Newsworthy — An Elseworld Tale

By Philip Mogul <>

Rated: PG-13

Submitted: August, 2003

Summary: A Kent family saga: When Linda King discovers "the secret," she threatens to publish an expose unless Clark agrees to marry her. Clark's decision will be a catalyst to a chain of events that will determine the fate of the world.

Started 5/28/2000

Standard Fanfic Disclaimer's apply

I wish to express my Gratitude to Gerry Anklewicz for the assistance she provided during the development of my story. Her help occurred during a very difficulty time in my life. One that was full of pain and anxiety. It was most appreciated. Thank you, my friend.

Again, many, many thanks to my GE, Jeanne Pare, for her invaluable assistance in making my current Superman tale more readable and interesting to the Lois and Clark community.

If you have comments pertaining to this story, please contact me privately at


Spring came early to Metropolis, Clark Kent reflected as he briskly strolled toward the Daily Planet. As he trod through the city, he was conscious of the picturesque beauty that adorned the metropolitan area courtesy of nature's ever-changing panoplies.

The children playing in the street made him keenly aware of the various creeds and ethnic diversities who called Metropolis their home. By his count, there were more than one hundred and forty discrete groups living in the metropolitan area. It was this vast human diversity, Clark believed, that gave Metropolis its vigor. As he continued to walk, Kent noticed that many children moved through the streets of the city. Children, Clark knew, were an essential part of any community for it was they who represented continuation and hope. As he saw the bright smiling faces of the frolicking tots and teens, Clark's confidence in the future of his adopted world was reinvigorated. These kids reminded him of his most treasured aspirations — love, an adoring life companion, and a home filled with their offspring.

Clark was in love with the concept of love. "Love," he felt, "was the glue that held everything in the world together."

As the breath of spring exhilarated Clark's fancy, a vision of a beautiful woman, a person he treasured, spread through his mind. Lois Lane was the woman of his dreams. She was brilliant and pigheaded and possessed an explosive temper, but she displayed a remarkable intuitiveness coupled with a superb analytical mind. Clark was smitten the first time he saw Lois. Cupid had struck during his initial job interview with Perry White, the celebrated editor-in- chief of the Daily Planet. Why he loved her, Clark Kent didn't know; he just did. Love appeared to be one of those words that didn't compute. It was sort of a special feeling. Perhaps fate and his Kryptonian heritage were somehow involved in his affection for Lois Lane — only the creator of all things would be able to enlighten him on this point.

During the last eight months, Lois and Clark's rapport had evolved from antagonistic and reluctant partners to best friends. Gone were the days when Lois referred to him as the "hack from Nowheresville," or "Mr. Greengeens." Their journey to this point in their partnership had been arduous because of Lois' near Machiavellian experiences with men. Clark was quite aware that during their time together, no romantic entanglements had developed. He was aware and tormented by the reality that no intimate association could evolve between them because of Lois' infatuation with Superman, Clark's alter-ego. Superman was a facade, a cartoon caricature, which Clark created to maintain a private existence while helping the people of his adopted world. When Superman first appeared on the scene, Lois Lane became instantly enamoured with the superhero guy. She considered Superman to be the embodiment of a Greek god, whereas Clark Kent by comparison was relegated to the status of a cross between humankind's Cro-Magnon and his Neanderthal descendants. With her obsession for Clark's Superman disguise, who dressed in a flashy and revealing outfit clouding her reason, how could the man from Kansas hope to compete for Lois' affections. Sighing, Clark again assumed his mild mannered reporter guise as he increased his ambulatory tempo toward the Planet the place where he and Lois worked.

As he entered the newsroom, he saw Lois peering at her monitor nearly oblivious to her surroundings. Before proceeding to his work area, which adjoined hers, he prepared two cups of coffee. After finishing his rather ritualistic and mundane task, he placed one of the cups on Lois' desk while walking to his workstation. Receiving no response from his partner, Clark began writing an article about a drive-by shooting which occurred earlier in the day. After completing his article, Clark LANned it to Perry. Then he began to daydream. As usual, Lois soon became the major focus of his reverie. Today, however, as he thought about Lois, Clark became somewhat annoyed. She hadn't acknowledged his presence although he had placed the cup of java on her desk. Shaking his head, Clark thought, "I guess she still has me relegated to the lackey class — a work horse fresh from the farm."

In a joyless mood Clark focused once more on his monitor and started to compose another piece — this time a Superman story. Finishing his copy within a few minutes, like his first article of the day, he sent it to Perry via the LAN network. While waiting for Perry's editorial comments, Clark leaned back in his chair and again watched Lois with adoring eyes. Clark was well aware that Lois was his partner and friend, his best friend; the love he harbored for her was still only a one-way street. Kent shook his head as he realized that he should not anticipate any deep-seated affection from Lois while his rival and alter- ego, Superman, dominated her thoughts and dominated her emotions. He suspected that if their current association persisted, Clark's trek through life would be a long and a solitary journey.

As Clark was about to ask Lois whether she wanted to lunch with him, Perry came storming out of his office. "Lane, Kent, Mayor Bernstein just called an emergency press conference. It must be about that fraud business in city's budget department. There may be indictments. Get your butts down there pronto," pointing at his star reporting team.

Both Lois and Clark jumped up and started to move rapidly towards the newsroom exit. Following Lois' spirited dash for the door, Clark saw his partner fall as she stepped on Cat's satchel. The satchel was unfortunately protruding into the aisle. Before Clark could do anything to stop Lois from stumbling, his partner twisted her ankle stepping over Cat's small bag and went down hard. When Lois hit the floor, Clark scooted to her side, and in a flash she was in her partner's arms. Holding Lois, Clark noticed that there was a grimace of pain distorting her fetching features. Clark yelled, "Jimmy, get me ice, water, and a towel pronto." Clark's close friend, cub reporter, and resident computer whiz, sprinted to the paper's cafeteria where he filled a small bucket with ice.

He returned just as Clark was carefully removing Lois' shoe and sock from her injured foot. As Jimmy Approached, Clark said, "Thanks, Jimbo, that was quick." Even Lois managed to give Jimmy a thank you smile. Although she didn't often show it, Lois was quite aware that Jimmy, like Clark, was very concerned about her welfare. Her feelings for them, although not often expressed, were mutual.

While Lois regarded Jimmy as a kid brother, her feelings for Clark were on a deeper and more personal level.

However, whenever she sensed Jimmy needed protection, Lois' behavior became combative. Although she'd never admit it, her maternal instincts would become fully operational. Her attitude toward Jimmy could best be described as a tigress shielding her cub.

As she observed Clark and Jimmy at work on her contused foot, it became very clear to Lois that she, Clark, Jimmy, and Perry had somehow formed a Planet family — a clan so strong that it rivalled their own natural households.

Watching Clark apply cold compresses to her injured ankle gave Lois an opportunity to again surreptitiously scrutinize her partner. Peering into Clark's face, she sensed deep concern and something else, something that she couldn't quite put her finger on. This undefined mood seemed to be a mixture of tender feeling which transcended their normal partnership. As Lois probed Clark's facial expression for a second time, she decided that she wasn't sure what she'd noticed. Her emotional swing was predictable. When Lois contemplated an emotional move, she would go into a defensive shell to guard against any amorous relationship from forming with a Planet associate. Her past lovers had taught her to be wary, especially of the men who worked in the newsroom.

As Clark continued to apply the cold compresses, Perry nudged him to leave the care giving to someone else and head for the mayor's press conference. Aggravated by Perry's intrusion, Clark uncharacteristically verbalized his annoyance by saying, "Send Meyerson or Burns. I will not leave my partner until I'm sure she'll be okay." Perry growled at Kent for his apparent insubordination. Hearing Perry's guttural warning, Clark quietly remarked, "Perry, I will not leave her even if you fire me."

Cognizant of Clark's undeclared deep feelings for Lois, Perry was quite aware that Kent meant what he said. Not wanting to antagonize one of his newest and brightest reporters, Perry yelled, "Burns, cover the mayor's conference for Kent." For effect, he added, "Now git." Then turning to Clark, he expressed his concern about Lois, saying, "Let me know how she's doin, okay?" Clark nodded as he continued ministering to Lois. As he watched the interplay between Lane and Kent, a knowing smile spread across Perry White's face. Sure that Lois was in good hands, he withdrew to his office, an oasis of semi serenity away from the chaos of the bullpen.

As Clark continued to apply the cold compresses, Lois stared at her partner as though she were seeing him for the first time, really seeing him. He had put his professional life on the line for her by defying Perry. That took guts. Surprised by his fearlessness, she was also pleasantly aware that he hadn't teased her throughout this entire affair. Lois was also mindful that Clark hadn't hinted at anything in exchange for his pampered assistance. This kind of behavior was strange to Lois, but not unwelcome. All of her past liaisons were of the selfishly grabby variety. Her so-called paramours appropriated Lois' stories, her loves, and her friends at one time or another. They were the kind of individuals who grudgingly returned her sentiments and only on their terms. As each of her past intimate relationships ended, she was dispassionately tossed onto an emotional dung heap. Because of these disastrous affairs, Lois had vowed never again to get romantically involved. As she watched Clark, however, Lois started to seriously rethink her compact against amorous entanglements.

As she contemplated her changing feelings, Lois began to reminisce about the beginnings of her partnership with Clark.

Lois recalled that while she was attempting to quell the anguish in her soul caused by her ill-fated affair with Michael, her latest romantic disaster, Perry had thrust Clark upon her. While her unwanted partner was a gorgeous guy, Lois was sure that Clark, like any male, was driven by surges of testosterone.

In the beginning of the Lane and Kent partnership, she treated Clark horribly. She did everything short of murder to drive him away. Because of his roots, Lois considered him a product of the swine corral and kept up a torrent of crass remarks about Kansas and his farm upbringing. To her amazement, in relatively short time, they became inseparable colleagues and the best of friends. As soon as they became comfortable with one another, Lois began to suspect that Clark harbored amorous feelings for her. That thought terrified her. So, using the famous Lane approach when confronting uncertain romantic problems she could not handle or was not ready to consider, Lois strived to keep any relationship with her partner on an intellectual and a platonic footing to keep him from developing any romantic notions where she was concerned.

Not that she wouldn't consider a relationship with Clark; eventually, but, at the present, Lois was fearful that a failed love affair with Clark would destroy not only their partnership, but her career would most likely also be wrecked. Furthermore, Lois knew that her psyche could not survive another failed romantic fling. Lois was finally coming to grips with her romantic side. She was now aware that with all of her diverse experiences with men, she was still a naive practitioner in the passion game. Furthermore, when it came to recognizing true love, Lois was now firmly aware that she found it difficult to distinguish possible spousal material from the chaff.

Today, however, Lois recognized something from her partner's actions; something that she long suspected. Kent had strong feelings for her — very strong feelings. Her discovery left her light headed and elated because Lois was finally learning how to differentiate true amorous feelings from lust; she was getting to understand the passion game. Smiling inwardly, Lois suddenly realized that the man from Kansas had been her learning module. Lois was beginning to suspect that Clark was more to her than just her partner and best friend.

As she pondered her new awareness of Clark Kent, Lois began to look at her partner with new eyes. The way he cared for her, never thinking about the consequences to himself, and other affectionate little things finally made her come to grips with her deep feelings for Clark. While she watched Clark tend her injured ankle, Lois continued to reminisce about her partner. During the eight months they had worked together, Clark had never attempted to control her thoughts or actions. Their decisions, whether professional or social, were always decided by consensus. Clark never interfered with their professional activities unless he was convinced that Lois' schemes were half-baked and could place them in harm's way. He never took things from her. Clark was generally a giver, while Lois tended to be a taker — she was beginning to feel bad about that side of her personality. Lois also knew that since the day they were partnered, he never attempted to alter her behavior. She was also coming to realize that Clark delighted in his partner's shenanigans and all her rambunctious mannerisms. Smiling, she thought, "My partner enjoys who I am and not what he wants me to be." Then she murmured, "How refreshing."

Realizing that the face of fortune was finally starting to smile upon her, she suddenly thought, good-G-D, I've been emulating the actions of my past sordid lovers where Clark is concerned. That kind of behavior must cease immediately. By his actions Clark had already exhibited many qualities she admired — intelligence, loyalty, gallantry and bravery. Such behavior she had heretofore only noticed in her superhero friend. After seeing and recalling how Kent had continually acted on her behalf, Lois, began, maybe unconsciously at first, to place Clark and Superman in the same category.

Clark Kent, she could now admit, was turning out to be an extraordinary fellow. His altruism was not skin deep, but percolated from deep within his soul. She had been privileged to watch this gentle man as he showed compassion for individuals and the masses alike. She had observed him as he battled nearly insurmountable odds to help plain folks. From Clark, Lois learned that acquiring information didn't always translate into another story. Lois had become aware from her partner that people and their feelings were more important than just the facts.

As Lois further thought about her partner, Lois realized that she had not been consciously aware of her escalating fondness for Clark until he had suddenly swooped into her private space to ease the pain of her injured ankle. Until today, Clark was just the guy with whom she worked — a colleague who was always there for her. Boy, she reflected, was she blind. She now sensed that Clark was like a river that meandered silently over her life scape and whose devotion to her had become a fundamental part of Lois' being. As the magnitude of her feeling for Clark penetrated her psyche, Lois became breathless. She then smiled and gazed at the gorgeous guy who was quietly ministering to her. After observing her partner for a few moments, Lois asked herself a life- altering question. Could Clark be her true love? Thinking about her question for several seconds, Lois, with a sigh, mentally shouted a resounding, yes, yes, he's the one. With the acceptance of her feelings for Clark came relief and a calm that seemed to cleanse her very soul. She felt an intrinsic contentment and a spiritual kind of peace course through her body. It placed the Planet top reporter in a frame of mind that had eluded Lois through most of her life.

As the pain throbbed in her foot, Lois, to block out the hurt, mentally reviewed her developing romantic Kent scenario. Lois was well aware that over the last several years, the concept of a life partner had steadily encroached on her thinking. However, Lois' past disastrous intimate experiences with men had made her nervous. The thoughts of matrimony engendered both terror and joy within Lois' soul. Ultimately, her desire to love and be loved won the day. She also knew that her association with Clark had greatly influenced her decision.

Because of a desire to share her life with a permanent partner, Lois had been discreetly and sometimes unconsciously searching for the right guy, one who would not be a celebrity — Lois craved privacy — but with whom she could be an equal in all things. She knew that with Superman, as a husband, her life would be like living in a fishbowl, and their home would be plagued by constant interruptions. Privacy would be an unfilled dream. Lois wanted to share an evening out with her soulmate — enjoy a walk in the park, go to the cinema or a concert — and not be mobbed by autograph seekers and sycophants.

Being recognized as Superman's wife would probably place her and their friends at constant risk. If she and her husband were blessed with children, Lois knew that the safety of their progeny would take precedent over all things including her and her husband's lives, if necessary. Because of Superman's high profile, Lois was well aware that she and her super hubby would be in a ceaseless battle to protect their solitude, their lives and the lives of their offspring. It became tragically clear to Lois that as Superman's spouse, she would not be able to enjoy any of her long cherished dreams. Clark, on the- other-hand, Lois realized, had all the attributes of the superhero without the encumbrances induced by Superman's notoriety.

As Lois watched Clark work on her ankle, she suddenly heard him yell for Jimmy. Hearing Kent's voice, Jimmy bounded across the newsroom to Clark's side in a few seconds. When the cub reported arrived, Clark placed his hand on Jimmy's shoulder and instructed him to keep treating Lois' ankle with cold compresses for another hour or so. Then Clark directed him to take Lois home and see to it that she stayed off her feet. Turning, Clark saw Perry who commented, "Good thinking, son. What are you gonna do now?"

"If I hustle," Clark replied, "I can catch up to Burns and we could cover the Mayor's political morass together."

"GO TO it," Perry hollered slapping Clark on the back.

When he was about to leave, Clark bent towards Lois and quietly said, "Please take care of yourself. I need my partner." Pausing for a moment he quietly added, "And I need you in my life." He then tenderly kissed her on the forehead.

As he stood, after caressing her with his lips, she saw both concern and adoration in his eyes. With their eyes locked, he squeezed her shoulder and headed for the newsroom exit. For the first time, since he met her, Clark somehow felt that a future with Lois Lane at his side was a strong possibility.

While Lois watched her partner practically run towards the newsroom exit, she too was becoming aware of her changing feelings for a man raised several thousand miles from Metropolis. However, she thought, Clark may be moving a bit too fast for a guy who waited for over a year before his feelings for me became evident.

As Clark hurriedly exited from the bullpen, Lois thought, "I can't wait to get better acquainted with my gorgeous partner man." She smiled as she continued to think about her impressive sidekick. Subconsciously, she had already staked a claim on him. Then, shaking her head, she mentally castigated herself for not recognizing how strongly he was attracted to her. She was now fully aware of the tragic consequences caused by her Superman fetish. Her gushing hormones had blurred reality and camouflaged the admirable and loving qualities of Lois' partner, her man from Kansas, Clark Kent.

Exiting the Planet, Clark moved at a brisk gait towards City Hall and its adjacent horrendous looking plaza. The plaza was a concrete square that was part of the city hall complex. It had been dubbed by Clark and some of his colleagues as the garden of rhetorical fantasy and boredom. However, before Clark had arrived on the Metropolis scene, Lois had, in her inimical fashion, christened the same area "The Hogwash Commons."


As Clark strolled toward his destination, he contemplated the new political schemes of the City's mayor. He knew that his Honor and the spin doctors employed by the local government would again try to persuade the public that what was illegal according to the City's Charter was in reality legal because of the mayor's new interpretation of Metropolis' articles of management. Of course, the Mayor would be supported by those spineless toadies serving on the city council. If the city's foremost politician could subvert the City Charter again, a number of people living in the Hobbs' Bay area would be suddenly evicted from their homes and forced to wander aimlessly through the streets of Metropolis — sharply increasing the crime rate of the Metropolis. Soon after the forced evictions had been promulgated, Clark was sure that a section of Hobbs' Bay would become another shopping mall. Those that lost their modest homes would have been pushed aside for another concrete edifice. Kent fully understood the reason behind the Mayor's action. Greed. Hobbs' Bay land was cheap and the potential for enormous profits was great. Clark smelled Lex Luthor's hand in this dirty deal. The normally mild mannered reporter was becoming angry — very angry because defenseless people were about to be hurt.

A few minutes after leaving the Planet, Clark passed the Metropolis Star, a rival newspaper whose daily publications he considered to be just a notch above the National Whisper. The Whisper's articles were yellow journalism at its finest.

Although not as vile as The National Whisper, sensationalism was still The Star's major ploy. Salacious thoughts were the common threads which permeated many of the Star's sensual articles. Unfortunately for the public, many of their stories were not supported by strong documentation or, as Perry would say, hard facts. Because of the Star's cavalier attitude the authenticity germane to many of their articles had been challenged in the courts. While the resulting law suits had been costly, the Star still persisted with its melodramatic and often distorted approach to the news.

As he continued toward the downtown area, Clark heard a familiar voice calling his name. The sing- song quality of the woman's verbalizations belonged to none other than Linda King, who had just exited the Star's publishing complex. As he watched her approach, Clark wondered if she, too, was headed toward the mayor's press conference.

Linda King was Lois' rival both professionally and socially. To be fair, Clark thought, "Linda was a fairly good reporter, but unprincipled when it was expedient. She was clever at sniffing out spectacular stories and those that could be presented in a lurid context. Linda would be elated if both events occurred in the same story. A fundamental difference between this woman and Lois," he reflected, "was in the honesty department." Linda would bend the rules of good journalism to the breaking point and beyond. While the result could produce a spectacular story, it most probably would be tainted. In contrast, the journalistic community was well aware that Perry White's stable of reporters would not tolerate the slightest hint of mendacity in a Planet publication. "Thank goodness for the integrity of my associates," Clark reflected.

While her journalistic judgment could sometimes be questioned, Linda was still a skilled reporter. Besides being a good newspaper woman, Linda King was socially very aggressive. "Boy," he thought, "Linda was not only rowdy but persistent — she stuck to you like super glue." Recalling some near social infractions with her, Clark mumbled, "Obstreperous, that's a good word to describe her." Then smiling, Clark whispered in a hillbilly twang, "That's for sure, that's for dang sure."

"What did you say, Clarkie? Linda asked, "I didn't quite hear what you said."

"It's nothing important," he replied, "I was just thinking out loud."

Her aggressive nature and sexual innuendos had prompted Clark on a number of occasions to tell Linda that a romantic liaison between them was out of the question. He tried to convey this notion to her time and time again, but to no avail. She still came on to him like a predator on the prowl. In her stalking mode, Linda behaved almost like a robot with a two step program — seek and get.

Soon after Linda joined Clark, she began her almost predictably amorous prattle aimed at her Planet colleague and some time rival. As Linda's provocative onslaught continued, he almost had to beat her off with a stick while telling her over and over that there could be nothing passionate between them. However, like many females with an amorous objective, she didn't listen to a thing he had to say, but she did scheme. When it came to Linda King, Clark might as well have been talking to the trees.

Clark and Linda's skirmishing ended just as the reporters arrived at the mayor's conference site. As they entered Lois' hogwash square, Linda saw several male reporters she recognized and took off, saying she'd see Clark later and they'd walk back together. After Linda vanished in the crowed, Clark thought, she's still on the make. He smiled and thought to himself, all males beware female, Casanova hunting. Clark shook his head as he tried to understand Linda's behavior. As he looked around for Burns, Clark concluded that Linda was even more insatiable than Cat.

Dismissing Linda from his mind for the moment, Clark finally located Burns and together they listened to the Mayor's political dribble.


After the Mayors' conference King and Kent again walked together toward their respective newspapers. As Clark anticipated, Linda again started to babble about her favorite topic, one Clark Kent. With her chatter came the same changeless questions. Why wasn't he interested in her? She was an intelligent attractive woman. Was there a possible future for them? Then, as usual, she added Lois to her rhetorical stew adding invectives which made him blush.

He was about to admonish Linda for attacking his partner when Clark's super hearing picked up a series of cries for help. An orphanage was ablaze. He excused himself and rushed into a nearby alley. Sensing that something was afoot, Linda followed closely behind Clark. For some time, she had a suspicion that there was a Superman — Kent connection and Linda wanted that story. It would enhance her career, but more important were the accolades it would garner. Like Lois, Linda craved awards. In their quest for laurels the two L's — Lois Lane and Linda King — were joined at the hip.

While she scampered after Clark, Linda mused, "Maybe this time I'll discover how the Kent — Superman rapport operates." She readied her camera as she entered the alley and beheld Clark starting to spin into his Superman garb. Although awed and nearly transfixed by the event, Linda kept her presence of mind long enough to capture part of the Kent to Superman transformation on film.

Because of the impending life and death crisis, all that Clark could say as he began to levitate was, "Linda, we have to talk. Please don't do anything impulsive until we've had our discussion." He then streaked into the air and flew toward the orphanage whose lower floors had already been engulfed by the conflagration.

After rescuing the children and helping the fire department extinguish the blaze and prop up the structure, Clark proceeded to the Metropolis Star. As he flew toward his destination, he was painfully aware that his future and the future of all those he loved hung on a conversation with a woman who cared only for herself and garnering accolades — the fools' gold of humankind. His psyche murmured inwardly as he flew, "How can you have a discussion with a very self-centered woman with few scruples and whose ambition knows no ethical bounds?" To say the least, Clark was very concerned. Working in concert with her moral deficiency, Linda's knowledge could prove to be a devastating combination, especially for the continued existence of one Clark Kent aka Superman.

While Clark was busy in his Superman guise Linda King rushed back to the Star where she very quickly composed and submitted an article on the Mayor's press conference. With that chore out of the way, she flew to the dark room and developed the film that showed Kent changing into his alter-ego.

Staring at the pictures which revealed Superman's secret identity Linda's imagination began to fantasize about the honors the news media would heap upon her. A Kerth, Pulitzer, and a Meriwether award all flashed through her mind. She would be the reporter of the year… decade… hell, she thought, the journalist of the century. Her story would be one of the greatest of all time. As her mind celebrated her good fortune, the glow of her coming triumph washed over her like soothing hot bath water and she felt content.

Entering the Star, Clark quickly located Linda who was working at her desk. Scanning her monitor Clark became painfully aware that she was in the midst of writing her Superman expose. Walking to Linda's workstation, Clark put a hand on her shoulder and softly said, "Can we talk?"

Looking up into Clark's face, Linda nodded and pointed toward an empty conference room behind the Star's bullpen. Clark waited as she shut down her computer and then accompanied her to one of the Star's meeting rooms. As Clark closed the door, Linda headed for a chair and seated herself and gave him a smug look. Clark moved a few feet into the room and remained standing, waiting for her to initiate the conversation which he knew would greatly affect his future and the future of his parents and friends. After a few moments Linda stated sarcastically, "What do you have to say for yourself, Mr. Superman, sir?"

Ignoring her caustic remark, Clark quietly went straight to the matter and said, "As a friend I'm asking you not to divulge my secret to the world. Your article will hurt and maybe cause the demise of people close to me. The disclosure of my alter-ego will also remove Superman from the world stage. With his disappearance, many innocent people will become vulnerable to the forces of injustice."

Linda snickered at his appeal and remarked, "There's nothing new in that statement, Clark. The strong tend to devour the unwary and the weak. That's the way of the world."

"No, it's not," Clark nearly screamed at her. "It may be the view of depraved or self- centered minds," Clark continued angrily, "but it's not the view of civilized folk."

Linda appeared not to be flustered nor impressed by his emotional and angry retort.

Getting control of himself, but still resentful at Linda's attitude, Kent continued his petition, but this time added a warning. He said, "When a surprising discovery is revealed, the changes it can cause often produce unexpected and undesirable consequences. As history has continually demonstrated, the effects of a sudden disclosure which can have world shattering results can result in a backlash that often consumes the perpetrator of the tumult."

"That's an interesting piece of philosophy," Linda replied. "But as far as I'm concerned, Clark, your thoughts are nothing but bilge."

"I see," Clark said, keeping a tight hold on his temper as his growing irritation with this very self- centered woman escalated.

Continuing, he scathingly remarked, "According to the fiction and fact of Linda's King almanac, the history of this planet is nothing more than insignificant and questionable events." Looking her straight in the eyes, he quietly but fiercely stated, "You, my dear, are like a delusional fly who is convinced that flypaper can be overpowered and captured."

After a slight pause Clark again appealed to Linda not to reveal his alter-ego persona. "Please," he said in a more conciliatory tone, "consider carefully what you are about to do. By disclosing my Superman disguise, the person known as Clark Kent will cease to exist. Clark Kent will vanish into the mists of time along with his alter-ego Superman. When I am gone, the criminal element will seek retribution and your story will provide them with ready made targets for their vengeance. My friends will be placed in jeopardy because I won't be here to protect them. Even you may be targeted."

After a slight pause, Clark added, "If you publish your Superman expose, you, Linda King, will become an agent of death. Your disclosure will most certainly affect the safety of my parents. My family and I would be compelled to conceal ourselves, possibly for the remainder of our lives. I'm asking you as a friend and for the benefit of many blameless individuals, who will be slaughtered, to kill your Superman story."

After Clark finished his appeal, Linda started to pace along the length of the conference room. As Clark watched her, he could plainly see she was in the midst of an emotional quandary. Linda suddenly stopped her ambulating, turned and marched up to Clark and looking him straight in his eyes said with an edge to her voice, "Marry me!"

Linda's words struck him like a body blow from a kryptonite shillelagh. Her unexpected demand stunned him and paralyzed his voice for several moments. Recovering from his shocked state, he said, "Marry you? Are you crazy? Linda, I don't love you. Kryptonians mate for life and can only relate intimately with their soulmates."

She replied, "Soulmates, smoulmates. Who said anything about love?" I'm in lust with you. Our marriage will be a political arrangement with a lot of sex. As your wife," she continued, "Superman's secret will be secure." Disregarding Clark's obvious psychic trauma, Linda impatiently remarked after a few seconds of silence, "I'm waiting for your reply, Clarkie dear."

As Clark struggled to answer her, he recalled Lois' description of this woman. His partner had emphatically said, "Linda King is a bitch and a half." Clark now realized that Linda was more diabolical than Lois had imagined. This she-cat was quite adept at using her razor sharp wit to attack his psychological jugular, with her cerebral talons. Lois' characterization of this evil spirited woman was right on the money. He had a perfect slogan for Linda's self-centered attitude — all for me and me for moi. As he mentally and vocally jousted with Linda, the star's reporter proved to be a shrewd and conniving horror. Shaking his head, Clark recognized that Linda's mental spurs were shredding his sanity. Lord, his mind screamed, she's tearing my life apart and doesn't care.

After composing himself, Clark looked her straight in the eye and said, "I can't establish a marital union with you based on lust alone. I would always feel unclean." Pausing for a moment, Clark continued, "I'm not a prude nor do I have anything against hankering after someone as long as the lust of which you speak is the servant of love, a love between sweethearts; a lifetime kind of love. What you propose would be akin to a cocotte and her client engaging in sex without affection and then going their separate ways. There is nothing between their hormonal relationship except lust and maybe a monetary exchange. Think about it. Is that all you want of me — legitimized sex between a hussy and Superman?"

Never-the-less Linda replied, "I want you anyway I can get you."

When Linda finished her reply to his plea with her cold-blooded self-centered attitude, Clark nearly lost it. Struggling to remain a gentleman in the presence of this floozy, he quietly said, still attempting to dissuade Linda of her plan, "When I love someone, any intimacy between my soulmate and me would have a life creating purpose blended into our amorous relationship. Usage of the sexual drive just to satisfy your own physical needs is abhorrent to me. I hail from Krypton, not Sodom or Gemmorrah. My heritage will not permit me to enter such an unholy alliance no matter what the cost to myself."

With a hard voice Clark continued, "Furthermore, Ms. King, the ethics and morals I acquired from my parents would prevent me from ever considering your… your… proposition." He couldn't stoop to her level and express what he felt in guttural terms. If Lois were here, he thought, "She'd give Linda King what for in such licentious terms that her expletives would make a sailor blush." His thought of Lois in action on his behalf brought a smile to his lips.

Returning to reality, he heard Linda angrily declare, "So be it." She paused and then continued saying, "You have until dawn tomorrow, my bucco, to reconsider my marital proposal. If I haven't heard from you by that time, the Metropolitans will be treated to a Superman story that will toast their bagels." Linda then turned and strutted out of the room, slamming the door.

Following Linda from the conference room, Clark hurriedly exited the Star and made a beeline for the Planet.

It was late in the afternoon when the Kansas nurtured reporter finally reached his desk. He quickly wrote the Mayor's press conference article placing the Burns and Kent bylines on the feature. Clark then composed a story about the orphanage fire with the Lane and Kent bylines on his copy. He then LANed both pieces to Perry. As he waited for the chief's input, Clark Kent sat back and pondered his deteriorating social situation.

Looking at the clock, Clark knew that his parents would still be awake. After delaying a few moments, he called Smallville. When Martha answered the phone he said, "Hi, Mom. How are things going?"

She replied, "Fine, son. Anything special you wanted?"

"Nothing, Mom, I just called to remind you that the man from Krypton will arrive just before dawn."

There was a sudden gasp followed by a hush in their conversation. Recovering quickly from the shock of Clark's coded message, "THE MAN FROM KRYPTON?" She asked. "Are you sure?"

"Yes," Martha's son commonly replied.

After a short delay Martha remarked, "We'll be ready for his arrival, son."

After a pause in their conversation, Martha remarked, "What prompted him to visit us at this time of the year?"

Clark replied, "Linda King noticed certain things about his behavior and in our rather heated discussion about whether to expose certain of his characteristics we could not come to a meeting of the minds. So, Mom, it looks like things will come to a head very soon, and I'm afraid the information revealed will be harmful to many people."

"That's all I can tell you now, Mom. See you soon."

"Okay, son," Martha remarked. "I'll give your regards to your father. Love you. Bye."

After Clark's phone call, Martha Kent remained motionless for a few seconds marshalling her thoughts. Clark's mother was a strong woman who could always think decisively and act quickly when the need arose. Now Martha knew was the time for action. She summoned her husband and quickly apprised him of the situation.

Although somewhat astounded by the unfolding events, Jonathan smiled at his wife of thirty plus years and quietly said, "The thing we've feared all these years has finally happened, dear." He then embraced his wife placing a tender kiss on her lips.

As they parted, Martha remarked, "Somehow we'll get through this." He nodded, and then Clark's parents silently prepared to vacate their home of many years.

Plans for just such a contingency had been made long ago. Wayne Irig would be the trustee of the Kent estate until Martha and Jonathan returned to their homestead. If Clark nor his parents never returned, the Kent property would pass to Wayne's children twenty years after he passed on.

When Clark had completed the phone call to his parents, he felt like Judas Iscariot; a betrayer of the only people on Earth who had loved him without any qualms and nurtured an orphan from across the cosmos with all the love they could muster. With the knowledge of his alter-ego becoming public in a few hours, the threat to him and his parents would become never-ending. As tears sprang into his eyes, Clark vowed to himself that during the remainder of their lives his parents would never fear the terrors of the night nor the evils that pervade the day. His sobbing became a torrent of tears as Clark's anguish burst through his emotional gates.

As the sun was setting, Clark Kent booted up his computer for the last time at the Daily Planet. He had decided on a course of action. He would compose an interview between Lois Lane and Superman. During their discussion, Clark would reveal his secret identity telling the world the superhero was in reality a cartoon caricature invented by Clark Kent — a mask to conceal the special abilities of a mild mannered reporter so he could have a normal life. In this way, Lois would not be thwarted from her long sought after prize, a Pulitzer, by a serendipitous event that would be exploited by Linda King for her own personal gain.

After emotionally agonizing over his Superman story for several hours, Clark placed Lois Lane's byline on the expose and LANed his last and most difficult story to the Planet's editor-in-chief. He felt good. A promise had been fulfilled, and a good friend would benefit from his misfortune. With his writings now complete, Clark Kent, with a heavy heart, cleaned out his computer and began to remove his personal effects from his desk. Within the hour, these rather traumatic tasks were finished. Placing his belongings in a large canvas bag, and with an ache in his heart, Clark Jerome Kent began to saunter slowly towards the newsroom exit.

As sunrise approached, the man from Kansas was all too aware that his book of life as a mortal from Kansas was closing. With the coming of the dawn, Clark Jerome Kent's existence would vanish like the wind. Sometime in the near future, he would create a new identity; one that would protect his parents without the incumbrances of Superman. He had learned that lesson well. There would be no superhero in his future nor any love. Clark adored Lois with such passion that he knew that this strange emotion would never again be replicated within his being. It was a pity that Lois would never truly know nor understand the depths of Clark's love for her. She just lusted after a flashy costume. A cartoon caricature that was the creation of his mind and the product of his mother's sowing machine.

When the coming hubbub over Superman eventually subsided, Clark knew that his works and exploits would eventually slip out of focus and be relegated to history. Smiling, Clark wondered what future academicians would write about him?

He then snickered and murmured, "I wonder if the people of that future time would believe that such a person as Superman ever existed?" Out of curiosity he thought, "I'd like to be around to find how my super persona was perceived."

"Maybe I will," Clark chuckled. "With my unique abilities, I just might live long enough to find out."

Shaking himself out of his reverie, Clark was just about to leave the Planet building when Perry charged out of his office and bellowed, "Kent, I gotta see ya right now." Clark hesitated for a moment, then retraced his steps and entered Perry's inner sanctum. As he stepped into the chief's office, Perry closed the door and gestured for Clark to sit down.

As Clark tried to make himself comfortable Perry said, "I know you like to tease Lois from time to time and your funnin' tends to ease the tension between ya'll. This game you two play," he continued, "is good therapy and seems to have joined both of you at the hip so to speak. But, son, you and Lois never horsed around with your stories." As Perry was talking, he held up a copy of the Superman interview. "Clark," he added, "I know both yours and Lois' writing styles. Why in the king's name did you create this piece?"

"Because it's true," Clark replied quietly. As he spoke, he stood and moved to the window drawing the curtains which isolated Perry's office from the rest of the newsroom. Clark then levitated and floated around the office.

Staring at Clark, a stunned Perry White murmured, "Judas Priest, it's true. Clark Kent and Superman are one and the same." When Perry calmed down, Clark related the fiasco that unfolded when he left the Planet to cover the Mayor's press conference.

After Clark completed his woeful tale, Perry commented, "I think Lois should hear this story from your own lips and anyhow, read your copy."

"Do you think Lois' presence is really necessary?" Clark remarked.

Perry nodded affirmatively.

"Then by all means let's call her immediately," Clark replied in a somewhat apprehensive tone. "Remember Perry, I must be out of Metropolis before dawn to pick up my parents, find a secure hiding place, and settle in before both Linda's and Lois' Superman's stories hit the street."

Without hesitation, the chief picked up a phone and called Lois. After a few rings a male voice answered the phone. "Hello, Jimmy," Perry said, "Bring Lois to the Planet post haste. I know Lois is in pain, but tell her it's important, Jimbo — very important." After he hung up, Perry told Clark, "They'll be here in about twenty minutes or so."

As Clark waited for his partner, he placed his head in his hands and became mute. To curtail the tomb-like silence which settled over the office, Perry prudently asked, "What's your plan, son?"

Raising his head and giving Perry a quirky smile Clark replied, "The first order of business, of course, is the protection of my parents. I'll collect them in a few hours, and we'll go into hiding. In the fullness of time, when the ebb and flow of their lives have run their course, I'll probably leave the Earth and explore the universe. The jeweled vault of heaven always beckoned me," he added, "And I would like to see some of the cosmic wonders up close before I too became part of the basic fabric of the universe." After a brief pause Clark said, "That's about as far as my thoughts have progressed, Perry. When my parents are secure, I'll probably consider other options."

Before Clark could expand on his thoughts, Perry chimed in, "Son, I want you to know that I always considered you and your folks family. I'm not only very upset about your current dilemma, but I'm greatly concerned about your future. So please consider what I'm going to say very seriously."

Pausing to catch his breath Perry said, "Clark, Singapore in recent years has become one of the two or three financial and news crossroads for the entire Asiatic region. While other news and monetary centers also serve the Asian orbit, Singapore seems to be one of the lynch pins which maintain the flow of vital information from the Far East to the rest of the world. Not only does the Daily Planet maintain a news bureau in Singapore, but the paper also owns two luxury condominiums on that isle." Hearing a noise Perry paused and looked around. Seeing only the janitor traipsing through the newsroom, the chief continued. For some inexplicable reason Perry told Clark, "Alan and I seem to be the only Planet personnel who are aware that those apartments exist. At present," Perry added, "Alan Jacobs is the chief of the Planet's Singapore news bureau and occupies one of those condos. The other suite," Perry remarked, "is currently vacant," emphasizing this fact by the tone in his voice.

Opening the bottom drawer of his desk, the chief retrieved a small package which he placed in Clark's hands. "In this parcel," Perry declared, "are the keys to that empty condominium of which we spoke." As Clark started to protest, Perry interrupted him and said, "Son, where would be the best place to hide?" Before Clark could reply, Perry answered his own query by saying, "Amid a multitude of people. You demonstrated that point admirably with your Kent — Superman disguise. Lois, Jimmy, and myself to say the least, couldn't connect your two personas." When Perry finished speaking Clark thanked Perry and graciously accepted the keys to what would be the Kent family's new residence. Taking Clark's hand, Perry quietly and emphatically said, "Son, we take care of our own."

As they continued to wait for Lois, Perry mentioned to Clark that he'd need something to occupy his time in Singapore or he'll eventually stick out like a sore thumb. Scratching his head, Perry suddenly smiled and said, "I'll tell Alan Jacobs that the Planet is sending him a seasoned editor. He's been screaming for an American trained journalist to head up his burgeoning editorial staff." Trying to stifle a giggle the chief remarked, "So Alan will get a super editor, you." Becoming more somber, Perry quietly remarked, "To make sure you guys are safe, I'll be the only one who knows where you and your folks will be living."

"Don't you mean hiding?" Clark chimed in with a sickly laugh.

Perry cuffed him on the arm for his barb and added in a serious tone, "In time you may want to include Alan in our little family. You'll find him, like yourself, to be the salt of the Earth."

"Clark," Perry said solemnly, "you know I regard you like a son. Lois, Jimmy, and you are my heart. I may growl and yell at you guys, but inside I'm a softy when it comes to you three. Rather than hurt any of you, may my right hand lose its cunning and be parted from my body."

"I know, chief," Clark replied, "I love you and Jimmy the same way." Then smiling, Clark added, "Lois I love beyond measuring. My adoration for her, as you would expect, is in a special category."

Perry smiled as he placed his hand on Clark's shoulder and commented, "I've known how you've felt about her for a long time, son. If it weren't for that alter-ego of yours, I think you two would be a couple by now. Maybe even married."

"That part of my life is over, Chief," Clark replied looking rather glum. "How can I ask someone my heart and mind worships to share the liabilities of a very uncertain future?"

Looking him in the eye Perry remarked, "I remember what my mother said to me when I became dejected. She would quietly say, "Have hope. Hope may be a fragile thing, but oh it's so difficult to destroy." Now it's my time to tell you, Clark Kent, "Have faith that you and Lois will weather this storm and be able to consummate your love."

Shaking his head, Clark said, "Consider the Circumstances, Perry. Do you really believe that Lois and I can achieve a life together after Linda's story is published?"

"I do," Perry earnestly replied.

Clark just sighed.

Then looking at Perry, Clark remarked, "I sure wish that I could continue to write stories exposing the bad guys even while I'm in limbo."

Kent's statement gave Perry an inspired thought. Looking at Clark, the chief said, "You don't have to give up being an investigative reporter."

"What?" Clark replied hope echoing in his response.

"You'll just have to use a pseudonym," Perry added. Chuckling, he continued, "I'm sure you know how that scenario works."

As Clark waited for the chief to gather his thoughts, he saw a smile spread over Perry's face. Grabbing Clark's shoulder, Perry asked, "What was the handle that your natural parents named you?"

"Kal-El," Clark replied.

"Hmm," Perry said, "how does Kal Ellis sound as a professional moniker?"

"Sounds fine to me, Chief," Clark answered. "But, why would I want to take on another alias?"

Perry cuffed him on the arm and said, "For your byline of course."

Clark then stared at Perry and chuckled as he remarked, "A new investigative reporter has been born this day created by the wizardry of White and Kent."

After a brief silence, Perry said to Clark, "We now have a new virtual associate — Superman undercover — Kal Ellis by name."

After hearing Perry's remark, Clark laughed almost uncontrollably for nearly a minute. His chortling was like a cathartic tonic which he desperately needed at that moment.

Getting control of himself Clark mused, "That new handle sounds A-okay, chief."

The chief smiled and replied, "To me, too."

Pausing a moment Perry also commented, "Clark, you can use your super powers and easily fly over the large areas of blue water and land which surround Singapore. Hell, son, you can probably cover the world from that isle."

Rubbing his hands together in anticipation of the upcoming scoops, Perry said to Clark, "The Planet will publish your international stories under your Ellis byline." Then Perry became a little subdued and said, "There may be a fly in the ointment, though. I recall that you once told me, as Superman, that radar installations could track the superhero's flying trajectories."

