Clark With Children — An Elseworld Tale

By Philip Mogul <>

Rated: PG-13

Submitted: April 2003

Summary: This Elsewhere Tale waxes philosophical in its exploration of good vs. evil. We see Clark as a new age Renaissance Man, battling the insidious iniquity of the nefarious Lex Luthor. The story is written in the same genre as the author's "Two From Beyond," but it is a complete story in itself, taking place in its own unique universe.

This Elseworld tale, in the Lois and Clark genre, was composed sometime in the 1999-2000 time period. It was written in conjunction with several other stories each investigating a different scenario in this genre. Each Lois and Clark narrative was an experiment in itself. I had to find a comfortable and lucid way of communicating my thoughts in the Lois and Clark format — a process still on going. Prior to my attempts at writing stories with a dialogue framework, most of my writing, prior to retiring, was is a scientific or technical mold.

My story, "Clark with Children" is all inclusive and is essentially a war of good battling evil. In this fiction, I've included characters and situations one can find among many of the archived Lois and Clark stories — romance, adventure, murder, etc. This story begins with Clark as an infant and continues until he and Lois conceive and children are born to the fated couple.

For those of you, in the Lois and Clark global community, who have the forbearance to indulge in more that just short stories, I do hope you enjoy this saga.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my GE, Jeanne. She reached out and extended herself beyond the official duties of her niche. It was most appreciated.

The dialogue between myself and my GE (a fine woman of Letters) continued after our initial contact. With her help the story was tweaked with finesse, the result of which, I'm confident, will make my science-fantasy tale more palatable to those members of our global community who may eventually read this story.

When Jeanne came into my writing space, I counted myself most fortunate. It was a meeting of two minds dedicated to turning out the finest story, which my talents could produce.

Jeanne, your soul is unique. Your worth is far above rubies and those who can count you as a friend are most fortunate.

I would also like to thank all my previous GE's for their time and effort spent on my behalf. It's most unfortunate that my past manuscripts did not reflect the praise The GE's richly deserve. Until recently, I was unaware that further information could be sent to the archives, separately, which, of course, would had been a thank you to the GE who had worked on my story material. Let me reiterate that until recently, I was, unfortunately, not aware that when a manuscript passed beyond the author's direct control nothing could be appended to the story. Any addition, of course, would have been an expression of my heart felt gratitude to my GE of the moment.

Standard Fanfic Disclaimers apply.



A tiny interstellar ship emerged from hyperspace several billion miles beyond the orbit of Pluto and plunged at near light speed toward the third planet in the solar system — a celestial body called Earth by its inhabitants. After circling the planet for several days the spacecraft made landfall close to the Kent homestead located near a little hamlet known as Smallville, Kansas.

Alerted by the noise caused by the spacecraft's landing, Martha and Jonathan Kent rushed from their house and searched for the source of the sound. Within minutes, after leaving their home, they discovered a strange looking vessel partially buried in the ground not far from their farmhouse. Hearing mewing cries within the ship, Jonathan immediately searched for a way to open the ship. When he happened to place both of his hands on the surface of the spacecraft simultaneously, a sudden humming noise occurred followed by what could best be described as an unlatching sound. Then, as they watched a portion of the topmost part of the vessel separated from the main the body of the ship. When Jonathan gently removed the loosened cover, the Kents gazed upon a baby with large chocolate brown eyes and raven black hair.

When Martha saw the baby, she immediately scooped the child into her arms and pulled the baby to her breast. After a few moments she said in a breathless voice, "It's a boy." As her husband beheld the look on Martha's face, he realized that she had instantly fallen in love with the child from G-D knows where. When she handed the baby to her husband, Jonathan immediately knew that this tyke would be their boy. The child that he and his wife so desperately wanted and prayed for had finally entered their lives.

Jonathan and Martha had been married for seven years. After trying to procreate for most of their married life and failing, they attempted to adopt.

However, the couple was continuously rebuffed by the social agencies which controlled the adoption process because of the Kents' youthful involvement in the civil rights movement.

Apparently, a rather bias and unfavorable record of the Kents' civil liberty activities, compiled by a government under siege, convinced the adoption authorities that the farmers from Smallville were unworthy parent material.

It appeared that the Kents' past civil rights activism would forever serve as an impediment to the their adoptive aspirations.

After the Kents prolonged efforts to become parents failed, Martha and Jonathan resigned themselves to be a family of two. Now, by some strange twist of fate a baby, they so desperately wanted and needed, had miraculously come into their lives. The Kents didn't care about his origin. They had been granted that most precious of gifts, a child to love. To them, at that moment and for the rest of their lives, only this baby would matter.

While Martha and Jonathan were getting acquainted with their new family member, a whorl of light suddenly appeared alongside the spacecraft. As the Kents watched, two holographic figures materialized within the illuminated circle. The virtual images were human in appearance and were clothed in regal looking attire. As they continued to study the images, the Smallville couple realized that both figures were hovering several feet above the ground. The farm couple also noted that one of the projections simulated a good-looking man, while the second image was that of a very attractive woman.

A few moments after these images appeared, the woman's image telepathically communicated with the Kents. "What you see are holograms of my husband and myself. These images are being generated by an artificial intelligence infused with a library module. All of the electronic systems the boy will need as he grows are imbedded in the molecular structure of the interstellar ship which carried him to Earth."

"The child's name is Kal-El," the female hologram continued. "He is the last of his kind. He was a member of a civilization that flourished some eight billion light years from your world. The appellation of Kal-El's home world was Krypton. It was destroyed during a catastrophic event which tore his planet into fragments. The remains of his birth world were eventually pulled into the Krypton's fiery red sun where the planet's mass was further reduced to their basic atomic components."

"From what we have seen, obviously you love the child," the male hologram added.

"Do you wish to raise him as your son?" the female holographic display inquired. Even in their dazed state, the Kents gave the virtual images an affirmative nod. Both holograms smiled after the Kents' silent reply. "With your aid," the holographic woman's image said, "our boy should now be able to survive and thrive on this planet. With your help, he should be able to adapt to this planet's mores and live among the inhabitants of your world without difficulty. Because of your love and guidance, in time, he will become a blessing to this world."

"You should be aware," the male holographic image added, "that the child is biologically compatible with the inhabitants of this Earth. If he finds a suitable life partner there is a strong likelihood that progeny would result from their union."

After a brief pause, the male image quietly remarked, "If children are conceived, our people may exist again."

After a few moments of silence, the male holographic manifestation asked, "Where would you like to conceal the spacecraft?"

"In that building," Jonathan replied pointing to the barn. The interstellar ship then levitated and floated slowly towards the Kents' barn.

Once the ship was inside the Kents' livestock edifice, a beam of immense power emanated from the space ship, which excavated a chamber below the barn's floor. The walls of the new room were like exceptionally smooth glass and issued a soft light which illuminated the chamber.

When the chamber was completed, the ship from beyond the stars entered its new home and settled at the center of the excavated room. The cover for the new subterranean chamber matched the natural texture of the barn floor and could only be raised by Martha and Jonathan Kent or their new son whose name would include elements of Martha's family line and her married surname.

"At the age of one year," the female holographic display told Kal-El's Earthly family, "You will bring the boy to this secret chamber. The artificial intelligence complex, 'the AI unit,' will begin his education and teach him the wisdom of Krypton and the knowledge of his new home world."

"The images you now see are an extension of the AI unit which will assume the role of his tutor as Kal-El matures. Starting the boy's education as we indicated will allow him to finish his Kryptonian and Earthly education by his sixteenth year."

"While Kryptonian and Earth people are genetically compatible," the female holographic image advised the Kents, the young Kal- El, now your son, possesses two modified chromosomes, the nineteenth and twenty-first to be specific. They were altered by Kryptonian bioengineering techniques eons ago."

As the Kents listened, the female apparition added, "His modified genetic code is a dominant DNA trait and will appear in all his descendents."

"Because of these genetic alterations," the hologram continued, "your yellow sun will also give him unique abilities. Therefore, as he matures, you must emphasize the ethics and morals which govern this world and were also the cornerstone of Krypton's culture. Until he understands the difference between good and evil, it will fall to you to protect the boy against the exploiters of your world. Individuals who would see the boy's unique abilities as a way to further their own gain. Teach him that the super powers he will develop are a unique gift and should be use to assist the inhabitants of his adopted world as they strive for a better tomorrow. As he grows, you must ensure that the child always views himself as an Earth man, both by inclination and choice."

After the female display stopped speaking, the male hologram smiled and remarked, "What Earth name are you planning to give the youngster?"

Jonathan and Martha whispered between themselves for a minute or so and then replied, "Clark Kent… Clark Jerome Kent."

The woman hologram seemed to ponder the name for a few seconds and then declared, "I like the sound of that appellation. It has dignity and a musical lilt." Then she turned toward the baby and proclaimed, "Clark Jerome Kent, you have much to learn and a great deal to accomplish. It's time to begin your journey."


After sixteen years of dedicated parenting and schooling by the AI unit — now called Charlie by the Kent clan — and the Smallvile public school system, Clark Kent — now called Clarkie by his friends — entered his freshman year at Yale university. Like his biological providers, Clark had an aptitude for the natural sciences and would devote himself to the study of physics and mathematics. Because of Martha Kent's influence, Clark also included literary subjects in his academic curriculum emphasizing subjects that accentuated interpretive writing.

As the Charlie had explained to Clark's parents, attending Yale University was not essential to acquire the advanced knowledge of the time. His current understanding of philosophy, the natural sciences and mathematics were eons ahead of Earth's current academic disciplines. He was attending a higher educational institution for its socializing benefits, to establish credentials within his adoptive world's academic community, and to become fully literate with regards to other facets of Earth's culture such as music, fine arts, and literature.

During Clark's matriculation at Yale University, Clark also became fascinated with journalism and had taken enough courses in the J. School to have acquired a minor in this discipline.

Before commencement from Yale — three years after he enrolled — Clark Kent aka Kal-El of Krypton had absorbed most of the subject matter housed in the school's huge athenaeum.

As an undergraduate student, Clark Jerome Kent also became involved with a research group whose main focus was to correlate the subatomic components of matter, in all its combinations. From his investigations with this group, Clark published his first paper entitled "String Theory." In this article, Clark described a new microscopic particle he called a "string" which behaved as a one dimensional rubber band operating in ten dimensional space. Within his paper, Clark predicted that isolating and controlling such a subatomic particle could possibly lead to interstellar travel and teleportation. When Clark's publication eventually appeared in a prestigious physics journal, the man from Kansas had long since discovered how to isolate and use the string residue of atomic systems. However, Clark kept this information confidential, locked in his mind. Clark Kent was uneasy about publishing how to use the string. He felt that it unwise that such information to be made available at this period of Earth's scientific development. Clark was fearful that weapons forged from string powered devices could cause a planetary apocalypse. He was thankful that it would be at least a hundred years or so before Earth's scientific community would be in a position to deduce and exploit the string's potential. Clark hoped, by that time, the sociological problems that currently plagued the planet would have improved to a point where Earth's people could journey to the stars with peaceful intent and not as would be war lords and conquerors.

After commencement Clark enrolled as a graduate student at California Institute of Technology. After two and a half- years, he earned a doctorate with a concentration in theoretical physics. He then accepted a post doctoral appointment at Harvard with a link to the CERN European nuclear facility. At the end of his post graduate activities, two-years later, Dr. Clark J. Kent, at twenty three, was ready to enter the world of big time science.

While searching for an academic or industrial position, preferably the former, an unsolicited letter arrived from The LexCorp Technology Center. LexCorp, Clark knew, was one of the counties largest scientific facilities. The letter invited Clark for an interview by the vast research conglomerate. However, the phrasing of the invite left Clark with an uneasy feeling. Urged by his colleagues to accept the invitation, Kent put aside his feeling about LexCorop and traveled to Metropolis, the corporate headquarters of Lex Luthor's global empire.

Unknown to Clark, the forces of destiny were at last bringing together two entities, one of which would decide the future direction of humankind — the people of Kent's adopted world. Clark Kent and Lex Luthor were these combatants. Good and evil were about to do battle, with the future of civilization hanging in the balance.

When Clark arrived at the Metropolis Air terminal, he was met by several ranking members of LexCorp corporate structure. In the subsequent days that followed, the young scientist was wined and dined, as LexCorp subtly attempted to persuade Dr. Kent to join their research group.

On the final day of his interview, money came into play. Clark was offered a two hundred thousand dollar bonus to sign on the dotted line and become a member of Lexcorp's technical staff. His annual salary, although still a negotiable item, he was informed, would be in the vicinity of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars per year.

It was a tremendous salary for a farm boy where the annual income of the Kent household was relatively small and cash was always needed.

The offer was very tempting. Maybe too tempting, his conscience cautioned. While Clark sat in a quiet conference room seriously contemplating LexCorp's offer, his enhanced hearing happened to focus upon a confidential and very revealing conversation in a nearby office. The conversation was between Lex Luthor and two other individuals called Asabi and Nigel.

As he listened to their discourse, Clark was amazed that these individuals considered him to be the da Vinci of their time. They spoke of Clark as a man who was the bridge between two eras. The people at LexCorp believed that Clark Kent was the lynch pin between the rather slow and cumbersome discovery period of the past century and the rapid changes of the new millennium. Kent, LexCorp sensed was the wizard who would create a much better line of electronic gadgetry which was just being designed by his competitors. Lex believed that Clark's new electronic devices would spark new kinds of social, political, economic, and natural science developments and of course put his rivals out-of-business. As Lex and his associates continued to talk, Clark became acutely aware that he and a few others were considered to be the catalysts that would spark this technology.

It became obvious to Clark that to dominate these developing academic disciplines and the business opportunities they would spawn, Luthor needed to control people like him in order to direct their intellects to do his bidding.

Listening further, Clark heard the LexCorp tripartite comment that while Kent was a seeker of knowledge, like many other intellectuals, it was also a fact that his curiosity accepted no limitations. That kind of dynamic behavior could make him a threat to Lex's plans. Luthor and his associates knew also that Kent was a contributor to many fields. Besides his genius for science and mathematics, Dr. Kent was an artist — favoring landscape painting — inventor, sculptor, engineer, musician, writer — and more, much more. Given a free hand, Clark Kent would mold the time in which he lived and make significant contributions to Earth's future civilizations. Lex and his cronies desperately wanted this man on their team. Luthor commented that he would see to it that there would be no options for Clark Kent. It would a position with LexCorp or nothing at all. Such a man running free, Luthor figured, would be a danger to his schemes.

While flattered by many of Luthor's statements, Clark became aware that the LexCorp's hierarchy had thoroughly investigated his private and public life prior to his interview. That made Clark extremely uncomfortable.

As Clark listened further, he heard Luthor comment, "Such a man must belong to me." That statement was like a sharp blow to young Dr. Kent's solar plexus.

In horror, Clark then heard, "By guiding Kent's talents, Luthor commented, I could dominate the world. If that hick Kent falls in line, he'll provide me with the tools to create a power base that will enable me to challenge nations."

For the first time in his life, Clark Kent became somewhat apprehensive about his future.

When the man from Kansas rejoined his interviewers, he continued listening to Luthor's dialogue with his cronies. While maintaining his cordiality with the LexCorp's employes, Clark knew in his heart that he would never work for LexCorp at any price. Armed with Luthor's information, Clark turned to his primary interviewer and said, smiling, "I would like some time to consider your most generous offer."

Playing the game, Clark asked in a serious tone, "How much time do I have to consider and respond to LexCorp's most generous offer?"

"Let's say two weeks," was the interviewer's reply.

Clark smiled and then remarked, "That's fine."

Rising, Clark shook hands with LexCorp's interviewing staff, wishing them well, and promptly left Lex Luthor's corporate headquarters.

Exiting the building, Clark breathed a sigh of relief. Dr. C.J. Kent felt as if he just escaped from a cesspit packed with iniquitous individuals. As he started to walk toward a nearby cab stand, Clark began to view Luthor as another would be conqueror — a potential disciple of Lucifer. Lex, like other tyrants throughout history, would use any barbarous schemes to achieve his goals. Because of modern technology, Luthor's modus operandi, of course, would be different from his predecessors. Clark was willing to bet that Lex's techniques would be more devious, as they would be dangerous and perhaps lethal to all who opposed his world subjugation schemes.

As Clark thought about the events of the past few days, his skin began to crawl.

Clark desperately needed a shower, not only to cleanse his body, but to sooth and renew his soul.

While Clark was returning to school, Luthor's stooges were already contacting the industrial and academic communities and subtly black listing Dr. C. J. Kent. Their innuendos and misleading statements would deny him work opportunities in his chosen field. When Luthor's toadies had completed their task, the net around Clark had closed. His only source of employment as a scientist could only be satisfied by accepting the position offered by Luthor Technologies.

As the deadline for Luthor's offer approached and other interviews which Clark had expected did not materialize, he was informed from friends and unofficially from other institutions and companies that LexCorp had orchestrated his present dilemma. Using his super abilities and covering himself in stealth material, Clark flew to Metropolis and entered the executive offices of Luthor's worldwide syndicate. While searching LexCorp's files, he discovered how Lex had boxed him in. Clark had nowhere to turn unless it was to Luthor's technical corporation. If there were any doubts about Lex's immoral and criminal posture, such uncertainties were removed by the fraudulent and specious actions taken against him. If there were any incertitudes about Lex Luthor's intent, they were removed by Clark's sub-rosa investigation. Clark was now positive that he would never work for a company whose proprietor was a compatriot of Satan and whose products would be harmful to people.

When he returned to Harvard, he sent a telegram to LexCorp rejecting their offer of employment. After his post doctoral appointment expired, Clark Kent returned to his Smallville home.

While at his boyhood home, he helped his father and mother run the farm. To fulfill his creative needs, Clark turned to his avocations. He painted, created bronze sculptures, and wrote music and poetry. Lex was correct, in one respect, Clark Kent really was the da Vinci of his age.

To acquire the funds for himself and his folks and support his part time research activities, Clark started to concertize on piano using the pseudonym Jerome Pellere.

After a year of concertizing, Clark's musical reputation was approaching world renowned status. Many musical publications ranked him among the most accomplished young piano virtuosos in the world. Aside from his musical triumphs, Clark sold his artwork under another nom-de- plume: Kal-El. As these ventures became more complex, Clark asked his mother to be his business manager. Martha handled the scheduling of his concerts and the sale of his art works. By the end of the year, Clark's works of art were selling for many thousands of dollars per item. Furthermore, by the end of the year, the Kent family had amassed a considerable sum of money — several million dollars after taxes. One of Clark's cherished dreams had been fulfilled. His parents were now financially secure.

During the year of Clark's artistic triumphs, Luthor Technologies offered Kent time and again large sums to work for them. No matter what LexCorp offered Dr. C.J. Kent to join Luthor's sprawling business ventures, Clark knew that he would never consider any of Lex's seductive offers. Clark Kent would never shake hands with the devil's number one boy.

Although Clark and his family had attained financial security, he still was not content. Clark wanted to help people en mass or singly as the need arose. His scientific expertise would in time benefit Earth's society by enhancing its technological capabilities. An improved technology would benefit the living conditions of Earth's global community. At present Clark's music and art creations were really bringing pleasure to only a few individuals. The basic needs of the entire planet were still not being served by his intellectual and super gifts.

After some considerable thought, on the subject Clark announced to his parents that he was returning to school to study journalism at Metropolis University. As a reporter, he informed his folks, he'd have an impact on the world's societal conditions.

"What about you scientific work?" Jonathan asked his son.

Giving his father a smile, Clark remarked, "All that I require to conduct my kind of research is a pencil and a note pad to record my thoughts. These items and my imagination are the basic tools of a theoretical physicist. To test my hypothetical constructs, I'll set up a lab near Charlie. When physical conformation is required of my work, I'll come to the farm and conduct the necessary experimental studies. In that way I can serve two masters — the people of my adopted planet and my scientific passion."

That September Clark Jerome Kent was a candidate for a master's degree at the Metropolis Journalism School, which was part of the university complex. His roommate was Alan Jacobs, a seasoned Daily Planet reporter on sabbatical from his paper. Like Clark, he was enrolled in the graduate journalism program. The roommates melded almost immediately and were fast friends by the time classes commenced.

As Clark learned the ins and outs of the newsprint field, Alan taught him novel journalistic techniques which could only be acquired through practical experiences. By superimposing Alan's adroitness, sensitivity and exceptional writing skills with his own writing characteristics, Clark's journalistic undertakings were soon considered by his peers and instructors alike as truly outstanding — some classmates even thought his journalistic output as the finest in the class.

Alan said to his roomy one day, "Hey guy, when Perry becomes aware of your abilities he'll kick me out of my job." They both laughed at Alan's droll humor. As the year progressed, Alan taught Clark all he had learned about the newspaper business. In return, Clark made Alan a scientifically literate journalist — one of the very few in his profession. During one of their many bull sessions, Alan was surprised to learn that there were only about one and a half million technically trained people world wide. "So few," he said.

"Yeah," Clark replied. "To be a physicist or a chemical engineer, for example, you must combine good mathematical skills with rather esoteric beliefs and theories. At times, I think you gotta be a little demented to be part of Earth's scientific community. "Thank heaven," Clark added, "most non science people appear to be pragmatic and somewhat more lucid." However, Clark laughed, continuing, "I must tell you the mental stability of society, as a whole, is still a debatable issue." Alan chuckled at Clark's amusing description of the human condition.

As their year of study moved towards its climax, Alan and Clark became almost like brothers — spiritual kin.

Throughout the Journalism program Clark concertized in and about Metropolis. Alan accompanied him to many of his recitals and so became more knowledgeable and appreciative of classical music. Late one evening, Alan asked Clark why he wanted to be a journalist when he had so many other natural talents.

Clark pondered his friend's question for a few moments and replied, "Painting, giving a concert and even my nearly obsessive interest in science does not allow me to assist a large majority of people when they need it the most. Besides writing, my other intellectual skills were solitary in their execution. They may give me personal satisfaction and pleasure a few others, but they did not enable me to help individuals whose survival needs required immediate attention. I have this tremendous compulsion to help people. You know, Alan, investigative journalism utilizes the same principles as does physics. A journalist, therefore, would be applying the scientific method to the human domain. As a newspaper person I could immediately focus on the problem at hand and attempt to alleviate people's pain. I can't explain my feelings in any other terms." After a few moments Clark added, "I can always satisfy my other intellectual appetites during some of my leisure time."

"Did any of my ramblings make any sense to you?" Clark asked his friend.

"You did just fine, son," Alan said, tears pooling in his eyes.

One dark night near the end of their degree program, Clark flew onto the balcony of his dorm room and came face to face with his roommate. The shock to Alan's system was immediate. In his bewilderment he stumbled and fell several times, as he made his way toward the sofa.

As Alan and Clark finally faced each other, the older man said in a pleading voice, "Please tell me what I saw was real!"

Clark smiled at his spiritual brother and replied, "What you beheld was not a hallucination nor an apparition. It was Clark Kent returning from his home in Kansas by flight mode."

After Clark had confirmed Alan's observation, Clark's friend's normally ruddy complexion again turned somewhat pale. The shock to his system had not yet abated. Sensing Alan's distress, Clark rushed to the kitchen, moistened a towel and placed it on Alan's forehead. Within a few minutes, Alan Jacobs began to recover his composure.

After staring at Clark for a minute or so, Alan tried to question his friend. When Alan started his queries, Clark held up his hand to silence him.

After Alan simmered down, Clark said," Take it easy my friend, with a comforting voice.

"Just sit back and relax," Clark added, "I'm gonna tell you an incredulous tale."

When Clark finished his yarn, Alan said, "Holy Cow, Kent, that was an amazing tale."

After Clark had finished his story, Alan just sat on the sofa in silence for several long minutes staring at Clark. During this interval he allowed his mind to confront the unbelievable, realizing he was in the presence of a real live alien, who was more human than most people he knew.

Looking at his spiritual kin, Alan commented, "You, my friend, have just answered a burning question that has been on my mind for the longest time. A query that asked were there other planets teeming with life out there among the stars? Were we the only intelligent creatures in the universe, as many Biblical scholars have inferred?"

Hugging his friend, Alan remarked, "Thanks for answering my question about extra terrestrial life." Alan then looked at his young friend and added, "Clark, you may be from a different planet, but it seems to me that you are an Earth man by inclination and by choice. Ye G-Ds," Alan further declared. "If people knew your origins, Clark, maintaining some sort of a private life would be nearly impossible." Running his hand through his hair, Alan added, "If your secret was ever disclosed, Martha's and Jonathan's lives wouldn't be worth a plug nickel." In a solemn voice, Alan then declared, "I promise you, my brother, never to divulge your off worldly origins. I will carry that information to the grave." Clark and Alan then embraced, which cemented the older man's pledge and strengthened the life bond between Jacobs and Kent.

As the two journalists stepped back from their embrace, Clark felt a measure of relief and was gratified that his trust in his roommate had not been misplaced.

Now Clark was sure that Alan Jacobs was one of those rare individuals whose integrity was the nucleus of his being.

That evening, as they moved about the kitchen to prepare dinner, Alan chuckled and said, "Those hearing and visual gismos of yours will be great assets when you become an investigative reporter." Shaking his head, as he continued, "Your colleagues, I'm sure, will be very envious of your successes."

"I really don't care about accolades," Clark remarked. "All I want to do is help people and have the bad guys put away. If my enhanced hearing and vision help me fulfill that reality, so be it."

"Remember, my brother," Alan replied, "suspicion, envy and jealousy are undesirable human attributes. They can initiate very destructive behavior. Always be alert and watch your back."

After dinner, Clark said to his roomy, "There's a dance in the dorm lounge. How about we give it a look see."

"You go, Clark, and have a good time," Alan replied. "My dancing days are done."

Clark, surprised at Alan's remarked, replied, "Alan you're only twenty years older than I. You're still a young guy."

"Nevertheless, Clark," Alan retorted, "I'm not going. When I socialize nowadays, it's with trusted friends like you and Perry. A couple of drinks and some small talk with good company is all that I need to satisfy me these days."

As Clark listened to his friend, he had a feeling that there was more to his apparent antisocial behavior than met the eye.

Somewhat upset by Alan's behavior, Clark slowly paced around his dorm room for several minutes. Then he said, "Okay, Alan, spill it. I wanta know why you avoid social gatherings, especially when women are present."

While Clark watched his friend, a look of infinite sadness appeared on his face.

After a few moments of internal anguish, Alan took a deep breath and said, "About fifteen years ago I was married to a lovely, vivacious, and brilliant woman. Our relationship was such that we were literally joined at the hip so to speak. At that time, we were both war correspondents for the Planet. In due course, Jessica and I conceived. I wanted her to go home until the baby was born. Unfortunately she was stubborn, as she was brilliant. On one fateful day Jes and I visited a forward combat area. Soon after we arrived, we found ourselves in the midst of an artillery barrage — in coming. Jes was severely wounded and died in my arms later that day. In one lousy moment I lost my beloved soulmate, our unborn child and our future."

"When she passed from this plane of existence, part of my soul perished with her and now resides with her spirit."

"Her death plunged me into a pit of depression. It took many months before I could again face the world."

"In time, something within me recognized that I would never again find another Jessica during my journey through life. She was my soulmate, Clark, and there could be no other for me."

Pausing for a moment, Alan continued, "I buried Jes in her family's cemetery outside of Colorado Springs. After the funeral, I asked her father, Adam, if he would allow me to be interred next to my beloved Jessica when my time came. He simply nodded his assent and then broke down. Somehow I understood then that one of the worst calamities that can befall any parent is to bury a child. Adam didn't ask me about marrying again. Without really understanding, he suspected or knew that the remainder of my life's journey would be a lonely and solitary trek. My love for Jes was forever. That's just the way it is."

"In time, I'm positive that Jes and I will be reunited. Of this, I have no doubt."

As Alan ended his heavyhearted soliloquy, tears were silently cascading down Clark's face.

Clark said to Alan, as he was about to leave for the party, "You are a most fortunate man, my friend, to have loved and been loved with such intensity and devotion. I hope in the not so distant future to meet a woman that I too can adore and experience a love like the one you and your Jessica shared."

At the grad students' bash that evening, Clark Kent moved to his favorite place — a corner of the room. Here, Kent behaved like many shy single men, the ones who often gravitated towards an inconspicuous location near the main party activities. Such guys are frequently referred to by the swingers as corner commandos. Many young single girls like to whoop it up at parties and generally ignored the shy quiet guys. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be until much later in the dating game that more mature young women would start to understand the foolishness of their mating tactics. Like Clark, who became bored and left the shindig almost as soon after he arrived, much of the best marriageable partners were not found bouncing around a dance floor to jungle sounds or carousing in a rathskeller.

It was not surprising that less than a half hour after Clark left his dorm he returned.

"What happened?" Alan asked soon after Clark returned. "As far as I was concerned," Clark replied, "the party was a bust. The girls were behaving as if their heads were filled with cotton, hay, and rags, while the guys were acting like a bunch of apes with rushing hands and roaming fingers. It became obvious early on, that both genders had insatiable sexual appetites. With their hormones running amuck, they lusted for one another."

Pausing for a moment, Clark added, "I've almost given up hope of finding an intelligent and sensible woman with whom I could share my life."

"Don't despair, my friend," Alan said, "your soulmate will appear when you least expect it. For now, forget the party and its excesses and let's get some shuteye."

As the remaining few months of the journalism program thundered toward its conclusion, Clark became aware that most of his classmates equated their coming degree to grant them expertise in their chosen field.

There were of course exceptions to this generality. Clark Kent, Alan Jacobs, and a few others in their class understood that a sheep skin was simply a document signifying a right of passage. Only by understanding the needs of people and applying and improving the knowledge they learned from their teachers would they become a credit to their profession and bring a measure of truth and well- being to their communities.

About a month before commencement, all formal classes ceased to allow sufficient time for the Master degree candidates to complete their final assignment. Each student was to compose, in his/her view of course, a news article worthy of publication in the Daily Planet.

After a few days of thought, Clark was still unsure of the direction his final assignment should take. To raise his spirits, Clark went for a walk through the Hobbs Bay. Approaching the harbor, Clark noticed that the water appeared to be almost as smooth as glass. As he surveyed the bay area, Clark happened to recognize an individual, a very dear friend, who he hadn't seen in quite sometime. Increasing his gate, Clark was soon face to face with an image from his boyhood past. Without a word passing between them, the older man grabbed Clark and hugged him, as tears began streaming from his eyes. While Clark Kent's old friend was struggling to gain a semblance of control over his emotions, the young journalist noticed his rather gaunt appearance and his heart hurt. When his venerable friend quieted somewhat, Clark took him to a local eatery and there they dined on the finest fair available — hamburgers and fried onion rings.

After eating, the two old friends talked far into the night reminiscing about years long past.

When Clark paid the bill, he spied the owner and manager of the restaurant and slipped him an envelope before returning to his confidant of yesteryear. Later, as they exited, the owner, a chap named Bilbo, handed Clark a note and gave him a reassuring smile. Gazing at Bilbo, while placing the note in his pocket, Clark was amazed at the similarities between the cafe proprietor and a Neanderthal replica he had seen at the Museum of History. He mused, as he left the restaurant, "The mysteries of evolution never cease to amaze me."

The air was crisp and clear on that early spring evening as a young and an elderly scholar walked along the shore of Hobbs Bay. After strolling and reminiscing with his old friend for quite sometime, Clark reluctantly said goodbye and returned to his dorm. As he was undressing, he recalled Bilbo's note.

Taking the crumpled paper from his pocket, Clark quickly noticed that the barely legible script of Bilbo's writing suggested a severe learning disability, which obviously had not been addressed by the educational system during the cafe owner's childhood. "Thank G-D," Clark thought, "that finally the social and psychological services available to the community have measuredly improved since Bilbo's youth. Although there was still a long way to go," Clark mused, "the journey to service the emotionally and physically impaired youngsters of Metropolis had started. It would be up to the future generations to finish the job."

Returning to Bilbo's note, Clark read, "I take good care of smathers for rest life. Thanks help." Clark murmured to himself, "The owner of the cafe had a heart as big as all outdoors. He certainly gave credence to the adage that beauty was only skin deep. The selflessness of this man was encased within a grotesque body which apparently Clark just realized harbored a magnificent soul. From now on Clark Kent vowed, Bilbo would never fear the terrors of the night nor the horrors the day may bring."

Catalyzed by Bilbo's magnanimous gesture, a warm feeling washed over Clark. As he thought, he recalled a statement made by his father many years before — an understanding and charitable person is more precious than rubies. Bilbo fit that category to a tee.

As he thought about the events of the day, Clark suddenly knew the motif of his final paper. The next day he bounced his views off his roommate. When Alan heard Clark's brainstorming ideas, he smiled and remarked, "It's the best newsworthy notion I've heard in a very long time." Pausing for a moment, he added, "I'll betcha you'll write the finest article in the class."

"Whether it will be the best or the worst is really not the issue," Clark soberly replied. "I just want to write this story, I guess, for personal reasons."

Several days before the end of the semester, the graduating class showed up at the J. School for its last formal gathering. After a few administrative remarks, one of the professors said to the class, "I want to wish all of you the best of luck in your future ventures."

Pausing for a few seconds, the head lecturer added, "Before you leave, I would like to read one of the final papers tendered by this academic group. The faculty of the J. School submitted this particular article to a local newspaper for publication. I was notified this morning by the editor in chief of the Daily Planet that Clark Kent's story will appear in the Sunday edition of that paper. So, please bear with me."


"A Conversation With A Friend," by Clark Kent

As I walked along the shore of Hobbs Bay on a rather blustery spring day, I unexpectedly encountered an old and cherished friend. A dear confidant who always took delight in the technical successes of humankind, especially if they included the moral and ethical high ground and protected the biosphere from any possible excesses from the new concepts or devices. Real life was his stage.

When I growing up in Smallville, Kansas, I would often see him marveling at sunset either alone or sharing nature's spectacular show with friends and students. He could be seen in and about town studying the natural phenomena, often sharing his discoveries with others. He was always a giver, never a taker. This man, one of my mentors, who help guide my intellectual development through my formative years, was caring, kindly, and generous, almost to a fault. My parents always thought of him as part of our family.

While my parents encouraged me to learn, this man set my feet on the path of learning that made me see a world of beauty in a pond or on the great prairie that surrounded our Midwestern town. While others saw the environment only as a source of profit, he showed me nature's supermarket and the wonders it held.

When I left Smallville as a young man, my boyhood mentor and I slowly lost touch with one another. Then suddenly on a frosty morn we serendipitously found one another in the Hobbs Bay area of Metropolis.

After we hugged and greeted one another, the two of us slowly walked along the beach. As we move ponderously along, a quiet voice from my past quietly said, "As you move into the work-a — day-world, don't ever form a nexus between your labor and the more meaningful parts of your life. Remember, one labors to secure bread so he/she can sustain life. Keep your occupation separate and away from your quests and dreams. Leave your job at the office or it may eventually overwhelm you and eradicate your humanity. The allure of great riches and power by being successful at your job can be very seductive. It can cause you to focus most or all of your energies to gain wealth and fame at the expense of loved ones and friends."

"It is said in some biblical texts that the forces of darkness invented work so people wouldn't be aware of the evil among us and struggle against its malevolent consequences."

My friend then bowed his head as if praying, but after a few minutes of silence, continued to express his philosophical convictions.

"Do you remember?" he remarked to me, "what I said to you many years ago about what a colleague of Senator Paul Tsongas told him after that legislator became ill?" Unfortunately, I didn't recall Tsongas' thoughts about this particular issue and told my childhood mentor so by movement of my head.

Smiling, my old friend then said, "When Tsongas decided to run for re-election, although he had been diagnosed with cancer, a friend and colleague of the senator told him that no man on his deathbed ever remarked that he wished he'd spent more time at the office. Smell the roses while there is yet time." When my mentor from Smallville finished that little anecdote, he smiled at me. A happy smile, I suppose, because he knew that I had grasped the insightful statements of the senator's associate.

As I listened to that bit of history, I now understood why an insightful Paul Tsongas didn't stand for re-election. Upon learning of his illness, the senator gathered his family and went to smell the roses.

While we continued to stroll along the beach, my old friend again started to reminisce. He commented, "Clark, do you remember my father's admonition about the rat race syndrome?"

This time I replied, "Yes." I then remarked, remembering an old man's counsel, "If you won in the rat race, all so prevalent in our cities and businesses, you were still only a rat."

My friend looked at me nodding and with a twinkle in his eye, declared, "I believe John Lennon expressed that bit of intuitiveness a better way."

Pausing for a moment he quoted the rock star. "Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans." Then a smile slowly covered his face as he remarked, "My father and Mr. Lennon were much wiser people than I realized at the time; their views on life were remarkable if only I heard. What I could've learned from them if only these ears of mine had not been deafened by the excessive chaotic noises that surrounded us all."

"Unfortunately, most of those sounds were trashy music being blasted from the radio and the TV. At weddings also and other kinds of affairs the electronically enhanced music was deafening. People sitting next to one another couldn't communicate in a normal way. Most often you had to scream at one another to be heard. The worst part of these sounds, Clark, was that they tended to dull the senses and make people behave in bizarre ways."

"Mainly the grown up teenager-adult," a smiling Clark Kent interjected.

After my friend finished articulating some of his father's philosophical views, I placed my arm around his shoulder and we again walked in silence for some moments. Then he looked into my eyes and commented again, "Some years ago, Clark, you left a large room used for public gatherings after one of your many commencements. I wondered at that moment if you realized that there were hundreds of people throughout our land with the same degree and aspirations. And, that there were already untold thousands of people working at what you desired to do for a living."

"Clark," my friend added, "the only thing that you can control is you. Do you understand that you are the only person in this world who has sole custody of your existence, your particular life, your entire life? Not just your life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car, or in front of a computer. Not just the life of your mind but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account but your soul. People don't seem to talk about the soul much anymore. It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit."

Looking at me squarely in the eyes, he added, "I tell you, my amigo, a resume is a cold comfort on a winter night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you receive test results that are not to your liking."

An interval of silence then seemed to cloak us.

After several minutes, he began to chuckle and remarked, "Can you imagine receiving the following resume?"

I am the mother of three children. I've tried never to let my profession stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the center of the universe. I show up at events and my temp. positions. I listen. I try to laugh.

I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make my marriage vows mean what they say. I show up at events and my temp. positions. I listen. I try to laugh.

I am a good pal to my friends, and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say today. I would resemble a cardboard cutout.

I call my friends and my husband on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I show up at events and my temp. positions. I listen. I try to laugh.

I would be rotten to the core, or at best mediocre at my various jobs, if these and other things were not true. You cannot be really first-rate at your work, if work is all you are.

Suddenly, he grabbed me and said with passion, "What does this farcical resume tell you, Dr. Clark Kent?"

"Still the educator, I see," as I smiled at my old mentor and began replying to his question.

Taking a breath, I said, "Your hypothetical resume tells me to get a life. A real life, not one that is a maniacal pursuit of the next promotion, a bigger pay check, or a larger house."

He grinned at me and quietly said, "Clark, you still are my best student."

For some minutes, my old teacher was deep in thought. Suddenly, he continued his philosophizing rhetoric and said to me, "Do you think a fast tract woman would care much about work-a-day events if a main artery suddenly ruptured one afternoon, or she found a lump in her breast?"

"No," I replied quickly to his question.

Then my friend said to me placing his frail hands on my shoulder, "As you build your life make sure you're not alone. Find people you love and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure time; it's work and at times very hard work. Remember, too, as you occasionally gaze at your diploma(s) that you are still a student, still learning how to best treasure your connection to others. Your homework throughout your life is to phone a friend, send an email, or write a letter to those you cherish. Constantly remind yourself to kiss your mom and hug your dad, the instruments of your creation. And remember, too, the nurturing and love they've given to you every day since you were born and will continue to do so all the days of their lives. Make a life that is filled with generosity. Take time to look at the flowers in the neighborhood. Look, too, at the full moon on a cold quiet night hanging like a silver orb in a black sky. As you see these wonders of nature," he continued, "remember that life is the best thing ever, and you have no business taking it for granted."

He again fell silent as we continued our trek around the bay. Suddenly, he yelled to me in an impassioned plea, "Clark, care deeply about the goodness within the human spirit and spread it around. Take some of the money that you would spend on a few beers and contribute it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen once in a while. Be a big brother or sister. Your charitable works will strengthen your soul and give you a greater appreciation of your mortality."

Pausing again this time for a short period, he said, "You know, Clark, everyone wants to do well. But, if you do not contribute to society by helping those in need then success will never be enough. There is no fulfillment in an uncharitable life. Do you understand, Clark, that it is so easy to waste our lives? Time slips by so quickly that we hardly notice it's passing. We neglect or take for granted the color of roses, the sheen of the graphite upon a mountain slope, the color or our kids' eyes, and the modulating melody in a symphony whose beauty nourishes the soul. My young friend, it is so easy to exist instead of live."

