began to rapidly deteriorate. As the battle raged, Nor realized that his forces were losing and ordered a general withdrawal to their defensive positions between Tom's River and Atlantic City located on the Jersey shore.

Early the next morning, U.S. military forces had joined the Terra-Kryptonian special battalion. Together, they marched south to engage Nor and his invading hordes.

Late in the afternoon on the same day Nor retreated to their defensive positions, old and new kinds of heavy weapons began to pound the New Kryptonian positions. As Clark observed the bombardment, he became pensive. Sitting down and taking out his notebook he penned a few thoughts. He would give these few lines to Lois before their forces attacked Nor's forces on the morrow, just in case the next sunrise would be his last.

While Clark was moving his men into position prior to the coming assault, Lois came to him. After kissing her passionately, Clark gave her his notebook and told his soulmate that he had written a few words which she might find useful for their next article. With a final caress, he returned to his troops.


As Lois awaited the coming offensive, she opened her husband's notebook and read what Clark had written the previous evening. As she scanned his words, tears began pouring from her eyes. In a few simple phrases, her husband had expressed what each infantryman felt as he was about to face the pale horseman.

A few weeks after the war ended, a small side-bar enriched one of Lois' and Clark's exposes, perhaps their greatest. It read, "As I look at the coming battle ground, I realized that the artillery and other war machines had done their best, but it wasn't enough. Now comes the time, as it does in every war, when the greatest fighting machine of them all, the infantry soldier, has to go in and slug it out to finish the job.

"This was what war is all about. We carry this notion with us from one battle to another until all hostilities ceased. As I look at my comrades on this eve of battle, I somehow know we will win. I hope we can rejoice with victory, but humbly. Then all of us together must try, try out of the memory of our anguish to reassemble our broken world into a pattern so firm and so fair that another war of this kind can never again be possible.

"And, for those beneath the wooden markers there is nothing we can do, except perhaps to pause and murmur, 'Thanks pal, thanks.' "


The article which contained these few lines was to earn Lois and Clark their second Pulitzer.


As Clark predicted, the military operation that morning ended the conflict.

Almost immediately, as previously planned, all of the invaders and their equipment were disintegrated, leaving no traces of their existence. All casualties and surviving members of the Kent farm combat unit were transported back to their point of origin. Of the two thousand men of the farm's special forces team, only three hundred and fifty- seven men survived. Fortunately, all super family members prevailed. Some had injuries ranging from light to severe wounds. They all thanked providence for their survival and for Earth's victory. All family members eventually fully recovered using the curative powers of the sun as their main therapeutic agent.


Within twenty-four hours after Nor and his forces were annihilated, a few Terra-Kryptonian troops and a mixed battalion of Earth's military police and special forces landed on New Krypton and captured the Norian garrison left behind to maintain control of the planet for their master.

After some resistance, the planet capitulated and a semblance of order and freedom was restored to New Krypton.


Nearly a year later, during the first free election in nearly a generation, the people of New Krypton chose a government committed to guiding their people back to the high principles of their ancestors.

On that momentous day, Clark was in a position to speak with the official civilian representatives of the planet. He was informed that the population of New Krypton wished to create a new and more open society. Clark hoped that the New Kryptonian's rhetoric would be translated into a working reality.

The head of the New Krypton civilian council then made a request. He asked the representatives of Earth, "If we of New Krypton needed assistance in rebuilding our planet, could our Earth cousins be counted on for support?"

After some discussion with Earth's authorities, Clark told the new council that their request would be honored. As a token of this new accord between Earth and New Krypton, Clark presented the people of New Krypton with a carefully edited copy of his library module. A first step in the reconstruction of an old civilization had taken place.

Unbeknownst to the New Kryptonians, a surveillance satellite would remain in orbit around their planet. It would serve a two-fold purpose: to quickly tell the super family that their brethren on New Krypton were in difficulty, and to warn them and Earth of any reemergence of belligerent patterns among the New Kryptonian people.