"I remember, chief," Clark replied, and then murmured half to himself, "A solid in motion will produce a signature on a radar scope unless it is cloaked with stealthy material. I wonder," Clark mused.

"What are you thinkin', son?" Perry asked.

Clark responded to Perry's question telling him, "Dr. Klein had given Superman some special stealth fabric and the formula to produce more if needed. Klein told the superhero that he developed the material for the Man of Steel's personal use — to fly undetected."

"After producing and testing Klein's stealth material," Clark informed Perry, "I found it to be nearly one hundred percent efficient — Superman's RADAR signature would be nearly invisible. Furthermore, chief, the shape of a flying body covered with the stealth material did not seem to alter its anti-RADAR qualities."

"Now, if Mom can incorporate the stealth fiber into my suit, then Perry, the Planet will have its clandestine global reporter."

"What are the chances your mother can add that stealth stuff to your Superman suit?" Perry inquired.

"Knowing Mom," Clark replied, "I would say pretty good, pretty darn good."

After a moment Perry grinned and said, "Then our idea of a global flying journalist is still a strong possibility."

If I were a betting man, Perry, Clark commented, "I'd put my money on Mom."

Becoming more serious Clark suggested, "If we're going to communicate across the world, Perry, we'll have to be a sub Rosa operation via the internet."

"First, we'll need a covert email address."

The chief agreed but indicated that their internet correspondence should be triple password protected. Clark concurred.

After some thought, Clark remarked, "How does an email address of appeal to you, Chief?"

Perry reflected for a moment and replied, "A- okay son."

With Clark's mind firing on all cylinders, he asked Perry, "How does 2LaRa8 sound for our primary cipher? This code will be used to unlock our internet mailbox." Perry again nodded his approval.

Clark then added, "Notice I've also made our password case sensitive chief." Perry again shook his head indicating that he understood Clark's comment. "This alphanumeric arrangement will give us an added layer of protection and should help keep out the uninvited."

After a few moments, Perry inquired, "I'm curious, Clark. What do the two and the eight symbolize in our password?"

Kent smiled as he remarked, "Lois' current age."

Perry started to laugh as he said, "Ah, ain't love grand."

"How about we use a third set of passwords to unlock our messages once the mailbox has been breached?" Perry stated. Clark nodded his ascent.

Perry then said, "How do the alphanumeric codes pwjimbo50 and loloke29, for White and Kent, appear to your logical mind, son?" Within the blink of an eye, Clark agreed with the chief's suggestion and composed the cryptic steps needed to used their special electronic mailbox.

With their communication network established, Perry placed his hand on Clark's shoulder and remarked, "Son, we're gonna need every day aliases for you and your folks when ya'll arrive in Singapore."

"You're right, chief," Clark said. Pondering for a few moments Clark asked Perry, "How do Louis and Rose sound for my parents' first names?"

"They're good choices, Kent," Perry replied. Then he added, "I'm curious, why did you choose those particular handles."

Clark smiled as he replied to his friend, "They are the names of Lois' aunt and uncle — they live in California. My nom-de-plume will be Ken — that's Kent minus the t."

Then Clark asked Perry, "How does Curtis strike you as our family's clandestine surname?"

Perry just placed his hands in a thumbs up configuration.

So, Perry said, "The Planet's new Singapore family will be known as Louis, Rose, and Ken Curtis." After mulling the Kents' new names over in his mind a few times, the chief announced, "Those monikers do have a nice ring, son. More important," Perry added, "they're not unusual sounding appellations and won't attract unwanted attention."

A noise just then caused Perry to turn and to look into the bullpen. As he gazed towards the news area, he saw Jimmy and Lois sitting down near Lois' work area. The chief immediately called the cub reporter into his office using the loudspeaker system. Hearing his name resounding through the newsroom, James Olsen made a beeline for the chief's office. As Jimmy approached Perry's quarter deck, Clark quietly disappeared into a small conference room behind the chief's inner sanctum.

Lois, escorted by Jimmy Olsen had arrived at the Planet several minutes before Perry summoned the cub reporter to his newsroom oasis. As Olsen moved towards the chief's office, Lois elevated her still throbbing foot and waited rather impatiently to find out what in blazes was going on.

Standing in front of the chief, Jimmy listened intently as Perry told the cub reporter what he wanted. The chief instructed Jimmy to employ his extraordinary computer hacking skills to gain entrance to the government of Singapore's central electronic data processing system and to create a new file in the residency section. When Jimmy first heard what the Planet's editor-in-chief wanted him to do, he was shocked to say the least and gave his mentor a funny look. Jimmy knew that Perry White was a scrupulously honest individual. This sub Rosa enterprise was just not his style. As if sensing the boy's nervousness and curiosity, Perry quietly explained, "We gotta do this thing, son. In a sense, son, the survival may depend on your skills." James Olsen looked his boss square in the eye, and then nodding his head, proceeded to his computer.

Because of Jimmy's enormous love and respect for Perry While, the young man would do nearly anything for the chief, whom he considered his surrogate father. And that meant hacking into any computer system without understanding the whys and the wherefores of the request.

Soon after Jimmy Olsen set himself in front of the computer, his fingers were gliding over the keyboard like a master pianist.

In about twenty minutes, the young photo journalist- computer whiz had successfully entered the electronic processing facilities of a foreign nation.

Cautioning the young reporter not to speak of this incident, even to Lois, Perry sent him back to the bullpen. When Jimmy departed, Perry summoned Clark, who then placed the Kent family's covert identity information into Singapore's central processing system. After Clark had completed the upload, he returned to the conference room. When Clark was out of sight, Perry again summoned Jimmy to his office. He directed the lad to close the computer link making sure no trace of their electronic intrusion could ever be detected.

"Now," Perry thought, "it was time to see Lois and confront her with the Kent — Superman revelation." To this end, he asked Clark to collect his partner and escort her to his inner sanctum. Nodding, Clark started walking towards Lois' desk.

Several seconds later, Clark arrived at Lois' workstation and asked her how she was feeling. Her terse reply ripped him like a slashing blade. She was angry, very angry that he hadn't joined her after the Mayor's press conference. Although Kent tried to explain, Lois refused to listen and became angrier and more irrational. Great, he thought. She's already mad at me. When she reads my Superman story, Lois will erupt like Mt. St. Helen — Mad Dog Lane will rise again. Trying to remain calm as he prepared for the impending battle with his soon to be ex-sidekick, Clark quietly told her, "Perry wants to see us both now, partner."

"Don't partner me," she angrily retorted. Then she added, "A partner does not abandon his/her friend and co-worker when she's been injured." To emphasize her irritation still further, Lois would not allow Clark to help her to Perry's office.

While Clark walked toward the Chief's sanctuary from the bullpen, he thought that Lois, as agitated as she appeared, should have acted like a professional and allowed him to assist her. Clark, on the other hand, was unaware of Lois' new affection for him. The combination of Lois' new sentiments toward Clark and her feeling of abandonment added to the Planet's top reporter's irrationality and her anger, and foolishly caused her to push Clark away.

As Lois entered the chief's private office and hobbled toward a chair, she mentally cursed herself for being so moronic. Her ankle was again on fire. She knew that Clark and she were professional journalists, and despite her feelings, she should have allowed Clark to help her to Perry's office.

Because of her emotional stupidity, Lois had limped across the newsroom and the consequence of her senseless shenanigans was pain — lots of ankle nagging pain. As Lois tried to make herself somewhat more comfortable, Clark again left the Chief's office and headed for the small conference room behind Perry's inner sanctum.

While Lois sat in Perry's office waiting for the chief to speak, the pain in her ankle made her increasingly more irritable. For the "nteenth" time she mentally cussed herself for her pigheaded foolishness. Lois' lunacy had obviously greatly increased her suffering. Her refusal of help was now causing her extreme discomfort bringing tears to her eyes — someday, Lois knew, her irrational anger would bring her down.

While Lois waited for Perry to speak, the Chief quietly dropped Clark's Superman manuscript on her lap. When Lois saw the headline of the article, with her byline, the pain in her ankle suddenly became inconsequential. As she avidly read Clark's Superman story, the soreness between the foot and her leg faded until it was no more than a trivial irritation.

When Lois finished reading the piece she looked up and said, "Where's that double dealing two timing Kent!"

"Are you sure you want to see him?" Perry asked his star reporter.

"You bet," she shouted. "I want to tell that manipulative, prevaricating… alien where the hell to get off!" When Lois began to fume, Perry realized again how Lois could destroy something fine with her mouth when she let her emotions dominate her reason.

"He's in the small conference room, honey, putting his house in order," Perry somberly told her.

When Lois heard the phrase "putting his house in order," a sudden chill swept through her body. With her great intuitiveness, Perry's meaning became all too clear. As her perception and rationalization came into play, Lois' anger rapidly dissipated, and with its passing her pain was almost forgotten. To clarify Perry's statement, she asked the chief in trepidation, "What did you mean by putting his house in order?"

Looking somewhat forlorn Perry replied, "After having read Clark's article, you should be aware that your partner must be out of Metropolis before dawn." When Perry finished answering her query, Lois jumped up and hobbled as rapidly as she could toward the small conference room at the rear of the chief's office. Perry, of course, followed in her wake.

Entering the meeting room, Lois saw her partner scrutinizing some material and then placing it in one of several piles of paper. When Clark sensed Lois' presence, he rose and helped her to a seat. This time mad dog Lane allowed her partner to assist her. Perry, who was just behind Lois, sat down adjacent to the Planet's star reporter.

As Lois was preparing to speak, Clark held up his hand and said, "I haven't much time so please allow me to speak my peace. Then, you can ask all the questions that my time frame will allow."

Since Perry had already heard the details leading to this current crisis, Clark directed his remarks at Lois. When he completed his tale of woe, he gave Lois one of his folders. As he handed her a binder, Clark remarked, "Partner, you should be aware that Perry has several more copies of that info now in your possession. It has also been securely locked away in several concealed places known but to Perry and my parents." Then he continued, "Notice the label on the folder's jacket." As Lois glanced at the sticker, she recognized Lex Luthor's nom de plume. When she again looked at Clark, he remarked, "Over the past six months I have been gathering information about Lex. If my data can be verified, it will bring Luthor down and destroy his odious empire. Lois, if you decide to continue this investigation, please promise me that you will be extremely cautious. When dealing with Lex, you must control your daredevil attitude. Don't be like General Custer whose motto was 'charge to the sound of the guns.' That attitude not only caused his own death, but the demise of his troops during his final campaign. The reason I used Custer as my example, Lois, was because going up against Luthor will be similar to a military expedition. You always must be very cautious. If you do decide to continue my Luthor investigation, I don't want this inquiry to be your swan song. To tell you the truth, Lois, if you were killed, I would be devastated. Your death would kill me. My life would be meaningless. I would travel the highways of this world as a mere shell of a man." After a slight pause Clark continued, "I've learned — talking to Perry and you, too, Lois — that while many criminals may threaten reporters, rarely will they resort to murder as a tactic. When you read the Luthor file you'll discover that Lex often uses homicide as a tool to achieve his goals. What makes his murderous crimes even more repugnant is the fact that Lex murders without remorse. In fact, Luthor seems to enjoy the excitement of his butchery. While I can't say for sure, without a thorough psychological examination of Lex Luthor, I believe that the C.E.O. of LexCorp, Luthor, is a sadistic psychopath."

Taking Lois' hand, Clark quietly said to her, "Aside from his felonious activities, Luthor is contemplating a new project." Holding her hand tightly to his breast, Clark remarked, "Lois, last week I found out that Lex wants to perpetuate his line — you know, Luthor kids."

Taking a breath Clark added, "I heard a discussion between Lex and his two cronies, Asabi and Nigel, about Luthor's potential liaisons, wife material they called it, and it was nauseating."

"Nigel and Asabi were administering this project whose aim was to locate the most suitable female to be Lex's consort. At present, they were limiting their search mainly to the Metropolis area. To accomplish their goals, Lex's confidants placed the names of all women they believed worthy of their boss into several huge data bases and compared them against what they considered to be the best wifely assets for Luthor — intelligence, of course was at the head of the list, disposition, creativity, ability to conceive, beauty, and the all important manageability factor. Lex, you should know, is a control freak."

Lois then shook her head and whispered, "Shades of Nineteen eighty-four."

"Do you want to guess the woman who won the Lexipoo stakes?" Clark inquired as he squeezed her hand. As he Looked into his partner's eyes, Clark said, "Lois Lane was the winner of Lex's computer draw." To soothe her anger and apprehensions, Clark spoke softly and very quickly in her ear saying," If that personification of evil tries to injure you in any way, G-D help him Lois, because, partner, only G-D could."

When Clark told Lois of Lex's scheme, she placed her head on his shoulder as if trying to find shelter from an oncoming storm. To help ease her trepidation, Clark embraced her.

Holding Lois, Clark felt her shiver, as she seemed to crush herself more tightly against his body.

Then, placing his forehead upon Lois' and stroking her hair he quietly said, "In the next few weeks, you can expect Luthor to commence his courtship campaign. He'll use every psychological trick at his command to make you pliable to his will."

"If you were seduced by his beguiling ways and married him," Clark continued, "in time he would reduce you to a pampered automaton and, in short order a walking incubator. Very medieval," Clark sarcastically spat. "Lex's philosophy," Clark added, "seems to favor keeping your spouse barefoot and pregnant and out of your business."

"That's an old concept?" Lois mused.

"Yes, it is," Clark remarked. I believe the original statement went something like "Keep your wife barefoot, pregnant, and ignorant to avoid marital discord." Looking in her eyes, Clark told Lois, "He's planning to use your insecurities as a major weapon to pull you into his matrimonial web where he intends to wed and bed you in short order."

"Are you insinuating that I have insecurities?" Lois snapped, as she pulled away from Clark.

"Lo-is," Clark replied. "Everyone I know has disquieted feelings."

"Even Superman?" Lois caustically inquired.

"Especially Superman," Clark replied pulling Lois against him again. After a slight pause in their conversation, Clark added, "Lois, you have a heart as big as all outdoors. You feel the pulse of the city and your deep concern for its people prompts you to ceaselessly battle on their behalf. Lois, your caring focuses your unique qualities to help others, which not only makes you a great humanitarian and reporter, but also an endearing person to me. Believe me, partner, your humanitarian escapades do you credit. As you are aware, the notoriety from your exploits makes you stand out in a crowd. Your matchless works and individuality have marked you as a target for envious people and their slanderous innuendoes. When you hear degrading statements about yourself, your sensitive psyche begins to wonder what kind of dishonest act you've committed. When that kind of thinking pervades your mind, you my lovely partner, can become emotionally vulnerable. Mistrusting yourself can weaken your resolve and make you skeptical of your self-worth. Doubting yourself," Clark continued, "will blunt your righteous anger and eventually give way to despair. Fight that kind of self deception, Lois. You have great intuitive and analytical skills. Use them to defeat the skeptics and the defamers. Use them to defeat Lex Luthor's desires for power and conquest. And especially for heaven sake, blunt Luthor's designs on you."

Pausing for a moment Clark continued, "Lois, from my survey of the situation, Luthor's primary tactics in his capture the reporter game are designed to destroy your self-esteem while he attempts to recreate you into his kind of trophy woman and the companion which he desires. As I indicated, Lex will use all the psychological methods at his command to win the day. With his debonair mask, coupled with his many subtle and high-pressure techniques, Lex will first attempt to weaken your resolve with his charm. Then with his comforting and romantic gestures, Luthor will endeavor to lure you into his matrimonial maze. His primary mental ammunition will include your disastrous past liaisons, and your insecure childhood experiences which he knows were a product of your dysfunctional household. He'll use these painful episodes in your life to show you the caring side of his nature while hiding his crocodilian personality."

Contemplating Clark's thoughts for a few seconds, Lois remarked, "Thanks, Clark for your timely warning and your confidence in me." Searching her face, Clark saw a hint of Mad Dog Lane emerge, as she added, "I think Lex is in for a big surprise." With her eyes flashing fire, Lois murmured, "I'll make Lexie's ploy work against him." Then smiling at Clark, she said, "Luthor's interest in me will be the instrument by which this reporter will infiltrate his organization and bring him down."

"Lois," Clark cautioned her, with anxiety clearly evident in his voice, "Please be very careful. Remember Lex Luthor, as I view him, is Lucifer's number one boy. To him the destruction of life is like a tonic. When he kills, I sincerely believe that when Lex takes a life, his savage act invigorates the man's insidious spirit. I don't want you to become another victim of this psychopath, who enjoys spilling the blood of his quarry."

After Clark finished talking with Lois for the moment, Kent turned toward Perry to discuss what he thought would happen to Linda King when her Superman expose hit the street on the morrow.

As Clark and Perry began to converse about his aka, Lois started to analyze Clark's information about Luthor. The more she cogitated about Luthor's marriage scheme the greater her ire towards Luthor increased. After reading Lex's dossier for another few minutes, Lois concluded that Clark was right on the money about Luthor's evil machinations. Not only would his devious intrigues hurt her, but they would injure many others as well. Lois now began to view Lex as a piece of filth with a debonair facade, who in reality was the devil incarnate. From now on, Lois would think of Luthor with a new middle appellation, Evil; Lex E. Luthor. As Lois resumed her thinking about Lex's felonious business abuses and his audacity to woo her with a Machiavellian scheme of sorts, she became nauseated. Not only was his courting project an affront to her dignity, but his attitude and ploys mocked all of humankind. As she continued to ponder Lex's monstrous acts, her anger neared a critical point — a Lane rage event. To calm her temper, the Planet's resident dog began muttering invectives aimed at the heart of Lex E. Luthor. As Lois continued her mental bashing of Lexipoo, her fury didn't abate.

Failing to ease her anger caused by Lex's irreverent view of her persona, the Planet's top reporter's agitated ranting became loud enough to be overheard by Clark and Perry. When this occurred, their talking ceased. From the type of vocalizations Clark and the chief heard, they were pretty sure that Lois' temper was about to erupt into a fine rage.

Knowing that Lois was on the verge of becoming irrational, Clark and the Chief didn't want to hang around. So Perry and Kent quietly said their adieus, kissed a muttering Lois Lane on her cheeks, and moved toward the conference room exit.

As Lois watched Perry and Clark move away from her, she sensed, even through her angry emotional fog, that Clark's kiss was a farewell caress. This realization snapped her psyche back to reality and cooled her anger. She knew that if Clark left her behaving like an enraged animal, Lois' behavior could result in an indefinite or maybe a permanent separation between them. She then quickly raised her head and with eyes now on the verge of tears said, "Clark, please stay for a while. We must talk." Trying to smile through misty eyes Lois added, "I have several questions which, I believe, will have an important bearing on our lives."

Hearing Lois' plea, Clark was apprehensive about complying with his Partner's request. However, he stopped himself from leaving the room and turned again toward Lois. Seeing his partner in distress was the factor which succeeded in winning Lois the time she requested to talk about her Superman problems. Retracing his steps, Clark again sat down at the conference table.

As Clark was retracing his steps, Lois was pondering how to deal with the man from Krypton via Kansas. Assail him for his Superman deception or ask him questions about their possible relationships.

If the truth be told, Kent was all set to be mentally flayed by Lois' rapier wit in full assault mode.

While Clark waited for the shoe to drop, Lois was studying her partner's demeanor and analyzing her feelings toward this man. As Lois was scrutinizing Clark, reality struck home. With the coming of the dawn her best friend would vanish, maybe forever. This revelation had a sudden chilling effect on Lois whose anger essentially dissipated. What good would yelling and making hurtful accusations at Clark do today? If their separation was, heaven forbid, permanent, she didn't want Clark's last image of her to be Lois Lane stomping on his emotions in full battle plumage, telling him repeatedly that she could never abide a liar. Not a pleasant departing scene, she realized and, not a pretty image for him to recall, perhaps, for the remaining days of his life.

When Lois also envisaged what Linda's Superman article would do to Clark's life, her thoughts helped put a hold on any Lane temper tantrum and mellowed her disposition significantly. Linking Linda King's Superman article, which she knew would immeasurably hurt Clark, with a mad dog Lane attack would be devastating to her partner. She couldn't verbally abuse him.

Taking a breath, Lois placed her hand on Clark's shoulder and quietly asked, "Why didn't you warn me about Lex before today?"

Touched by her calm and tender disposition, Clark decided to unburden his soul. Lois should be told everything, especially how Clark Kent really felt about her. At least, he thought, she would know how much he loved her when they parted.

Taking a deep breath, Clark remarked, "Lois Lane, I cannot keep my feeling for you bottled up any longer. There's no time for us to become better acquainted and perhaps become a couple leading hopefully to a more intimate relationship. Linda King has seen to that." Without hesitation Clark added, "I love you. I've loved you since the day you interrupted my hiring interview with Perry." Letting out a breath he continued, "How could I allow a suave practitioner of evil like Lex Luthor and all that he represents to destroy the most precious person in my life. A woman so dear to me that without her I would be but a shell of a man. Life would have no meaning for me and I would wish for death to end my anguish."

Collecting his thoughts, Clark then remarked, "Why I didn't tell you about Lex before today, you asked, was mainly because I lacked hard evidence to back up my convictions. Luthor was a master subterfuge. He covered his tracks well. Before I could get my hands on tangible proof, the paper trail leading to the power broker would dry up."

Shifting the conversation away from Luthor for the moment, Lois asked, "If you loved me, as you say, partner, why didn't you trust me with the secret of your alter-ego?"

Smiling Clark said, "In the beginning how could I tell you of my superman creation when you considered Clark Kent, your reluctant partner, who you constantly tormented and ridiculed, no more than donkey dust. Remember how you compared Superman, a two dimensional cartoon cutout, to a Greek deity, while you viewed the real me, Clark Kent, as little more than a Neanderthal. Also Lois, at the outset of our professional relationship, it was all too obvious that you viewed the new superhero as a ticket to a Pulitzer, your cherished goal."

Taking an another breath, Clark added, "As we slowly became closer and eventually, best friends, your attitude towards me did change to one of platonic familiarity. I must tell you Lois that I really enjoyed our time together, no matter how we interacted. Sometime after we became joined at the hip, so to speak, and became confidants, I decided to inform you of my part-time job — you know, moonlighting in tights. However, in all honesty, Lois, I didn't know how to tell you about my Superman persona. When I finally made a decision to tell you about Superman and inform you about me and 'Sups,' the situation had become a terrifying problem. I had waited much too long and the dread of losing you became a fearsome roadblock to the truth between us."

"When I finally understood that my life would have no meaning without Lois Lane being an essential part of my existence, in a platonic or intimate way, I was deep in the valley of fear and just didn't know how to tell you about my alter-ego. I was afraid that, if you found out that Superman and I were one and the same, I'd lose you because of your fetish concerning prevarication. For me, it was a consummate Catch- 22 quandary — a no win situation. Fear was keeping the score, and I was losing hands down."

"Look, Lois," Clark continued, "fear or no fear, I should have told you about me." Then the man of steel murmured, "Hindsight is a great what if, isn't it, Lois?" However, Clark added, "The foreboding that my psyche conjured up, turned me into a coward where you were concerned. So, while I was sure that I loved you, my mind told me that without informing you that I moonlighted in tights, the man from Kansas was heading one way on the highway of amour — Clark proceeding west while you, Lois, were on an easterly course. It didn't appear from my prospective that our paths would ever converge."

"So, believing the fears created by my mind and avoiding the signals from my heart, I envisioned that you would tell me to get the heck out of your life, post haste, once you were aware of the connection between me and my flashy alto-ego. Since our relationship wasn't intimate, my mind made-up a scenario which portrayed an angry and hurt Lois Lane wanting her pound of flesh and lashing out at me. I envisioned an outraged partner who would have dumped me yelling there was no trust between us and retreated into a workaholic mode leaving me to wander from place to place for the remainder of my life, a lonely and unloved man. To defend myself against my apocalyptic images, I remained silent."

"In another nightmare fantasy, I reasoned that if I told you about Superman and myself, you'd become mad dog Lane and cast me off and close me out of your life. The result would be the shell of a man you know as Clark Kent, and the dissolution of superman. In this dreamlike scenario of mine, both persona's would cease to exist, as if the Earth swallowed them."

"Knowing how angry you can become and length of time you can maintain your ire, by the time your emotional storm had abated and you wanted to see me and talk about reconciling our differences, I would have been so disillusioned with our future relationship that I would have moved on, disappearing into the backwaters of this world."

"I figured when you became more rational and found that I was no longer around, you'd retreat to the satisfying security of your job and eventually dismiss me as another one of your failed relationships. After a while, I would just become another episode in your life — one that terminated on another sour note."

"Since my illusions didn't consider any kind of intimate relationship between us, I envisioned that you would eventually reveal my Kryptonian secret in series of hard hitting articles and earn that Pulitzer you so highly desire. That prize, Lois, has become your addiction. You are certainly aware to what lengths drug addicts would go to obtain a fix. I believe that they would sell out the friends, colleagues and…family. Would you, for a Pulitzer?"

"Once in exile, I'm sure that my broken heart, over time, would have accepted its fate. After your superhero story, I and my folks would have sought and found a secure hideaway — mainly for their safety. You no doubt would seek a new associate and in time forget the hick from nowheresville. Such are the illusions my mind conjured up because of my fear. Fear of revealing my alter-ego to and loosing my best fried."

"Am I correct about any one of my suppositions, Lois?" Clark asked his soon to be ex-partner. "If I told you about the Kent — Superman connection would you have told me 'to take a hike oh, friend of all the world'?"

Lois was so stunned by Clark's images that her voice was paralyzed producing an intense silence like the crash of thunder.

Taking Lois' silence as a yes to his question, he added, "So you see ,Lois, that my visions and their accompanying fears were right on the money. Now you understand why there's a second reason for me not to remain in Metropolis."

"With Linda's Superman's article about to hit the streets of the city and your apparent disdain for me now that you're aware of my alter-ego, I believe it's time for me to move on."

"So, Lois, with your apparent attitude toward me and Linda King's expose about to reveal my alter-ego, Clark Kent has no choice but to leave Metropolis and end his current existence. If you think about it, Lois, remaining in this city will place many lives in danger, with my parents at the top of the list. Leaving Metropolis will only be the first step in my odyssey. Most probably the Man of Steel will disappear from the world stage in order to protect his friends and colleagues." "In time," Clark continued his remarks, "Superman will just become just an another footnote in the unfolding saga of humankind."

"To conclude my rather-rambling soliloquy," Clark added, "I felt when things were relatively normal for me that the price of telling you about my alter-ego was too astronomical to justify any attempt to do so. Losing your friendship was too high a price to pay for you to be told about Superman and me. Simply put Lois, I was just plain scared of the consequences of telling you my secret and was paralyzed by indecision."

"It's rather ironic, my soon to be ex-partner," Clark remarked, "all my fears are coming to pass anyway."

Pausing for a few seconds Clark said, "For what it's worth and maybe to satisfy your interest, Lois, we're soulmates. Creation has made it so." Then with a sorrowful smile Clark declared, "You should know that soulmates mate for life. The divorce rate among Kryptonian marriages is practically nonexistent. I never could locate a word for divorce in the Kryptonian language. Anyhow, we'll not be able to test the soulmate hypothesis. For your interest, I gleaned that bit of knowledge from my Kryptonian library module. It was sent with the infant Kal-El, when the child of Lara and Jor-El was transported across the cosmos to Earth."

"Look back at what happened today," Clark said, "I could almost laugh, if I weren't terrified for you and Perry, my folks, and all others who are known to be close to me. If their anonymity could be maintained, I could leave Metropolis without a heavy heart and not worry about the possible deadly consequences of Linda's story."

Clark then chuckled and said, "Now that I think about it, Lois, all my flights of fantasy and anguish about revealing my alter-ego to you were for naught. Linda King has reduced my petty fears about divulging my secret to an insignificant item. When her story hits the street tomorrow, Linda's expose will doom Clark Jerome Kent and his two dimensional flying creation to extinction. Any future which might have developed for Clark Kent in this great city will vanish with tomorrow's sun."

Before Lois could get her two cents in, Clark said, "Lois, I would like you to know why Clark Kent never officially asked you out on a date."

Lois nodded and remarked, "The date thing which I often tried to talk to you about."

"Yeah, the date thing," Clark echoed Lois. Before I leave, you should understand the reason I haven't asked you out. And, from dating build a social, finally an intimate, relationship with you, the one person I adore more than life itself.

Hesitating for just a moment, Clark said, "If you recall, Lois, during the first month of our association, I tried to ask you out to soothe our rocky partnership and because of my ever growing love for you."

"Now that you mentioned it," Lois replied, "I remember you asked me out on two occasions." Clark nodded.

"The first time," Clark said, "occurred after we published our space program story. You accepted my offer but later reneged citing business that had slipped your mind. I accepted your reason, since our rendezvous was a spur of the moment decision."

"However, some weeks later, I asked you out for the following Saturday evening, which if I recall was five days away."

"The Friday prior to our date, you cancelled citing a sick aunt who needed your attention that weekend. While I was naturally disappointed, I understood your commitment and our get-together was again put on hold. Since dinner reservations had been made at an exclusive restaurant I decided to enjoy myself and go as a party of one. The place was called Louie's Shore Restaurant. The food was delectable. Do you recall the place, Lois?"

"While enjoying the ambiance and the cuisine of Louie's place, I saw you enter the restaurant with another guy. Later I discovered his name — Daniel Scardino. It was then that I knew that you didn't care for me beyond perhaps a platonic friendly association. So I stopped asking you out and being hurt by your two-faced logic."

"Clark," Lois chimed in, "are you saying I lied to you?"

"Yep," CK replied, "pure and simple."

"Clark that's normal. I'm a big city girl and you're from the mid-West. You aren't supposed to lie. Our mores are different."

Looking at Perry, Clark said, "I'm not going near that one, Chief. It's the most irrational statement I've heard in a long time." Perry just nodded.

"Anyway," Clark summed up "that, Lois, is the basic reason I never asked you out again. From that point on, I figured you didn't feel the same way about me as I did for you. So I just settled for friendship. In that way, as we grew older both of us wouldn't be haunted by the specter of loneliness and you and I, at least, would still have ourselves to console as we entered our golden years."

When Clark finished what he wanted to convey, Kent hung his head in despair for a few seconds. Shaking off his feeling of melancholy, Clark asked, "I'm curious, Lois, whatever happened to Scardino?"

Smiling, Lois replied, "He turned out to be a rather dim witted jerk who could be charming when the mood suited him. Dan also had a habit that really annoyed me — rushing hands and roaming fingers."

"Sounds like a person who dated and wanted bed and board following his social outing."

"You got the picture, Kent."

Nodding a few times at Lois' last comment, Clark then stared out of the window, in silence, at the coming dawn.

As she looked at Clark, Lois somehow knew that her partner had said all that he intended to say. When Lois thought about what Clark had told her, she could synthesize how her association with Clark Kent had become her best friend. A relationship which was safe and platonic. An affiliation which she wouldn't change out of fear. Lois realized she was blind. Not only did the Plant's top reporter work along side the fabled superhero, but her partner was the one man who loved her for herself, warts and all. What had she done? The great Lois Lane had again screwed up royally.

Then Lois, out of desperation, grabbed her partner's shoulders and shook Clark declaring, "It's not over between us. You must believe that! We'll work this crisis out, somehow."

"No," Clark replied, shaking his head rapidly from side to side, "Our future together has been shredded. Can't you see the handwriting on the wall? You pride yourself that you look at information with a no-nonsense approach. Now, Partner, practice what you preach."

Before Lois could reply, Clark said, "The era of Superman is over, and when the morning edition of the Star hits the streets Clark Kent vanishes. Only Kal-El born out of the house of Lo into the House of El persists. And even he will have to hide from the people of this planet."

"Although you may be my soulmate," Clark added, "my biology will not allow me to form an intimate relationship with another individual unless my life partner has perished. Being human, you have another option. You may be able to find another male with whom you can share a life. That relationship may not be one of monumental passion or undying love, but it could be a fulfilling relationship with commitment and deep devotion. Try to find someone from whom you can receive unfettered attention, consideration, with a strong sense of fidelity. Throughout your life I'm sure that such a partnership will provide you with a measure of security and contentment."

"As I told you, Lois, there can be no such thing as a contingency mate for me. Because of my Kryptonian heritage, Clark Kent's journey through life must now be a solitary trek. Kal- El's lineage will force the man from Krypton to endure a long and lonely existence."

As Lois attempted to reply, Clark, clearly now in a dark mood, cut her off saying, "We're really running out of time. Please, Lois," he said, "let me finish what I want to say." Reluctantly Lois agreed. "Partner," Clark continued, "I wrote your Superman interview so that Lois Lane would have a shot at a Pulitzer, which you so crave, and I know deep in my soul that you undoubtedly deserve. I also wrote the Superman article to help maintain your reputation within the journalistic community. Being my partner and not being aware of my super hero persona would not bode well for you among your colleagues. Without my story, you would drop a notch or two on their rather cynical rating system. My article should serve to prevent that from happening."

"As far as Linda King is concerned," Clark remarked, "she'll bask in the public spotlight and garner a plethora of accolades for her Superman feature. Actually for my faux pas," Clark berated himself.

Pausing for a few seconds Clark said to Lois, "Linda's notoriety will be like a meteor which has a short but brilliant existence as it streaks through the atmosphere."

Lois finally chimed in and asked, "You think her fame will be that fleeting?"

Clark replied, "Yep. Do you recall what you told me several months ago about one's reputation in our business?"

Answering Clark's query, Lois said, "You're only as good as your next story."

"Precisely," Clark told her.

"Linda King doesn't have a next story, let alone a follow up on her Superman expose."

Smiling at his partner, Clark added, "Lois, your articles have been, are, and will continue to be superb. In my judgment the writings of Lois Lane will always be magnificent. Your works will stand the test of time. You and your works will be remembered long after we've both become less than dust. Most of Linda's publications are mundane. It is my humble opinion her stories will not endure and will eventually disappear from journalism's mainstream."

Lois replied, "Clark, do you really think that I'm that good? Don't you think that your emotional attachment to me has made you somewhat biased?"

"Nooooo…" CK declared. "Lois, you are one of the most consummate journalist of our age. You are fearless and like me, you fight a never- ending battle for truth and justice. Of all the reporters I've seen, you are unique. In analyzing the anatomy of a story, you are simply amazing. Your intuitiveness is already legendary. You often guess at a solution to some intrigue or other before my rational approach to the same problem produces a similar result."

Caressing her hair, Clark said, "Lois, I wanted to thank you for improving and honing my investigative and writing skills. Your efforts encouraged me to become a good reporter."

"A great reporter," she murmured.

"Thanks for that boost," he quietly said. After a moment, Clark continued, "In time, I probably would have produced articles that would, with much effort, have equaled the quality of your work, but I doubt that they would ever have surpassed the excellence of your stories."

"My beloved partner," Clark said to Lois, "I, like you, chose to be a reporter for several reasons. First, I enjoy investigating and writing about puzzling issues. So I followed my bliss and became a journalist. Second, reporting afforded me a window on the world so I could rapidly locate trouble spots and get there quickly and help people who were or could be in harm's way."

"As I review my short tenure in the news business," Clark further remarked, "I often marveled at my successes."

"Why are you surprised?" Lois asked. "You have those exceptional abilities which make you a great investigative journalist."

"Thanks for that plug, Lois. It makes me feel good in this my hour of need," Clark told her with an adoring smile. "However, you must know that when I studied the space craft which carried me to this world, I had an odd feeling that I possessed other natural talents. I strongly suspect that the physical sciences might have been my bailiwick, if I had lived out my life on Krypton."

"If my birth world hadn't been destroyed," Clark further remarked, "I probably would have become a natural scientist like my biological parents. I must tell you that I get the same kick from studying atomic theory, observing a nova, or seeing the birth of a child as I do from our investigations and their resulting publications."

"The mental abilities and the questions that are asked in the hard and soft sciences appear to be very similar to the drives that motivate our journalistic endeavors. You know them, Lois. They are who, what, where, when, and why which aid our intellectual curiosity to learn."

"I believe," he added, "these five simple words are most likely the foundation of most human investigative activities."

After reflecting for a moment, Clark remarked, "In the natural sciences, a practitioner searches for laws that govern the universe. While journalism also acquires facts and shapes ideas the practitioners strive to comprehend human behavior. I think that all people who aspire to understand either their own habitat or the universe beyond our world will be directed in some way by those five powerful catchwords."

After Clark finished explaining some of his philosophical thoughts, Lois asked, "Do you mean that you were considering another field besides journalism?"

"Not after I met you, partner," Clark replied. Upon hearing Clark's response Lois Lane's heart melted as she gave her best friend a grin akin to a Cheshire cat.

When Lois and Clark ended their tete-a-tete about journalistic abilities, particularly their own, and other possible research areas, there was a moment of silence before Clark continued to emote.

"Lois," Clark resumed, "I'm quite sure you are aware that many dubious actions can produce unwanted consequences. This may sound strange to you, partner, but I am concerned about Linda King's future."

"What?" Lois cried out.

"Now hear me out," Clark retorted. After Lois quieted down, Clark said, "Linda's initial success, for her superhero story, could easily become a source of torment for your rival, especially when all the hullaballoo over her expose dies down. Then, if the fall out from her article causes social unrest, she'll be targeted as the cause." Shaking his head Clark further added, "And Lois, I have a strange feeling that my views will come to pass."

"So you're a prophet too," Lois chuckled.

"I hope not, Lois, particularly in this case," Clark replied.

"With Superman gone," Clark told Lois, "the criminal element will be unfettered and will probably run hog wild over Metropolis until they're contained when the police and the National Guard join forces and subdue their rampaging excesses."

With a concerned expression clouding his features, Clark turned toward Perry and added, "If there is a backlash against Linda King, please do me a favor, chief, and offer her a position at the Planet."

When Lois heard Clark's petition, she exploded, yelling at Clark saying, "That's the last straw, partner. You're too damn compassionate. That hussy doesn't deserve one iota of help. In my eyes, Linda's behavior toward you has been abhorrent. I'm revolted by the way she's treated you, and I'm particularly disturbed by her remarks after you begged her to preserve your secret."

After catching her breath Lois further remarked, "I also can't stomach emotional blackmail, especially when a forced marriage is involved. Her actions are those of a nefarious individual. Such a person is not deserving of mercy in my book." Lois then hobbled around the room hurling epithets at the ceiling. After calming down somewhat, Lois said, "If I had my way, Linda King would be flung on the dung heap of life."

After her outburst, Lois started to cry. Her anguish tore at Clark's heart, and he clasped her to him to help curb her physical and emotional pain. As he held her, Lois looped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer, nestling her head into the hollow between his chin and shoulder. In their embrace, Clark gently said, "Lois, even a morally bankrupt person deserves mercy. Mercy is one of those magnificent qualities that lifts humankind above the other species of the animal kingdom. If you want proof, search the religious works of every major persuasion on this planet. They all describe numerous accounts of merciful events. If push came to shove, I don't think you would refuse any soul grace, forbearance, or mercy. Compassion should not be withheld from any person in need. To behave as you have suggested would be an ungodly act and you, Lois, are one of the good gals. After all your railing against the King woman you would still offer her succor. I believe, no I know, that you would behave in a merciful manner."

A few seconds later, Lois took a deep breath and said, "Okay, if Linda needs help, I promise to support the Planet's offer of assistance to that woman. I want you to know Mr. Goody-two- shoes," she declared punching him in the shoulder, "I'm still not one hundred percent in favor of your idea. I guess," Lois commented, "I still feel that I still need my pound of flesh."

Clark smiled and kissed Lois lightly on the lips, as he remarked, "I know Lois, I understand your feelings, but if everybody felt as you do our world would probably consist of blind, toothless, and bleeding people with huge gashes covering their bodies."

"Now, Mr. Moonlighting-in-tights, let's return to your statement where Clark Kent avowed his loved for me," Lois said grinning and then kissed him on the cheek. Before Clark could get a word in edgewise, Lois babbled on. "You know it's difficult for me to accept that the mighty Superman was loath to tell me of his feeling for 'moi.' I'm having some difficulty with your remark implying that you, Mr. Sups, were scared to reveal his alter-ego to little old me because your best friend might tell you to get lost."

Shaking her head, Lois remarked, "Your thought processes concerning our relationship are absurd, you know that, Kent? If I had wanted to dump you — bake up our partnership — I would have done it long ago. To justify such a move, I probably would've told people that your bizarre moods got to me and were the predominant reason for our separation."

Placing a finger on Lois' lips, Clark replied, "To you my reasons may be preposterous, Lois, but you must realize that I'm not a mind reader. I may possess certain uncommon abilities, but mind reading is not one of them. With your explosive nature coupled to a compulsive obsessive disposition about lying and trust, I was simply afraid to take a chance about revealing my Kryptonian secret." Chuckling Clark remarked, "Right now I feel like a jerk, because I've behaved so foolishly."

"When I consider what we both have been through in the past," Clark continued, "we both should have realized that taking a chance was really what we were all about. If I were really smart," Clark remarked, "I would have taken the risk and told you about Superman months ago. Then this discussion would be ancient history, and we could have moved on to more broad sunlit uplands filled with love."

"You're not the only one who has been foolish, partner," Lois retorted." My behavior toward you and your alter-ego was less than noble. I shouldn't have held Clark Kent at arm's length and lusted after the big guy."

Sighing, Lois continued, "I acted foolishly throughout my life because of my past lousy romances and the effect of my dysfunctional family. Clark, I should have told you how I felt about you months ago." Lois then added, "If you were aware of how you affected me, I believe that many of our problems could have resolved themselves." Lois then added sarcastically, "Of course, hindsight, as we all know, is perpetually twenty-twenty."

After reminiscing quietly for a few seconds, Lois commented, "You know, Clark, I'm surprised and I'm also irritated by our senseless behavior. How many times during the past few months have we said that we needed each in our lives? I guess our declaration was more rhetorical than action oriented during those pronouncements."

Holding her hands, Clark replied, "More fear oriented me thinks."

"You also need to understand," Lois remarked, "I was terrified that becoming intimate with you would destroy our partnership and I would lose my best friend. If I lost you, Clark, I would've lost my soul and been destroyed in the process. Because of my fear," Lois added, "I did little to push our relationship beyond a working association."

After a slight pause, Lois sighed and told Clark, "If you had told me of the Kent — Superman connection, I probably would've become angry — very angry. But with you, my ire, as always, would have passed in a short order and then, partner, we could have moved our relationship to the next level. Furthermore, Buster, if I knew your secret, maybe, just maybe, this Superman crisis we're facing could've been averted."

Now that the air had been cleared of the philosophical and love issues, Lois could now concentrate on her deep pain brought about by Clark's past deceptive practices.

Irritated by their miscommunication, Lois started to pace, mumbling to herself. Suddenly, she stopped and marched up to Clark and remarked, "What really galls me, partner, was your continued deception about your alter-ego even after we became best of friends. I can't seem to shake the hurt that your behavior has caused when I discovered that Clark Kent was also Superman."

"Not only did you lie to me," Lois continued, "which annoys the hell out me, but I'm upset that you didn't trust me with your secret persona later in our working relationship. I thought that trust between us had become inviolate."

"Except for the first few months into our partnership," Lois added, "When I did view you as a hick and a product of the pig stye, I entrusted you with very sensitive information about myself. Things I never told anyone else you knew. I guess the trust issue didn't cut equally both ways, did it super bozo."