After his impassioned pleas and philosophical comments, we walked for some time in total silence, just enjoying each other's company and the new life that was heralding the coming of spring. Then my philosophical companion started to speak once more. "Clark," he began, "All that I've said to you I painstakingly learned many years ago. Even with my understanding of people, I did something rather foolish. I did things that transformed my life. If I had my druthers, they would not have occurred in such a destructive manner."

"My life altering events began when I began beseeching the people of Smallville to enjoy their journey through life, not their final destination. I preached that living life is not a dress rehearsal and today is the only guarantee you get. I said to my neighbors to look at all the good in the world and try to increase its abundance. I implored them to look at the lilies of the field and look too at the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the backyard with the sun in your face. Learn to be happy. Think of life as a terminal illness because if you do you will live it with joy and passion as it should be lived. I told the town you could learn all these things if you get a real life, a full life, a professional life, and yes, another life too, a life of love and laughs and a connection to other human beings." When he finished his monologue, he turned to me and remarked, "Clark, you are now a learner in a classroom environment. Remember the classroom is everywhere. The exam comes at the end. No man ever said on his deathbed, I wish I had spent more time making money."

"Because most of the town's folk considered my philosophical rhetoric a danger to their institutions, they considered me to be incompetent by reason of lunacy and removed me from my teaching position. When this event occurred, I became one of the ever increasing homeless people of our land and started to wander. Eventually I reached this great city, Metropolis."

When at last we finished our walk, my old friend and I just sat on the wooden wharf dangling our feet over the side. As we sat, he told me how he survived.

My old mentor told me he panhandled on the main boulevard when the summer crowds had dispersed and slept in a church when the temperature dropped below freezing. To avoid the authorities my friend hid from the police amid the "Tilt a Whirl" and the "Cyclone" at the amusement park.

He told me he was happiest when he was able to stay on the wharf facing the water just the way they were now. He said somewhat humorously that he stayed on the wharf even when it began to get cold. Of course, he had to wear his newspapers after he read them to keep from freezing.

I asked him why didn't he go to one of the shelters? Why he didn't check himself into a hospital for detox.

As I finished my questions, I saw him just stare at the bay and said, "Look at the view, Clark. Look at the view and wonder."

And every day since then, in some little way, I try to take the advice of the finest man and teacher that I had the privilege of knowing, give charity and marvel at the view.

The last thing I want to impart to you today comes from the wisdom of a man with not a dime in pocket, nowhere to go, and nowhere to be. An old teacher who nobody wanted because he spoke words that cleansed the soul, words that fell on deaf ears.

Look at the view and wonder. You'll never be disappointed.

When Perry finished reading Clark's piece he wondered how one so young could understand loneliness and isolation of people in the midst of plenty. A sickness that is ignored by society at large, but one which is so prevalent these days. He then rose from his desk went to a window and viewed the skyline of a great city and wondered.


As the professor concluded Clark's article, many in the audience had unshed tears pooling in their eyes.

After the reading, Clark heard a salvo of "Nice going kid." He blushed a little from the accolades of his classmates.

As they left the lecture building, Clark asked Alan, "Where do you want to chow down?" Alan was about to suggest a restaurant when he remembered an appointment he had with Perry White.

"Sorry chum," he replied, "I have a meeting with Perry at the Planet. You'll have to fress without me this afternoon." Clark gave Alan an affectionate pat on his shoulder as they parted — one to lunch and the other to a meeting.

At their meeting, Perry asked Alan whether or not he would go to Singapore and set up an extension of the Daily Planet on the island nation. This particular bureau would essentially be a wire service emphasizing international and financial news.

Perry then told Alan that after he completed this assignment he could return to Metropolis and head the Planet's international division. After some thought, Alan accepted Perry's proposal with the stipulation that he could choose his second in command. The Chief agreed to this request. However, when Kent's name was mentioned as the number two guy, Perry started to balk. Before White could pursue his argument, Alan remarked, "Damn your eyes, Perry. You know Kent is one hell of a journalist. He has the knack of combining touchy-feely material with hard- hitting facts. His copy has a sing song lilt that borders on journalistic poetry."

Taking a breath, Alan added, "Clark's articles seem to affect his readership. People can feel his words and understand his straightforward approach to the news. In addition to his journalistic credentials, Kent has an earned doctorate in theoretical physics. To succeed in that kind of academic setting, an individual must be able to manage many different problems simultaneously." Before Perry could get a word in, Alan added, "And don't tell me that the managing skills in science are different from the print business. I don't have to tell you that the rules of engagement are the same for any human enterprise."

"Okay, okay," Perry declared. "You sold me."

Alan smiled and remarked, "Who knows? You may want to hire him as an investigative reporter after his tenure in Singapore."

"If I do," Perry commented, "he'll have to survive the ogre of the newsroom, Lois Lane. She devours new reporters for breakfast."

"I think," Alan retorted with a knowing twinkle in his eye, "Dr. Kent could survive nearly anything that's thrown at him, including your resident dog."

As he was leaving Perry's office, Alan said, "Jerome Pellere is giving a concert at the main Music Hall tonight. I was lucky and was able to procure five tickets for this recital. I'll leave four of them for you at the box office under P. White. If you and some friends want to hear inspired music, the concert tonight will touch your soul."

Thanks," Perry replied.

After a moment more of contemplation, Perry said, "I just may take you up on the concert. A night of inspired music just might restoreth my soul."

That evening Clark played Beethoven's fifth piano concerto accompanied by Metropolis' Philharmonic Orchestra. His interpretation and execution of this tumultuous work were awesome. In the words of Murray Singer, the Planet Art and Music Critic, Pellere's rendition of the Beethoven fifth piano concerto was a tour de force that could only be matched by the musicianship of the long dead composer himself.

In the audience, at this concert extraordinaire, were Lois Lane, Perry White and his wife, and Jimmy Olson. Each was affected by Clark's playing of Beethoven's powerful but sublime concerto. Lois was especially touched by the music. To her, it seemed that the flowing of the tones radiating from the piano were being directed at her and her alone.

When the concert ended, Murray Singer hurried towards Pellere's dressing room to meet and interview the artist. After fighting his way through the torrent of souls in the hall, Murray finally arrived at the virtuoso's dressing room only to find it empty. The shy soloist had again quickly disappeared at the end of his performance. Murray had hoped this time he would reach Pellere before the young artist slipped away. Again, his desire to meet probably the greatest living piano virtuosi of the twentieth century had once again been frustrated.

Exiting the concert hall, Murray noticed someone waiting for a cab which, at that moment, was coasting to a stop. Murray immediately dashed for the taxi. Clark, hearing Murray's footsteps turned and said, "Take it easy, I'll be happy to share the cab with you. Out of breath, all that Murray could do at the moment was accept the gracious offer by a nod of his head.

When the Planet's critic was again breathing normally, he was finally able to take a good look at his Taxi partner. What he saw was a good looking young man with a kindly and very expressive eyes. As the taxi took off across town, Murray noticed the younger man's hands and asked, "Are you a musician per chance?"

Pausing for a second or two, Clark stretched out his arm and clasped his companion's hand in a traditional greeting, as he said to the older man, "Yes, Clark Kent is what most people call me."

Smiling Murray asked, "You wouldn't also happen to have a pseudonym of Jerome Pellere?" he inquired.

Clark studied the man for a moment and quietly told the critic, "Yes." After a moment Clark continued, "Mr. Singer, I would very much appreciate if you kept that bit of info to yourself.

Consider your request a done deal," Murray replied smiling at his new acquaintance.

Clark also grinned and thought to himself, "My gut feeling wasn't wrong. Murray Singer is an okay guy."

As the cab sped through the Metropolis, Murray Singer directed the cabbie to a quaint cafe. It was situated in a secluded part of the city and generally not frequented by the rich and famous. Over dinner, Clark gave an elated Murray Singer the interview of his career. Later that year, Murray was awarded a Kerth for his in-depth article on the rather mysterious Jerome Pellere.

Over the next few months, Clark and Alan had dinner with Murray and his lovely wife, Helene, quite a few times. Their pleasant association, unfortunately, was disrupted when Clark and Alan left Metropolis for their Asian assignment.


Singapore was an island nation of contradictions for Clark and Alan. There were booze establishments, yet no chewing of gum was permitted in public. Jaywalking was illegal and resulted in a fine. Government institutions boasted of their democratic way, while the same family held the reins of power since the island nation's independence.

Although the government continuously professed to be a true democratic society, the bureaucrats of this tiny island nation attempted to tightly control the flow of information and the behavior of its citizens. In all fairness, however, it should be pointed out that in most cases the treatment of the populous was both benevolent and caring.

The nation of Singapore, a Malaysian spin-off, was about one degree from the equator and hotter than all blazes. Of course, very hot was a relative term, especially for Clark. While Alan was uncomfortable at times — mostly outside — Kent was not bothered by the weather because of his unique abilities.

It was here that Alan and Clark established the Daily Planet's pivotal Asian Bureau. Located on this Island State were many other businesses of all types and from many places from around the world. Many of these establishments were also connected with large financial institutions scattered about the world. In addition to the economic exchanges, every major news organization already had or were in the process of creating a presence in this Asian nation.

Although the Planet had rented Alan and Clark an elegant apartment complex within walking distance of their bureau office, for the first several months it was hardly used except for sleeping and then only for short periods.

The work was grueling but satisfying. Theoretically, Alan was in charge, but in reality there was a true partnership between the supposed boss and Clark Kent.

After three months of back breaking work the bureau was up and running. The Planet executives were astounded by this feat. The "suits" had figured it would take around eight months for the Singapore bureau to be a functioning entity. Clark and Alan both received a generous bonus for their amazing accomplishments.

One Friday afternoon, some six months after Clark had arrived on the island, Alan said to his partner, "You and I, my friend, are going to a shindig at the American Consulate."

"How did you get us an invite?" Clark asked his spiritual kin.

"An acquaintance, who is attached to the consulate staff, put us on the list," Alan replied slapping Clark on the back.

Smiling, Alan added, "I'm sure he believes that the PR the Consulate will receive from us will further his career."

"No doubt," Clark replied. "What time is this wing ding?" Clark inquired.

"About eight," Alan responded. "Oh, by the way," Alan added, "black tie is the required attire for this bash," as he sauntered away chuckling to himself.

"Black tie in this climate!" Clark muttered.

"It won't affect you, so why complain," Alan teased his friend. "Anyway what can you expect from politicians? Their heads are usually filled with cotton, hay, and whiskey."

That evening two tired reporters strolled into the American Consulate and were immediately handed a drink and were directed to a table containing the hors d'oeuvres.

The reception was held in the exquisite flower strewn garden of the Consulate.

The temperature was well over ninety degrees Fahrenheit. It was a sweltering evening, but no one seemed to care as long as the booze kept flowing. While Alan sought out his buddy, Clark took up his usual position in a corner of the garden and watched how the politically hip people behaved. As he stood there, a very attractive young woman moved toward him. She was about five feet six inches in height, with blue eyes, nearly platinum blond hair, and a peaches and cream complexion. As the young woman approached, Clark became aware that she possessed, in the language of science, a peerless molecular shape.

Reaching Clark's social sanctuary she said, "Hi, my name is Jennifer Fields."

Clark smiled and replied, "Nice to meet you. My handle is Clark Kent."

"Clark Jerome Kent… Dr. Kent," she said, amazement showing in her highly expressive eyes.

"I'm afraid so," Clark said answering her with a smile.

After getting hold of her emotions, she asked, "What 'in heaven's name' is a world class scientist doing in a place like this?" she asked him straight off.

"You are very direct, Ms. Fields," Clark teased.

"It's Dr. Fields," she replied, "and yes, I can sometimes be rudely candid. It's one of those eccentricities a physicist has been known to possess," she added.

"Ah, a fellow scientist with all the proper and improper social accouterments," Clark said and laughed.

"By the way, Jennifer, how did you recognize me?"

"Last year," she replied, "I was at CERN when you gave a paper on the possibilities of teleportation. It was an awesome presentation. Unfortunately," she commented, "I'm afraid most people in the audience did not fully comprehend the beauty of your mathematical model and supporting relationships."

As Clark gazed at Jennifer, the young physicist continued, "It probably will be a long time before the scientific world appreciates the genius of your work."

Gazing at this vivacious young woman, who looked as if she should be in films, he became very conscious that she had an acute understanding and appreciation of his scientific scholarship. Clark was very impressed.

As Jennifer babbled, Clark's mind became intrigued by some of her comments. As he listened to Jenni's remarks, Clark realized that it would probably be a hundred years or so before the ramifications of his scientific works would start to be appreciated. By that time, Clark concluded, he would have passed on and his name would be less than a memory and might, from time to time, be part of a footnote in some student's thesis.

When Jennifer became aware that Clark was not speaking, but was quietly staring at her, she too became calm.

To keep the conversation going, Clark remarked, "By the way, I have just completed another paper and have submitted it for publication."

"That's great," Jennifer exclaimed.

Then, Jenni, with an inscrutable expression on her face, commented, "Where on this island is your laboratory situated?"

"My lab," Clark replied, "is part of my mind. It conjures up ideas and is directly connected to my experimental equipment — a note pad and a pencil."

Then, giving Clark a radiant smile, she asked, "What subject are you exploring in your new journal article?"

"My paper considers interstellar travel using some of my 'String Theory' concepts," Clark answered her. Then Dr. Kent added, "String Theory, as you know, Jenni, is a way to view and control the interaction of matter throughout the cosmos."

Smiling, Clark then remarked, "Let's get to you, Jenni. You are a curiosity. What the heck is a scientist of your caliber doing in this scientific backwater?"

"I'm here with the U.S. Out Reach Department — USORD," she told Clark. "It deals with the needs of emerging nations as they struggle to free themselves from the clutches of ignorance and superstition — environmental knowledge; nuclear facilities; how to deal with natural resources, etc. I'll be here for several years trying to establish a working rapport with the countries in this region."

Before Clark had a chance to speak again, Jenni chided him by asking, "Now you tell me what one of the finest physicists in the world today is doing in this technological wilderness."

"Ah, so you are going for the sixty-four-dollar question right off," he teased her.

Becoming more serious, Clark proceeded to describe the events leading to his pseudo exile and his current assignment on this island nation.

After he finished his litany of woe, she muttered, "Can one man possess that much power?"

Clark, hearing the disbelief in her statement, nodded and said, "Lex Luther is the personification of evil — Lucifer's Earthly advocate. His corrupting tentacles pervade government and corporate offices causing great harm. Because of his far- reaching power, you either do his biding or suffer the consequences. I could never accede to his maleficent desires and tyrannical directives. So, for my noncompliance with his wants I am, for the moment, in this scientific wasteland."

Jennifer, shaking her head, replied, "Clark, your story is almost too horrible to contemplate. However, I do believe you. From what little info I've acquired about Lex, I think you've painted an accurate description of Luthor and his intentions."

Looking toward the horizon Clark remarked, "The power that Luthor is amassing has already started to harm decent folk. He hurts men and women without scruples or compassion. The actions of Luthor are the antithesis to everything that I've been taught, believe and try to achieve."

With a strange and determined look on his face, Clark said with fervor, "Lex Luthor and his associates must be stopped and brought to justice." Pausing for a moment, Clark added, "Justice will prevail and Lex, in the fullness of time, will be brought down!"

As Clark and Jenni meandered through the garden Clark became introspective and remarked, "Many years ago my parents imbued me a powerful maxim. I was taught that only people have value and must be cherished. When we pass from this world, items that we've acquired and treasured will belong to someone else; we, the past possessor of the article, will probably not be remembered by the new owner. However, if we were helpful and charitable to those in need, I believe that we will be thought of with kindness. I firmly believe that when the name of a selfless person is recalled, such an individual is not truly lifeless. My parents' teachings have made me aware that all people belong to one family, and each member should regard all others in our global community as his/hers brothers and sisters."

Clark then remarked to Jenni, "I took their teachings to heart. I must tell you, Jen, that I was outraged because one man denied me from securing a position for which I was qualified by using his tremendous economic power to utilize his influence of fear. How many others were trapped by this man and forced to do his bidding?"

"I swore to myself when I discovered what Lex did to me that Luthor's crimes against humanity would be avenged. Somehow, Jenni, I must translate my angry rhetoric into action and help remove that man's evil blight from the face of our world."

To Clark's surprise, Jennifer placed her hands on his face and said, "Together we will find a way to fight Luthor." Her words startled him. For a new acquaintance he thought, "She was a quick study."

For some reason, without knowing why, Clark knew that Jenni understood the evil that was Lex Luthor and his commitment to fight for the betterment of humankind. Being aware of the dangers and the challenges that lay ahead, she still appeared willing to help. Clark's unique abilities made him aware that her commitment to his crusade was not just empty platitudes, and she had definite feelings for him that went beyond the cliche of a friend to a friend.

Contemplating the events of the past few minutes, Clark became aware that he'd found an ally… and maybe something more.

"You know," he said to Jenni, "when I told my friend Alan about my parents' dictum, it triggered one of our many intense philosophical discussions. In fact, my parents' words encouraged him to tell me a very titillating story. It's an interesting tale, and I think you'd like to hear it." Jenni nodded indicating that Clark should continue.

"When Alan was a war correspondent, my colleague and friend told me that he had interviewed a lad from Perth, Australia. During our talk, Alan told me about the young soldier's remarks, which, to me, were very profound. In fact, Alan's words struck me like a bolt of lightening. The soldier's sentiments were an endorsement of my parents' philosophical and religious notions. The young man during the interview asserted time and again, as he pointed toward his buddies and comrades, 'Do you see that long thin line of men in battle array? Those warriors,' he had said to Alan. After a pause, he had continued, 'They make up my military esprit de corps. My fighting unit. It is made up of North Americans, Australians, Vietnamese, and South Koreans. I know that we're different in many ways, but all that I see in front of me are my brothers who are khaki in color. There are no racial or cultural distinctions among us. These men will watch my back on the field of battle as I will watch theirs. Although my fighting unit is made up of many creeds and races, no one here cares how you call G- D or in the way in which you pray.' The interview ended at that point, as the youngster was called to a troop muster."

"From Alan's story, I suddenly realized that I was not unique in caring about the fate of humankind. Jenni," Clark said as he clasped her hand, "you, too, care. Why else would you be here in this scientific backwater? You could be working in a safe and pleasant laboratory somewhere in the States making big bucks. As for myself, I am here because Clark Kent could never work for people like Lex Luthor, whose aim is to satisfy a gluttonous appetite for power at the expense of others."

"Lex and his confederates represent an ancient notion," Clark added, "which asserts you work and make bread, and I'll eat it. In spite of Lex and people like him, you and I will be triumphant in our struggle against the forces of darkness. Never doubt that good will overcome evil in time. Over the centuries, many tyrants have arisen, held sway for a time, and then pasted into oblivion. So too will Lex Luthor and his schemes for world domination pass into Gehenna, a special place reserved for such reviled creatures. Gandhi was right when he said, 'Only ideas which bring people together in harmony and improve the social conditions of humankind will endure.'"

After a few moments more of talking about Lex Luthor, Clark settled down and smiled again at his lovely companion. He hoped that any future meetings between them would involve more than just overwrought and sensational rhetoric.

Just as Jenni and Clark were becoming acquainted, Clark noticed Alan beckoning to him. Clark excused himself, indicating he would enjoy seeing her again, if she didn't mind. She said to him as he was leaving, "I'll look forward to hearing from you." As Jenni watched Clark and Alan hurriedly leave the Consulate, she smiled to herself and murmured, "Not only a brilliant guy, but a gorgeous one at that." More important than his intellect or his looks, Jenni thought, were the caring and courteous attitudes he revealed about himself. Clark Kent was certainly a rare bird especially in these times. "I think," Jenni said to herself, "Dr. Kent and I are going to become better acquainted… much better acquainted."

As Clark and Alan walked toward the bureau, his thoughts lingered on Jenni. In their brief meeting, he realized that he'd been searching for something or someone for a long time — a life partner or perhaps a soulmate. Although Jenni Fields may not be his life partner, he would always be eternally grateful to her for awaking within his soul the realization that he needed a companion on his journey through life.

Over the next several months, Clark and Jenni saw one another as much as their frenzied schedules permitted. Clark was very comfortable with her. Jenni and Clark even found time to coauthor several journal articles, go for long walks around the island, attend concerts or just fantasize about the future. Then one day out of the blue Jenni proposed marriage. Clark was thunderstruck. Although he was quite sure that he was very fond of Jenni, marriage to her was a whole different matter. Before Jenni had a chance to pursue her proposition, Clark put her off by saying that he needed a couple of days to consider her sudden proposal. It took him off guard.

That evening Clark flew to Smallville. As he entered the kitchen of his childhood home, he saw his mother cooking breakfast. Hearing a noise, Martha turned around and seeing her boy, extended her arms. Clark walked into his mother's embrace and received a hefty hug and a wet kiss. Holding her son in her loving embrace, she then yelled, "Jonathan, come here. Our son's home."

Clark's father rushed into the kitchen and seeing his boy said, "glad to see ya son." Then walking to his boy Jonathan gave him a loving slap on the back.

After Martha talked with Clark for a few minutes, she felt that something was troubling her boy. "OK, son," she said, "talk to me. Your face is like a signpost that says, 'Dilemma. I need some advice.'"

As Clark began telling his parents about Jenni's marriage proposal, Martha doled out the ice cream and pie to her men folk. While she was doing this mundane chore, her very perceptive mind was shifting into high gear.

As Clark rambled on, Martha thought, "Marriage would give him a sense of belonging. It would also provide him with a measure of stability. Of course, the woman would need to accept, without reservation, Clark's off worldly origins."

After Clark had finished talking, between bites of his mother's delicious pie a la mode, he sat back and waited for his parents' response. As usual, Martha always had that look of deep concentration when contemplating a weighty problem. From her calm behavior, many people didn't realize that Martha was a very strong woman emotionally, with a keen intellect. She could think on her feet and was not often frightened into inactivity. Of the two, Jonathan was the more pragmatic parent. Under his rather gruff disposition, however, beat a heart of gold. Jonathan and Martha together were an unbeatable combination — one continually strengthening and supporting the other.

Their son came to them with a possible life-changing proposition. Jonathan told Clark right off that he really couldn't help him other than support his decision. Martha on the other hand had some uncommon insight, which she believed could resolve her son's dilemma.

"Clark," Martha began talking to her son quietly, "just how do you feel about Jenni?"

Clark knit his brows and began to mentally list the merits of their togetherness. Then he said to his mother, "She is a very gracious person, Mom. I am comfortable with her in most everything we do jointly or otherwise." After a slight pause, Clark added, "When we do things together we both seem more serene. The turbulences and strife of our work-a- day world tend to fade into the shadows. Being with her very often provides me with a feeling of genuine peace. The chaos in the world seems to be attenuated."

After Clark voiced his thoughts, he shrugged his shoulders indicating that he was still unsure of himself with regard to Jenni's proposal.

Tell me son, Jonathan asked, "Do you like her a lot?"

"Yeah," Clark replied to his father.

"Okay," Martha interjected, "we have established that you are deeply attracted to this woman and like her a lot. So what's the problem?"

Clark then stared at his parents and remarked, "Mom, Dad, I'm a Kryptonian. The globe said that we mate for life. It also specified that when we found our soulmate the attraction to one's life partner would be immediate and intense. In Jenni's case those particular sensations are just not there."

"My son," Jonathan chimed in, "there are no Kryptonian women on this planet. How do we know that the soulmate thing will work with Earth gals?" Jonathan pondered for a few moments and said emphatically, "Clark, stop considering yourself as an alien. You are a human by inclination and choice. Furthermore, you are biologically compatible with the people of this world. Didn't the globe and Charlie inform you that you only differed from Earth people by your unique abilities? As far as your mother and I am concerned, you, Clark, are our beloved son who is just as human as the next guy. To us, Clark, you're a great person. Your ethics and morals are beyond reproach. The extent of your caring about those who suffer and your willingness to help alleviate as much misery as you physically can places you in a unique category. We are so proud of you. Don't ever reproach yourself because of your origins." When he finished his pep talk, Jonathan took a deep breath and became silent.

Martha looked lovingly at her husband of thirty-three years and her pride in him swelled within her breast. Jonathan, she knew, was a shy person by nature. Because of his love for Clark, Jonathan had overcome his natural reticence to speak, especially about emotional issues. Because of Clark, he had swept aside his entrenched anxieties to help and support their befuddled son. Martha always was well aware that her husband would go to hell and back for their boy when the need arose.

Jonathan, Martha knew, was a man who generally said little outside the home, but did much to comfort those in need. As Martha observed her husband's behavior, she was again reminded that Clark had such a good mentor in Jonathan. Her husband lived by a simple code. Only people mattered and this important concept he'd taught Clark, who accepted it and refined its meaning. Her husband also instilled in their son that there were two kinds of people in this world — those with commitment and those who needed the commitment of others. Clark, they both knew, was a committed person. Somehow Martha understood that her boy would find a way to use his gifts and would be a blessing to humankind. Clark may not as yet have realized the direction his life was taking, but Martha with her simple wisdom understood that destiny had mapped out his trek. Her son had started down a path that would make him a shepherd of Earth's people, especially those in need. By some internal mechanism Martha didn't quite understand, she knew that Krypton's last son would become a blessing to the people of old terra firma.

"Well, Mom," Clark asked, "can you help me find a solution to my dilemma?"

She smiled at her son and replied, "Maybe. I may not have a complete remedy for your quandary, son, but I can give a mother's guidance." She rose from the table and started to pace to and fro until she finally stopped in front of her boy. Placing her hands on his shoulders Martha said, "Until recently, most people who married did not choose their life partners. Most marriages were arranged by parents. And in some cultures, the betrothed couple frequently didn't see one another until the moment of their wedding. The marriage of men and woman during those times was akin to a business arrangement. While your father and I and most other people in this country would never accept such a tradition, I must say in all fairness that many arranged marriages were surprisingly successful. As you are aware, many countries in the world still use this matrimonial method."

After pausing for a few seconds Martha continued, "The men and women in arranged marriages learned first to like each other and in many cases love did blossom in time. It seems that the most important criteria for these arranged marriages was compatibility. You and Jenni seem to possess the selfsame interests. Since you and her in all likelihood will have children, the Kryptonian people will most likely be reborn through your progeny. This fact could be one of the basic reasons your natural parents sent you to us."

When Martha finished her powerful message, she smiled and then hugged her son.

As Clark was leaving, he turned to his parents and said, "Your common sense, as always, has helped me immensely." He kissed them both and waved goodbye as he launched himself skyward and headed toward Singapore.

That evening Clark went to Jenni's apartment intending to accept her proposal of marriage. First though, he had to inform her about his ancestry — he needed to tell her everything.

As Clark thought about revealing his super attributes, he became quite apprehensive. He was acutely aware that she must understand and accept his off worldly origins and special abilities. Even if she were repulsed by Clark's revelation, Jenni must be made aware never to talk about Clark's secret. If knowledge of his super powers ever became public, Clark Kent would cease to exist and his parent's safety would be at risk. Because of his mounting apprehensions about revealing his alien roots and his special abilities, Clark began wondering if telling Jenni was a wise choice. Questions and doubts were now flooding his mind. After Jenni knew his secret, would she wish to maintain any kind of relationship with him? Could he trust Jenni to preserve his secret? And, after she was apprised of Clark's special persona, he wondered again whether Jenni would still consider him as an intimate partner, someone she would like to journey through life and beyond with hand in hand?

All of his questions and apprehensions abruptly ended, as the door to Jenni's apartment was staring him in the face.

After a pause, Clark took a breath and knocked on her door.

Some moments later, the door swung wide revealing a beautiful young woman. As she gazed at Clark, Jenni's face lighted up with a special loving smile, which she reserved just for him.

Nervously Clark asked, "May I come in?" Jenni smiled inwardly at his formality but understood that Clark's nervous behavior was part of his Kansas upbringing. She was keenly aware that Clark's comportment was a manifestation of his respect for her.

When Clark entered Jenni's apartment and they exchanged pleasantries, he asked her to be seated. Then Clark started to pace nervously and slowly to and fro, as he described his past and explained his origins. At first she was incredulous. But, when he gave her the globe and the images it produced which substantiated Clark's claims, she believed. To further confirm his tale and the saga divulged by the globe, Clark clasped Jenni to his breast and levitated them to the ceiling. After a few seconds, hovering just below the roof of the room, he returned to the floor. When he released her, Jenni stumbled to the sofa and nearly collapsed. Clark could sense that her heart rate was extremely rapid and perspiration covered her face. Before continuing, he moistened a towel with cool water and gently wiped her face. Then he sat down and waited for her emotional state to calm down.

Finally, she looked at him and said something that knocked his socks off. "Are we biologically comparable?"

After Clark recovered from the shock promulgated by her words, he simply replied, "Yes, we are."

After Clark got a grip on his composure, he asked her, "Out of curiosity, why did you asked such a question?"

"If you accept my proposal," Jenni replied, "I want to be the mother of our children. That wish is a natural consequence of love — our love. Where you came from or whom your natural parents happen to be does not intimidate me. The special abilities your people genetically bequeath to you will make life much more interesting for us. We'll never be bored."

Clark was stunned by Jenni's questions and replies to say the least. He could hardly believe his ears. She had accepted him without any qualms. Clark's origins didn't represent a problem for Jenni. Not quite believing his good fortune, Clark asked again, "Are you sure you don't have any apprehensions about me, Jen?

"No, my darling," she replied. "You're the sweetest, most thoughtful, and kindest man I've ever known. You are more human than any individual I've ever met."

Clark then reached for her and gave her a hug while allowing his lips to brush hers.

As they stood there holding one another, Jenni murmured in his ear, "Remember that love conquers all things sweetheart."

After a few precious moments holding one another, Clark said in a solemn voice, "Jennifer Fields, I am euphoric about your proposal of marriage. If you still want me as a husband, I would be proud to journey through life with you."

With tears pooling in her eyes, she said, "I love you, Clark Kent, with a passion that would make even Cleopatra blush."

Catching her breath, she added, "I pray to G-D, the creator of all things, that as we travel the highways of this world, may we always possess the love we pledged to one another this day." When Jenni finished her fervent statement, Clark kissed her, a kiss that was one of affection and a contract between two lovers, full of passion and a promise for tomorrow.

As Clark walked towards his apartment that evening, he realized that the acceptance of Jenni's proposal and her unequivocal acceptance of his true self gave him a rush — a spiritual uplifting that he had never before felt. Besides his parents, someone else cared for the real Clark Kent and loved him in spite of his differences.

On the following day, after talking and talking through most of the night, Jenni and Clark decided to become husband and wife as soon as possible.

A few days later, nuptials between Jennifer Fields and Clark Kent took place on the island of Singapore and were officiated by a local magistrate. Alan, of course, was the best man. Clark and Jenni then visited Clark's parents in Kansas and from there proceeded to see Jenni's mother, Jodi, who resided in Metropolis.

Jenni's mother was a widow. Her husband was killed in Vietnam, and his body was never recovered. Jodi never remarried.

After the untimely death of her husband, Jodi earned her doctorate in physics with a specialty in genetics and entered the world of research. She was currently employed by STAR labs.


For two years after their marriage, Clark and Jennifer were exceedingly active and inventive. Using Clark's String Theory, Jenni derived the mathematical relationships needed for teleportation. From her work, Clark built what he termed teleportation gates. Soon, Clark and his wife were traveling between Singapore, Kansas, and Metropolis on a regular basis. The trip seemed like walking between two adjacent rooms in a house. From his string theory, Clark also conceived and fabricated an interstellar engine and then constructed a spacecraft. For their mutual protection, Clark used his unique abilities to build a special home. Jenni named it "Sanctuary." The platform was placed in a geosynchronous orbit around Mars. Connection between their Singapore condo and Sanctuary was accomplished by a teleportation gate.

Attached to their home in space was a fully provisioned laboratory facility. Around "Sanctuary" several cloaking devices were positioned to keep the platform hidden and secure. Their Mars home was constructed by an almost indestructible material Jenni named stabilized neutronium. It was discovered jointly by the Kents while studying the magnetic properties of matter at very low temperatures.

Also during these first two years of their marriage, the younger Kents modified their original spacecraft creating an interstellar vessel. It used stabilized neutronium as the hull material and a string engine to drive the ship. This starship, the first of its kind, was berthed adjacent to Sanctuary.

Using their interstellar spacecraft, Jenni and Clark visited nearby star systems. To their delight, they found them teaming with life. Several of the newly discovered civilizations were technologically advanced. Unfortunately, one of the most advanced of these societies was also very militant. They called themselves the "Zots" and were trying to develop interstellar space vehicles. The mores of this society made Jenni and Clark anxious. The bellicose nature of these beings caused the Kents to set up several surveillance satellites around the Zots' home world. The Zots had to be watched. By comparison to the Zots' military behavior, Earth's armed forces were like a bunch of kids having a fight in a schoolyard.

While observing the Zots' ethically vile world, now dubbed Luthor, Jenni and Clark were sickened by the behavior of its people. They then added to each cloaked surveillance satellite warning devices which would inform them or their descendants when and if this belligerent society was able to leave the confines of their solar system. In the meantime, the hidden satellites would continuously monitor the progress of Luthor's people and continuously send this information to the Kents or their progeny.

When the Kents returned to Earth, they began to create weaponry for their home world's defense. Two kinds of ordnance were developed. One was a type of disintegrator weapon which used high energy beams to rip matter to shreds. The other device, which Clark called the "Disrupter," could destroy the very fabric of space itself by thrusting a targeted object and its surrounding void into null space where matter simply ceased to exist. The plans for both these weapons and their working prototypes were placed in a special safe within Sanctuary. He prayed that the Disrupter — the ultimate force of destruction, in Clark's mind — would never need to be used.

Slightly more than two years into their marriage, Jennifer and Clark conceived. After a normal pregnancy of two hundred and ninety days, fraternal twin girls were born to the Singapore Kents. The first born, Mara, had blue eyes and red hair. Her features were nearly an equal mix of her parents' features. The other twin, Lara, possessed blond hair and green eyes. As physical beauty is measured, one could consider both girls on the gorgeous scale. When Clark gazed at his daughter Lara, he had a strange feeling that her facial features reminded him of someone — someone he should remember. He just couldn't match her face with the shadowy image that floated just beyond his mental reach. Maybe in time, he thought, after repeatedly viewing his daughter's face, Lara's features would help him recall that image concealed in the recesses of his mind.

From the beginning of their marriage, Jennifer and Clark treated Alan as a member of their family — a very close blood relative.

After the birth of the Kent children, uncle Alan, as he was affectionately called, became the ideal baby sitter. Alan loved the twins. He treated them as if they were his own flesh and blood. In addition to his nurturing chores, Alan was also kept abreast of Jenni's and Clark's research activities and shared their enthusiasm and triumphs as they probed the mysteries of nature.

Like the Kents, Alan, too, used the world-wide teleportation system that Jenni and Clark had discovered and built. With Clark and Jenni's transportation network at his command, Alan was no longer stranded on the isle of Singapore. While Alan traveled to many exotic places across the world, he especially enjoyed his many sojourns to Metropolis.

During one of Alan's habitual trips to perhaps the world's greatest city and his visits to the Daily Planet, Alex L. Carnie became curious about the apparent speed that Alan transported himself between Singapore and Metropolis — about twelve thousand miles. He reasoned if it took about fifty-two hours for a normal round trip flight between Singapore and Metropolis, "How could Alan make so many treks between the big US city and his Asiatic post in such a short period?"

Since Alex's knowledge and interest in geography were nearly nonexistent, his curiosity soon waned and he finally dismissed the supposedly insignificant thought from his mind. To him, Alan's travels might appear odd, but to his way of thinking not a significant item. So, with a shrug of his shoulders, Alex once again focused on his work.

After that, Alex wouldn't have given Alan's travel itinerary a second thought except for the fact that he happened to overhear parts of a conversation between Lois Lane and the Singapore bureau chief. He heard Lois comment, "How's the weather in your neck of the woods at this time of year."

"It's always hot there," Alan told Lois. "Singapore is very close to the equator. In fact, when I left this morning it was a broiler."

Lois was so engrossed in her article that she missed the significance of Alan's remark. Unfortunately, Alex heard Alan's faux pas and was aware of its significance. From that moment on, Alex recorded Alan's arrival time to the newsroom floor and the moment he left the paper. Unfortunately, Alan had to make three additional trips to Metropolis that week. Like a machine, Carnie noted when Alan Jacobs appeared at the Planet and when he left the bullpen. After each visitation, Alex waited an hour and then called the Planet's Singapore bureau. When his call was answered by the switchboard operator, he requested to speak with the bureau chief. After a few moments a voice answered — "Hello, Alan Jacobs here." Without saying a word, Alex made some hissing noises with his mouth which sounded like line static and hung up. Alex L. Carnie was now certain that the Daily Planet's Singapore bureau chief was flitting between Asia and the East coast of North America at rates that could not be achieved by Earth's current scientific and engineering abilities.

After Alex digested the ramifications of his discovery, he believed that his uncle would be very interested in Alan's travel itineraries. Smiling, Alex Luthor Carnie picked up the phone and proceeded to dial an untraceable phone number.

Over the next two years, Alan was shadowed each time he appeared in Metropolis area. A report followed each time Alan visited Metropolis and was mailed to a very private post office box.


Shortly after the Kent twins were born, unsettling events began to occur in the region adjacent to Singapore. People from interior villages of Malaysia and Sumatra were appearing in the cities in ever increasing numbers.

Although there were many rumors, they all seemed to be juxtaposed to a single theme. Bandits were said to be attacking rural villages and enslaving the people. The babble in the market place also told of villagers being made to burrow in the Earth. Stories of machines that flew were also mixed with the refugee's seemingly tall tales. It was also murmured in the bazaars that aircraft were landing in the conquered areas and hauling dirt away mined by the villagers. By studying the rather crude information gathered from the refugees and the scuttlebutt from the market places, Alan and Clark became intrigued with the mounting info. When the data was correlated, both reporters smelled a major story in the making.

One night, when the moon and stars were obscured by a heavy overcast, Clark and Alan hovered above one of the captured hamlets — Alan was in a piggyback position on Clark's shoulders. From their elevated position, they saw men, with whips, driving the natives, as they mined the Earth. Surrounding the village was a troop of heavily armed mercenaries.

Obscured by the blackness of the night, Clark and Alan descended into a small jungle clearing near an occupied village. From this position Clark was better able to scout the area. Then, using his vision gizmo to avoid detection, Clark levitated Alan and himself over the sentinels and landed within the hamlet. Once inside the village, they quietly floated toward the command hut. Alighting near the cabin entrance, Clark entered the control structure at super speed and immobilized its occupants. When he had finished subduing the hut's occupants, Alan entered and the two of them started to examine the documents scattered about a table located in the center of the one room structure. As Alan searched the papers, Clark watched for hostile activity and contacted the law enforcement authorities.

In less than ten minutes, a contingent of the national militia arrived in helicopter gun ships. After a brief firefight, the bandits were routed and most of them were captured.

After the skirmish ended, there arose such a cry of exaltation from the villagers that the ground shook. These enslaved souls were now freed from their tyrannical servitude. Looking at Clark, Alan could see tears of joy streaming from his eyes as he heard the villagers thanking their gods for their deliverance.

Soon after the battle of liberation ended, Clark examined the piles of Earthen material mined by the natives. While Clark had the earthen material studied, Alan discovered information that linked a subsidiary of LexcCorp to the militant mining operation that had been crushed. The first part of their project to pull Lex Luthor from his pedestal had been accomplished. With their expose, both reporters hoped that the ensuing trial it launched would lead to a conviction and the incarceration of Lex Luthor.

At the lab adjacent to Sanctuary, Clark discovered that the mined materials consisted mainly of platinum and gold with trace amounts of other ores. The environs around the village were a miner's treasure house and contained substantial deposits of these precious metals.

The particular materials found in and about the native villages had become very important commodities in recent years. Not only were they used by the jewelry industry, but platinum and gold had become essential components in the production of electronic devices.

Clark's enslavement story was published under his alias Kal Ellis, which Clark emailed to Perry. Alan brought the hard facts, which supported Clark's slavery expose.

As Perry expected, after publishing Clark's expose, Luthor came storming into the Planet newsroom with an army of lawyers soon after the morning edition of the Planet hit the streets.

Reading the Ellis article, Luthor's fertile mind perceived an opportunity. He immediately thought how a protracted lawsuit might destroy one of his chief adversaries, the Daily Planet. However, when he was confronted with the documents that Alan had located in the liberated village, Lex sheepishly and quickly altered his combative attitude. Lex Luthor was a master of shifting blame to others. Realizing his dilemma, he said to Perry, "I had no knowledge of the barbaric operation Kal Ellis talked about in his article. That mining operation was directed by the president of Minetech, one of LexCorp's many subsidiaries." Later that day, Lex showed the Planet's editor and inspector Henderson information fraudulently manufactured by his attorneys and accountants which essentially cleared him of all wrong doings. Again the devil's disciple, with the aid of his vast financial empire, had succeeded in transferring the blame to one of his cronies. Like he had in the past, Lex allowed one of his associates to take the fall for his felonious actions.