After the battle of the planets, George Thompson quietly placed the names of the Kent farm's special brigade into a defunct unit of the US military. George's maneuver was executed so those that served in the decisive battle for Earth, both the living and the dead, could lead normal lives.

As they retired, most of the unit's members, with their spouses, returned to the farm. There, the family provided them with housing and other necessities of life for the remainder of their days. When, in the course of time, they and their loved ones were gathered to their fathers, these very special individuals were interred in the Kent cemetery. In time this final resting place would become a monument and those buried there would be considered among Earth's greatest heros.

To accommodate and honor the special brigade, a portion of the family's cemetery was set aside for these uncommon warriors. Each individual would have a single headstone depicting his or her name and that of their life companion, if one existed. There would be a large marker stone at the entrance to that part of the cemetery set aside for the special brigade. The stone would be a polished granite slab and on it would be two words. The name of the planet, "Earth," would adorn the top of the stone and the word "Valor," would be inscribed in large bold letters conspicuously displayed at the center of the monument.


As the currents of life returned to normal, Lois and Clark returned to the Daily Planet, where, over the next forty years, they became the greatest journalists in the history of their profession.

Zara went to work for the US government as George Thompson's assistant. He felt that a member of the family should always be in a position to know what was happening in the councils of government and be in a position to influence major decisions.

Seth rejoined the Daily Planet as its chief comptroller, while Alicia returned to the science desk at the paper.

Soon after the hostilities ended, Margot became pregnant with twins. While waiting for the birth of her children she and David resumed their research activities at STAR labs.

Ching joined the school facility at the farm, and became responsible for the military education of the rapidly- increasing population of the Terra-Kryptonian people.

Some three years after the New Kryptonian incident, Lois was in her physician's office. As she sat there, Lois noticed Zara exiting one of the examining rooms. In her surprise, Lois almost yelled, "Zara, are you okay?"

Zara smiled and replied, "Everything's fine, Lois. I'm pregnant — triplets. Two girls and a boy."

Lois then started to giggle. When she finally gained control of herself she added, "So am I. Triplets — two boys and a girl."

In their joy, both women hugged each other. As they were leaving the medical facility, Lois again started to giggle. "What's so hilarious?" Zara inquired.

"Zara, consider the gender composition of our coming progeny," Lois stated. Then she started laughingly and almost uncontrollably said, "You know, our children could be soulmates in utero."

When she heard Lois' statement, the normally staid Zara also broke into fits of laughter.

Then Zara asked Lois, "What about your role as Ultra Woman?"

"You don't want Lois Lane and her superhero persona to leave the scene at the same time. People may make the connection."

Lois agreed and said, "Kitra volunteered to substitute for my ultra woman persona during my gestation period and subsequent maternity leave. At present, she's romantically unattached."

"She has red hair," Zara remarked. "I know," Lois said. "She'll need to add a wig to disguise her coiffure. I'm now helping Kitra get ready for her Ultra Woman role by teaching her the proper moves. Of course," Lois remarked, "That doesn't include kissing my husband! If she does, she's dead meat." Zara again laughed, this time all the way back to their Hyperion Avenue home.


Twenty-four years had passed, and two families were witnessing the marriage of their children. Three of Lois and Clark's offspring were being forever united with the eldest progeny of Zara and Ching. As Zara was talking to Lois after the ceremony, she suddenly began to giggle and uttered the phrase, "In-utero soulmates. It really did happen as you jokingly said so many years ago."

Then Lois recalled the statement she made to Zara before their kids were born. Then she, too, began to giggle uncontrollably. Both husbands were somewhat perplexed by their wives' apparent silly behavior.

After a rather somewhat bewildered Clark recovered from Lois' and Zara's antics, he said to Ching, his new in-law, "Their reaction must be some sorta relief that the nuptials of our kids occurred without a hitch."

"Yeah," Ching replied, "I'm sure that's the reason. Your logic makes sense to me. Let them enjoy their frivolity."

Clark then placed his arm around Ching's shoulders and they proceeded to greet their wedding guests.