Remaining quiet for a few moments, Lois said, "Although I understand your reasons for hiding your alter-ego from the public, I'm still hurting and resentful of your deceptive practices. Machinations which indicate a mistrust of me concerning your Superman thing." Lois then wailed, "All those times you falsified your reasons for leaving in the lurch and telling me you had to return an overdue book, the cheese of the month club sent you a temperature sensitive order and you had to retrieve it from your mail box post haste, or an emergency dentist appointment… were all ruses. How could I've been so galactically dim- witted?" she lambasted herself and then fell silent giving Clark a very angry look.

Lois' slashing words both exasperated Clark and increased his inner turmoil. He didn't want to argue with her any longer. They had already been through this stuff, and he thought it had been largely resolved. However, his assumption, he now knew, had been mistaken. Lois was still hung up on the trust issue and the hurt it had caused her. Apparently, she was still only looking at the hurt issue from only her point of view.

In exasperation, Clark threw up his hands and began to leave the conference room. As he walked toward the door he heard Lois say, "Scared to face me, Kent?"

Hearing her comment, Clark turned and replied, "No, Lois, I'm not scared to mentally fence with you, but I'm petrified of what's going to occur tomorrow and all the tomorrows after that. My personal cataclysm and my parents endangerment will make your illogical and petty harangue pale by comparison."

Hearing Clark's assessment of her final comments, Lois screamed sarcastically, "How can dishonesty be unimportant, super bonehead?

"Now you're getting nasty," Clark remarked. "Okay, Lois, I'll play your game for a while longer. At least, as long as my time line permits." The approaching dawn was evident in the eastern sky. "First," he said, "I want your promise not to interrupt my reply to your idiosyncrasies unless I agree to your interference." She nodded in compliance with his wishes.

"Let me first enlighten you, 'Ms. know it all,'" Clark said. "Lying is not part of the Ten Commandments." Lois looked distressed at Clark's comment. "If you wish, you can check the veracity of my statement," Clark added. "Use the reference books behind you." Lois immediately jumped up and hurriedly retrieved the encyclopedia and checked out Clark's surprising remark.

"Great Caesar's ghost," she gasped, "Clark's right." Before allowing Clark to continue, she commented, "How could they leave out Thou Shall Not Lie," she wailed.

"Why don't you ask Moses and his friends?" Clark replied to her jokingly. "Ah, they're not here," Clark answered his own question. "I guess," he continued, "you'll just have to listen to an unworthy surrogate like me."

"Are you ready to listen, 'Ms. always right about lying,'?" Clark again sarcastically remarked. "Can you listen and retain what I want to say? Can my words penetrate that pseudo self-righteous shield of yours?" He verbally jabbed at her.

Looking at her partner, Lois could see the strength of Clark's alter-ego superimposing itself on his mild mannered persona. She realized for the first time that she was seeing a part of the real Clark. He was a blend of the two extremes, her quiet friend and his superhero character. Shaking herself from her reverie, she replied teasingly, "I'll listen, oh sage."

After Clark had calmed down a bit, he remarked, "Suppose, Lois, you were informed that Perry would breathe his last due to the ravages of a heart defect within three months. His death would be abrupt and there would be no elongated period of suffering. You were also told that Perry's life would be unencumbered during the remainder of his life." Clark reiterated again, "Perry would function normally and feel great until the moment of his demise." Looking at Lois, Clark asked, "Would you tell him? Would you inform your surrogate father that he was terminally ill and had but a short time to live?"

Staring at Clark, Lois meekly said, "To be honest, I couldn't tell him. I'd have to lie. I couldn't destroy his zest for life during his remaining days on Earth. Ah," Clark commented, "now you are getting an inkling of why the lying concept was not placed in the decalogue. That's not to say that all kinds of lying are acceptable or healthy. You see, Lois," Clark continued, "lying, like many codes that influence and govern our lives are two edged swords. How codes are used depends on the situation."

"Let me give another less emotional scenario where lying can be used to your benefit and not injure the person hearing your comments."

After gathering his thoughts, Clark said, "Visualize yourself at a party. As you are getting acquainted with the other guests, the hostess, let's say Ms. Stearns, approaches you with her husband to say hello. Out of the blue she asks, 'What do you think of my pantsuit, Lois?' She then proceeds to tell you that it was purchased from an exclusive boutique, and all the anguish she put up with having it altered to accommodate her figure. As you listen and focus on the garment you realized that her fashionable outfit looks atrocious on her frame. Like many 'zaftig' ladies who wear pant outfits, her garment reminds you of the lady who sings at the end of a circus performance. Ms. Stearns obviously is no exception. What do you do? To stay in the good graces of your boss and not offend his wife, I'll betya you'll say something like, 'It's a beautiful suit, Ms. Sterns, wear it in good heath.' Would using that kind of rhetoric make you a liar and a reprobate? Because of what you said to the boss's wife, would you consider yourself a morally and ethically bankrupt person?"

Shaking her head Lois said, "I don't think so."

Clark smiled and added, "For once we agree."

Taking her hand in his, Clark continued, "When I was living in Smallville, we had a neighbor who was about eighty-five. Her only son was living about half a continent away in Seattle. At the age of forty-four he had a stroke and died almost instantly. From that moment until that elderly lady's death four years later she was unaware of her son's passing. The people of Smallville understood that if she had knowledge of her son's loss, it would have ended her life in a heart beat. Does that make Smallville a town of liars? I think not. By your definition, Lois, the people of my hometown should all be classified as deceivers and, therefore, should not be considered trustworthy by the world at large." After Clark finished this tale, he felt Lois' tears on his arm. Producing a handkerchief, he wiped her face. As he did, she gave him a beautiful smile, one that expressed her love for him. In her smile, too, Clark recognized the beginning of wisdom — an understanding of the causes that shook their lives.

Pausing for a few seconds, Clark added, "The reason for excluding lying from the decalogue is more subtle than the few examples I used to make my point. From a Hebraic scholar, I was informed that the lying event had to do with the conversation G-D had with Sarah and Abraham about the coming birth of Isaac. You'll have to seek a learned person in Hebraic studies, one who is an expert in biblical issues to understand the details surrounding prevarication and how it influenced the Ten Commandments."

"Lois, I want you to consider Clark Kent as a person. Not a two dimensional facade that Superman represents. Clark has a desire for friendships and can even love, while Superman has just acquaintances, no friends and can never show any feelings. I know you can differentiate between the real person and the cartoon character, Lois. He once had a very trusting relationship with a beautiful young lady although he had to hide a big secret from her, a secret so huge that if it were revealed to the world, the man from Kansas could no longer exist and his parents' lives would be in great jeopardy."

Then Clark added in a rather serious tone, "If you think about our association, Lois, could you trust someone who only equivocated about his Superman persona. Think, partner. Except for my super abilities, did I ever cheat or betray you in anyway? I don't believe so?"

Continuing, he added, "Did I ever withhold other kinds of information from you? I believe you could answer never to that question. I always kept what you told me about your personal life and other things locked within my mind and heart. You know I'm not a part of the newsroom gossip club — like Ralph or Cat. What feeling you and I developed for one another was hidden in our hearts. It was locked away in our own trusting world, our private macrocosm in which we worked and lived. Through our subconscious stratagems, we were also able to keep envy and greed at bay in our part of the bullpen and keep the criminal element, gossip mongers, and the tabloids off our backs."

"Lois, if you knew the Kent — Superman connection and someone discovered that fact, I would be terrified. At the moment you discovered my super secret, your life, Lois, would be in far greater peril than it is at present. Even now, there isn't a week that passes where Lois Lane is not the focal point of a kidnapping, at risk of being shot, or assassinated by some sort of an explosive device. If you were aware of my aka and the bad guys found out that you knew, they would do everything in their power to coerce that secret from you. If they were successful, my parents' lives wouldn't be worth a plug nickel. The underworld would attempt to utilize you, my parents or any of my friends as a lure to get at me."

Now tell me, Lois, "Can you see the dire consequences which will affect our relationship because the Kent — Superman information will soon be revealed? Or are you still looking at the trust situation from your particular angle. An issue, which I believe has clouded your perspective concerning our current and perhaps our future relationship?"

After a brief pause, Clark continued, "Lois, I am not advocating lying. However, as I illustrated in my stories, sometimes lying becomes a necessary condition for survival. I agree that lying and trust cannot be habitually linked if a close relationship is to be maintained between a couple. However, as I previously indicated, there may be extenuating circumstances, like the Kent-Superman connection that can't be avoided. Those people who lie for corrupt motives are those who should never be trusted — like Luthor and company or the intergang conglomerate."

Finally Clark said, "Telling a five-year old that the stork brings babies by your definition, Lois, would be a lie. According to your view, the parent or adult who tells a child that kind of fabrication would not be worthy of trust. Do you think that most tots could possibly understand the entire birth process? I very much doubt it, and the consequences for some youngsters may be extremely traumatic. May I point out that many adults are still puzzled by the science surrounding the entire human reproductive process?"

"Lois, if you can't fathom what I'm attempting to say, then I'm afraid you'll always be a puzzlement to me and we'll have a meeting of the minds and, therefore, no forever relationship."

When Clark looked at the clock he remarked, "Lois I have several more things I need to get off my chest before I leave." Looking at the sky, Clark murmured, "Time grows short, sweetheart."

"Sweetheart," she exclaimed, "I've been called many things, but never by that moniker."

Quickly, Clark remarked, "You'll always be my sweetheart in my mind if not in life. That comment inadvertently popped out of my head. I'm sorry I upset you, Lois, by addressing you by that endearment. Please forgive me."

There's nothing to forgive she retorted, "I love that term, especially from you." Lois smiled to herself as she realized that the man of steel possessed as many insecurities as she. That fact endeared Clark to her far more than the behavior of his aka; that super guy who rushed around in a flashy red, blue and yellow suit.

Lois was brought out of her reverie when Clark said, "Thanks for allowing me to try to set the record straight, partner, or should I say ex- partner. I really enjoyed our last hurrah. Our tete-a-tete, at least gave us some closure and showed us there is no future for Lois and Clark as reporters or … I was hopeful that in time we could create a life together. Unfortunately, that dream is over. Your trust issue has certainly clouded that possibility. Furthermore, because of Linda's story, my antagonists will soon be gathering to destroy Clark Kent and our future together that could have been. I blame myself for this calamity. I should have tooled you about myself sooner."

"When you think about it, Lois, this entire Superman scenario is ironic. Think of it. Because of my deep seated need to help people, I was undone by a journalist who cares little or nothing for others. Now the lust of Linda King, who apparently has no scruples, will drive Clark Kent and his family into exile." As he finished, Lois put his head down and quietly began to sob.

Witnessing Clark's anguish and feeling his despondency, Lois pulled him to her and pressed her lips to his in a fervent kiss, a mark of affection which only lovers share. The mutual caress of their lips was tender and full of promise. It was a kiss that they both would remember forever and beyond forever. As they broke their embrace, Lois remarked, "I'm not going to publish my Superman story."

"Whaaat!" Perry bellowed.

"Now hear me out," Lois said. "If only one Superman story hits the street, there is a good chance that it could be refuted or blunted at a later time." However, Lois added, "If two similar articles are published, then the possibility of challenging the Clark-Superman connection becomes more difficult, maybe impossible."

Perry was about to chime in, when Lois waved him off. She then added, "I know what you're thinkin, chief. The press must be truthful always and tear away the veil of secrecy to maintain its integrity and inform the public. Like you, Perry, I agree with those notions most of the time. However, when the truth could destroy a good person and cause irreparable harm to countless others, then, I believe that this journalistic maxim is counterproductive."

"As Clark pointed out to me, once-upon-a-time," Lois articulated, "lying is a two edged sword." Then- smiling Lois added, "Therefore chief, we'll use the deceitful side of that blade, the side that will protect my best friend, my colleague, and my lover from eternal damnation. We'll use falsity as a tool to secure the safety of our city, the world, and Lois and Clark's future together."

Clark kissed Lois on the forehead for her support and said, "That's a brilliant plan, partner. I'll buy into it," Clark said euphorically. After a slight pause, Clark remarked, "You, my dear Ms. Lane, have just injected hope into my existence, maybe our lives."

"No maybe's about our future, Mr. Kent, just certainties." Clark just nodded and smiled for the first time during the Lane and Kent show and tell dialogue.

Then gazing at Clark with adoring eyes, Lois proclaimed, "By cementing our devotion to one another this day, you and I, partner, have touched tomorrow and all eternity." Embracing again, both journalists engaged in a spectacular display of emotion, causing the ever serious-minded Perry White to blush.

Looking at the faces of his two star reporters, Perry relented and said, "Okay, Okay we'll go with Lois' unorthodox scheme."

With all those present concurring, Lois took Clark's Superman article and destroyed it in the paper shredder.

As the eastern sky displayed signs of the coming dawn, Clark shook Perry's hand and gave Lois another soul shattering kiss. Smiling to hide her pain, Lois watched as Clark opened a window. Then quietly and with tears welling in her eyes, Lois murmured to her soulmate, "Clark, I will love you for all time. Our aimer beaucoup is stronger than life itself and will endure. For some inexplicable reason, Clark, I know we'll be reunited and our interrupted journey through life will continue unabated. But, Buster," Lois said, giggling to remove the sting from her words, "we still have much to talk about and resolve." Clark again nodded with a grin.

Holding Lois' hands, he placed his forehead upon hers. Clark then whispered, "I've squandered many days making plans to do many things. This day was not one of them. Because of my foolishness, what happened took me by surprise." After pausing for a moment, he added, "For all I should have thought and have not thought about us and our future, for all I should have said and have not said about my feeling for you, and for all that I should have done and have not done to bind us closer together, please forgive me."

With tears pooling in her eyes she said, "With all my heart, beloved, with all my heart." As Lois and Clark finished their declaration of love, tears began gushing down her face.

Relieved that Lois now understood and forgave most of his indolence, Clark crushed his life partner to him in an all consuming embrace. As he held Lois, Clark whispered, "Oh G-D, let me live the remainder of my life with this memory. I beg only that the creator of the universe watch over my soulmate and keep her from harm, always."

As the cock crowed, so to speak, Lois and Clark and Perry knew that Clark's time of departure had arrived. As Lois stood beside her lover at the open window, she pleaded with him to tell her where he and his folks were headed. Clark shook his head and replied, "My darling, I can't divulge our place of sanctuary. If you knew its location and people discovered that you knew, I'm afraid your life would become even more tenuous than it is right now. For the sake of our future, please be patient." Then Clark said rather gloomily, "I'm afraid any communication between us will be sparse. They'll be watching you like a hawk." As he finished talking, Clark caressed her face and kissed her again; a kiss which nearly shattered Clark's decision to leave.

With their eyes locked on each other, Clark levitated through the window and disappeared into the graying blackness of the coming dawn.

As Lois continued to stare into the murky sky, she watched the night wane as the sun rose in the east. A rising sun was a good omen, Lois thought. It filled her with hope that she and her beloved Clark would soon be reunited, and together they would journey together through flowered strewn uplands to cupid's grove.


At 7:45 am, Jimmy Olsen rushed into Perry's office with six copies of the Star's morning edition tucked under his arm. The front page screamed in bold extra large print "PLANET'S CONSUMMATE REPORTER CLARK KENT IS SUPERMAN."

Handing a copy to Perry and Lois, Jimmy mumbled quietly, "I don't believe it." Then, his voice, suddenly increasing in volume, ranted, "Has Linda King become brainsick?"

When Jimmy finished his emotional outburst, he noticed that something on the faces of Perry and Lois spoke volumes — Linda King's story was legit.

Just as Perry was about to talk to the young reporter, Murray Singer and Jimmy's friend Jack barreled into Perry's inner sanctum. Before the new comers could utter a word, Lois closed the office door and quietly said, "The article in the Star is true."

Looking at Jack and Murray, Lois told her two colleagues, in no uncertain words, "Bury the Clark- Superman information deep within the recesses of your minds." After hearing Lois' remarks, Jimmy, Jack and Murray became tense and speechless.

Seeing how uptight her friends appeared, Lois said, "Relax, guys. I'm aware that, besides me and the chief, Clark was your closest friend and colleague." Pausing for a moment, Lois added, "You must never confirm that Linda's expose is cogent. When asked, simply do not deny nor confirm Linda King's allegation. Just smile and say something to the effect that, "The Planet congratulates Linda King and the Star for their Superman story. We are eagerly awaiting more substantial evidence to nail down Linda's assertions."

Jimmy looked at Lois in disbelief and informed her, "Linda has irrefutable photographic evidence that exposes the Kent -Superman connection."

Lois smiled and quietly said to the cub reporter, "Pull out the Superman insert form the Star's morning edition and look at the supposed Kent to Superman transformation pictures."

After Jimmy had perused the photographic section of Linda's article, Lois asked him, "As a photojournalist, would you bet your career that those pictures were a definitive testament to a Kent — superhero scenario?"

As he was about to reply, Jimmy again looked at Linda's pictures. This time, however, he scrutinized every detail of the photographic reproductions. After a few minutes, the cub reporter shook his head and said, "These photos don't contain the clarity to be labeled high quality." Pausing for a second, Jimmy told Lois, "I'd define these prints as fuzzy at best. Therefore, in my humble opinion, Linda's pictures could not be considered incontestable evidence. We definitely could challenge the Star's allegation about their Kent — Superman connection." Then spreading the photo page on the table, Jimmy pointed out that while one could allude to a physical likeness between Kent and Superman, the lack of photographic clarity could cast considerable doubt on Linda's presumption that Kent and Superman were definitely one and the same.

Gazing at the pictures, Murray said, "Yeah, the blurriness of Linda's pics certainly does agree with your analysis, Jimbo."

When he viewed the Star's photographs Jack, too, agreed that Lois and Jimmy had discovered a possible discontinuity in the Kent — Superman evidence and Linda's claim to fame.

For the present, Lois said, "We'll keep this knowledge to ourselves. Clark told me to be patient, and we will follow his advice. When we do undertake to discredit Linda's Kent — Superman story, our plan must be a joint and well coordinated effort to succeed." Cautioning her friends, Lois told them, "Remember, the average person has a difficult time changing their minds even when confronted with overwhelming evidence."

After announcing her views, Lois then added, "Let's also give Clark a chance to come up with a solution to resolve this dilemma, while we subtly help his cause by spreading remarks that will cause people to question Linda's notions she expressed in her superhero expose.

"It's a hell of a way to run a newspaper," Perry remarked. Shaking his head, the chief continued, "Our business is to tell the truth, not to discredit it."

"This is a special case," Lois commented. "It's Clark we're talking about," She vehemently responded to her chief.

"I know, honey," Perry told her, "and I'm aware that the world does need Superman."

Then, following Lois' position, Murray chimed in, saying, "Remember our prime objective is a delaying action. An operation that we'll accomplish by undermining Linda's article, while Clark prepares a counter stroke."

"You know," Jimmy added, "I feel like a CIA agent working on a covert assignment."

"In a sense we are," Murray remarked. "And I believe," the elderly reporter added, "We're in for some very interesting times."

They all laughed, but each knew that Murray's and Jimmy's comments were close to the mark."

After a slight pause in their planning session, Lois announced, "I have another item on the agenda which should bolster your spirits."

"The weakness of Linda's story is not just the poor quality of her photos, but in the fact that she is the only source that links Kent and Superman. Even with her photographic evidence, Perry would never allow such an article to be published without a minimum of two verified sources and then only in special cases."

Perry nodded vigorously, strongly agreeing with Lois' statement.

After a slight pause in the conversation, Lois produced a piece of graph paper. She then placed a single point of the graph's detailed grid structure. After her action, Lois added, "Let's say that this single point represents Linda's Superman observation. In math, if you remember your basics, it takes two points to generate the simplest relationship. All one can say about one point on a graph is that it represents only a singularity. A singularity does not define a function — an equation which correlates information. As you are aware, two points are needed to describe a straight line, the simplest connection in two dimensional space. So you see, in Clark's case, we can subtly press for another observation, or better yet, two more observances before Linda's claim can be authenticated."

"So you see, my friends," Lois commented further, "even the logic of mathematics suggests that Linda's article is open to challenge."

After another brief pause to allow her argument to percolate, Lois added, "Although what I told you has merit, we are dealing with people and not abstract points on a graph. Humans are not often logical when emotional factors are present. To become realistic to the masses, a piece of gossip — like that point on the graph of which I spoke — must be connected to other significant events. Once the Kent-Superman idea was planted into the minds of individuals, by Linda's story, you'll find that it's a formidable task to change people's perceptions. That, my friends, is why newspapers generally cover tragic events for their page one spreads. A scientific meeting or poetry session at the Library of Congress does not generally produce news which is exciting to the public and, therefore, its proceedings are buried in the bowels of the paper. Unless, of course, some earth shaking information comes out of an academic conference."

"As the chief is fond of saying," Lois continued, "in the news business it's either catastrophe or atrophy." Perry smiled and nodded as Lois completed her short monologue.

"Lois," Jimmy said, "I'm impressed. Where did you learn that math stuff?" She smiled and replied, "I had a dual major as an undergraduate — journalism and math."

"Boy," Jimmy murmured, "you learn something new every day."

Placing his hand on Jimmy's shoulder Murray quietly said, "That's as it should be, my young friend."

As Lois was leaving Perry's office, she whispered a prayer. "Please, G-D, help me resolve this horrible situation so my soulmate and I can be reunited and be of help to the downtrodden of the Earth." Lois then walked back to her desk, her face awash in tears.


By mid morning, the Metropolis' Planet bureau was under siege. It seemed that correspondents from every newspaper within a hundred mile radius had congregated in front of the Planet building waiting to be briefed by Clark Kent's associates and more journalists were expected from newspapers world wide.

In the journalistic mix that congregated at the entrance of the Planet building, there were representatives from the so called legitimate newspapers and the news fabricators, the tabloids. When Perry sent Jimmy Olsen to meet with the news media camped before the Daily Planet, he found that their appetites were nearly universal — the assembled reporters came to substantiate or disprove the Star's allegations of the Kent-Superman connection. Nothing more nor nothing less, it seemed, would satisfy them.

It became obvious to the cub reporter that the world press smelled blood and, like piranhas, they wanted to be at the kill, so to speak — when the Superman disclosures were announced.

To defuse the virtual siege and disruption to his paper, Perry White decided to hold a press conference in the large auditorium on the sixth floor of the Planet building. Since Lois Lane was Clark's partner, he asked her to moderate the meeting. Without hesitation, she agreed to the chief's request.

At one o'clock that afternoon, a hundred representatives chosen from among the world's most prestigious newspapers gathered in the Planet's large conference center.

As a courtesy, the Planet set up a loud speaker system, with supporting monitors, so the reporters not in the auditorium could also observe the proceeding.

Several minutes after the hour set for the Kent-Superman symposium, Lois Lane called the special meeting to order. Waiting for the din to subside, she opened her remarks by saying, "My friends and colleagues, I have a few comments to make after which I will endeavor to answer your questions."

Lois began her remarks by referring to Linda King's exciting Superman expose and congratulating the Star for publishing such a fascinating article. She informed her colleagues that she, too, was as stunned by the allegation that Kent and Superman were two halves of the same person.

As Lois addressed those in the great hall and the reporters outside the Planet building, she subtly repeated and emphasized that Linda's story, while being newsworthy, was still an allegation because only a single source was cited — "like only having a single witness to a misdeed," Lois added. "One could hardly expect our legal system to prosecute on such meager evidence and expect to convict the accused. The hard evidence of the Star's Superman story — mainly consisting of photographs," Lois pointed out, "was not conclusive. And, unfortunately, the pics imbedded with Linda's story were fuzzy at best and could be contested." Lois then proceeded to tell her colleagues that several well- known photojournalists were already debating among themselves whether the strength of the pictorial material alone was sufficient to prove that Clark Kent and Superman were one and the same. To support the assertions of the photojournalists, Lois cleverly used her mathematical model with the Planet's hard facts policy to accentuate what the operating format of a world class newspaper should be. She told her audience the kinds of sources one should expect to be embedded in an article from such a top notch news organization such as the Daily Planet and other world class papers.

The Planet's star reporter finished her remarks by stating, "I am anxiously awaiting the Star's additional evidence which will move the Kent- Superman allegation from the maybe category to one of absolute certainty." Smiling she said, "Now, I'll try to answer some of your questions."

When Lois called for questions, a hundred hands were raised nearly simultaneously. She recognized Lloyd Williams, an old friend, who was currently working for the London Times. Smiling he asked, "If we're to believe that Linda's assertion about Kent and Superman is spurious, why did Clark cut and run?"

"Lloyd," she replied, "you, as many of us who are in this business know, that our profession during the past century has evolved into a modern rendition of the Circus Maximus. Like the crowds who attended those ancient Roman games, a tantalizing story which stimulates the press can cause the most reputable journalists to behave like half crazed professionals, or in reporter lingo, like bottom feeders. That's why a story like the Kent-Superman connection becomes a spectacle and even respectable journalists act like sharks during a feeding frenzy. When Clark was informed of Linda's impending story, he knew that the news hounds would pour into Metropolis like the sea breaching a dyke. To protect his parents, his friends, and colleagues, Clark collected his mother and father and went to ground." Lois ended Lloyd's question by adding, "Don't ask where Kent's gone because even I'm not privy to that information."

As she recognized yet another colleague from the vast audience, she silently thanked Clark for not telling her his current whereabouts.

Marianne Hoff of the Philadelphia Bulletin was the next reporter to participate in this rather unique press conference. Looking at her friend and colleague of many years, Ms. Hoff said, "Lois, from my perspective, your investigative skills are second to none. Since you and Clark were partners for some months and from our occasional conversations, very close associates, to say the least, I'm surprised that you didn't see through his disguise."

Silently thanking G-D for Marianne's question, Lois responded, "As most of you are aware, my partner Clark Kent was a mild mannered person. In many ways, he was the antitheses of Superman. I must admit that Kent and Superman have many physical features in common, which did peek my curiosity from time to time. However, after scrutinizing Clark surreptitiously over the months we worked together, I concluded that he and the superhero were two distinct individuals."

Marianne interjected and said, "Are you aware of the psychology of expectations?"

"Yes," Lois replied, "one discerns what he/she expects to see."

Pausing for a moment, the Bulletin journalist continued, "Most females, I'm quite sure, are enthralled with Superman's physiqu- and you can include me in that sisterhood. He's probably every woman's fantasy figure." Marianne then asked, "If you are a member of that club, Lois, don't you think that your infatuation with the guy in the cape could color your view of Clark's persona?"

Lois knew that her response was critical and had to be delivered with the utmost finesse. Taking a breath, Lois said, "As you alluded to, Marianne, Superman does have a hormonal effect upon me and probably most of my female associates. However, you must remember that I worked with Clark for nearly eight months on an average of fourteen hours a day. Don't you think that during that time I would have penetrated any disguise which Clark might have contrived? Marianne," Lois continued, "yes, it is possible that I was fooled. However, the probability that Clark could maintain a deception about an alter-ego over a lengthy period is most unlikely," Lois added. "That's why we at the Planet need more conclusive information which will confirm and support, without reservation, Linda King's allegation that Kent and Superman are the same person."

Thanks to Marianne Hoff's question and Lois' brilliant handling of her query, many remaining questions just dealt with her close professional and social association with Clark Kent. While this conference hadn't truly dissuaded anybody from Linda's Kent — Superman assertion, Lois knew that the Star's story was now somewhat less credible. And, that had been the major goal of this professional gathering. Looking into the eyes of her professional colleagues, Lois Lane was relieved. She was now aware that Linda King's story would not be accepted as a universal truth, at least for the foreseeable future.

When the questions ceased, Lois said to her peers, "Please indulge me for a few moments. I have a few closing remarks."

A hush fell over the hall as Lois began speaking. "This world is an uncertain realm filled with all sorts of dangers. Integrity among people and nations is constantly being undermined by those whose only game is the pursuit of power. Freedom is sacrificed when the weak are oppressed by the strong. There are those individuals who oppose such powerful forces and dedicate their lives to truth, honor, and freedom. Such people are known as the guardians of creation and the foremost among them is Superman. I hope and pray that by our actions we have not driven him from our midst. I also fear that what has been done this day will have dire consequences for us all, whether Kent is or is not a superhero. In a frenzy to expose and exploit what is unique to this world, time and time again, we have inadvertently endangered the ascent of humankind. I hope in this situation our conduct will be more insightful, but fear it will not. If all goes according to Hoyle, the collective behavior of our global community will not change and Clark Kent will be pursued until he is either discovered and driven into deep cover or destroyed."

Pausing for a moment or two, Lois Lane concluded, "Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for attending this rather unique press conference hosted by the Metropolis Bureau of the Daily Planet." Then taking a deep breath, Lois declared, "This meeting is now adjourned."

Watching Lois leave the lectern, Perry's pride in her almost busted his britches. Lois had matured since she joined the Planet. Her remarks during the conference were brilliant, pragmatic and tinged with a touch of altruistic sentiment. Hearing his star reporter address her peers, Perry knew that Lois was no longer an island unto herself. Clark had seen to that. He had brought her back to life. She again was deeply involved in worldly issues. Looking heavenward, Perry quietly whispered to himself, "Clark, my friend, Thank you."

Nearly four hours after it had begun the Planet's colloquium about the Kent — Superman's issue had ended. An exhausted Lois Lane accompanied by her compatriots then visited Perry's favorite watering place and slowly gave themselves over to the soothing spirits of Bacchus.

For a while that evening, five embattled people experienced the rosy glow of well being as they viewed life through an alcoholic equivalent of rose colored glasses.

Early the next morning, Lois took Perry to the airport. He was flying to Des Moines for the christening of his newest grandchild. Lois would be acting Editor and Chief during Perry's sojourn.

Upon returning to the Daily Planet, Lois plunged straightaway into the prodigious task of running a newspaper. All seemed to be proceeding well until shortly after the bullpen's first coffee break, when "all hell broke loose."

It was ten in the morning when an armed band of men, who later identified themselves as a brigade of bureau 39 regulars, took control of the Daily Planet. With military precision, these highly experienced combatants rapidly deployed and secured the newsroom within moments of their appearance. From the moment of Bureau 39's appearance, the bullpen and its environs were isolated from the outside world. Once the newsroom was physically secured, electronic counter measures were employed to nullify all communication devices employed by the Planet's staff.

However, Un-be-known to the invaders, Jimmy Olsen, who had just exited the dark room, was able to escape from the building. Outside the range of Bureau 39's electronic gadgets, he used a cellular phone to contact the local authorities.

In the meantime, Lois had stormed out of Perry's office and verbally assailed the invaders. "Who the hell are you guys," she screamed.

After a stressful moment of silence, a tall, stocky man with a cynical grin replied, "We're a governmental agency which was created to safeguard this planet, Ms. Lane. You can address me as Jason Trask, or Colonel Trask," he added.

"Did you ever hear of the first amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of the press?" Lois barked at him.

"Wonderful document the constitution," Trask countered. "People use it for many things. Even those individuals who want to destroy the wonderful things in that document you just mentioned hide behind its protection. That's why we have courts," the colonel remarked. Then Jason reached into his jacket pocket and produced a legal document and presented it to Lois. Perusing the judicial certificate, she noted that is was authorized by the Federal Court in Metropolis citing national security as the reason for its issuance.

After reading the legal document, with fire emanating from her eyes and sarcasm laced with scorn dripping from her tongue, Lois asked, "What do you want, Colonel Trask?"

"The tone of your words are indicative of a combative stance," Trask replied. "Since you are in no position to resist, I'd say your fighting words were kinda asinine." The colonel then asked, "Where is the alien's desk?"

"Whose desk?" Lois retorted.

"Don't play games with me, Ms. Lane," Trask angrily remarked.

"You know perfectly well who I mean. That Kent fellow… that stinkin' piece of extraterrestrial filth."

Lois was shocked at Trask's sudden rage toward Clark and was struck by his piercing eyes during his nearly uncontrollable utterances. As Lois observed Trask's irrational behavior, she thought to herself, "This man's deportment is that of a mentally unhinged person." In the jargon of that period, people witnessing Trask's demeanor would refer to the Colonel as a person who was way around the bend or was a taco short of a combo salad. Either way you cut it, Lois was now aware that she was dealing with a severe mental case.

Quieting herself, Lois inquired, "What if we simply do not cooperate with you?"

After Lois had challenged Trask, he replied, "We'll start killing your people until you see the errors of your ways."

"Won't the noise of your weapons bring unwanted visitors," Lois asked.

"Very good point, Ms. Lane," Task replied. Smiling with a maniacal grin, he continued, "Let me demonstrate how Bureau 39 terminates a life."

Turning, Trash shouted, "Billingsly, bring your LT and grab that kid."

"What's an LT," Lois asked.

"An LT stands for a 'life terminator,'" Jason casually replied. After making sure his orders were being obeyed, the Bureau 39 commander added, "We use a lethal injection device to do our killing. It consists of two drugs. The first narcotic renders the subject unconscious and the second drug, which is encapsulated in a time release container, terminates the victim's life thirty seconds later." Trask enlightened Lois further by saying, "The second drug disrupts the autonomic nerve responses causing the heart and lungs to cease functioning nearly simultaneously. There's no noise and no mess, Ms. Lane," he concluded with a smiled.

Then-taking Lois by the arm, he literarily dragged her to the spot where Billingsly was holding a young Planet employee he'd readied for execution. As Lois and her tormentor approached the execution station, Trask said, "Demonstrate the LT to this feisty bitch."

"Oh G-D," Lois screamed, "Please don't kill the boy! We'll cooperate."

"That's the patriotic spirit, Lady," Trask cynically replied. "Where was Kent's desk?" Lois pointed to the work area adjacent to her own. "Working kind of close to that piece of alien garbage. How could you stand to be so close to that putrid piece of dreck? Or maybe you just liked the smell swill," the Bureau 39 commander remarked as he finished his cutting remarks.

Looking on in horror, she watched Trask's men reduce Kent's work bench to small sections that were then scrutinized in minute detail using sophisticated electronic equipment. As the examination proceeded, Lois asked Trask what he intended to do to Clark and his parents if he could locate them. Grinning at Lois, he replied, "Clark I will dispatch as an exterminator kills bugs. The individuals that raised him will be treated like the people of Salem dealt with their witch problem."

"If you look at the birth records," Lois stated, "you'll find that Clark was a home born child and was raised from infancy in Smallville, Kansas."

Without looking at Lois, the Bureau 39's chief retorted, "There was a UFO event which occurred in Smallville during May of nineteen sixty-six. The birth records indicate that a male child was born to the Kents on May seventeenth of that year. Wouldn't you agree that kind of information is intriguing? Couple our information with the King article and wala, we have a connection. To our chagrin and shame, Kent's disguise worked well. His secret identity was an exceptional piece of deception. We never thought that his alien identity would be revealed in a 'cartoonish' guise. Whoever worked out that ploy was very clever? People who are cleaver can also be dangerous. Therefore, possibly, just possibly they're also working in cahoots with the alien pigs and would be a fifth column when those space scum attempt to conqueror our world."

As he was talking, Trask's cohorts were setting up their polygraph equipment — lie detector instrumentation — and began testing the Planet employees. Only one question was asked, "Do you know where Clark Kent and his family are now residing?" When Lois had also finished being interrogated, she overheard a member of Trask's team remark that their security perimeter had been breached. When Trask was told of their security situation, he ordered his men to pack up Bureau 39's equipment and split. The last item Lois heard from the intruders was, "We'll all meet at point delta at the appointed time."

After Bureau 39 had vacated the premises, a shaken Lois Lane retreated to the sanctuary of Perry's office and attempted to rid herself of the trauma which the recent events had just introduced into her life.

Before Trask and his marauders left the newsroom, Lois learned that the analysis of Clark's desk had been a bust. Also, the lie detector information did not reveal the current whereabouts of the Kent family. The raid, however, for Trask and his followers was a failure. For Lois the attack on the Planet had been scary as hell but also most enlightening.

Putting her feet up on Perry's desk in an attempt to relax her tortured body, she thought to herself, "Thank G-D that Clark refused to tell me where he and his parent were going to hang their hats. Clark was so right about not telling me."

"That's for sure," she mumbled. "That's for dang sure."

Sitting at Perry's desk, Lois again scrutinized her relationship with her ex-partner, Clark. As she thought about their relationship, Lois realized that the hurt between them caused by the trust issue had dissipated. The Trask episode had purged her of that emotional baggage. Clark was right on the mark when he said, "If you knew and others found out, you'd be targeted. They would use you and my parents as a lure to get at me."

When Lois finally regained some of her composure, she telephoned the Planet's attorney. As she waited for Janice Paxton to come to the phone, Lois recalled Trask's last remarks. "We'll hunt for that misbegotten son of Satan until the bureau has located his hideaway. Then I'll exterminate this so called superhero and the traitors who nurtured him." Lois then shuttered as Trask's comments again raced through her mind.

After Lois had filled Janice in on the Trask affair, she slowly walked back to the newsroom. As she strolled about the bullpen, Lois realized that all the barriers between her and Clark had vaporized. She loved him more, more than she ever thought was possible to love anybody.

By the end of the day, Lois had received word from the newspaper's lawyer that the supposed federal documents used by Trask were fraudulent. As Lois pondered the significance of Trask's criminal action, Lois recalled the event caused by LexNuclear — the heat episode — several months before Clarks sudden departure. The meaning of Lex's attempt to exile Superman and now Trask's endeavor to murder the superhero struck her like a thunderbolt. No matter how much Clark, as Superman, did for people of Earth there would always be those, because of envy or blind hatred, who would be lurking in the wings ready to cast stones at the superhero. Love thy neighbor as thyself had never really taken root in Western society. Hell, that statute from biblical sources was not accepted anywhere on the face of the Earth as far as she was concerned. The concept of fear the stranger and destroy those who are or appear different from you seemed to be the axiom of their age.

A new resolve blazed in Lois' eyes. They would not locate nor harm Clark, nor his parents through any fault of hers. Lois knew it would be very difficult to maintain her steadfast purpose in this situation. She desperately wanted to taste Clark's kisses and hold him in her arms. She wanted to love and be loved by him for the rest of their lives. Lois wanted to be the mother of their children, sons and daughters who would carry the Lane-Kent seed and Clark's unique abilities to the next generation and beyond, as long as life existed on Earth or some other planet their posterity called home.


While Lois endured Trask's attack of the Planet, Clark and his parents arrived on the island nation of Singapore in the dead of night and made a bee line to their new home. It was hot and muggy when they reached their destination, but that was to be expected for a country only one or two degrees from the equator.

By the time the sun began rising on the Pacific Isle of Singapore, the Kent family had already settled in. By subtle and clandestine means, Clark brought a duplicate of his artificial intelligence unit, the AI, to his new home. It was placed in his bedroom where the AI module disguised itself as an armoire. To supplement the AI's covert status, he placed a tele and some knickknacks on its disguised physical appearance.

Looking at the armoire, a guest or casual observer to the Kent (Curtis) home would never suspect that they were actually in the presence of an electronic library. An athenaeum which contained the cumulative knowledge of a long dead civilization… Krypton, Clark's birth world. To them, the armoire would simply appear as an attractive piece of furniture.

The next day Ken Curtis, Clark's new aka, arrived at the Planet's Singapore bureau. Upon entering the newsroom, Clark felt as if he'd come home. The hustle and bustle of the people were like a tonic and bolstered his spirits.

After Clark aka Ken Curtis introduced himself to Alan Jacobs, the two chatted for most of the morning. Throughout the remainder of the day, Clark became familiar with the operations of the Singapore bureau. As the workday waned, Clark was already functioning in his role as chief editor. By the end of the week, the efficiency of the editorial department had increased one hundred and fifty percent. Alan Jacobs was elated. He emailed Perry and thanked him profusely for the services of his new staffer, which he was led to believed was on loan from the Metropolis Bureau.

As Clark's duties at the Singapore bureau became more routine, he concentrated on securing sufficient capital to ensure the financial independence of his parents and the monetary security of the Daily Planet against a possible hostile takeover. Also provided for in his economic plans was the acquisition of sufficient monies to support his scientific research activities.

To accomplish these tasks, Clark, using his super abilities, dredged up sufficient gold and other precious materials from the ring of fire which circumnavigated the Pacific basin. After taxes, the financial sum for his efforts amounted to more than one hundred billion American dollars on the open market. With this money, he opened several coded accounts in Swiss banks under a dummy nonprofit Corporation entitled THE JOREL AND LARA FOUNDATION.

Then, using the foundation as a front, he purchased the Daily Planet and all its subsidiaries. He made Perry White the C.E.O. of the Planet's enterprises with a board which included people from the various Planet Bureaus situated throughout the world. Lois was also named to the board as Perry's adjutant. The suits who previously ran the paper were each given a bonus besides a generous payout to insure their silence about the newspaper's sale and its new owner. If disclosure of the Planet's sale by the suits ever became public knowledge, then the previous owners, according to their contract, would forfeit their bonuses.

Aside from the monies used in Clark's protection scheme, a substantial monetary sum was deposited in the Curtis' bank account every month and would continue for the remainder of Martha's and Jonathan's lives. At long last, the Kent family's financial status was secure.

One month after he arrived in Singapore, Clark discovered within the archives of his Kryptonian electronic library how to create a stealth material which would render its user completely invisible. With the help of the AI unit, Clark synthesized a batch of stealthy fabric, which also behaved like cloth. With this cloth like substance, Martha created a special suit with a hood, gloves and boots. When Clark used this special outfit while flying, his RADAR signature was undetectable and optical sightings became an impossibility. At last, at long last, Clark Kent was ready to begin his assault on Lex Luthor and his evil empire.

Several months after Clark Kent aka Ken Curtis started working at the Planet's Singapore bureau, he used several personal days to investigate information he received from Bobby Big-mouth. Information which concerned some illicit activities connected to one of LexCorp's subsidiaries. Clark's source told him that one of Lex's companies was operating illegally within a third world country — the Congo, to be more specific.

Acting on his clandestine info, Clark flew to the Congo and discovered a tremendous gun running operation. Soaring above the suburbs of Brazzaville, Clark quickly located the weapons manufacturing facility. The placard at the factory entrance read LexMunitions LTD.

Descending, Clark entered the plant unseen and, using video and sound equipment, recorded what was occurring in the armament factory. During Clark's covert investigation an individual's name, Hank Judd, was mentioned more than once.

Clark was later to learned that Hank Judd headed the munitions arm of LexCorp.

Over the course of the next several days, Clark followed the transfer of the guns and ammunition manufactured at the Congo plant to the warlords in Somalia and the rebels in the Sudan. All these illegal activities were well documented by Clark Kent aka Ken Curtis.

As he was returning to Singapore via London, Clark knew that his next article would tear out the guts from LexCorp's illegal weapon's operation in central Africa. Clark's story would be the first of many blows which would eventually cripple Lex's sub-Rosa operations around the world and stifle Luthor's lust for power. Maybe, just maybe, Lex Luthor would do time for some of his crimes against humankind.

Copies of the sound recordings, video tapes and still pictures were sent to Perry White via UPS out of London, while the arms article was emailed to the chief over their special internet connection.