In the coming months, Clark and Alan uncovered four more illegal ventures in the region in and around Singapore. Each, of course, controlled by a different subsidiary or client company of LexCorp. Although these illicit operations were quashed, Lex avoided the clutches of the law in each case by allowing others to be convicted for his villainous actions.

As Clark was finishing his fifth story on LexCorp's Asian companies and their nefarious schemes, he said to Alan, "When the guillotine ultimately falls on Lex for some infraction or other, it will also drop for all those who were destroyed by Lex's evil stratagems. Justice grinds slowly, but in the end most outrages against humanity were ameliorated, and perpetrators of their evil pay the piper of retribution."

For each of Clark's exposes about the rot and corruption associated with LexCorp, he received a Kerth under the guise of his AKA, Kal Ellis. At this period in his life, only Alan and his wife knew that Kal Ellis was in reality Clark Kent. While the three of them were toying with the idea that Perry should be told of the Ellis — Kent connection, their thoughts had not crystallized on this subject. They were fearful that if Luthor discovered the Ellis connection to the Planet, Clark would be expelled from the Singapore office by Luthor's political sycophants on the island. Lex was buddy with many of Singapore's government officials, who were not over friendly toward the international press corp. However, one idea did materialize from Clark's and Alan's adventures. They realized that a secret identity could be a most useful way to cope with difficult rescue situations. While the thought had not fully crystallized in Kent's mind, the idea of a secret identity, which could protect his super identity and his family, began to meld.

After five unsuccessful operations in the Indonesian archipelago, LexCorp suspended all of its activity in the region.

For the first time in many years, Lex was forced to withdraw from one of his many illicit operations.

The battle between Lex and the various legal systems in the area lasted nearly three years and ended just as Jennifer Fields Kent gave birth to a son. Jenni and Clark named the boy Joshua Seth. Josh, as he was called, brought unbelievable joy to both parents. He was a good baby and was over indulged by his parents and adoring sisters, themselves still just toddlers.

On a delightful spring day, Jenni placed her infant son into a baby carrier and trotted-off to a regional science meeting at the US Consulate. Throughout the meetings, on that faithful day, Josh lay at his mother's feet. From the infant's position, the baby could easily examine his strange surroundings. Josh was so intrigued by his adventure that he didn't make much of a fuss as the meeting progressed. He seemed to sense from his mother's aura that it was important that he behave. So Joshua Kent patiently waited for the loving attention which Jenni normally lavished upon him.

As the meeting began winding down, a group of about thirty masked men suddenly invaded the Consulate. In the melee that followed, Jenni and her son were among the first to be taken hostage and murdered by the terrorists when the Singapore military began to assault the consulate building.

Clark was at work when the news of his wife and son's murder reached the newsroom. When Clark was notified of the tragedy, his legs buckled. The man from Kansas became extremely distraught and had great difficulty accepting the horrific news about his wife and child. Upon hearing the ghastly news, Alan rushed out of his office and embraced his friend in a vain attempt to comfort his spiritual brother. The pain expressed in his eyes became a window which allowed those present in the newsroom to see the anguish in Clark's soul.

As Clark looked into Alan's face, tears were already streaming from his eyes and cascading down his face. Clark, after a time, was finally able to obtain a measure of control over his distraught body. He then looked skyward and asked that proverbial question which has no answer. "Why?" Then, sobbing once more, almost hysterically, Clark slowly slipped to the floor alternately sobbing and hollering in a vain attempt to stop the anguish and grief that now had overwhelmed him.

When at last Clark again regained a measure of control over his mind and body, he found himself lying on a couch in an office he and Alan shared.

Looking up, Clark saw a very worried Alan Jacobs hovering over him. He smiled at his friend, which alleviated some of the worry that was written on the bureau chief's face.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Jacobs said, "Kent, I know there is nothing I can say that will comfort you, but hang on. People, including myself need you."

Pausing for a moment, Alan added, "You know, Clark, memory is a funny thing. It molds a man. From the time a man can remember things, his most significant memories are those given to him by women: mother, sisters, first sweetheart, and most importantly his wife. Even those women he might like to forget provide him with memories that may help sometimes."

"No, my friend, there is nothing I can say that will give you comfort. You're like me now, a person with a memory. But we're not alone in this conflict with terror, which is spreading through our world and kills without reason and doesn't care that their horrific acts of terror leave men without wives, women without their husbands, without children, without a single thing they hold dear. For those men and women there is a job to do. To fight, with words, with arms, if necessary, to purge the world from the fear and horror that the terrorist causes."

Pausing to collect his thoughts, Alan added, "Yes, Clark, we must fight to destroy destruction. We gotta extinguish the mindless devastation so that the world can move toward your utopian dream. That's our job, Clark. G-D grant that we are successful."

"If you decide to go against the enemies of civilization, you'll need help, my friend. Even with your super abilities, you will need support, at times. Remember, people who side with evil are legion and cunning."


Two days later at the Kent farm, Clark and his daughters, Martha and her husband Jonathan, Jennifer's mother, Jodi, and Alan were standing over two freshly prepared graves — the final resting places of his beloved wife Jennifer and their infant son Joshua.

As the breeze washed over them, Clark, leaning his head on his mother's shoulder, haltingly said, "Death should have come to her as a friend surrounded by her children and her children's children at the end of a long and fruitful lifetime. Instead, it came to her as a maniac bringing terror and took her life like a thief in the night. In its murderous orgy which extinguished her existence, death also devoured the living spirit of our newly born son ending his tender existence."

Taking a deep breath, Clark added, "I know these horrible events happened, but my mind and soul cannot fully accept the fact that my beloved wife Jennifer and our young son have been spirited away by the pale horseman."

"It will take time for your soul to find peace, my son," Martha quietly said. "You must look to your daughters now. They will need you more in the days and weeks to come." Martha then added, "Clark, you may yet be fortunate. You could in time find another person to share your life."

"Unless she's my soulmate," Clark answered his mother, "I probably would be loth to marry again."

"Clark," Jonathan chimed in, "Mara and Lara will need a woman's touch especially when they reach puberty. A helpmate who has experienced the difficulties that your girls will face when they reach that time in their lives. I feel that a woman's influence will be needed to help guide my granddaughters through the difficult transition from children to young adults."

After pondering his father's words for a moment, Clark replied, "I understand what you are trying to tell me. It is logical. However, in order for me to contemplate marriage again, I must experience a love that is reciprocated, like the one between Jennifer and myself, and connects our souls." Pausing for a moment, Clark added, "Anyway, this loss of my beloved wife has sapped my desire to look for another life partner. Also, I don't know whether I have enough love left within me to share my life with someone else a second time around."

"My son," Jonathan replied to his boy, "love is one of life's great gifts. It is never diminished nor becomes diluted when you spread it around. You're exhausted now from emotional stress. Listen to your papa. In time, your body and mind will heal and your spirit will rejoin the human community."

Martha looked at her husband and said, "Jonathan, you old dog, when did you become a closet philosopher?" Jonathan just smiled at his wife and held out his arms. Martha quickly stepped into her husband's loving embrace. As they hugged, Martha's and Jonathan's lips met renewing their undying devotion they had for one another. The romantic interlude of the elder Kents helped ease some of the pain and frustration that pervades the funeral of a cherished partner.

As the funeral party returned to the Kent farmhouse, the sky opened and a cleansing rain washed over them. The silence between the mourners walking towards the house matched the roaring of the thunder resounding throughout the heavens keeping cadence with Clark's anguish.

After a mourning period, which lasted a month, a Kryptonian custom, Clark and his daughters returned to their Singapore home. Clark still had six months remaining to fulfill his commitment to the Planet's news bureau. He intended to honor his contract in spite of the great sorrow that made him want to run away and hide.

A month after Clark and his girls returned to Singapore, Jodi Fields arrived at the Kent's Asiatic abode. She had taken an extended leave of absence from STAR labs to help her son-in-law and granddaughters readjust to the normal patterns of life. In her heart, Clark was not an in-law, but the son she never had.

One evening several weeks after Jodi's arrival in Singapore, she said to Clark, "Can I speak to you?

"Sure," he replied. "Let's go to the den."

As Jodi made herself comfortable, Clark poured a half carafe of wine from the cooler. As they enjoyed their repast, Jodi quietly said, "It's obvious that my daughter loved you beyond what mere words could ever express. I could sense the love that welled up within her when she either embraced you or your children. Together you and she and your kids created an island of pure delight, surrounded by a sea of tortured humanity. I noticed that only those you loved could enter your special sanctuary — myself, your parents, and Alan to be specific. We were your world. In your safe harbor, Jenni and you could be your true selves. I thought that I knew you, Clark, but now I'm not so sure."

Clark was startled and asked, "What do you mean, Jodi?"

"Several evenings ago," she replied, "I saw your daughters — my grandchildren — floating above their beds as they slept. Naturally, I was somewhat shocked. Their behavior, I must admit, peeked my scientific curiosity, and I started to carefully scrutinize my grand kids. I became aware that when I converse with the girls, it was like talking to a colleague at the lab. They are both consummate musicians. They played a piano and violin duet for me that would be the envy of any concertizing artist. The results of the different IQ tests I gave them were meaningless. They achieved scores way beyond the top end of the inelegance scale. You children, Clark — my granddaughters — are the most brilliant people on this planet. Please tell me what in hell's going on."

After recovering from his surprise, Clark thought to himself, "Now I know from whom Jenni inherited her inductive prowess."

Clark then focused on Jodi and said to her, "Have some more wine, relax, and listen to a fantastic tale." He then told Jodi the entire story of his journey from Krypton to his present situation.

"If you want further details about my childhood," he added, "talk to my parents. Since they consider you a member of our family, I don't think there will be a problem with them jawing with you."

Jodi patted Clark on the shoulder and said, "Thanks for telling me that incredible story. I want you to know, my son, that I'll always keep the knowledge of your origin a secret. Not only will my silence keep you safe, but it will also safeguard my grandchildren. When my time comes to depart this life, the Kent-Kyptonian family secret will be interred with my mortal remains."

"Since we're talking about life and death, Clark, when my time comes," Jodi asked, "I'd like to be buried next to my daughter and grandson."

Clark embraced Jodi and lovingly said in a voice filled with anguish, "I will honor your wish, Mom." Then Clark smiled and added, "Let's stop talking about death." Clark then raised his glass of wine and remarked, "May the pale horseman arrive at our doorstep many, many years from now. You and I have a lot of living to do between now and then. We — my parents, you, Alan and I — have two very gifted girls to raise. And, I'll need all of your abilities to help me fulfill Jenni's and my expectations pertaining the girls."

Sometime during the next several months, Clark installed a teleportation gate in Jodi's Metropolis apartment. He introduced her to sanctuary and took her and the kids on several interstellar trips to neighboring solar systems.

As they sat alone one evening Jodi said to Clark, "Thanks for showing me other star systems and the life forms they harbor. I always felt living entities existed beyond our world. Just knowing has satisfied a burning curiosity."

"Clark," Jodi asked, "just how are the girls being educated?"

Clark then took his mother-in-law by the hand and led her to what appeared to be a chest-of-drawers. Stopping in front of the furniture, Clark said, "Charlie, activate the library system."

Immediately, two holograms appeared and asked, "What are your needs?"

Clark replied, "This Earth woman," pointing to Jodi, "is Mara and Lara's maternal grandmother. Allow her to have access to the library learning unit. Also, allow her to contribute to the education of her grandchildren."

"Affirmative," the holograms responded as they faded from view.

Returning to the living room, Clark explained to Jodi that all of Krypton's knowledge had been electronically encoded into the fabric of his survival spacecraft which transported with him to Earth. Since Clark's arrival on Earth, the wisdom of his new home world has been slowly added to the Kryptonian library.

Seating themselves, Clark commented, "Linked to the library is an artificial intelligence unit, an AI, which functions as both an educator and a librarian. The girls and I affectionately call the AI unit Charlie. Like most Kryptonians," Clark then informed her, "the girls began their education at the age of one year."

Clark's formal instruction also began at this age.

He further told Jodi that at sixteen Mara and Lara would enter a University. Their education, at whatever institution of higher learning they matriculated would not be to obtain factual or skill oriented instruction, but more to enhance their sociological maturation. Their actual knowledge base and adroitness upon entering a university environment would already be many hundreds of millennia in advance of Earth's current civilization. Learning about mature boy — girl relationships would be probably the main goal of attending a university. Interaction with people of their own age, Clark hoped, would help then find a soulmate or life partner — preferably a life partner who is a soulmate. When Clark had completed his description of the girls' learning program, Jodi was content. As she pondered her son-in-law's plans, she somehow knew without quite understanding the reasons behind her feelings that her granddaughters would someday soon become a blessing to this world.

When Clark's contract expired at the Planet's Singapore bureau, he moved himself and the girls to his boyhood home in Smallville. Jodi returned to STAR labs and resumed her research activities.

Although the Singapore clan had dispersed, most every weekend Jodi and Alan visited the farm via the teleportation network. These visits had the effect of further bonding Jodi, Alan, and the five Kents into a strong, loving family unit.

After a sojourn of several months at his boyhood home, Clark purchased a townhouse in Metropolis and started to do some freelance work. Alan submitted Clark's articles to the Planet via the wire service. In this way, Clark Kent began to accumulate news clips, which would enhance his resume.

Sometime soon, Clark knew that he would apply for a position at the Metropolis branch of the Daily Planet.

While becoming acquainted with Metropolis, Clark also began using his super abilities to assist people without their direct knowledge.

As more and more Metropolitans reported mysterious rescues and life saving activities, the Metropolis Star began publishing articles about what it termed "miracle rescues" using the title "Angels In Town."

The Planet semi-ignored Clark's covert activities because hard evidence was lacking. Perry White would not put a story to bed without strong supporting evidence, especially when it smelled like UFO material.

The Planet's best investigative reporter, Lois Lane, and its Editor-In-Chief, Perry White, had some juicy head knockers over this particular issue. Because of her gifted intuitive sense, Lois suspected that there were just too many strange occurrences in and around the city for them to be completely random events, or as Perry would say, without hard facts it would sound like a story straight out of the National whisper. Although Perry wasn't buying, Lois would bide her time and watch for any unusual occurrences.

Three months after settling in Metropolis, Clark approached Perry for a job. With his excellent credentials and an outstanding recommendation from Alan Jacobs, Clark received a probationary position. Studying Clark's writing style, Perry's instincts told him that the new hire and Lane's news styles were complimentary. If they could jell on an emotional level he mused, "Those two could develop into one of the greatest news teams of all times. Ah," he thought, "there was Lois' attitude." She was a lone wolf, and self centered. No one had been able to partner with Lois for any length of time without running for the hills. Because of her past life experiences, Lois was not a trusting soul. Aside from Perry, whom she considered a surrogate father, and Jimmy as a kid brother, all others in the newsroom were just simply competition. The ones she really despised were those few colleagues who constantly harassed her. Lois, in general, rarely displayed any warm feelings toward any individuals working in the bullpen area. Her deal was for the most part very professional.

"Ah heck," he murmured, "I'll hook them up for a few months and hope for the best."

"Lois," Perry yelled across the newsroom, "get into my office, now."

From Perry's tone of voice, Lois knew something was up.

When Lois had seated herself in Perry's inner sanctum she was promptly informed about a newly hired reporter. Lois was then informed that she would be partnered with Clark Kent during his probation period.

After the full impact of Perry's words washed over her, Lois got an incredulous look on her face and shrieked, "I work alone. You want to partner me with someone who reeks of pig's swill, a hick from the sticks who writes with a cracker barrel style. Have you lost your marbles? How's a guy from nowheresville going to pull his weight on this newspaper, especially in my investigations."

"Look," Perry said, "he'll be with you only during his probationary period. After that we'll see." Hearing Perry's words, Lois knew exactly how to extradite herself from this intolerable situation. Therefore, she grudgingly agreed to the chief's demands.

After Lois quieted down, Perry and she went to the conference room where Clark was waiting. As they entered, Clark rose as Perry introduced him to Lois. Clark then shook hands with her. Seeing Kent's gesture, Perry couldn't help but think that this guy from Kansas was a gentleman to boot. How many other guys would rise for a woman these days, whether she was a new acquaintance or old friend? Those kinds of manners were instilled by loving parents at a very early age and would remain with the child throughout life. As a man, those early teachings would become a spontaneous courteous response that would set him apart from the politically correct craze that was currently sweeping the country. To Perry, political correctness was another funky dehumanizing condition that was being thrust upon a seemingly uncaring society. To the cynicism that existed in the world, Clark felt like a fresh breeze that blew across his newsroom. While Perry couldn't give a reason for his gut feeling, he was impressed with Kent and his affection for this new hire rose right there and then.

Just as Perry was forming his opinion of Clark Kent, Lois' insecurities went into overdrive, which caused her to be greatly suspicious of the gorgeous man that stood next to her. As Lois stealthily observed Clark, her new partner, she thought to herself, "He's a better looking guy than her former boyfriends." While admiring Clark's physical attributes, she sarcastically said to herself, "Kent was probably created from the same whole cloth as that cochon Claude. Claude the user… Claude the thief… and…" Every time she thought of his name her heart rate and internal rage increased rapidly. By the time she and Clark were to talk alone, Lois' demeanor was anything but friendly. In fact, it was down right hostile.

Leaving the conference room, Lois hurried back to her desk and beckoned Clark to follow her.

Arriving at Lois' spot on the news floor, the feisty reporter turned to face her unwanted baggage and almost bellowed, "Until your probationary period is over, mister, your desk will be next to mine." As Clark seated himself, Lois continued to bark. "Your desk is in a position where I can keep an eye on you. When we go on assignment, I'll ask the questions. During your probationary period, you're not working with me, but for me. I am top banana, and to me you just are an escapee from a pit of swine dreck."

After a slight pause, Lois added, "Remember Mr. Green Jeans, I am top banana, comprende."

"Yeah," Clark murmured, so she could hear his remark, "You like to be on top."

Lois was surprised at Kent's quick retort. However, she recovered rapidly and said, "You're way out of your league, hayseed. Just cool it." To add another jab to her caustic remarks, Lois remarked, "The last time you were close to a woman with pizazz like me was probably in a 'kiss and tell' party during primary school."

Finishing her harangue, she gave Clark her typical cynical smile and then gazed at her computer desktop for any messages.

Expecting a cynical response, an eerie silence was all that Lois perceived.

Looking at Clark, she was startled as she saw tears pooling in his eyes staring into space. As she continued to observe her unwanted partner, Clark grabbed onto a chair for support. He felt that his legs were going to buckle. Without knowing what had caused his unexpected emotional response, Lois innately knew that she had crossed a line of sorts between teasing and hurting. She could see that Clark had been emotionally wounded and the pain he felt was very evident on his face. Lois was upset. She had no intention of causing any emotional distress in someone who was neither a competitor nor adversary. Unfortunately, Lois was not good at saying I'm sorry, especially to a relative stranger, so she did the worst of all of her possibilities to make amends and said nothing.

Looking at her monitor again, Lois said, "Let's get to work."

Somehow her words brought him back to reality, and he replied with faltering words, "Okay, Lois where do we begin?" as he removed the tears from his eyes with a tissue.

The "we" word irritated Lois to a point that she quipped, "There is no we, Kent. There is 'you' and there is 'I.' You're here to learn. I give, you take. We do not share. Do you understand?"

"Gotcha," Clark remarked, his deportment again under control.

Smiling and making a little bow to Lois, Clark said, as he proceeded to walk towards the newsroom exit, "Tell Perry I'm grateful to him for offering me a job, but the position I'm afraid is not for me. I'm sure, Ms. Lane, my resignation will relieve you of an unwanted and distasteful burden, me, of course. You know, Mr. Green Jeans, the hack from nowheresville."

Clark's actions caught Lois unawares. She was stunned, as she watched him stroll toward the paper's exit. Recovering quickly, she jumped up and hurriedly pursued Clark. She had to convince him to stay. Otherwise, Perry would hang her out to dry. Placing her prejudices and anger aside for once, Lois was aware, as was the chief, that Clark Kent had the potential to be a great journalist. Lois knew from his freelancing articles, many of which had been published in the Planet's evening addition, any paper would gobble him up. His articles were very impressive for a rookie, and she certainly didn't want him as a competitor. The way in which he was leaving would probably make him an unfriendly and vindictive rival.

When Lois caught up with Clark, she said, "Where in hell are you going? We have a job to do."

Turning and scowling at Lois he replied, "No Lois, you have a job to do. I just quit. If you represent the kind of people employed by this bureau, the Planet is not the place I'd care to spend my time; life's just too short."

Clark then turned toward the door and again began walking.

As he started to move, Lois placed her hand on Clark's shoulder and attempted to impede him. Annoyed, Clark stopped, looked at Lois and said, "Haven't I made myself clear? I'm no longer interested in working here. I'll try the Star or maybe go back to Smallville and become a farmer. There, at least people see each other as human beings, not things. My hometown is still a place where courtesy is practiced. Smallville is a hamlet where kids can be raised without fear and don't have to put up with people like you who are going nowhere in particular — lonely and without love."

"Clark, Clark," Lois pleaded with him. "I apologize for my behavior. I don't represent the kind of people that work here. I'm an aberration. Please, Clark, come back. You'll only have to put up with me for three months. If you leave, Perry will skin me alive. I'll be in his doghouse. And, you never want to be in Perry's doghouse."

After thinking about the situation for a moment and seeing the panic on Lois' face, Clark said, "What the heck. I'll give it a shot, but, no more barbaric and insulting rhetoric." She nodded.

Then the two of them walked toward their respective desks.

As Lois seated herself and peered at her computer screen, she thought, "He rebounded rather quickly. I guess whatever was eating at him wasn't that traumatic." Letting her female chauvinism again dominate her thoughts, Lois surmised that Clark's emotional response to her rather crass lecture was indicative of male immaturity. She assumed that his inability to deal with a woman leader was the result of some romantic interludes gone wrong. In her glib unfeeling impressions about Clark's romantic past, Lois was as far from the truth as her confused mind could take her.

Again, focusing on her story, Lois handed Clark a file about the recent disastrous events befalling the space program. After reading Lois' notes, it appeared to Clark that most of the difficulties seemed to be centered around the space station project.

Ignoring Lois for the moment, which wasn't hard to do, Clark sat back and pondered the problem.

After some minutes, Clark then turned to his so called partner and asked, "Is there any scientist associated with Prometheus project that we can talk to?"

"Dr. Samuel Platt," she said caustically. "But, I've already gone that route. He was dismissed from the space agency for mental health issues."

"Who made the allegations against Platt's that lead to his dismissal," Clark asked?

"Dr. Antoinette Bains," Lois replied.

"Isn't she the director of the Prometheus project," Clark commented.

"Yeah, she is," Lois told him.

"Lois," Clark asked, "Would you mind if I interviewed Platt?"

"I've already done that," she quipped.

"Well," Clark said to her, "Maybe a different perspective will shed some new light on this dilemma. Anyway, correlating our info may bring the problems plaguing the space station project closer to some kind resolution. In my way of thinking," Clark added, "two heads are usually better than one."

As Lois gazed at her reluctant partner, she thought, "He certainly tends to think well." From Clark's published articles, she knew that Clark wrote well, very well in fact. Smiling she said to herself, "He even may write better than I do. Of course, I'll never tell him that. If I praise his writing skills, it would only tend to inflate his male ego and compound my grief. No, I'll keep the farm boy in the dark and in the dirt. He'll find out soon enough that in the news business it's dog eat dog — every journalist for themselves."

Emerging from her mental repartee, Lois said, "Okay, Clark, we'll play it your way this time. Let's pay Dr. Platt a visit."


After his dismissal from the space program and his subsequent release from a mental institution, Dr. Platt now lived in a dingy basement apartment in the Hobbs Bay area of Metropolis — not a fashionable part of the city to call home by any means.

As Lois and Clark entered the ex-space scientist's lodging, Lois said to Platt, "This is my part… a colleague of mine. He would like to discuss the Prometheus project with you."

"Are you familiar with natural science?" Platt asked Clark.

"I have some knowledge," Clark remarked.

Dr. Platt then took out his research notes, and he and Clark hovered over the elderly scientist's record book and viewed the data he recorded before his sacking. Questions and replies scooted between them like a lightening fast pingpong match. When the mini conference ended, Platt placed his hand on Clark's shoulder and said, "My boy, you have talent. Your grasp of mathematics and physics is astounding for a lay person. You should consider physics as a career. You have the talent for it."

"Thank you, sir," Clark replied. "At present, I'm trying to master the art of journalism to acquire the skills needed to become a good investigative reporter. Lois," pointing toward his tentative partner, "is my mentor. She's not crazy about my writing style. However, I'm indebted to her for putting up with a guy from Kansas — a hack from nowheresville — and using her valuable time to teach me the know-how to be a first-class journalist. For that, I am indebted to her."

"However, I'm not beholden to Lois for her sarcastic and venomous mouthings with which she recently flayed my psyche," Clark quietly thought.

Pausing for a few seconds, Clark laughingly continued, "If I'm given my walking papers in a few months, I will seriously consider your suggestion, Dr. Platt, about a career in science."

As he thought about Platt's comments, Clark thought, "If I can somehow circumvent Luthor's black list, that is."

During Clark's conversation with Platt, Lois did not hear any mocking or insincere remarks directed at her. In fact, as they talked Lois heard Clark praise her journalistic expertise and listened as he told Platt of his gratitude and respect for her efforts on his behalf.

"After the way I treated him," she thought, "he still regards me with a measure of respect." Lois was surprised by Clark's attitude. If Clark Kent was sincere, he would be a nice guy." After a few moments, Lois' insecurities again kicked in, and she mused, "Clark's behavior is probably an act to get on my good side." Pausing for a moment, Lois mumbled softly, "Time will tell."

"I betcha," a little voice within her head said, "he turns out like all the guys you've known to your sorrow and …"

"Shut up," Lois inwardly said to that exasperating thought creeping through her mind.

Although Lois was still wary of Clark's intentions, the Planet's star reporter was impressed with Kent's understanding of Platt's scientific lingo. As she listened to both of them converse, Lois realized, to her frustration, that much of what they talked about was beyond her ken.

Also, Clark's logical approach to things and his understanding of Platt's work really surprised her. Kent's intellect and his general knowledge of both the abstract and mundane kind appeared to be more prodigious than she or anyone else at the Planet suspected.

Lois thought to herself, as Clark and Samuel Platt's conversation wound down, "You intrigue me, Clark Kent. You've certainly turned out to be an unusually interesting guy, maybe even fascinating enough to know beyond the working arena." Her interest was echoed by that little voice in her head.

Just before Lois and Clark left Platt's shanty abode, the rookie reporter asked Dr. Platt for his notebook. Clark told the aging scientist that he needed his notes so his friends at STAR labs could thoroughly examine Platt's information. The ex- space researcher then handed Clark his record ledger and said, "Please hurry, many lives depend on your friends' examination of my work."

On the way back to the Planet, Lois and Clark stopped at STAR labs, where Platt's notebook was given to Bernie Klein. Unbeknownst to Lois, Bernie was a close colleague of Clark, both in a social and professional capacity. They also had earned their doctorates together, at the same graduate school. As Lois and Clark were about to leave the STAR labs complex, Clark turned to Bernie and remarked, "Dr. Klein, please hurry with your analysis of Platt's data. It may contain the key to the space program's problems, but more important, that info could be the difference between life and death for the colonists slated for Space Station Prometheus."

While Lois was driving back to the Planet, she began to see Clark in a new light. Her revelation was very startling as it was illuminating. Shaking her head, Lois murmured, "It has been one hell of an afternoon."

Did you say something?" Clark remarked.

"Nothing important," Lois replied.

As she drove through the city, Lois reflected that Clark Kent had really surprised the hell out of her. Not only did he again display concern and compassion for people he didn't know, but Lois was nearly floored when she discovered the depth of Kent's apparent scientific ability. As she watched the rookie reporter work, Lois was taken aback when she realized that Clark understood Platt's esoteric thoughts and the scribbles she'd saw in the scientist's notebook. His apparent deep understanding of scientific principles made him almost a singularly unique individual in their profession. She, Lois Lane, Kerth award winner, sadly admitted to herself that she and most of her colleagues were scientifically ignorant of a discipline that was becoming increasingly important in world affairs.

While waiting for Clark to finish, Lois recalled reading somewhere that more than ninety-seven percent of the world's population was scientifically illiterate.

Lois was well aware that the STAR labs study could restore Dr. Platt's reputation and cast suspicion upon Dr. Bains. However, while such results were important, they were secondary. The main thrust of the STAR labs study was to save people's lives — especially those individuals making the trek to space station Prometheus.

As Clark soon discovered, not many people in the newsroom felt as he did about people and would have gone the extra mile. Because of Kent's caring attitude, Lois was joined by the hip to her fledgling partner. She realized that her personal convictions matched Clark's to a tee. Of course, she would never tell him how she felt. Lois had a reputation to uphold. People viewed her as "mad dog Lane." That was the veil she developed and maintained — let her rivals believe that she had to get the story at any cost. Lois was keenly aware that people saw what they expected to see. Only Lois knew that her working philosophy was an illusion. She cared about people as much as Clark, but that would remain her secret for some time to come.

She, like her soon to be full-time partner, both protected a secret. Unlike Lois' covert behavior, Clark would create a facade, a cartoon caricature, a farce who would become a superhero and help preserve the world's safety.

As she drove toward the Planet, Lois was contemplating the pros and cons of extending her professional association with a colleague beyond their daily routines at the Planet. She was considering a serious friendship with the rookie, Clark Kent, now in her charge. She was still fearful of getting close to a man and developing a romantic liaison with all its scary ramifications. Lois Lane was fearful of another impassioned fling because of her previous disastrous relationships. The Planet's star reporter knew well that she had personality traits that could be rough on a potential boyfriend. She was attempting to alter or modify her most disagreeable qualities, but on the other hand, she wouldn't allow any lover to change her individuality to suit his views of how a woman should look or behave. Love me as I am or let me be was her credo. Could Clark abide by those conditions? She certainly hoped so.

During the ensuing days, their investigation moved into high gear and proceeded well. As they worked long hours together, Lois became more aware of Clark's top-notch ability as an investigative journalist.

Finally, Lois came to a decision. She would allow Kent be her partner, but only as junior associate. After all, Lois was the senior correspondent in their relationship, and the brash and overbearing Lane didn't let him forget that fact for a moment. She was surprised that her constant harangue didn't seem to bother him anymore. At times, Lois expected Clark to begin an altercation similar to the one she inadvertently caused when the couple first met. But, she knew deep down that while she teased him, her remarks were no longer insulting nor hurtful. Anyway, she realized that he also teased her — giving as much as he got.

One routine day Lois asked Clark out of the blue, "Kent, doesn't it gall you to work with and be pushed around by a pushy female?"

Startled by her statement for a moment, Clark replied, "What does a person's gender have to do with that individual's ability to get the job done?"

Gathering his thoughts, Clark then said, "Personally, Lois, I am fully aware that a gender gap still exists in the news business. Even in these changing times, a woman has to be better than her male counterpart to be accepted."

"It's the attitude problem," Clark added. "Many older men in high ranking positions still believe that a woman's place should be in the home caring for her progeny. That idea should have gone out with twenty-three skiddoo." Pausing for a second, Clark continued, "The whole idea of resentment toward women in the work force probably goes back to the hunter gatherer times — men bringing in the bread and women defending the hearth. The issue of pregnancy is another archaic issue that still persists. A lot of guys feel that women are walking incubators during their gestation period and are not capable of meaningful contributions during this time. I know, as well as the bosses, that caring for a child should in no way affect a woman's mind and therefore, not be used against women in the job market. In modern times, the so-called gender problem has been exploited for economic reasons. Think about it, Lois. The gender factor is just another way for businesses to pay women less and increase their profit margin."

"There is one semi legit reason why businesses have been reluctant to hire women during their child bearing years. Corporate directors don't like the disruptions due to pregnancy and long maternity leaves. However, with modern technology and day-care, most of the these arguments could be quashed."

"Of course," Clark teased, "in your case, Lois, I'm sure that the hormone imbalance you'd sustain during pregnancy would necessitate the use of a straight jacket. That, of course, would keep you out of action."

When Clark's needling of Lois ended, she attempted to bean him with a book. However, Clark was too fast. Missing her partner with the book, she came at him brandishing a meter stick. At that point, Clark took off for parts unknown. He headed out of the building. In the great outdoors, Clark would be safe until Lois' ire abated. Then and only then could he safely return to the Planet.

When Clark finally did return to his desk and before she could verbally shove him into a mental abyss, he said to her, "Why in hell's name did you ask such an emotionally charged question? You already knew how I felt about that subject." Pausing briefly, Clark added, "I'm fully aware that the news business is still, in some ways, a boys' club. It's changing, maybe a bit too slowly in your eyes, but it is changing. I'm aware that you're uncomfortable with the slowness of the metamorphose, but who ever said life was fair? Lois, you must reconcile your aspirations with the mores of society — peoples' fears and apprehensions still dictate how things are done. You know that the public is uncomfortable with change and becomes panicky if a transformation in our society occurs suddenly. Change brings uncertainty, and people tend to avoid or oppose anything which would be unsettling to their way of life. It's the infighting between the do it now crowd and those who want to take it slow when a modification of long standing and cherished views are trifled with. This conflict between change and not to change sometimes makes our society move like a turtle. Like it or not that's the way it is. Now, Lois, tell me, Lois, what's really bothering you."

After staring at her partner for some seconds, Lois told Clark, "Alex Carnie was offered the job of section chief."

"What's a section chief, Lois?" Clark asked her.

"That would be the individual responsible to make all newsroom decisions when the editor in chief was not available for consultation," she told him. "What bothers me," Lois commented, "Is that no woman was considered when the position was posted, and I know several applied, including myself." When Clark attempted to speak, Lois raised her hand and cut him off. "There is more, Clark," she added. Taking a breath, Lois said, "Alex is by far the worst choice that could have been made for the section chief job. He often uses and abuses the people under his authority."

"When that piece of slime became a department chairperson several years ago, people under him were subtly subjected to unethical and immoral schemes. Women became vulnerable to his insidious sexual harassments, while the department, in general, was used to satisfy and advance Alex's power hungry aspirations. Due to that man, many good reporters left the paper or transferred to other departments. As the decent reporters in his departmental unit either resigned or transferred out, Carnie replaced them with men only of his own ilk. Until now, Alex and his cohorts were sorta isolated. However, with his new appointment, the entire newsroom will be exposed to his Machiavellian brand of corrupt practices. Although I've laughed and at times mocked and derided the so called gender gap like most women who work at the Planet, I'm well aware that most men on the news floor are swell guys."

"Will the family like atmosphere and the camaraderie at the Planet now be ruined by Alex's appointment?" she murmured to herself.

Clark stared at Lois and was amazed how this highly energized and seemingly hardbitten woman could suddenly be so caring. Clark knew, of course, she would never admit to possessing a sensitive side, but he knew that most everything concerning the welfare of people breached her taut emotional barriers. Lois was highly committed to the service of the human family. If people hurt, Lois was in pain and worked all the harder to rectify the problem. He now understood why the appointment of Alex Carnie so disturbed her. Lois knew an ill wind had begun to swirl through the Planet and was worried whether her home away from home could survive such a corrupting influence.

When Lois finished voicing her concerns, Clark asked her, "How does Perry stand on Alex's new position?

He was one hundred percent against the appointment," Lois fiercely answered him. "You should also know, Clark, that it appears that the suits ignored all the input from the newsroom staff when making their final choice." Smiling, Lois added, "If I could investigate the circumstances leading to Alex's appointment, I'd bet a month's salary that outside money strongly influenced Alex's appointment as section chief."

After their section chief tete-a-tete, Lois and Clark's working relationship became less arduous. However, she still didn't fully trust him. He was a man after all and to her that was a red flag — be cautious, man on board. Of course, Perry was the exception to her circumspect approach to males.

While Lois was still a bit edgy when Clark was around, the man from Kansas remained optimistic that in time he could breach her system of anti-male barriers and forge some kind of lifetime liaison with her — something beyond just confidants. He hoped that one day soon Lois and Clark would become husband and wife. Such a relationship would provide his daughters with a mother they so desperately needed and give him the love and companionship he too craved.

As the days working at the Planet turned into weeks and weeks to months, Clark began to sense some sort of emanations coming from his partner. With each passing day, this energy or aura, as Clark named it, seemed to be intensifying. Since Lois' attitude toward him and to her surroundings didn't appear to waver, Clark couldn't be sure whether or not she was aware of the auric efffect that surrounded her person.

Lois' aura emanations eventually became so intense that Clark could sense what was happening to his partner anywhere on Earth. This radiant energy, whatever it was, was somehow linking the two of them. It would give Clark a rhapsodical rush when he concentrated on Lois' aura for an extensive period of time. Clark couldn't prove it, but he felt that the energy that surrounded his partner was intensifying with each passing day. Whatever Lois' body was emitting, Clark felt that it was binding him or maybe them closer to one other.

Somewhat alarmed, Clark finally consulted the Kryptonian Library module. There, he found his answer.

Apparently, he was also developing an auric field of his own. These energy fields were the Krypton's modus operandi for locating one's soulmate.

As Clark continued to consider the situation, the thought that Lois could be his soulmate made his soul soar. However, as he further contemplated the soulmate phenomenon, Clark had to assume that because of Lois' belief that a newsroom romance should be forbidden, she would never recognize him as her significant other. Therefore, no amorous feelings between them would ever develop. Before he could contemplate other notions, Mara and Lara ran into the living room and dragged their father off to dinner.

Later that evening he returned to the soulmate problem and Lois. He wondered just where he had first heard that term. Then it hit him. Charlie, during his schooling, had introduced him to the soulmate terminology and its applications many years before.

At the time he was being taught about the soulmate concept and how it was implemented through aura emanations, Clark was skeptical. Recently, from the extensive information he acquired from the library module, the young reporter came to realize that the soulmate concept was not a flight of fantasy conjured by his ancestors. Using himself as the experimental model, he became aware that this phenomenon became ever stronger as it attempted to bind him to his soulmate. Feeling the growing effect of the aura, Clark now knew better. Could Lois' aura be telling him that she was, in fact, his soulmate and life partner? Smiling he thought to himself, "That would be wonderful if it turned out to be true." Although Clark now believed in the aura concept, he still had some doubts about Lois, as she didn't appear to manifest any amorous feelings for him. At work, where the two usually spent their days, it was business as usual.

Unknown to Clark, however, Lois, too, was experiencing similar sensations analogous to Clark's aura and was attempting to manage their effects on her psyche. Because Lois could maintain a poker face and maintain a strong grip over her emotions, Clark was totally unaware of Lois' feelings, especially toward him.

Because of Lois developing aura, her emotions were in total disarray and its effect was becoming obvious. Although becoming increasingly enamoured with Clark, Lois had to deal with the after effects of her dysfunctional family and the emotional scars brought about by failed amorous relationships over her maturing years. These two conflicting forces were interfering with Lois' developing amorous feelings toward her partner. The mental anguish Lois endured during her past conflicts with family and lovers still haunted her. Until her internal strife could be resolved, Lois Lane knew that her feeling for Clark Kent must remain buried deep within the recesses of her mind.


As Lois and Clark continued their investigation of the space program problems, STAR labs informed them that Dr. Platt's theory about the heater — condenser exchange was correct. In their report on Platt's notebook, STAR labs also concluded that it appeared that project Prometheus was being systematically sabotaged and the lives of the columnists were in jeopardy.

Armed with this knowledge, the two intrepid reporters were Hell-bent to ferret out those responsible for the attempted destruction of the vehicles built for the Prometheus space program.

Using the STAR labs report and data from their own investigation, Antoinette Bains and other prominent industrialists also were charged with conspiracy to defraud the public and murder.

Unfortunately, before Dr. Bains could be adequately interrogated, she was assassinated by food tainted with a lethal and fast acting toxin.

It was during the conclusion of the space program investigation that Superman, named by Lois Lane, made his debut. This was accomplished by rescuing Lois and the colonists destined for space station Prometheus from an explosive device cleverly concealed within the transport vehicle.

When Lois Lane encountered Clark, in his cartoon guise, her hormones gushed and she was smitten by what she termed a beautiful god like being. Falling head over heels for the facade in tights, she inadvertently buried her connection to her true soulmate, who was really the man behind the cartoon caricature often soaring above Metropolis.

Seeing the flying suit in action, Lois relegated her partner, by comparison, as a primitive primate from the Australian outback. While she was still partnered with Clark for the remaining part of his probationary period, he had become just another colleague, just another person to tolerate.

As time passed, any interest in Clark waned when Super suit, later named Superman by Lois, exploded onto the world scene.

While Lois still regarded Clark as a good friend, Superman was now her perfect being and the Planet's star reporter's intended amorous goal.