It was the two hundredth anniversary of Nor's destruction. Earth was now a space-faring planet. All significant celestial bodies within the solar system had been reached and were now being explored. The "String Theory" concepts by Clark Kent, a twentieth-century scientist, were at long last being studied by Earth's scientific community. Many thought the theory provided the key to interstellar travel.

New Krypton had become a stable culture and had established a planet-wide republic. The two planets, Earth and New Krypton, had long ago re-established peaceful contacts and currently were engaged in an energetic dialogue about interstellar travel and closer political ties. In time, their discourse would lead to an alliance approaching federation status.

In the same two hundred years, the subterranean citadel beneath the Kent farm had become a metropolis stretching fifty miles in all directions, as measured from the city's humble beginnings.

One summer's eve, as members of the original family walked through one of the many parks of the city, Clark said to Alicia, "You know, my sister, that you goofed."

"Goofed! In what way?" Alicia asked.

Seth chimed in for Clark, saying, "You told us that our life span would max out at two hundred and twenty years. Well, we're still here nearly thirty years after we should have passed on. We've all exceeded your estimate by a considerable span."

"True," Alicia replied, as she blushed. "The photo effects of the Earth's yellow sun threw off my calculations. My new life expectancy prediction, if you're interested, is between two hundred and fifty and two hundred and sixty years."

"Some hardy couples," Alicia added, "may even reach three hundred years or more. Anyway, you guys, what are you complaining about? We have been blessed with more time to view the beauties of creation and to study the wonders of the cosmos."

"True, true," Clark chucked and hugged his sister.

Then a surprised Clark Kent spied the time traveler.

"Mr. Wells," Clark said, "Glad to see you again. How have things been with you?"

"Every thing's fine," Wells answered Clark.

"You know him?" Lois asked in surprise.

"Yeah," Clark replied his soulmate, "He showed up at our first conclave."

Then CK inquired, "Mr. Wells, could you tell us anything about the future of our family, without, of course, altering events to come?"

The traveler in time, after some thought, said, "I wish I could, my friends, but any information I tell you could change the time line and have disastrous consequences on the future of humankind. However, I can paraphrase a section of a novel that I wrote, 'Things To Come,' which may ease any anxieties that you may have concerning the future of your people."

After a pause, H.G. began to speak, "In my novel," he said, "I present thoughts that should give you an inkling of the resplendent future that awaits your descendants.

"Listen my friends.

"In time, the efforts of your descendents will lead to an age of happiness for the world. However, there will be always be those among you who will ask, will there ever be a time of rest for us? I say to you and to those individuals yet to come that there is always rest enough for the individual. Too much too soon, we call it death. But for the Terra-Kryptonian people, there will be no rest and no ending. You will go on, conquest beyond conquest. First, you'll help this little planet with its needs, as you conquer all the laws of mind and matter that restrain you. Then you will go and explore not only this little star system, but will venture out of this solar system and cross immensity to the stars. When your people have conquered all the depths of space and the mysteries of time, still, your descendants will be just beginning."


As he finished paraphrasing his own work, Wells turned to the progenitors of the people that would found Utopia and said, "I hope my words ease some of your anxieties about the future of your kind."

"Thanks, Mr. Wells," David, who just happened upon the group, said sincerely. "You have given us hope that our journey and our progeny's journey through time will not be in vain."

"Mark my words," Wells remarked, "your efforts and those who will come after you will not be meaningless. They will have a profound effect upon the future, rest assured."

As he was leaving, Wells added, "When you pass from this plane of existence, my friends, your souls will go to that place where all such spirits reside. From that realm, you and your soulmate will be reborn repeatedly into the ranks of the people you've created. In each succeeding lifetime, each of you will find one other and again become life- partners and lovers and be a blessing to the world."

Smiling, he concluded, "Those incarnations of which I speak will continue for all time."

The man from nowhere and everywhere then looked at his watch and told his hosts it was time to leave. Smiling at patriarchs and the matriarchs of a magnificent society yet to come, Wells, as he had come, disappeared into the inky blackness of the night.

Boarding his inter dimensional transport-time machine, the traveler from beyond returned to that mysterious realm from which he had emerged.