Perry returned the day after Trask's intrusion into the Planet's newsroom and was furious about this occurrence. His contact "Sore Throat" and was told that Bureau 39 was a deep cover military organization. The organization was so secret that its very existence would be denied by all government agencies which were aware of the bureau's existence. Perry was also informed that this bureau 39 was run by a psychotic military type with delusions of grandeur called Colonel Jason Trask. This man had already dispatched numerous people, without remorse, when he believed they were a danger to the Earth — a danger that unfortunately for his victims only existed in his deranged mind. Perry was also told by his contact that Jason Trask's views were so strong, bordering on religious zeal, that he was absolutely convinced that extraterrestrials were threatening to invade and destroy Earth and its people.

Over the next several weeks, the Planet was visited by various organizations. They included the C.I.A., F.B.I., C.E.O.'S of large corporations, charities, and representatives of foreign governments. All of them wanted to see Clark Kent. Each had a special proposition for him. They persisted, even when told that the allegations by Linda King had not been corroborated, and it was believed she had misinterpreted her data.

The appearance of those seeking Clark made Lois truly understand Clark's need for secrecy. It drove home the concept of a normal life which Clark had so often told her he craved. If he had to be Superman continually, she was certain that his sanity would shatter. Breaking into tears, she murmured, "I'm sorry, Clark. I didn't understand your need for a normal existence. Please forgive me."

About a week after the last of the Kent seekers had silently disappeared, Perry received a story via the net and a UPS package from London. Kal Ellis' first article with supporting documentation had arrived. The chief grinned as he muttered, "A dagger of justice has been thrust into the jugular of one Lex Luthor. Perry knew more would follow until the evil that was Lex Luthor was eradicated and no longer plagued the Earth."

Pausing for a moment, he bellowed, "Lois, Jimmy, Murray—my office now."

Looking at the group Perry said, "I just received a hot story from one of the Planet's free-lancers." He dropped the printout onto Lois' lap, handed the supporting pictorial and video sections to Jimmy, and told Murray to design a special front page for this expose.

"What you have in your hands," Perry told them, "is a very hot item. When this story hits the street, in the afternoon edition, Luthor will sizzle. He'll be on us like a flea on a dog. This flea, you should expect, will have an army of lawyers with him for the sole purpose of putting the Planet out of business by legal or illegal ploys."

After a few moments of contemplation, Perry said to Jimmy, "I want a photo spread that will jump at the reader. Murray will help you fit your picture compilation and Kal Ellis' story into the paper's layout. Do you two have any questions?" Murray and Jimmy just shook their heads. Nodding, Perry said, "Okay guys, go to it."

When Jimmy and Murray left Perry's inner sanctum Lois remarked, "This article will be one of the biggest stories the Planet's published in a decade." Perry nodded in agreement. Then she added, "You know, Perry, Kal's writing style seems very familiar to me." Pausing, Lois mused, "It almost looks as though Clark has become a ghost writer for this free- lancer, Kal Ellis." Suddenly, Lois jumped up, as if she were struck by lightening. "It is Clark," she nearly screamed. The chief just smiled. "Even in exile, he's still making a difference," Lois commented, as her face lit up like a solar flare.

Lois now knew that Clark's spirit might have been bruised by the events of the past few months, but those incidents hadn't broken him. Not a religious person outwardly, Lois bowed her head and whispered, "Oh G-D, preserve him always."

Taking Lois by the hand, Perry, read a postscript imbedded in his email meant just for him alone. He now shared it with Lois. The simple, but powerful, message read, "I wish this byline could read Lane and Kent. I miss her more each day." Lois suddenly realized that Clark and she were still bound to each other — more so now than ever before. She should never have feared that Clark would forget her in time." Lois mentally chastised herself in disgust for her lack of trust in her partner. When Lois heard Clark's simple words, a heavy load was finally lifted from her soul. The Planet's top reporter had, at last, overcome her irrational dread of losing Clark. Lois now understood that the only thing which could part them this side of eternity would be the pale rider."

That evening, Lois fantasized that she and Clark were together again, this time in a life long partnership — a relationship which was both professional and intimate in scope. While the events of the last few months had placed a mirky veil around her hopes, little did Lois realize that her fantasy was indeed a vision of her future and the beginnings of a journey, a journey that would result in the Utopia H.G. Wells spoke of so often.

As expected, early the next morning, Lex Luthor entered the newsroom with his entourage of legal eagles — a gaggle of pettifoggers.

Before Lex could start his harangue, he was handed a packet. It contained the hard facts which supported the Kal Ellis article. After scrutinizing the packet's contents, he gave it to his team of solicitors.

While Lex's attorneys were studying Perry's material, the master of LexCorp turned toward Lois and in his most charming voice remarked, "You look more radiant than ever this fine morning, Ms. Lane."

"Thank you," she replied. Then she said, "How can you say that it is a fine morning when a fiasco is facing LexCorp?"

Giving Lois a beautific and seductive smile, Lex replied, "In business, Lois, the process often requires that you take a step back before you can proceed. Judd was a dishonest C.E.O. of a LexCorp's subsidiary. In the short-term, his dishonest ventures will undoubtedly cause us to incur losses in our Congo armament business and elsewhere around the globe. But with our business model, LexCorp and I are confident that the profits in this area will be substantially higher within a reasonable period. Now, we will use what monies were acquired by LexMunitions to clean house, a cleansing process where the executive officers loyal to Judd are expunged from LexCorp and the felons prosecuted."

"If I read you correctly," Perry commented, "you knew nothing of the sub Rosa activities of LexMunitions."

"That's correct," Lex replied. After a brief pause Luthor continued, "When the government boys have checked our records, they'll find that the mother company was unaware of LexMunitions' moonlighting enterprises."

Looking at Perry, Lex declared, "Mr. White, your questions remind me of that giblet, Kent. He felt that there were illicit conspiracies linked to my financial empire. First, I ignored his probing into my affairs. However, when his investigation became a nuisance, I blocked Kent's snooping into the affairs of LexCorp. I must admit Clark was a great investigative newsman and was able to outfox most of my security devices. He was elusive and more cunning than I every suspected. That motley farm hand must have learned a great deal from you, Lois, my dear. I wasn't aware that you were such a fine teacher. Such talent will be most useful when you have children of your own."

Lois blushed and thought to herself, "Ah ha, a nice opening to your capture Lois campaign, Lexiepoo."

After shuffling about for a moment, Lex continued, "When Kent left I thought that any further probing by this paper into LexCorps affairs would cease. Now, I have this itinerant reporter Kal Ellis to contend with."

As Lex contemplated this new player, his mask momentarily fell revealing a very odious persona. Lois, seeing part of the real Lex for the first time shuttered. Closing her eyes and saying to herself, "Thank you, my darling, for warning me about Lex Luthor. Holy cow," she muttered, talking to her psyche, "what a nefarious soul must accompany Lex's physiognomy."

As Lex finished his outburst, one of Lex's sycophants entered the newsroom and rushed to Luthor handing him a small packet of papers. After perusing the information Lex sadly remarked, "This is just not my day."

"What happened, Lex?" Lois asked sensing a story.

The multi billionaire looked up and said as a matter of fact, "The Planet was sold to the Jorel and Lara Foundation. I wanted to own the Daily Planet. Now it's out of my reach. Too bad, I had such plans for this rag."

Perry smiled as he commented, "I guess we'll still be a thorn in your side, ey Lex?"

Luthor leered, as he said, "Let the games begin, if you wish, Perry. It will provide a most stimulating interlude to my usual daily routines."

"I'm sure it will," Perry cheerfully replied.

"Oh, by and by, Luthor," Perry added, "the J and L Foundation has also acquired the Star and all the weeklies in Metropolis effectively blocking your dissolution of any news organizations in the city." Perry then added, "You should also know that the Planet is constructing a radio and TV facility to compete with LNN. The call letters will be WDPN. The FCC licensing agency also gave us clear channel access so our radio broadcasts can be beamed throughout the world."

When Lex and his cronies were about to leave, Lois asked Lex, "What do you think of Linda King's Superman story?"

After a slight pause Luthor responded, "Her expose was nothing but bunk," Luthor stated emphatically. "You were right, Lois, there has been no corroboration of her assertions connecting Kent and Superman. Her premise is almost laughable. How could a spineless pipsqueak like Kent be a superhero. It's beyond humor. It's ludicrous."

As Lex neared the exit of the Planet, he stopped and turned again toward Lois. "My dear," he remarked, "the two of us may be adversaries on a professional level, but I would hope that we could become friends and, in time, maybe more than friends."

"Ah," Lois thought, "it begins."

Smiling she replied, "I don't allow personal and business ventures to overlap. So I think you could consider me as a chum of sorts."

Then Lex responded, "You wouldn't think that I was too forward if I asked you to dinner on occasion?"

"Of course not," Lois replied biting her tongue.

"You should know, Lex," Lois added, "I'll be really busy for the next couple of weeks. I'll have to reorganize my working routine to again function as lone wolf Lane. I may take Perry's offer to be a part-time assistant editor to allow my psyche to adjust to my new situation."

"Can't you break in another partner?" Luthor queried her.

"Lex," she replied, "I'm a difficult person to work with under the best circumstances. To date my only successful partner was Clark Kent, who I fortunately encountered after a long string of failed professional alliances."

Laughing, Lex commented, "Kent probably survived because he was a yes person and crawled to you on his belly. That giblet probably didn't argue one iota with you and did what he was told like a good little Mr. Milk toast. Am I correct in my description of that man from the pig coral?"

As Lois listened to Luthor's orchestrated assassination of Clark's character, she just smiled and said nothing about Luthor's demeaning slurs of her exiled love. The depraved and self-adoring Lex Luthor's views of Kent couldn't be further from the truth and mattered even less. Lois was quite aware that her noble partner and she were true partners in every sense of the word and nothing in this world would ever change those circumstances.

As Luthor headed for the exit, he offhandedly informed Lois that he would get in touch with her in a couple of weeks. After Lex left the news floor, Lois picked up a fruit bowl from her desk and hurled it to the floor, smashing the ceramic into a zillion pieces. Her violent action relieved some of her mounting hostilities toward Lex, the louse.

Five weeks passed and Lois was beginning to think that Lex viewed her as an historical figure. Maybe, if she were really lucky, Luthor would forget to call her.

It was not to be. One day after Kal Ellis' next expose hit the street, Luthor sent her an exquisite bouquet of roses with a large box of Swiss chocolates. The accompanying note asked her to accompany him to the opera, followed by dinner, on Saturday evening. Lois was quite aware that the opening gambit had been played in Lex's matrimonial game. A game in which Lex Luthor intended to wed and bed Lois Lane.

Lois called Lex's residence and reached Mrs. Cox, his woman Friday. She said, "Tell Lex I would be delighted to be his escort for the Saturday evening festivities."

Mrs. Cox replied, "Thanks for returning Mr. Luthor's call promptly. I'll tell him of your decision. He'll send a limo for you at 6:30 pm. Goodbye."

After Lois hung up, she shivered. From Mrs. Cox's voice, she got the impression that the woman was a person who would enjoy watching others suffer or maybe causing the pain herself. Then Lois picked up the morning edition of the Planet and started to read Clark's… Kal Ellis' recent article. As she perused the story, Lois knew that another literary dagger had been thrust into LexCorp's vitals.

The second of Kal Ellis' stories was another masterpiece of investigative journalism. He had smashed a global prostitution ring run by a human resource conglomerate, which was another of LexCorp's subsidiary companies. It functioned by kidnapping attractive women between twenty and thirty years of age from around the world and transported them to a special facility on the island of Rota. There, they were forcibly given an addictive drug which reduced their morals and heightened the captive's libido. After their resistance to certain sexual conditions was suppressed, the prisoners were well schooled in the art of love making and brain washed into accepting their new lot in life. When the captives' training had been completed, these women were then sold to brothels around the world.

As Lois read, with increasing fascination, she noted that Kal Ellis had inserted a reference to an article on "White Slavery" by Lane and Kent. She sighed, even in exile he was still her partner. She knew Clark had placed that reference in his article to bolster Lois' image in the public's eye.

Soon after Lois had finished reading Kal's piece, Nigel arrived with Asabi and proceeded to the editor's office. Several minutes later they left carrying a small packet of material. Shortly thereafter, Perry left his inner sanctum and sauntered over to Lois' work area. When she looked up, Perry said," I just gave Lex's flunkies a copy of the material supporting Kal Ellis' latest story. They were a bunch of unhappy campers. I heard Nigel say that Lex should increase the hunter-killer teams looking for that piece of garbage, meaning, of course, Kal Ellis."

Smiling Lois replied, "Kal's getting to them. Lex's reputation is being tarnished, and his financial losses are starting to impair LexCorp's operations. I think we can expect some drastic action by Luthor and his toadies very shortly," Lois remarked.

Perry nodded in agreement and added, "I'd better inform our mutual acquaintance about the shifting winds."

On Saturday evening, at the appointed hour, a limo picked up Lois Lane for her first social outing with Lex Luthor. The interior of the touring car was like a small apartment and, like Lex's penthouse, was lavishly outfitted. While the decor within the limo was elegant, it also spoke volumes about a certain self- centered man who flaunted his wealth. Lexiepoo had readily adopted the nouveau rich syndrome and added his own disgusting flair to monetary sickness practiced by his social group. Lex was someone who Lois would never have considered dating, let alone consider as a life partner. This social excursion was strictly business. It was a way to infiltrate Lex's self- contained band of assassins and obtain information that would help ring down the curtain on the house of Luthor.

The opera, "Semiramide" by Gioacchino Rossini, was magnificent as was supper at Louie's Back Yard. The restaurant was an eatery for a very select group of wealthy clientele.

After dinner Lex and Lois flew in a private supersonic aircraft to Paris where a suite was waiting for her at the Hotel Inter Continental. The next morning, they had breakfast together in her rooms, after which Lex took her on a personal tour of the Louvre before the duo returned to Metropolis.

During their time together, Lex had subtly indicated, in a jocular manner, that his spouse would experience this kind of treatment as a matter of course. As they conversed, Luthor subtly injected into their discourse facts about her unhappy childhood and past romances. He seemed to make it a point to commiserate with her over the painful parts of her previous intimate encounters.

When Lois returned to her apartment she breathed a sigh of relief. However, she had to admit that, although Lex was a snake in the grass, he was truly a master of psychological deception.

As Lois was preparing to retire, her mind recalled Clark's words, and the file notes he left her. Smiling to herself, she reflected upon her outing with Luthor and just how well the scenario of their date corresponded with Clark's description of Lex, a preeminent financier. As usual, my super love, Lois mentally mused your analysis was right on target. Lois was well aware that those arrayed against Luthor were nearing that point in the confrontation where the culprit would be exposed and his outrages made public. Just before sleep captured her, Lois decided to put off dating Lexiepoo for a week or so to stimulate the chase. Yawning, Lois then crept into bed and was asleep before her head touched the pillow.

When she arrived at work on Monday morning, on her desk was an urn filled with beautiful red roses. The card which came with the flowers said, "I had a wonderful time with you by my side. Let's do it again soon. Love Lex." Smiling at the salutation, Lois threw the note into the circular file and distributed the flowers among her female colleagues.

For several days following Lois' first encounter with Lex the news was rather dull. That is, until the end of the week when Perry called her into his office and handed her another expose from Kal Ellis. As she read Clark's article, Lois could feel his words touching her like in a passionate caress.

As expected, Kal Ellis' expose was another ruinous thrust at Lex Luthor and his evil business pursuits. Clark's story also would further sully Lex's reputation by further tarnishing his carefully cultivated image of a generous and caring philanthropist.

As Lois studied the information in Clark's new story and compared it with his first article, she began to understand the method of Clark's attack mode. He was assailing the appendages of LexCorp — the subsidiaries of the mother corporation — and severing them from the body so to speak. In this way, Clark was cutting off the illegal revenues destined for Luthor's hidden coffers, which financed his illegal pursuits.

This recent Kal Ellis' article informed the public of a loathsome LexCorp subsidiary, known as The RainBow Company, which bought and sold black market body parts. This subsidiary of LexCorp ran medical clinics throughout much of the third world, which didn't have tough guidelines or effective enforcement procedures to control the barter in human remains. The director of this operation was Lance DeWitt. His company was purported to be a philanthropic arm of LexCorp. Under the umbrella of the Metropolis based mother corporation, the RainBow subsidiary made it a point to treat unmarried pregnant women and convinced them to abort their fetus during the fifth month of their gravid condition. After the fetuses were evacuated, they were dissected, and the parts sold to unscrupulous medical practitioners to treat such physiological disorders as diabetes and forms of dementia. The RainBow Company also purchased teenaged girls from illegal slave markets throughout the world and had them artificially inseminated to increase their fetal abortion production. As in an unmarried woman case, during the fifth month of their gestation period, their fetuses were forcibly aborted. These young girls were isolated from the outside world and kept in special homes run by The RainBow Organization. While they were treated well, the company's operation was analogous to a chicken coop where hens were kept in confinement and forced to produce eggs on command. Girls that survive three such gravid episodes were given a thousand dollars and sent into the world. Of the ravaged women released from The RainBow Company's Gehenna, few survived a year.

While the entire body segment operation was a most lucrative venture for The RainBow Company and LexCorp, the inhumanity exhibited by these businesses was typical of most enterprises controlled by the devil's disciple, one Lex Luthor.

Included with Clark's hard evidence with his Luthor expose was a small container. The package was addressed to Perry White and labeled confidential. When Perry opened the box, his eyes beheld an array of odd looking gadgets. After reading the documentation included with the gizmos, he called Lois, Jimmy, and Murray to his office.

When the Planet gang of four had made themselves comfortable, the chief gave each of them some of Clark's devices. Perry then said, "Take your time and examine these doohickeys. Then I'll explain what these contraptions are and how they should be used."

Several minutes later, Perry said, "Can I have your Attention, boys and girls. Since we are all engaged in a battle with a megalomaniac, Clark sent us these devices to hone and strengthen our abilities in our struggle against Lex and company." He then smiled and remarked, "For your information, they're nontoxic." The laughter that followed lowered their apprehension about the strange looking contraptions.

After the stress relieving laughter subsided, Perry began to describe each device and how it was to be utilized. He held up a small disk with a number one engraved on its surface and said, "Place this object on the pallet within your mouth." Sensing their apprehension, he demonstrated by placing the disk- like object marked one onto the roof of his mouth. Seeing there was no adverse effects the rest of the gang followed his lead. After the insertion of the first device, Perry remarked, "Can you feel it on the roof of your mouth?" They all answered no. The chief then continued, "That device has become part of your tissues. When, at any time, you are in dire straights, just place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and hold it there for about five seconds. At the end of that period a distress signal will be sent to the big fellow, and he'll come a runnin'."

"Won't RADAR installations detect him when he's flying?" Lois inquired.

"No," Perry replied, "Superman has developed a unique stealth material which he's already incorporated into his costume. Its RADAR signature is nearly nonexistent."

"How did Clark fabricate these Buck Roger's widgets?" Murray asked Perry.

He was told, "Clark's been studying the contents of an electronic library, an athenaeum which was imbedded in the hull of his interstellar vessel, the one that carried him to Earth as an infant. From Clark's library, he learned of these particular gadgets," the chief added.

"He reached Earth as a baby!" Lois croaked in surprise.

"Yeah," Perry remarked, "Clark might have been born on Krypton, but he's an Earthman by inclination and by choice."

Pausing for a moment, Perry continued, "The disk marked with a two is a device when touched twice will immobilize any surveillance mechanism within a radius of five meters (about sixteen feet) from where you happen to be standing." He then placed the device inscribed with the number two just below the shoulder on his right arm. As Clark's second disk touched Perry's body, it too fused with the chiefs subcutaneous tissues. The others again followed his lead. Like the first disk, it disappeared below the surface of the skin incorporating itself within their intercellular matter.

Studying Clark's instructions again, Perry then took another disk emblazoned with the number three and placed it on the skin just below his right hip. Like the first and second disks, it too disappeared below the surface of his epidermal tissues becoming part of his body's biomolecular structure. As before, the others followed Perry's lead. The chief then told them when an area just below the right hip was tapped twice, the disk under the skin would function as a microphone and send all information recorded within a twenty-five meters radius to a special crystalline recorder. He then pointed to what looked like a piece of modern crystalline art with a reddish hue. He then told Lois and the others that each crystalline piece was their own personal recording device. It could only be activated by their own personal aura and a command they mentally transmitted.

Another piece of Clark's gadgetry Perry passed around looked like another piece of crystalline sculpture that emitted a bluish green light. Like the crystalline recorder, it was activated and deactivated by the presence of a person's aura, combined with a mental request. This device had an effective radius of about three hundred meters. "When this doodad is used properly, your apartments and homes will be cleansed of uninvited guests — ye old snoopers — and any unwanted surveillance devices planted in your places of habitation or near your person."

"Finally," Perry said, as he handed a half dozen green metal disks to his friends, "These green doohickey's are also snooper gizmos. However, when they're placed on Luthor or any of his associates they will quietly and without feeling combine with your targets living tissues. Once you have planted this surveillance device, that person's activity can be monitored anywhere on the globe. When planted, you will possess a biological reconnaissance unit which can keep track of Luthor or his cronies while you go about your normal activities."

Lois asked, "Why is the surveillance gadget only limited to Luthor and his gang.?"

Perry replied, "Clark felt that this instrument should be used for ethical and moral purposes. While it may be necessary to use them against Luthor, Kent wanted to forestall any temptation to use them on other people." Looking at Lois he added, "Like attaching it to your sister to monitor her social activities or to spy on her boyfriends which you don't happen to like."

As they watched, Lois put her head down and blushed. She then said, "I guess Clark knows me better than I thought."

By and by Perry said, "The snooper devices will only function for a month. Their activity must be refreshed every thirty days or they will cease to function. The rejuvenation process can only be accomplished by issuing the metal command 'renew' which must be transmitted though the crystalline recorder. Failing to rejuvenate the reconnaissance snoopers will cause them to disintegrate and be absorbed by the host."

Brushing his hand through his hair, Jimmy asked, "What happens to our gadgets if we die?" Perry replied, "When your life aura no longer exists, Clark's devices will disintegrate leaving no trace of their existence within your mortal remains."

After reflecting upon the events of the past several minutes, Perry remarked, "I guess we're now girded ourselves for battle as best we can under the circumstances." They all nodded in agreement and left the chief's office to pursue their respective objectives.

When Kal Ellis' blockbuster story hit the streets the following day, the reaction against Lex Luthor was unprecedented. It forced him to appear on an LNN talk show and vehemently deny the allegations that he was the mastermind behind such a heinous business venture. Lex had officials from the State Department with him on the program who told the public that no documentation or other materials linked LexCorp with the illegal operations of The RainBow Company. The government officials also pointed out that because of the international scope and the enormity of the crimes, Lance DeWitt had been turned over to the World Court.

At the end of the day, the master of LexCorp had again legally wormed his way out of harms way — the hand of justice had again been foiled. To bolster Lex's sagging reputation, so dear to his ego, Luthor made substantial contributions to charities world wide.

As Lois watched Lex approach her apartment building for their second date, she activated her personal recorder. She wanted to document their conversations during their outing for analysis and comparison of her information with Lois' associates.

After entering her condominium, Lex helped Lois on with her coat and escorted his intended conquest to his limo.

As Lex and Lois traveled toward Symphony Hall, Luthor began to gripe bitterly about the deterioration of his reputation. Lex informed Lois that he was being judged and also assumed to be guilty of RianBow's crimes because of his association with the people running that company. In his view the reaction of his peers and the common folk were similar to being tarred and feathered. Paraphrasing Shakespeare he said, "What good one does in life is interred with the bones, while a person's perceived evil lives on in perpetuity."

When he finished, Lois smiled and thought to herself, Luthor doth protest too much me thinks.

At the conclusion of the concert, Lex whisked Lois aboard his private jet and they were off to La Scala for the opening of the operatic season. They winged their way across the Atlantic at thirty-nine thousand feet. During their speedy flight, Lois and Lex enjoyed a gourmet supper while a string quartet serenaded both Lex and his desirable guest.

When they reached their Italian destination, Lois discovered that her accommodations, as before, were lavish bordering on the obscene. Lois was no snob. Much simpler accommodations would have been quite sufficient for her needs. Lois felt somewhat uncomfortable as she scanned her current surroundings.

As Lois gazed around the suite, she noticed that the decor of the suite and the flowers he sent her were ostentatious, and the evening dress for that evening gala was hanging in the closet. Lex had chosen everything. Somehow Lois was not surprised. She was learning that Luthor was a control freak with a psychotic bent.

Mentally reviewing Clark's notes, Lois saw more clearly the subtlety of Lex's plan. Luthor was attempting to convince Lois that to accept the decisions he'd made for her were as normal as mom's apple pie. The gospel according to Lexiepoo, Lois thought as she listened to Lex's suave soothing voice. If Lois had not been forewarned, she might have succumbed to Luthor's Machiavellian brain washing techniques and been enticed into his matrimonial web. Once snared, she'd become just an ornament that he would use to enhance his preeminence among his peers and common folk. Everywhere they went, of course, Lois would have to cling decoratively on his arm like an adoring wife. In their home, Lois would be treated like a prize, a treasure to be placed on Lex's mantelpiece and exhibited to the world. All the pieces of Luthor's plans were now falling into place, save one. It waited upon her acceptance of him as husband material. Of course, Lois was aware that before any wedding could take place, Luthor would have to succeed in altering her demeanor to suit his needs. Her performances in front of the masses which would enhance Lex's standing among the plebeians.

When Lois started to consider Lex's game plan in its entire context, her mad dog Lane persona began to emerge. She was becoming angry with Luthor for attempting to usurp her freedom. Then Lois began to laugh in a manner reminiscent of the dithering often heard in institutions housing the mentally ill. If you understood Lois, this kind of emotional display signaled her preparation for battle, where all her brilliant analytical talents were being readied for a cognitive or physical conflict with a baleful antagonist.

As Lois studied Luthor's behavior for some considerable time, she realized that not even Clark was entirely aware of Luthor's capricious emotional posture. She couldn't fault her partner for his misreading of Lex's deportment. How could one whose behavior and thoughts were directed towards helping people ever fathom the depths of depravity that Lex could stoop to achieve a particular goal? However, having dealt with the monster of Metropolis up close for some time, Lois finally became aware of the heinous nature of the psychotic billionaire; one the world knew as the philanthropic Lex Luthor. In discovering the true despicable nature of this man, she had a desire to retch each time he touched her.

Becoming more rational after the emotional storm that racked her body, Lois again readied herself to face the devil incarnate. She silently thanked her love for the Kryptonian biogadgets. Lois now fully appreciated, now more than ever, Clark's biodevices. They would be enormously helpful in her on going philological and psychological encounters with Lexiepoo.

As she waited for Lex to arrive and escort her to breakfast, Lois checked her crystalline recorder. All four implants were functioning — Lex, Nigel, Asabi, and Ms. Cox were now on her surveillance network. Lex had been tagged last night while dancing with Lois. The other three were tagged with Clark's snooper devices as she was introduced to Luthor's cronies. The simple handshakes during these social amenities allowed Lois to tag each of Luthor's cohorts with Clark's surveillance implements.

While awaiting Lex, Lois knew that he would be late. Lois had become aware over the weeks they'd been dating that Luthor, ever the showman, was like a bride who was fashionably late to her wedding. Lois knew that soon he would make a dramatic entrance and present himself with his practiced debonair flair. A talent he possessed which disguised a detestable and perhaps a murderous persona. Although Lois now loathed Lex and his works, she was grateful to him, for the quiet time she was enjoying. Time to recharge her batteries and reminisce about Clark and delight in his memory. Her daydreaming restored her soul and bolstered her inner strength which gave her the courage to play her own deceptive part in her masquerade. The plays the thing…she thought and smiled. During her reverie, she also found herself contrasting Luthor's devious traits with others she had encountered along the way. Of those who crossed her path as she journeyed through life, only Clark had a tender heart and a truly kind disposition. He was the only one who accepted her as she was, warts and all, and the Planet's top reporter knew that Clark was content with what Lois Lane would freely offer him. Lois was now fully cognizant that her love for Clark had become unconditional and constant. Funny, she thought, her forever love was for a man not born of this world. She was now aware that Clark was more human in his ways than all those she'd met and was quite possibly the most noble person on the face of this world.

As she continued to ponder her current situation, Lois' fertile mind brought everything into perspective. After this sojourn, Lois no longer needed to see Lex Luthor. All the monitoring devices were now in place and functioning well. During the four dates she'd had with Lex, Lois had obtained a revealing profile of the dapper Mr. Luthor and his shadowy soul. The dark side of this man would now be further exposed and studied by covert means — using Clark's devices as her listening posts. Aside from her logical reasoning, with Lex as her prime focus, Lois was too aware that her psyche couldn't tolerate spending an extended period with this malevolent being. Furthermore, every time Lex touched her, she felt unclean and craved a shower; a bath to cleanse herself physically and spiritually of billionaire's polluting presence.

Not to arouse Lex's ire nor his suspicions, Lois understood that, like it or not, she would still have to see the devil's number one boy periodically over the next several months. However, Lois would lengthen the intervals between each of their social outings until Luthor got the message that a marriage to Lois Lane was not in the cards. By that time, she would have learned all that was needed to bring the House of Luthor to an end.

After Lois decided how she would deal with Lex in the coming months, she felt relieved. Although she needed to see Luthor socially for a while, Lois could see light at the end of the tunnel. Her distasteful association with loathsome Lex was at long last winding down and in a short time would be no more.

After their Italian sojourn, Lois subtly insisted that the lavishness of their social engagements should be toned down. To her, any flagrant display of wealth was most distasteful.

As Lois correctly surmised, when she began to lengthen the time between their get-togethers, Lex didn't seem to mind one bit. She'd also heard through her surveillance unit and from the grape vine that Lexiepoo was actively pursuing other potential marital partners.

Just before Lois went abroad to do a story, her socializing with Lex was discontinued by their mutual consent.

When Lois returned from Italy, later that year, she was informed by Perry that the Planet's board of directors, "the suits," had hired a staff psychologist. Her name was Adrienne Carlin.

A few weeks after Adrienne was hired, she approached the Planet's star reporter with a broad smile that didn't extent to her eyes. After the psychologist introduced herself, Lois and she conversed for a while; Adrienne casually asked whether there was anything new on Lois' social agenda. Looking up, Lois, peered directly into Adrienne eyes and said, "Just what do you mean by that insipid insinuation?"

"Nothing," Adrienne replied looking a little unnerved. "I heard from the grapevine that you and Lex are no longer seeing one another."

"That's true," Lois quipped.

"I'm just surprised," Adrienne remarked trying to recover her momentum.

"Why?" Lois inquired.

After pausing for a moment, the behaviorist continued, "Lex Luthor has an abundance of wealth and could give a girl everything she desired. In my view, any woman would consider herself most fortunate to be cherished by such a charming person."

"Cherished!" Lois retorted, "Don't you mean lusted after and controlled?"

Before Lois could continue Adrienne chimed in, "Think about the luxury and the lavish life his wealth could provide."

Becoming annoyed with the psychologist's line of thought, Lois remarked,"Although Lex may possess immense wealth and power, to me those possessions are worthless. So, Adrianne, Lex really has nothing to offer. The word abundance has no significance for moi, as Lex and you also apparently view wealth and power in the scheme of things. Between men and women who cherish each other, and only one another, love is all that really matters. After wealth and power pass and beauty fades, only the love between soulmates endures forever."

"Furthermore, Adrienne," Lois added, "My life belongs to me to do with as I wish. And Ms. Psychologist, my decisions are also mine to make and, like my body, they are not for sale. As to the quality of my life," Lois continued "that too belongs to me alone and allows Lois Lane to decide how I will use my day and just who will be at my side. I will always choose how I wish to exist in our world. Knowing that I control such decisions will always give me great satisfaction. Adrienne, you should follow my lead and pursue your own bliss. From what you've indicated during our talk, I'd guess your life is rather dull."

"When I someday meet my soulmate, I'll alter my working agenda and invite that special someone to share my entire life. Then the 'I' which I've just used in our tete-a-tete will change to an 'our' views of our world. With Lex, Adrienne, the phrase suggesting our world would never flower. It would be Lex's world with me hanging on his arm as a useful ornament."

Ignoring Lois' philosophical thoughts for the most part, Adrienne probed further and inquired? "Are there any specific things that you desire."

"Yes, there are," Lois replied. "Working at what I enjoy most is one of my main passions." Then looking the psychologist directly in the eye, Lois added, "Having people listen to my views when I take time to explain myself is another desire." Pausing for a moment, Lois commented, "Obviously, you weren't listening to me as I spoke, Adrienne. You know that inattention is a sign which suggests that a person's life patterns are beginning to stratify."

As Lois turned towards her keyboard, Adrienne sharply remarked, "Money is important, Lois; it can provide you with all the things you desire."

Annoyed, Lois again confronted the Planet's new hire and said, "You don't get it, Adrienne; money is just a bartering tool and can just get you things. However, when it becomes an obsession, as in Lex's case, all you're doing is accumulating a wealth that will not satisfy the cravings of your soul or give meaning to your existence. And, unless you are extremely careful and moral, great wealth could be a terrible corrupting force which could be used to influence others to undertake unethical tasks on your behalf. For instance, Adrienne," Lois further added, "It's starting to appear that Lex Luthor has made a mockery of his philanthropy in Metropolis and elsewhere by using his enormous monetary resources as a screen to cover up his sub-Rosa business activities." Taking a breath, Lois concluded her harangue by saying, "Here are a few simple philosophical facts for you to consider, oh daughter of avarice. Will money keep you warm at night in a bed built just for one or will your wealth be the father of your children? Think about it."

"Getting back to that catchword you seemed to be so enamoured with, Dr. Carlin," Lois scornfully remarked, "'abundance,' wasn't it? Have you really thought what that word really means?"

Before the psychologist could answer, Lois stated, "Abundance in my life is a rather spiritual connotation which evokes only a single image. To me it signifies the quintessence of one's life — a union with your soulmate. For it's only that very special human being, your special person, a lover who can really provide you with well-being; an abundance of joy that will last you both beyond forever."

"So," Adrienne said, as she turned and walked toward her office, "You'd prefer a giblet like Kent, a big boy scout, a nobody, to a great man like Lex Luthor."

Lois did not respond to the staff psychologist's final remarks. From Adrienne's use of certain words and phrases, Lois was well aware that the Planet's new hire was closely associated with Lex the louse. If they conversed again, Lois would be sure just to feed Adrienne sophisticated gobbledygook. Lex would learn nothing more from her through the Planet's new rat-fink psychologist.

That evening, Lois listened to another conference, via her snoopers, between Lex and his confederates, Nigel and Asabi. As she listened, Lois heard Asabi remark, "From Adrienne's messages of late, We can conclude that the Lane woman has written you off."

Lex snarled, "We'll deal with that Lane bitch later. Right now, we gotta focus on that new entrepreneurial company we recently purchased. The one I named LexGen. It's about to make us, I'm rather confident, another fortune." Allowing a moment for Nigel and Asabi to become focused, Lex continued, "My new company has just informed me that it has genetically engineered a new kind of poppy plant. As you know, the common poppy variety produces the largest amount of opium relative to its own mass. If what LexGen says is true, our altered poppy plant can be made to look like any common vegetable or flower we choose. Therefore, we can use our agricultural assets to grow this new poppy on our LexCorp farms in all parts of the world. When scrutinized by the governments of the world, our poppy fields will appear to be growing legitimate crops. Let Jes Parker, the current head of LexGen, be our front man. If anything goes awry, he'll take the fall. If he succeeds, not only will our wealth increase many fold, but more importantly, LexCorp will wield immense power throughout the world. Nations, large and small, will bend to our will. As our power base grows, world dominance, once a dream, may now be a realistic goal."

Luthor then turned to Asabi and inquired, "Has any of our hit squads found and eliminated that free- lancer, Kal Ellis?"

"Not as yet sir," Asabi replied and added, "That reporter must be an ex-special's force grunt in the way he operates and avoids our search and destroy units."

Lex then queried, "Any news about Kent?"

"None," Nigel remarked. The rogue MI6 agent then added, "That man and his family have really gone to ground. I'm starting be believe that the King story linking Kent and Superman was a fiction. King was very enamoured with this Kent fellow and was rebuffed by him several times. It may be she wrote the Superman story as a revenge tactic."

"That sounds very plausible Nigel and that may be the case. However," Luthor added, "I want Kent found."

"I understand," Nigel replied, "I'll have the boys continue searching."

"Of course," Lex retorted and added, "If Kent is human, I want that escapee from a pig pen and his parents eliminated. The death of the Kent family will give me enormous pleasure and sooth some of Lois Lane's actions toward me."

After a moment of silence Luthor again remarked, "I just can't understand how Lois can see anything in that loser." Lex then smiled as he added, "When that giblet dies, I'll give a gala party and let Metropolis help me celebrate Kent's demise." He then laughed, uttering an eerie wailing sound that would produce goose bumps on goose bumps, if heard by any residents of Metropolis.

The next morning Lois informed Perry of what she had learned via the bio-transmitters. Perry then emailed the information to Clark and then said to Lois, "I think you better watch your back for the immediate future. I have a feeling Luthor has something planned for you as well, and don't expect it to be a cordial shindig." She nodded and returned to her desk.

Checking her sources, Lois latched on to some intriguing information. After talking to Perry, she contacted her main snitch, Bobby Bigmouth. While Bobby's info was more detailed than her other contacts, it was still fragmentary. However, for Lois it smelled like a major expose in the making. Bobby had told her that spent uranium was being sold to tyrannical governments around the world. Bobby Bigmouth, frequently her wellspring of information, had also discovered that the main source of the black market uranium was located somewhere in the Metropolis area. Although her investigation was proceeding slowly, her latest intelligence strongly suggested that LexNuclear was somehow directly involved in this venture. She would follow that particular lead after having lunch with a friend and former teacher, Ms. Lorraine Banka.

The meal with her childhood mentor was uplifting. To Lois, meeting old and trusted friends was one of life's pleasures. It tended to raise her spirits and make the mundane and turbulent parts of her existence more bearable.

During this particular lunch, Ms. Banka told her things that made Lois very angry. Her friend had casually told her that her pension would soon not be adequate to provide her with the basic necessities of life. After gently probing her friend's alarming comment, Lois learned from her mentor that while the dollar amount in her friend's retirement income had remained constant, the real purchasing power of her monthly stipend had diminished significantly. Over the intervening years since retirement, Lois was told that real value of her retirement funds had been reduced by nearly thirty percent due to increasing costs of goods and the rising rent of her lodgings. Since there was no cost of living mechanism built into her retirement contract, in time, Ms. Banka feared that her monthly income would be inadequate to sustain herself and she would become just another homeless person, abandoned by a ruthless self-centered society lusting after more and more money. Her mentor's statement reminded her in many ways of Lex Luthor.

As the luncheon ended, her childhood mentor and friend insisted upon paying for their repast. Lois knew as they left the restaurant that her old teacher had just spent a sizable portion of her grocery money to reach out and touch a young friend. How often did Ms. Banka meet with past students in this way? Lois didn't know, but could guess that she was just one of many who had been treated to lunch and had their batteries recharged, so to speak.

After they parted, Lois rushed back to the Planet. There was a fierce light in her eyes as she started to type — the wall clock read two thirty-two in the afternoon. At three ten, the next morning, Lois finished her story and LANed it to Perry. She knew that it was a piece that would not bring her any hurrahs, but what her story contained had to be said, and she was content. Like Superman, Lois Lane had just joined an exclusive club. A fellowship whose members fought against those invisible injustices which silently harmed many people.

Like all people of conscience Lois, without fanfare, attempted to mend or modify the offending mores that were choking the life out of our society. She would battle for her Ms. Banka and all the people before who had gone down in silence and whose only solace was G-D.

Perry understood what Lois was attempting to accomplish. It was an almost impossible tale. But Perry knew as few others would, that by this one act alone, Lois Lane come of age.

Un-be-knownst to Clark's partner, with this article she had crossed her Rubicon.

As the sun was rising, a tired but rhapsodic Lois Lane went home to get some shuteye. Before her head touched the pillow, she was in Sandman's territory. Lois' repose this night would be restful and untroubled, as befits a brave and noble spirit. Hers would be a tranquil slumber well earned after a hard fought battle in a just cause.

It was early afternoon when Lois returned to the Planet. After sitting down at her desk, Perry walked over to her. She expected to be teased about her working habits. As she waited for the chief's Elvis zinger, he quietly said, "Darlin', your article entitled 'My Old Teacher' may be the finest work to date. It deserves to be by itself in a special edition of the Planet. As things go, I'll run it in a few weeks as a special editorial on the Sunday op-ed page." Looking at his tired star reporter, Perry bent over and kissed her on the forehead saying, "My dear Ms. Lane, you've grown up." Smiling at her, the chief began his usual afternoon patrol around the newsroom. As he walked off, he thought to himself; I'll send Clark a copy of Lois' piece. It will make his day.

Three weeks later, Lois was relishing in the fact that her teacher editorial was published. Murray had done a terrific job with the art work and layout for her piece. As she reviewed her story, Lois realized that she no longer was a hard-bitten reporter. Clark had somehow gotten through her crusty shield and sorta civilized her. Oh, Lois knew that she still was a tough cookie in her investigative work — her stories still had a hard edge to them. But, she had learned from her Clark how to deal with the touchy-feely stuff. From him, she was now discovering how to use her great skill with words to provide a measure of hope for the people of Metropolis and other places where the Daily Planet found root.

Before she retired that evening Lois listened to her secret recorder. She was privy to yet another conference between Lex, Nigel, and Asabi. Lex was ranting and raving about the destruction of LexGen. He bemoaned the loss of the enormous profits that his poppy enterprise would have provided. Most of all, he lamented the loss of power that LexGen's narcotic producing plants would have placed into his hands. Then Lois heard Luthor scream at his cronies saying, "Find Kal Ellis and terminate him."

As Lex's colleagues moved off, Lois could hear Asabi's and Nigel's unhappy comments. She heard them quietly say, "Locating Kal Ellis, that spawn of Satan, is like finding a needle in a haystack. It's as if the man could fly. How else could he get from one of our company sites to another in no time at all. Maybe Superman is helping him. Asabi, I fear this affair will eventually drive us batty before it's over."

As Lois slipped into bed that evening, she whispered to the sky, "The forces of justice are on the march, Lexiepoo. Your days are Earth are numbered."

Just before sleep claimed her, Lois smiled at the thought that Luthor's empire was beginning to crumble and she would be there to watch it come tumbling down.


About a week after the Kent family, aka the Curtis' reached Singapore they were completely settled in. Clark began his new position at the Planet's news bureau and wire service and commenced an intense self tutorial to absorb the knowledge Krypton amassed over the ages. The AI unit became Clark's mentor, while Krypton's electronic library was Clark's textbook.

With his solar enhanced learning ability and elevated mental capacity, the AI unit estimated that Kal-El would master the collective knowledge of his birth world within about one earth year.

As Clark began to master the wisdom of his Kryptonian ancestors, the orphan from space developed a super stealth material which Martha immediately incorporated into his flying apparel.

As his Kryptonian education advanced, it appeared that Clark had a flair for the hard sciences — a genetic gift from his natural parents.