As Clark Kent walked toward his home, he wondered how eyeglasses, a comb, and a colorful costume had mesmerized and duped both his friends and his acquaintances. What really unnerved him was Lois' behavior toward his alter ego — his mask. With a sigh, Clark concluded from Lois' attitude toward both of his personas that her basic interests were in the achievement of prestige and the acquisition of power. These were not the same kind of issues that motivated Clark. As he thought about what had transpired, his aspirations regarding a future with Lois Lane declined sharply. Shaking his head, Clark thought to himself that he may yet have to journey throughout the remainder of his life as a solitary and lonely creature. Sure, he would be comforted by his folks as long as they lived. Also, his spiritual brother, Alan, would be there for him. But, he too would expire in time. Only his beloved daughters would be with him throughout his life. However, a time would come when his girls too would be heavily involved with a soulmate of their own and the families they would produce in the fullness of time. Although they would give him what love and attention they could in their business schedules, he essentially would be alone in the world.

Several days after the appearance of Superman, Jodi bought her granddaughters to the Planet's newsroom. She apologized to Clark for her sudden appearance. She informed her son- in-law that an emergency meeting had been called by the STAR labs governing board. "When I heard about the conference" she told him, "I sorta panicked. The only remedy that came to mind was to bring the girls here to their father."

Clark smiled at his in-law and replied, "I'll take care of them, Mom. Go to your colloquium."

As she was leaving, Jodi kissed him on the cheek and said, "I'll try to be back in a couple of hours."

Perry, of course, was aware of Clark's loss from Alan. So when he saw the arrival of Clark's children, he told Kent, "Take care of your kids. The rest of the stuff on your desk can wait until Jodi returns."

"Thanks, Perry," Clark replied. Perry smiled, slapped him on the back and started to roam about the newsroom.

As Clark began brushing Mara's hair, Lara just aimlessly wandered around the bullpen. She eventually arrived at Murray Singer's worktable. Being a naturally curious child, she started to investigate the piles of folios on his desktop until she located one that contained a Mozart violin concerto. After studying the score of the concerto for a few moments, Lara started to hum the melody. Startled by her lovely voice, Murray stopped what he was doing and just listened to the beautiful tones emanating from Clark's daughter. "Thank G-D," he thought. "She's inherited her father's musical talents." Murray smiled, as he mused, "Another generation will be treated to sublime musical renditions of the masters." When Lara completed her musical interlude, she and Murray conversed for several minutes. Then saying her adieus, Lara returned to her father's work area.

When Lara left Murray, the man was on an emotional high. As Clark's daughter and he were conversing, an unearthly breeze had caressed him. It seemed to calm his generally anxious behavior and refreshed his spirit.

Just as Lara was returning to her father, Lois came storming into the newsroom. She was very excited about the information obtained from one of her snitches. When she saw Clark with his two young girls, she was momentarily shocked. Then quickly gaining a semblance of control over her emotions, she angrily concluded that the newsroom gossip was credible — Clark was married and was the father of two children. As she gazed at the Kent family, Lois became upset. Her inner voice yelled, "Forget him. Your gorgeous partner is out of circulation. He's a married man. You have Superman, so why bother with a mere mortal. There's no comparison between this low life and your superhero."

Still listening to her inner voices and ignoring her feelings, Lois muttered to herself, "Why am I upset? Kent means nothing to me. That situation was settled when Superman arrived on the scene." Just the same, as she walked to the fudge castle, the Planet's young star reporter somehow knew, without understanding why, that she had mentally cast off something very precious.

Later that afternoon, Jodi returned to the Planet to collect her granddaughters. After saying their adieus to their father, Lara, Mara and their maternal grandmother returned home.

At the end of the workday Clark approached Lois and asked, "Would you like to have supper with me?"

Lois was stunned by this man's chutzpah. Lois' ire increased as she equated Clark to her father. Two rotten peas out of different pods she thought — married and still carousing with other women; his poor wife. Then with her anger nearly at a boil Lois, remarked, "Clark, do you believe in fidelity?"

Yes," he replied, "it's the bulwark of the family. Without it, marriage would go to hell in a basket. Many children from dysfunctional homes seem to be emotionally marred in someway. Once their parents have separated, many kids from these shattered homes enter a hostile environment." He paused for a few seconds and added, "Those who bring such trouble into the lives of their children will, in time, inherit the wind."

Lois stared at Clark, eyes blazing and said sarcastically, "Practice what you preach, mister." With that quip, Lois turned on her heels and marched out of the newsroom.

Clark just stood there and watched her leave. He was very confused. "I know Lois Lane is a brilliant person," he then murmured, "but how in the heck can she be so illogical at times?"

Throughout Clark's working relationship with Lois, Alex L. Carnie, under orders from Lex Luthor, had been subtly attempting to corrupt Lois' thoughts and feelings towards Clark Kent through misinformation and slanderous insinuations.

With the severing of the aura linkages between Lois and Clark, because of Lois' misunderstanding of the Kent family situation, Carnie's task became a whole lot easier.

The presence of Clark's children in the bullpen drew Lois deeper into Carnie's crafty clutches and made Clark's position at the Planet extremely tenuous. To further exacerbate the situation, Carnie asked Kent to write up the space program expose and LAN it to Perry, under both bylines, as usual.

When Lois arrived on the newsroom floor later that day, Alex told her that Clark had filed a beautiful article. He nonchalantly indicated that it looked like a space topic.

With her anger at her partner running in high gear and her trust in men, which now also included Clark, at a low ebb, Lois was in no mood for reasonable thoughts. Aware of Lois' extreme anger, which tended to destabilize her when her emotions robed her rational thought, Alex had just given Lois a verbal nudge that would cause her to do something illogical and hurtful, hopefully aimed at Kent. As Alex looked on, he heard Lois murmur, "So, Clark has purloined our space piece." Lois, then reacting to her own assumption, conjured up images of what Clark had done to her. Lois' anger soared. Her pique was further intensified by the feeling that the space story was a Kerth worthy article and she had been cheated. With that final thought, Lois Lane exploded.

Charging into Perry's office, an enraged Lois Lane made some disparaging remarks about her partner and then demanded that Clark's employment be terminated immediately. Since Lois' seniority at the Planet essentially gave her department head status, Perry was forced to seriously consider her request. Still smoldering, Lois told Perry how she felt about her association with Clark. Finally Lois told Perry that even If Kent couldn't be dismissed, the partnership between them was to be ended at once.

To his credit, Perry tried to dissuade Lois from her ultimatum, but to no avail. Angrily shaking her head, Lois marched out of Perry's office and strut back to her work area.

After Lois left his office, Perry rose from his desk and started to pace in an attempt to alleviate some of his stress, stress her vehement temper has once again created. As he walked to and fro, the Planet's editor in chief racked his brain to find a way to save Kent's position. Without being partnered with Lois, Perry knew that Clark would lose his job. He also was aware that at present there were no other reporting slots available at the Planet's Metropolis bureau.

About noon, Perry reluctantly summoned Clark to his office, and after a lengthy discussion, Clark packed up his belongings and left the premises. Before Clark departed the newsroom, he asked Perry if the Planet would accept his freelanced articles. Knowing the caliber of Kent's work, Perry readily agreed to his request.

Lois, sitting at her desk, watched Clark depart. She knew that it had been her influence that prompted his dismissal. She relished in her triumph — Clark the thief, the deceiver, the philanderer was gone. His byline would never again appear in a Planet publication. She even hoped his wife would give him the boot. That would add icing to her cake. For some time, Lois sat there in silence enjoying her victory over another evil man.

When the afternoon edition of the paper hit the streets, Lois was given her usual copy. On the front page of the paper was the space station expose with the byline Lois Lane and Clark Kent. When she saw the credits, Lois Lane was stunned. She felt like a two by four had struck her between her eyes. By the force of a tiny phase — Lois Lane and Clark Kent — she had been propelled from her self- righteous attitude. Her self-esteem was suddenly shaken even more as Lois realized that she had deprived Clark of his job based on a false premise. Still later, she was to discover that the office gossip stoked by Lex Luthor's crony, Alex Carnie, had seduced her reason and allowed Lois' insecurities to be manipulated by the section chief's innuendos. She was humiliated by her illogical actions and by the lack of trust in her partner, an associate who had always protected her. As she agonized in her guilt, Lois now wondered whether Clark was even guilty of adultery.

Disgusted by her behavior and ashamed of its ramifications, she rushed into Perry's office, crying hysterically. She told Perry the entire saga that caused her to react so vehemently towards Clark. Lois then pleaded with Perry to rectify the unconscionable injustice she precipitated by restoring his position.

Perry immediately called members of the Planet board, the suits, and explained the grave injustice done to Clark Kent. They said they would immediately meet to consider Perry's reinstatement request. The chairperson of the Planet board said that he would have an answer to his appeal within about fifteen minutes.

While Lois and Perry waited for the Planet's publishing boards response to the chief's petition, he clarified the gossip about Kent's wife. Lois was shaken to the core when she learned of Jennifer and her son's murder. She realized that Clark, with some help from his parents and Jodi, was both father and mother to his daughters. "An almost impossible task," she realized. How did he do it. Her own mother had failed so miserably when she attempted to raise two daughters after her own divorce.

Now she understood why he asked her to dinner. He was seeking female companionship, and she had slammed the door in his face. Nice going Lane she said to herself. Again, she felt humiliated. Helping to get his position reinstated would restore, she hoped, some of her self-esteem. From now on, Mr. Kent, she promised herself, "You're gonna be one pampered partner."

About a half hour later, Perry was informed by the board's secretary that Clark's dismissal would stand. The suit's declaration, to justify their irrational decree, stated that Kent's unfortunate sacking would make him a disgruntled working journalist, and, therefore, he would no longer be an enthusiastic employee of the Planet. Kent, the declaration further stated, would be better off getting another newspaper position — preferably not in Metropolis.

Perry was shocked by the board's directive. In the past, the board had never refused his request or declined to rectify an injustice. The Chief smelled a rat — an influential rodent with lots of money — Lex Luthor by name.

When Perry informed Lois of the board's decision, she just gave him a sorrowful smile and returned to her desk. She had tried to rectify her misdirected and destructive actions and failed. These unfortunate events left her with a very uncomfortable feeling that would persist and be magnified by her conscience over time. Leaving the Planet that evening, she felt depressed and ethically unclean.

Over the next six months, Clark approached the Planet several times with some of his freelance stories. Each time he was informed by Alex that they didn't have space for his articles. During his final attempt to pitch several articles to the Planet, Clark was informed by Alex that his material was not worthy of publication. Alex then told Clark emphatically not to annoy him with his trash.

Clark murmured to himself, as he left the Planet's newsroom that day, "Three strikes, Kent, you're out." Fortunately, for Clark, Murray Singer, Kent's friend, overheard most of the conversations between the ex-employee from Kansas and Alex Carnie. As usual, Perry While was nowhere in sight.

Every time Clark approached the Planet to hawk his freelanced materials, Perry was suddenly summoned to the boardroom and Lois Lane was sent on an assignment, which took her from the building. Neither Lois nor Perry was ever present or aware that Clark had frequented the paper.

Each time Perry White's presence was requested by the Planet's publishing board, he had to cool his heels for a considerable period to discover the reason he was summoned to the Planet's executive offices? Generally, after waiting for a spell, a secretary, more often than not, would appear and tell him that the situation was under control or resolved and the board no longer needed his input and he could now return to the newsroom. Unknown to Perry, the so- called issue that had summed Perry to the board's offices centered around Clark Kent. Perry's departure from the news floor was actually a diversion. It was to allow time for Kent to be rebuffed by Alex Carnie and to leave the premises. Certain parties in the Planet's hierarchy did not want Kent to meet with Perry or Lois.

Since the Planet would no longer consider his stories, Clark approached a small struggling semi weekly publication called the Metropolis Enquire. They were happy to publish his stories and were especially delighted by the fee he requested — thirty- six dollars to be donated to the charity of his choosing.

Clark was elated that his investigative works would be published. The money for his stories was not an important factor. To be truthful, he didn't need a regular income. His paintings, under his Kal Ellis alias, were selling for up to two million dollars per canvas. Also, by using his super abilities Clark had mined nearly fifty billion in gold from the ring of fire that belted the Earth. These monies were now part of a humanitarian organization called "The Lara and Jorel Foundation" and were deposited in a Swiss bank. Interest from the Swiss account generated about three billion dollars per year. He used most of the fund's interest to combat humankind's mortal enemies, including, of course, Lex Luthor. Clark knew that, in time, all tyrants like Luthor would be crushed and justice would prevail. Then, the people of Earth would be able to fashion new societies which would serve and nourish the human spirit.

While Clark's alter ego, Superman, was acting as the Don Quixote of Metropolis, the reporter from Kansas wrote exclusives at a frenzied pace. Most of his pieces assaulted Luthor's Machiavellian enterprises. Some of Lex's schemes foiled by the Kent — Superman collaboration included: Growing drugs in the cavernous spaces between the floors of high rise buildings in and around the city; Abduction of homeless people who were sold as slaves to unscrupulous entrepreneurs in foreign countries; Several Elder Care Scandals, which disclosed how aged people were systematically allowed to die from apparent natural causes because only a minimal quantity of medical aid was available when they became ill. Their bodies and body parts were then marketed to research institutions; Many injured young people sent to special LexCorp special medical facilities also perished because the pharmaceuticals needed for their recovery were withheld or used in quantities that were ineffectual. After their death, organs from these individuals were sold as transplant commodities. These investigations were but a few in which Clark Kent, with the aid of his super abilities, was incessantly combating Satan's herald, Lex Luthor.

As the confrontation between Luthor and Kent escalated, Alex Carnie was reporting to his uncle Lex several times a day. The topic was always the same — Kent's destructive investigations into LexCorp's affairs.

Incensed by his reverses, Luthor's pathological character started to dominate his common sense. As retribution, Luthor decided to liquidate Kent's parents. Clark would then be notified by an anonymous source that the future health of his children could also be in jeopardy if he continued his crusading ways.

Several weeks later, Luthor learned that Jonathan and Martha Kent were planning to fly from Wichita to Denver to visit relatives. To savor the full measure of his vengeance, Luthor himself prepared the special bomb and its launching platform for this operation. While preparing the explosive device, Lex ordered his personal Apache helicopter made ready. Lex's helicopter was equipped with stealth capabilities and was nearly silent as it sliced through the air. At the time appointed, Lex Luthor flew to a secluded spot near the Wichita airport.

Confirming that Clark's parents had boarded the airliner, Lex fired the special weapon he prepared at the commercial air carrier. His undetected attack attached an almost invisible bomb to metallic skin of the jet aircraft. Twenty minutes after the passenger plane was airborne, an explosion ripped the jet asunder, murdering all within.

Upon hearing the news of the aircraft's destruction, Lex did a little dance in honor of his success. His prancing was very similar to a jig performed by a maniacal German corporal many years before.

After returning to Metropolis, Lex sent an anonymous letter to his hated adversary Clark Kent warning of his children's demise if he continued his journalistic campaign against certain industrialists — the robber barons of their age.

On a blustery cold morning, people gathered to pay a final tribute to Martha and Jonathan Kent. The cemetery on the Kent farm was serene as mourners moved toward the gravesites. To Clark's surprise, Perry White and Lois Lane were part of the entourage. He walked over to them and thanked them for coming. Clark was very touched by their gesture for he knew that it was more than a thousand miles from Metropolis to his boyhood home.

Standing before two fresh graves adjacent to his wife's and infant son's burial sites and struggling against complete emotional collapse, Clark extolled the virtues of his parents. His words were brief but deeply moving. "My beloved parents," he started, "who could find a father and mother of such valor? Your worth can never be measured. It is far above the value of gold or precious stones. Your hearts loved and trusted one another and that warmth extended to your only child. You bestowed good upon each other and all that came into your circle and did no evil all the days of your lives. You sought out the good animals and plants and worked willingly with your hands to make the land prosper. Martha and Jonathan were like merchant ships of old and brought food to those in need. You, my beloved parents, rose while it was not yet light and tended to the farm without complaint. With their hands, they planted a spiritual vineyard in their child that will bear sweet wine all of his days. They girded their family with strength to repel the evil in the world. Martha and Jonathan always opened their hands to the poor and never counted the cost. Strength and dignity were their cloths, and their cheerfulness brightened each day of their lives. From their mouths poured forth wisdom and the sounds of loving kindness were always on their tongue. They always looked to their household and did not eat the bread of idleness. I, your son, and my children, along with your friends have gathered here to acknowledge your accomplishments and praise you for them. Charm you understood was deceptive and beauty misleading, but you, my parents, walked in the Lord's ways. For your devotion to others, my beloved mother and father, you shall be praised for all time."

Stunned by the tragedy of his parents' sudden passing, Clark would have become a recluse, if it were not for the loving support of Jodi and his children. After the funeral, Jodi assumed the role of family matriarch and unselfishly lavished on Clark all the parental love and guidance she could muster. Clark understood what his mother-in-law was attempting to do and vowed that she would never be denied his love or lack any comforts all of the remaining days of her life.

After Jodi brought Clark out of his lethargy, he returned to Metropolis and continued his campaign to secure both integrity and justice for all people before he too left this plane of existence.

Clark's first task when he returned to the big city was to stabilize the Metropolis Enquire and help it thrive. To accomplish this undertaking he had the paper purchased by The Lara and Jorel Foundation. Now LexCorp could not capture the Enquire by capital default and then dismantle the paper.

Having protected the Enquire's future, Clark resumed his relentless crusade against the House of Luther. His stories were hitting Lex where it hurt him most, in the pocketbook and in his power base. Clark Kent's articles were constantly hammering at Luthor's illicit operations. To silence the reporter, Lex had targeted the Enquire for take over as Clark had foreseen. This would have been Luthor's first step toward the Enquire's demise and his attempt to send Kent into editorial oblivion.


A week prior to the Kerth Awards, Clark was suddenly asked to substitute for the noted concert pianist scheduled to perform at Metropolis Hall. The artist, Clark's friend, was taken ill and had highly recommended him to the Hall's music board. Knowing of Pellere's reputation, they enthusiastically accepted Clark as the surrogate soloist. At the concert, Clark played two works; Brahms Second Piano Concerto; a List transcription of Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy. Both musical pieces were performed with a tour de force never before heard in the hall. After each musical number that Clark played, the applause and the sound of people's feet pounding the floor were overwhelming. In all of the local papers, Pellere's reviews were unbelievable. Murray Singer of the Planet predicted that future students would be required to study the Pellere renditions of these musical works. He further stated that, "The artist's interpretation of the music was beyond description." Murray Singer also noted in his review that all revenues accrued from this concert were to be apportioned among the local charities.

After the concert, Murray Singer accompanied by Perry, Lois, and Jimmy, slowly walked toward the exit of the Metropolis Music Hall. As they sauntered slowly through the great hall, Murray recognized Jodi and Clark's two daughters. Lois, for the second time, saw Clark's exceptionally beautiful children. As Lois looked on she saw the girls rushed to Murray and watched each child give him a kiss. Before the astonished looks of his colleagues could become uncomfortable questions, Murray quickly remarked, "Clark and I became good friends while he was a Planet staffer. By mutual agreement, my wife and I began dinning with the Kent clan several times a month. After Clark left the paper, we continued socializing in the same manner. I must tell you that from the beginning of our get togethers, Clark, his lovely children and his parents felt like family."

As Murray was still conversing with his colleagues and friends, music critics from other papers converged on him. "Do you know where we can locate Pellere?" They nearly shouted at him.

"So, Mr. Pellere has eluded you again," Murray remarked as he chuckled.

"This is no laughing matter, sir," Jones of the Metropolis Star commented.

"You're right," Murray replied. "It's not a laughable subject when you are attempting to invade the private domain of an individual who passionately cherishes solitude. Just submit your reviews of the concert and be thankful that you were here on this glorious evening and enjoyed the rapture of the music. In my view," Murray declared, "tonight, you were privileged to hear the finest renderings of the Brahms second piano concerto and The Wanderer by Schubert ever performed within this hall. Guys, you are all experienced reporters and accomplished musicians in your own right. You are also old enough to understand that knowing when not to publish an item is just as important to good journalism as an expose with your byline. Leave Pellere private life alone. That's what he wants."

Mumbling, the critics nodded and moved off.

Murray then spied his wife, made his adieus to Perry and the others, and went to embrace his life partner. As Perry was about to rendezvous with his own spouse, he turned to Lois and said, "That's one concept you have yet to master, Ms. Lane."

"What's that, Perry?" Lois asked.

"When not to publish an article even if it means losing out on an award. Sweetie, I love ya like a daughter, but you still don't seem to understand that people are far more important than accolades. A hundred years from now, you and I will be no more than a memory. If we're fortunate, our names may occasionally be included as a footnote in someone's thesis. Lois, only love really survives. And, through our children and their descends, we send the essence of our being towards eternity."

When Clark read the reviews of the concert, he was delighted by the acceptance of his virtuosity and embarrassed by the platitudes. Thank heaven, he thought; no one recognized me. Clark had again used his blond wig and blue contacts as parts of his camouflage. Kent's enigmatic stage name was another aspect of his disguise. Clark chuckled at the thought of Pellere, the Latin equivalent of Kent. Then a little ditty flashed through his mind — a rose by any other name… As he mused about his second alias, "Kent started to chuckle, which soon became a belly laugh. The levity of the moment helped ease the tension of the evening.

Several days later, a middle aged lady appeared on the Planet's newsroom floor. She sought Murray Singer and was finally directed to his rather small office. Arriving at Murray's alcove-office, Jodi Fields introduced herself and handed the Planet's artistic critic a portfolio. In it were copies of two musical scores, one composed by Brahms and the other by Schubert. The latter musical score had been transcribed by Franz List.

"When you see your son-in -law," Murray said, "Tell him the concert was great. Pellere is a consummate musician and on that night of nights his performance, I believe, made the angels in heaven a little envious." Jodi Fields smiled at Murray's remarks and then leisurely strolled toward the newsroom exit.

At the Kerth Awards that year, Lois and Clark were honored for their space program story. Clark received two additional Kerths for his drug article and his homeless article. After Clark's third accolade, Perry hit the table and said to Jimmy, so that Lois, Alex and certain other Planet employees couldn't help but hear his comments, "Judah's Priest, did suits and staffers make an unbelievable blunder by letting Kent to slip through our fingers."

After the formal part of the Kerth festival ended, Perry invited Clark to join him and the Daily Planet's private table. While Kent was conversing with some of his former colleagues, Perry asked him why he didn't allow the Planet to review his freelanced stories for possible publication in his paper. Clark gave Perry a surprised look and told him that he had, on numerous occasions, attempted to submit articles to the Planet for the paper to review. Each time I approached the DP Clark added, "I was informed by Alex Carnie that my material was not worthy of the Planet's consideration. After three such failed attempts, I felt like a pariah and simply removed the Daily Plant from my freelance list. Since the Planet wouldn't look at my work, I turned to the Metropolis Enquire to publish my stuff. Our alliance turned out to be a very successful partnership. Now this small newspaper desperately needs my copy to survive. I couldn't in good conscience abandon them for the resources and prestige that the Planet could readily provide."

Upon hearing Clark's comments, Perry became very angry and was about to verbally hammer Alex Carnie when Lex Luthor unexpectedly seated himself at the table.

While Luthor was making himself comfortable, Clark stood up, said his adieus and started to leave. As Clark began moving off, Lex cynically commented, "Clark, why are you leaving this rather-imposing gathering of your peers?"

Hesitating for a moment, Clark turned and replied, "I could not in good conscience break bread with the brother of Apollyon. You may have fooled many people with your soothing voice and polite gestures, but I'm well aware of the darkness that possesses your soul, and I'm aware of your true intentions toward the people of this world. If the contents of your book of life could be scrutinized, all the rot and corruption revealed from its contents would nauseate a world of readers."

After directing his rather-cutting remarks at the CEO of LexCorp, Clark turned and walked into the raucous crowd milling about the convention center. As Clark disappeared, Lex Luthor laughingly shouted, "Poppycock."

While Clark searched for his mother-in-law and his daughters, Luthor continued to make mocking remarks about Kent. "What a waste of talent," Luthor continued. "In my view," Lex added, "Dr. Kent is a moral and ethical fool — a big boy scout.

Did you say Dr. Kent?" Lois quipped.

"Yes," Luthor answered her. "Didn't you know that Clark has an earned doctorate in theoretical physics and a master's in chemical engineering and mathematics from Cal. Tech? LexCorp offered him a position at probably twenty times what you're currently earning, Ms. Lane. We never got a chance to interview him. He rejected LexCorp's most generous offer out of hand."

So you black listed him," Perry angrily chimed in. "No university or industrial facility would consider him as an employable commodity because of your disparaging innuendos and the well known Lex Luthor fear factor. You must want something he's discovered very badly to behave in such an barbaric manner."

"There was nothing personal about LexCorp's actions, Perry. It's just good business sense," Lex said in a mocking tone as he replied to the chief's critical remark.

As Perry gazed at his associates, he could see the surprise and shocked expressions on the faces of those seated at the Planet's table.

"So, after being locked out of his profession by slanderous and other inappropriate means," Perry remarked to Lex and his colleagues, "Clark turned to journalism. He discovered that the newsprint business could also be used as a vehicle to serve people. Clark was also aware that most individuals in the newsprint companies would disregard your blacklist because many newsmen knew damn well that beneath your suave exterior, Lex Luthor, beats the heart of an amoral ass.

Well, that's one man's opinion," Luthor laughingly retorted in a controlled angry tone. He was obviously very annoyed at Perry's comments. As those at the table noted, the smile that Luthor displayed did not extend to his eyes. His gaze radiated hatred for the Daily Planet's editor and chief.

After Luthor's demonstration of temper, Perry further commented, "You know, Luthor, that Clark has published eighty- four papers in various scientific journals." Perry scratched his head and said, "I'm surprised that you haven't tried to stop his scientific contributions from being distributed."

Luthor remarked, "That would be foolhardy. We carefully study every item that Kent has published. There is much money to be made from Clark's scientific genius. I'm surprised you haven't cashed in, Mr. Jacobs. You are, of course, well aware of Dr. Kent's scientific talents?" The last statement Lex snapped at Alan.

"What are you referring to?" Alan comely inquired of Luthor.

Lex gave Alan a crocodilian smile as he replied, "I was informed that yesterday at this time you were at the Daily Planet offices in Singapore. Have I been misinformed, Mr. Jacobs?

"No," Alan answered Luthor.

Then Lex continued, "Singapore's about fourteen thousand travel miles from Metropolis — right, Mr. Jacobs?" Luthor quipped like a whip snapping against flesh.

Again, Alan nodded as he again agreed with Lex's statement.

Continuing Lex said, "Normally it would take between twenty- five and twenty-six hours to reach our fair city from your bureau's Asian isle. You seemed to have circumvented half the Earth in considerably less time, Mr. Jacobs."

"Get to the point, Luthor," Alan verbally lashed back at the devil's number one boy.

"Teleportation," Lex declared. "That's what Kent discovered and I want it. Clark's teleportation device is somehow connected to his String Theory. Ever since Kent published that blasted theory of strings, my scientists have been laboring night and day to understand his new concepts and construct a teleportation device. When my goal has been achieved, I will be the most influential person on this planet, more feared than the man of steel."

"Superman is not feared," Perry proclaimed.

"Whatever," Lex exclaimed allowing his arms to gesticulate, as he rose to leave.

As Lex was rising from the table, a man hurriedly approached him. He whispered in Luthor's ear, which caused Lex to slam his fist on the table. "Damn that foundation," he said. "Damn."

"What's the problem, Lex?" Lois asked him.

Taking a breath, Luthor said, "The Metropolis Enquire has been purchased by The Lara and Jorel Foundation." When Alan heard the news, he nearly choked on his food. He was well aware of the foundation, its works, and who was the CEO of that organization.

Lex looked at him and said, "Do you know this Foundation?"

"Yes," Alan replied. "It is one the wealthiest humanitarian organizations in the world." Alan smiled as he added, "So, Lex, you won't be able to purchase the Enquire and cut Clark's publication pipeline."

Lex glared at Alan and said in a disgusted tone, "He's out- foxed me again. How does he do it?"

"What do you mean? How does he do what?" Perry demanded.

Ignoring Perry outburst, Luthor whined, "The Lara and Jorel Foundation may be the buyers of the Enquire, but this entire scenario reeks of Kent, Kent and more Kent."

For just a brief moment during his distress, Lex's malevolent nature became clearly detectable on his facial physiognomy. Then like a shade descending over a window the well-known Lex Luthor mask reset itself.

Turning to leave, Lex came face to face with Clark, his two daughters, and mother-in-law, Jodi Fields. Luthor smiled as they came into his view, but it was more like the act of an animal stalking its prey. As his eyes met Clark's, Luthor grimaced while he remarked in an irate tone, "Looks as if you will be harassing LexCorp for a while longer, Mr. crusading viper. Ah, but there is more than one way to skin a cat, Dr. Kent," Lex commented, as he glared at Clark's daughters.

When Clark noticed the direction of Luthor's gaze, he cautioned Luthor in a very uptight voice, "Don't even think about it, scum! If any attempts are made to harm my children, G-D help you, Lex, because only G-D could."

Luthor looked into Clark's eyes and knew fear. He felt that he had been given an ominous warning. For some reason he couldn't explain, the master of evil became aware that any attempt to injure Mara or Lara would be extremely hazardous to his continued good health. Long ago, Luthor had learned at a young age to listen to his survival mechanisms. With the warning from his psyche coupled with Clark's cautioning statement, Lex Luthor abruptly dismissed his plan to abuse Kent's daughters as far too dangerous. He then graciously bowed to reporters at the Planet's table and hastily vacated the building.

When Clark was about to leave, both of his daughters insisted upon being carried. Smiling, Clark picked up Mara and Lara and gave them each a loving squeeze. As he hugged and caressed each of his children, pure bliss seemed to emanate from his face. Lois, looking at this scene, wondered how a man could give such unconditional love to his female offspring. She remembered how her own father had resented her and her sister, Lucy, because of their gender.

After Lara and Mara were settled in Clark's arms, he said, "It was a pleasure to see you all again, especially in such pleasant surroundings." He then turned to Alan and said, "Can I expect you for dinner tomorrow evening?" As Alan waved his okay, Clark Kent and his family exited the auditorium and went home.

After Clark had departed, Perry turned to Alex and said in a disturbed tone, "Why did you prevent Kent from leaving his freelanced stories for me to assess?"

After reflecting upon Perry's question for several seconds, Carnie said, "Okay, Perry, I think you're entitled to an explanation concerning my obstructive behavior regarding one Clark Kent. Oh," by the way Alex told Perry, "I've terminated my employment with the Planet. My letter of resignation is on your desk." As the occupants of the table looked at him in disbelief, a contemptuous grin settled on Alex's face.

After the din at the Planet's table subsided, Alex, in a rather calm voice, started to narrate a rather complex tale. "Clark," he said, "has been an irritant to LexCorp since he essentially declined our offer of employment by not answering our interview request. To date, Kent's activities have cost the LexCorp nearly a billion dollars. It's not only the monetary loss that's irritating," he grumbled, "but Clark's persistent investigation into Lex's affairs have become most annoying. As you are aware, Clark has probed the transaction of most LexCorp subsidiaries and has attempted to link their sub-rosa and illicit activities to my uncle. Because of Kent's investigations, that man was becoming very troublesome to my uncle."

"Lex is your uncle?" Lois interrupted.

"Yeah," Alex replied. "My full name is Alexis Luthor Carnie." Ignoring any more of Lois' questions for the moment, Alex murmured, "Where was I? Oh yes," he said. "Allowing Lois and Clark to become partners would have made my uncle's lot more intolerable over time. You two would have probably formed one of the greatest, if not the finest, reporting duo of the twentieth century. Your stories were always well written and tended to complement each other. Clark, unlike your past associates, was an honorable and a trustworthy individual. In time, you two would have become inseparable colleagues and forged an unstoppable investigative reporting team. Clark Kent was that one individual in a billion who could cope with your impetuousness and your distrust of males brought about by your past failed liaisons. It was my task to stop your nexus. My scheme was rather simple but worked admirably. Using your distrust of men, I simply told you that Clark filed the space sabotage story. Then I sat back and let your emotions take over. You screamed another Claude Deveraux and your misplaced righteous anger surged into a full blown tirade. It was your insecurities and inability to trust Clark, coupled with your irrational anger, which ultimately caused Clark's sacking. Of course, the sight of Clark's kids was a bonus. In your eyes, Lois, those children gave more credence to my scheme than just mere innuendos."

Because of her innate distrust of males, Lois finally understood the reason for Alex's slanderous innuendos directed at Clark. She had been psychologically set up to be the catalyst leading to Clark's dismissal. At that moment, Lois felt like a thief in the night. She had caused a man, a good man, to lose his position because of a false premise based upon her past ghastly relationships and newsroom gossip, helped along, of course, by Alex Carnie.

Her attitude toward men had been first fostered by Lois' father. He resented her gender and later, when he was enmeshed with a host of paramours, she became more wary of men. When her own relationships turned sour, men, with few exceptions, were often looked upon as the enemy.

Now she thought, "Clark was needed by a small newspaper and any professional relationship with him was all but impossible. Superman, Lois realized sometime ago could only be her friend. Any romantic relationship with the superhero, therefore, was out of the question."

Looking back, Lois recalled gushing over Superman and foolishly relegating her Kansas partner to the pigpen. When it came to intimate relationships, Lois Lane had an unerring knack of always choosing wrongly. She'd about given up trying to find a life partner. The one that could have been hers, she'd dumped in favor of a fantasy. What a dope she inwardly chastised herself. A man, the right man, had come along and saw in her their future and she didn't recognize the signs. She simply let Clark slip through her fingers for a number of very foolish rationalizations.

Listening again, she heard Alex say, "When Clark was dismissed, it was quite easy for my uncle to influence the board to sustain his firing. Money was used as leverage, of course, to uphold Kent's dismissal. Money has great bargaining power when dealing with those who lust for cold hard cash."

As Lois sat there brooding, Alan asked Alex, "How did Lex discover that I was capable of traveling between Singapore and Metropolis by, let's say, an unusual method of travel?"

Alex replied, "He has been watching both you and Clark around the clock for the past year and eventually realized that Kent had successfully developed a working teleportation system." Concluding his remarks, Alex rose from the table, bid his former colleagues a good night and departed from the convention center.

When Alex had left the table, Perry said incredulously, "Teleportation. Judas Priest," he added, "the world today seems to be on the verge of becoming a fantasy land." Everyone at the table either smiled or laughed at Perry's funny but deadly serious remark.

Soon after Alex Carnie had departed, Perry ordered a round of drinks to lighten the mood. He was going to tell one of his Elvis stories when Diane Stone, the chairperson of the Kerth Council, called for everyone's attention. "I have a special announcement," she proclaimed. "Clark Kent, our multi Kerth winner this year, has just been nominated for a Pulitzer." The Kent article which received this prestigious nomination was his expose on LexCorp's Elder Care Scandal published in The Metropolis Enquire.

Perry groaned as he looked at his colleagues and said, "Boy, did Alex do a job on us. We lost the services of a great investigative reporter, one with the same fine qualities which Lois continuously displays." The Planet's top reporter was rapidly discovering that Clark was honest, virtuous, with high moral and ethical standards. He placed the dignity and the needs of people ahead of garnering bylines.

Staring at Lois, Perry added, "Alex was right about one thing, "You and Clark complemented each other in so many ways. What a partnership you two could have made." Shaking his head, the chief added, "When Clark and I used to talk from time to time, I recognized that he and you, Lois, were two rare birds. You and Kent were a blend of the right stuff. He was prudent to your impetuousness. Clark was slow to anger where you my dear were explosive. He allowed your brilliant intuitiveness to operate unhindered, unless it placed you in mortal danger. Like Alex stated, you two would have been one of the greatest journalistic teams of the twentieth century. To me," Perry continued, "You both represented fire and ice fused into a single entity. When your writing attributes were combined in a story, you two turned out a product that was generally magnificent. The article was usually better than an individual effort, by either one of you. During the short time I was privileged to watch you two work together, my gut feeling about Lois and Clark being a great news team was borne out. What a loss, not only to the Planet, but to the entire newsprint business."

Several days after the Kerth awards, Perry let the word out that he would like to see Clark at the Planet at his earliest convenience.

A few days later, Clark showed up with his two daughters and Jodi, the girls' maternal grandmother. While Jodi and Kent's kids wandered around the newsroom, Perry and Clark sought out an unused conference room and had a serious chat.

Getting right to the point, Perry nearly begged Clark to once again partner with Lois. The chief had an investigation in mind which he said was large-scale and rather complex. He indicated several times during their conversation that at least two first-rate investigative reporters would be needed to do the kind of job he had in mind. After some prodding by Clark, Perry told him, in confidence, of course, that he was setting up a probe that would be directed at the heart of Luthor's illicit ventures. After Clark received assurances that the Enquire would not be prevented from publishing any of the expected expose, he accepted Perry's request.

Clark at long last, would be helped in his war against the house of Luthor. The world, he hoped, was about to be purged of a significant number of malevolent people — Luthor and his cohorts. As Perry and Clark began discussing the details of the forthcoming Luthorian operation, Mara leisurely strolled over to Lois and said, "Hug." Although surprised, Lois engaged in a mutual embrace with the girl.

While Lois and Mara hugged one another, the Planet's Star reporter felt a rather strong attachment between her and this child. Interacting with Clark's daughter was like the affection Lois and her sister Lucy shared as kids, struggling to survive in a dysfunctional household.

The abode of Sam and Ellen Lane, a place where Lois' parents were constantly bickering, was not a home; just a place where people lived. In the Lane dwelling there were all the hallmarks of a dysfunctional family — disharmony and dread. Her parents' discord eventually destroyed Lois' nuclear family and ended in a horrific divorce, a separation that for many years Lois had blamed on herself.

As Lois was reflecting about her childhood, a strong feeling of affection for Mara again engulfed her. This sense of belonging caused Lois to tighten her embrace on the young girl. While Lois and Mara were enjoying their hug, Lara, Mara's sister, ran up to Lois and, without warning, snuggled into a space created by Lois' curved arm and her body.

As Lara settled in, Lois again experienced another wave of tenderness, this time from Mara's twin, which was similar to the one she experienced with Mara a few moments earlier. This was crazy, Lois thought to herself. How in blazes did I suddenly developed such strong feelings towards Clark's daughters? If I didn't know better, I'd swear that these girls were my own issue.

Gazing at the girls, Lois knew confusion. She couldn't fathom what had aroused this sudden and profound burst of affection for Clark's kids. Although Lois couldn't conjure up a logical explanation to her question, she had to admit that all things being considered, she was enjoying her new sensations.

When Lois had regained a measure of control over her emotional state, she asked Clark's girls, "What do you think brought on that display of affection?"

Both youngsters looked at each other and almost simultaneously replied, "We really don't fully understand what occurred, Lois."

Lara then added, "For some reason we three suddenly became very attracted to one another."

"There seems to be no rationale for our behavior other that what Lara said," Mara said. "By some mechanism, unknown to myself or my sister" Mara remarked, "we forged a strong empathetic bond with you, Ms. Lane."

Lois then smiled at the two young girls and remarked, "Like your sudden emotional reaction and without understanding the reason for my actions, I've developed a great fondness for both of you. This situation is really strange, because I'm not really into kids."

After a few moments, Lois murmured so the girls only could be privy to her views, "Is understanding really necessary when matters of the heart are involved?"

Both Mara and Lara simultaneously shook their heads and whispered emphatic, "No." Then Lois started to laugh and hugged the girls like parents often do when a display of satisfying emotional energy flows between them. Not understood, but obvious just the same.

While Lois was reflecting upon her new feelings and the Planet's staff was hurrying about its business, two masked men rushed onto the newsroom floor brandishing automatic weapons. Before the gunmen were detected, they began to discharge their weapons at random, sending a hail of death throughout all sections of the bullpen area.

Jodi was felled during the first moments of the attack and incurred a mortal abdominal wound.

When the shooting commenced, Lois pulled Mara under her desk. As Lois Lane and Mara Kent reached the area under the reporter's desk and presumed safety, Lois saw a multicolored blur moving at incredible speed across the newsroom. The rocketing image knocked one of the gunman senseless to the floor almost immediately.

As the first killer was disabled and was being secured by newsmen turned combantants, the second assassin saw Lois and Mara sliding beneath her worktable. The thug now made a beeline for Lois' desk discharging his weapon repeatedly as he approached her work area.

Finally standing over Lois' desk, the killer allowed the full fury of his weapon to wreck havoc throughout her entire workstation area.

When Clark had assured himself that the first gunman was out of commission, he glanced at Lois' work area. Her desk was like a cheese. Seeing the carnage, fear clutched at his heart while his mind screamed how could Lois survive such an onslaught?

Clark then ran to Lois' work area and was about to move her desk when he saw a red head girl pop into view followed by Lois. Clark was so overwhelmed with joy that he unthinkingly grabbed Lois and crushed her to him. Upon contact with his ex- partner, Clark and Lois both felt a large surge of energy wash over them. Clark was momentarily stunned as the rekindled auras again linked their souls.

To Lois, her ex-partner's hug was like a loving caress, which she hoped would never end. Although Lois adored the feeling of being in Clark's arms, she did not truly comprehend the emotional significance of their serendipitous encounter. As they searched each other's eyes in an attempt to understand their mutual feelings, a man's voice was heard shouting in their direction and they quickly separated.