Towards sunset, thirty-six years after the 'Wellian' visit, Clark was sitting outside his home when a small girl about the age of five walked up to him and asked, "Where can I find Lois Lane-Kent or Clark Kent?"

"Why do you want to see them?" CK inquired.

"I have a petition for the legislative committee that is currently in session," the young girl replied.

"What does it say?" Clark asked the young girl.

"I am requesting that the committee allow school-age children to visit the Paradise star cluster. You know, the one that contains the Utopian planets, the future home of our people. Since it will be at least seven hundred years before our people can begin to homestead there, I will not be alive to witness that joyous event. While I understand the reasons for our wait, I would still like to see the site of our future home before I slip from this realm."

Impressed with the young girl's thoughts, Clark asked, "May I see your petition?"

After pursuing the document, CK remarked, "I'll see to it that it gets to the right people."

The little girl smiled and started to walk off. As the girl moved toward the street, Clark asked, "What's your name?"

She turned, beaming, and said, "Lois Lane-Kent. My mother and father wanted her name to be preserved, within the Lane-Kent line. To honor Lois, I was given her name." The child looked at Clark and said, "Are you okay? Your eyes appear to be moist."

"I'm fine," He replied. Clark paused and then looking the young lady in the eyes, softly said, "You have been given a great name. Like the original Lois Lane, whose name you bear, act as she would have done. If you behave as she did throughout her life you, too, will be a blessing to our people."

As Clark finished his little speech, he saw something in this child's face and somehow knew that she would follow in Lois' stead. Then, Lois Lane-Kent, five years old, waved good-bye and started for home and a wonderful future.

As the young Kent disappeared, Clark called his neighbor Frank Simmons and asked him to come over. Frank, Clark knew, was on the Council's legislative committee for the ensuing month.

When his neighbor arrived, Clark handed him the five year old's petition. After perusing the document, Frank simply nodded. He shook Clark's hand and headed back home.

Several days later, there was an announcement that all school children would be allowed to take trips to the Utopian planets to see where the Kryptonian communities of the future would call home.

A five-year-old Lois Lane Kent, the twelfth-generation descendent of the original, had just made her first impact upon the future. It was an auspicious beginning for the young girl.

Several evenings later, Lois joined her husband who was gazing pensively at the setting sun. "The hues from this particular sunset," Lois remarked, "were truly magnificent."

As she slipped into his embrace, he said, "Ma'am, I must tell you that it has been an honor to walk trough life with you. What my heart and soul feel for you can never be expressed in mere words. But somehow, I know that you understand, you have always understood what we feel for each other."

Lois looked at Clark and said, "This is our last night, isn't it?"

Clark looked at her, beautiful as the day they married, kissed her on the forehead and said, "I believe so. The others: Alicia and David, Margot and Seth, Zara and Ching, and our parents are waiting for us. We are the last of the beginning."

Clasping Lois in his arms, Clark quietly commented, "I have faith in H.G. Wells and his predictions. However, no one in the family really knows the impact, big or small, our people will have on the future. Of one thing I'm certain, my love. Our family's journey has just begun. The trail to tomorrow stands before us and we have just begun our trek. Unfortunately, only the journey is known, the destination still remains a mystery.

"As our society marches towards its destiny, you and I, beloved, can only hope that our time here will be remembered."

Turning to watch the setting sun once again, Clark pressed Lois to him in the way of lovers. After watching one of nature's most sublime displays for several minutes, the two sweethearts entered their home and retired.

As they lay in bed, Lois looked into her husband's eyes and whispered, "The only thing better than loving you is knowing that we both adored each other more than life itself." Clark murmured, "I hope, beloved, that we managed to pass on that particular sentiment to our children." Then, Lois presented Clark with one of her most beautiful smiles and kissed him tenderly as they cuddled.

When Lois' and Clark's eyes closed at last on that most beautiful of evenings, one of the greatest tales of love, heroism, and self-sacrifice slipped out of focus into history.


From thoughts of Ernest Taylor Pyle.

From thoughts of H.G. Wells

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