By using Kryptonian science, Clark devised and constructed electronic mechanisms to aid him and his friends in their battle against individuals or institutions who were subtly attempting to subjugate Earth's multicultural population. These scientific implements he forwarded to Perry to be utilized by Ckark and his friends' never ending battle against those who championed injustice.

A month after the Kent family had settled into their new home, Alan Jacobs was invited for dinner. He didn't have to travel far since his condo was adjacent to the Kent's, aka the Curtis' dwelling.

After an exquisite meal dished up by Martha Kent, they leisurely proceeded to the living room area. There, they relaxed and talked about a host of things, as is natural among close friends and associates. As the evening was winding down, Alan inadvertently remarked, "It's late. Time to go beddy- bye. See you in the morning, Clark."

When Alan called Clark by his real name, the entire Kent family froze. Realizing what he had done Alan quickly reassured them by saying, "I'm sorry that I've upset you. I've known whom you were after our first meeting. Please don't worry. Your secret is perfectly safe with me." After a momentary pause in the conversation, Alan added, "I'm glad that this entire facade is out in the open. It will alleviate any unnecessary stress between us. More important, it will give me greater flexibility in covering for Clark when Kal Ellis is on the prow."

"Another thing that has been buggin' the hell out of me," Alan said to the Kents, "was Linda King correct about you and Superman?"

"Yep," Clark replied. Then, placing his hand on the bureau chief's shoulder, the man from Krypton added, "Perry was right about you, Alan; you are the salt of the Earth."

"I guess," Alan said, "I'll see you at work tomorrow." Clark nodded. Alan then left and sauntered down the hall to his own apartment. As he strolled, Alan thought, life had just become more interesting in this outpost of civilization.

Some weeks later and just after he had emailed the LexGen story to Perry, Martha called her son at work and asked him to come home. Telling Alan where he was going, Clark headed for his condominium.

When Clark entered his abode he let out a holler, "Mom, Dad, I'm home." Martha then called her son into the living room.

Entering the condo's private little chamber, Clark saw his parents huddled over a batch of papers, which were the result of a large email download. Looking up, Jonathan said, "Perry emailed us an editorial. Lois wrote it and is it a doozy, son."

Martha, with a big grin on her face, indicated that Clark should sit across from them. As he seated himself, Martha Kent said, "I want you to listen to Lois' article. It's entitled 'MY OLD TEACHER.'" She then remarked, her eyes glistening, "Lois came of age when she composed this piece, son." Without any further ado, Martha Clark Kent began to read Lois' feature story.

"While this story is about an old friend, a teacher, who set my feet on the path of learning and service to humankind, this piece is a tribute to all people who serve the community and quietly attempt to sustain the spirit and structure of civilization — the social workers, the firemen, the crime fighters, the teachers, and the myriad of selfless volunteers who help our charitable institutions.

"When my mentor retired after thirty-six years of educating the youth of our city, she was in relatively good health. With the encouragement from her friends and family, she took trips by car, many to the western part of the U.S. and visited many national parks which are our country's legacy to its people. In her letters sent to her family, my mentor constantly commented, 'What a wonderful and great country we live in. I am amazed at the beautiful sights that abound within our great nation.'"

"After that summer had passed into fall, the retired educator decided to look for work. She was not an idle person by nature, and she knew that living on her pension would be tight. My mentor was a wise woman and knew that with inflation and other monetary increases, things would cost more and continue to increase over time. Without any cost of living adjustment in her retirement contract, like those in other branches of the public service sector, the purchasing power of her modest monthly stipend would slowly, but irrevocably decrease. So my mentor obtained a job as a hostess in a diner to supplement her income. In this way, she could eat out occasionally or go to the cinema once or twice a month.

"That winter she planted a larger garden. Then she visited her brother's two children now grown and with families of their own. She often thought of her younger brother. He had died in Nam so many years ago. After her brother's passing, my old teacher helped her sister-in- law raise her nephews. In time, she was the only one who could provide the financial resources for the boys' university studies. Through the years, she also helped many of her students, who she viewed as her children, receive a college education. I, too, was the recipient of her financial and emotional support when some turbulent events occurred at the university. My old teacher and friend never asked for repayment for any monetary aid she gave. I must tell you that her financial gifts were always repaid. Not one of her students ever reneged on their financial obligation to her. Somehow we all knew that she was hurting financially but would never ask for her financial support to be repaid. She once she told me that she was unaware nor would she ask about her other students' financial needs. She would just give without thought of repayment. She told me once that my classmates were the future and they had to be helped to reach a position when society would benefit from their educational skills.

"During the ensuing years, she occasionally went into the heart of the city to Metropolitan Hall to hear the works of her beloved classical composers and immerse herself in her favorite operas. She had always lived simply, and these were good days for her.

"Seasons drifted into seasons as the years rolled by, and my old teacher found herself one June day standing in her garden realizing things weren't right. Her pension by this time had been severely diminished because of the inflationary pressures, higher taxes, and larger utility costs. Even the cost of her meager car trips had skyrocketed. The tolls had doubled or tripled, as the case may be, and gasoline had become much too expensive for long trips. Her excursions to the city became prohibited: the street parking spaces were fewer because of the mushrooming population; tickets to concerts, even inexpensive restaurants were now beyond the monetary reach of my old friend. As we talked last week, the woman who had started me on my road to learning told me that she had had to give up some things to make ends meet.

"That summer as usual, my old teacher worked in her garden and added a vegetable patch that would add variety to her increasingly meager meals. Her garden she hoped would help her decrease her living expenses somewhat. My mentor was aware that her house needed a few repairs. She didn't have the funds to fix the screens or paint her home adequately any more. To replace the broken storm windows was out of the question. My old teacher figured she could do some of the repairs herself, but she was a bit tired. Age had impaired her mobility. Still, she managed to paint the living room and kitchen. She thought about using a ladder, but she was frightened. Her equilibrium wasn't what it had been.

"She finally obtained the help of a neighbor who held a ladder while my old teacher mounted it and did a little painting. Just before she descended, she Looked around and thanked G-D that the house and grounds were still hers. She had created a fine garden over the years and had trimmed and pruned everything. Even planting the crop by herself. My elderly mentor even cut her grass, a strenuous task at her age, and kept it all alive and green through the spring, summer, and autumn of the year. In the spring, tulips, daffodils and crocus flashed their colors against the green of the grass and the hue of the shrubs. As summer was replaced by spring, iris, phlox, lilies, and hydrangea grew and flourished beneath her caring hands. When a child was born to her niece or nephew, she planted a tree.

"A patio behind the house overlooked her garden. 'My patio,' the old educator said and smiled inwardly. She would sit there before dinner in the summer under an old sycamore and enjoy a glass of wine she'd made from the grapes harvested from her garden. As she enjoyed the fruit of the vine, she could hear the poetic songs of the birds as she marveled at the flowers that encircled her veranda.

"Last fall, she lost her part time job because business was slow. Luckily a nearby liquor emporium let her sweep up and straighten out the rows of bottles a few hours each week. She smiled quietly: A master's plus sixty sweeps clean.

"As she was cleaning her house one day, my teacher remembered buying a case of champagne. It marked her twenty-five years of service as an educator to the young. As my mentor told me, she was also an adjunct professor at the university in those years, helping those preparing to be educators. 'They were good years,' she said to me.

"In the summer, she told me, there were weeds almost always hidden beneath the lovely blossoms in her garden. The old teacher ripped them from the earth before they grew high enough to push through the flowers into the sunlight. The weeds were a blight sneaking under the swaying lovely blooms, taking moisture and nutrients from the lovely canopy of flowers. There was a story in this somewhere, the old teacher had thought, as she moved through the flower beds, carefully removing the hidden loathsome weeds.

"One winter's eve after a simple dinner, the old teacher became aware that her property taxes had again increased, over thirty percent she noticed during the past few year. Fuel oil again was also up this year. My mentor thought she would have to go into

my meager savings to pay her county government its due.

"The following winter was as severe and as it was long. Temperatures plummeted to inordinately low readings. My old teacher, to stay warm, had to cut many cords of wood that winter for her small stove she kept in her living room. One night standing in her garden, now covered which ice when the temperature had plummeted to well below zero, she gazed at the refection of the full moon upon the snow. As the north wind blew across her landscape, she again filled her arms with wood and began carrying it toward her chilly home. While she walked, something suddenly grabbed her within her chest. She could hardly breathe. The retired educator stood still and waited. Finally, the painful sensation lessened and she continued walking toward her house carrying her bundle.

"That night my mentor lay awake thinking for a long time. She was feeling alone and insignificant in her dark bedroom. She thought about her old body and what was happening to it. My friend also thought about other parts of the world. Before she slept she asked herself if she should she have visited them and wished she had traveled more and attended more concerts.

"The next morning the Earth was ablaze in the winter sunlight, brighter than the summer's light because of pristine new snow. My old teacher poured over the many books shelved neatly in her living room, looking for a specific book. When she found Death of a Salesman, my mentor flipped toward the end of the book and found the lines, 'You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away … a man is not a piece of fruit! Now pay attention.'

"In that moment, she decided to send these lines to her state senator and her assemblyman. My mentor said, 'They will read these thoughts and understand why … well, why I must be able to keep my house. It's my sanctuary, created just for me. How else can I explain that thought to my representatives? Perhaps there are no words to describe my situation. They must worry about the costs of running their own homes. They pay taxes too. My representatives must be aware tat people like me… are desperately in need of assistance.'

"My old teacher scribbled Miller's lines on a neat white sheet of paper and added, 'I just want to keep my home.' She carefully placed the sheet of paper into two envelopes, sealed them and affixed the expensive stamps. Then she walked to the red, white, and blue mailbox, with the brave eagle on it and posted her letters to the state capitol.

"That year, again, the state government defeated the bill to increase the pensions for retired state employees.

"As summer again swept across the land, the grotesque weeds propagated and pushed their way through the flowers, as the sweet songs of the birds resonated through an empty house. No one seemed to notice the empty porch swing that year that was just caressed by the summer breezes nor the sign which read foreclosure sale."

"Wow," Clark said as Martha finished reading Lois op-ed piece. As Martha gazed at her son, she could see tears pooling in his eyes. Then Clark remarked, "You were right, Mom; Lois has certainly come of age."

Later that year, both Lois and Kal Ellis were nominated for a Pulitzer and were awarded the coveted prize — Lois for "My Old Teacher" and Kal for his story "Body Parts piece." Perry collected the Kal Ellis award. Linda King was also nominated, but didn't receive the prestigious accolade.

When Clark worked as Ken Curtis, he freelanced under the Kal Ellis pseudonym attacking the under belly of Luthor's evil empire. Three devastating articles followed in close succession which caused Lex's reputation to be damaged beyond repair and caused many social registers to remove his name from their lists. The one responsible for much sorrow in the world was slowly, but irrevocably, being ostracized by his peers and the common folk alike and being isolated from society.

The first of Clark's final three stories again hit LexCorp and was entitled "Any Slaves Today." LexChild, another subsidiarity of LexCorp, was found to be acquiring young children either by purchase or by abduction, mainly from third world countries, and selling them as indentured servants to wealthy clientele throughout the world. When the sources connected to LecxChild were discovered, the LexCorp subsidiary was dismantled and the executive offices arrested. As usual, no documentation could be located linking Lex Luthor to the LexChild debacle. As soon as Kal Ellis' story hit the street, there was an intense public outcry against the House of Luthor. Lex and his underlings made no response. Instead, Luthor's attorneys simply fronting for the master of evil simply indicated that since there was no incriminating evidence linking LexCorp's C.E.O. to the horrible practices of LexChild, Lex Luthor was not deserving of the public's hue and cry and being lynched by the press. Lex's yes men further stated that their client was being maligned by an international conspiracy aimed at destroying the value of Lex Luthor's financial holdings.

Several weeks after the LexChild story appeared, Kal Ellis sent Perry a third blockbuster of a story, in as many weeks, attacking still another of LexCorp's auxiliary holdings. LexTech, a relatively new startup company, had developed several lucrative processes which unfortunately produced a noxious gaseous by- product the scientific community labeled CF. Aside from causing unhealthy breathing conditions; the gaseous CF was known to absorb the blue-violet end of the visible spectrum. Being less dense than the major components of normal atmospheric fluids, CF rose easily into the stratosphere. Over a short period, LexTech plants were being constructed at a rapid rate across the world and were spewing the CF residue in ever increasing quantities into the atmosphere where the gas soon reached the stratospheric regions.

The large quantities of CF in the stratosphere, were decreasing the high energy end of the visible spectrum from reaching the Earth in sufficient amounts to stimulate plant growth. If LexTex would allow its factories to continue spewing CF into the atmosphere, the effect would ultimately cause the food bearing flora to be affected adversely. Famine could be expected unless the CF production was halted.

As the world community debated the CF problem, LexTech was purchasing seed and food stuffs and other crop producing materials from around the globe and storing them in abandoned salt mines deep in the earth. When the decrease in the world's food supply approached crisis levels, many less affluent nations would be hit first. LexTech, ultimately controlled by Lex Luthor, would then step in and sell his hoarded foodstuffs and cultivating machinery at exorbitant prices.

By this scheme, Luthor hoped to recoup his financial loses caused by Kal Ellis' exposes and the dissolution on his subsidiaries. Moreover, Lex was also aware that his power on the world's stage would again become formidable. He could dictate terms, his terms, to the nations of the Earth and they would either go along with him or face chaos when their populations were confronted with the possibility of starvation.

With Clark's knowledge of science, Kal Ellis could compose an expose which destroyed Luthor's global plans within days of its publication. As usual, Lex covered his tracks so no blame could be laid at his doorstep. Although Lex was again unable to be charged, the possibility of a world wide catastrophe was averted. Every government in the world gave a collective sigh of relief when Superman flew into the upper atmosphere and using a powerful oxidizing substance destroyed most of the CF material accumulating within the stratospheric region.

The final episode in Kal Ellis' Lex Luthor saga dealt with the use of expended uranium from reactor cores. Clark discovered that LexNRA was illegally acquiring spent uranium rods from nuclear reactors and utilizing this material to produce very potent ordnance material — plutonium for nuclear devices.

Unfortunately, Clark didn't have the sources nor the hard facts to substantiate his information. Furthermore, his other commitments prevented him from addressing such an important issue properly. He. therefore, sent what information he'd acquired to Perry and asked him to continue the investigation from Metropolis.

Foolishly, Perry left Clark's report on his desk, where Lois Lane discovered it. She cajoled, threatened, and maneuvered Perry with such vigor and finesse that he reluctantly allowed her to continue Clark's inquiry with one caveat. Perry demanded that Lois take Jimmy as her partner during this investigation. She was about to object when she saw the resolute expression on the chief's face and reluctantly agreed to his condition. While Jimmy was happy as a lark to team up with Lois, he understood that Lois could only have one partner and that person was Clark Kent. The young reporter was aware that he was just along for the ride to provide Lois with as much muscle as he could muster in a crisis occurred.

As Jimmy and she left the chief's office, Lois was keenly aware that this inquiry would complete Clark's and her investigation of Lex Luthor and cast the devil's number one boy into oblivion and hopefully into jail.

Exiled from his fellow creatures Lois knew was a punishment Luthor so richly deserved. It would eventually expunge the man of death and the remnants of his evil empire from the face of the Earth.

After Clark had emailed Perry his final Lex article, Clark accelerated his tutorial with his AI unit. By the end of Clark's eleventh month of intensive study, Kal-El aka Clark Kent was given the title of Tan, a word that means a scholar in Kryptonese.

The AI unit informed Clark that in mathematics, the hard sciences, and in the writing disciplines, the electronic module considered him to be a Tan Alpha Prime. The alpha attached to a Tan designation meant that he was an individual who possessed exceptional intellectual capability in one or more disciplines — only several thousand of these individuals were born in each generation. The prime appellation was an illustrious title. It indicated that he was one of a very few whose knowledge and understanding of a Kryptonian discipline were substantially above the Tan Alpha level — a genius in specific disciplines, a scholar with no equal.

The AI module informed Clark that like him his natural parents had in their time earned a Tan Alpha level of achievement.

While Clark was in the midst of his Kryptonian studies, he discovered that he had a talent for portrait and landscape painting. Over time, he would develop a style similar to the nineteenth century masters — Whisler, Sargent, Manet, and Mary Cassatt. By the end of his Kryptonian student days, he had already created portraits of his Kansas parents, Lois, Perry, Alan, Jimmy, and Murray, all of which adorned the walls of his condominium. According to Martha, they were all masterpieces and were signed with the K-El appellation.

Aside from painting, Clark began to keep a journal. In it, he recorded the history of his life and several folios of poetry that periodically exploded from his soul. His Kryptonian studies had somehow opened a wellspring rhyme, which manifested itself in a poetic style.

Besides his academic accomplishments, Clark, with the help of the AI unit and his mother, also learned how to fashion fine jewelry using many kinds of precious materials. By utilizing his super abilities, Clark procured from Earth's seas precious gem stones and other unique commodities for his various art projects. He crafted innovative rings, necklaces, and pearl jewelry — Martha encouraged him more and more as he finished products became more exquisite. Clark also used his artistic talents to ease the tensions which were part and parcel of his current life style. To Clark, painting or working with jewelry was like meditating and helped reduce his anxieties, and helped the man of steel to relax.

After completing his general Kryptonian tutorial, Clark made an intense study of Jor-El and Lara's string theory. He became aware that his natural parent's string hypothesis was the driving force that powered their interstellar space vehicles. Several months after his discovery of his birth parents' research results, Clark understood and could utilize Jor-El and Lara's string hypothesis. During Clark's study and modification of his natural parents' mathematical string relationships, the man from Kansas had refined and improved the string theory's fundamental functions. From the modified string hypothesis, Clark developed a teleportation system and a vastly improved interstellar engine. A similar power source which drove the spacecraft transporting baby Kal-El safely to Earth. From his scientific inquiries, Clark also discovered an exotic metallic like material which was nearly impervious to all types of physical phenomena. He named this new substance metal K.

From Krypton's knowledge base and his own ingenuity, Clark also fabricated two weapon systems. One was a simple LASER disintegrator system to be used by an individual at relatively close quarters. In time, this weapon system was married to various types of aircraft and space vehicles. Clark then discovered a special force, which if used improperly could obliterate the universe. He named the weapon he'd fabricated from the natural force he discerned the space-time disrupter. When used, this weapon system would thrust a section of the living cosmos into a null continuum where it would cease to exist. Clark prayed that he would never have to utilize such a device.

Clark knew that if these destructive weapon systems fell into the wrong hands, the consequences could be catastrophic. Therefore, the blueprints for both weapon systems were locked away in a special statis vault protected by the Kryptonians' most efficient safeguards.

When both weapon systems were locked away, Clark pondered for many days as to the merits of keeping such destructive powers at the ready. It was only when he recalled Jefferson's views about the defense of liberty — eternal vigilance is the price of liberty — did he decide to keep his weapon systems at the ready.

Clark knew that he would only authorize the use of the disrupter weapon system to defend Earth or other planets hosting living organisms when they were threatened with extinction by a belligerent life form.

When Clark completed his scientific projects, he constructed a space platform on the far side of the Earth's moon using metal K as the building material. He rendered this space structure invisible by incorporating a cloaking device into the structure material. When the space platform had been completed, Clark then assembled his first interstellar spacecraft. Travel between the space platform and his home in Singapore was accomplished through his teleportation network. Calling the specific connections in his teleportation system as portals or TD doors for short, Clark established access points at strategic locations across the face of the planet.

Later, using materials mined from the dark side of the moon, Clark built several more interstellar spaceships for future exploration of local star systems.

After building a celestial navigational compass, using earth as a reference center, like the GMT is used for the world wide time zones, he and his parents began exploring nearby star systems. As they traveled through the nearby universe, they discovered that it was teaming with life. Clark somehow was not surprised by their discovery. Life, it seemed, was one of the ways nature used to curb the increasing entropy conditions throughout the cosmos.

Shortly after the Kents started traveling through the void, Clark decided to move his space platform and interstellar ships to the ternary star system of Alpha a Alpha b and Proxima Centauri. This ternary star cluster all possessed lifeless planets, a source of nearly limitless raw materials. Raw materials that would be needed to further his scientific research and would be used as a space port for what would function as a starting point for exploration of the surrounding star systems. By using Clark's TD system, the Kent's Centauri abode would be a hop skip and jump from Earth. In the future, any journey using the TD complex would be nearly instantaneous and commonplace — like walking through a door connecting two rooms.

Although Clark was now constantly busy, Lois still never left his consciousness. His thoughts of her were always foremost in his mind. To this end, he even fabricated an electrical device that would bridge their physiology. It would modify her genome and provide her with the special genic codes which would provide her with super abilities — the nineteenth and twenty-first chromosomes would be altered during this process. When they both possessed equal super powers, Lois and Clark would then be true partners in every sense of the word. If one went strictly by definition, Lois would be a Terra-Kryptonian hybrid, but in reality she would be pure Kryptonian. Clark could say this with some justification. From his studies, Kryptonian and humans genomes were essentially the same except for the stipulated chromosomes. These particular genetic sites had been modified about a hundred thousand years ago by the people of Krypton to improve the well being of their people. However, under a yellow sun the genome modifications behaved in a way which provided Kal-El with unique abilities — called by Earth men, super powers — and helped Clark Kent, a Kryptonian by birth, create the facade known as Superman.

When Lois' genome had been altered, her progeny would forever link the peoples of Earth and Krypton.

If Clark's semi-theoretical views were correct, all the Kryptonian people hadn't perished when Krypton exploded. They were living on Earth. Long ago, Clark's evidence indicated star sailors from Krypton were somehow marooned on Sol three and over time, inherited Earth. This event, of course, occurred countless millennia before the genome modification process occurred. From his preliminary research, Clark had discovered that the genetic code of Earth's inhabitants and his birth world people were nearly identical — the main differences were linked to the two modified chromosomes he alone on Earth possessed. If his assertions were right, his genetic variations were the main difference between Lois and himself. So, if Lois' genome could be altered, like on Krypton long ago, their progeny would forever be linked to two worlds.

More research, of course, would be needed to substantiate his genetic hypothesis. But, that was for the future or maybe for his own descendants to thrash out.

While dozing on his couch later that evening, his subconscious mind suddenly thrust some incredible abstract thoughts into his consciousness startling him into wakefulness.

After Clark pondered about these mind messages for a considerable time, he finally understood the meaning of his vision.

The messages that had startled him to wakefulness were telling him to never abandon his adopted planet. It was his destiny to help and guide Earth's young civilization toward a Kryptonian like Utopia with a political structure best suited for Earth's needs.

As Clark entered his bedroom to retire, he noticed that his globe was glowing brightly. So, Clark thought, you've been telling me what to do again. He chortled and the globe pulsed to the rhythm of his laughter.

If he were going to stay on Earth, he had to somehow dispel the perception of his Earth brethren that he was a god-like entity in a cape. Although Clark had repeatedly tried to dispel this notion, it still was deeply imbedded in the minds of many Earth people.

While these matters were important, there were, at present, more pressing needs. First, how to separate Clark Kent from Superman and rejoin society and second, how to rid the world of the evil Lex Luthor and company without killing the man and his retinue.

Of the two items that was on his mind, the first was more pressing. Without succeeding in that venture, he could never form an official soulmate union with Lois and live out a normal life with her. Furthermore, his other hopes would also not come to fruition. However, if his Superman problem could be resolved, then Lois and he and their children after them could begin to refashion Earth's society by their actions and rhetoric. Then, individuals like Luthor, would be an anathema to the ethical and moralistic society of tomorrow's Utopia and he and his followers would quickly be removed from among Earth's population.

If Clark and Lois with the help of their friends were successful with his first problem then the whole social project could go forward. He was quite aware that neither he nor Lois would live to see the completion of their vision. That issue was not important. However, it was important to start the process toward a unified and peaceful Earth. He read somewhere in the Old Testament that it was very important to start a journey, but it was not an imperative to complete it. If their trek were a worthy endeavor, others would pick up the torch, after Lois and he had passed from this world and moved it closer to its final destination — hopefully, Lois and his descendants would be those torch bearers. As he thought about the Utopian possibilities and what it would mean for the people of Earth, Clark found a new resolve. He also understood that his quest, like a two edged sword, had good and unfavorable qualities to his quest. These forces centered about whether he or his descendents were capable of guiding Earth to its Utopian destiny. As he despaired, Clark recalled some Shakespearian ideas and quotes that he'd once modernized to suit his needs. They now reverberated in mind: In apprehension how like a G-D is man. It's not that gods are anxious with their responsibility, but one must understand that with great challenges comes great understanding. As his mind again heard the bard's thoughts reverberating in his mind, the man of steel was quieted. As he pondered his great revelation, Clark knew that he had found his destiny and for good or for ill his Utopian visions must be moved forward.

Awaking refreshed the following morning, Clark mulled over his thoughts about the quest. As he was deep in thought, Clark had vision that Lois and he, their children and their children's children, would not falter as they strived to create Utopia. Feeling better that he had in sometime, Clark prepared to travel across the world.

That evening Clark secretly flew to Metropolis and installed a teleportation gate, a TD, in Perry's enclosed private chamber behind his office.


While Clark was mastering the knowledge of his Kryptonian ancestors and attacking Lex Luthor and his evil empire, Linda King's world was collapsing. While she did receive a Kerth for her Superman story, the other laurels Linda expected from her expose did not materialize.

As Linda's disappointments increased within several weeks of her Superman story and the man of steel's subsequent disappearance from Metropolis, the crime rate within the city began to soar. Not only did Lex's nefarious organizations increase their illegal activities, but a new crime syndicate moved to town — Intergang.

The law enforcement agencies were overwhelmed. The raw power exerted by these two criminal cartels was slowly, but irrevocably bringing Metropolis to its knees. After work, people tended to remain in their homes, many of which had been barricaded like medieval castles. The citizens of this once proud city also began to purchase handguns in record numbers.

As an irrational blanket of fear began covering the great city at dusk, the streets of Metropolis became nearly deserted. The absence of people was producing catastrophic effects on the business community. Restaurants, cinemas, and cultural events all faced final ruin. Many firms were going bankrupt, while others closed shop and moved out of the city. If these conditions persisted, Metropolis would quickly become a ghost town.

The mayor was finally forced to ask the governor to send in the national guard. The city council believed that the troops and the City's law enforcement agencies together could curtail the gangsterism which was running rampant through the streets of Metropolis. With the national guard, the city father believed that within a week's time the criminal element would be in jail or on the run. As usual, the politicians' expectations were delusional.

When the national guard finally arrived, Metropolis became a virtual war zone. During the day the city was relatively quiet, but as evening approached, skirmishes erupted between the law abiding citizenry and the lawless element. The casualties on both sides were mounting rapidly.

As the days dragged into weeks, it became apparent that the criminals were slowly being driven from the city or going to ground. About a month after the fighting commenced, the confrontations suddenly ceased, except for a few pockets of resistance.

The national guard, for political reasons, was withdrawn shortly after the hostilities essentially ended. Metropolis' constabulary, the politicos, informed the city's populace that they could now handle what remained of the law breakers.

As the military units were leaving the city, there was great rejoicing among the city fathers. They could save face and claim the lion share of the credit for saving Metropolis. With their short sighted action, the city fathers believed that Metropolis was again secure and their political futures were secure for the foreseeable future.

As usual, the politicians did not look beyond their noses. The elected officials did not contemplate the psychological damage inflicted on the city's inhabitants. The city fathers did not realize that there was a great need to repair not only the physical damage, but the harm caused to the integrity of the city. Because of most politicians' thinking, those in city government couldn't fathom that the people had lost faith in their elected officials and no longer trusted them nor Metropolis' protective institutions which they controlled. Because of the psychological fear that still persisted in Metropolis, businesses continued to be sold or relocated to other areas, and people resumed moving from the city in ever increasing numbers. Deterioration within the city's infrastructure was slow, but ongoing.

Although Intergang's and Lex's organizations had lost the initial conflict, they weren't destroyed completely. It was only a matter of time before these lawless bands would return with a vengeance and again attempt to capture and control Metropolis.

If the criminal element were successful in their second attempt to seize the city, Metropolis would become the gang capital of the world — like the island of Tortuga during the eighteenth century — which in its time was a piratical paradise.

While Lex's evil empire and Intergang's world- wide conglomerate had little love for one another, they forged an unholy alliance to gain control of the once great city. At present their efforts were succeeding. As businesses were sold and decent people continued to moved from the city; it was Lex's organization or the intergang family who purchased the saleable property and settled their own people in the newly acquired real estate. Soon, very soon, the political power in Metropolis would shift to the Intergang and the Lex Luthor alliance because of the shifting population — crooks would replace law abiding people, as the original inhabitants vacated Metropolis. The only institutions which could not be bought or coerced to follow the dictates of the criminal organizations were the City's newspapers managed by the Lara-Jorel Foundation.

Therefore, reporters were not molested or killed since such action would bring in the Feds — malefactors knew that the Feds presence would produce dangerous conditions for their establishments and must to be avoided at all costs.

When the changing conditions within Metropolis finally became apparent to the lunkheads in the mayor's office, the city population was changing at a moderate rate and being taken over by the criminal element. Instead of trying to rectify the problem, the politicians looked for a scapegoat. Instead of focusing on the lawless problem, they set their sights on Linda King. The City hall politicos began to assail the King woman for publishing her news article which they said drove their guardian angel, Superman, from their midst. Their plan was to distract the public from the horrendous blunders committed by those elected to city positions now and running City Hall.

Because of the city's smear campaign, Linda King lost her job and was even evicted from her apartment. When Lois located Linda, at last, she was living in a homeless shelter. As Lois was taking an emotionally distraught King woman to her apartment, she recalled Clark's words about a backlash. The scapegoating tactics of the city officials worked far too well. The wrath of the city's people, nurtured by the elected officials, had nearly caused the demise of Linda King. For their acts, the political leaders of Metropolis would eventually be sued and do jail time.

The next day Lois took Linda to the Planet, where Perry promptly gave the ex-Metropolis Star reporter a job — keeping his promise to Clark. Perry then partnered Linda with Lois. The chief expected mad dog Lane to erupt at his assignment, but to his great surprise and relief she accepted her new mate without incident. Lois, to Perry's even greater astonishment, took Linda as her roommate and an old friendship, long dormant, soon was rekindled.

One evening after work, Linda asked Lois about the Clark and Superman issue. Smiling at her close friend, Lois said, "You story was right on the money; Clark and Superman are one and the same."

Linda replied to her friend, "Thanks for telling me, Lois."

"Although no one will ever be aware of what passed between us today," Linda remarked, "it's nice to know that I was right."

Then Lois did something that in her wildest dream she would never have imagined. She hugged Linda and quietly said, "I forgive you."

While two women had settled their past grievances and were again good friends, the battle for the soul of Metropolis was intensifying. The Metropolitan law forces had begun to employ armor protected RV's. The City seemed to have an edge for the moment, until Lex upped the stakes by employing spent uranium ordinance against the city's new armored vehicles.

Recalling Clark's memo about spent uranium shells, Lois briefed Linda about the effectiveness of the uranium ammunition. Then both journalists proceeded to pester their informers and snitches about the location of Lex's uranium projectiles.

At the end of the week, Bobby Bigmouth telephoned Lois and informed her he'd located the spent uranium facility. Lois was so overjoyed that she said, "BB, I'll get you that Peking duck dinner you've been craving."

"Hot dignity dam," was his response as he severed their phone connection. Acting on Bobby's info, Lois tapped Linda on the shoulder and a few minutes later both ladies were scooting from the Planet. If BB was correct, maybe, just maybe, she and Linda could start to short circuit the burgeoning criminal activities that were now assaulting the forces struggling to protect Metropolis and its law abiding inhabitants.

Arriving at the Hobbs Bay address BB gave them; both gals stealthily approached what appeared to be an abandoned factory building. After searching the perimeter, the two reporters entered the first floor of the structure through a broken window and began searching the premises.

After a few minutes, Linda quietly indicated to Lois that she heard sounds coming from somewhere beneath their feet. Lois soon concurred with her partner's observation. A short while later, Lois located a hidden staircase which led the two intrepid reporters into the depths of the building. Suddenly, a metal door opened at the bottom of a rickety staircase, bathing Lois and her partner in high intensity LASER light. As Linda turned to flee, she was shot in the back. From her quick observation, Lois knew Linda's wound was critical.

Almost immediately after Linda was shot, both women were seized by a bunch of burly men who dragged and locked them in a small retaining room. Once the two reporters were alone, Lois attempted to arrest the blood oozing from Linda's massive gunshot injury. As Lois was tending to her friend, the door was suddenly thrust opened and Lex Luthor strutted into the chamber like a pompous field marshall.

"Helloooo, Lo-is," Luthor bellowed, "Glad to see ya." As he smiled and addressed the Planet's top reporter, one of LexCorp's physicians began examining Linda's wound. After a few minutes he announced that the woman he was attending would probably be dead within the hour.

Spewing crocodile tears, Lex told several of his men, "When the bleeding one has expired, weigh the corpse down with iron ingots and toss her remains into Hobbs Bay. Today, I'll be generous and let the bottom feeders have a banquet." He then started to laugh making sounds one would expect to hear late at night coming from a hospital's mental ward for the criminally insane. As Luthor continued to laugh, Lois also noticed that his usually suave mask vanished and for the first time she gazed upon a face which was the manifestation of pure evil.

Then Lex looked at Lois and grinned. "You know, my Dear, that by coming here you've saved me a trip. I was planning to visit your abode in the near future and escort you to one of my secluded Caribbean retreats. There, my love, we can procreate my dynasty in a tranquil setting."

In a voice filled with loathing, Lois told Lex in no uncertain terms that she would never willingly mate with him. "You'll have to rape me she spat at him." Then she added, "If I ever became pregnant, I'll find some way to abort the fetus. The world couldn't survive Lex Luthor's progeny nurtured by his beastly philosophy."

"Why Lois," he replied, "I'm surprised that you'd think that old Lex Luthor could be that coarse. I may lust after someone, but rape is not my thing. You, my dear, will be placed in a perpetual sleep state by an electrical contrivance developed by my scientists. Your body parts will be kept in tip top condition by using mechanical massaging devices and several masseuses constantly at your side." From time to time Lex added, "You will be impregnated with my semen. After you've given birth to four of my progeny, you, like Linda King, will be removed from this plane of existence, and your mortal remains will become a delectable meal for the bottom feeders of my Caribbean paradise. Because you will be perpetually in a sleep mode, you, of course, will not be aware of your surroundings. You'll not know. Lois, consider yourself one of the lucky ones be die at my hands, because, my dear, you will not be aware of your own demise. Your passing will be caused by lethal injection. Death, I hope for your sake, will follow quickly." Smiling, he said, "Goodbye, Lois, and have a pleasant snooze," as he swaggered out of her prison.

Un- be-known to Lex Luthor, Lois had activated one of Clark's devices — the one fused with her pallet. Superman was immediately alerted to Lois' peril and instantly moved to rescue his soulmate.

Within a few minutes after the help signal reached him, Clark had arrived at the abandoned Hobbs Bay site and located Lois and Linda. Within seconds after Clark as Superman appeared, he immobilized all the guards and removed the two reporters from their prison. When the trio emerged from Lex's armory, Lois immediately notified the authorities.

As they waited for the gendarmes, Clark examined Linda. From the look on Superman's face, Linda realized that her end was at hand. "How long do I have, Clark?" She inquired. After a slight pause and with tears streaming down his face, he quietly told her, "Linda, I don't think you'll make it to sun up."

Looking into Clark's face, Linda replied, "Thanks for telling me the truth." After a few seconds, Linda said, "Clark, for a guy, you have a very tender heart. You care deeply about people, and you're always ready to help those in trouble. My Kryptonian friend," Linda added, "You have the most human heart on this planet. Please forgive my foolishness in revealing your alter-ego. My lust for fame and fortune has injured your life and those of yours immeasurably. That, my friend, I sincerely regret." As Lois and Clark listened to Linda, they suddenly heard her gasp for breath. Both Lois and Clark knew that her physical signs indicated that Linda King was rapidly approaching the other side.

A minute or so later, Linda's breathing became very labored. Knowing her end was was at hand, she said to Lois and Clark, "Take care of one another. I've watched you both over the years and know that you each possess a great strength that compliments the other. Together, my friends, you're stronger together than you would be as individuals. Working as a team, you two are unbeatable. Find a way to undue my stupidity.

Placing her hands on the heads of Lois and Clark, she blessed them in her own way. "May you both find a way to love each other and may your lives as a couple be both long and exhilarating." When Linda King completed her parting thoughts, she closed her eyes and struggled to breath for a moment longer, and then became still. Crying almost hysterically Lois managed to remark, "A courageous woman has gone to G-D this day."

Clark then reached to Lois and pulled her to him and gave his hurting soulmate what strength and understanding he could muster. Looking into his face Lois' fear of commitment was finally cast aside and for the first time she could see the intensity of Clark's love for her. As if by instinct, Lois pulled Clark's face to hers and they shared a kiss that was at once passionate as it was tender, and engendered hope for their future. When their lips parted, each became lost in the other's gaze and they both finally understood what forever was all about.

As they stood there holding one another, each was mesmorized by the adoration each felt for one another.

Unfortunately, they were rudely brought back to reality by the sirens of rapidly approaching police vehicles.

Without a word, Clark kissed his soulmate on the forehead and began levitating. Moving more and more rapidly, he soon disappeared into the inky blackness of the night sky.

As Lois waited for the police to arrive, she received a brief telepathic message from her super lover explaining how to create a hologram using her crystalline recorder information and transcribing it into a normal video format. Lois would need this knowledge in order to use this information to produce tangible data for Inspector Henderson.

After Lois gave Henderson the audio and visual data he needed, later that day Lex Luthor and his associates were charged for crimes too numerous to mention, including the murder of Linda King. The offenses for which Luthor was charged would keep him incarcerated in a maximum penal institution for several lifetimes. Because Lex was now felon in the eyes of the law, the confederation between Luthor's criminal organization and intergang was now void. Lex's dream of a gangster controlled city was now history. The Intergang organization did not possess the resources to continue the struggle for Metropolis by itself.

Because of the courage of Lois Lane and Linda King, Metropolis would have a new breath of freedom and enjoy a renaissance that would extend well into the future.

After Linda's funeral, Lois spent the better part of a week writing an expose which heralded the end of the house of Luthor. Lex's evil empire was now in shambles and was quickly being eliminated.

Although Intergang wasn't yet eradicated, Lois' articles did force Intergang to its secret lairs to brood and rebuild. She knew that in time the Intergang crime group would again unsheathe its Machiavellian switchblades and attempt to again rape society. But, for the present, these cutthroats were quiescent.

Following Linda's passing and the fulfillment of Lois' other professional obligations, the Planet's top reporter started to become listless. She found it difficult to pick up the routine threads of her life. Losing a partner was hard, but seeing and holding Clark for a fleeting moment, and then watching him vanish from her life again was heart wrenching.

After the crime wars the news business was relatively slow. This rather sluggish news period allowed Perry to use a psychological ploy to shake Lois from her lethargy. He made Lois an educator. Perry had her work with a new crop of journalists — fresh from the hallowed halls of their universities — and teach them about the realities of the news business.

To Perry's great surprise and delight, Lois didn't do battle with him over her teaching assignment.

However, when Lois accepted Perry's orders without a verbal battle, he knew that his mad dog Lane desperately needed a change in venue.

During the next month, Lois introduced the new hirers to the Planet's operational procedures and gave them the coinage they would need to survive and flourish as reporters. As she worked with the fledgling journalists, she marveled again at Perry's great intuitive eye for choosing the right people for the Planet's cadre of journalists.

As her education assignment was winding down, Bobby Bigmouth sent Lois some noteworthy information. In his messages to Lois, she was cautioned that Lex Luthor had put out a special contract on her. The contract specified that Lois was not to be harmed, but was to be shanghaied and transported to a hush-hush location which would be revealed at the proper time. For the successful execution of Lex's contract, the people involved would receive five million dollars.

When Lois read Bobby's memorandum, she understood the underlying meaning of Lex's contract all too well. Lex still wanted her as a biological supplier of ovum and to act as a living incubator during the gestation of his progeny. The thought of Lex's mad scheme made her shiver.

After a few moments of thought, she made her way to the chief's office and showed him BB's memo. When Perry finished digesting Bigmouth's note, with Lois' help, the chief said, "When are you finishing with the kids? In three or four days," Lois replied. "Great," Perry retorted. "This weekend, you and Jimmy will fly to Tokyo to cover an international economic conference. When Jimbo and you compete your Tokyo assignment, I want you to fly to Singapore to see my old friend Alan Jacobs. He heads the Planet's bureau on that island nation. Why the side trip?" Lois asked. Perry replied, "I want you to become familiar with all domestic and foreign aspects of the Planet's operations. Darlin', just look at the Singapore excursion as a learning experience and a much needed break from your normal routine."

When Lois returned to her workstation, Perry emailed his old buddy, Alan. After he completed his electronic communication, Perry sat back in his chair and scrutinized the bullpen. As his eyes alighted upon Lois, a huge grin spread across his face. "It's time," the chief mumbled to himself.

Several days later Lois and Jimmy were passengers aboard a supersonic transport bound for Tokyo. As she and Jimmy soared through the stratosphere at near Mach three, Lois leaned back in her seat and reminisced about her past.

All the men in Lois' past had used and abused her except Clark, her soulmate. Past boyfriends like Paul and Claude had used her affection as a spring board to take items from her — love, stories, friends, jobs. Oh, they did return her love, at times, but only on their terms. To them, devotion was a one way street. A boulevard that channeled all the goodies to them to nourish their inflated egos.

As unsatisfactory as Lois' past romances had been, Lex's current designs on her were more insidious and ominous by far.

If it were not for Clark's warning, Luthor, the consummate manipulator, would have twiddled with her fears, ambitions, and insecurities like a Gypsy fiddler playing a fiery folk tune. By making use of his debonair facade and properly applying his psychological expertise, Luthor might have mesmerized Lois and led her like a sacrificial lamb into his matrimonial morass. If Lois had succumbed to Lex's connubial scheme, he could now be pulling her around as if she were a burro attached to a leather halter.

At present, Lois shuttered, she could have been the spouse of Lex Luthor and be his center piece at lavish dinner parties given in luxurious mansions. Lois would have been trapped like a bird in a gilded cage. Luthor would never have allowed her to fulfill her dreams. Lois would have been made to conform to all Lex Luthor's wishes. All her potential would have been subjugated to satisfy his needs. She eventually would have been reduced to a slave adorned with fashionable garments and covered with gold.

Although Lois had avoided Lex's courtship snare, her last sortie with Linda had confirmed Clark's suspicions of Lexiepoo and his designs on her person. Her last interaction with LexCorp's boss truly demonstrated that Lex was a rogue of the worst sort — he reveled in her partner's pain and Linda's eventual passing. Unable to control Lois by any traditional means, she was aware from her sources and from Lex's own mouth that he was still determined to physically possess her. He intended to keep her in a state of semiconsciousness induced by some electrical device. In this physical condition, Lex intended to impregnate her with his seed to spawn progeny which would continue his line. The thought of bearing Lex's children — even unknowingly — caused Lois to shudder and grow cold.

When she and Jimmy arrived in Tokyo and plunged into their work, Lois, for the moment, suppressed her thoughts of Lex and his psychotic child rearing schemes.