As Perry ran toward Lois' desk he was screaming, "A miracle, 'great shades of Elvis,' a miracle." Reaching Lois' workstation, Perry immediately grabbed his star reporter and Mara by their hands and rushed them to his office. There, they were promptly examined by the Planet's physician. As Mara accompanied Perry, Clark noticed that his daughter placed several dozen flattened slugs on Lois' bullet ridden desk. Before he had a chance to commandeer the spent cartridges, he heard Jodi call his name. Forgetting everything he rushed to her side.

Seeing the blood oozing from Jodi's abdomen, Clark yelled for medical assistance. While waiting for help, he X-rayed her injuries and was horrified to realize that Jodi's wounds were mortal. Clark, keenly aware that Jodi, his mother-in-law, had only a short time to live, tried to make her last minutes comfortable and serene. As the knowledge of her impending death hammered at his psyche, Clark Kent who was generally in control of his emotions began shaking. The entire fabric of his soul was in turmoil.

When Jodi gazed into Clark's eyes, she knew that her life was rapidly nearing its end. Grabbing her son-in-law's hand, she said, as she began struggling for breath, "May I bless you before I… go."

Clark replied, "You're going to be all right, Mom," he tried to assure her."

Looking around, Clark muttered, "Where's that damn medical assistance?"

Jodi, again looking at Clark, told him, "I'm a scientist, son. You can't fool an old war horse like me." Gasping she pleaded, "Bury me next to my daughter and grandson." Clark nodded, and Jodi knew that her wishes would be carried out come hell or high water. She then asked Clark to come close to her. When the man from Krypton did as she asked, Jodi placed her hands on his head and whispered, as her strength ebbed:

May the creator of the universe grant you a life of peace and goodness; a life free from all shame and reproach; a life of honor; a life in which all the worthy desires of your heart are fulfilled.

After completing her celestial petition, Jodi Fields smiled at Clark, gasped one more breath and closed her eyes for the last time.

When she expired, Clark, tenderly cradled her mortal remains in his arms and began swaying to and fro, tears gushing from his eyes.

Then he quietly remarked, "Today a good woman has gone to G-D."

Lara looked at her father and said, "Papa, now you are truly an orphan." Lara then locked her arms around her father's neck and with tears awash on her face joined him and her sister in mourning Jodi Fields, the girls' mother's mother and their beloved grandmother.

When Lois returned to her desk sometime later in the day, Clark was using her phone making funeral arrangements for his mother- in-law. Lois could see how upset Clark was as she moved into his space for the moment.

When she was about to leave her work area, now in a shambles, Lois scanned the remains of her desktop and became conscious of metallic objects lying there in a pile. She picked up several of the objects and discovered they were deformed bullet casings — they were nearly flat in appearance.

As she assimilated the knowledge of what she had seen, her mind became a whirl of thoughts.

After Lois confronted her new information for what seemed like several years, she murmured, "No wonder she was alive. Someone had deflected or grabbed the bullets as they ripped through her desk. By all that was holy," she thought, "she and Mara should be dead and their bodies ripped to shreds by the dozens of bullets which tore through her desk."

The presumption that all of the bullets penetrating her workstation had luckily missed them both was not a cogent argument. The probability of such an event happening was astronomically so low that one could say with confidence that such an event could not naturally occur. Lois, therefore, had to conclude from her deductions that Mara must have somehow intercepted the bullets as they penetrated the desktop. Lois' analysis further implied that her life and death experience was somehow thwarted by Mara, who possessed some very unusual abilities — super powers to be specific. If Lois' deductions were valid, then Mara's father, Clark Kent, could be the legendary Superman. Stunned by her revelation, Lois' legs could no longer support her mass and she slowly sank to the floor.

As Lois collapsed, Clark rushed to her side and helped her to a chair. She stared at him and quietly said after some moments, "We gotta talk."

He nodded a yes to her request. After a pause, Clark said to her, "Could you come over for dinner at the end of the week? The girls and I must lay Jodi to rest before we attempt to resume our normal existence."

Lois smiled as she embraced Clark and said, "I understand, I'll see you this weekend."

As Clark and his kids moved off, Lois called to him saying, "May you and your children, Clark, be spared from any sorrow for many, many years to come." Clark mouthed a thank you, collected his girls, and proceeded to their home.

While Lois was processing the knowledge of her startling revelation, Perry announced that both terrorists were dead. Apparently, cyanide had been injected into each attacker from a poison packet embedded just under the surface tissues of the killers' bodies. The killing device was analogous to a pacemaker with a syringe attachment. Inspector Henderson, who recently arrived on the scene, indicated that the poisoning mechanism was activated by remote control from a location somewhere within a five-mile radius. The detective concluded that the poison device was obviously implanted to prevent the assassins from talking if captured.

"Too bad," Lois commented, "Information from those scum could've been most enlightening."

Several days later, the three solitary figures placed a coffin containing the mortal remains of Jodi Fields into the Kansas Earth. As promised, She was interred next to her daughter, Jennifer Fields Kent, and her grandson. When Mara, Lara, and their father were covering the coffin with dirt, the girls heard their father quietly say the poignant ancient words, "Dust to Dust Ashes to Ashes…" After the gravesite had been secured, Clark and his daughters stood by Jodi's grave meditating in silence. As they prayed, tears streamed from the eyes of three super people.

When their silent meditation ended, Clark removed a piece of paper from his pocket upon which he had jotted down a few words — "The time of our existence in eternity is like a drop of water in the sea or a grain of sand upon the shore of a vast ocean. While life lasts only for a limited time in the scheme of things, a good name endureth forever." Then the man from Krypton bent his head and quietly wept.

After a few moments, Lara continued by reciting the ancient venerable words, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He …"

When the youngster concluded reciting the twenty-third psalm, Clark, gazing at his late wife's final resting place, quietly remarked, "Jennifer, you have your mother back." Then turning to face his parents' graves, he added, "Mom and Pop, your friend has returned to journey with you through the immensity of eternity." Clark ended his remarks with, "May the Creator of all things give Jodi Fields repose within His sheltering tent forevermore."

After the tribute and memorial service for Jodi Field had been completed, the three Kents embraced one another to allow a sense of wellbeing to reenter their lives.

With the formal portion of the funeral service done, Lara asked her father to explain the meaning of passing away. Clark was stunned by the rather sophisticated nature of his daughter's question. He struggled with her question for a few moments, when all of a sudden in a flash of brilliance, Clark said, "Dying is like opening a door and walking into darkness, followed by passing through another portal and walking into a wonderful place full of light which covers you with an aura of serenity."

When Clark concluded his philosophical description of the unexplainable, the girls looked adoringly at their father and shook their heads. It was obvious to him that he had placated their curiosity for the present.

After Lara's speculative query had been appeased for the present, Clark and his children began to tell wonderful stories about their grandma, a woman they would remember and hold dear all the days of their lives.

As they reminisced, Jodi's funeral became a celebration of a life which had given so much to others, a life that had been valued and would be sorely missed. At the conclusion of Jodi Fields' funeral, the mourners walked slowly towards their Smallville home. While they meandered up the hill leading to the farm, the heavens released a soul cleansing rain.

On Friday evening, just after the attack on the Planet, Lois found herself walking toward Clark's Clinton street home. She had been thinking about her Superman revelation nearly all week and finally decided to ask Clark to talk about his alter ego. Approaching the entrance to the Kent home, she heard footsteps rapidly approaching behind her. Turning, Lois saw Alan Jacobs also hurrying along the path leading to the Kent abode.

Several seconds later, Alan and Lois greeted one another as they prepared to knock on the door of the Kent residence.

When the door swung wide, Lara greeted them giving each a hug and then scurried back to the kitchen. When Lois and Alan entered the living room, she nonchalantly said to the Planet's Singapore bureau chief, "Weren't you in Tokyo just a few hours ago?"

"Yep, "he answered her with a smile.

Lois wondered, "How did he get here so fast?" As if Lois' internal query catalyzed her past memory, she recalled that Lex had also mentioned something about teleportation gates at the Kerth awards.

Following up on that theme, she remarked to Alan, "Clark really has developed an instantaneous transportation system."

"Yes, I have," Clark chimed in as he entered the room. "You are now one of a handful of people who know of its existence."

Although Lex Luther and Alex Carnie have alluded to my teleportation device, they're still not sure it actually exists. Lex, as you know, is a very cautious fellow and needs overwhelming proof before he'll believe that such a contrivance has actually been created.

"I trust that you will keep its reality a secret."

Lois didn't like hidden knowledge. Her philosophy had always been that the public had a right to know.

Before Lois could challenge Clark's secrecy scenario, the man from Krypton said, "Lois, I'm going to tell you a hypothetical tale. I believe it may provide you with some coinage which will help you rethink your view that the public has a right to be enlightened about all things that may or may not effect their lives. That, as you know, includes my teleportation system."

Taking a breath, Clark began to tell tale.

"Suppose a belligerent country we'll call Alpha for the sake of simplicity wanted to subjugate a relatively peaceful nation I'll refer to as Beta. Possessing teleportation technology, country Alpha could placed transport portals at strategic locations in the capital of Beta."

"At a predetermined time, Lois, armed troops from Alpha could invade Beta by sending troops through teleportation portals and capturing Beta before the inhabitants of Beta could mount a defense."

"Let's take a lesser case scenario," Clark said. "Suppose Lex Luthor wanted to seize a village for its mineral wealth."

Lois nodded, and interjected, "You mean like the ones Kal Ellis wrote to rescue villages taken over by LexCorp subsidiaries?"

"Precisely," Clark replied.

Clark Then added, "By placing teleportation units near a desired target, Lex could transport his forces to that area and seize a particular village before any alarms could be sounded. By forcing the chief to sign the appropriate documents, LexCorp would then have legal control of the hamlet and its wealth. Exploitation of the village could move at a leisurely pace protected by the supposed legal documents coerced from a chief or a ruling body of a particular site."

"The coercing factor would never become an issue. By taking members of the chief's or governing council's family members as captives and taking them to a LexCorp prison complex through the teleportation gate, the silence and cooperation of the village leaders would be guaranteed."

"Okay, okay," Lois stated, "I'll keep quiet about your blasted invention."

"Thanks," Clark replied. He then took out a device that looked like a flashlight and pointed it at Lois.

"There," he said after a few seconds. "Your aura has been added to the memory unit of the teleportation system. You can now use the global transportation complex at your leisure. If you wish, Alan could show you how to access and use the teleportation gates."

Clark's friend, the Singapore bureau chief, then nodded his head. His gesture informed Lois that Alan would help her learn the ins and outs of Clark's transportation brainchild.

Alan then excused himself and went to find Clark's girls.

When Alan left the room, Lois started to chat with her ex- partner. As they conversed, Lois inquired how he was coping with his alter ego.

Although somewhat startled by her rather direct approach directed at his alter ego, Clark was not altogether surprised by her comment. He and Alan had discussed the possibility that Superman's true identity would be revealed after the recent violent and traumatic events at the Planet.

After a silent interlude in their conversation, Clark asked Lois, "How did you figure out that I had a secret identity?"

"By observing and analyzing the action of your girls during the newsroom shoot out," Lois replied.

"What are you going to do with that information?" Clark asked.

First, Lois declared, "I want an exclusive interview with Superman — that's you, buster. Then I am going to publish the story of the decade. Heck, my article may be the story of the century or even one that transcends the ages."

It was obvious from her verbal strutting that Lois was thoroughly pleased with herself and relishing the awards and public acclaim she would garner for her Superman story.

Clark was silent for a few moments and then with a maudlin smile said to his guest, "Whatever makes you happy, Lois, is okay with me." In the exuberance of her discovery, reinforced by her craving for acceptance and acclaim in the new business, she had ignored the consequences of her forthcoming expose. From Lois' exhilaration, it was obvious to Clark that Lois had never considered the aftereffects of such a story. Lois Lane had no clue that her Superman story would end the existence of Clark Kent, annul Mara's and Lara's Earthly heritage and destroy their home. Eventually, Lois' article would force Clark and his children to leave Earth.

Clark asked, "When do you want your Superman interview, Ms. Lane?"

Lois replied, "Right now, if you have some time."

"Okay," Clark answered her. Lois then took out her portable tape recorder and started to question Clark Kent aka Superman. After the interview ended, Lois was further enlightened about the extinct Kryptonian civilization and Clark's past by using holographic images.

"Lois, I have a request," Clark said.

"What is it?" she quietly asked.

"Could you delay publication of your Superman exclusive for a few days? It will give me and the girls a little time to pack up and sorta fade into the woodwork."

"That's a reasonable request," Lois remarked in a business like fashion.

As Lois began to think about Clark's request, she remarked, "What do you exactly mean? You'll disappear?"

"I believe my words are self-explanatory, Lois," Clark quietly replied.

Ignoring the meaning of his response for the moment, Lois excitedly commented, "When my story hits the street, every government and corporation on Earth will offer you lucrative positions. Even Superman couldn't refuse their offers. You'll be rich beyond the dreams of Avarice. Anyway, where could you hide with the entire world searching for you and the kids?"

"Don't worry, Lois," Clark said in a melancholy voice. "They'll never find me or my children." He then gave his ex-partner an enigmatic smile, as he rose to prepare a repast.

As Clark began puttering around the kitchen, his mind was already planning for his and the girls' surreptitious departure from Metropolis. While he prepared the food, Clark was aware that there was much to do and precious little time to accomplish what needed to be done before he and his daughters were forced to relocate. He and his young family needed a home, an abode which would provide a refuge from those corrupted people who would attempt to control and use the Kent clan for their own personal gain. Fortunately, Clark had anticipated such an eventuality some years earlier and constructed a space station in the ternary Centauri star system — about four and a third light years from Earth. A extraterrestrial home had already been prepared on the space platform which would provide for all their needs.

When Clark returned to the table, Lois, returning to her own self-centered interests, asked Clark, "Does next Tuesday meet with your approval for a publication date?"

"That's fine," Clark quietly said, holding back tears that were threatening to spill from his eyes.

After agreeing on the publication date, Lois again asked Clark about his statement concerning the continued existence of the Kent family. She told Clark that his initial comment didn't compute.

So, again Lois asked Clark, "Why must the Kent family vanish when my story hits the street?"

"You could remain in Metropolis and be hailed as a hero and be a celebrity," She added.

"Please don't judge my family's views by Earthly standards," Clark replied. He then explained, "All my girls and I want is a normal life. Being constantly targeted as Superman or Superman's children by our neighbors and the media would make us neurotic. In time, I could even have a nervous breakdown. I, my kids, and friends would be harried by all kinds of journalists. The paparazzi, free-lancers, journalists working for local and national papers would have a field day. The criminal element would constantly threaten to injure or kill all those who are someway associated with me in an attempt to influence my behavior. No, Lois, once your article has been published, it's oblivion for the girls and me." Before Lois could respond again, Clark said with a smile, "Let's have dessert. I made chocolate ice cream in honor of your visit."

It was obvious to Lois that further conversation about her forthcoming publication and its ramifications would no longer be the topic of conversation. So she just smiled and enjoyed Clark's homemade ice cream.

On the following Sunday, Alan escorted Lois on a tour of the teleportation network. When they reached the Centauri platform, they were surprised to find Clark and the girls engaged in some sort of activity. Looking closer, it became obvious that they were transforming the space platform into a home.

As Lois scrutinized the space platform, Clark's amazing achievement, she recognized, maybe for the first time, the genius of her one time partner. While she and Alan walked about the space station, Mara quietly informed the two reporters that the Kent family's new residence was located in a geosynchronous orbit above the fourth planet in the Centauri 'a' star system — the Centauri star cluster was actuality a group of three solar furnaces. Lane and Jacobs were also informed that the space platform contained twenty apartments and had a laboratory module attached to the living quarters. When Lara joined them, she told Lois and Alan that two new interstellar spacecrafts had been constructed and were now berthed close to Sanctuary, a name Clark gave to their new home. The Clinton Street house was fast becoming a farcical residence of the Kent clan. It now functioned mostly as doorway between Sanctuary and Earth. Soon, Clark knew, the Clinton Street teleportation doorway would cease to function.

Now Lois understood why Clark had implied that no Earthly power could ever locate the Kent's concealed residence, he and the girls' now called Sanctuary.

While Lois continued her walking tour the Kent's space home, Clark joined her. As the two ambulated through the space platform, Clark told the Planet's star reporter that she was welcome to visit Sanctuary anytime she wished. "This place," he added, "will provide you with living quarters and provide you with security and peace of mind. The power source for this complex is a small fusion reactor, which has a usable lifetime of about a billion years. This homestead is also cloaked and therefore, invisible to anyone or anything outside this module. This station is fabricated from stabilized netronium, a material I discovered some years ago. It is virtually impervious to all known weaponry, energy fields and space debris that may come this way."

Continuing their excursion through Sanctuary, Lois noticed that the walls of the lounge were covered with exquisite paintings. They were obviously created by a master. When Lois looked for the name, she was shocked by the signature, Kal Ellis. She slowly turned to Clark and said, "You're Kal Ellis?"

"Yes," he replied, looking toward the floor somewhat embarrassed.

"The same Kal Ellis who wrote those superb articles about Lex's corrupt deals in South East Asia?" Lois asked.

Clark simply nodded. Before she could press him for more personal information, Clark remarked, "I've something vastly more important to show Alan and you than art work. Please come with me," he remarked, as he walked toward the family room.

Entering a relatively large area deep with in the space station, Lois and Clark became aware that Mara and Lara were quietly talking to their uncle Alan in the corner of the room. Getting the girls' attention, Clark asked his kids to procure surface gear from the storage lockers for their guests and themselves.

Lois asked, "Are we going to one of the planets in this solar system?"

"Yep," Clark said to her. "We're going to planet four, which the kids named Reptilia. On the surface of this particular space rock, the girls and I constructed a lab which is used to examine some of the materials we've uprooted during our archeological digs. I think you guys may find our latest discoveries most interesting. My brother," Clark said to Alan, "stay close to Lois when we descend to the surface of Reptilia."

As Alan nodded, Lois remarked, "Brother. What does Alan mean to you to be considered your sibling, Clark?"

"It's a metaphysical term, Lois, that's sometimes used between Alan and myself," the man from Krypton replied to her query.

After Alan and Lois had "suited up," five souls descended to the surface of Reptilia vis a vis a shuttle craft. When they landed, Lois noticed that the landscape was extremely stark. The winds were brisk and howled like demons from Hell. She also noticed that their landing site was amid what looked like the remains of a vast devastated city.

After Lois and Alan had gazed at the remains of the ancient city for some minuets, Clark led them and his kids to a partially reconstructed building. Within this structure, Clark and his children had constructed a laboratory facility.

Entering the lab Alan noticed a skeleton fastened to a table near the center of the room.

As the party gazed at the skeletal remains of some being, Clark remarked, "I discovered those remains about two weeks ago. The potassium forty analysis places the skeleton's age at seventy million years."

"The anatomy of the fossil strongly suggests a reptilian body structure like the other fragmental parts we've found on this planet. Although it's tempting to speculate, we still don't have sufficient data for a positive identification of the skeleton or other bone like material we've discovered. What's been collected so far does suggests that this creature was analogous to some dinosaur types that existed on Earth prior to the extinction event — an E.L.E. — some sixty-five million years ago."

Pausing for a few moments, Clark remarked, "That skeleton fastened to the table appears to be similar to the Sinraptor or Troodon family of dinosaurs, which flourished during Earth's Mesozoic period. Each species was known to be a fierce predator. From all our findings," Clark added, "it appears that the Reptilia's dinosaur analogue evolved into an exceedingly intelligent animal and eventually created a highly civilized order. However, the instinct to kill seemed to have dominated most of its actions throughout its history on this planet. In the end, the overpowering urge to kill led to the destruction of their civilization and finally to the extinction of their kind. Of course, you realize that my views at this point in our investigation are mere conjecture. More data must be gathered and evaluated before my hypothesis can be objectively scrutinized."

As Lois and Alan were inspecting the skeletal remains which Kent had found, Clark added, "Earth science is quite aware that mammalian evolution accelerated after the dinosaur's extinction and humankind eventually became the dominant species on Earth."

"By comparing the preeminent species on Reptilia with our with Earth's current dominant form, one common thread seems to permeate both biological groupings. The creatures which dominated this planet were predators like our own people. It appears, however, that humans had more control over their killer instincts."

Taking a breath, Clark added, "In my view, man's intellect has played an important part in their predatory behavior. The reptilian species on this plane, however, seemed to have been controlled by their destructive instincts to a greater extent, while the mammals of Earth used the reasoning power of their minds to suppress their subconscious desire to slay one another. If my postulate is valid, then there is a good chance that humankind will continue to survive and eventually achieve a peaceful and harmonious planet wide society."

"If my premise is correct, the highly developed Kryptonian civilization may also fall within the confines of my hypothesis. Then, we can maybe discover the mechanism by which my birth world evolved. If what I've learned from the AI unit is true, the planet wide disaster which devastated Krypton was not caused by a planet wide conflagration, but by unknown natural forces."

"Purely from a speculative point of view," Lara interjected, "The devastation throughout this Reptilian city and others we found on this planet strongly suggest that a nuclear exchange occurred." Looking at her notes, Clark's child continued, "It appears that a thermonuclear blast occurred about 0.488 kilometers above this city and was delivered by a missile approaching from the South East."

Lois was amazed by Clark's daughter's ability to handle and analyze events within a complex mathematical framework.

After Lara finished making her comments, Clark added, "Obviously, more work is needed to ascertain what motivated and what caused the carnage that destroyed the Reptilian civilization."

Alan then put his two cents in, "This project is so immense, my brother, that if I or another individual continued this investigation, as you suggested, I or they wouldn't complete this project during a lifetime of study."

"That's probably true," Clark replied. "However, if you do continue to investigate the events that ultimately lead to the destruction of this planet's civilization, you will never be bored. Having been involved in science most of my life, I can attest to that fact."

As they walked back to the shuttle, Clark said, "Alan, why don't you teach Lois the principles of archeology. She has a keen analytical mind. And, If you two cooperated, the first phase of this study should be completed during your life times."

"That's not a bad idea," Alan murmured to himself.

As Clark's last words washed over Lois, she suddenly realized that Clark and his children were planning to leave Sanctuary. Her psyche was having a lot of difficulty coping with that new bit of information. "Where are you going?" Lois asked her ex- partner with a slight quiver in her voice."

Staring at the stars, Clark said, "The kids and I will first travel to the Kryptonian solar system. It's about eight billion light years from here. After examining my ancestor's solar system, the girls and I will head further into the void perhaps to the edge of our universe — if one actually exists, that is."

While Lois and Clark gazed into each other's eyes, Alan asked his spiritual brother, "Why journey to the edge of the creation?"

"Besides staying here, where else could we go? When Lois' expose is published, there will be nowhere on Earth that will afford us peace of mind or safety for that matter."

"Anyway," Clark added, "I have a desire to see as much of the cosmos as possible before I pass on and my body is reduced to its primary parts — atoms and molecules. Therefore, Alan, Lara, Mara, and I will explore the plenum."

After gazing at the stars for a moment, Clark added, "My brother, I also want to find out if our universe is alone in the sea of eternity or if there are other Island macrocosms afloat in the immensity of infinity."

"Will you return?" Lois asked holding her breath.

"Maybe, in the fullness of time, when the Superman's doings become vague and Clark Kent and he and his family will be less than a memory and unimportant in the affairs of man. Then we'll consider whether or not to again become involved in the affairs of humankind and his little world."

Soon after they returned to Sanctuary, Lois and Alan watched an interstellar ship, bearing Clark and his children, disappear into blackness of the void. As this unique event unfolded, the eyes of Alan and his friend Lois became moist and then covered their faces with tears.

When Alan and Lois returned to Earth later that day, the Planet's star reporter LANed her Superman expose to Perry White.

"What are your plans for the future," Lois asked Alan. "First," he said, "I'll go back to Singapore and finish out my contract. Then, I'll return to Metropolis and see whether Perry can use an old war horse like me as a city wide investigative reporter."

"For some reason, Lois," Alan added, "I have this insatiable desire to bring Lex Luthor to his knees. Figuratively, I want to be the one who drives Lex to the guillotine and watch the blade fall. When the knife of justice tears that man asunder all of the people which Lex destroyed and disappeared in the night, leaving no record of their passing, will be able to rest in peace."

"Do you really hate Luthor that much?" Lois asked her friend.

Alan replied, "The loathing that permeates my soul can only be satiated by Lex's demise and the destruction of his evil empire." As Alan gritted his teeth, he added, "My sister and many of my acquaintances cry out for retribution."

"Your sister?" Lois proclaimed in a stunned voice.

"Yes," Alan replied with a hard edge to his words.

Wiping a tear from his face, Alan said, "My sister was investigating one of LexCorps subsidiaries when she disappeared. I've never found her or her mortal remains. From some of my sources, I learned that she was murdered and that Lex killed her personally. My contacts also informed me that "Luthor laughed as he pulled the trigger of his revolver over and over again. When I discovered that Clark had super abilities, we formed a pack, he and me, to war against injustice. In time, we became more than spiritual brothers. We became partners in a constant battle against evil. Now Clark's gone. I will struggle alone, if necessary, and continue what has become my crusade against the Devil's number one boy, Lex Luthor."

Lois, placing her hand on the older man's shoulder, declared, "Alan, my dear friend, you won't have to fight alone."

"You and I have a lot in common, Lois," Alan remarked. "As time goes by, I will undoubtedly cherish your companionship more and more. My solitary and lonely journey through life will be somewhat more tolerable with you working at my side."

"Surely," Lois responded, "you will find another helpmate who will travel the highways of this world with you."

"No, Lois," Alan replied, as his sad eyes focused on the far horizon. "I have had but one soulmate and loved her more than life itself. For me, there can be no other."

Alan turned to look at his compatriot and said sadly, "Your path through life will also be a solitary one. Oh, you may have a fling or two, but there will be no joining of souls for you, my friend."

"What do you mean?" Lois asked him.

Alan then sadly remarked, "When two people who are life partners and soulmates meet, an undefinable energy is shared between them. We call it love. You can feel the power of your love as it flows between you. The potency of the forces that bind you together fuses your souls into something greater than either persona alone."

"Although your individualities remain," Alan continued, "They act together, consciously and unconsciously, for the good of the totality which has been created by their love for one another. Each individual in this new relationship places the needs of the other ahead of his or her own desires. Lois, you have already met and bonded with your soulmate. For some reason, which I don't honestly understand, you've rejected your life partner. Because of your behavior, Lois Lane will travel the Earth alone, alienated from love's true caress."

As the words fell from Alan's lips, Lois was dumbfounded. The shock caused by his words left her nearly speechless.

Trying to defend herself and her actions, Lois struggled to challenge his indictment.

Before she could get a full head of steam, Alan forced her into silence by stating, "For your Superman story, my dear, you will undoubtedly receive a plethora of accolades and attract many pseudo friends."

"The excitement of your notoriety, Lois, will, for a time, assuage the hurt caused by the loss of your soulmate. However, as you will learn, people are fickle and in time you will cease to be the darling of the radio talk programs and television shows. You will gradually be excluded from the society set who is ever looking for fresh victims to exploit. Eventually you'll go home each evening and see the same four walls and say hello to your fish. Silence will be your closest companion and greet you as you enter your abode. You will not savor the refreshing sound of children rushing to hug you and feel their eagerness to tell you about their day. Those children, like your soulmate, would have provided you with unconditional love and would be your messengers of hope you'd send to a future you would not see — all these things will be absent from your life. Your barren lodgings will not provide you with a loving husband who will comfort your soul with tender and passionate kisses. After eating a hastily prepared meal, Lois Lane will retire to a cold and impersonal bed."

"A heating pad will keep me warm," Lois interrupted her friend.

"Will it be the father of your children and will it help soothe your fears?" Alan answered, as he finished his soul wrenching soliloquy.

"You have painted a ghastly picture for the remainder of our lives," Lois said as she began to sob.

"Yes, I know," Alan replied. He then bent his head in despair and quietly exited her apartment disappearing into the blackness of the night.

For the balance of the evening and for the rest of that night, Lois restlessly tossed and turned in her bed trying to discover the identity of her soulmate without success. As the sun rose, Lois, to save her sanity, rationalized that Alan Jacobs was becoming a zany mystic as he aged and decided that his notion of a soulmate was strictly romantic hogwash.

After a rather lengthy self evaluation concerning the romantic side of her persona over breakfast, Lois decided that a spiritual life partner was not logical. She again concluded that the concept of a soulmate was a lot of hooey. To support her contentions, Lois made an appointment to see Dr. Friskind, her psychiatrist and friend, at ten that morning.


Upon entering Ruth Friskind's office, Lois came right to the point in her usual straight forward and unambiguous style.

"When people become intimate, like falling in love," Lois began, "did you ever come across the notion that spiritual bonding occurred between the souls of two such individuals?"

Instead of commenting immediately, Ruth just stared out the window and became pensive. After some minutes of silence, which to Lois' psyche sounded like rolling thunder, the Planet's ace reporter cleared her throat to get the psychiatrist's attention.

When the sound made by Lois achieved its intended effect, Ruth looked into her patient's eyes and remarked, "If you had asked me that question a few months ago, I would have given you a quick and unmitigated no, as my answer. However, several things have occurred in my life during the past two or three months. These events have profoundly modified my views about mysticism, especially when dealing with love and I guess the connection between souls."

Taking a deep breath, Ruth told Lois, "The re-evaluation of my views about mysticism and romance began when I fell in love with Bernie Klein. He's a research scientist at STAR Labs." Lois nodded. "When we embraced after I accepted his proposal of marriage, I felt some kind of energy streaming between us. It was as though pieces of ourselves were combining and making us a greater whole. When we finally stopped cuddling, I knew that Bernie and I would be connected in a special way for the rest of our lives and would extend beyond this plane of existence. Now if you call our combining essences a spiritual event, then yes, Lois, I believe that souls bond when lovers meet and accept one another as a life partner or soulmates."

As Ruth gazed at Lois, she asked, "Has such a thing happened to you?"

Lois then smiled at her friend and physician and responded, "Yes, such an occurrence as you described happened to me when Clark Kent held me in his arms." Pausing for a moment, Lois then remarked, "Ruth, couldn't our feelings be just hormonal response resulting from an amorous situation?"

"Maybe," Ruth replied, looking Lois squarely in the eyes. "However, if you want my advice," Ruth commented, "I'd run to that guy, hug him, love him, and never ever let him go."

For the next few moments, Lois just stared at her friend and then mumbled to herself, "Great Caesar's ghost, Alan must be right." Then she screamed inwardly to herself and said, "The Superman article. My G-D, its publication is set for tomorrow's early edition." Lois jumped up, kissed Ruth on the cheek, startling the woman. Then-thanking Ruth for her advice hurried from the psychiatrist's office. When Lois reached the street, she raced like the wind toward the Planet. For the sake of all Lois' lonely tomorrows and for the sake of her unborn children, her Superman article had to be squelched.

Upon entering the newsroom Lois was surprised to see Lex Luthor, Nigel St. John, Asabi, and several other of Lex's retainers gathered in Perry's office. When Perry spotted her, he excused himself from Lex and his entourage and hastened to intercept her. As Perry and Lois met, the chief hooked her by the arm and literally dragged her to the conference room. Closing the door of the meeting room, Lois immediately inquired, "Perry, has my Superman article been sent to layout?"

"No," he quickly replied.

"Then kill it," she almost yelled at him.

"I've already put it in the shredder — my super disintegration machine," Perry quickly informed his star reporter with a broad smile.

"Thank G-D," she murmured like a prayer.

"Perry," she added, "The information in my expose must be buried deep, very, very deep. No one besides us must ever know the contents in that Superman story."

"Darlin," he said, "Don't fret. I'll take Clark's secret to the grave." Perry and Lois then hugged to seal their pact of silence.

After Lois was assured that her near blunder had been rectified, she turned her attention to Luthor and his sycophants.

"What are Lex and his cronies doing in the newsroom?" She asked.

Perry replied, "It appears that they now own the Planet and are beginning to make major changes in staffing and policy." As Perry ended his comments, a mixture of horror and despair momentarily clouded Lois' normally beautiful features. After the shock of the chief's news had lessened, Lois became quiet, but inside she was seething. Anyone who knew Lois understood that these were the times when the Lane intellect started percolating at full throttle, and she became a most imaginative and dangerous adversary.

Standing next to Perry in the conference room, Lois said quietly, "Tell me whether I'm wrong, chief, but doesn't control of a newsprint enterprise, a television network, and a radio station within a single market constitute a violation of some communication statute?"

After hearing Lois' question, Perry's eyes lit up. Hugging her, he said, "What would I do without you, darlin'? I do believe, gal, you're one clever hot tamale. We now need to notify the FCC."

After a few seconds of cogitation, Perry remarked, "Lois, we'll need to get a good private attorney to obtain an injunction against Lex and his motley crew from taking over the Planet. He sure as hell won't allow us to use the legal eagles on our staff to litigate against his own interests." Turning toward Lois he asked, "Who was that lawyer that defended Superman when he was being sued by that low life?"

"Her name is Constance Hunter," Lois replied.

"Okay, let's get her on board for our fight with Luthor and company," Perry proclaimed pounding his fist on the table. Lois smiled and nodded at Perry, as she also mentally geared herself for the coming battle.

A few minutes after she was called, Constance Hunter filed an injunction preventing Lex Luthor from sequestering the Daily Planet. However, the Judge in charge of the hearing, C. Manson, was on Luthor's payroll. Using some legal mumbo jumbo, the Judge delayed the implementation of a cease and desist order saying that an injunction in this case would require further study. Realizing that any delay would provide Lex the time needed to dismantle the paper, Constance quickly filed a brief with the Federal Court.

It was now a race against time to save the Planet. Even on the Federal level, Lex had considerable influence. While in the end, Lex would probably lose the war, Luthor could delay long enough to disembowel the Planet's infrastructure so it could not function for a considerable period; long enough, Perry knew, to get away with numerous nefarious deals that would make him tons of money and injure lots of people.

The suits who once owned the paper would naturally follow Luthor's lead. That act alone would take years to resolve. Although Lex would lose the Planet, the time it would take for this case to be litigated would make the paper ineffectual. The Planet, for all intent and purposes, during the court case would be in limbo and after all the legal skirmishing had ended may never regain its former stature, or worse yet, never publish another edition of the paper. So another adversary of Luthor, the Daily Planet, would be silenced, in this case, the one instrument in Metropolis whose investigative resources were capable of thwarting Lex's illegal schemes. With the Planet out of commission, Lex Luthor now had a golden opportunity. In the end, Lex was quite aware he would lose the Planet and it may be reconstituted. However, to Lex the present situation was a good trade off. Lose control of the Planet after a period of lengthy litigation, but in the interim, squeeze billions upon billions of dollars from the peons of the world.

In Lex's grandiose strategy to acquire the Daily Planet, his army of shysters had blundered. There was one piece of information that only the editor in chief was privy to. It had been passed down from one newspaper editor to another since the Planet's inception. This little-known fact was the paper's ace in the hole. It was set up many years ago to keep the Daily Planet out of unscrupulous hands. The master of evil had overlooked this one very small, but vital, item for his scheme to succeed in destroying the Planet — the paper's logo. If the Daily Planet's advertising symbol could be obtained by Perry White, he could reconstitute the paper at another location again and begin publishing using the Planet's appellation. Lex could not interfere because he was not in possession of the paper's trademark. Because of the legal entanglements, Luthor would not be able to utilize the printing facilities in the older Planet location.

The Daily Planet's trademark at that moment was the property of the Yoder family which resided in Brooking, Massachusetts. The logo was on permanent loan to the current Metropolis newspaper. The agreement between the periodical establishment and the Yoder family was so written that if the name of the daily was to be besmirched or the control of the newspaper was to pass into the hands of unscrupulous individuals, the paper's emblem would be withdrawn from use and control of the logo would revert to the Yoder family. This agreement was written in 1775, the year the Planet was born. Being an important historical document, it was exhibited in the Congressional Library's historical gallery for all to see.

Soon after Lex seized control of the paper, most of the Planet's staff was dismissed or retired. A severance bonus of six months salary was paid to each employee. This rather large sum was paid out in an attempt to placate the anger of the papers employees and prevent any legal entanglements.

While Luthor was ousting most of the Planet's staff, Perry was contacting the Yoder family. The chief informed the Yoders of the paper's crisis and informed them that Luthor would either dismantle the paper or use it to support injustice — his illegal ventures. During the ensuing conversation, it was agreed that control of the Planet's trademark would be transferred to Perry White for the sum of one dollar. Several faxes later and the control of the paper's name was in Perry White's hands. He would now force Luthor to remove all evidence of the Planet's name from the building that housed the paper and its letterhead when the courts opened for business in the morning.

If Lex was allowed by the courts to publish a paper for any reason, it could not bear the Daily Planet's logo. People wouldn't be duped into thinking that the Planet was in agreement with Lex's views.

The next morning, Perry, accompanied by Ms. Hunter headed for the Federal Court House. On the way, Anne Fine, the editor in chief and publisher of the Metropolis Enquire, intercepted them. After a friendly greeting and some chit chat, Anne handed Perry a sealed envelope and bid Constance and Perry a good day.

With Ms. Hunter looking on, Perry opened the letter. It was a communication from Clark Kent. After reading its contents he smiled and handed it to his companion. The letter read:

Dear Perry:

If you are reading this letter then Luthor has moved against and Planet and the paper is now in peril. Lex will stop at nothing to either destroy the Planet's ability to inform it readers the truth concerning a particular situation, or worse yet, use the paper's facilities to help him circumvent the law. This must not happen. I charge you to implement and sustain a biblical expression my mother taught to me — justice, justice, justice, thou must pursue justice. Do not allow Luthor to succeed in his desire to either control or destroy the Planet. Have faith, Perry. Remember, my friend, that hope may appear to be fragile, but if the cause is just, it is oh so difficult to destroy.

I have acquired the means for you to defend the Planet's integrity and to safeguard the honest news it disseminates to the people of Metropolis and the world at large.

See Anne Fine. She will furnish you with the tools you'll need to fight and defeat the Devil's advocate, our insidious adversary, Lex Luthor.

Your good friend, Clark Jerome Kent

In court that day, Perry and Constance Hunter were able to oust Luthor and his cronies from the Plant's premise.

However, because of the challenges Luthor's attorneys placed before the court, the Planet building would lie fallow until the courts could settle the issue of the building's ownership.

When the judgement was read by the court, Perry breathed a sigh of relief. Luthor could not utilize the old Planet's publishing facility to print his misbegotten rubbish.


Several evenings later Perry White and his senior staff gathered in the back room of Smoky Joe's Pub. This particular monthly get together was to be a business meeting in addition to dinner.

When Perry called the dinner-meeting, he announced to the world that the Planet was still in business and the paper had not abandoned its confrontation with Lex Luthor and his cohorts.

At this particular dinner-meeting, Anne Fine was the guest speaker. Anne was a noted newspaper woman who currently was the Editor and publisher of the Metropolis Enquire.

After that brief introduction by Perry, she proceeded to the dais. Prior to addressing her friends and colleagues she activated a crystalline device, which glowed with a pale blue luminous radiation, and placed it to one side of the podium

"Before I begin," she said, "you should know that this luminous doohickey I've placed on the podium will not injure anyone. This instrument," pointing to the glowing object, "was developed by Clark Kent. The rays that it emits will completely soundproof an area and deactivate any video or audio surveillance equipment that may be present.

"I guess," she said smiling at her audience, "that's a good way to begin my remarks this evening."

After a brief pause in which she consumed some water, Ann began the main topic of the evening.

"Most of you are probably not aware of Dr. Kent's scientific accomplishments," she said. "He earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics at California Institute of Technology. To date CJ Kent or Clark as we affectionately know him has published a substantial number of papers in many of the worlds most prestigious scientific journals. Those few scientists who can comprehend Dr. Kent's writings all say that it will be more than a century before the engineers can start to make practical use of his intellectual creations. Clark's scientific colleagues will tell you that he is one of the greatest scientists of all time. It is journalism's good fortune that Lex Luthor blocked his entrance into academia or the industrial macrocosm. Even in our realm, Luthor's reach nearly destroyed Kent's journalistic trek. With political pressure and psychological innuendos, Clark was nearly excluded from our club. The Metropolis Enquire, by some stroke of luck, became his savior. We are proud to say that when others ignored Clark's exposes, our paper was the only outlet for his articles. He used the Enquire's resources to ceaselessly attack Luthor's evil empire. His editorials not only battled for justice, but saved our small publication. You will be surprised to learn that his fee for each of his features was just thirty- six dollars to be donated to a charity of his choosing. With his corny smile, Clark informed me that the number thirty-six meant "double a life in Hebrew," while the number eighteen symbolized life — a tag I already knew."

When I asked Clark where he learned the Hebraic life statements, he informed me that he acquired these facts from a life long friend back in Smallville. Since these Hebraic notions touched some philosophical chord in his being, Dr. Kent made them part of his living fabric.