After a week, the conference ended. It had been a fruitful meeting. Jimmy and Lois had emailed three one page articles to Perry.

At the airport, a few days later, Lois kissed Jimmy on the cheek, as he boarded the jet bound for Metropolis. She then proceeded to another boarding area and awaited her six-hour flight to Singapore.

When Lois disembarked on the island nation of Singapore, she was nearly overwhelmed by the high humidity and elevated temperature that covered the isle. Remembering that Singapore was about one to two degrees from the equator, Lois realized that she should have expected such conditions. Hailing a cab, Lois proceeded to Raffles — a five star hotel located in the center of the island — and got some well deserved shut eye.

Early the next morning, Lois rose early, enjoyed a continental breakfast, and leisurely walked toward the Planet's news bureau which was a few blocks from her hotel.

Upon entering the building that housed the Singapore newsroom, she sensed the same hustle and bustle that was so prevalent in the Metropolis newsroom. Looking around, she became aware of a guy giving somebody hell over the phone. As he hung up, the man muttered, "Why do all reporters in the third world think they can write a story in English without having it edited?"

Lois smiled at his remark just before she introduced herself. "Hi," she said, "the name's Lane, Lois Lane."

"Mine's Phil Baxter," he replied. "Can I help you, Ms. Lane?"

Lois shook her head and said, "I would like to see Alan Jacobs."

Phil then told her, "You'll have to wait, I'm afraid. He and Ken Curtis are having a powwow with the other department heads."

After a brief pause in their conversation, Baxter said, "Grab a chair," as he poured Lois a cup of java. Phil was affable and she liked him right off."

Out of curiosity Lois asked, "Where do you hail from?"

Phil replied, "I'm originally from Philadelphia. Earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Pennsylvania and then a master's degree at the J. School at Columbia University. During graduate school, I hit the jackpot and met my life partner. Soon after we both graduated from Columbia, Alexis entered the diplomatic service and we were married."

"Isn't your life a difficult one," Lois commented, noting a picture on his desk of a mature woman embracing three lovely girls.

"No," he replied. "Where they go, I go."

Parrying his response, Lois remarked, "What if she were transferred to an embassy where no news bureau existed?"

He smiled and replied, "I go where my family goes! If there were no news agencies where Alexis was posted, I'd freelance until my working conditions improved. We're in this together and that means forever for us." Pressing the picture of his wife and kids to his breast he added, "If one of us goes down for whatever reason, the other will pick up his/her soulmate and continue our journey through life, together. Always together, that's the philosophy of our family."

As Lois was about to reply, Phil said, "There's Alan," pointing to a middle aged man exiting the conference room. She thanked Phil Baxter for his hospitality and sauntered toward the bureau chief. As she walked towards Alan, Lois smiled as she thought about Phil Baxter. That guy has his head screwed on right. He understands what's important in this life — love of his family and commitment to their wellbeing. Lois knew that her view of Baxter was true. There was no hesitancy in his responses and that look in eyes, when he spoke of his family, let anyone who happened to be listening to their conversation know where his heart lay. He was committed to his wife and kids, and she'd bet the bank that he was a very loving husband and father to boot.

When Lois reached Alan Jacobs, she noticed that he was issuing instructions, just like her surrogate father, Perry White. Sensing that there was a stranger in his midst, the bureau chief turned and gazed into a pair of smiling brown eyes. Hello," she said, "my name's Lois Lane. I'm the gal from Metropolis."

Alan immediately grabbed her hand and shook it with enthusiasm, as he said, "Glad to meet ya."

Then he turned, and yelled, "Billings, tell Ken I'm going to lunch with a beautiful young lady. He won't believe you, but tell him anyway." With his barking completed, he escorted Lois to the local watering place where they both enjoyed a tasty lunch and some local grog.

As they lunched Alan's mind was working overtime. He couldn't allow Lois to meet Clark at the bureau. Their emotional responses could blow Kent's cover. After pondering this problem for some minutes, Alan ordered a half-carafe of wine. When it arrived he filled Lois' goblet and then excused himself for a moment. Alan knew that he wanted to keep Lane and Kent apart until this evening. Finding an isolated telephone, he called the Kent condominium.

Upon returning to the bureau, Alan proceeded to show Lois how his staff operated as he introduced her to his employees.

After Alan had finished the tour, Lois asked, "Where's Ken Curtis?"

Thinking fast, Alan told her that there was a minor crisis at government house, and he and Phil Baxter went to cover the situation. Then he commented, "You'll see my right hand man tonight." Then Alan added, "You and he and a few others will be dining at my pad this evening." Then looking at the clock, Alan remarked, "I have to run. Make yourself at home. Wander around the place and ask as many questions as you like. The staff is very amiable and they like to show off for out-of- towners, especially a colleague from the big city." Giving Lois a smile, Alan rushed into his office where he picked up a few things and dashed out of the bureau building.

Wandering around the bullpen, Lois found that the Singapore bureau was a miniature of her Metropolis newsroom. While she observed the operation, Lois noted that although Alan had hired a number of locals, most of the journalists were from the U.S., Canada, Briton, Australia, and New Zealand — all English speaking nations.

She also noticed, to her delight, that all hirers were experienced journalists and were good at their jobs.

As she conversed with various members of the bureau's staff, she found that Phil Baxter wasn't alone in his devotion to his family. The camaraderie among the Planet's Singapore wire service employees was unusually high. Lois found that all the expatriates in the bureau had either consciously or subconsciously banded together in what she could only describe as a large extended family.

As Lois toured the Planet's Singapore office, she noticed that the staff treated her like a member of their bureau family. She learned that Ken Curtis, who was sent by Perry, also came from the U.S. Within the few months he'd been at the Singapore office, Ken had shored up the operation and made it the envy of all news bureaus in the region. Lois was apprised that he had accomplished this task without being menacing. One elderly lady — Alice Shore — told Lois he behaved like a very understanding teacher. Smiling she added, "Lois, unofficially, we have two bureau chiefs. When Alan has to travel or is unavailable for work related reasons, Ken picks up the slack and runs the organization here." After a pause she continued, "If I didn't know better, I'd have guessed that Ken and Alan were siblings who got on well with one another."

Hesitating for a moment, Alice continued, "You know, Ms. Lane, Ken has such sad eyes. He tries to cover it up, but when a person's been hurt, the distress often can be seen in his/hers eyes. I've often seen his suffering when Ken thinks no one's looking. You know, like a person who has lost a loved one. Strange as it sounds, he never dates." Alice shook her head and added, "His anguish, Ms. Lane, must be awesome. Most people with that kind of pain would lash out at the world to expiate their grief. Not that man. He's a giving person. Mr. Curtis never attempts to control another individual. Ken is a very caring man, who helps without being asked and never expects any reward. He just wants people to be happy. That behavior is strange for our times, don't you think? From my perspective, it appears that people have succumbed to the big G — greed — and lust after power. Individuals no longer seem to have values. If you apply this modern scenario to Ken, he's an anachronism. That man has integrity, is always helpful, and possesses an innate goodness. I've never seen him use any muscle in this office to push people to do their jobs. In all my sixty-one years, I've never seen such a person. To tell you the truth, Lois, I don't expect to meet another like him during the remainder of my life. If I had met him when I was a younger woman, this gal wouldn't be the single old biddy she is today."

Lois smiled as Alice concluded her remarks and commented, "You just described Superman." Looking into Lois' face, Alice told the younger reporter from Metropolis, "Every woman in the world probably fantasizes about Superman. I believe the superhero syndrome is a hormonal thing. What most young women don't seem to understand is that true love is on a much deeper level. It comes from the soul and binds the lucky lovers to one another for all eternity."

After a pause, Alice added, "I was unfortunate and couldn't seem to find a life partner, or maybe I was too dumb to recognize him. If life had dealt me a different hand, I would have chucked all this and been a happy homemaker, freelancing when I could and loving the hell out of my man and our kids. Now I'm waiting to retire and walk into the sunset alone and lonely. Not until death has released me from my sad journey and liberates me from my loneliness will my soul finally be at peace."

Lois thanked Alice for her frankness and slowly walked to the newsroom exit. Once outside the bureau office complex, Lois leisurely walked toward her hotel. As she ambulated, Lois Lane could feel the pain of the older woman; pain which was the result of a poor decision made earlier in her life. If she could, some day, she would ask Alice what happened to force her to live a solitary existence.

Dressing for dinner, Lois continued thinking about Alice's comments that afternoon. Without knowing it, the elderly woman had described Clark's behavior to a tee. It made Lois listless. Clark, she sighed, where are you my love? I need you so much. Please, for both our sakes, don't create another Alice Lang.

When Lois arrived at Alan's condominium that evening, she was handed a Singapore Sling by the butler. The "sling," although a common Caribbean rum elixir, had become a favorite of the "expats" on this Asian equatorial island.

As Lois was savoring her alcoholic collation and talking to her host, the conversation was momentarily interrupted by a knocking sound. Alan said, "Excuse me, Lois, that must be my neighbors. They always join me for dinner when I'm entertaining a guest. They're congenial folk who liven up my soirees. In fact, Rose is a great chef and generally cooks for my gatherings. Wait till you taste her food; it's delicioso.

As he opened the door, Alan said, "Let me introduce you to the Curtises, Louis, Rose, and my Chief of Staff, Ken." Looking at the newcomers, Lois gasped at the three Kents. When she turned to look at Alan, he was laughing. "You knew," she said, giving her host an astonished look. Turning toward the Kent family, she became aware that, like herself, they also had been taken by surprise.

Clark was the first to recover and open his arms. When Lois saw Clark's opened arms, she nearly flew into his embrace. Once in her lover's arms, Lois remained locked in his embrace until she became aware of Alan's saying, "Hey you guys that 'levee dovee' stuff can wait till later, I'm starved." Reluctantly, Lois and Clark separated.

As they parted, Clark whispered, "I love you, Lois Lane."

Looking at him she could see all the emotional truth of his words emblazoned upon his face. Lois sighed and responded to his love sentiments by saying, "My beloved Kryptonian, you're such a hopeless romantic. All I can say to you without embarrassing us is that I'm glad you're mine." Her words ignited a fire within Clark's breast and when she finished her little come hither speech, he embraced Lois again, and this time kissed her with such passion, which she returned in equal measure. As their lips locked together, their knees nearly buckled, which would have spewed them across the floor. After their lips reluctantly parted, they clung to one another until their heartbeats again returned to some semblance of normalcy.

Then Alan said again with more vigor, "Come on you two, there's plenty of time for hanky- panky later." Smiling at each other with a radiance that could brilliantly illuminate a room without a ray of light, Clark, accompanied by Lois, seated themselves at a table heaped with a mountain of Martha's goodies.

When the banquet was at last served, those gathered at Alan's feast ate to their own contentment depending on one's personal or social definition of dining.

The conversation during the meal was first lively, but as Alan consumed a larger quantity of wine that he could reasonably handle, the Singapore bureau became more and more melancholy.

As Alan gazed at Lois and Clark, Martha, noticing Alan's whimsical smile asked, "Is there anything wrong?"

Turning to look at his friend and neighbor, he said, in voice filled with subdued emotion, "No. I was just remembering my great love and its accompanying tragic loss." When Alan concluded his bittersweet remark, the bureau chief smiled and just stared off into space. Martha then placed her hand on Alan's arm to lend what emotional support she could give her friend. As Alan's company looked on, the bureau chief's tears began to cascade down a tortured face followed by quiet sobs.

When Alan began his subdued lament, Clark immediately jumped up, went to Alan's side and placed his arms around his spiritual brother gently hugging him. Looking at the others present, Clark said, "He's remembering Nam and the loss of a loved one."

"Who was she?" Lois asked in a quiet tone.

"Her name was Samantha," Clark replied. "She was his wife."

"Alan was married?" Lois and Martha said simultaneously. Clark nodded, rocking his friend in an attempt to calm his anguish.

As Alan at last pulled himself from Clark embrace, his puffy eyes were the most outstanding feature on his face.

Digging deep within his soul, Alan found the strength to get control of his emotions. Looking at his guests again, he remarked, "Every time I've had too much 'kick-a-po' joy juice and see people who exude so much love for one another, I remember Sam. It's the remembering that tears me apart, and I lose control of my emotions."

Attempting to shake off his lethargy, Alan picked up a glass of wine and with a sad smile said, "I must admit this brew is a lot better than that jungle mash which hammered us in Nam." After a slight pause he added, "Our occasional bashes over there always left me with a horrible headache that seemed to last forever. At least this wine will only trouble me for a day or so."

"Why did you get hung over in Nam?" Martha asked.

Without hesitating Alan replied, "To forget where you were, what you saw, and what you had to do."

Martha nodded, telling Alan that she understood. Martha remembered when Jonathan was sent to Korea. Those were days of shear terror for her, Martha remarked.

Turning more serious, Alan said, "Sam and I were international correspondents working for the Daily Planet. She was hired about a month before me. When we met, I was instantly smitten. I guess she was too. We had four dates. On our fourth outing we became engaged and were married two months later. Several months after our nuptials, the paper sent us to Nam. That was late sixty-four."

"During the eight months that we were there, my wife and I covered a plethora of situations many of which are too horrible to describe. Wars are like that. After you see the horror and the devastation and talk to the troopers, what those in the know call grunts, the entire scenario just leaves you numb."

"People like us are known by the military as battle field corespondents. Our copy was picked up by most wire services. After a while, we became journalistic celebrities of sorts. I must admit there were many instances when the military was less than thrilled with our articles. But, for some reason I could never fathom, the military never censored us. Maybe the lack of censorship was the result of the integrity of our stories. We only published what the two of us observed. We didn't embellish our facts like many of our colleagues were apt to do during that horrible period."

"When we'd been in Nam for about seven months, Sam's stomach became somewhat unsettled. Each morning, when we awakened, she would gallop to the bathroom and toss her cookies. As the weeks passed, the intensity and repetition of her symptoms steadily increased. I eventually took her to one of physicians at a local MASH unit several miles from our hootch — near the village of Ben-Wah. I was sure she had a touch of jungle fever or picked-up a parasite."

"After leaving my wife at the MASH hospital, I returned to our abode, such as it was. Then I waited with some apprehension for my wife's return. Near sundown, Sam appeared. As she approached I noticed there was a subtle smile on her face. When we were barely inches apart, I remembered clasping her to me and kissing Sam with as much passion and love as I could muster. She responded to my kiss by returning one with one of equal intensity. After our lips parted, we just silently clung to each other for some time. Then, as we separated, Sam handed me a small package."

"When I opened the container, the contents took my breath away — before me were two tiny baby booties."

"As I gazed at her, she quietly said, 'By Thanksgiving, you'll be a daddy.'"

"When full realization of her words finally hit me, I let out a whoop. Then I grabbed Sam and spun her round and round and… until she said, 'Stop, or I'm going to give you a present of some smelly partially digested lunch.' I immediately stopped, and we both laughed. Then, we intermittently hugged, kissed, and laughed as we reaffirmed the love that forever made us one."

"That evening the entire special forces unit in our area — those not on duty, of course — threw a wild party in honor of our coming parenthood. Life in the midst of death is a very special occasion. One young man was slightly dizzy from the rotgut booze served at our battlefield party. He was also a little unsteady on his feet but sobered for an instant and said something that will be indelibly etched forever on my soul. He raised his glass and said, 'I'm happy for both of you and I want to thank you for allowing me and my brothers to help you celebrate new life in the midst of death.'"

"You know, I never knew that lad's name. Several days later, however, I recognized his mortal remains after a fierce skirmish that occurred during the previous night. I particularly remember that engagement. The battle was like a rough and tumble game where death kept score — it was a horrible spectacle. As the engagement reached its zenith, the fighting went at it hand to hand. Charlie broke off the encounter as the sun began to rise. What remained on that field of death were scores of bodies and body parts. If you attempted to cross the battle area one couldn't help but step on human remains. Soon after we saw the results of that horrible encounter and wept for the slaughtered humanity on both sides, Sam and I posted our story. Near the end of that lousy year, we received a Pulitzer for reporting about the four horsemen of the apocalypse."

"When I accepted the Pulitzer, my soul silently screamed, 'keep your dad-blasted accolade, and give me back my wife and our unborn child.' My entire being kept screaming you're giving me this trinket when I lost my world. I was in agony. Then I remembered Sam's words, and they comforted me and from that time till now have always cheered my soul — always try to be a gentleman and make others happy. So with a smile, I mouthed the classic words of thank you and walked from the dais, tears cascading down my face."

"As I returned to my seat after receiving our prize, I recalled the incident that shattered my world as though it were yesterday."

Pausing for a moment, Alan told his guests, "I lost Sam and our child just before we were to rotate home. The mortar barrage came at dusk, those beastly implements of deaths which make no sound as they fly toward their targets. Just before they collide with the earth, there is a low almost quiet- sounding whoosh followed almost immediately by an explosion. Even before the dust had a chance to settle, you could always hear the agonizing shouts of medic, medic… and oh G-D help me."

"When Sam was hit, blood quickly soaked her fatigues. As I carried her to our hootch, a medic joined us. When he finished ministering to my wife, he gave me that special look which said that her wound was mortal. Then he whispered in my ear telling me how much time he thought remained before she passed from this world. As the medic finished speaking, my knees buckled and a sense of dread griped my body."

"Throughout the next day and a half, I sat with her, our hands clasped tightly together. We didn't speak much. As our common vigil moved towards its climax, our eyes became riveted on one another, and all things of import passed between us through a bond which had linked us in life and would continue to do so after she passed from this plane of existence."

"It was during that quiet time, just before dawn, some thirty-six hours after Sam was struck by metallic fragments from a mortar shell that my exhausted body nodded off. As I began to doze, her smile became indescribably radiant and she mouthed, 'My love for you is forever.' I'll carry that picture and her words within my heart for as long as my life forces are encased in these mortal coils of mine."

"When I awoke a few minutes later she was gone. Sam had waited until I nodded off to depart this realm. She wanted to spare me the agony of seeing her exit this life. As I viewed her in death, my body became numb, but I could still feel her. It seemed that our love still permeated the room as it still fills my heart."

"As I looked around the room that was our love nest, it now appeared desolate and foreboding. It had somehow changed from our home to an another facet of a military camp dedicated to the destruction of life."

"Shaking, I placed my hands on her head and blessed her according to the traditions of our ancient faith."

"Soon after her passing, the medic returned with the base commander. After tending their condolences, they both indicated it would be best if I left the hootch. I couldn't do that and shook my head indicating my decision."

"While I'm not a religious person, something welled up from deep within my being and I said in a quivering voice, 'I cannot abandon my wife's body. Her essence has gone to where all souls abide, but her body is G-D's creation and must be cared for until it is returned to the Earth — the dust from which it came.' Pausing for a moment I continued, 'Her mortal remains cannot be cast aside. Abandonment of Sam's body would be an offense to the Almighty.'"

"While I'm sure the medic didn't fully comprehend my reasons, he placed his hand on my shoulder and simply said, 'as you wish.'"

"To this day, I still marvel at what I said on that fateful day. My soul, in the midst of agony, had found its roots. When I uttered those words to the medic, I felt a mystical connection with my past. That sensation gave me a semblance of calm and something beyond myself gave me the strength to carry on."

"From that moment until we reached the State side funeral home, I never left her side. Sam of course had been placed within a coffin for our journey homeward."

"Samantha's funeral was held on the day after we returned to her hometown. I remember as we entered the memorial park all was still. The quiet was broken only by the sobs of the mourners, as my beloved wife was laid to rest in her family's cemetery plot. As the coffin was being lowered into the earth, I became hysterical. Sam's father, Marty, pulled me to him and allowed me to grieve, warding off all those who attempted to interfere with my uncontrollable crying. Of all those who had gathered on the cemetery, only Sam's father understood the range of emotions racking my body. He had experienced a similar event some years before. His wife had been unexpectedly killed by an inebriated truck driver. Because of this lamentable mishap, Sam's father had been in therapy for nearly a year. From the time of his wife's death, until his own passing, Marty Lewis was nearly a recluse, working from home via the internet. Like me, he would never fully recover from his loss."

"When a week had passed, I again stood over Sam's grave. While the hysteria had left me, there remained a longing that would not be quenched during my lifetime. Standing there, I could feel the tears pooling in my eyes. Suddenly I was not alone. Next to me stood Sam's father. Placing his arms around me, he said, 'Life must not become obsessed with death. Let's leave this place.' As we both Placed a stone on the raw Earth which covered my beloved, I followed Sam's father back to the house."

"Entering the Kitchen of my father-in-law's home, he brewed some tea for the both of us. As we enjoyed the beverage, he said, 'Visit her grave a few times a year, if you wish. It will give you some solace. But, son, choose life. Return to the habitats of humankind and fulfill your destiny.'"

I was about to question his comments when he held up his hand and said, "Please, Alan, let me continue."

"Last night, my father-in-law told me that he had a visit from a man who, by his dress and behavior, was a resident of England at the turn of the twentieth century. He told him that his name was H.G. Wells."

"I remember looking at my father-in-law and thinking that he had flipped his trolly. However, for some reason I allowed Marty to continue talking without interfering. For the life of me, I couldn't fathom why I continued to listen to the babble of an irrational individual."

"Marty continued telling me that first Wells and he exchanged pleasantries. Then this strange little man started to tell him a tale about two people, yet to be born, whose love would bear a fruit that would change the world. The progeny of these soulmates, he was informed, would create a utopian society based upon the behavior model of their parents."

"After a brief pause in his story, Wells told Marty that the male part of this duo would be born on a planet called Krypton, which was about eight billion light years from our planet. In desperation his natural parents would launch him on a desperate journey toward Earth just as their home world perished in a titanic explosion. The spacecraft, carrying the last Kryptonian would land in Kansas, where the child would be found, adopted, and nurtured to manhood by a farm couple possessing a lofty ethical and moral character base."

"The distaff side of this future relationship would be born on Earth about the same time the Kryptonian catastrophe transpires. After a rather stressful childhood, she would settle in Metropolis where the two predestined lovers would encounter one another."

"As their relationship begins to evolve the male's identity would be discovered and he and his adoptive parents would be forced to flee. Wells then informed Marty that his son-in-law would become a pivotal player in resolving the lovers' dilemma. With the help of a close friend known as Perry White, Marty's son-in-law would provide the fleeing family with a sanctuary and be instrumental in reuniting the soulmates. When they come together their love affair, orchestrated by destiny, will begin a process which will guide Earth eventually to a utopian society."

"Wells told my father-in-law that he must make sure that I, Alan Jacobs, his son-in-law, return to my natural haunts and continue to be a working journalist. Marty's support was crucial."

"When Wells finished his story, Marty admitted to me that he was highly suspicious of the oddly dressed man's sanity. However, my father- in-law said Wells took him to the rear of the house where, in the middle of the yard, was a weird looking sleigh- carriage combination."

"He invited him to enter his contraption and before he knew what had happened, the time dial, as he called it, indicated that they had journeyed thirty years into the past. When Wells and he disembarked from the machine, he led him to a hidden site near the front of his house. There, he saw a younger version of himself and Sam's mother carrying an infant entering their new home. After the vision of his past self and family entering the house, Wells led him back to the time transporter and they were soon back in the present."

"When they entered this house again in the present, he offered Wells another spot of tea. While the time traveler enjoyed his beverage, he consumed something a little stronger than tea."

"As they enjoyed their beverages, Wells showed him a piece of equipment that he called a soul tracker. It was capable of looking into the repository of souls and could track the essences in that realm. He saw his wife's soul and felt her calling to him. He also showed him Sam's and my spirits and our destiny as lovers throughout eternity."

"From Well's description of our souls, we and our soulmates are destined to live and love continually forever and beyond."

"When Mr. Wells finished his tea, he removed a handsome pocket watch from his vest, and after gazing at it, said, 'I must be on my way.' My father-in-law accompanied him to his vehicle and watched the funny little man and his fantastic vehicle as it vanished in the midsts of time."

"After hearing Marty's tale I once again feared for his sanity."

"To bring him back to reality I tried to use a bit of logic. To this end, I asked, 'Did Wells inform you what happens to our souls when this universe of ours goes through one of its periodic contraction and expansion cycles?' You are aware, of course that when such an event occurs all life within our universe will be destroyed in the process."

"I was surprised to learn that my father-in-law had asked Wells just that question. After pausing to sip his tea, Marty informed me that the repository of souls was beyond time and space and therefore, invulnerable to the forces of nature. My father-in-law then added, 'Our souls are apparently forever creations. When a new universe has been established after another big bang event, the souls in the repository will again seed the new plenum with life.'"

"Before I left Marty's home to rejoin the living, he informed me that he had written the story of H.G. Wells' visit and had placed it in the family's safe deposit box. Marty then told me that when I needed to read Wells' saga at some later date, it could be found among his papers."

"As I was about to leave Sam's childhood home for the airport, my father-in-law again reminded me that I had been chosen for a very important task. He said in an almost vehement tone that I was to be the shelter provider for a Kryptonian, the last of his kind, and establish the living quarters where fated lovers could meet and become one with nature."

"When we drove to the airport, I could feel the strength of Marty's convictions becoming part of my being."

"As the flow of my life moved on, my father-in- law's tale became more obscure until it was finally lost to my sentient self and became lodged somewhere in my subconscious."

"When Sam's father was laid to rest a few years later, his estate passed to me. He left a will which legitimized the transfer of his property. Although Marty and I were not blood relations, we were linked through Samantha, his daughter and my beloved wife. Since there was no next of kin, Marty's legal record disposing of his property after his death was never contested."

"While going through Marty's papers after his funeral, I suddenly realized that he and I were the last representatives of our families' lines. His family had now passed into history. When I expired, in the not too distant future, my family tree would also vanish from humankind's trek toward forever."

"At the bottom of a stack of Marty's papers, I found the Wells' manuscript. Since my father- in-law was so passionately involved with his story, I placed it in a small wooden chest which I then deposited in a desk draw."

"There, it remained undisturbed for nearly twenty years."

"When the Superman story burst like a bomb shell on the world stage, my sleep patterns began to become unsettled. As the weeks passed, it became increasingly difficult for me to sleep. Then, during one very restless night, I awoke, as if struck by lightening. My father- in-law's tale burst into my consciousness."

"When the activity of my sleepy body caught up to the quickness of my mind, I raced to my library and read the story that Sam's father had written nearly thirty years before. As I read on, the cadence of the Wells' narrative seemed to match the Superman events that were now occurring with such frequency in Metropolis and throughout the world."

"It was gratifying to know that my father-in- law's story, supposedly told to him by H.G. Well, was not an imaginary tale told by a demented individual who had finally succumbed to the battering Marty's psyche had taken during his lifetime."

Realizing that Marty's vision had been true and represented the future, Alan knew it was now time for him to act.

Marshalling his thoughts, Alan sent Perry an email asking him what he wanted to do about the empty Singapore condo. Perry realized that his old friend was giving him a way out of his mounting Superman dilemma. Perry's almost immediate reply simply stated that he was dispatching a seasoned editor to assist Alan in running the Singapore news bureau, adding that he should make the unoccupied apartment suitable for the new editor and his parents.

The email ploy worked. It gave Perry maneuvering room. The chief's response further supported Alan's father-in-law's fantastic Wellian tale. A story in which he, Alan Jacobs, would now play a vital role.

After sending Perry the needed residency info allowed him to send Clark and his parents to the vacant Singapore apartment — a place of refuge for the Kent family. "The first of my tasks had been completed," Alan remarked. Wells' sanctuary had been established.

Now that Lois and Clark have been reunited, Alan told his guests, "My mission has now been fulfilled."

As Alan poured another glass of wine, he became even more philosophical. He remarked, "I want to celebrate Lois and Clark. Two halves of a whole which had been torn asunder and have been reunited." Holding his wine glass high, Alan added, "Life rejoices at your reunion. I have this unearthly feeling that you two, and your descendents will profoundly alter the future of this world, a hereafter where humankind will fulfill its destiny."

Smiling at the young couple, Alan continued to sample the wine in his glass. As he sipped his alcoholic beverage, Alan's eyes began closing, and soon the old news hound was in la-la land sleeping peacefully in his favorite chair.

Clark gently picked up his friend and placed him on the sofa. As the man from Krypton gazed at Alan, his hand affectionately stroked the thin graying hair of the older man. Looking at this scene, Lois again realized that her soulmate had a very compassionate heart. Unless she was careful, Clark would spoil her rotten. After considering that thought for a moment, she mused maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing. A moment later she murmured, "Nah." Lois was also aware that she would never allow him to over indulge her whims. Lois also knew that Clark would never attempt to control or interfere with her actions unless they were life threatening. They would make all major decisions by consensus, and her mind would be unfettered and she, Lois Lane, would be able to pursue her dreams. The give and take between them would be a free-wheeling affair. They would provide, acquire and share all particulars with respect to one another and enhance them with the elixir of love. Their life together would be a partnership of equality in every sense of the word. Shaking her head, Lois wondered how she had ever earned this man's adoration. With him, she knew that her world was complete — she was home.

Looking at the bureau chief, Lois thought, "Maybe Alan's wild tale about time machines and destiny weren't so far fetched after all."

As she was watching Clark, she heard a familiar voice say, "Hello darlin'."

"Perry," Lois nearly screamed, "How did you get here?"

"By using the TD's," he replied.

Before she could continue her questioning, Clark embraced Perry and said, "Glad to see ya chief." He then took the Planet's big boss to a table plied high with mounds of Martha's delectable Kansas cooking.

As Perry was helping himself to Martha's vittles, Lois said, "Clark, what the heck is a TD?"

Taking her by the hand, Clark led Lois to a couch in a quiet corner of the room. When they became comfortable, Clark began to explain all the events which brought her up-to-date and placed her again in the news loop surrounding the Kent family and the events involving Superman.

After a momentary pause, Clark then said, "When my folks and I arrived on this isle, the AI unit, the custodian of the library sent with the baby Kal-El to Earth, finally had the time to complete my Kryptonian education."

"You should know, Lois, that while the solar activity of Earth's sun provides me with super abilities, it also vastly increased my rate of learning — almost to an immeasurable degree. Within eight months after we arrived in Singapore, I had absorbed and mastered the data base associated with the Kryptonian library system. The athenaeum that arrived with me on Earth contains Krypton's achievements over their aeons of existence. My strongest interests were obviously associated with literature and composition, but it appears that I also possess extraordinary capabilities for natural science explorations. My newly acquired scientific abilities appear to be a genetic inheritance acquired from my Kryptonian lineage — both of my biological providers were renowned scientists on their home world. Using my newly acquired scientific knowledge, I developed the devices which gave mutual protection to Perry's Superman team which, of course, included you, Lois. Unknown to you, my love, they also enhanced your investigative skills. The TD doors of which Perry spoke were just another product of my research efforts," Clark added.

After Clark had finished his educational diatribe, Lois just smiled.

Then sticking her finger in Clark's chest, Lois said, "You're doing it again. Not telling me all the facts, my dear, are akin to lying."

Kissing Lois on the forehead, Clark, pulled her close. He knew that his brilliant partner was aware that he had talked about the TD device without revealing how it functioned. Clark didn't feel bad because she deserved to know about the existence of this device. But, he was anxious about her safety. If Lois knew how to operate the teleportation system, that knowledge could place her in a very perilous situation. Before Clark could provide her with a full understanding of the TD's uses, she would have to be protected in a very special way. After a slight pause in his internal debate, he mumbled, "Okay, it's time for Lois to become my true partner in all things."

"What did you say?" Lois asked.

"My love," Clark replied, "I didn't lie to you. I simply avoided telling you the entire truth about the TDs. It was a stratagem to protect you."

"Clark," Lois snorted, "how often do I have to tell you not to wrap me up in a blanket of safeguards? I'm a big girl now, and I'm quite capable of taking care of myself."

Smiling at her digs, Clark replied, "You must understand that many governments and criminal organizations possess devices that can determine whether the statements you make are truthful. If they suspected, for one moment, that Lois Lane was lying to them, they would probably have you abducted. Then the information you possessed would be coerced from your mind, either by drugs or other unpleasant physical means. And, after they had obtained what they wanted, your remains would be fed to the fish. I can't take the chance of losing you. So please give me a little time to consider how I'm going to deal with this dilemma." He then added, "If I lost you, Lois, my life would be over. There would be no future for me on this third rock from the sun."

As Lois and Clark walked back to the dining room, they were still quibbling about Lois' perception of Clark's over protective posture and Lois' view about lying.

When they again seated themselves at the table, Perry remarked, "By and by, Lex has put out a contract on you, Lois."

With a stunned look appearing on her face, both Lois and Clark stopped their chatter and simultaneously asked, "What did you say, chief?"

Smiling at the expression on their faces, Perry continued, "Not to worry, Lois. Luthor just wants you abducted for your reproductive potential. It appears that Lex still has designs on you to propagate the next generations of master criminals." Sobering a little, the chief added, "That's why I sent you to the other side of the world, darlin."

"To get me out of harm's way," Lois remarked punching the chief in the arm. Perry then nodded and said, "So I guess I'm also guilty of an overprotection attitude where you're concerned, Lois."

Chief, Lois wailed, "When Lex discovers that I'm not in Metropolis, that lunatic will search for me until Hell freezes over. You've only delayed the inevitable, I'm afraid."

"No darlin," Perry replied, "Your disappearance from Metropolis will give us time to figure out how to frustrate Lex Luthor's crackbrained scheme."

As Clark silently listened to the discourse between Perry and Lois, he made a fateful decision.

Holding up his hand for the chief and his sweetheart to stop their bickering, Clark said, "Lois, I believe that I have a solution to what you consider our overprotective attitude where you're concerned."

Taking Lois by the hands, Clark led her toward what appeared to be a mirror. Standing in front of the glass like material, Clark placed Lois' hands on the glassy surface and then placed his own hands upon hers. As Clark completed his maneuvering, Lois' aura was integrated into the TD system. Not understanding what Clark had just done, Lois asked him what occurred. Collecting his thoughts, Clark told, Lois, that every living soul had a unique energy field or aura which they constantly emanate and surrounds them. When I placed your hand on that glassy material and covered by hands, your aura, Lois, became another key which will activate our teleportation system. Since each person's aura is unique, your essence cannot be counterfeited. Therefore, an aura not linked to the TD system can't activate the teleportation complex. You, my love, now possess such a special passport that will allow you to travel wherever the system has portals.

"Since your aura has been added to the TD's identification unit, sweetheart, you can now use our transportation system and instantaneously travel anywhere in space-time, as long as your destination had a receiving station. For emphasis, Lois was then told that Perry could attend their little party — half a world away from Metropolis by utilizing the TD transportation complex."

To demonstrate how the TD gate functioned, Clark activated the teleportation portal in his apartment. As he did so, a black oval shaped portal appeared in the wall where the glassy material once existed. Taking Lois through the TD gate she found herself in a small, yet well- illuminated room. On the far wall was a glowing panel with an array of buttons. As they approached this electrical device, which in actuality was a control mechanism, she observed numerous incandescent concavities which Lois realized were buttons which when activated allowed the traveler to move to other locations.

Standing in front of the control panel Clark asked Lois to activate the switch marked Centauri system. As she pressed the concavity, another portal opened, and the two lovers passed through the new gate. When they reached their designation, the TD window closed behind them and vanished from sight.

When they arrived at their new location, Lois quickly realized that she was on a space platform from which she could see three stars. Clark informed her later that the stars were called Alpha a, Alpha b, and Proxima Centauri.

After they had a small repast, Clark took her on a tour of sanctuary — his name for the space station. She noticed that it was fashioned like a house which she was told floated in the void of this alien star system. As they walked, Lois was informed that the platform had been subdivided into twenty self contained living areas or apartments. On the walls of the space platform, Lois saw magnificent works of art. Looking for the signature of the artisan, she found undecipherable symbols on the lower right side of each painting. Lois then turned to Clark and asked, "What language is that, pointing to the signatures on the wall paintings?" Giving her a radiant smile, Clark replied, "It's Kryptonian, my love."

"They're magnificent," Lois told Clark. "How were they saved when your birth world exploded?" Not hearing a response to her query, she turned and faced her lover. Lois saw him standing a few meters from her staring at the floor, blushing. Then it hit her like a ton of bricks. These artworks were not ancient Kryptonian Masterpieces, but the modern creations of Clark Kent.

Lois immediately moved to her soulmate and gathered him to herself in a loving embrace. She said, "I'm sorry, my love, that I embarrassed you. I wasn't aware that you had such awesome talent." After a slight pause she asked, "What does the inscription of your artwork say?"

"It's simply my Kryptonian name," Clark informed her — "It's pronounced Kal-El."

"What else can you do?" Lois asked, as they continued to wander through the space station.

Placing his head upon hers and encircling Lois in his arms, Clark replied, "The AI unit, after giving me a diagnostic test and a genetic scan, told me that besides my writing abilities, I should be able to create artistic items, compose music, write poetry and be a master scientist."

"Wow," was all that Lois could say.

"To satisfy my intellectual cravings," Clark continued, "I constructed a smaller platform — my work station so to speak — which is adjacent to the main platform which houses the living quarters for Sanctuary. The smaller platform contains my science facilities, an art studio, and an office-library complex. The two platforms are linked by the TD network."

"Ye gods and little golliwogs, Clark," Lois excitedly commented, "You're the da Vinci of our age."

He gave Lois an embarrassed smiled and replied, "It's funny that you should make that comment. The AI unit also indicated that I possessed a nearly universal mind. The last such scholarly person who had this ability according to the AI was called 'Torn,' who lived on Krypton more than a hundred thousand years ago."

Placing his arm about Lois, Clark added, "The AI unit also indicated that my genes bearing these intellectual abilities would be a dominant factor during conception and my offspring would, like me, be very gifted individuals. My offspring would also acquire those unique abilities people refer to as super powers — such as flying, x-ray vision, and heat vision."

Looking very serious Lois asked, "Are we biologically compatible, Clark?"

"You betcha," he replied. "Our genomes are identical except for the so called super producing genes, which were added to the Kryptonian gene pool about a hundred thousand years ago. These chromosomal modifications are dominant traits and will also be passed on to my progeny."

"Hopefully, they will be our progeny," Lois murmured to herself.

"Please bear with me for a little while longer, Lois, and things about me and my alien status should become clearer to you and make our soulmate union much easier."

As the two lovers continued to wander about Sanctuary, Clark informed Lois, "It is my supposition that the Earth was seeded by Kryptonians marooned on Earth about two hundred thousand years ago. How they got to our world is still an open question. However, the evidence from my research strongly agrees with the most current archeological data. The information from these investigations indicates that the humanoid species, originally indigenous to Earth, began to disappear soon after the ancient Kryptonians reached Sol three — Earth. While there are also definitely Kryptonian markers in the human genome, if you know where to look, there's no indication of any altered DNA in Earth's current population. The modification, as I told you, occurred some one hundred thousand years ago, long after the Kryptonians settled our world. Of course, more data will be needed to nail down my views. I'll let future generations of scientists consider this problem. You and I, Lois, including our friends, will just not have time to play around with Earth's genealogy."

After their tete-a-tete ended, Lois and Clark continued their tour of Kent's space habitat.

As Clark guided her throughout the Centauri space platform, she noticed that each apartment was elegantly decorated in diverse styles. When Lois asked Clark about the different motifs, he responded, "That was Mom's touch."

When Lois finished exploring the living quarters of the station, Clark prepared their lunch. When Martha asked her what occurred when they returned to Earth, all that Lois could recall was that the meal was wonderful. What she really discovered was that her soulmate was a hell-of-a lot more than just a splendid cook.

After lunch the two lovers headed toward a TD gate and transported to the adjoining space platform.

Upon entering the working annex of the space platform, Lois heard, "Welcome, Kal-El and Lo- El."

"Who said that?" Lois asked, and then started to giggle. Clark replied, "It was the AI unit that greeted us. It's the keeper of the library and as you heard, it has Kryptonized your name."

"If you don't like the transposition, I'll use your Earth appellation," AI also responded.

"It's okay," Lois replied. "I'm flattered."

"Thank you, Lo-El," the AI unit said. "I'll wait for you both in the laboratory area."

As they walked toward the laboratory enclosure, Clark started to think about what the AI unit had done to Lois' name and began to laugh. When he looked at Lois, she seemed to know what he was chuckling about and it also set her off. Soon, they were both laughing hysterically. The incident with the AI unit had tickled their funny bones and the final act that truly relaxed the lovers.

When Lois and her partner finally entered the laboratory, Clark helped Lois to a seat. Then Clark said, "In a life long relationship, Lois, it's important that soulmates are equal in all things. With your lack of super abilities, our lives can't really achieve that kind of equilibrium and may even become erratic at times."

Pausing for a moment Clark continued, "Lois, I have discovered a way to modify your genome using electricity, a process which will provide you with unique abilities akin to mine — my so- called super powers."

"Will I be a Kryptonian," Lois asked. Clark replied, "I guess in a scientific sense you would be Kryptonian, but an Earth born Kryptonian, as our children will be."

"Clark," Lois giggled, "to conceive kids with you as my biological partner would be just great and fulfill my maternal needs."

"Seeing Lois' sultry look," Clark said in a rather serious tone, marriage between two parties contemplating a family should occur before children are conceived."

Then-giving Clark a beautiful smile, Lois asked, "Are you asking me to be your wife?"

"Yes," he quietly replied. Then Clark blushed and added, "I wanted to ask you this evening. However, things sort of got out of hand, and my proposal plans became somewhat skewed. I'm sorry, Lois."

"Don't be sorry," she retorted. "I think your proposal was rather unique. It will be an interesting historical tidbit for our descendents." Then looking at him with adoring eyes she demurely said, "I am honored to accept your proposal of marriage. I must tell you," she added, "I'm impatient to find out what kind of mischief two super reporters can get themselves into."

"Lo-is," Clark said, "horsing around with super powers could get us in plenty of hot water."

"Okay, lover, you said your piece. Now where's that blasted conversion machine?" Lois inquired, as she again started to giggle.

When she awoke the next morning, Lois found herself looking down on her sleeping fiance. Like Clark, she would have a tendency to sleep float. As she gazed upon her future lover and husband, she was overwhelmed by his unbelievable handsome features. They went perfectly with his unique goodness and caring. As she watched him, his eyes fluttered and opened. Looking at her, he said, "I could hear your thoughts, Lois. Although I'd love to keep listening to them and just lie here looking at your beautiful face, we must get back to Earth. Otherwise, sweetie, we'll never get any work done." As Clark levitated to Lois for a good morning kiss, she suddenly realized that they were actually communicating telepathically.

When Clark finally reached Lois, he gave her such a passionate kiss of such intensity that they both lost themselves in each other. With their concentration gone, they fell crashing onto the bed below. After the surprise of their fall dissipated, the two soulmates started to laugh and couldn't function for the next several minutes.

While cuddling with Clark, Lois became aware that her fiance had been calling her sweetheart from time to time. Thinking about his loving remark, Lois decided that she liked being called by that pet name. I'll tell Clark later.

As Lane and Kent readied themselves for their return to Sol-three, Lois remarked, "Visualize this scene. Two lovers on their honeymoon are floating three meters above the ground, become emotionally involved, and crash land into their nuptial bed demolishing it."

"That may be funny to you, Lois, but I don't believe the hotel, or a resort would appreciate such antics."

"That's why I told you my fiction," she said. "I think we'll have to plan our own special honeymoon escape." Nodding, Clark agreed wholeheartedly with her.

As Clark continued dressing, he thought, "Maybe we should come back here and take one of the interstellar ships and tour the universe and see a few of its most spectacular spots. In that way we could truly be alone and do exactly what we wish."

To his surprise he heard coursing through his head, "That's a great idea. Let's do it." There was no need to consider the issue any further, their eyes spoke volumes.

Before heading for the shower, Lois asked, "Is there anyway of shutting our telepathic connection down?"

Kissing her on the forehead, he said, "From my studies, I don't think so. After a while the telepathic connection between soulmates becomes like a low background din and only flairs into full operation when there's need. Though we can communicate more efficiently telepathically, we'll have to use Earth's conventional communication mode — talking — or our actions may cause some people to closely scrutinize our unusual behavior. Initially, our communication habits may be somewhat difficult, my love, but trust me, with a little practice, you'll become a master of disguise in areas you'll need to conceal."

As Lois was opening the door to the bathroom, she asked, "Clark, will our children be able to hear our thoughts?" He smiled as he told her, "No, Lois, our telepathic linkage is just for us. No two soulmate pairs operate on the same telepathic band."

When Lois finished showering, she dressed and proceeded to the kitchen where she saw Clark preparing their breakfast. His back was to her. So intent was he on his cooking tasks that Lois' future husband was unaware that his fiance had entered the room. Realizing that he was preoccupied, she stealthily moved across the floor at super speed and grabbed him from behind, pinning Clark's arms to his sides.

As she continued her horseplay she heard, "Lois, please stop. You're hurting me." She released him at once and spun him around. Gazing into his eyes she recognized his pain immediately. As she checked Clark over, she could sense his pain dissipating and she could see the color returning to his face."

Gasping for breath, Clark remarked, "Lois, we must talk about your new super powers and how they should be used." Lois nodded, hardily agreeing to his sentiments. Clark's soulmate had become very frightened when her finance yelled in pain. This situation, she knew, must never happen again. "Holy cow," she murmured, "Suppose it had been one of their children caught up in such a situation. From this incident, Lois knew that she had to get a handle on her new abilities, and fast.

Once Clark recovered, the two lovers enjoyed their breakfast. As they dined, Clark proposed that he and Lois should go to alpha one, a planet in Centurai a Star system — it was a Terran type celestial body, named by Clark. "There," he said, "I'll show you how to control your super abilities. While you're practicing, I'll update the space platform's cloaking device. I don't want it to fail and reveal our Centauri abode to any unwanted guests."

Smiling she said, "Why would you need to shield the platform.

There's no life in this ternary system."

He replied, "That's true, sweetheart, in a local sense. However,

you're thinking like a backwater provincial."

She swatted Clark reminding her fiance that she wasn't a hick from nowheresville who lacked sophistication of outer space.

"Think, Lois," Clark continued, "do you think that the peoples of Earth and Krypton are the only life forms in the universe."

"No," she pouted. Clark then continued, "I don't want some unknown space faring people to find our Centauri home if they just happen to wander into the Centauri Star field."

After a slight pause in their tete-a-tete, Lois asked, "What happens it those other space beings penetrated your cloaking screen?"

Looking very somber Clark remarked, "Then other defense mechanisms will be activated, which would be very unpleasant for any life form."

Although Clark did not elaborate further about the platforms defenses, she felt that Sanctuary, their space home, was outfitted with unimaginable weapon systems and would eliminate any unwanted intruders.

Regaining his light heart composure, Clark remarked, "Now, let's get your super abilities under control. When that's accomplished, my love, we'll not only be work partners at the Planet, but life partners beyond forever, and superhero partners when the need arises."

As they walked to the shuttle craft which would take them to the surface of alpha one, Lois commented, "I wonder what my superhero's name should be? Pick a name, honey," Lois asked her fiance.

"Okay," he replied. "I'll name you and repay your creative favor. Just give me a little time to think about your superhero handle." Later that day 'Ultra Woman' was born.

While Lois practiced controlling her new super abilities, Clark searched for some special items.

That evening as Lois rested, Clark labored in his workshop until the light from Alpha a Centauri streamed through the porthole of his workroom — the rotation of the space platform not only created a gravitational field, but produced night and day conditions for people living on the station. Looking at his handy work after a night's work, he mused, "I hope Lois likes these trinkets."

When Lois had awakened from her nap, Clark brought her a cup of tea. As she was enjoying the beverage, Clark handed her a small package.

"What's this?" she exclaimed. "It's a surprise from your husband to be," Clark replied to her query.

She looked at her husband to be with a startled expression. Lois knew that Clark was a great teaser. At that moment, she became a bit wary.

Sensing her apprehensions, Clark kissed his future wife and told her it was just an engagement gift — a present from his heart.

Then Clark added, "Lois, in my heart, you're my wife and will be through all eternity."

She relaxed and reached forward and hugged him, placing her

head on his shoulder and remarked, "I feel the same way. In my heart you're my husband now and always." As they embraced one another, their auraic bond, which linked their souls, became stronger still.

After separating, Lois attempted to view the contents of Clark's package. Her x-ray vision failed to penetrate the wrapped box, so she had to resort to physically opening her present to view its contents. Clark had covered her gift parcel with a layer of lead so she would have to work at getting at the goodies. In her annoyance, she cuffed him. He laughed and said, "I couldn't help it. I had a premonition that you would attempt to peek at the contents of my package without opening it. Your impatience and your difficulty to accept surprises prompted me to tease you a little." Then in a more serious vain he said, "When you work to achieve a goal, it is savored all the more."

"You're right," she admitted. Pausing for a brief moment Lois then asked? "Are we getting to know each other too well?"

Caressing her face Clark replied, "No my love. Our souls are binding us closer each day. This subtle fusion of our essences is making us more like one entity with two minds. As our essences coalesce over the years, the teases and the surprises we'll bring into our lives will be like a fresh breeze that will keep us forever young."

Gazing at her soulmate and then brushing her lips upon his, she remarked, "You're wasted on journalism, Clark. You, my beloved, should be a philosopher-poet."

True, Clark added to Lois' thoughts. "As you and I travel the highways and byways of this world and beyond, our lives shall become more philosophical as we seek to understand the harmony within ourselves and mysteries of the universe."

With tears pooling in her eyes, Lois, opened the package and was nearly struck dumb. There, before her, Lois saw five exquisite items. Two gold wedding bands to be used at their nuptials. Then there was her engagement ring, which Clark placed on her hand. It was composed of a blue-white two carat emerald cut diamond embedded in a platinum setting. The setting also contained two half carat diamond baguettes to enhance the larger stone's brilliance. The fourth item was a gorgeous wedding band covered with graduated oval diamonds with a yellowish tint. Finally, there was a magnificent necklace, nearly matinee length, made of eighteen gemstones, each a half carat in weight, complemented by gorgeous quarter caret sapphire stones intermixed with the diamonds. As Lois gazed at the necklace, she noticed the diamonds and sapphires were set in an alternating pattern — a sapphire placed next to its diamond counterpart forming a complete circle of precious stones.

After Lois recovered from Clark's lavish gifts, she and Clark just held one another, savoring the beauty of their love. When they reluctantly separated, the soulmates made ready to return to Sol three, their home world.

When the two soulmates finally returned to the Kent's Singapore condo, three days had elapsed. They found Perry still there. He was bunking with Alan. Both bureau chiefs were taking some well deserved vacation time and together were traveling about the world. They were, of course, using the TD system as their mode of transportation. When Lois glanced at Alan and Perry, they looked like two school boys on a very satisfying holiday.

When Lois informed her soon to be in-laws of her engagement to their son, Martha's resourceful mind immediately began to plan a wedding. Before Perry returned to Metropolis, Martha had already contacted her minister in Smallville and arranged to use the town's community church for her children's nuptials. Using the good auspices of Wayne Irig, tuxes were rented, flowers purchased and invitations sent to Jimmy and Murray. Except for her uncle Mike, whom she adored, Lois reluctantly contacted the remainder of her immediate family and informed them of her engagement and forthcoming marriage.

The next day, the elder Kents, using the TD network, made a clandestine trip to their Smallville abode. There, they procured Martha's wedding gown from the farmhouse attic and straight away returned to their home away from home — their Singapore condo.

Soon after Martha and Jonathan returned to their Asian hideaway, she fitted the wedding dress to Lois' petite frame. Then Martha Kent purchased a large quantity of fabric from the local market and fashioned Lois a superhero's outfit.

Unlike Superman's suit Utrawoman's super outfit included a mask. Lois needed some facial concealment because of a small but noticeable blemish on the right side of her forehead. Like Clark's Superman costume, Lois' super suit too accentuated all of her fetching attributes and fitted her body like a glove to allow flying to be speedier. Like her fiance's, her super rig would cause people to focus more on her physical assets and less on her more recognizable facial features.

Because of their tight fitting suits, their voice characteristics and posture would also not be severely scrutinized. To enhance their surreptitious personas, Lois and Clark used a modulated form of their voices as an added margin of protection against exposure of their true identities. To this end, and to confuse the superhero hunters, Clark had made his voice more astringent, while Lois had lowered her intonations giving her voice a sexier lilt.

Thinking of Lois' Ultrawoman voice, Martha smiled to herself and said to Jonathan, "Who would ever believe that the sultry consort of Superman would be no other than the staid mad dog Lane."

A week later, an exclusive club gathered at the Kent farm, where Lois and Clark became husband and wife before G-D and man. Those in attendance were Sam, and Ellen Lane, Perry, Alan, Jimmy, Murray, and a few selected town's folk — including Rachel Harris and Wayne Irig.

Prior to the wedding, Sam had a talk with Clark. With Lucy close by, he said to his son- in-law, "I've been the worst kind of father. I was never there for Lois or Lucy when they hurt. My work always seemed to get in the way of my kid's needs. Sometimes I think the devil invented work to keep people's minds from the nobler purposes in life — the most important being the family where love can flourish. I was hurt when Lois, and then Lucy was born. I especially wanted Lois to be a boy and in my disappointment and foolishness, I cast my two beautiful daughters aside and made them both feel as if they had no worth. I was a fool."

Looking Clark straight in the eyes Sam said, "Super powers or not, if you hurt my little girl I'll kick your 'butt' from here to timbuktu and back, capish?"

"Not to worry, Mr. Lane," Clark told him. "Lois and I will love each other until time ends and even beyond that supposed time-space discontinuity."

After a short lull in their conversation, Sam asked, "Son, how are you going to get the Superman monkey off Clark's back so you and my daughter can have a relatively normal life?"

"I've been working on a solution," Clark replied. "It involves the use of an android or several androids. I've already started the project. What I need now is a cybernetic brain of some sort that will mimic human behavior — specifically my demeanor."

Pacing about for a few minutes Sam commented, "Have you tried an analogue computer network? A digital system may be a faster system," Sam said off the cuff, "but it's sensitive to chip failure." Thinking for a moment or two, Sam remarked, "If a chip or two malfunctioned in a digital system, the android would cease to function. Then your plan would be Kaput. However, in an analogue environment, if any chip fails within the android's brain, the cybernetic system could still function by using other electronic pathways." Sam then added for clarity, "Consider a chip failure in an analog system driving an android as analogous to a stroke in a human being. When medical science looks at a stroke victim, it views the patients brain as an organic system that must learn to develop different neurological pathways to accomplish particular tasks. When a malfunction occurs in an analogue device, the so called electronic injury, as I indicated, would be augmented almost instantaneously. As we all are aware, in humans, a brain injury caused by a stroke could take considerable time and hard work to ameliorate. A similar analogue electronic mishap would require no time at all."

"You know of course, Clark, that an analogue system cannot respond as fast as a digital one, but to emulate thinking environment an analogue system would be suitable for your androids."

Clark smiled at his father-in-law and said, "I believe you have just shown me how to bring my androids on line. Thanks."

After finishing his talk with his son-in-law, Sam went to congratulate his first born, Lois Lane Kent.

As Clark thought about Sam's range of purpose contrasting digital and analogue systems, the man from Krypton felt that a heavy load had been lifted from his shoulders

While Sam's reconciliation with his family had begun, he would need Clark's emotional cement to heal the break with his family which he caused so many years ago. And, for some strange reason he couldn't now fathom, he knew that Clark would assist him in his attempt to reconcile the fragmented Lane clan. Sam understood that the road he traveled would be long and sometimes rocky to rectify his past foolish blunders. However, a start had been made. Like his son-in-law, Sam knew that it wasn't necessary to end see the end of his journey to healing, but to start one for the good of others was imperative. Looking heavenward Sam knew all too well that he may not finish the reconciliation with his family, but at least he had begun his pilgrimage. Although Sam Lane had started the healing process among the Lane clan, he hoped he could be forgiven for his past misdeeds before his celestial contract ended. If he could regain the love of his wife and children, his soul would be at peace when he passed from this world.

The wedding had gone off without a hitch. Soon after the nuptials and its formalities were concluded and the bride and groom greeted their guests, the entire company made its way to the Kent farm and indulged in an ambrosial feast prepared by Martha Kent. As Martha's vittles were being consumed as the festivities that accompanied the marriage went into high gear, Lois Lane Kent and her new husband quietly left the party. They used the TD system to transport themselves to Sanctuary, in the Centauri system, where the two lovers spent their wedding night among the stars.

As they looked at one another after their night of intimacy, Clark remarked, "The hours I've spent with you I look upon as sort of a perfumed garden, a dim twilight, and a fountain singing to it. You and you alone make me feel that I am alive. Other men, it is said, have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough." After hearing his words, Lois embraced her husband placing her head on his chest, and thought thank G-D this man found me. He restored my soul and returned me to the haunts of humankind.

After their wedding breakfast — Clark doing the cooking, of course; of course — he led his bride toward one of the smaller interstellar cruisers.

As they approached the tubular shape ship, Lois inquired, "What kind of transport vessel is that, my husband?" Lois loved the sound of that word, husband. To her, it meant home; a place she would be cherished for all time.

Shaken out of his reverie by Lois' words, Clark said, "It's an interstellar ship similar in design to the one Lara and Jor-El fashioned and sent me on a journey of hope." Pausing briefly to collect his thoughts Clark added, "The engine in our interstellar craft is an improved version of my natural parent's creation. As you now know, an earlier version transported me to Earth. The present engine's operation, with some minor improvements, follows the same fundamental concepts as that prototype vessel."

"In my studies of Lara and Jor-El's string hypothesis," Clark told Lois, "I discovered that a string is actually a subatomic particle that is smaller than a quark. When Jor-El and Lara originally proposed their new concept of ideas to the Krypton Science Council, a quark was believed to be the fundamental building block of matter."

"I modified Jor-El and Lara's principles by quantifying their string particle hypothesis. Finally, by combing my modified string concepts with a celestial compass of my design, I found that I could navigate through the universe almost at will."

"It was when I quantified the string relationships developed by my natural parents that I discovered how to control the frequencies generated by the subatomic string particle — a tuning-fork mechanism was used in my process. As I experimented, I soon learned that the different frequencies produced by the string particles corresponded to distinct locations within our universe. Once I learned how to calibrate my cosmic compass relative to Earth's location in the void, I began to explore infinity."

Clark then added, "The four ships you see in their berths are constructed from an indestructible metallic like material also developed by my natural parents, Lara and Jor- El. Furthermore, each of those vessels is defended by two different weapon systems."

"Two of the vessels were built for small groups of people and mainly used for exploration of the cosmos. The tiny vessel is a scout ship mainly employed for local voyaging — within a hundred light years or so from our present cosmic position. It can comfortably hold two individuals and enough supplies for a year. The largest vessel in my little fleet can hold nearly ten thousand souls, and I called it my space ark. Some day it will be used to carry settlers and our descendants to new homes across the cosmic void."

As Lois Looked at what Clark had constructed, she could only marvel at his accomplishments.

Clark snapped Lois out of her reverie when he told her it was time to get moving. Smiling she grabbed her husband's hand as they floated toward the berthed spaceships.

Boarding the moderately sized spacecraft, which could comfortably support ten to a hundred souls for a thousand years, the newlyweds rocketed into the cosmos. They visited some of the local galactic clusters and were witness to the devastation being wrought by two black holes in collision. As they traveled from one location to another, Clark showed Lois how to run all aspects of the ship. Because of Lois' newly acquired super abilities, coupled with her natural genius, she mastered these tasks within a few days.

While they traveled, the honeymooners discovered a myriad of planets — many teaming with life. On the planets they alighted upon, Lois and Clark set up cloaked TD portals so that future explorers could travel to this or that planet without constantly utilizing interstellar spacecraft.

As the TD stations on many planets began to increase significantly, the transportation complex really became intergalactic in scope.

One morning, relative to East Coast Earth Time, Clark said to his wife, "Sweetheart, how would you like to take a longer trip?"

"How far?" She asked.

"Oh," he replied, "About halfway across the universe." Lois gulped and said, "Can we get back?"

"Yeah," Clark replied as he smiled.

After some discussion, Clark gave Lois the spacial coordinates for the ships new destination. Soon after she entered them into the ships navigational computer, off they went to their new destination.

A few seconds after Lois punched the location data into the ship's cosmic navigational device, the newlyweds were surveying a new solar system which contained seventeen planets revolving about a red sun. The rubble Lois and Clark saw in the eighth orbital position appeared to have been part of a planet which was obliterated in a titanic explosion. As they examined the devastated planet's debris, Lois and Clark discovered that only a fragment of the planet's original mass remained near its original orbital path around its sun. They noticed too that the planetary fragment was surrounded by a host of asteroids, meteors and other space rubble which undoubtedly resulted from a catastrophe that demolished the red suns eighth satellite.

Pointing at the shattered planet Clark quietly said, "Lois, I believe that the devastation in the eight orbital position was the world of my birth, Krypton." Feeling his sadness, Lois Lane Kent lovingly hugged her husband and placed her head in the crook of his neck. Then Lois' hands caressed the nape of Clark's neck trying to ease her husband's sorrow and pain brought about by their apparent discovery.

As Lois snuggled in Clark's embrace, he remarked, "I'm sad that my natural parents had to perish in such a horrible manner, but I'm proud of them for the immense courage they displayed when death was staring them in the face. Do you know how much strength it took to send me on a perilous voyage across the universe to a mostly unknown and possibly hostile environment? If I had stayed with them, I would have died, but they would have been comforted knowing that I was in safe hands until Krypton's end."

Looking into her soulmate's sad eyes Lois commented, "In their gamble, they sent you to me, my love. You may be Kryptonian by birth, but you are an inhabitant of Earth, both by inclination and choice. If it weren't for you, the nightfall asteroid would have devastated the Earth and our planet, like Krypton, would be devoid of life."

Looking deep into her husband's eyes, Lois remarked, "I feel that your journey to Earth and to me was orchestrated by destiny." Lois also added, "I somehow believe that a higher power was involved in your odyssey."

"Are you getting mystical, sweetheart?" Clark teased his wife as he pressed his lips to hers.

When their lips parted, Lois replied, "When you kiss me like that, beloved, that's the only transcendental feelings I feel and need. My legs become weak, my heart starts to race, and I want to crush you to me until our molecules intertwine and we become one entity forever."

"In all seriousness, Clark, I believe what I said to you is correct. Although I can't give you a rational explanation of why I feel this way, I can't shake these mystical sensations that you and I were destined to meet and become one in soul."

"Maybe that's all we need to know, baby," Clark remarked. He added, "Love binds us with passion, brings us contentment, delights in our togetherness, and, I believe, will cause us to cherish one another forevermore." With his short soliloquy finished, Clark picked Lois up and carried her to that place where lovers can romp through cupid's grove.

After their next sleep cycle ended, Lois said to her husband, Clark, that if possible, she would like to see the edge of the universe. Smiling at his bride, the scientist in him wanted to laugh at her impossible quest. Controlling his teasing urge Clark quietly replied, "The cosmos doesn't have an ending. The current cosmological theories about our universe support the view, Lois — our macrocosm is either expanding or contracting. According to Earth's scientific community, the space and mass which comprise our universe are constantly in flux. If our ship could theoretically pass beyond the so called barriers of the cosmos, we would be moving matter outward and thus causing the universe to expand."

"Okay," she said, "Can you take us near the expansion or contraction point?"

"I'll try," Clark answered his soulmate. After kissing her on the forehead, he programmed the ship's computers for a huge cosmic jump through string- hyperspace.

A few minutes later, Lois and Clark were peering into a blackness devoid of congealed matter — no stars. Suddenly, they were alerted by one of their ship's instrumentation that something was present beyond their visual ken deep within the apparent blackness of the nothingness.

For the next several days, Lois and Clark analyzed the information sensed by the ships instrumentation and speculated as to its meaning. After considerable brainwork and analysis, the newlyweds came to some conclusions. They were confident that the data which their instruments were receiving came from other island universes which, like their own, moved through their own cosmic void. Knowing they couldn't linger any longer, the newlyweds recorded their findings and stored them in the ship's computer banks. As Lois was reprogramming their interstellar ship, for their journey to a star system closer to home world, Clark remarked, "We or our descendants must return to this place — these particular spacial coordinates — and further investigate what we've observed — check our findings with better instrumentation. There is a tantalizing mystery out there, Lois that must be resolved."

Activating the interstellar string engine, the two honeymooners returned to near Earth space and explored most of the star clusters associated with the constellations of the zodiac.

After a month of trekking through the cosmos, the newlyweds returned to Earth. Alan had already moved in with the Kents, allowing Clark and his new bride the use of his condominium.

After setting up house in Alan's condo, Lois returned to her apartment in Metropolis via the TD transportation network.

At the end of each workday, Lois would return to her Metropolis apartment from which location she'd teleport to her Singaporean love nest. From their Asian abode, Lois and Clark toured and were privileged to see a large portion of the world and the cultures it supported. For most of their travels, the lovers used the TD transportation network. If flying between two locations could not be avoided, stealth apparel was used while in flight to escape detection from the many RADAR instillations scattered about the globe.

Aside from touring the Earth, the newlyweds spent a portion of their time on the Centauri platform working on Clark's android project. Sam Lane eventually joined the robotic team and labored with his daughter and his son-in-law on Clark's android undertaking. Sam became so involved in this enterprise that, for a while, Sanctuary became his primary home. To facilitate the droid project, to keep Sam informed about current events on Earth, and provide Sam Lane with some mobility, Clark set up a telemetry system in Sanctuary's lab and placed Dr. Lane's Earthly abode on the TD network.

Some eight months after the soulmates had formalized their union, Lex Luthor struck. Upon returning to her Metropolis apartment, she was confronted by the Devil's number one boy and several of his henchmen.

"My dear," Luthor said in a suave sarcastic tone, "It's so nice to see you again." After cackling a bit at his own twisted humor, Lex continued, "You and I will now take a little trip to our secluded love nest. There, you and I will begin to procreate children that in time will be the terror of the world."

With controlled anger, Lois replied, "I'll never bear the children of a scurvy ogre like you."

Smiling, Lex replied, "Lois, my dear, the choice is not yours to make. I will put you in a sleep like state using suspended animation procedures and impregnate you with my seed from time to time. When you are no longer useful as my human cow, I'll terminate your life and dispose of your mortal remains in a way that will benefit life's lower life forms."

He turned to his flunkies and savagely said, "Take her."

As Lois allowed herself to be subdued, she could detect a chloroform lased cloth being draped across her face. She held her breath and after a few seconds feigned unconsciousness. As she let her body slump to the floor, the master of evil said, "Carry her to the car. Our plane awaits to carry us to paradise." Lois almost laughed when she head his corny words. "Ham must be cheap this year," she chuckled within her mind.

When Luthor's lackies lifted Lois, one of Lex's hoods remarked, "Boy, this babe is heavier than she looks." Hearing the sycophant's remarks, Lois remembered that her tissue density had nearly doubled when her genome was modified by Clark's electrical transformation process. Leaving Lois' apartment, Lex and his gang headed for their car. After reaching the master of evil's elegant conveyance, Lois was unceremoniously dumped into the car's trunk. Then Lex and his entourage drove to the airport.

To Luthor, everything appeared normal. He had successfully abducted Lois, and now he and his captive would soon be winging their way to his secret island located in the North Pacific.

When Lois became aware of Lex in her North American residence, she immediately contacted her husband. He told Lois not to panic. Lex couldn't harm her. Clark then cautioned Lois not to lose her temper and become physical. Using her super powers could provide Luthor with the legal leverage to escape the penalties which would be meted out by the justice system for his crime of abduction. Also, exposure of Lois' unique abilities would probably cause her serious trouble in the near future.

Although Lois agreed with her husband in principle, she still thought that kicking Lex around would give her immense pleasure and satisfaction for all the pain and suffering he had caused Clark and herself. However, thinking about her situation, Lois was well aware that she couldn't manhandle Lex for fear of losing control and killing the master of evil. While Lex's aircraft few towards its Pacific destination, Lois thought to herself that there are too many constraints on one's superpowers. As time passed, Lois became more and more annoyed by her confinement and acting against her captors was becoming more appealing. As the Lane temper approached critical, Lois desperately tried to control herself. Her anger now was fast approaching an explosive emotional state where her desire to pull Lex's limbs from his torso and feed his body parts to the fish was slowly becoming a real possibility. Death by super Lane was rapidly approaching a flash point and Lex Luthor was entirely unaware of his deadly situation.

As Lois found herself slipping into the valley of the shadow … she informed her husband to hurry or Lex wouldn't live to confront a judicial body. When Clark felt Lois' mental anguish, he attempted to soothe his bride as he flew at an incredible speed to intercept Lex's aircraft before a catastrophe occurred. As Clark raced to save Luthor from his soulmate's wrath, he heard Lois' heart rate increase and her aura intensified which signalled that Lois Lane-Kent was very near her emotional boiling point. Since their soulmate intimate union, Lois and Clark learned that they could track one another by changes in their bodily functions. As Clark raced to save his hated enemy's life, he informed Lois to control her rage for just a little while longer — he was just minutes away from intercepting Luthor's jet aircraft. After a mental kiss, Lois became aware that Clark was preparing for an airborne rendezvous with Lex's jet. A minute later Lois knew that Clark was now pacing Lex's aircraft as it was preparing to land on the island of Morane.

Once Lex's jet had landed, Lois' intense illogical anger began to subside. She later reasoned that it was the influence of flying in a jet, which, for Lois, had become an unnatural way to soar through the heavens. She believed that being confined in Lex's flying machine had caused her to react in an irrational manner. Clark use to react in a similar fashion when he was forced to fly home to Kansas in a commercial jetliner. Like her husband, she'd have to work on this problem for the sake of her own emotional stability and her husband's sanity.

A half hour later, after landing, Luthor was ready to move a supposedly unconscious Lois Lane to a special underground facility.

Believing Lois was in a comatose state, Lex had her placed on a gurney and transported Lois to a special room in his newly constructed underground fortress. He then met Asabi and Nigel in the lounge of their new home where the three toasted their success with champagne. As their celebration became more exuberant, Lex did a little jig like another politically powerful and insane man performed fifty years before.

While the demonic trio celebrated their illusory triumph, Clark was notifying the authorities where Lex and his confederates were located and then silently slipped into Luthor's citadel and joined his wife. When Lois sensed that Clark had entered her cell she opened her eyes and launched herself at her husband plying him with butterfly kisses while her arms encircled his neck.

"If you don't stop kissing me like that sweetheart," Clark said, "I won't be able to curb my passion.

"Good, good," she replied, as she continued to kiss him.

As Clark was close to losing control to the advances of a very amorous Lois Lane-Kent, they both heard the multinational force begin battling its way into Lex Luthor's stronghold.

"Dam," Lois said.

"Saved by the cavalry," Clark replied.

As they separated Lois said, "To be continued in a more conducive place this evening." Clark, with a twinkle in his eyes, just smiled.

"Now git," she said, "before the good guys link Clark Kent aka Superman with Lois Lane. That wouldn't be good for our future."

"No, it wouldn't," Clark murmured as he gave his wife a very amorous kiss and disappeared.

While waiting for Lex's citadel to be overrun and for her imminent release, Lois discerned the evil triumvirate moving in her direction. She then heard a psychotic Lex say, "Asabi, warm up the hypersonic aircraft. While you take care of our means of escape, Nigel and I will arm our dirty nuclear device. Our atomic toy will give those attacking bastards a surprise they'll not soon forget. It will teach those goody-two shoes not to interfere with the plans of Lex Luthor. The price they'll have to pay will always be exorbitant."

Realizing that the raiding force would be annihilated by Lex's nuclear mechanism, Lois shot a telepathic message to her husband telling him to return immediately. As Lois spun into Ultrawoman, she explained the developing situation.

When Clark arrived, both Lois and Clark in their super personas entered the passageway which led to Lex's lair. Moving rapidly, they surprised the arch villain and his cronies. Unfortunately, the nuclear bomb had already been activated.

Reacting swiftly, Lois said, "Superman, please take these goons to a holding area. I'll dispose of the explosive device." As he nodded, she garbed the nuclear bomb and in a few moments was hurtling through the atmosphere toward outer space. When she reached about fifty miles above the earth, the variation in the atmospheric conditions caused the bomb to l detonate.

The force of the explosion hurled Lois several thousand miles through space before she again regained control of her motion. Returning to earth, she telepathically informed Clark that everything was now A-okay.

While Lois was dealing with the nuclear bomb, Clark had blindfolded Luthor, Asabi, and Nigel and flown them to his Singapore abode. He asked Alan to collect Perry, Jimmy, Murray, Sam and Ellen and bring them to Singapore via the TD network.

While Alan was rounding up the people Clark requested, Lois returned to her Singapore home. When Luthor saw Lois as Ultrawoman streaking though the open window he started to yell, "The female super freak is gonna murder us."

Ignoring Luthor's ravings, Lois spun into her normal clothes. Superman, sensing Lois' presence, flew into the room and spun into Clark apparel. He then rushed into the outstretched arms of his beloved soulmate.

Stepping back from Lois' embrace; Clark checked his wife for any injuries. Recognizing his behavior, Lois said, "Clark Kent, don't I possess the same abilities as you?"

"Yep," he quipped.

"So," Lois continued "why would you expect me to be injured?"

"Force of habit I guess," he admitted. Lois didn't say a word at his confession, but thought, "We'll have to work on his fear factor when we have some down time."

Now facing a stunned Luthor, Lois asked, "Why in G-D's name did you yell at me?"

Taking a breath, Luthor remarked, "Microscopic particles from the nuclear bomb should be imbedded in your skin. Lois, that radiation will make you a walking death trap. You've already murdered us."

"You guys don't have to worry about radiation sickness," Lois replied to Luthor's fear. "The aura protecting my person didn't allow the destructive forces of the bomb or the radioactive fallout from the bomb to touch with my body. I'm free from all radioactive contamination."

That reminds me she added, "I better call the proper authorities at the United Nations and warn them to expect increased radioactivity near the earth's polar regions. The Earth's magnetic field will funnel some of the radioactive debris from Luthor's nuclear device into those areas."

Clark smiled and said, "The AI unit is making you scientifically literate."

"Yeah," she replied. "The AI told me that I have a natural affinity for the sciences. Who would have thought it."

"Oh, Clark," Lois said to her soulmate, "when this affair is finished, I'd like us just to be known as Lane and Kent of the Planet."

"I'll drink to that," Clark replied to his wife with a smile that illuminated the room.

Holding Lois, Clark softly remarked, "That's the way it's gonna be. We'll use the knowledge garnered from the AI's teaching programs to help people, throughout the world, improve their quality of life."

"Sweetheart," Clark commented, "I believe you and I will have a very interesting life together." Lois nodded and added, "Not too much of the rough and tumble stuff, I hope." Then she gazed lovingly at her husband and laid her head on his shoulder and sighed with contentment.

That evening the invited guests were introduced to the new Lois Lane-Kent aka Ultrawoman. Even the uninvited guests — Luthor, Asabi, and Nigel — were surprised at Lois' transformation. Luthor moaned and said, "Now I'll have to do battle with two super jerks when I get out of this place."

"You mean if you leave this place," Murray corrected Luthor's logic.

"What do you mean by that introspective statement?" Nigel asked.

Trying not to sneer, Murray informed Luthor et al that they would be tried for crimes against humanity.

As Murray was about to speak further, Jonathan and Martha brought out mountains of her famous food. "Dig in folks," Jonathan cried.

It was a magnificent meal. Martha's cuisine had reached new heights of delectability.

After dinner both the invited and uninvited guests moved freely about the condo.

Jimmy, wary about Luthor's possible escape, asked Clark, "Aren't you afraid that Luthor and his associates will find some way to escape?"

Smiling at his friend Clark replied, "No, Jimbo. If they try to leave this apartment, an electronic device attached to each of their legs will render them unconscious. Feel better now little brother."

"Yeah," Jimmy replied.

About an hour after the completion of dinner, Sam Lane and Clark set up an unusual looking red chair and placed it at the head of the table. When they finished their task, one couldn't help but notice that there were wires protruding from the back of this unusual seat. The electrical cables jutting from the red chair were connected to several large electronic devices scattered about the room.

After testing the unique chair, and finding it to function flawlessly; Clark said, "Folks, please take a seat at the table." When the guests and the captives were settled and the room became relatively quiet; Clark began to speak. He first pointed to the apparatus connected to the special red chair and informed everybody that the red chair was actually part of an electronic system which could monitor the pronouncements of any individual seated upon the red chair's cushions.

Pointing again to the red chair, Clark told everybody that the Kryptonians referred to this interrogation device as the "Seat of Justice."

"It monitors an individual's physiological responses when he/she was queried in that special chair. Based upon the Seat of Justice's input and the jury's deductions — that's us — a judgment was rendered upon those accused of a crime. In this trial, the accused Lex Luthor, Asabi, and Nigel St. John will be judged according to Kryptonian law."

After a slight pause, Clark added, "The accused will not be forced to occupy the Seat of Justice under duress. However, a person who refuses to be questioned while occupying the red chair is automatically presumed guilty of the crimes that he or she has been charged."

"Lex Luthor will you place yourself in the Seat of Justice?" Lex then arose and started to rant and rave. He declared, "I am a citizen of the planet Earth and therefore, I demand to be tried before an Earthly court."

When Luthor finished his tirade, Clark said, "It seems that you attempted to perpetrate a crime against a Kryptonian, which by galactic law makes your crimes cosmic in scope."

"What Kryptonian?" Lex challenged Clark in a loud cynical voice.

"My wife, Lady Lo-El," Clark quietly replied. Although his tone was subdued, there was iron in Clark's tone. "She is the citizen of two worlds, Krypton and Earth," Clark further informed Luthor.

"Krypton no longer exists," Lex countered.

Clark arose and looking Luthor squarely in his eyes said, "As long as Lois or I exist, Krypton lives on. Your argument therefore, is null and void."

"Luthor," again I ask, "Will you sit in the red chair and allow yourself to be questioned?" Reluctantly the devil's disciple walked slowly to the Kryptonian interrogation device and reluctantly placed himself in the Seat of Justice.

During the next three hours Lex, Nigel, and Asabi, each in their turn, were interrogated by the humans and Kryptonians in the Kent's Singapore residence.

The verdict and punishment from the Seat of Justice were guilty for all three defendants, and the device recommended the dispersion of Lex's, Asabi's, and St. John's molecules throughout space — death Kryptonian style.

For historical interests, one should be aware that Asabi, during his interrogation, attempted to thwart the Seat of Justice and the human judges by using some of his mystical Asiatic spells — mental tricks. Each time he attempted such a stunt, he received an electrical shock. After a few jolts of electrical power, Asabi became cognizant that each surge of electricity was greater than the one before it. Luthor's confidant and butler soon realized that the electrical current he was receiving for not adhering to the rules was rapidly approaching a lethal level. At this juncture in his questioning session, Asabi relented and cooperated fully with the Kryptonian Justice device.

When the examining session was finished, Martha offered a spot of tea to her guests and the accused alike. The soothing brew helped calm the charged atmosphere.

When everybody was more composed, Perry asked, "What does dispersion mean?"

After a slight pause Clark told his friend, "The guilty party is placed in a dispersal chamber which immediately renders the convicted person unconscious. Then that person's molecular structure is separated into individual atoms and scattered throughout the infinite void. By this process, the guilty person is denied further life, and all evidence of their existence will be effaced from their birth world and all creation."

"Are there any other questions, Perry?" Clark asked. When there was no response from either the chief or the other judges, Clark said, "Please look at the special container which has been placed before each of you. Each box contains the same number of marbles — three white, three black, and three red. The white represents a verdict of not guilty, which is in opposition to the electronic verdict. A red color signifies agreement with the Krypton's Seat of Justice and signifies death of the guilty party. Black connotes guilty, but does not agree with the Seats' death penalty recommendation."

"For a death penalty to be executed," Clark told those present, "the verdict must be unanimous among the human and Kryptonian magistrates. Other judgments which may be rendered by this court can be determined by a simple majority."

"You should all know that if our judgments disagree with the Seat of Justice, the human and Kryptonian decision would prevail. No device ever determined the fate of a felon in a Kryptonian court especially when a capital offense was being argued — kidnapping is a capital crime according to statures of interstellar law."

Clark continued, "I now want you each to spend some time thinking about the evidence secured by this human-Kryptonian court, and the data acquired from the Seat of Justice. When you are satisfied with you own verdict, place a colored marble in each of the labeled containers located on the mantel across the room."

Forty minutes later, the voting was complete and the marbles cataloged. In each voting container, only black spheres were found.

Facing Lex and his cohorts, Clark said, "Lex Luthor, Asabi, and Nigel St. John will be marooned for the rest of their natural lives. The sentence will begin immediately. You will be transferred to a holding area and in a few days taken to your place of exile."

As Clark finished informing the three convicted felons of their sentence, Clark noticed that Lex was grinning. Luthor's attitude prompted Clark to add, "Lex, if you think that escape is possible, forget it. When I indicated that you three would be marooned, you assumed that your place of banishment would be on Earth." As the Devil's disciple listened to Kent's second message, Lex Luthor slowly began to understand the real meaning of Clark's disclosure. When the full impact of his sentence finally impacted on Lex's psyche, Luthor's defiant demeanor collapsed, and sobs could be heard emanating from once proud and defiant prince of evil.

An hour or so later, Clark and Lois took Luthor and his accomplices to the Centauri space platform. Once there, the three arch villains were incarcerated in a force cubical. There, Lex and his coconspirators would remain until they were transported to their new home — a permanent place of exile.

When Lois and Clark returned from Sanctuary, Perry asked Clark, "You're not just going to dump them onto some space rock, Son? If you did that I think they'll perish rather quickly."

"Not to worry," Lois replied for her husband. "Clark and I have decided that Lex and his pals would be provided with a home, food, and weapons. Two land rovers and two aircraft would be included with their survival gear. Telemetry will also be furnished so they could view the doings here on Earth. A medical droid will also accompany the three prisoners to monitor their health requirement and provide them with the kind of care that will keep them fit throughout their exile."

A month after Lex and his confederates had been incarcerated on Sanctuary awaiting transport to their place of exile, Sam Lane visited his daughter and son-in-law in their Singapore home. He was surprised that Lois had cooked the meal, and it was delicious. When Sam complimented his daughter, Lois started to cry. "Princess," he said, "what did I say to upset you?" Then looking at Clark he said, "I'm only trying to rectify my past lunacies."

Placing his hand on Sam's shoulder Clark replied, "Keep trying. You and Lois will eventually reconnect. Love is strong and if you make a sincere attempt at reconciliation, the damaged bond between the two of you will be made whole again. Just give it time."

After Lois had left the room to reapply her makeup, Clark said, "Sam, Alan Jacobs taught me an old biblical saying which has helped Lois and myself, from time to time, to get a better handle on our unique relationship. I'll try to tell this saying so it fits your particular situation." Clark then turned and looked at Lois who had just reentered the room and continued, "No one is so hard hearted that they cannot say I have not sinned. Verily we have all committed some iniquity. According to Alan, by way of the Bible, if you ask for forgiveness of a person you've wronged your censurable behavior will be expunged by heaven. Sam, you have acted in a repentant way for some time now. However, for G-d's creations the healing process may require a bit more time. It took Lois and me, during what I call a period of adjustment, to forgive one another for our past hurts. Now Sam, the time of healing between you and your first born has begun. Give it time."

Clark desperately hoped that the suggestions set forth in the biblical proverb he just told Sam would help heal the rift between father and daughter.

As they sat in the living room after dinner Sam remarked, "The androids will be completed within the week. Then we can hopefully destroy the connection between Clark Kent and Superman."

"I'm afraid," Clark replied, "That there will always be a few who will always wonder whether Linda King was correct, even if we are successful with our ploy." Taking a breath, Clark added, "Lois and I will deal with those doubters on an individual basis as the need arises."

As Clark was talking, Lois' father became somewhat pensive. "Is there a problem?" Clark inquired.

Looking at his son-in-law, Sam replied, "There's no problem Clark, but I do have a concern."

"Spill it," Lois said, going into her inquisitive mode.

Clark placed his hand on his wife's knee, as he telepathically reminded his soulmate, "Lois, you're addressing your father, not a suspect in a murder case."

"You're right, Clark," she replied over their special psychic bond. Then Lois said to her father, "Sorry, Dad, I automatically went into reporter mode. My reflex responses can be annoying at times."

Sam walked to his daughter and kissed her on the forehead as he said, "That's okay, princess, been there, done that too." Watching them, Clark knew that the healing between Sam and his daughter had indeed begun.

Sitting down again, Sam said, "I'm concerned about the androids. What will become of our creations after they help resurrect Clark Kent as just a mild mannered reporter?"

As Sam watched Clark after expressing his concerns about the droids, he was gratified to discover that his remarkable son-in-law also had similar solicitudes.

Then, Sam continued, "Do you have any plans for droids after they have completed their task."

"Yeah," Clark replied, "I will ask them to take one of our interstellar cruisers and begin exploring the universe. They'll send what information they obtain to Sanctuary via a special string telemetry system I've just finished constructing. By my calculation," Clark then informed Sam, "our droids should function between two and three hundred years. Like soulmates," Clark added, "they'll both cease to exist at nearly the same time — certainly within a few minutes of one another."

"Clark, you talk about them as if they were a form of life," Sam remarked.

Entering the room from the kitchen, Alan chimed in, "They are a form of life." Pausing briefly, Alan added, "Classically, of course, we shouldn't consider either of them as a living being. They're not carbon based, they can't reproduce nor ingest food." When Alan finished his remarks, he sat down on the sofa and internally fumed. From the expressions on Sam's and Clark's faces, Alan knew that both his friends hadn't missed the sarcasm in his comments.

When neither Clark nor Sam responded to Alan's remarks, the Singapore bureau chief continued by saying, "You do realize, of course that the droids you both have created are independent thinkers and can exude emotional sentiments." Looking into Sam's eyes, he nearly yelled, "Do nonliving things exhibit such mental processes?"

No," Sam quietly replied.

Alan then added in an irritated tone, "Maybe it's time to redefine our specificity of life — how about independent brain activity as the main criteria."

"Calm down, my brother," Clark said to a rather irate Alan Jacobs. "I can assure you that Sam and I feel the same way about the droids."

In a calmer frame of mind, Alan murmured, "Thank G-D you do."