As Anne continued to speak, she mentioned that Clark helped her paper acquire funding from The Lara and Jorel Foundation. "He was worried about LexCorp gobbling us up. How right he was. Clark's foresight was uncanny."

"Once we were taken under the foundation's wing, so to speak, our debts disappeared and the Enquire was protected from any takeover attempt."

Kent's forethought was prophetic. Soon after our connection with the L and J Foundation was formalized, Luthor descended upon us and attempted to gain control of my paper. His motives were obvious. Lex wanted to silence Clark's journalistic voice. With each successive article, Kent was getting closer to uncovering the identity of the boss — Metropolis' consummate criminal. The boss is an individual who essentially controls or has a hand in all crime occurring in our fair city. In fact," Anne added, "not only was Metropolis in the clutches of this master malefactor, but we believe he's linked to crime organizations throughout the world."

"Before I continue," Anne said, "you should know that Clark Kent is on the executive board of The Lara and Jorel Foundation. It was his association with the L. and J. Endowment organization that saved our bacon."

After taking a sip of water, Anne further remarked, "From Kent's vantage point as a free-lancer, he was also cognizant of the Planet's ongoing investigation into Luthor's repugnant associations and his sordid ventures. The CEOs of LexCorp's subsidiary companies were the machinery which carried out Lex's dirty work. When Clark was informed by a source that Luthor had become aware that the Planet was on to him, he knew that Lex would strike at the Planet to stifle its investigation into LexCorp's operations which would eventually lead to all of Luthor's criminal activities. So Kent convinced the L. and J. Foundation to provide capital to duplicate a Daily Planet back up newsroom in and among the Enquire facilities. You should know that Clark prepared for any and all calamitous actions which would be directed against the DP."

"The Daily Planet is still in business because of Clark's almost supernatural insights. Tomorrow you will come to work as usual. Only the location of the Planet has changed. You'll find that the physical plant of our two publications has been so arranged that each paper can function independently without hampering the other. So spread the word to all Planet people. Tell them they have a job and are expected to report to work as usual tomorrow. Just make sure they show up at the Enquire's place of business. And remember guys and gals, give them their new work address."

"There's one other item I should mention," Anne said. "Don't worry about funding. Enough monies have been provided by The L and J Foundation to support the Planet without selling any advertisements for a long, long time. I suspect that any revenue from selling advertisement space will be blocked by our friendly neighborhood crook, Luthor and company."

"Did I hear someone ask how much money would be available without advertisement revenue?" Ann said. Smiling she immediately replied, "Enough for the next twenty-five years. I suspect, however, that many of your old advertisers will flock to you when they learn of the Planet's resurrection. Now enjoy your dinner — bon appetit."

As the food was being served, Anne motioned to Perry, Lois, and Alan and asked if she could talk with them in the adjoining room before they dined.


Less than a minute after Clark and his daughters left the Centauri cluster, they entered the Kryptonian star system some eight billion light years from Earth — about halfway across the known universe. Scanning the solar system, which was the home of Krypton, Clark's birth world, they discovered some thirteen planets still orbiting a red sun. From the enormous amount of debris observed in fifth planetary position, the Kent family was fairly certain that Krypton occupied that particular planetary position. From the relatively small particles, which made up the greater part of the space rubble in orbit five, the three intergalactic space sailors were fairly certain that some sort of titanic explosion caused the destruction of a planet once teaming with life.

As Clark pondered the demise of the Kryptonian people, Lara and Mara probed the solar vista for signs of life. Not quite an hour into their search, Clark's kids became very excited and informed their father that the instrumentation indicated the presence of life forms about a light year from their present location. "Maybe we've found survivors of the holocaust," Mara said excitedly, once again demonstrating her optimistic temperament.

"From your mouth to G-D's ears," Clark whispered, as he checked and rechecked his children's findings. After Clark corroborated the girls' observations, he started their spacecraft moving on an intercept course where the Kent family expected to find the source of the life signals. As Clark and his children stared into the blackness of the void, their vessel moved steadily toward a convergence with the unknown, an encounter filled with hope and apprehension, and perhaps a rendezvous with destiny.

When the Kents' interstellar ship reached a position spacial about one hundred miles from their destination, the monitoring instruments on the string propelled vessel detected an unknown object. Within a few moments, the monitors clearly displayed an image of an unknown spacecraft suspended in the void.

As the two spacecraft converged, Clark maneuvered his ship so that the air locks of both ships were adjacent to one another and could be coupled. When the ships were finally linked, Clark examined the alien ship's atmospheric content for its quality and the presence of pathogens. After the analysis proved satisfactory with respect to his safety standards, the Kents began their preparation to enter the unfamiliar spaceship.

Clothed in life support gear an hour or so later, three interstellar voyagers penetrated the alien spaceship. As the Kent family were entering the unknown ship, the luminosity within the alien craft suddenly increased, the temperature rose, and the content of the atmospheric gases changed until they matched the environment on the Earth built vessel. After the unknown extraterrestrial ship's environment had stabilized, a message resonated through Clark's and his childrens' minds indicating that the living conditions on both ships were now identical. The mental message also informed the three space travelers from Sol that their life support equipment would no longer be needed.

After Clark checked the conditions within the alien craft again, he and his daughters removed their life support apparel. As they started to examine their surroundings, another telepathic message informed them to please follow the illuminated markers to the ship's life chamber.

Following the glowing symbols specified by the unknown telepathic message sender, the Kent family arrived at the life chamber located near the center of the nameless alien vessel. Entering the chamber, they were surprised to see six humanoid life forms within individual transparent containers.

As Clark and his daughters studied the sleepers more thoroughly, the Kents realized that they had discovered beings not unlike themselves in a state of suspended animation. As they viewed the dormant forms further, another mental message informed Clark and his girls how to resuscitate the life forms in the life sustaining receptacles.

Following the instructions furnished by the telepathic messages, the souls from Sol Three watched as the suspended animation chambers slowly opened and the occupants began to stir. Of the six reviving individuals, there were four adults and two were children. As Clark and his daughters continued to gaze at the spectacle of awakening life, it became apparent that there were two adult females and two males. The two youngsters appeared to be boys about seven or eight years of age. As the six sleepers became fully conscious, the Kent family helped them from their pods and guided them to nearby chairs. A restorative liquid was prepared, as instructed, which refreshed the newly awakened souls. Then a sleeper, who called himself Ching, telepathically introduced his companions. First, he presented his wife Zara to Clark's family. Then he introduced his sons named Jon-El and Mar-El, who were also fraternal twins. Finally, Kara-El and Zan-El, a betrothed couple, were presented to the Kent family.

While Clark watched the sleepers as they revived, he made an intuitive leap and verbally spoke to them in Kryptonese. The joy and chaos that followed Clark's few words were only halted when Zan-El thwacked a heavy instrument upon the table, while simultaneously yelling for quiet in her native Kryptonian tongue.

When a semblance of order was restored, Clark continued by introducing both himself and his two children. In his greetings, he told them that he had two designations. Clark was his Earth name, while Kal-El was his Kryptonian appellation.

"Your Kryptonian name is Kal-El?" Kara-El asked, a smile starting to form on her normally stoic face.

Clark nodded. "Do you happen to know the names of your birth parents," she asked.

"Jor-El and Lara-El," Clark replied.

Upon hearing the names of Clark's biological creators, Kara stood up and walked slowly over to the man from Earth placing her hands on his shoulders. She then carefully scrutinized his facial features. After studying Clark's countenance for some moments, Kara then examined his daughters and again saw the strong resemblance between the girls and their natural paternal grandparents, Lara and Jor-El. Realizing that she had living relatives, Kara, with a cry of joy, embraced Clark and his children and then began to weep.

In a halting voice, Kara exclaimed, "Kal-El, You are my third cousin. Your father Jor-El and my sire Zor-El were first cousins," Kara continued. "It was my father who constructed our spaceship, with information provided by your father, Jor-El. Ching and his family, myself and Zan- El, owe our lives to your Kryptonian parents."

Clark looked at his cousin and all the company in the life chamber and quietly remarked, "We are one family now. All of us here are the last of our kind."

When Ching and the newly awakened Kryptonians had rested, they transferred Zor-El's escape ship to the cargo bay of Clark's vessel. As Mara and Lara helped their new family members get situated, Clark engaged the interstellar engine and proceeded towards the edge of creation — the rim of the universe.

Over the next few days, while those from Earth and Krypton studied the void in and around and beyond the edge of the creation, the occupants of the interstellar spacecraft bonded and merged into a closely knit family group. Zara was the first to notice that the children seemed to have formed a particularly strong attachment for one another. Mara and Jon-El appeared to have paired, while her other son Mar-El, and Kal's daughter Lara were nearly inseparable. Zara began to think that maybe the children were soulmates and could have already bonded. If this was the case, then Kal's family and her line would truly be united. Time would tell whether her suspicions were valid or just the wishful thinking of a hopeful parent.

One day, while the children were studying several luminous objects discovered in the sea of infinity beyond the fringes of our own universe, Ching asked, "Clark how were you and Jennifer able to conceive?"

After Ching posed his question, Clark became aware that his friend still viewed the peoples of Earth and of Krypton as two distinct species. Ching believed, like most of the others on the ship, that according to current thought, mating between two different species should not be feasible or if possible would produce genetically inferior progeny.

Chuckling, Clark asked, "Ching, you believe that inter species conception shouldn't be possible, don't you?"

Ching simply shook his head.

Smiling at his friend, Clark said, "You are probably correct."

The presence of my two daughters and deceased son therefore must be confusing to you because conception between Terrans and Kryptonians can obviously occur. Therefore, either inter species procreation can occur or Earth men and Kryptonians are not different species.

Ching just stared at Kal-El in disbelief.

Then the man from Kansas placed his hand on Ching's shoulder and remarked, "Remember, my Kryptonian brother, that a theory may be a guide to natural law, but experimentation decides the issue."

With a smile on his face Ching commented, "I'd nearly forgotten that little ditty."

Taking a breath, Clark said to Ching, "At sometime in the distant past, the people of Earth and Krypton had common ancestors. How and why they separated we can only speculate about at present. There are apparently no records of any kind to help us solve this puzzle."

"My daughters and your children, Ching, are products of the same species although conceived on different planets which were separated by many light years."

Turning to look at Clark's progeny, as they came into the dining cabin, Ching commented, "If your thoughts are valid, and I'm beginning to believe they are, this revelation bodes well for the continuance of our families and our people.

"Yes," Clark added. "Through us and our progeny, Ching, the Kryptonian people may be reborn and flourish."

After a few moments of further contemplation, Clark remarked, "I believe that my biological providers sent me to Earth for precisely some of the reasons we just considered. Their choice was not haphazard. Lara and Jor-El chose Earth after studying its environment and inhabitants for nearly twenty years. From their investigation, they strongly felt that I was biologically compatible with the people of Sol Three. The AI unit informed me," Clark further commented, "that my Kryptonian parents had strong suspicions that the present Earth people were descendants of ancient Kryptonian explorers — star sailors lost in the cosmos. They reasoned that these explorers arrived in the Earth solar system through a wormhole (a tunnel through hyperspace). My natural parents suspected that this event occurred between two hundred and four hundred thousand years ago. Recent Homo Sapiens remains found in England and Germany give credence to their view. Over the next one hundred and seventy-five thousand years, the descendants of these explorers evolved into the modern day Earth population. The physical differences between the marooned Kryptonians and those living on their mother world are essentially superficial. They are evolutionary modifications to make survival on Earth easier. However, the basic Kryptonian DNA remained unaltered. The fundamental difference between modern Kryptonians and the current Earth population is the chromosome modification to our DNA. As we know, genetically engineered Kryptonian DNA occurred so those modified DNA units appear to be dominant when conception occurs. I am quite sure of this fact because the modified Kryptonian DNA has been passed on to my children."

"I can support Kal's statement," Kara chimed in. "With your daughters' permission, Clark, I examined the girls' genetic make up. They are pure Kryptonian like the rest of us."

Kara then remarked, "I am convinced that Jor-El and Lara's hypothesis concerning the origins of contemporary Earth people were right on the money."

"As my parents told me," Kara added, "Jor-El and his soulmate were the most brilliant Kryptonian scientists of their day. So why be surprised."

Elated by Kara's support, Clark was a little miffed that his cousin had examined Mara and Lara without first talking to him. Still, he thought the girls agreed and there was no harm done. In fact, Kara's information subtly strengthened the bonds within their group and revealed that Earth's inhabitants now represented a huge biological reservoir for future life partners.

After a pause to allow Kara's information to be assimilated, Clark commented, "If the Earth can be viewed as a vast potential soulmate source, our children should be able to locate suitable life partners without too much trouble."

"I don't think that will be a problem for your daughters and my sons," Zara commented breaking into the conversation with a huge smile. Before Clark could query Zara, she continued, "Haven't you noticed that the children have paired? While I still don't believe our children have realized the significance of their interplay," Zara added, "I strongly suspect that Mara and Jon-El and Lara and Mar- El are soulmates."

Gazing at the startled faces of those around her, Zara added, "Both of my sons have informed me that they have strong and growing feeling for your girls, Kal, especially when they are together and interact either in play or during their study sessions."

Clark than remarked, "Now that you mention it, Zara, my girls have also eluded to a strong aura in connection with your boys." After reflecting for a moment Clark asked, "Aren't they a little young for this kind of thing to be happening?"

"No," Zara replied. "Similar situations have occurred in the past." Then Ching's soulmate mused, "If what I say is true, and I believe I'm right about this, over the next few years we can expect our kids to first become best friends and confidants." Hesitating for a moment, Zara then added, "I personally believe that our children have already reached that level. As they mature," she continued, "the partners in each couple will become more and more inseparable and come to realize that they are bound to one another forever and beyond. At the proper time, the soulmate pairs will complete the bonding process and slide into domestic bliss as easily as you and I could pass through a door."

As the discourse between Zara and Clark concerning their children deepened, it stimulated the Kryptonian survivors to ask many questions about Earth and its people. For them, it was to be a new home and the rebirth of their people.

Before the incessant queries about Sol Three from his new family overwhelmed Clark, he requested silence. Kal-El then said, "To answer your many questions about the Earth and its inhabitants, I have programmed the library module to answer your inquires. After you have been sufficiently informed about your new home by the AI unit, I will try to resolve any further queries that you still may have."

After the Kryptonian survivors had viewed most of the instructional materials about Earth, Kara, out of scientific curiosity, asked Clark questions about his string theory. In the course of their conversation, she said to him, "It appears that your new subatomic particle is the foundation of this ship's interstellar drive and the power source behind the teleportation gates you've created."

Clark smiled and nodded to his cousin.

As they talked, Clark told Kara, "You, like my girls, analyze and extrapolate data very well." Pausing for a moment, Clark then added with a chuckle, "I guess the ability to comprehend and use scientific and mathematical concepts runs in the family."

Clark then said to his cousin, "You should know, Kara, that Jor-El was the first to discovered the subatomic particle which I latter called a string. The subatomic particle I'm talking about is considerably smaller than a quark and oscillates with its own natural frequency. The vibrations of the string subatomic particle is dependent on the element in which it's embedded. Unfortunately, Jor-El couldn't isolate a string particle. Thank G-D, he and Lara found a way to use the properties exhibited by the string to propel a spacecraft across the vastness of the void from one cosmic address to another, almost instantaneously. Because my natural parents found a way to drive a spaceship, they were able to save their son, Kal-El, from Krypton's fate by sending him across the universe to Earth."

After a brief pause, Clark added. "It appears that Zor-El also attempted to utilize Jor-El's work and send you, Kara, and your companions to the safety of Sol Three. While you didn't complete your journey, his attempt did save your lives. Before your space craft ceased to function, it had carried you beyond the blast area and away from the forces which devastated Krypton."

After a brief pause to check the ship's navigational equipment, Clark continued, "When my intellectual abilities fully matured, I was able to isolate the string particle and find out how to control its functions. From my work with this new subatomic particle, I was able to construct an interstellar vessel, not unlike this one. With my father's string particle as the driving force, I was then able to voyage across the sea of infinity to the Kryptonian solar system and with the help of my daughter's keen analytical abilities detect and then locate your inoperable spacecraft."

"When Jennifer was alive, she and I, and later with our children, explored many star systems within about a hundred light years of Earth. The string technology allowed me to build my family a permanent and secure home and placed it in a geosynchronous orbit above a planet located in a neighboring star system. It was Lara who dubbed our home Sanctuary. The teleportation gates are also a product of string technology which has allowed us to travel nearly instantaneously from Sanctuary is our place of refuge and true home, our Earthly home is generally a place of work or just provides us with a portal into a large city called Metropolis. When we return to the Sol star system, you and the other survivors will be transported to the Kent farm. There, you'll remain until your special abilities manifest themselves. It will require just a few days of basking in the radiation of Earth's sun for your unique abilities to emerge."

While studying the string particle, Clark told Kara, "I serendipitously discovered an indestructible metallic like material made from neutrons and liquid xenon, magnetically combined at temperatures near absolute zero. This ship is constructed of that kind of material. I call this substance stabilized neutronium. It protects this ship and Sanctuary from fast moving meteors and other debris coursing through the vastness of space. It also appears to be impervious to all kinds of radiation which continuously sweep through the cosmos."

After a brief pause Clark, added, "In our exploration of star systems close to Earth, Jennifer and I discovered several civilizations which were on the brink of interstellar travel. Unfortunately, all but one possessed a barbaric nature. Although we left cloaked surveillance satellites to monitor these warlike societies, Jenni and I knew that some defensive stratagem had to be devised for Sol Three."

"After much soul searching, Jennifer and I decided to create two weapons systems for which there was no apparent defense. One was a simple matter destroyer. This weapon molecularly shreds all kinds of matter, reducing the material to its fundamental components. In essence, it is a disintegration device. The second weapon system is so horrible that it should only be used in desperation. This weapon system can destroy the very fabric of space itself by thrusting the targeted area and the space it occupies into a null continuum. In null space, matter ceases to exist. Both weapon systems must only be used to defend us and our brethren now living on Sol Three. I couldn't contemplate using these destructive devices for other purposes. The result would be too horrible to contemplate."

Kara then replied to her kin, "Considering your reluctance to kill, I am surprised that you and Jenni built these weapon systems."

"You're quite right, Kara, about my late wife's and my own attitude concerning the sanctity of life," Clark replied to his cousin.

However, Clark continued, "What convinced us to build these engines of destruction was a statement framed by a brilliant Earth man whose name was Thomas Jefferson. Conflict was abhorrent to Jefferson, as it is to us, but he understood that "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Smiling, Clark reflected, "Maybe we should add an addendum to his quote that says "or continued existence."

As Kara and Kal-El continued to debate the wisdom of possessing such lethal weapon systems, Clark's and the Ching's children dashed into the lounge. "Papa, Papa," Lara shouted, "I think we've discovered what those luminous objects represent beyond the rim of our universe."

Kara then looked at Kal-EL and remarked, "Your children appear to be as brilliant as their father and following in his footsteps." Clark blushed.

"They're more like their mother," he replied, blushing again.

"Remember," Kara said, "it takes two to do a tango. Your daughters are as much the product of your genetics as Jennifer's. Furthermore, cousin, your children's intellectual inheritance also extends to their natural grandparents. As I've already indicated, they were probably the finest scientists on Krypton at the time of our home world's destruction. So, my gracious kin, I'd be willing to wager that Lara's and Mara's scientific aptitude is a genetic blend of two cultures."

After Kara and Clark exchanged their views, their attention again focused on the children. "What have you deduced?" Kara asked.

Mara stepped forward and quietly said that she had been asked to act as spokesperson for the group. Seeing that she was a bit nervous, Kara gave her a hug and affectionately encouraged her to continue.

After Kara's embrace ended, Mara informed the adults that the luminous images beyond the rim were photons of visible light crossing the immense distances between our universe and other locations in the sea of infinity.

"The foundation of our hypothesis," Mara added, "rests upon the currently accepted premise that photons permeate all space. Therefore, by using our optical instruments, we analyzed the radiation from beyond the rim and discovered that the luminous objects have structures that emulate our own macrocosm."

"So, after much deliberation among ourselvea," Mara said "We've developed some ideas which incorporate photonic concepts."

"Go on," Kara said. Shaking her head at her cousin, Mara continued, "Since scientists have postulated that galaxies are the building blocks of our universe, it seemed reasonable to view the cosmos, in which we live, as one of many island universes which swirl through the infinite void of space-time."

"What keeps these theoretical universes of yours from colliding with each other from time to time?" Zara, who just entered the room, asked Mara.

As she hesitated, Mar-El chimed in to support his friend. "After considerable discussion, we began to suspect that the average entropy values associated with each of the other universes possessed different values. If our hypothesis holds up, the natural laws within each of the new macro star clusters would be different, and therefore, prevent each of the island universes, including our own, from interacting with one another — entropy is, of course, a measure of chaotic behavior."

"However, there is another way of looking at this problem. Assuming that natural law for all island universes followed the same mathematical patterns, one could speculate that the forces of gravity and electricity, because of their different entropy values, would be sufficiently diverse so that the other cosmic star clusters in the sea of infinity could not sense each other."

Kara then nodded toward Lara indicating that she should continue the dialogue. Following a slight pause Lara commented, "After we mentally kicked our model around, we concluded that it was badly flawed and it was discarded. After more discussions, we decided that the main culprit was gravity. As far as we know, this weak force permeates everything. Since the gravity concept is a given, over time, collisions between the various island universes should be inevitable."

Gathering her thoughts for a few seconds, Lara continued by saying, "After we abandoned our initial theoretical concepts, us kids deliberated for some time and eventually turned our attention to papa and grandfather's theory of strings. Using the string theory as the framework for our new approach this problem, we came up with a new set of laws which could explain the reason different universes in the ocean of infinity don't have catastrophic encounters from time to time. Mama's equations generated from string theory concepts suggested that the strings or string bundles associated with each macrocosm do not intersect. Also, Mama's mathematical relationships also specified that if strings don't intersect, then collisions between objects can't occur. It is our contention that the strings associated with each island universe do not interact with its neighbors. Our postulate negates the possibility of a collision between two or more of the immense star realms beyond our cosmos. Of course, this extension of the string theory, Papa, must be tested. Our ideas, as you and Mama taught us, are only a guide to the subtle realities of nature."

"We further theorized," Lar-El chimed in, "that travel between the various island universes could only be accomplished through a wormhole (a tunnel in space). Only within wormholes, we believe, can strings from different island universes cross one another. For your consideration, we offer a mechanism on how to produce wormholes on demand."

"First," Lar-El said, "a very powerful impulsion must be produced and be strong enough to create a small black hole — matter compressed nearly to a singularity. Since no theory exists, at present, to fully explain a black hole, we believe that an empirical method must be found to create such an occurrence. This means lots and lots of experimentation to propagate the proper implosion pattern. The next step, of course, must be to discover how to transform our small black hole creation into a wormhole configuration. If we are successful, beings from our universe would be able to travel to and between those island universes beyond our own."

After the children's remarkable presentation, they were excused by their parents and promptly engaged in some well- deserved horseplay. Although intellectually brilliant, they were after all still kids.

When the children had left the lounge, the adults just looked at each other and nodded their heads in amazement. The childrens' mental prowess was unbelievable. Save for those adults present at the childrens' scientific presentations, their kids' abilities were far in advance of most other intellectuals.

After a period of silent contemplation, Zara remarked, "What the kids told us today has merit and has provided us with a method of voyaging across the infinite sea to other island universes. However, the research project they threw at us will probably require several lifetimes or more to complete. Still, I must admit, it was a brilliant piece of deduction."

"Unfortunately, we'll have to leave their project for those who come after us. There are too many other pressing items that must be addressed."

When Zara stopped speaking, Clark remarked, "If only Jenni had lived to hear and see what her children had accomplished. She would have qvelled (experienced great pleasure) and rightfully so."

Then he slipped away from his kin and found a quiet dark place and wept for his lost love.

During the next several days, Kara and Zara checked and rechecked the children's computations. As the women pushed the ship's computer facilities to its limits, Ching and Clark assembled a satellite to monitor the incandescent objects beyond their universe. This space platform would remain in a relatively fixed position and send a continuous flow of information to Sanctuary, which hovered above a planet located way across our universe.

As nine Kryptonians began preparing for their journey to the Sol star system, Kara whispered to Zara, "When I watched the interplay between you and Ching, and Clark with the kids, I realized there is a void in my life. To fill this emptiness, I know that Zan-El and I must become intimate and truly become bonded soulmates — life partners. Since Zan and myself are rather traditional Kryptonians, we must find some mechanism to formally unite us and become what Kal-El calls a married couple."

Zara smiled at her friend and spiritual sister as she remarked, "After we put the children to bed, we'll all meet in the lounge to consider your nuptial dilemma."

When the children had at last retired, the adults gathered in the main cabin, where Zara placed Kara-El and Zan-El's predicament before the family.

After a few moments, Clark asked, "Can you two accept a religious philosophy that believes there are many paths to the Creator of our universe?" Both Kara and Zan nodded in agreement with Clark's comment. Clark then added, "As you explore Earth and its diverse cultures, you will discover that many persuasions have evolved, over time, which attempt to define a Creator and have set up ritualistic rules to communicate with their particular deity. The traditions of which I speak are a working reality on Sol Three. If you two would create a marriage liturgy, would you consider an Earth clergyman as a surrogate for a priest of Krypton?"

Following some discussion between the betrothed couple, Zan stated that Clark's idea was acceptable to himself and Kara. However, Zan wanted his bride and himself to compose the official marriage document — a spiritual license, which had to be witnessed. The agreement to Kara and Zan's request was readily accepted by the entire clan. Now they had to secure an Earth official who would bond the betrothed couple in the sacred estate known to Earth people as marriage and to Kryptonians as soulmate bonding or the bonding of souls.

"Thanks guys," Ching remarked.

"Now that Zan-El's and Kara-El's nuptial problems have been addressed and resolved, what about Clark's dilemma?" Kara asked. "I obtained from the AI unit or Charlie, as Kal calls the artificial intelligence system, that an Earth woman named Lois Lane is my cousin's soulmate."

As Lois' name entered the conversation, Clark bowed his head and stared at the floor. He murmured, "Lois is an illogical subject for this kind of discussion. She is unaware, to my knowledge, of her soulmate status nor does she comprehend the philosophical notion that it entails. As we were leaving Sanctuary, Lois was about to reveal Clark Kent's Kryptonian origins and the details surrounding his children's hybrid status." For her article, Clark added, "She'll garner nearly every journalistic accolade in existence. Winning awards seems to be Lois' main interest in life. In addition, Lois' article will make almost impossible for my family and me to enjoy the beauties of my adopted world unless we are suitably disguised. With her Superman article, Lois extinguished any possibility of a relationship which, over time, might have developed between us."

Taking a breath as he collected his thoughts, Clark added, "Because of her lust for inconsequential items, she and I will travel the road of life as lonely solitary shadows. As those about us experience the beauty of a loving relationship, Lois will have to be comforted by her fish and I must be satisfied with contemplating the mysteries of the cosmos. We will both glide through life awaiting the release from our tedious existences, which the pale horseman will provide at the appointed time."

As Clark ended his sad commentary, Zara moved to his side and placed her arm around his shoulders. She said in a quiet voice, "Clark, you are much too pessimistic about this issue."

He looked at his friend and spiritual sister and mournfully replied, "When a soulmate has alienated herself/himself from her/his life partner, you know that the result is traumatizing, after which a lingering state of despair results."

Zara could only sadly shake her head as Clark's words filled her with sorrow.

After the next sleep cycle, Zan-El and Clark finished aligning the data gathering satellite and verified its telemetry. A continuous flow of information was now being transmitted to Sanctuary in the Centauri system. The data collected from the satellite located at the edge of our universe would continually increase the knowledge about the alternate island universes floating in the sea of eternity.

Soon after Clark and Zan returned to the interstellar spacecraft, the adults of the newly formed Kryptonian family again met in the lounge to hear Kara and Zan's marriage statement. As they made themselves comfortable, Zan asked his finance to read their connubial covenant. It was obvious from his fidgety behavior that he was a bit nervous. Smiling at his beloved, Zan-El clasped Kara-El's hand to his heart as she read their proposed soul binding declaration — their testament of love and commitment.

A Promise of Love and Obligation

"I, Kara Zor-El, and my soulmate, Zan Jo-El, accept one another, as life mates. As we begin our life's journey together, a journey to tomorrow, a journey with no particular destination. There will be hills and valleys and turns that will fill our lives with challenges and necessitate changes. We will prevail during these times, because we are intimately bound together, each cherishing the other and drawing strength from one another, as we join the dance of life. Like a journey, all moments in a marriage won't be exciting. Sometimes worries and anxiety may become overwhelming. But, two hearts fused into one will find comfort together. There will be shared feelings of both joy and pain, as time and events speed us on our way. These sensations will be the glue that holds soulmates together, even through the worst of times and through very insecure moments. As our trek through life continues to unfold, we will first reach out to each other as a friend, becoming the confidant, companion, and lover that the other needs. These qualities represent the true enchantment, and will create the true beauty between two people so bound. There will be occasions during our journey when events and people around tell us to quit. It will be during these times that our belief in each other will inspire us and not allow our union to falter. It is important, too, as we travel the highways and byways of life to understand that each soulmate can become vulnerable to the other; that during such moments each partner must be himself or herself especially when opinions or thoughts aren't in total agreement with that of your soulmate's views. It is getting involved and showing interest in each other, listening and knowing that our union must be preserved. This is the way of best friends and the way of committed lovers. As our journey lengthens, exactly three things must be remembered so that the united souls can maintain a strong mutual bond of sharing, caring, and loving throughout life: Love, trust, and forgiveness must always remain the foundation of our union."

"And, as we are learning about each other, we have attempted to define the undefinable and have listed here what we believe *Love is*.

A Testament of Love and Commitment

Love is being happy for your soulmate when he/she is happy

being sad for your soulmate when he/she is sad

being together in good times and being together in bad times Love is your strength.

Love is being honest with yourself at all times

being honest with your soulmate at all times

telling, listening, respecting the truth and never pretending Love is the source of reality.

Love is an understanding so complete that you feel as if you are a part of your soulmate accepting your soulmate just the way he/she is and not trying to change him/her to be something else Love is a source of unity.

Love is the freedom to pursue your own desires while sharing your experiences with your soulmate the growth of one soulmate alongside and together with the growth of your significant other Love is the source of success.

Love is the excitement of planning things together the excitement of doing things together Love is the source of the future.

Love is the fury of the storm the calm in the rainbow Love is the source of all passion.

Love is giving and taking in a daily situation being patient with each other's needs and desires Love is the source of sharing.

Love is knowing that your soulmate will always be with you

regardless of what happens missing one's soulmate when he/she is away but remaining near in heart at all times.

Love is the source of life.

"This document," Kara concluded, "of Love and Commitment is by Kara-El and Zan-El as a pledge between their souls, who are conjoining for all time."

After Kara had completed her nuptial statement, Ching, who was normally staid, had moist eyes.

When Zan and Kara's nuptial statement had been read, both lovers calmed down. Then Zan asked, "Comments from anyone?"

Zara replied, "Okay, we've heard your pledge statements, but what declaration will you both publicly avow that announces to the people of the universe that you are soulmates for all time? In Earth terms, what marriage expressions are you both going to use when we locate a suitable official?"

"Kara and I will use a marriage statement similar to the one that Kal-El gave us," Zan told everybody present. "With this ring I consecrate you to me. We will both say a form of this statement after which rings will be exchanged as a testimony of our love and commitment to one another. Clark suggested rings of gold be given and accepted by those plighted because such objects are traditionally used in marriage ceremonies on Sol Three."

"After Kara and I make our vows to each other, we will ask that you all sign the marriage document — as witnesses to the intimate bonding of our souls."

"Now," Zara declared, "Let's go to Earth and get these two ardent lovers officially united. All those that agree say so." There followed an ever increasing crescendo of saying "aye" followed by the gaiety and laughter of happy people.

As Clark was preparing the spacecraft for a jump to their home in the Centauri star cluster, Zara asked Clark again, "What about your own soulmate, Lois?"

When Zara glanced at her friend just after posing her question, she noticed that the usually twinkling eyes of her friend were replaced with a look of immeasurable sadness.

Clark then whispered to Zara, "As I told you before, I don't think Lois is aware that our souls have been conjoined. The joy and intimacy between Lois and me have been devastated by her lust for… trophies or glory."

"Could this estrangement be rectified?" Zara asked.

"Let me answer your question with a rhyme written by a Persian mathematician-astronomer Omar Khayya'm long, long ago," Clark replied. "His verse expresses why a reconciliation between Lois and myself probably is unrealistic." Then in a forlorn lyrical voice, Clark Kent of Earth and Kal-El of Krypton recited the meaningful verse:

"The moving finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."

After reciting the little ditty, Clark remained silent for some moments. Then he said, "As I remarked earlier, the Superman article Lois sent to Perry White will bring about the extinction of Clark Kent. When I accompany you and the others to Earth, it will be necessary for me and the girls to wear disguises to freely mingle with Earth's population."

As Clark finished his rather rhapsodic monologue, Zara started to giggle.

"What's so hilarious about my plight?" Clark sullenly asked Zara.

"For a person who is filled with one of life's most precious treasures — hope — you have just presented a most pessimistic view of your future. Remember my friend, that hope may be fragile, but it is oh so hard to kill."

Somewhat astonished by Zara's behavior, Clark turned and looked into his friend's smirking face. After a few seconds, they both fell into one another's arms and started to laugh. Laughter, that wondrous sentiment, the spiritual nurturer of the psyche, now helped Clark Kent purge many anxieties which had tormented his soul.

As Clark was finishing his discussion with Zara, Mara dashed into the control room, proclaiming, "There is a message on the monitor from uncle Alan."


After they had entered a small alcove adjacent to the banquet hall, Anne closed and secured the door. She then energized another crystalline security device and placed it on a shelf near the door to disable any concealed surveillance gadgets in and about the room.

Just prior to Anne's briefing, she placed another of Clark's anti-surveillance creations on the table to boost the security within the room. Anne then invited her friends to be seated around a table now engulfed by radiation emanating from Clark's second anti-surveillance doohickey. Looking at each of them with a serious expression, Anne said, "I've something very important to tell you. What you are about to hear must be considered privileged information. No one outside this room must ever know of this meeting or must the subject of our deliberations ever be revealed. If you can't abide by my request, please feel free to leave." Anne smiled as Lois, Alan, and Perry agreed to her conditions.

After taking a deep breath, Anne said, "If you are not already aware, Clark Kent is probably the greatest scientist of our age or maybe of all times."

"When Clark refused LexCorp's offer of employment, Luthor thwarted most of Kent's aspirations. Lex wanted to force Clark to join LexCorp's staff and use his intellect to produce products that would increase his influence on the world stage. Luthor has a mania for controlling people, companies and even countries. So Clark turned to journalism and started to battle the greatest personification of evil in the world today — Lex Luthor."

"At first, Luthor ignored Clark," Anne told her audience. "He considered Kent a giblet — an ineffectual nonentity. However, as Clark's investigations began to impair Luthor's lust for power and were slowly and irrevocably linking him to the illicit schemes propagated LexCorp's subsidiaries, Luthor started to used his surrogates to nullify Kent's activities. Initially, Lex's strategy to crush Kent was effective to some extent. As you know, Lois, they used your past miserable experiences with men to weaken your trust in Clark. Seeing Clark's children immeasurably helped Lex's cause. When you tended to side with those making disparaging remarks aimed at Clark's character, you were in a position to be duped into believing that your partner purloined the space program story. When your anger overrode your reason, Lex's boys played their psychological trump card and you, Lois Lane, became the unsuspecting catalyst which led to Kent's discharge from the Planet."

"I'm not very proud of my actions in that affair," Lois informed those present.

"Don't be upset, Lois," Anne replied. "Due to the Planet's misguided decision, at the time, the Enquire was saved from oblivion. Now, due to Clark's foresight and with some help from my paper, the Planet's reporters will be saved from being dispersed and its publishing facilities resurrected. As I said in my talk, at the dinner-meeting this evening, the Daily Planet is still alive and kicking."

While Anne paused for a few moments, she could see the incredibility of her words penetrate the minds of her three rather-stunned colleagues. So, she said, you thought my rhetoric this evening was a lot of hot air and expressed to bolster the spirits of those attending the meeting. No, my friends, I was deadly serious.

Anne then told her friends and colleagues that Clark was cognizant of the fact that the Planet, spearheaded by Lois, was seriously probing LexCorp's business practices. Her investigation, like Clark's past inquiries, was inexorably linking Luthor and LexCorp to their felonious ventures. "Because of Clark's and then Lois' investigations, Anne pointed out, "Lex and his cronies were slowly, but surely, being cornered. They already had been subpoenaed by a special grand jury convened to ferret out criminal activity in Metropolis. When Clark had been eliminated from the field, Lex's most pressing adversary became the Planet. To suppress Lois' probing, which was supported by her paper, into Luthor's activities made it mandatory to either stifle or destroy the Planet. "Lex's onslaught against the Enquire previously failed," she added, "because Clark had linked my newspaper with The Lara and Jorel Foundation. However, before he could protect the Planet by a similar scheme, Luthor had already made major significant inroads into the control mechanism of the Daily Planet. To save the Planet from dissolution, Clark then duplicated the Planet's physical plant, with its archival information. Your records," she told the Planet reporters, "can be found in a special library located in the East wing of the new Enquire building."

As I indicated before, "The Planet's physical plant also has been interdispersed with the Enquire's working facilities."

"In his frenzy to cover his tracks and to stop Lois from inquiring any further into his business practices," Anne told her guests, "Lex captured the Planet by making use of his immense legal staff who used questionable methods and interpretations of the law to make the illegal acquisition of the Planet appear lawful."

"Although Lex now holds the Planet hostage by his illicit use of Metropolis' legal statutes, and may even destroy the old Planet building and its contents before the legal system can oust him from the building, Luthor's actions have doomed him and his cronies. Believing that he has permanently derailed one of his most bitter antagonists, Lois Lane and her paper, from investigating him and exposing the workings of his business enterprises, Lex has become reckless and engorged with power. With the apparent suppression of the Planet, Lex believes he now prevails in his legal battles. Luthor has already overstepped the bounds of political sanity and many of his supporters, realizing that his psychopathic tendencies are out of control, are stealing away in the night leaving his flanks ripe for attack. As Lex will soon discover, LexCorp is now being investigated by the Department of Justice and Luthor's supposed allies are running for their lives."

"What ever happens to the old Planet building is now really unimportant. As things stand, It's now just an empty building. What made it live were the people that work in the newsroom. Tomorrow, my friends, as said in my speech, those people will be at the Daily Planet and the paper will function as usual, only at a new location. You'll find that the Planet's old and new facilities are like comparing a nuclear device to a flintlock rifle. When we meet at the new site on-the morrow, you'll see things that would have appeared unbelievable just a few short days ago."

When Anne finished her general description of the Planet's new physical plant and research facilities, she became edgy. "What's the matter?" Perry asked his friend.

Anne gave Perry a nervous smile and said, "What I'm now about to tell you must be buried deep; very deep." As she concluded her cautionary statement Anne started pacing to and fro to help steady her nerves. When she finally stopped her ambulating, Anne again faced her friends and took a deep breath.

She then said, "In Clark's many scientific investigations delving in the phenomena we call natural law, he isolated an atomic size particle he named the graviton. He believes that this photon like modicum is responsible for the gravitational effects throughout the cosmos. From his experiments, Kent discovered that the graviton had a specific rotation like a spinning top. By using radio frequencies, Clark could reverse the spin direction of this new particle. The particle with the opposite spin, Clark called an antigraviton. After studying the reverse spinning particle, he found that the antigraviton could repel or nullify what we consider to be natural gravitational forces."

"Using the antigraviton as a power source, Kent constructed a hovercraft and encased it in a cloaked environment, which even now soars over Metropolis. Clark's cloaking mechanism is composed of advanced stealth materials and a special coating that refracts light away from the floating platform. Thus far, Clark's stealth and refracting materials have rendered the hovercraft invisible to all kinds of detection equipment."

"Before Clark disappeared, he filled his stealthy airborne vehicle with some very sophisticated reconnaissance assets."

"Clark also combined the hovercraft with an antigraviton device to maneuver the invisible ship. This would prevent it from colliding with the constant flow of air traffic above the city. I must tell you," Anne added, "that the optical and audio surveillance equipment Clark placed in the hovercraft is so advanced that it will take the scientific community more than a century to duplicate their capabilities. The control room for the hovercraft and the optical and audio devices it contains are located in a special room at our papers new site. The control room was constructed from a special material Clark called stabilized neutronium."

"Clark told me, before he disappeared, that nothing can penetrate stabilized neutronium — not even a fusion bomb. Only the presence of a person's unique auras, yours and mine to be specific, can unlock the chamber. You'll notice I said us. We four are the only people on this planet who can access this special room. If the locking mechanism senses that you are being coerced or an unauthorized individual is present, admittance to the control room chamber will be denied."

"I hope you now understand why I appear a bit apprehensive. If our adversaries were ever to learn of the kind of equipment in our possession, they would be on us like a bee attracted to nectar. I don't just mean Luthor. Every government and corporation on the planet would attempt to get hold of Clark's inventions by any and all methods — fair or foul, I may add. If the equipment you'll encounter tomorrow was ever captured and exploited by unscrupulous individuals, the power generated by these instruments could be used to enslave the world."

Before Anne could address the next item in her secret agenda, Lois remarked from curiosity, "Was this meeting your idea or Clark's?"

Anne replied to the top Planet reporter, "It was my decision to call this meeting. Clark's plan was to inform you himself on a one to one basis. His strategy somehow didn't work out. Apparently something significant occurred and he and his children suddenly vanished. I haven't been able to locate him during the last two weeks. In fact," she added, "he and his family disappeared shortly after you and Alan dined at his home. My husband and I were also invited, but we had to beg off. One of our kids became ill." Anne looked at Lois and said, "Do you think you could locate him?"

"Why me?" Lois asked.

"Clark," Anne remarked, "I believe, was very enamored with you, Lois, and I thought he might have told you where he was going."

As Anne gazed at Lois, she could sense despair and see a distressing expression appear on her face. "I'm sorry," Anne said, "I thought you were aware of his feelings toward you."

"I am now," Lois murmured. "If I'd known of Clark's feelings toward me when I was at his home for dinner," she mentally chastised herself, "things would surely be a lot different now."

"You're a lucky woman, Lois," Anne said, looking at the Planet's ace reporter. "Most single women I know would kill to have Clark's amorous affections."

"While Kent is an unusually attractive man," Anne added, "his more important attributes are the way he feels about people. He's the sweetest, kindest, most gentle, and thoughtful person I've had the privilege of knowing."

"From my dealings with Clark Kent," Anne continued, "I became aware that he's not a controlling or an overly protective person. The only time I ever saw him interfere with someone's life and become fiercely protective occurred when his children inadvertently had placed themselves in harm's way. Clark tends to give much to others, but only accepts what is freely offered to him. By nature, he's not a grasping or a demanding person. He wants people to be happy. Kent, I've found to be an unusually affectionate single parent. The needs of his girls, he once told me, take precedent over all his desires, including the relinquishing of his life."

Pausing for a moment, Anne told Lois, "Once, strictly out of curiosity, I asked Clark why he had such strong parental feelings. He told me that Lara and Mara didn't ask to be born, so the obligation for their care and happiness was his responsibility." Smiling, Anne then added, "If Clark Kent happens to marry again, I'm sure that he would accept whatever his spouse offered in their relationship. There would be no pressure on her. Major decisions between him and his wife would probably be by consensus. Dictatorial methods wouldn't be included in the fabric of Clark's marital relationships." Anne then said, "That's the kind of marriage my husband and I share, thank heaven."

After a slight pause, Anne concluded her remarks by saying, "When a husband and wife collaborate in such a manner, the result is a mutually joyous existence."

When Anne finished lauding Clark's personal attributes, Lois found herself agreeing with much of what she had to say. In reflection, Lois realized that Clark had left the decision to publish or not to publish the Superman interview entirely in her hands. The very thought of Clark's behavior gave her goose bumps. Lois was now quite aware that she, the Planet's top reporter, had overlooked the most singularly significant event in her life. Her blunder, Lois knew, had been precipitated by being raised in a dysfunctional home and the effect of her previous relationships with self centered and grasping men she'd come to classify as federal disaster affairs.

Because of her past romantic history, she expected nothing distinctive from Clark Kent — just standard male behavior, like Claude Deveraux.

As she looked around the table, Lois wondered how she could have been so blind. In her former so called intimate associations, men had expropriated physical and emotional particulars from her like love, trust, and even her stories. Clark never made a move to injure her emotionally. He always shared and was supportive.

After Lois had mentally compared Clark with respect to her past liaisons, it was like measuring the brilliance of the sun against the pale illumination from the moon. How could she have placed Clark in the same league with her former inept paramours. The great Lois Lane felt like a dope.

Thinking back to her talk with Superman…Clark, the brilliantly intuitive Lois Lane suddenly realized that the entire interview was a behavioral experiment controlled by the man of steel. She was the lab rat, and the questions she asked were the maze she herself had constructed.

Clark had cleverly set up the interview to ascertain how Lois would react when all her wishes and desires were placed before her and how she compared them with his needs.

When the interview was concluded, Clark then had allowed her to make the decision which would affect all of their tomorrows — to publish or not to publish. To Lois' sorrow, she now understood just how well she fared in Clark's experiment.

The results, Lois was quite sure, were very informative to Clark and painted a most unfavorable picture of his ex partner. When Clark replied to Lois' queries, she was in reality answering Clark's very subtle and circumspect questions. Thinking about their conversation, Lois was appalled at her responses. Her answers showed Kent that a null relationship existed between himself and Lois. "G-D," she thought, "what a fool I was. I fumbled the ball by not looking beyond the excitement of my own wants and let my credo — me, myself, and I first- dominate our interview session. I behaved like an imbecile that evening."

As Lois was chastising herself, Anne pulled her back to reality by saying that she had one more item to discuss with the group.

"Listen up, guys," Anne said in rather hushed tones. "I'm going to get somewhat philosophical for the moment. Please bear with me."

"For some generations of man, much is provided to satisfy the needs of the people. At other times much is expected from the inhabitants of our world. I have a premonition that we are part of a generation that has a rendezvous with destiny. What we and our allies do in the days and weeks ahead may decide the fate of our world for many years to come."

"For some time now, we have been aware that something was going down that none of us in the news business nor any of the world governments can fathom. All my snitches and informers have repeated the line, 'whatever's happening, it's big, very big.'"

Anne again paused for a minute and sighed, "Oh, I wish Clark was here. By combining his intuitive skills with yours, Lois, I'm positive that we could figure out what in hell's going on."

Looking somewhat abashed, Anne remarked, "Because of my frustration about the current conditions around the world, I did something that was a little on the illegal side of the blanket."

"That's okay, Anne," Lois chimed in, "I tend to push the envelope on legalities myself on occasion. So tell me," Lois asked, "what didya do?"

Taking a deep breath, Anne said, "I moved the hovercraft to New York City and positioned it above the United Nations Building. Once it was positioned properly, I focused the surveillance equipment on the security area and overheard a discussion between operatives from MI6, CIA, KGB, the MOSAD and a host of other smaller intelligence gathering groups from around the world. All the intelligence agencies told basically the same very disturbing tale."

"I discovered that the availability of plutonium on the black market was on the rise. To make things even worse was that the plutonium was weapons grade material and a significant amount of this substance was falling into the hands of terrorist organizations. The intelligence operatives specified that the fissionable material seized in transport could produce nearly a dozen fission bombs, each with an explosive potential that devastated Nagasaki. I also found out that if the size and shape of a nuclear device were slightly altered, a smaller less effective explosive could be manufactured. While these smaller devices would only decimate much smaller areas than a correctly packaged bomb, it could still kill many people and spread fallout over much of the area surrounding the initially targeted site. The smaller nuclear explosive, I learned, could devastate an area that spread two tenths of a mile radially from the detonation site."

After a pause, Anne added, "Twenty-six of the less effective nuclear devices have already been detonated to date in isolated locations around the world. Thus far, none of the intelligence agencies has been able to locate the source of the illegal plutonium nor find the bomb processing facilities."

"I must tell you, my friends, that the world's intelligence agencies have been successful to some degree. They've managed to intercept several plutonium shipments, in Europe, moving in an easterly direction. So far that is the extent of their progress in this situation."

"During my eavesdropping venture, I also found out things about plutonium." After a slight pause in her narrative, Anne added, "Plutonium is really nasty stuff. It's an element that burns in air producing very small particles. Exposure to this particulate form of plutonium will generally initiate horrible forms of cancer. I also discovered that besides the horrible biological effects of plutonium, the blast produced by the small type bombs could hurl substantial amounts of debris into the atmosphere. This air born material, over time, could have the same effect as the mass ejected from many erupting volcanos."

"Either by a premeditated nuclear explosion or from a natural phenomenon," Anne continued, "the debris in the atmosphere would tend to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface. Diminishing the amount of solar radiation striking our planet would curtail the growth of food crops. A reduction of solar energy striking the Earth, my friends, would tend to accelerate the starvation rate throughout the world."

"Reduction of foodstuffs would cause political turmoil on a global scale," Anne added.

The greatest unrest would probably occur in third world countries," Lois chimed in.

"Correct a mundo, little lady," Anne replied. The editor of the Enquire then remarked, "The total effect of small plutonium bombs on society would be minuscule by comparison to the rioting that would occur as the starvation level of the masses increased."

When the Enquire's editor had finished her report, Lois asked Anne whether she had unearthed any unusual happenings that might appear to be totally unrelated to the nuclear info she had purloined.

After a few seconds Anne's eyes lighted up, as she yelled, "Yes, yes, yes…" and then hugged Lois. "Our friend Lex has been quietly buying surplus foodstuffs from various sources around the world. He's also been purchasing all kinds of seeds to cultivate plants which could sustain life."

"I don't understand the connection between nuclear bombs and food plants," Perry chimed in.

Lois, who had been following Anne's logic told Perry, "If the food supply, world wide, became critically low, Luthor would make a fortune selling his food inventory for exorbitant sums."

"Why would Luthor desire more money?" Perry asked. "From my information, Luthor has enough 'mulla' to live comfortably for more than ten thousand lifetimes."

"You're right, Perry, Lex doesn't care about wealth per se. He craves power."

"When the lack of consumable food stuffs becomes a critical item," Lois said, "the lack of it will doubtlessly cause chaos throughout the world. Luthor will then be able to dictate terms to the nations of the world in the guise of restoring order to our global community. It's probably Lex himself whose been instituting the nuclear terrorist ploy to cover up his true aims — control of the world's foodstuffs — the staff of life."

"That's quite a leap of faith, Lois," Alan quipped. "Yet," Jacobs added, "the pieces of your story and Anne's data seem to fit like a hand in a glove."

"You betcha they do," Lois replied.

Then Perry said, "Let me see if I got this straight. Y'all say that Anne's info implies that the food and nuclear scenarios are linked."

Lois nodded.

"If so," Perry continued, "Luthor is running a very subtle stratagem. The basic question is where in the heck do we go from here?"

Lois sighed and then said, "First, I think we should go after the nuclear sources. They are the most threatening components of Lex's scheme. If the nuclear danger can be minimized or eliminated with a little international cooperation, I'm pretty sure the food crisis will take care of itself. So tomorrow, my friends, we'll start to hunt for Luthor's illegal nuclear reactors and plutonium processing plants. The question remains," Lois remarked. "What kind of sites are we looking for?"

Murmuring to herself, Lois said almost like a pray, "Clark, will you please get the heck back here. We need your help desperately."

As her co- workers and friends continued to ponder and discuss what to do about the nuclear question, Lois looked skyward and quietly remarked, "Big fellah, what would you do in this predicament?"


When the Editor and Chief of the Planet and his staff entered their new home with Anne and the Enquire's work force, the news people of both papers began to explore the facilities at their disposal. As everybody was settling in, Lois, Perry, Alan, and Anne met in one of the several large conference rooms.

When the conference room door had been shut and secured, the editor of the Enquire pointed toward a table where another of Clark's anti-surveillance devices was operating. After everyone had settled in and was comfortable, Anne said, "You will find that our combined bullpens will allow interaction, but not interference. This entire facility has been computerized to maximize the efficiency of our two publications. In the printing room, you'll find that the equipment there is automated and serviced by robotic devices. The duplication process for our street copies will be produced by ultra highspeed electrostatic printers. Layouts will be designed on large screens in the graphic department. All activities can be monitored and altered from the chief's office. There are two such master locations in this facility — one command center for each paper. All computers are linked, so information can be transmitted to and between each workstation. Come on, guys," Anne said. "Let me take you on a quick tour of our 'Buck Rogers in the Twenty-fifth Century' newsroom."

As Anne and her Planet friends and colleagues strolled through the new complex, the Enquire's boss remarked, "If this consortium of ours works, Perry, other newspapers could do the same thing. Combining operating facilities in a way conducive to their own styles could conserve badly needed financial resources. You know, in our business money is always scarce. For us," Anne continued, "There won't be any conflicts concerning territories or editorials. The Enquire deals mostly with the touchy-feely and local stuff, while the Planet is big on the international scene and huge crime syndicate type exposes."

"Personally, I believe," Anne added, "that the efficiency of the Enquire and the Planet will improve significantly as information is exchanged between our two news staffs."

As they continued their excursion, Perry thought to himself, "I finally found a possible Co-Editor in Chief of the Planet when I retire. Lois indicated to me sometime ago that she would take on the chief's job if it could be shared."

"I don't blame Lois for wanting a partner," Perry thought. "She doesn't want to relinquish her reporting position entirely and spend day and night at the paper. Now," he quietly mused, "I've two great newspaper people to step into my job when the time comes. I'll have a talk with both of them later."

Perry was happy. The Planet, he knew, would now be left in good hands.

The tour ended when they entered Perry's new office. As the Planet's chief perused his newfangled equipment, Anne pointed to what appeared to be a small electrostatic printing press. "That printing press behind you, Perry," she indicated, "is also an electronic communicator and is connected to 'talkabout' devices now standard equipment for each reporter on both papers — a talkabout is a two-way communicator. Each reporter's communicator will, of course, be coded and can only be used by one specific operative. No other living soul will be able to make use of a coded communication unit. Clark told me that the talkabout was made of an indestructible material and couldn't be disassembled and made to work for anyone else. The coding for each talkabout is based upon an individual's life force, which we know can't be duplicated."

"I asked him once," Anne added, "what was the communicators range of the talkabout. I remembered that Clark chuckled and indicated that he believed that the commutator's sweep was infinite. I must admit that I didn't fully understand his comment. And, to tell you the truth, I'm still somewhat mystified by Clark's remark. However, Clark did inform me that the signal produced by the communicator followed the contours of the Earth's magnetic field. This electromagnetic pathway makes the range of the communicator global in scope. We can talk to any of our reporters anywhere on the Earth."

"When I tested one of Clark's communicators," Anne remarked, "it functioned perfectly from any location on this planet. Dr. Kent, as usual, was correct. Its range was truly global in scope."

"You should all know that any info transmitted by the talkabouts will be duplicated on the computers of both editors, and a hard copy made on the special electrostatic printers located in each command and control office."

"Were these new creations all Clark's doing?" Perry asked.

Anne simply nodded.

"What a mind Clark has," Perry murmured. "I never really thought of him as a very deep scientific thinker."

As the interchange between Perry and Anne ended, Lois thought to herself, "I'm really a dope of the first magnitude. Not only do I find out too late that I have feelings for Clark, but the investigative part of me didn't recognize that there was more to Kent than just his reporter talents."

"Boy," Lois said aloud, "We could sure use Clark's help now."

"Maybe I can do something about that plea of yours," Alan said as he took out his own personal communicator. It was a unique unit that Clark had made especially for him.

A few seconds after Alan activated his communicator, Clark's face appeared on Perry's large monitor. "What's up, Alan?" he asked.

When Lois saw Clark's form take shape on the office monitor, her anger mode went into high gear. She became very indignant toward Alan. Realizing that Lois was building to one of her famous tirades, Alan quickly commented, "I promised Clark to keep our link a secret and only contact him in an emergency." While his statement cooled Lois' pique somewhat, her displeasure was still evident in her flashing eyes. Still Looking at Lois, he added, "What would my integrity be worth if I'd violated my promise." Alan's final statement effectively cooled Lois' anger still further. Jacobs then turned toward the large screen and explained the impending crisis to his spiritual brother.

After listening to Alan, Clark replied, "I'll do what I can, but Lois' story has crippled my effectiveness."

"What story?" Anne chimed in.

Before more could be said, Perry quickly reacted to protect Clark's alter ego. The Chief told all those in his office that the story Clark referred to was a misdirected article that was killed before it saw the light of day.

As Perry finished speaking, Lois said, "Clark, as the chief indicated, that article we discussed wasn't published after all." While Lois spoke, a broad grin spread across Clark's face. It was a beautiful smile which extended clear to his eyes. In them, Lois saw gratitude and something more.

Before she could scrutinize his expression further, Alan inquired, "How long will it take you to get back here?" At the sound of Alan's voice, Clark turned toward his friend and remarked, "Give me a day or two to settle my affairs. Then I'll meet you and the gang at Sanctuary."

As Alan and Clark concluded their chat, Zara became visible on the monitor. When Lois saw the Kryptonian woman, jealousy reared its ugly head. The chance of a bitter exchange between Zara and Lois was averted when Clark introduced his kin. "I would like you all to meet Zara," Clark commented. "She's the wife of my friend, Ching, and is also family."

Clark was relieved that Lois' volatile nature had once again rapidly cooled when she became aware that Zara was a married woman and not a rival.

As Alan watched the screen, he noticed that his friend had become pensive. "What's the matter, Clark?" Alan asked.

"I'm wondering," Clark remarked, "whether a legal marriage can be preformed over our communication link."

After a few moments of silence, Anne's voice rang out, "Sure, it can."

"If I'm not mistaken," Anne remarked, "During the middle ages, knights and sovereigns and other aficionados sent their swords or some token or other to act as surrogates at their wedding ceremonies. Using that as a precedent, our video link could act as an electronic chapel of sorts." Anne further stipulated, "We could also use our video connection to send witnessed documents to and from the couple to be married, adding to the legitimacy of their union."

"I love your logic," Clark declared. He then continued, "Will someone please enlist the services of a clergyman?"

Anne immediately grabbed a phone and dialed her brother in law's number. After a few seconds later, a baritone voice was heard answering the phone. Before Anne's in law could utter a word, she said, "Larry, get your 'butt' to my office post haste. Don't say anything, just move it."

After she hung up the phone, Anne turned to her friends and associates and with a smile said, "Help 'cometh'. My brother- in-law is not only a computer jock, but a Rabbi in search of a congregation."

While waiting for Larry Fine to arrive, Clark and Alan talked about the plutonium dilemma. As they chatted, Alan began to pace to dispel some of the mounting tension generated from their conversation.

After a few minutes Alan stopped meandering, when Clark said, "Take it easy my brother, we'll work this problem out."

After meditating for a few moments, Clark said to those in Perry's office that he was inclined to go with Lois and Anne's scenario about the food — nuclear connection.

"It's my gut feeling," Clark added, "that the primary source of the plutonium would not be in the old USSR or any Asian country. I'll wager that Luthor is keeping the plutonium production close to home. That guy is very cagey. So, if the girls are right, and he's the culprit, it's more than likely that the uranium needed to manufacture the plutonium has been very cleverly concealed near Lex's corporate headquarters — Lex's Tower."

"For what it's worth intellectually," Clark said, "The kind of reactor we've been talking about is called a breeder."

"So you think the illegal plutonium is being made in the U.S.," Perry said in an incredulous tone.

"Yep," Clark replied.

Then Clark inquired, "What kind of reactor does LexCorp Nuclear operate?"

From the silence which settled over those present after Clark posed his question, it was obvious that the people gathered in Perry's office weren't sure.

"Don't worry, Clark," Alan said, "We'll have that info for you and your clan by the time you return to Sanctuary."

"Do you want us to do anything else before you get back?" Alan again queried Clark?

"No," Clark replied, "just meet me at Sanctuary day after tomorrow."

"A-okay," Alan rejoined.

As Clark and his friends were finishing their conversation, the hippy clergyman arrived. Turning his attention toward the newcomer, Clark directed his question toward the Rabbi and asked, "Can you perform a marriage ceremony via a video link?"

Larry replied, "As long as there is a marriage certificate that can be signed by the couple and witnessed, I wouldn't have a problem with a video ceremony. Of course," Larry continued, "You'll need wedding rings or something of value that can be passed between the betrothed couple as they proclaim their vows."

Clark reached beneath his shirt and withdrew two gold wedding bands fastened on a golden chain. "Will these do?" Clark asked. The Rabbi smiled and nodded his head.

"Where did you get those rings?" Lois asked, her curiosity suddenly aroused.

"One ring belonged to my deceased wife, Jennifer, and the other one, of course, is mine. I kept them as a reminder of the love that once flowered between us," he replied. "I'll give them to Kara and Zan and let the devotion they had represented bless another couple on their marital journey. Those that were in Perry's office noted that Clark's voice was mixed with both jubilation and sadness as he answered Lois' question."

"I'm sorry I asked," Lois then said in a hushed tone.

"It's okay," Clark replied. "By giving the newlyweds these rings, a long and sentimental pilgrimage will have at last a happy ending. The act of giving away these rings will represent a closure of sorts for me and my children."

While Lois and Clark were finishing their tete-a-tete, Kara and Zan came into view.

As the betrothed couple situated themselves in front of their ship's monitor, Larry said to them, "I don't want to sermonize, so let's get to the main event." Smiling at the engaged couple, the Rabbi asked, "Do you have a marriage statement that you wish to read into the record?"

Both Kara and Zan nodded.

"Good," the clergyman replied. "We can also use it as the legal wedding document. Both of you must sign the document to make it binding. Signatures of witnesses and my endorsement must also be attached to your nuptial declaration," he added.

Pausing for a moment, Larry frowned as he realized that the nuptial documents were far away; farther than he would ever know.

The Rabbi then asked how the nuptial contract was to be signed by all parties concerned. Looking at the couple about to be united, the Rabbi also inquired, "How am I going to sign your marriage contract, if the document is not here?"

"Don't worry," Clark commented, "Their marriage certificate will be sent electronically and appear on that printing device situated behind you. You'll send it back to us using the same instrument."

"Okay," Larry replied. "I have faith in you guys." Clark just smiled.

After a few instructions from Alan, the Rabbi said, "Let's get the show on the road," Anne's brother-in-law finally said.

Anne whispered in Lois' ear, "I forgot to tell Clark that Larry is a swinger. He's part of a rock and roll band and plays gigs on weekends." Lois smiled and clasped Anne's hand.

"Kara," the Rabbi directed, "raise your right hand and point your right index finger in an upward position — toward heaven. Zan, place the ring on her extended finger and repeat after me. With this ring, I, Zan, consecrate you to me, Kara, as my wife, until we are separated by death according to the laws of Krypton and of Earth." Zan did as he was instructed.

"Zan," the Rabbi then said, "Repeat the hand position I described to Kara." He complied. Kara was then instructed to place a gold ring on Zan's right index finger and say, "I, Kara, consecrate you to me, Zan, as my husband, until we are separated by death according to the laws of Krypton and of Earth." Kara did as was bid.

After they had finished their vows of love and devotion, Larry said, "In the Creator's name, I declare that Kara and Zan are now husband and wife."

After the ceremony, the newly married couple read their marriage statement. It was then witnessed and sent to Earth, where it was again witnessed by those present and made official by the Rabbi's signature. It was then promptly returned to the newly united couple.

As Kara and Zan left for their wedding banquet in the lounge area, Clark noticed there was not a dry eye to be found in the Earth camp nor on a tiny spacecraft hurtling through the void half a universe away.

As Anne left the office and escorted her brother to the newsroom's exit, Perry said to Clark, "Son, where in hell are you?"

Clark smiled and replied, "At the edge of the universe, chief, about thirteen billion light years from you."

"Great shades of Elvis," Perry exclaimed, as he collapsed in a chair. Then he murmured, "A marriage conducted across the vastness of space. No one will ever believe that such a thing happened. Yet I saw it," Perry added, "and I'm having difficulty believing this whole cockamamie thing took place."

Perry's utterances furnished the needed humor to alleviate the tension of the moment and caused those present to break into fits of laughter.

When Alan turned to look at Lois, he saw her staring at Clark. Realizing that she wanted to talk to him privately, Alan slapped Perry on the back saying, "Come on old friend, let's take a closer look at our innovative newspaper toys." As he and Perry and the others left Perry's office, Alan smiled and winked at Lois.

When Lois was finally alone, she turned toward the monitor and just looked at Clark Kent. The silence and uncertainty of both Lois and her ex partner, one on Earth and the other enclosed in an interstellar ship many light from Sol Three, could be cut with a knife. One could say it was as quiet as a tomb.

As Lois and Clark stared at one another, the Planet's ace reporter knew that it was now or never. From Clark's continued silence, Lois knew she would have to take the initiative and move them off of square one.

Taking a breath, Lois began their long overdue talk by saying, "Hi, I've really missed you, Clark. I don't know why I seem to be one step behind when it comes to my relationships with men, but that's my karma, I guess. I've been burnt so often in the past few years that it's difficult for me to be a trusting soul where most men are concerned."

"After you'd gone, I realized that the Superman story was secondary to us.

"Us," Clark replied. "You said there would never be an us or we."

Lois hastily replied, "That harebrained girl who uttered those foolish words is gone, Clark. The Lois Lane you knew has changed. She now understands what matters most in life is helping people and forming relationships — lifetime connection — not lusting after those icons we call Kerths, Pulitzers or other so-called prestigious accolades. I now understand what you said to me as you and the kids were leaving Earth. It took time for your thoughts to filter through my thick skull. But they got through."

"Do you recall what I said to you, Lois?" Clark asked her.

"Yeah," Lois replied. "You told me that fifty years after you and I have passed on, our names will most likely be less than a memory. Maybe, just maybe, they would exist as a footnote or be a reference in someone's thesis."

As Lois watched the monitor, she observed a beautiful smile erupt on Clark's face.

After a brief pause, Lois emotionally charged said, "Clark Kent, you are precious to me — you are truly my soulmate."

When Lois' soulmate remark entered their conversation, she became aware that Clark's eyes became softer. As they continued to talk, Lois also began to see love and tenderness blossom in Clark's facial expressions. Emotional gestures she'd never seen on the countenance of her former paramours.

While Lois was absorbing Clark's emotional gestures, he said, "So you think that we're soulmates.

Yes," Lois softly replied, "Ruth Friskin helped me work out that problem."

As Clark was admiring Lois, the Planet's ace reporter came right to the point. "Clark," she said to him, "I love you, but for the life of me, I don't understand what attracted you to a high strung person like moi. Aside from being a workaholic and possessing an unreasonable and volatile deposition at times, I have nothing to offer you."

Clark gave her another breathtaking smile and replied, "I love you, too, Lois Lane, and love is all that I want in return. Stop being so self-defacing."

"Your disposition, Lois, makes you unique. Please don't change. Together I believe that you and I could deal with anything that intrudes in our lives. We are stronger as a couple than we could ever be alone. My love, we must talk and work out our future, because Lois, you must believe that together we have many tomorrows. See you in two days." Lois blew Clark a kiss, as he terminated their interstellar linkage.

That evening, Lois poured herself a glass of white wine and enjoyed the bouquet and the exquisite taste of the soothing liquid. While she savored the gift of Bacchus, Lois contemplated the beginning of her new and wonderful relationship with Clark Kent. After today's conversation, it was obvious to her that something special had developed between them. Lois now knew that their liaison would be life long. She was also aware that their love would continue beyond life into all the forevers that existed. As the wine made her more mellow, she thought about the intimate beauty of her new relationship. In her previous affairs, men had used her. They took what they wanted and offered Lois love only on their terms — Lex, Claude and Paul were such self centered and grasping individuals. Clark was the antithesis of these vermin and would provide her with anything that she desired with no preconditions. Her soulmate would accept only what she granted him and be grateful. Lois smiled at that thought for she had much, very much to give her beloved super Clark. Much more than he suspected. Lois at last understood that her love for this man was boundless. Lois was also well aware that she and Clark would decide things by consensus, not by dictatorial mandates. Clark would only interfere with her decisions if he believed that she was placing herself in harm's way. In her wine driven mellow state, Lois even envisaged a lover's quarrel over their differences. But, deep down Lois knew that their disagreement would be motivated by his caring and protective nature in their home and not a control issue. Because of her love for this man she would, after some resistance, probably acquiesce to his wishes and modify her game plan.

Later, after walking about her apartment for a while, Lois sat down at her kitchen table and contemplated how love was nonetheless a strange and wondrous force. It not only sparked physical and emotional encounters between lovers, but it engendered unqualified trust. Faith in and trust between people was so rare these days that when it happened it was a breathtaking event — a soul uplifting experience. Lois knew without understanding that she and Clark now possessed that kind of trust in one another. She was aware from experience that faith between two lovers may be fragile, but once established it would be extremely difficult to extinguish.

Later that evening, as Lois paced around her apartment, she thought about her past relationship with Clark. She didn't treat him well. She realized now that she always considered him a hick from nowheresville. As she further analyzed her former association with Clark, Lois finally understood that she was blinded by Kent in his Superman guise. How could Lois' instincts focus on Clark, her partner, and get to the great guy that he was when her senses were being overwhelmed by a "god" in a cape.

After she discovered that Kent was Superman, Lois had one heck of a time reconciling that the man in the suit was just a mask, a facade to preserve Clark's anonymity as a mild mannered reporter and provide a cover for his super family. When she discovered the truth, Lois recalled, she was hurt and wanted her pound of flesh. A Pulitzer garnered from a Superman exclusive would make her counterblow all the sweeter. When her seething anger finally moderated, she realized, with the help of her friend, a psychoanalyst, Ruth Friskin, that she could not quash Clark's life for either revenge or the accolades she would receive from the journalistic Meccas. With Ruth's guidance, Lois finally understood that if Superman's life as Clark Kent ceased to exist, she would also be destroying herself and her soulmate simultaneously. Lois, by revealing the Kent — Superman connection, would doom herself to wander the Earth as a solitary and unloved soul for the remainder of her life. Thank G-D Lois realized the horrible consequences of her article. She called Perry and told him to kill her Superman publication and then ran as fast as she could to the Planet.

Lois then shivered as she recalled that the paper was shanghaied by Luthor and his henchman before she arrived at the Planet to make sure her Superman story had been trashed. Fate smiled on her that day because Perry had already shredded her copy. He would not allow the knowledge that Kent and Superman were one and the same person.

Learning from Perry that Luthor did not see her article caused her to feel both giddy and elated. After this near catastrophic incident, Lois was surer than ever that her decision to destroy her Superman expose was probably the most significant event in her life.

Later that day, Lois found herself in a fast food kitchen. As she thought about her day and waited for her pastrami sandwich, she noticed that people began moving away from her. Turning, Lois saw and then smelled two unwashed homeless men. As she observed them, one of the men, with beautiful blue eyes, smiled at her as he searched for acceptance.

He nodded at Lois saying, "Good day," as he counted the few coins he'd been clutching.

The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood with his friend. Lois realized, as she watched him, that he was mentally challenged and the blue eyed gentlemen was his salvation.

Stepping up to the counter, Lois watched as the blue eyed man ordered coffee. That was all he could afford. The coffee was the two homeless men's ticket to stay inside the kitchen and warm themselves.

Holding back her tears, Lois purchased her sandwich and sat down at the table in the corner of the fast food place.

Then the Planet's ace reporter saw something that unlocked the tears she was holding back. A young woman with a toddler in hand, walked to the counter and purchased two full meals. Without a word, she took the food to the homeless men.

The blue eyed man looked at the woman and with tears in his eyes said, "Thank you…"

"Bona pate," the young woman replied smiling at the two men while tears were also awash on her face. Then pulling her son she walked back to her smiling husband.

As Lois watch the woman's actions, she at last began to understand by a simple act of charity that it was important to love people and use things — not love things and use people. Unconditional acceptance of another was one of the most important mainstays of caring for and loving people.

Many people, Lois now knew, walk in and out of your life, but only true friends and your soulmate will leave footprints in your heart.

As she slipped into bed that evening, a familiar thought flashed through her mind — To Thine Own Self Be True … Lois had learned much today.

Two days later, Lois, Perry, and Alan entered the lounge on the Sanctuary Centauri platform. Soon afterwards, Clark, his kids, and the other Kryptonians joined them. After greeting each other and enjoying some light conversation and refreshments, Clark called the meeting to order.

"Guys," Clark said to the group, "Zara and I have been studying the plutonium information you've accumulated. We've concluded that the source of this highly toxic and fissionable material is located somewhere on the east coast of the U.S. Have you located the electrical power plants which are using uranium two thirty-five as their fuel?"

Lois gave Clark the list that she and Alan had compiled. As Clark perused their findings, the name LexCorp Nuclear stuck out like a sore thumb. Apparently, Lex controlled the largest uranium two thirty-five power reactor then in operation. This fact was ominous indeed. Being near Metropolis also made LexCorp's uranium reactor even more likely to be the source of the illegal plutonium. Clark then passed the list around so all could view the nuclear data.

When everyone had perused the list, Clark remarked," Does anyone here disagree with the evidence?"

"Is the information you and Zara gathered accurate," Perry asked. Clark just nodded affirmatively. "Then I believe I can speak for the rest of us and say let's begin the investigation."

"We'll start our investigation by first studying the LexCorp Nuclear facility and investigating the people involved in controlling the plant's operation."

While there was no descent, Lois did comment, "For what it's worth, our scans of the LexCorp's power reactor indicate that no uranium two thirty-eight isotopic material has been dispersed with the uranium two thirty-five fuel rods."

"Uranium two thirty eight, uranium two thirty-five… Perry growled. Clark would you tell us and specifically me about this scientific mumbo jumbo." All eyes turned toward Clark.

"Okay, Okay guys," he said," I'll enlighten Perry and those of you who are still a little mystified about the uranium isotopic mix."

To lighten the mood, Lois said, "Hear ye, hear ye one and all listen to a master scientist who aspires to be a journalist."

When Lois finished her remark, Clark said, "As fantastic as that may seem, it happens to be true; I find investigative journalism as fascinating as pure science." He then smiled at his soulmate causing a warm fuzzy feeling to caress her.

Becoming more serious, Clark, directed his thoughts at Perry and the others in the room.

"My friends, uranium two thirty-eight is pretty lame stuff when compared to its cousin, so to speak, uranium two thirty-five. By itself, two thirty-eight can't be made into a weapon, while two thirty-five can and has been used to make an atomic bomb. However, in the world in which we live, the two thirty-five isotope of uranium is mostly used as a power source for plants that supply the electrical needs of a city and its surrounding areas. From my allegories, I believe you can see that the two thirty-five isotope of uranium can behave as a two edged sword. It depends on how people utilized this material."

"However, if you place the uranium two thirty-eight with the uranium two thirty-five, the two thirty-eight isotope of uranium can be transformed into an element called plutonium. For your edification," Clark added, "When a nuclear reactor is configured with both types of uranium isotopes, it is called a 'Breeder Reactor.' Just as the name implies, such a reactor produces more fissionable material than it consumes. Plutonium, like the two thirty- five isotope of uranium is an excellent fuel for the production of heat and electricity. Unfortunately like uranium two thirty-five, it is also an excellent source of weapon's grade material for nuclear bombs." After pausing to let his information sink in, Clark asked Perry, If he understood his nuclear scenario.

He replied, "Hell no, son. However, I do believe we're in a lot trouble." A ripple of laughter was heard, as Perry finished his remarks.

"Perry," Clark, asked, "Do you have any more facts about those supposedly small nuclear detonations?"

"Yeah," the chief replied. "My source, 'Sore Throat,' confirmed our info and supplied me with some further and interesting intelligence and documentation. You can look at the written material later."

Taking a moment to collect his thoughts, Perry said, "I can confirm that Luthor's acquisition of the foodstuffs is on public record." Looking at Lois and Clark, the chief added, "Lane and Kent have an expose to get out." At the mention of their names, Clark's and Lois' eyes met. She gave Clark a beautiful and loving smile, which increased Clark's heart rate and made him lose his concentration for the moment.

Clark then returned Lois' love with an expression of adoration that caused a blush to slowly effuse over her face.

Gaining some semblance of control over his emotions, Clark said to the group, "Tomorrow, the family will teleport to the Kent farm. A couple of days in the sun should activate your super abilities. After your powers have emerged and you've learned to control them, return to Sanctuary." Of course, Clark said, "The newlyweds are not to return to Sanctuary. After your super capabilities are under control, fly to Hawaii for your honeymoon. It's a very romantic spot. So after you leave the farm, we don't expect to see you two for at least two weeks."

"Kal-El," Zara said, "when you and Lois publish your nuclear expose, Luthor will come after you with a vengeance. Lois' life won't be worth two cents."

"I shall take care of that problem this evening," Clark told his cousin. "I'll use the electrical bridge apparatus to give Lois our unique abilities. Like you and the other family members her super powers will be fully activated before our nuclear article hits the street and is seen by Lex Luthor and his bully boys."

As Lois accompanied Clark to the Lab later that evening to acquire her super abilities, she inquired, "Why couldn't you provide Jennifer with super powers and protect her?" Before Clark answered her question, he put his arm about Lois' waist and pulled her close. Clark's behavior again conveyed his love to Lois, while her nearness soothed the lingering pain induced by the tragic memory of an event that snuffed out the lives of his wife and their infant son.

While Lois and Clark strolled though the passageways of Sanctuary, he quietly said, "Lois, at the time of Jenni's death, I didn't have the understanding nor technical expertise to create the bridge device."

After walking in silence for some moments, Clark added, "It's through Lara and Mara that Jennifer will be immortalized. By virtue of them, she will always be a part of the Kryptonian people. Though the girls, you and I, and the survivors of the Kryptonian catastrophe, a people once believed dead will arise again."

"Clark," Lois said looking into his face, "What have I done to deserve your love. My actions towards you in the past make me ashamed." As Clark looked at Lois, she could see the love for her in his smile and the sparkle in his eyes.

Taking Lois in his arms, Clark softly said, "You and I represent only a few threads in the grand tapestry of life. We cannot hope to see the entire pattern of its magnificent design."

"Are you suggesting," Lois said, "that there is a cosmic plan for us?"

"If you mean," Clark replied, "that some force is directing our destiny, I really don't know. I'm not sure what awaits us on our journey through life, with one exception. We belong to one another and where you go, I also will go."

"To be honest, Lois, I'm just becoming aware that we can never see the true value of our lives through our own eyes. You must look at yourself though the eyes of people who care deeply about you — hopefully, one of those individuals is your soulmate. I believe the worth of a person can only be measured by how much he or she struggles to help others. Lois Lane, all your life you've tried to assist those who are less fortunate than yourself. Like me, you care deeply about all living things. Through our combined actions we've become more strongly bound to each other, more connected than I could ever have imagined. Before I lose my courage," Clark said in an emotionally charged voice, "will you marry me, my beloved soulmate?"

Although Lois knew how she would react to Clark's words of forever love, she was stunned by his words. Being involved in that special phrase that every loving couple expresses to each other at their moment of moments made her feel giddy and scared. But, Lois knew there was no turning back. The road of life was clear now, and she could see the journey of two people setting forth on an adventure with no particular destination. She knew that only the journey was written, but their destination was of their own making. The pattern was clear now, and she knew what her answer to forever would be.

Finally regaining her composure, Lois gave Clark a radiant smile as she quietly walked up to him. After gazing at each other for a moment, Clark bent his head forward and brushed his lips across hers. Then, as his hands slipped around her waist and hers encircled his neck, their lips locked in a kiss that was tender, possessing, and passionate — a lover's caress full of promise.

When their lips finally parted, Lois gazed into Clark's eyes and murmured, "It will be my privilege to walk through life with you, my dearest Clark." He then reached into his pocket and took out a ring case. When Clark opened the small box, Lois saw an exquisite emerald cut diamond engagement ring mounted on a platinum setting framed by two beautiful rectangular baguettes.

While Lois watched with bated breath, Clark slipped the ring on her finger. Tears of joy formed in her eyes, as she stepped again into her fiance's loving embrace. As they hugged, Lois could feel the warmth of Clark's love wash over her and fuse their souls. She had a feeling of belonging. The aura which caressed both Lois and Clark at that moment whispered to each of destiny's soulmates, "Welcome home."

After returning from Sanctuary's lab unit, Lois and Clark immediately announced their engagement. The mood at the dinner table immediately became festive. Perry, who thought of Lois as a daughter became a wee bit tipsy. The Planet's top reporter was surprised that Perry could consume that much wine.

During the celebration, Clark's daughters asked Lois, "Are you going to be our new mommy?"

"Yes, I suppose I am," Lois said smiling at the young girls. After her promise, both Lara and Mara hugged their new mother. As Lois held her brand-new family, she again felt a strong emotional connection between the young girls and herself. However, this time the linkage between them was so intense that Lois felt that Clark's girls were her own issue.

When dinner was finished, the entire party retired to the family room. As they continued to make merry, Lois started to squeal. All eyes quickly focused on the new bride to be. Within a few seconds, laughter rumbled through the room. Lois was levitating and was a little panicked. Clark walked over to her and whispered, "Think down, sweetheart."

When she had again reached the floor and seated herself on the sofa, Lois asked Clark, "Why did one of my new abilities start to function so quickly?"

"I guess," he replied, "enough of the sun's residual energy was tapped by your newly modified chromosomes to activate your floating power and away you went."

"Clark," she said in a panicky voice, "until I can control these new powers, *you, my dear fiance,* will not be very far from my side."

With an astonished look on his face Clark said, "Lois, that's absurd."

She gave him a look and said, "You heard me, Buster." Then Lois cuffed him on the shoulder to emphasize her point.

Continuing her outburst, Lois added, "Now hear this one and all, Clark Kent and Lois Lane will be connected at the hip, so to speak, until I master these new super skills of mine." As she finished venting, laughter erupted again throughout the room.

Smiling at her, Clark gave Lois' hand a squeeze, kissed her on the forehead and said, "Okay, honey, we'll stick to one another like super glue until you've become a super charged woman in command of her powers."

"How long do you think it will take for all my powers to cut in, Clark?" Lois asked her fiance.

"About a hundred and fifty years," he replied. She cuffed him on the arm again, as they both started to laugh. When they finished kidding around, Lois cuddled with her soulmate, placing her head on his shoulder.

While Clark's family and his friends were congratulating Clark and Lois on their betrothal, Perry handed Alan a picture of Lex and some of his cronies. When Alan looked at the photo, his complexion became ashen in color.

"Perry," he said, "Who… who… are these two men with Luthor?"

Perry responded, "The one in Asiatic garb is called Asabi and the other gent is Nigel St. John.

Alan then turned to Clark and said in a quivering voice, "Take a look at this photo." Clark reached out and took the picture from his friend.

As Clark gazed at the snapshot, his eyes became dilated and the color drained from his face giving his appearance a ghostly pallor. Kent's legs also became rubbery and could not support his bodily mass. Before his legs failed him completely, he managed to reached a chair and sat down. Once seated, Alan whispered to his spiritual brother, "Their names are Asabi and Nigel St. John. They're very buddy, buddy with Lex."

"What's wrong?" A very concerned Zara asked her kin. Clark looked at her with a sickly smile and said, "These are the men who murdered Jennifer and our infant son." Feeling stronger, Clark arose from his chair and walked to a wall cabinet where he removed a canister. Returning to the table he opened the container and removed film which he now shared with his companions. "These images," Clark said, "clearly show Asabi and Nigel in the act of murdering my wife, Jennifer, and our boy."

As Clark sat there staring into space, Lois embraced him. By compassionate statements and caressing her fiance, she was able to soothe Clark's mental anguish which now battered his soul. Then she quietly said, "Sweetheart, no matter how heinous the crime, you can't kill them."

"I know, Lois," Clark replied falling into her arms. "Kryptonians," he added, "can only take another's life to protect their own person, their loved ones or in defense of their home world."

Lois asked, holding him tightly, "How are you going to handle this situation?"

"I've thought long and hard about this moment," Clark answered her, "and what I would do if the murderers of my wife and child were found." After a slight pause, he added, "What did pirates do to renegades or other people they considered undesirable who fell into their clutches?"

Perry replied, "They marooned em."

Clark said, with a grim expression on his face, "Give that man a kewpie doll."

Becoming more serious, Clark said, "I would like everybody to remain at Sanctuary while I collect Asabi and Nigel and bring them here. Once they're in our custody, I would like a trial to be conducted and judgment rendered based upon the evidence, and only upon the evidence. We seek justice not retribution."

"Who will conduct the trial," Perry asked. "Those of us now gathered at Sanctuary," Alan said supporting his long time friend.

"If we find them guilty as charged," Clark added, "I will recommend, with the court's approval, of course, a place for their incarceration."

"Where would you put them?" Perry inquired.

"There is a planet," Clark told them, "circling a star called Deneb — fifteen hundred light years from Earth — that can support terran life forms. On this planet, there are, at present, two predatory and rather barbaric mammalian species battling for dominance. One of them will eventually become extinct."

"With your approval," Clark added, "a home will be constructed on this planet, which will also serve as a protective fortress."

"It's on this planet where I wish to maroon both Asabi and Nigel, if they are found guilty by the court. They will be provided with all the essentials of civilization; telemetry, for example, will link them with Earth's television stations so they can view the happenings on their home world. They will also be provided with weapons to defend themselves, if they decide to explore their surroundings. A robotic medical unit, located on a platform orbiting the planet, will provide them with health needs when required."

"How long will they be there?" Perry drawled.

"For the remainder of their natural lives," Clark responded to the chief's query. "If the accused are convicted, no parole must be part of the sentence," Clark added. Looking at his family and friends Clark asked, "Does anyone have a problem with the punishment I proposed, if Asabi and St. John are found guilty of murder?"

The response that echoed through the lounge was a unanimous no. Ching thought the penalty too lenient.

As Clark was about to start on his collection task, Zara asked him to wait for a moment. She motioned to Ching and Lois to join them.

When Lois arrived, Ching said, "There is something we must discuss before the trial commences."

"Well, what is so urgent?" Clark asked, somewhat impatient to capture Luthor's two lieutenants.

"Do we want our children to be involved in this legal affair?" Zara said to Lois and Clark."

Lois then remarked, "Wait a minute, I'm not officially the mother of the girls yet, and I really shouldn't be involved in this discussion."

"Yes, you are," Clark declared. "You may not be Lara and Mara's natural parent, but you've become the girls' nurturer and will continue in this capacity, with me, through the girls' formative years. Lois, you have bonded with them in a special way, which makes you one of their parents. If you still doubt me, I can tell you that your statement about becoming their new mother consummated your connection to Lara and Mara."

Zara supported Clark's views by adding, "Those people called mothers and fathers are individuals who provide loving care for children either born to them or obtained by some other means."

Clark then remarked, "If something were to happen to me, Lois, wouldn't you continue to raise the girls as if they were your issue?"

"Oh yes," Lois replied with emotion that surprised even her.

"So, my little tornado," Lois' fiance added, "you do belong in this dialogue. Not only do I believe you fit into this repartee, but so do Zara and Ching."

Both Kryptonians nodded their assent. "You and I, beloved," Clark continued in emotionally strong voice, "are husband and wife of the heart. Although no conventional pledges have been pronounced nor documents witnessed, the fact that we are one before the creator is accepted by all those here. A wedding ceremony, sweetheart, is just the final formalities of the nuptial business. A ceremony will not alter our forever kind of love. My heart and mind constantly tell me that you and I and the girls are a family."

Lois then murmured, as her arms encircled Clark's neck and kissed him tenderly, with passion and expectation, "I guess I'm in this family discussion."

"So," Zara said, returning to the original question, "Do we want the kids to sit at the table when we deliberate Asabi's and Nigel's fate?"

"Before Clark and I make a decision whether to include our girls in the coming trial, we would like to know how a Kryptonian would likely handle this situation?"

"The Kryptonian philosophy," Ching said to Lois and Clark, "stresses that youngsters should have an extended childhood — as long as possible. Therefore, in our society children were not considered bona fide adults until they reach their twenty- seventh year. We've found from experience that the longer an individual remained within a child's world, within reason, of course, the more responsible he or she would be as a mature individual. Of course," Ching added, "I realize that eventually we'll need to modify our customs when the Kryptonian and Earth cultures begin to meld."

"That's fine," Lois chimed in. "However, for the moment let's go with the Kryptonian tradition and not have our children present at this trial. Shockingly evil subjects might have to be considered in the proceedings, which, I believe, should be handled only by the adults in our community." Looking at her kin, Lois asked, "What's it to be?" The expressions on Clark's, Zara's, and Ching's faces left no room for doubt about the answer to Lois' query. The kids would not be part of the trial proceedings.

"Okay," Lois summed up their discussion, "We'll protect the kids from the harsh realities of life for a while longer."

Zara added, "I'll tell the children to remain in the recreation area until this business has been concluded."

With their discussion at an end, Clark kissed Lois and departed for Earth via the teleportation gates. He returned less than an hour later with Asabi and Nigel in tow.

It was decided by those who were to sit in judgment of Nigel and Asabi that Lois should chair the proceedings. She was brilliant and quick witted and would brook no nonsense from the accused nor the jurors alike. With her temperament, Lois would be able to maintain a semblance of order in what would prove to be an emotionally charged mise-en-scene of this particular court.

When all parties to this affair were seated Lois, carefully and with dignity, informed the accused, Nigel and Asabi, about the indictments. At first, Nigel attempted to slyly use the argument that this hearing was illegal and if a trial were needed, it should be conducted in an Earthly court. Lois countered by saying that ethics and moral law were concepts universal in scope, and a judgement could therefore be rendered by a court of law convened anywhere in the cosmos. Furthermore, Lois added, since the men on trial were accused of murdering an alien's wife and her child, their argument that only the laws of Earth were valid was problematic, at best. Looking Nigel squarely in the eyes, Lois said, "This trial will now commence." She then reminded Luthor's cronies that they were in the presence of an extra terrestrial court and controlled by that body. Their guilt or innocence, Lois declared, as she concluded her remarks, would be decided by the tribunal sitting before the accused.

The first item placed before the court was several photographs depicting the actual murder in all its realistic horror. After a few moments, Lois said to the accused, "From these images frozen in time, it's obvious that you were the culprits in this … outrage." She was so angry that her thoughts became somewhat muddled for a few seconds. To calm Lois and himself, Clark unseen, placed Lois' hand in his and gently caressed her fingers. His touch acted like a tranquilizer and calmed them both. After a slight pause, Lois added, "The evidence clearly indicates that you both are guilty of murdering Clark's wife and his baby son. However, the reason for such a heinous crime has eluded us. Could you enlighten the court as to what motivated you to perpetrate such a heinous act?"

After receiving a nod from Asabi, Nigel replied, "Our original plan was to kidnap Jennifer and the young boy to be used as a persuasive tool. Lex wanted Clark in the LexCorp organization. Luthor was well aware that Kent had developed some amazing devices which could enormously enhance his power base and substantially increase his wealth. Somehow, Kent became aware of Luthor's sub rosa business practices and would not accept employment with any of Luthor's organizations. Lex was furious. Luthor was one of the few that understood Clark's full potential — Kent was in all probably the Da Vinci of the twentieth century. Lex Luthor was a control freak and his obsession was to control and direct Kent's genius. Therefore, we staged a ruse. Eliciting a band of local bandits we attacked the science meeting making it appear as though it were a terrorist operation. After isolating Mrs. Kent and her child, we prepared to abduct them. However, before Asabi and I could complete our plans, the operation started to unravel. Recognizing that we could not successfully complete our mission and realizing Jennifer could identify us, we simply eliminated her."

"Why did you murder the boy?" Lois asked her anger evident in her voice.

Nigel with a wicked grin said, "To keep up the pretense of the ruse, my dear. The play is this thing that must be preserved."

An eerie silence pervaded the room after Nigel's repugnant comments. Lois could sense the seething anger pulsing through her fiance.

If it weren't for Lois' invulnerability, she would have been seriously injured by Clark's subconscious use of his super strength. As St. John completed his testimony, Clark's building anger had caused him to apply an inordinate amount of pressure to Lois' left hand. If such a force had been applied to a normal person, crushed fingers or worse might have resulted.

As Clark continued to listened as Nigel spoke, Lois could feel his anguish build and knew that he wanted to pull the limbs of Asabi and St. John from their bodies and feed the parts to the fish.

When Nigel finally completed his grizzly tale, Clark hung his head and tears spilled from his eyes as he again suffered in silence. As Lois looked around the table, she could see hostility and disgust in the faces of her friends and family.

After a few moments, Lois asked each member of the court to mark their ballots indicating whether the accused were guilty or not guilty.

Perry then quietly collected the slips of paper and tallied the results. The verdict was unanimous. Both men were found guilty as charged.

As Lois looked at the condemned men, Nigel, the former MI6 operative, asked, "When and how will we be executed?"

"You will not be killed," Lois informed him. She told Asabi and Nigel that they would be exiled for life on a planet many light years from Earth. She then explained the conditions of their banishment.

When Lois completed her grim remarks, Asabi sneered as he said, "At least no one will know of our transgressions."

"Not so," Clark said to him. "When you both have passed from this plane of existence an electronic record of your transgressions, with a transmitting device, will be interred with your remains. When the people of Earth eventually reach your prison planet, the story of your crimes will be revealed. It may take Earthmen five hundred, a thousand, or even ten thousand years to reach your place of exile, but the people of Earth will come. Your transgressions will not be lost to history."

"You are assuming," Nigel smirked, "that the people of Earth do not destroy themselves in the interim. That will not happen," Clark replied. "My family and our descendants will work hard to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring."

When Clark finished his remarks, Lois said, "These proceedings are closed — execute the sentence." Nigel and Asabi were immediately taken to an interstellar craft and transported to their place of banishment, a planet the tribunal named "Oblivion."


When Lois and Clark entered the new quarters of the Planet and Enquire, hand in hand, their colleagues of both newspapers immediately noticed that something new and consequential had transpired. When Jimmy saw Lois' engagement ring, he let out a whoop and yelled, "Lois and CK are joined at the hip; they're engaged." The two betrothed reporters were suddenly mobbed by their co- workers, friends and well wishers. Suddenly, the engaged couple was seated on chairs and lifted into the air and paraded around the newsroom amid the sounds of jubilation.

When some semblance of order finally returned to the bullpen, Joel, a precious stone connoisseur, asked to see Lois' ring out of curiosity. After Joel had studied Lois' diamond for some moments he said, "That's quite a rock, gal."

Turning to Clark, he continued, "Kent, it looks like you mined that gorgeous gemstone yourself."

"As a matter of fact," Clark quipped, "I … oops," he grunted. Lois had nudged him in his side kinda hard and interrupted his response. No one saw the motion of her jab. Her super abilities had really blossomed, so her poke could only be seen by her equally powerful partner, Clark Kent. But, he didn't see the poke coming.

Recovering from his surprise, Clark said, "A cousin of mine did mine Lois' diamond and bequeathed it to me."

"You better insure it, Clark," Joel suggested. "That stone, in my humble opinion, could send four kids through Harvard — no sweat."

As the discussion about her engagement ring subsided, Lois tugged Clark toward Perry's office. As they moved off, Lois shouted over the steady din, "Thanks for your advice, Joel."

When they entered Perry's office, Clark closed the blinds. Then he turned to Lois saying, "That poke was no love pat. You really gave me a zetz. My side will be black and blue for a week."

Lois pulled out his shirt and looked at the assaulted area. "Hmmm," she said, "Very black and blue." She then kissed the injured spot and giggled.

"Oh, so you want to play rough," Clark declared as he attempted to smack her rear. She saw the blow coming and scooted to the ceiling.

"Great shades of Elvis Perry," Perry admonished them. "That's enough horseplay you two; we got some serious business to consider. Lois, you and Clark must locate that plutonium source."

"Tomorrow, Perry," Clark replied. "Today, Lois and I must find an isolated spot where she can finally learn how to control her newly acquired skills, or she'll kill me." Lois chuckled.

"Okay, but before you two take off," Perry added, "tell me how come Lois' super abilities appeared before the others?"

Clark pondered Perry's question for a moment and replied, "Unfortunately, chief I don't have a good explanation. However, if I were to speculate, I'd say that Lois, being exposed to a yellow sun all her life, had some residual energy stored in her cells. That excess energy could have been enmeshed with her super genes as they were formed, activating Lois' new powers sooner than expected. For Ching and the other new emigres, this is their first full exposure to old Sol. It will take several days for them to acquire sufficient energy to fully activate their unique abilities."

When Perry started cruising the newsroom, Lois and her soulmate quietly left the Enquire-Planet building and flew to a sparsely populated island near Fiji. During their journey, Lois mastered the techniques of flight. Although she enjoyed flying, Lois did become upset when she happened to plow through a flock of gulls.

On their return trip to Metropolis, they stopped at the farm for a short reunion with Clark's family and their Kryptonian kin. At the Kent homestead Lois and Clark enjoyed watching Lara and Mara and the other kids horsing around. Ching and the other off world adults were watching TV when Clark and Lois arrived. They were being exposed to the seedier side of Earth's culture and language.

While at the farm, Lois and Clark picked up a super hero's outfit for Lois. It had been hand made by Martha just before her untimely demise. "It was uncanny," Clark remarked to his bride to be, "that Martha sensed we would be united and prepared a costume for you." With Lois' super hero outfit, Clark's mother left a short message — Ultra Woman was carefully printed on an index card and pinned to the special clothing. Martha Clark Kent had given Lois her super hero's nom de plume, a unique costume and an appellation that would span the ages.

Thirty-six hours after their departure from the big city, Lois and her soulmate were back in town. Coordinating their aerial observations of LexCorp's nuclear facility with the information gathered by the hovercraft, a large hidden chamber was discovered under the nuclear site.

By studying the hovercraft's data again, Lois and Clark discovered that the Earth surrounding Lex's nuclear works was interlaced with lead. Normal scanning devices, including the special vision gizmos of Ultra Woman, Superman and their super family, would be rendered ineffectual by this kind of camouflaging. Only the special surveillance equipment on the hovercraft could electronically penetrate the leaded-earthen mixture covering Luthor's hidden nuclear lair. The electronic images produced by this technique were most revealing.

Late one evening shortly after Clark and Lois had returned to Metropolis, the super couple descended into a grotto on the shore of Hobbs Bay. This particular subterranean chamber was located in an isolated part of the bay area near LexCorp's nuclear facility.

Levitating, the two super beings slowly drifted through the tunnel system which naturally pervaded the area. When they had moved nearly half a mile or so into the labyrinth, Clark began to feel kryptonite induced pain and stopped. Without realizing that Clark was in some difficulty, Lois continued drifting through the tunnel system they'd chosen to explore. Suddenly, Lois received a telepathic message laced with pain, asking her to return. With trepidation, she rushed to Clark's side and clasped her fiance to her breast. Seeing that he was apparently okay, Lois looked quizzically at him and asked, "What's wrong?"

"Didn't you feel any pain?" He asked.

She shook her head in a negative response.

"Hmmm," he mused. "Something in your genetic makeup seems to be protecting you from Kryptonite."

"Kryptonite!" Lois nearly yelled.

"Yeah," Clark said. "I felt its effects as we entered this section of the tunnel system. I wonder if our girls have your protection to that poisonous mineral," he thought out loud. "We'll see Bernie Klein and have Mara, and Lara tested when this plutonium mission of ours has been completed." Giving Lois a hug, he said, "It would be nice if our kids have a natural immunity against the effects of that accursed glowing rock."

As they embraced in the dank underground cavern, enjoying the feel of their bodies, Lois said, "I'll continue exploring this passage. We'll keep in contact telepathically."

"Wait, Lois!" Clark cried out, as he flew from of the grotto. After a few minutes he returned with a very long coil of mountain climbing rope. He then fastened one end around Lois' waist. She looked puzzled but waited, a little impatiently, for Clark's explanation. As he kissed her on the cheek and felt her edginess, he said, "Relax Lois, just relax." Then he added, "You, sweetheart, may possess only a limited immunity to Kryptonite. As you get closer to the source of that toxic Kryptonium mineral, you might be overpowered by its radiation. If that happens, I'll be able to pull you to safety with this rope."

She nodded, understanding Clark's caution, and again proceeded down the passage leading towards the LexCorp Nuclear Reactor.

After a few minutes, Clark perceived Lois' excited thoughts tumbling through his head. "Slow down sweetheart," he said telepathically." Her response was immediate. Lois slowed her thoughts to a manageable rate. As their communication rapport came into sync, Clark could mentally see her smile as a deep feeling of her love washed over him. His amorous reply was instantaneous.

Two lovers had again become mentally enraptured. Only the seriousness of the current situation broke the spell cast by Lois and Clark's love for one another.

Reluctantly interrupting their amorous state, Lois informed her fiance, "The camouflage Earthen — lead mixture has disappeared and I can now see the hidden portion of LexCorp's nuclear reactor."

Clark excitedly said, "Describe what you see." Then came a rapid exchange of thoughts and ideas. Finally, Clark told Lois that the bottom twenty percent of the LexCorp's power reactor was hidden beneath the camouflaged barrier they had previously discovered.

With her telescopic vision, Lois could now see steel tubes with the number two thirty-eight etched on each container being placed in a hidden section of the reactor core. From Lois' information, Clark knew that it was in this section of LexCorp's power reactor that element ninety-four, Plutonium, was being created.

As they continued to communicate, Lois started to chuckle. Gaining control of herself she said, "Clark, you'll never guess who's here and directing this operation."

"Who?" Clark asked.

"Our old friend, Alex L. Carnie," Lois replied. "From reporter to crook in a single bound," she snickered. "Just a minute, Clarkie," she said using a new term of endearment. Then, after a brief pause, Lois told Clark, "I can see several tunnels with small gauge railroad tracks running down their center. From the debris around the tunnel's entrance, I would guess that these passageways were a relatively new addition to this grotto. It seems that the new tunnels connected Lex's hidden grotto with the bay area."

"Can you see what's at the far terminus of the tunnels?" Clark inquired.

"Just a minute, dear," Lois replied. She then followed the tracks using her x-ray vision to their terminus. After a few moments, she said telepathically, "You aren't going to believe this, but Lex has constructed a submarine pen at end of the track."

"What?" Clark replied with an intensity that caused Lois' head to resonate.

"Easy on the intensity, buster," Lois shot back. "You almost took my head off."

"Sorry, sweetie," he telepathically replied. "Lois," Clark mentally voiced, "Come back. We'll leave this cave system and pin point the submarine pens from the surface."

When Lois and Clark exited the grotto, they used their penetrating vision to find the hidden submarine pens, which were in a man made cavern not more than a half-mile from their current position. Both reporters were elated that they had finally located Lex's clandestine plutonium production and export site. Leaving their natural grotto, Clark and his bride to be stealthily made their way to the illegal submarine facilities.

As the superheroes moved to a position above Lex's concealed undersea boat pens, Lois and Clark were obscured by the mirky blackness of the night and the natural foggy conditions which often covered Hobb's Bay area. Looking at his fiancee, Clark could see the sparkle in Lois' eyes. As Lois lovingly returned Clark's gaze, the two lovers became so entranced by their love that they drifted into one another's arms.

After a brief romantic interlude, hovering above the submarine pens, the two soulmates disengaged from their intimate embrace and allowed the cool night air to help calm themselves.

Several minutes later, the two super beings silently returned to the ground and noiselessly burrowed into the Earth. They continued to bore through the Earth's crust until they emerged within Luthor's hidden grotto housing his undersea vessels. When the two super beings penetrated the subterranean enclosure, Clark immediately felt the crippling effects of Kryptonite. Lex had placed the poisonous mineral at strategic positions around the submarine area. Using the procedure that they had evolved earlier, Clark placed a rope around Lois' waist. She then stealthily made her way to the undersea vessels and placed a cloaked surveillance device on its hull. Having successfully installed the reconnaissance tag, Clark and his soulmate exited Lex's underground complex and returned to Lois' apartment.

When they arrived at Lois' place, Clark started to chuckle. "What's tickling your funny bone?" She inquired.

"The family has a new secret weapon." Clark informed his super partner.

Lois, with a questioning look on her face, asked, "Who or what is it, Clark?"

"You," he said, with pride in his voice. "If Lex thinks he can hold us at bay with kryptonite," Clark told her, "then he hasn't reckoned on Lois Lane — aka Ultra Woman." Then she understood the full meaning of Clark's declaration. She was immune to the effects of the vial green mineral — the super hero executioner, Kryptonite — and could easily penetrate any system that used that poisonous mineral as part of its defensive strategy.

As they dined later that evening, Lois commented, "Did you notice that a channel leading to Luthor's cave from the seaward side had been excavated?"

Clark nodded and added, "It looks like a portion of Hobb's Bay had been prepared for submerged vessels to enter Lex's secret grotto from the ocean and exit by the same route." He then told Lois, "The trench had also been shielded with the same leaded- earthen mixture to prevent detection from above."

"After we finish dining, sweetheart," Clark said, "let's return to Sanctuary. We have to fashion a long-range detector that will sense a surveillance signal from anywhere on the planet."

"Clark," Lois remarked, "You know that I don't know a darn thing about electronics."

"Time to learn, baby," he teased. She cuffed him on the shoulder, and they both laughed. He embraced her and said lovingly, "My priceless treasure, your giggling is as infectious as it is sensuous.

She picked up her head and remarked, "I hope our horseplay doesn't ruin this operation."

Clark smiled at her and replied, "Not a chance, baby, not a chance."

By the middle of the next day, a small cloaked hovercraft containing a newly assembled long-range tracking device had been constructed and placed at the sea — trench nexus of Hobb's Bay. Here, it would hover and wait for Luthor's next submarine to emerge from the concealed undersea channel which transited Hobb's Bay from Lex's sub pens.

Several days after the surveillance vehicle had been placed in position, one of Lex's subs emerged from the undersea tunnel and entered the Atlantic Ocean. It traveled in a southerly direction followed by the cloaked tracking craft, which had picked up the signal from the tags Lois had attached to all Lex's submarines.

Seven days later, Lex's undersea vessel entered a resurrected NAZI base hidden on the coast of Tierra del Fuego near the port town of Rio Grande. Like the Hobb's facility, this base was shielded from detection by a leaded-earthen mixture.

Two days after docking, a truck carrying the impure plutonium left Lex's secret sub pen at Tierra del Fuego and traveled to the town docks. Here, the cargo was transferred to a tramp steamer called the 'Singapore Lady.' Soon after dark, Ultra Woman swooped down and entered the ship. She was carrying two cloaked surveillance devices. One she attached to the ship's hull, while the second was secured to the contraband nuclear cargo itself.

As she was leaving, Lois noticed the green glow of Kryptonite illuminating the vessel's cargo bay. Disappearing into the low hanging clouds, Lois turned and yelled, "Foiled again, Lexie baby; foiled again."

Early the next day, the Singapore Lady set sail and rounded the cape of storms entering the broad expanse of the Pacific. The ship then proceeded on a northwesterly course and, eleven days later, docked at Nassau Island in the Philippine Sea. The nuclear cargo was unloaded and transported to a plantation located in a remote part of the island. Here, the nuclear material was hauled into a subterranean cavern which had been excavated by Luthor's lackeys. Like all of Lex's bases, this one, too, was shielded by the leaded — earthen soil mixture.

Shortly after the Singapore Lady had unloaded its lethal cargo, the international authorities were notified and raids were mounted simultaneously at each of Luthor's illicit nuclear facilities.

As the nuclear sites were being dismantled, Lois, concealed by a personal cloaking device, collected the entire quantity of Kryptonite in Luthor's larder and secured it in a lead container. Except for a small quantity of the deadly glowing rock, which was taken to Sanctuary for research, the remainder was hurled into the sun.

As the authorities were securing the LexCorp's Metropolis nuclear facility, Alex L. Carnie escaped through a secret passage. He made his way to Lex's penthouse to inform his uncle about the capture and destruction of his nuclear factories world-wide. When Alex arrived, he was somewhat surprised to learn that Lex already had been informed that all his nuclear facilities had been seized and were being dismantled. With their loss, Luthor's blueprint for world domination had vanished. The shock of this debacle mentally affected an already unstable Lex Luthor. To stave off total insanity, his mind desperately sought a way out of his mental quandary. When Alex arrived, the focus of his anxieties fell upon his hapless nephew. Without saying a word, he drew his pistol and shot Alex in his chest. In his eagerness to help his uncle, Alex had unwittingly become Lex's mental scapegoat. Since Luthor enjoyed killing, shooting his nephew relieved much of his current stress. With maniacal eyes staring at his dying kin, he laughed and said, "Finally, you have some worth, you mediocre giblet, spawn of a harlot, born on a dung heap."

Within moments of the shooting, Superman and Ultra Woman entered Lex's apartment. When Lois kneeled beside Alex and saw his wound, she knew that Carnie was dying and only had a few minutes to live.

As she moved Alex to the couch, he whispered to her that it was Lex who had shot him. In the meantime, Clark relieved Luthor of his weapon and said, "I'm sure ballistics will match your revolver with the bullet lodged in your nephew's body."

Hearing Superman's voice, Alex turned his head, and with the last of his strength, told the Kryptonian that Lex was the person responsible for the deaths of Martha and Jonathan Kent. He informed the Man of Steel that the hard evidence for his accusation could be found in his safe deposit box under the name Patrick Henry. As he finished his attestation, Alex C. Carnie smiled at Lois and Clark and quietly slipped into a coma. Soon, thereafter he passed from this world.

When Clark had been apprised of Luthor's involvement in his parents demise, his hatred of this man escalated into near rage. His desire for vengeance was so powerful that he wanted to wrench Lex's limbs from his torso and feed Luthor's body parts to the ocean's bottom crawlers — the scavengers of the deep.

Lois, feeling his irrational hostility, embraced her lover and softly said, "My darling, you can't kill him. Such a vindictive act would mar your soul."

Clark, looking into the eyes of his life partner, said, "You're right, my love." After a pause, Clark said, "Did anyone ever tell you, sweetheart, that you're a brilliant woman who has so much love and understanding to give? And, as usual, Lois," he added, "you're correct. I can't execute Lex. If I did, my entire value system would collapse like a house of cards. However, I want our family to pass judgment upon him — not any Earthly authorities." As Lois was calling the police, Clark transported Luthor to Sanctuary, where he was charged and incarcerated to await trial.

While Lois and Clark, in their alter-ego guises, were helping the world community dismantle Luthor's nuclear sites, other Kryptonians, using a device invented by Zan- El, began removing the dangerous particulate material from the atmosphere. A week after the fall of the House of Luthor, the climate of the planet Earth had been returned to its normal state.

About the time the Earth's normal environmental conditions had been reestablished, Lex Luthor was brought before the family and confronted with his numerous atrocities. "Let's not waste time," Lex remarked. He then declared, "I'm guilty of all those charges." Sneering, he continued, "What are you going to do? Execute me?" Luthor then laughed, conveying by his actions, the deranged nature of his mental state.

After a short deliberation by the court, Lex was astonished when the family's tribunal handed down its verdict and recommendations. Ching said, "Mr. Luthor, it is not in our code of conduct to kill a felon. Nor may I add is it in our nature to take a life unnecessarily, even one as evil as yours. You, sir, will be marooned on a space platform that has been placed in orbit around the star Alpha Vir which is about two hundred and twenty light years from your home world."

"There, Lex Luthor, you will remain for all eternity, removed from the habitations of the living."

"What about my needs?" Luthor said with contempt.

Ignoring Lex's hostility, Ching continued, "You will be provided with all your needs. Even telemetry will be permitted so you can view what's happenings on the Earth."

After Luthor had been taken to his place of exile, Clark, said to Lois, "Now there is time for us, just us, my beloved tornado. What would you say, my darling, to make our soulmate status official?"

To answer his question, Lois encircled her arms around his neck and brought his lips to hers in an all possessing kiss. "Let's fly to Vegas today, sweetheart, and officially become a family of four."

That evening saw two super beings hovering above Las Vegas. After choosing a chapel, they landed in a secluded location of the town and changed into their normal attire. The night was strangely serene, and the jeweled vault of heaven seemed to glow more radiantly. The mood of the moment caused the two lovers to hug and kiss one another for several blissful minutes. Regaining their composure, they entered a marriage shrine.

Within thirty minutes, Lois and Clark emerged from the chapel officially united in holy matrimony according to Earthly traditions. The ceremony had certified what each of the life partners had discovered months before when their lips first met.

Soon after leaving the marriage chapel, Clark kissed his soulmate for the second time that evening. Unlike the chapel peck, this kiss made them feel as were one with the universe. As they continued to embrace one another, Clark and Lois now understood what their hearts had been seeking all their lives.

Hidden in the shadows and watching the newly married super couple was a man with a strange accent, wearing clothes that would have been appropriate at the end of the nineteenth century. He was here to witness the beginnings of a time line that would eventually evolve into the unique world of Utopia.

As the time traveler looked on, he saw Lois and Clark being engulfed by the darkness as they entered a small alcove. Smiling to himself, H.G. Wells mounted his time transport and slipped back into the mirky midsts of infinity.

Out of sight from intruding eyes, Clark turned to face Lois pulling her into an embrace and brushing his lips upon hers. The kiss was tender and undemanding. It was a kiss between two friends whose need for one another was undeniable. Their kiss was a promise of an intimacy that could only be shared by two lovers who couldn't exist without each other. The caress of their lips was a bond between two lives which were destined to be together beyond forever.

As the fire of their kiss engulfed the newlyweds, a breeze caressed them and seemed to whisper, "Whatever happens in your lives, the two of you will be stronger together than alone." As the kiss ended, Clark lifted a hand and cupped and caressed Lois' face as he gazed into her soft sparkling eyes.

"Don't let me go," she whispered, "I just need to hug you like this for a few more moments."

As Clark looked into the face of the woman who had captured his heart, he murmured, "For eternity beloved, we will hold each other forever — forever and a day."

The newly married couple then walked to a more secluded spot and spun into their superhero outfits. As they lifted themselves high into the stratosphere and flew towards their honeymoon retreat, the auras of the newlyweds merged their souls into a single entity. Hugging one another as they flew, miles above the Earth, they kissed again. This time their lip lock was all consuming, a kiss that placed all their previous expressions of love into a diminutive realm.

Rocketing toward their destination locked in each other's arms the aura which enveloped them, further unified and strengthened their devotion to one another.

When they finally arrived at their honeymoon retreat, Clark carried Lois across the threshold of their honeymoon hideaway. As Clark closed the door on their honeymoon cottage, lightening split the sky and thunder shook the Earth in celebration of a union that would alter eternity.



Shortly after the world had returned to its normally chaotic rhythm, Lois used a small portion of the Mars Kryptonite cache to confirm her suspicions. Exposing Mara and Lara to a small quantity of the glowing green mineral proved that the girls too were immune to the deadly effects of the dreaded meteorite. When the test had been completed, she mused, "Clark's speculations were right on the button. Something in the Earth's gene pool was protecting the girls and herself from the Kryptonite mineral." As she hugged Lara and Mara and thanked them for their help, a nagging fear was also lifted from her soul. Clark's and her progeny would also be free from the Kryptonite scourge.

As the years whisked by, the reporting team of Lane and Kent was awarded numerous accolades, including a Pulitzer for their expose on Lex Luthor. During this time, Superman and his partner, Ultra woman, helped reduce the crime rate worldwide. Using the superheroes as models, the world seemed to be moving irrevocably toward a more humane society. It appeared that a benevolent global civilization was beginning to form. The kind of world that had been prayed for by people and predicted by many prophets and philosophers through the centuries, was at last becoming a reality.

In the course of time, Lois and Clark conceived. At the appropriate time, two daughters and a son were born to an ecstatic couple. The births occurred in the nursery/obstetric wing of Sanctuary where a week before Kara had given birth to two boys and girl.

The robotic mid-wives that guided the deliveries within the birthing facility constantly monitored the labor process. Drugs were administered, when necessary, which removed all discomfort from the expectant mothers and had no dangerous side effects upon the emerging babies. Infant distress and trauma during a woman's labor had been eliminated by the Kryptonian civilization many eons ago and soon would be added to Earth's medical arsenal.

The Kent family and Kal-El's kin, Kara and Zan, had adopted the Kryptonian pediatric methods for newborns and their parents. The newborns, after delivery, were kept within a nursery facility and monitored by the cybernetic nurses. The caring and nurturing room was a circular chamber with apartments embedded within the walls of the pediatric center. Parents would occupy one of these domiciles until their children were weaned — usually a period of three months. During this cycle, the newborn(s) and their parents would have the opportunity to bond into a loving and tight family unit.

As Lois and Clark and Kara and Zan were learning how to care and nurture their infants from the robotic attendants, the two couples became unusually close. They helped each other in the nursery and talked endlessly about their hopes and dreams for their children.

About one month into the nursery cycle, all six infants suddenly started to wail incessantly. No matter what the four adults and their robotic helpers did, they could not stifle the ghastly crying which was almost continuous and driving them slowly out of their minds. In the midst of the infant generated tempest, Kara was struck by a flash of inspiration. She began to rearrange the beds in the nursery, bringing one of her male children's cribs into contact with one containing a female child of the Lane- Kents. She continued her arranging and rearranging activity until three sets of paired cribs contained contented babies.

Zan, Lois, and Clark just stared at Kara in amazement for several moments. "Then, in a babble of tongues, the three other nursery residents asked Kara what did she do to quiet the kids?"

Kara replied, "I arranged our children into what I believe to be soulmate pairs."

After a stunned pause, Lois incredulously said, "Our kids are soulmates at a month old?"

"It is believed by many Kryptonians," Kara commented, "that there exists a place called the House of Souls. Our ancient philosophers and spiritual leaders were intrigued with this concept. If such a site does exist, it would be the wellspring of our spiritual essences. Most of these souls, our ancients thinkers contend, were the products of two entities — male and female essences. When they were about to combine with their living life forms, the soul separated into two halves and bonded with their male and female life forms, which, of course, had already been conceived."

Kara then added, after taking a breath, "At birth, our ancestors claimed we were not a complete life form. We needed our soulmate, our other half, so to speak. When soulmates found one another, a complete loving unit was established. Here on earth you call it falling in love. On Krypton, it was thought of as intimate soulmate bonding."

"You're insinuating," Lois chimed in, "that we are destined to be reborn throughout time, find our other half, and fall in love."

"According to the tradition," Kara said, "that's so."

After a slight pause, Lois remarked, "You know, guys, I like this philosophical view of life a lot."

Looking at the infant pairs, Clark intimated, "If Kara is correct, our two families will become more than just distant cousins. We'll perpetuate a new genetic line," Zan added. They all laughed at Zan's quip, but realized the significance of his statement.

"What about Zara's and Ching's new brood?" Lois asked, "I think she's about five months pregnant," Zan replied. "Does anyone know how many children she's carrying?" Lois inquired.

"Four," Kara told her.

"Wow," Lois replied. "When all our kids start getting frisky, we're definitely going to need each other's support or all hell will break loose."

After Lois' thoughts were digested, they all quietly nodded in agreement.

"Guys, I think it's time we get some shut eye," Clark suggested, "while our little soulmates are in sandman land." Laughing, they retired to their apartments.

As the quiet of the rest cycle settled over Sanctuary's pediatric unit, two ephemeral images coalesced near the AI unit — the artificial intelligence module.

"How long can we remain in these human forms, Jor," Lara asked her soulmate.

"About ninety minutes, my love," he replied. "Come," he said, "let's have a peek at our grandchildren." A few moments later, they were peering at the sleeping forms of their grand kids.

"The boy," Lara remarked. "He's nearly a perfect blend of Lois and Kal-El. Although," she added, "I believe he has your coloring and the shape of your eyes, Jor. I wonder what they named him."

Jor-El then levitated to the end of the crib and glanced at the name plate. "Jonathan Jor-El," he whispered to his wife.

Lara then moved to the girls' bassinets and said to her soulmate telepathically, "Their names are Lara Jennifer and Martha Ellen." As Jor-El floated over to see his granddaughters Lara continued, "Lara does look like me except she has blue instead of green eyes. Martha Ellen I think will be the spitting image of Lois." After gazing lovingly for a time at their grandchildren, Lara and Jor-El returned to their electronic home. Before returning to their molecular form and entering the AI unit, Jor-El took his wife in his arms and kissed her, a kiss that was a promise of forever.

After their caress Lara said, "Jor, I'm glad that you transferred our living essences to the AI module just as Kal- El's ship was leaving Krypton. To be honest, dearest, I didn't think that you would succeed. I was wrong to doubt Krypton's greatest scientist. We cheated death," she murmured."

"No, my beloved Lara," he replied, "death was not cheated, but just postponed. We still must return to the well of souls," Jor added, "to complete our cycle of life. From my estimates of our energy reserve, shortly after the marriage of our last great grandchild, our essences will return to the well of souls. Don't fret Lara, you know in time, beloved, we will be reborn to live and love one another. Our cycle of birth and rebirth will occur throughout time."

After deliberating for a few moments, Lara asked her husband, "What will happen to the remnants of our people?"

"It's my feeling," Jor-El replied, "that our people will endure. The remnant of Krypton's people on Sol Three will emigrate some day. Of that I'm sure. When our descendents living on Earth become too numerous for this solar system to support, they'll move on. At present Zara and Ching are looking for a suitable star cluster when such an exodus becomes necessary. It may be a thousand or ten thousand years for conditions to warrant such an act, but sometime in the not too distant future our people will establish themselves in a new star system."

Continuing with a philosophical question, Lara asked, "What will happen to our descendants when this universe goes through one of its periodic death and rebirth cycles?"

"Before that occurs," Jor-El replied, "our people will have mastered the secrets of traveling across the gulf that separates the different island universes. As this macrocosm perishes, the Kryptonian civilization will transmigrate beyond this plenum to a new cosmos. There, they will remain until this universe reconstitutes itself after another of its big bang episodes. In that far off time, they will soar like G-Ds across the vastness of eternity. As they become one with the void, our people will still be beginning their infinite voyage through time and space. And, Lara we will be with them."

"My beloved philosopher," she mused, "what would I have done without you?" Jor-El embraced his life partner and then whispered in the ear of his soulmate professing, "I am as I ever was and I ever shall be a part of you my beloved Lara." As she placed her head under his chin and snuggled closer, they reverted to their ephemeral forms and returned to their electronic home. Here they would remain, wrapped in the warmth of their eternal love, awaiting the summons that would come, a call to educate and inspire the next generation of Kryptonian children.


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