"Your emotional upwelling sorta forced my hand, Alan," Clark replied. Placing his hand on Alan's shoulder, Clark then asked his spiritual brother to bring the androids to the condo. Nodding the Singapore bureau chief entered a TD gate and was whisked to the Centaui space platform.

When Alan returned with the androids, Clark invited everyone to be seated. After a slight pause, Clark prepared to explain his plans to the non carbon based life forms.

Clark waited for everyone to get comfortable, and then began speaking. "When the two droids have helped Lois and me reclaim our lives, you both are free to do what you wish. However, my soulmate and I both feel that it would be prudent if you left Earth. It would lessen the chance that our deception would be discovered." Both droids agreed with Clark's comments — they were logical entities.

After there was agreement all around, Clark explained his exploration ideas. "Your cosmic safari sounds good," the Clark android responded.

"Can we use the Centauri station as a home base?" The Lois android inquired. Clark smiled as he nodded accepting her query as fact.

"Sam," the Lois android said, "I know you've been wondering for some time now whether my android life partner and I are true life forms. I believe I can partly answer your question."

When the Lois android had collected her thoughts, she remarked, "Lois' and Clark's psychological and cerebral profiles have been imbedded upon our engrams. In a spiritual way our essences are those of the original Lois and that of Clark, but in a non carbon base form. We have feelings, but as you are aware, we cannot intimately join in an act of reproduction. However, the sentiments the two of us experience when we hold or touch each other is just as moving as when a human couple is experiencing a tender moment. In our own way, we can experience what you refer to as love. I hope my explanation will assuage some of your anxieties and doubts about our desires to be included within the family of defined living entities."

Smiling at the Lois android, Sam remarked, "Most of my doubts about considering you both life forms have been dispelled by your beautiful and profound explanations of your fears and desires."

Gazing at his creations, Clark asked his and Lois' droids if they could do him a great favor when our mission on Earth has been concluded. "Sure," the Clark android replied. "What is it you want us to do?"

Talking directly to the two droids, Clark Kent said, "Have you seen the three individuals we've incarcerated on the Centauiri station?" Both androids nodded affirmatively. Continuing Clark said, "As you travel into the universe, Lois and I would appreciate if you took them with you. When you locate a terran- like planet leave those three men on that world with their survival equipment and the two medical robotic devices. The medical devices will disembark with Luthor and his cohorts and service them during their sojourn on the planet. The men of which I speak are felons, and the planet you set them upon will be their place of exile for the remainder of their evil lives."

"Done," both androids said simultaneously.

Almost as an afterthought, the Clark android asked, "What will happen to our remains when we expire?"

Clark pondered this question for a few moments and said, "We can program the ship for self destruction reducing itself and your remains to atomic parts and scattering them among the stars, or the ship could return your bodies to us or our descendants. You would be buried with the other members of our family."

Smiling the Clark android who had already received approval from his life partner, replied, "We choose to be interred with our family — you and your seed. So be it," all carbon based life forms articulated at once.


Several weeks after the capture of Lex Luthor and his lieutenants, a lone figure entered the Daily Planet's bullpen and moved towards Lois Lane's work area. As he walked slowly and tentatively across the newsroom, big mouth Ralph yelled out, "It's Clark Kent; Kent's back."

After the shock effect of beholding what appeared to be a ghost cooled, pandemonium erupted on the news floor as Clark's friends and colleagues rushed to greet him. In their excitement at seeing Clark they nearly smothered him. Discerning what was happening, Lois worked her way to Clark's side and yelled, "Everybody calm down. Give him space to breath. I'm sure he'll answer all your questions. Just give Clark a moment to recover from your rather rambunctious reception."

While Lois was trying to tone down Clark's over exuberant welcome-back, undercover agents, who had infiltrated the Planet news organization, scurried to the nearest phone to report that their quarry had returned to his old haunts. They informed their superiors that Clark was currently in the newsroom conversing with his friends and colleagues. Upon receiving the news about Kent's return, government agencies, corporations, and other news organizations each sent an army of people scurrying to the Daily Planet.

While Ralph slapped Clark on the back and vigorously shook his hand, the lecherous reporter asked, "Kent, are you Superman or not?" When Clark started to hem and haw, Lois chimed in a somewhat agitated voice declaring, "Of course he's not Superman. Clark's returned to resolve that issue once and for all."

At that moment, Bureau 39, headed by one Colonel Trask, charged into the newsroom. Seeing Clark, the commander of the Bureau 39 unit pointed at him screaming, "There's the alien space scum, cover him with your specials weapons." Trask's cohorts then raised their quantum disrupters.

He then walked up to Perry and said, "I have here a Federal warrant for Kent's arrest and his incarceration." The warrant had been signed by one Judge Arnold Ananias.

As Perry was scrutinizing the writ, Bill Henderson entered the newsroom. While Henderson's men covered the Bureau 39 contingent, the inspector walked over to Perry who handed him the subpoena.

After a few seconds Henderson looked up and said, "This writ is a forgery. There is no Judge Arnold Ananias on the Federal bench in the Metropolis region."

When Henderson uttered the words that nullified Trask's warrant, the Bureau 39 chief brandished a revolver and shot at the inspector striking him in the shoulder. Then Colonel Trask shouted to his men ordering them to kill the alien.

While Bill Henderson and Clark were diving for cover, Kent could hear many weapons being discharged. After the shooting ceased, Clark looked around and then slowly rose to his feet. Seeing that Henderson was slightly injured, Clark announced that "Bill and he were lucky this time and we're okay although Henderson had a slight shoulder wound."

Looking around Clark could see that Trask had been shot during the melee and bleeding like a stuffed pig.

Later, Clark was to tell his friends that a single pulse from a quantum disrupter had hit him in the side, and it felt as though a mule had kicked him in the solar plexus.

Almost immediately after the shooting on the Planet newsroom floor began, the Superman android flashed among the combatants relieving them of their arms. Some of Trask's men then attempted to use other kinds of weapons concealed on their person as the gun totin' donnybrook continued. To Trask's men's surprise, their concealed firearms were quickly confiscated by an unknown superheroine — the Lois android had made her appearance.

When the bullpen battle ended was, a medic assigned to the police unit at the Planet rushed forward to care for Jason Trask and Bill Henderson. One look at Trask, and the medical technician knew immediately that the Bureau 39 commander had bought the farm — Trask was dead before he hit the floor. As his mortal remains were examined, the medic became aware that the back of the Colonel's head was missing. Other members of the medical unit placed Inspector Henderson in a chair and patched his shoulder wound. The other injured men in the newsroom battle were evacuated to nearby hospitals.

While Bill Henderson was being attended to by the departments medical people, Clark strolled over to him and said smiling, "I'm glad that you'll be okay, Bill."

Looking into Kent's eyes the policeman knew that Clark was very concerned about the state of his health. "Thanks, Kent," the police inspector replied. That short statement from the inspector was enough to assuage Kent's concern for his friend. Squeezing Henderson's good shoulder, Clark now quickly ambulated toward Lois and as they met their hands naturally became entwined.

While the police were processing what was left of Bureau 39's ground pounders, the news people and official personnel just stared at the two superheroes now hovering a few feet above the bullpen floor.

Soon, it seemed like a sea of humanity began to pour into the newsroom. As reporters and people alike entered the bullpen, they were stunned by the presence of the two super people levitating above the newsroom floor. And, Clark Kent, the suspected superman, was with his partner talking with Lois Lane.

As the news spread, other news hounds were soon flooding the Planet building. And, as the day progressed, still more people converged on the Daily Planet building. Upon recognizing Clark, many reporters rushed to his side and sincerely welcomed him back. As they shook Kent's hand and slapped his back, Lois knew in her heart that what had occurred on the news floor that day would be the catalyst which would trigger the beginning of the end for her husband's odyssey.

Later that day, the Lois and Clark androids held a news conference. As everyone settled down, the Clark android remarked, "I would like you to meet my wife Ultrawoman. She's the reason I've been away for some time. I traveled to my home world to be married. Like most of you, I too have a helpmate. Crooks beware, there are two of us now to serve the cause of justice. Are there any questions?"

After nearly five hours, the news conference ended. The press core had been satiated for the moment.

Because of the androids' presence with the real Clark Kent and his soulmate standing in the wings, the allegations that Clark and Superman were one and the same were never mentioned during the conference. As far as the press and other organizations were concerned, that point was now moot.

Later that day, Clark and his soulmate met their android counterparts at Lois' Metropolis apartment. After greeting one another the Lois android said she had a rather strange request. "Shoot," Lois Lane Kent replied.

A few seconds later, the androids said nearly in unison, "We would like be married before we head out into the void."

Clark first looked at his own wife and then turned to face the androids saying, "Why not?" Lois nodded in agreement and added, "I'm curious. Why would you guys wish to go through the formality of a marriage ceremony when a spiritual union between the two of you already exits." As she was asking her question, Lois suddenly understood the answer to her query. Marriage was simply the paper work for something that already existed. They wanted to formalize their union and have it documented, maybe for historical purposes.

To explain their request the Lois android remarked, "My life partner and I asked that same question of one another, Lois. Except for conceiving and the ingestion food stuffs our physiological processes are identical to yours. In the act of physical love our essences, like yours merge, and we are bound ever more strongly to one another."

The Lois android, after a short pause, added, "We four will always be connected like identical twins, but as time goes by we will evolve into slightly different individuals. Our personalities and desires are unique to us and will naturally diverge somewhat from our Earthly family, because of dissimilar experiences. While we four shall forever remain a family, the android side of our clan will develop its own distinct character. Because of our beliefs, we have chosen new names for ourselves." After a slight pause the female android asked, "How does Clarence and Louise Kent sound to you?" Both Lois and Clark responded, "Great choices." The Clark android continued, "Our new appellations will give the android side of our family a unique identity but nonetheless maintain that distinct bond which only the two Lois and Clark couples will forever share."

On the following evening, four super beings carrying three humans — Perry, Jimmy, and Murray — streaked through the heavens towards Las Vegas. After searching Vegas for a while they found a chapel on the outskirts of the strip where Clarence Kent and Louise Lane were officially united. Their names were officially recorded and would remain forever linked with their creators and through them to all of humanity.

Later that evening as Lois and Clark were preparing to retire, Clark remarked to his wife, "You know, my love, Louise may have touched on something when she explained hers and Clarence's reasons for being married."

Yeah, Lois remarked, "I was wondering what's got you so emotionally stirred-up?"

"Remember what your android counterpart said about one's physical appearance."

"Yeah," Lois said as she smiled. "A person's physical attributes by themselves are a facade and nearly worthless without a soul; a soul which is housed within a body's mortal coils and radiates love."

"That piece of philosophy really touched me, Lois."

"Clark," Lois replied, "As I told you before, your writing talents are wasted on just reporting the news. You should concentrate on poetry or philosophy as the backbone of your writing ventures."

Smiling at his wife, he seductively said, "Being separated even by not working together would be pure hell for me, Lois. I was annoyed and sometimes angry with muself when I had to leave you and moonlight in tights before Linda's Superman exposure. Now thank heaven we can be a super duo."

"Don't you think you'll get bored with me because we'll spend so much time together," Lois teased. "You know what the philosophers say," she continued, "absence makes the heart grow fonder." While her words tantalized her husband, her eyes showed that she was overjoyed at his desire to be at her side as often as he could. She was well aware that Kryptonians mated for life and the more that they communicated their adoration for one another by touching or teasing each other, the stronger their life bond would become. Already, Clark's and her essences had created a unique loving family of two.

"Anyway Lois, my poetic and philosophical thoughts won't be lost. They'll be in the stories with our byline — Lane and Kent — appearing in the finest newspaper in the world, The Daily Planet."

While Lois gazed adoringly at her soulmate, Clark crossed the room and embraced his wife burying his face deeply in her hair. Then, Lois felt him crush her to him trying to fuse their love into a single totality. After a few moments, he placed his forehead upon hers and then slowly engaged her mouth in a passionate all consuming kiss. As he caressed her lips, she responded instantly, returning his kiss with the same intense ardor.

As Lois and Clark settled into bed and drifted off to sleep, cuddled in each others arms, their journey through life had barely begun. Their trek would be arduous at times. As they traveled and labored for justice and understanding among people, they would come to know both joy and sorrow.

In time, they and their children and their children's children would lead the inhabitants of Earth toward a utopian civilization foretold by that funny little man who wore nineteenth century attire, H.G. Wells.

Epilogue — The End of the Beginning.

Several days after the official union of Clarence and Louise, four sentient beings stood on a space platform in the Centauri star system cluster and said au revoir to one another.

Lois and Clark, with an ache in their hearts, watched as their counterparts boarded an interstellar craft and departed for the unknown places. They promised to communicate with one another at least once a month. This pledge was never compromised throughout Clarence's and Louise's life span. The knowledge the androids gleaned from the cosmos and the exploration procedures they devised would be of immeasurable value when the Earth born Kryptonians and their human brethren ventured into the depths of space. Clarence and Louise Kent's contributions would be emblazed on the memory of man and Kryptonian alike throughout all eternity.

Over the next dozen years, Lois and Clark conceived three times, resulting in ten offspring — quadruplets and two sets of triplets. The resulting gender mix was four boys and six girls. As Lois and Clark, and later their children, were to discover, class G stars effected the reproductive systems of both Krypton born and Earth procreated Kryptonians in the same way — single births seemed to be an oddity.

After Lois delivered her quads — two of each gender — Clark and she remained at home with their children for three months. Lois said, "Thank G-D for our super abilities." Even so, there were many a night when both parents walked the floor trying to sooth their cranky infants.

After three months, Clark returned to the Planet. He pounded the pavement and checked sources alone. He didn't like working by himselfm and after a while Clark started to miss his wife-partner something- awful. It was not as if Lois were out of the loop. She still contributed to the Lane — Kent team as if she were by Clark's side. The internet and their video conferencing link always kept them in very close contact.

When Lois returned to work, Clark took a leave of absence and spent the next three months parenting at home. Lois used a mechanical device to transfer her lactations to baby bottles, which Clark periodically gave their children during the day. When Clark's tenure as house husband ended, the babies had at last been weaned.

When the team of Lane and Kent was again physically together, their output of great stories again hit the streets at regular intervals. The hottest team in town was better than before. Perry was on cloud nine.

When Lois and Clark were hitting their stride, Alan Jacobs decided to retire. With the urging of the Kents, he moved in with the Metropolis' super clan. To fulfill his intellectual needs, Alan began writing his memoirs. While his writings could never be published, they would be the basis of a historic document called by the future Utopians "Krypton and Earth." As Alan settled in, he also became the chief cook and bottle washer for the Kent household and in a short period was a cherished member of their family.

The super duo was thrilled with Alan's decision to join their household. He loved Lois and Clark's children, as if they were his own kids. The resident superheroes knew that Alan would protect their children, with his life if need be. By some mechanism, which only children seem to understand, the Kent menagerie innately knew that Alan loved them and they took to him as a duck takes to water. So it wasn't surprising that within a short time after moving in with the Kent clan, the kids were treating Alan Jacobs as a third parent.

Through the remainder of his life Alan would be an integral part of the Kent household. As time passed, living with the Kents, the love he received from his adopted family partly softened his sorrow over the tragic loss of his soulmate and unborn child during the summer of his years.

As the years silently coalesced, one season following another, Lois' and Clark's progeny increased. Jimmy and Lucy married and conceived two sets of twins. Clark and Lois developed a serum which extended the life span in their extended family, while maintaining a high level of health.

When Alan discovered that Lois and Clark's kids were manifesting super abilities before the age of five years, an emergency meeting was convened. After much discussion the elder Kents and their Metropolis family, including, of course, Alan Jacobs, decided on a relatively drastic maneuver. They would fashion a small village, using Kryptonian technology, under the Kent's Smallville farm. Eventually, the underground community became a home, a school, and an Earthly place of refuge.

The energy source of the concealed subterranean village was solar generated; a small back up fusion reactor was installed for emergencies. Their unique hamlet the Kent's dubbed K-1.

Initially, Lois and Clark excavated two square miles beneath the elder Kents' homestead and constructed two houses — one for the senior Kents and the other for Lois and Clark and their family — Alan, of course, was included in the younger Kent's immediate household. Their Metropolis residence was maintained as a facade. While they worked at the Planet, Lois and Clark TD to their Metropolis home and from there departed for the Planet. Parties and special events were always held at the reporters' big city home. The periodic use of the younger Kents' Metropolis home helped maintain an ambience of normalcy in the lives of the super pair, Alan, and the Kent kids.

When Perry retired, another house was added to the K-1 site. Perry's Metropolis abode, like the Kents' Metropolis home was essentially just a curtain for Perry's TD portal which transported him to his Kansas residence. Occasionally, he too would use his Metropolis residence for gala social gatherings.

When Murray Singer withdrew from the work a day world, Perry's scenario was repeated once again.

Before Lucy's and Jimmy's first set of twins reached their first birthday, they decided to allow the modification device to alter the Olsen children's DNA. When this event occurred another home was added to the Earthy Kryptonian settlement.

The chromosomal modification process was again repeated when the Olsens' second set of twins reached their first birthday.

According to Kryptonian tradition, all the children began their formal education at one year of age. While the AI unit would be the main instructor, the role of the children's parents and family would also be a large factor in the instruction of the young.

When each youngster started their schooling, he or she was given an electronic library which contained the sum total of all Kryptonian and Terran knowledge. The library was theirs to keep. In addition, several library units were maintained within the school facilities, itself.

The electronic library was a repository of facts and wisdom from both Krypton and Earth sources. These great encyclopedic repositories were the compliments to the ethics and moral principles which each student received from their parents and peers. As the young Earth born Kryptonian's matured, their personal electronic library would become enormously useful as a reference source for all their needs throughout their lives.

Aside from giving every beginning student the physical accouterments of learning, each child was put through a battery of tests. The ramifications of the testing program were astonishing to say the least. The results of the testing program indicated that the Kryptonian children born on Earth had IQ's in the genius category. With their enhanced mental powers each child also possessed many diverse intellectual gifts — various super abilities — and the powers that Ultrawoman and Superman also possessed. Furthermore, the capabilities of the super children seemed to harmonize with one another and their parents enhancing and complementing the talents of one another; a harmony that would be used to help the people of Earth move toward a unified world and a utopian civilization.

As Clark studied the exceptional capabilities of the K- 1 children, he discovered that it was the solar radiation from Earth's sun, a G-type star, which somehow combined with the children's special chromosomal structure that enhanced their intellectually and physically abilities of the Kansas community. As they reviewed the testing results, Lois and Clark were now aware that combining the children's amazing skills with the compassionate and selfless philosophy learned from their parents, would, in time, produce adults which would be a blessing to Earth's entire population. Clark now was confident that these kids and their progeny and the children after them would lead Earth's march toward its Utopian destiny.

When the Kent and Olsen children reached their fifth birthday, they were enrolled in Metropolis' public school system. Their parents knew that by interacting with normal Earth kids their own children would learn to blend in with their habitat. Most important, the super children would come to understand their peers and appreciate how to cope with the environment of their world. Schooling in Metropolis would also heighten their children's sense of tolerance, patience, mercy, and charity, the fundamental cornerstones of great civilizations. These virtues were just as important as honing their intellectual abilities. The Kent and the Olsen families also recognized early on that the public school system was the perfect laboratory to reinforce and develop those important sociological and philosophical fundamentals, which would help develop the preconditions for a sound and praiseworthy existence.

Intellectually and physically, the Kent and Olsen kids were light years ahead of their Earth peers. However, the Kents and Olsens understood that concealment and practicing how to make their kids special abilities transparent were essential to cloaking their unusual abilities from the world. Lois, Clark, and the Olsens were keenly aware from Clark's experiences that learning how to mask their special capabilities from the general population was an essential part of their children's survival skills. There would always be a Trask or Luthor waiting in the wings to attack and profit because of those who appeared different from the masses and could be exploited.

As they matured, a few of the Kent and Olsen peers did discover the unusual abilities of their friends. Although these individuals could have made a fortune by selling the super secret info, that knowledge was never revealed. Throughout their lifetime, these normal humans kept their incredible secret. One such story is worth mentioning.

Jon Grieb had discovered Terry Olsen's super secret when they were both ten years of age. Instead of blabbing what he discovered, that knowledge drew the two boys into a closer friendship akin to brothers. As both boys matured their friendship endured and deepened. Jon was eventually allowed to enter the holy of holies, K-1.

During one visit the entire super clan had gathered to celebrate the retirement of Perry White and the elevation of Lois Lane Kent to the editor and chief of the Planet. It was during this shindig that Lois learned of Jon's interest in journalism. As they were talking Jon said to Lois, "That's a hell-of-a position to tackle even with your super powers. How can you run a home and work as chief of the Planet's newsroom simultaneously? What happens if you get pregnant?"

Lois smiled at the inquisitive youth's questions and replied, "My children are old enough to care for themselves, if need be. I do have a husband who is the love of my life and my partner in every sense of the word and will function as both mother and father should that situations ever arise." Finally she added, "Ten children are enough for this household. Clark and I have both agreed that this baby factory — pointing to herself — has closed up shop. That, my young friend ends our interview."

Jon then said, "Gosh, did I really come across as an interviewer?"

"Yep," Lois responded, "Don't stop. It appears that you have a natural ability for newspaper work." Then she added, "The more you use that talent of yours, the better your technique will become." After a pause, Lois asked, "What do your parents do for a living?"

Jon replied, "My father is an English professor at Metropolis University. And, after the youngest in my family reached ten, my mother became a sociology professor at my father's institution."

As they parted Lois said to Jon, "If you decide to pursue journalism as a career, see me after your freshman year."

It was a beautiful evening, and the last Jon would experience for some time to come. Later that year his world was shredded when both of his parents were taken from him by a drunk driver who caused a head-on-collision between a DWI driver and the Griebs' car.

Immediately after the death of his parents, Jon was subpoenaed by the probate court of Metropolis. He tried to withdraw funds from his, and then his parents' account, to engage an attorney, but found that all the family's assets had been frozen.

In court, Judge Peter Funk presiding, evidence was produced that quickly deprived Jon Grieb of his parents estate and the monetary value of their insurance policies. Within one hour, a defenseless youngster had become a homeless person. When he returned home to obtain a few of his belongings, Jon found the house already padlocked.

When the Funk court's judgment had been handed down, Jon found that his personal bank account suddenly became available. In it was the money he'd been saving for his post secondary education. However, from Jon's savings the Funk court forced him to pay the Federal and State death taxes levied on his parents' possessions.

After his financial obligations to the State and Federal governments were satisfied, Jon calculated that if he were judicious, there might be enough money to nourish him until he graduated from high school. Rent was out of the question. Furthermore, he would have to forego commencement. The cost of renting the required regalia prohibited any thoughts of his attending his graduation exercises. Anyway, he thought, his clothes would be in tatters, and by that time his pauper status would be evident to his eternal shame. Unfortunately, that was the thinking of a highly intelligent, but very sensitive, teenager at that moment in time.

It was in early spring, and the weather was still rather brisk as Jon Grieb moved into Hell Street, the worst section of the Hobbs bay section of Metropolis. He gathered a cardboard box and as much newspaper as he could carry from the dumpsters which littered the area and set up house next to a wall which he hoped would block some of brisk north wind that blew through the area.

On the first night in his new abode, Jon Grieb fell asleep wrapped in newspaper, shivering from the cold that raked his body.

The next day he awoke before dawn bathed in ditch water and walked five miles to school. Each day for the next six weeks he stayed after school to complete his homework and relish the warmth of the building until the school was closed for the day. Then he returned to his Hell Street residence. In the midst of his personal anguish, he found a starving feral kitten which he befriended and began sharing his very meager rations.

By the time leaves appeared on the trees and the flowering plants bloomed in all their glory, Jon's health had seriously deteriorated. He developed a lingering cough, which was becoming steadily worse. At night, his body was wracked with fever, as sweat poured from his body. His ailment was becoming increasingly more chronic, weakening his body more each day.

Terry was becoming increasingly aware that something was drastically wrong with his best friend. He didn't know what to do for spiritual brother. Jon was never the kind to asked for assistance. While visiting Jon after school one day late in the school year, the dispossessed youngster finally collapsed. Terry became frightened and when he returned home that evening went straight to his room and just started to sob. He realized for the first time that his friend and brother had entered the valley of the shadow… That's where Lucy found him crumpled on the floor with his soul in torment. After she quieted her son, Lucy Lane Olsen learned of Jon's fainting incident and of the deterioration of his health. After taking Terry to the kitchen and feeding him, Lucy called her sister and told her in no uncertain terms to get home STAT. Time was of the essence. A life hung in the balance.

In less than five minutes, Ultrawoman charged through the entrance of the Olsen residence. After calming her sister, Lucy told her the story that Terry had related to her. Lois turned and was immediately airborne streaking toward Metropolis.

She first went to Jon's old house and found it occupied by a strange couple with an infant. They told her that they had purchased the home through Funk Reality at a bargain rate. She thanked the couple and took to the air, searching for Jon Grieb. There was a weather alert. The forecast called for a spring snow storm with temperatures expected to be well below freezing.

Lois knew that her search now had definitely become a race of life against death, where death had a head start. As she became aware of the current situation, Ultrawoman increased her speed to supersonic levels as she frantically crisscrossed the city.

Forty minutes into her search pattern, Lois located Jon in his cardboard home shivering and holding a kitten close to his body to protect the feline from the plummeting temperature. As she descended, she saw him cough violently and spew a bloody thick mucous from his mouth. Before Lois alighted, she alerted Clark by telepathy and asked him to bring Dr. Klein to K-1.

When Lois landed in front of Jon's makeshift shanty abode, he looked up and remarked, "Hi, Ms. K… Utrawoman." He smiled and said, "Nice to see you. What can I…" His words ceased as he pitched forward, unconscious, blood pouring from his mouth. Before he struck the pavement Lois had seized him. Clutching him to her breast, she streaked toward the nearest TD portal. It was the quickest way to K-1

Minutes after arriving at K-1, Bernie was examining the youth and setting up an intravenous station. As he worked, the physician mumbled to himself, "I'll have to tap his lungs. His pneumonia is well advanced and very severe. The lad is knocking at death's door."

Several hours later, Bernie entered the kitchen and poured himself a spot of tea.

"How is he?" Lois asked her friend. Looking up, from staring into his tea cup, Dr. replied, "Aside from dysentery, walking pneumonia, and several fungus infections I'd say he's doing well."

"What should we do?" Lois asked the physician. Without batting an eyelash, Dr. Klein said, "Modify his genome and give him super capabilities, and then place the boy into a sunroom. If that's not done, he'll probably be in G-D's hands by week's end."

When Lois communicated Bernie's suggestion to Clark, he was by her side in a flash with the electrical duplication equipment. When Jon's chromosomes had been modified, Lois transferred him into one of the restorative sun cubicles. Now time and old Sol's radiation would heal the youngster.

After Jon Grieb's health was out of danger, and the boy was on mend. Bernie asked Clark, "Who the hell would place that boy in such a horrible situation? It's almost like committing murder."

"Bernie," Clark replied, "I don't know what caused this situation, but I do intend to find out. Be assured, my friend, I shall discover who placed Jon in the squalor where Lois found him and which placed the boy on death's doorstep." Lois her eyes blazing, nodded at her husband, fully agreeing with her soulmate views.

Lois knew by Clark's posture that he was extremely upset. It was on rare occasions like this that she heard him use a swear or cuss word.

After sipping more tea, Bernie said, "While from a medical viewpoint, it was necessary to give him super abilities to save his life, but aren't you a might worried what he might do with his enhanced powers?"

"No," Lois declared. "Jon was desperate and still kept his pledge to Terry and us about our family secret. Do you know how much the press, especially the tabloid vermin, corporations, and the underworld would pay to learn our identities and where we could be found? It never crossed the boy's mind to market that information. Jon in his own way is extremely altruistic, very much like my husband. It's true that all the members of our clan are altruistic, but none more so than Jon or Clark. I never thought I would encounter another person with Clark's integrity."

Scratching his head Bernie Klein then remarked, "If that's the case, I hope he finds a life partner like you, my dear."

Lois Lane-Kent gave Dr. Klein a beatific smile as she delivered a rather enigmatic reply to the physician's question. "Learning and time will take care of all things, big and small."

Excusing herself for a moment, Lois telephoned Lucy. When her sister answered, Lois went into her no nonsense mode and said, "Luce, how would you like to have another kid?"

After a brief pause, Lois heard heavy breathing and a strained voice that emphatically stated, "Now hear this, big sis, my child bearing days are over, kaput, finished."

"Hold on Lucy," Lois said, stopping her sister's tirade dead in its tracks. Then Lois quietly continued, "I don't mean a nine-month incubator baby, Lucy, but the adoption of a mature orphan."

Lois quickly told Lucy Jon's saga including the part she hadn't heard. After Lois ended her narrative, Lucy said, "I'll get right back to you."

A few minutes later, Lucy called Lois back. "Jimmy agrees with the adoption idea," she said.

"How did you convince him so fast?" Lois inquired.

Lucy replied, "I threatened to cut him off at the pass."

"You didn't!" Lois retorted. "You're right," Lucy said as she laughed. "Sometimes sis, I think with all your sophistication you're still very gullible."

"Seriously, Lois, we must educate Jon about the pitfalls of life. That boy is still very naive."

Lois just replied, "Yup."

By the way Lucy remarked, "Jimmy has already begun working on the adoption process."

"Before I hang up," Lucy said, "Jimmy told me that he thought there was a terrific story about legal theft in this scenario."

Lois replied, "Tell your husband that Clark and I both agree and we've already started researching Jon's story."

After the phone call ended, Lois stared into the star filled firmament and whispered, "Thanks." For a brief moment, after her expression of gratitude, the stars seemed to twinkle more intensely and burn somewhat brighter.

Later that day, Clark found his wife sitting quietly in the lounge in her contemplation position. "A penny for your thoughts," he said smiling at this woman who consented to be his life partner.

Looking up Lois blushed and remarked, "You're broadcasting again, my love."

"So you're still constantly tuned into my thoughts," Clark retorted.

"You betcha," she replied.

"Although I know our love is the forever kind, I still need reinforcement from time to time."

Gazing at her soulmate, Lois commented, "Our devotion and love for one another is incredible. I wonder if those who come after us will ever believe how strongly we are bound to one another?"

"I believe that our children will have an inkling about the strength of our devotion to one another," Clark replied. Then Clark took Lois in his arms and held her.

After a few minutes, Lois murmured, "Just keep our link open, sweetheart. I need to feel your goodness and caring. It gives me a waffy feeling which helps push aside the brutalizing side of life. Unfortunately," Lois added, "we work in a medium which allows us to see the backside of society in all its horrible destructiveness. If one is not careful, a constant dosage of societal's perversions could make us a cynical couple. My Ultrawoman patrols unfortunately tend to reinforce the horrible things that happen to people."

As if to shoo away the evil demons, Clark kissed his wife on her forehead. Then he added, "You're doing fine, honey."

Smiling at Clark, she replied, "I've learned from a master. My best friend and the best man I'll ever know."

As Lois gazed into her lover's eyes, Clark bent his head and gave his wife a very loving kiss, full of tenderness and passion causing her knees to buckle for the 'upteenth' time.

While placing her head on Clark's shoulder as he continued to hug her, Lois suddenly noticed that their auras were glowing extra brightly and had intertwined, surrounding the Metropolian Kents and began to caress the lovers.

On the third day of his convalescence, Jon arose and was walking about K-1, albeit slowly. He was grateful beyond words for what the Kents had done to save his life and the help they provided to initiate the adoption process; an adoption that would make him a part of Terry Olsen's family. He could hardly believe his good fortune.

Jon knew that he would have to master his new super abilities before returning to the city. Lois had already spoken with him about his new skills and the responsibilities and obligations that went along with the gift. He assured her that he would consider the obligations demanded by the super powers as an integral part of his life force. Jon was surprised when Lois informed him that she was not concerned about his conduct. She said, "Every person who has and will receive your unique abilities is made aware of their potential and the obligations that are part and parcel of the bequest." Smiling she continued, "All my new sons or daughters-in-law had been lectured in the same manner and were made aware of the consequences surrounding their extraordinary gifts."

When Lois and Clark's expose about Terry's ordeal hit the street, Judge Peter Funk under pressure from his peers resigned his position and was indicted for corruption and grand theft. Jon's aunt and uncle were also arrested and charged with fraud and involuntary manslaughter.

The trials of the judge and Jon's aunt and uncle were swift and justice even more expeditious. After the guilty verdicts were handed down, jail time was quickly meted out — twenty-five years for Funk and five years each for Jon's kin. The bulk of the funds belonging to Jon Grieb were returned to their rightful owner. The monies Jon received from his suit against the convicted felons he gave to a charitable institution called Mazon. It was an organization dedicated to feeding the hungry throughout the world without regard to people's creed nor ethnic origins. The needs of the people were the only necessary criteria for aid to be immediately forthcoming.

Soon after Jon's legal entanglements had been resolved, Jonathan Grieb entered the journalism school at the city university. While Jon majored in journalism, he minored in computer science. The computer stuff was Jimmy's idea. At the university, he and his room mate, Terry Olsen — who majored in physics with a minor in computer science — spent an exciting four years. At the age of twenty-one he and Terry joined the superhero league, inaugurated by Lois and Clark. As their numbers increased, the criminal element — from individuals to organized crime families — started to wane. At their monthly meetings, Jon was introduced to one of the league's long-range goals. It was referred to only as The Utopia project. The speaker at this session indicated the utopian project was well advanced and moving rapidly toward its primary objective. As he listened to the utopian projections, Jon had a feeling that he and his superhero brethren were a force which at some future time would create a kind of messianic world. It was a wondrous philosophical notion which Jon would marvel and speculate about for the remainder of his life.

After Jon and Terry completed their university studies, they both entered separate graduate programs — Jon matriculated at Columbia's school of Journalism and earned a Master's degree within a single year. Terry proceeded to the California Institute of Technology earning a doctorate three years later specializing in computer science with minors in mathematics and physics. Later Jon would also earn a doctorate and teach at Metropolis University helping to make their journalism department one of the finest in the world.

When Jon received his graduate degree, he was hired by the Daily Planet and assigned to the far east area. His home was on the island of Singapore, and either by coincidence or fate, his residence happened to be in the same condo where Clark and his parents were hidden during their unexpected exile.

Every weekend Jon TD home and was nourished by the love of his family. Like Clark and Lois, Jon too saw the hind quarters of the world's doings and all too often was revolted by humankind's barbarous behavior. Like Clark, the horrors he'd witnessed nauseated him, but did not alter his nature.

During the ensuing seven years, Jon won four Kerth awards.

As his thirtieth birthday approached, Jon Grieb was well aware that he was now considered a first-class international journalist. In the quiet of his apartment, Jon often mused over his accomplishments and was keenly aware that as his professional status soared, his loneliness kept pace with his achievements and his accolades.

On his thirtieth birthday, Jon TD home as was his yearly habit, and was really surprised by the elaborate party the clan had prepared — the entire family was present for this shindig.

His party was linked with another celebration — Lois and Clark's swan song. The two, now considered elderly reporters, after some intense discussions, decided it was time to retire. Their decision was not a total surprise. In the last few years, everyone knew they'd been toying with the notion of ending their formal careers. Perry's passing seemed to have catalyzed their decision. Lois had taken Jimmy on as assistant editor-in-chief several years ago and started to teach him how to run the Planet and survive.

To ease the transition, Clare and her husband, Ed Matthews, were hired for the city desk. Clark, with help from his soulmate, trained them how to be top notch investigative reporters acting singly or as partners.

Clare not only looked like her mother, but like Lois she was a firebrand. Unlike Clark, Clare's husband also possessed an excitable temperament. It was always amazing to Lois how two such people with such similar dispositions could be so well suited for one another. The soulmate bond between two life partners was incredible Lois reflected. Then giggling she murmured, "Long may the auric bond sustain lovers."

Soon after the party celebrating Lois' and Clark's retirement and Jon Grieb's thirtieth birthday, the Metropolis Kent's would say their adieux to the Planet gang and quietly fade into woodwork.

While the combined birthday and retirement party were in full bloom, Jon quietly moved to a corner of the room. From this vantage point, he could enjoy watching the antics of the revelers. He was delighted that Lois' and Clark's retirement celebration had been the main thrust of the party. Being a naturally shy guy, especially in social settings, he felt a sense of relief at not being the center of attention.

Jon was happy knowing that the entire clan was present for this bash. They would focus mostly on Lois and Clark, as it should be, and he could comfortably fade into the background. Soon, Jon would quietly leave the party area without anybody being the wiser.

As Jon looked around, he saw Samantha Lane- Kent. She had made a special effort to be at this birthday- retirement gala. At twenty-one, she was already a candidate for an earned doctorate in theoretical physics with sub specialties in chemistry and mathematics. Like her Kryptonian ancestors, whose many physical characteristics she'd inherited, Samie had chosen the natural sciences to be her life's work. Like her father and mother, she was brilliant, more so than most of her siblings. Her laboratory existed within the confines of her mind. The only physical equipment she needed for her work was a keyboard, linked, of course, to a computer system and a T1 internet line. A Computer linked with the world-wide- web was her means of communicating her ideas to colleagues throughout the world. Her basic method of research was to do 'gedanka' experiments (mental investigations) and then send her thoughts to experimentalists who would check her notions against physical realities of nature.

Samantha was nearly five feet eight inches tall to Jon Grieb's six one. Samie had emerald colored eyes and a head full of striking red tresses. Personality wise, she was all Lois. She was brenfire like her mother and her sister Clare. As Jon studied the young woman, he had to agree with her suitors than Samantha Lane- Kent was an imposing figure of a woman.

It was Samantha who intercepted Jon as he was stealthily leaving the party.

Grabbing him by the arm, she said, "Going Somewhere, birthday boy? If you're going to sneak out, make sure your telepathic pathway is not on."

Samie then lead him back to the dining table. As she did so, Jon, looking at the ceiling wondered just how she knew he was leaving because he had muted all his telepathic conduits, all but the one reserved for his soulmate. That pathway he knew could never be silenced.

As dining commenced, Jon looked around and located the young lady who had escorted him back to the table. He was again startled by a pair of flashing green eyes from a red headed lass seated now across the table from him. When Samantha saw that Jon was again aware of her presence, she gave him a radiant smile that seemed to light up the room. Seeing her beaming face, Jon blushed and cast his eyes toward the floor.

Looking at his plate, Jon realized that as his eyes met hers he felt like a bolt of lightning had struck him and since that moment, forces unknown to him were attempting to pull him towards the gorgeous red head.

As Clark was quietly looking over the gathering of his kin and friends, he became a witness to the extraordinary behavior of his youngest daughter, Samantha, and Jon Grieb. He immediately understood the meaning of their mutual reactions. It was the same thing which had occurred between Lois and himself many years before. What Clark had observed this evening was the spontaneous attraction between lovers; something that occurred only between soulmates. It had happened to him many years ago when Lois Lane had interrupted his interview with Perry White. This time though, he was not the participant, but a privileged observer when that mystical elixir called love was passed between two people who intrinsically craved affection. Aphrodite, with her magic perfumes, had just linked two beautiful and lonely individuals. Unfortunately, Lois again missed this mystical phenomenon, being involved in a heavy political discussion with her daughter, Clare.

As Clark turned toward his wife, his eyes locked for a moment with Alan's orbs. Clark smiled as Alan nodded. Apparently, he too had seen the interchange between Jon and Samantha. They had witnessed an event which would eventually alter the lives of two youngsters forever.

After her discourse with her daughter Clare had finally ended, Lois looked for her husband. As she gazed at him, Lois became aware that Clark had a dreamy look on his face. She said, "Dear, is there anything that I should know?" He answered her by saying, "I think we should prepare for a wedding."

"Earth to Clark, Earth to Clark'" Lois nearly yelled, "Are you crazy?" Then she became aware of the Cheshire like smile on Alan's countenance and realized that he understood the meaning of Clark's rather cryptic response.

Then staring at Alan, Lois said, "Okay, my spiritual Brother, spill it."

He gave her a grin and replied with a flurry of nonsensical phrases, "I know nothing, I saw nothing, I heard nothing." As Alan was mouthing his twaddle he slowly rose from the table and began mingling with the guests and other family members who by now were starting to meander in the direction of the porch.

As Lois watched Alan disappear into the crowd, she yelled, "Rat fink coward, you pulled a schultz on me."

Turning her attention back to her husband she heard him murmur, "I think Samie and Jon will be married in very short order. Their engagement won't be a long drawn out affair, unlike Lois' and mine. They are aware of each other now, and it will only take one of them to start the ball rolling. Once that happens, their love will demand a soulmate union (wedding), post haste."

Looking into her husband's eyes she declared, "What in hell are you mumbling about? Alan's and your attitudes are driving me nuts."

Realizing that Lois was out of the loop, he pointed toward his youngest daughter. Lois, following the line of sight indicated by Clark's digit saw her daughter Samantha rise from the table and walk over to Jon and for a moment gaze at him. Then, taking the birthday boy by the hand, she pulled him from his chair and led him to the rose garden. As the pair exited the dining room, Lois heard Samie say, "We have a lot to talk about." Then she saw Jon nod in agreement and put his arm around her daughter's waist as Samie laid her head on his shoulder.

When Lois recovered from the shock of her daughter's behavior, she grabbed her husband and said, "Claaaark, spill it."

He smiled and embraced his wife and reiterated, "Like I said, we should start preparing for a wedding." Then he explained what Alan and he had seen.

When Clark finished describing the event, Lois said, "Dam, I missed the moment of connection again."

"Don't fret, baby," Clark added. "It's the consequences of their actions that're most important. Love and marriage, sweetheart."

As Clark waited for his soulmate to settle down, he knew that she was still miffed when he heard Lois mutter "If I'd only recognized Clark's reaction to me during his hiring interview with Perry. Look at all the lost time and the aggravation we could have circumvented."

After pausing for a second, Clark responded, "Even if you did, our marriage would still have been delayed somewhat until we worked through your childhood traumas and federal disaster affairs."

"And your feelings of not belonging," Lois added. Clark just nodded.

After Clark released his wife from one of their regular romantic embraces, Lois cooed, "How did you become so wise my love?"

"I had a brilliant and lovely woman to learn from," he replied. "Oh," she commented, as their lips touched in a tender loving caress. While their kiss was filled with ardor, it also contained the fiery passion of their youth, a passion which never diminished throughout their lifetime.

Holding his wife's hand, Lois and Clark quietly walked away from their home until they arrived at an isolated rose garden.

From Clark's behavior, Lois was aware that her husband was troubled. She had learned over a lifetime to wait until he was ready to tell her what was eating at him.

Suddenly turning to his bride of thirty-six years, Clark said to Lois, "I am worried about the coming union of Jon and Samantha. While our daughter may resemble my paternal grandmother, Samantha is all you, Lois. Her disposition, brilliance of mind and the other things that I love about you are in her."

"And Jon reminds me of you, Clark," Lois chimed in.

"Precisely," Clark said. "However, there is a subtle difference on how Jon and I view relationships. Lois, it's my belief that our future son-in-law was emotionally injured when, as a teenager, he nearly perished at the hands of his aunt and uncle. He subsequently developed what I call the Lois syndrome."

"The what syndrome?" Lois nearly screeched.

Clark then forcefully said, "Lois, hear me out before you decapitate me." Lois quieted down and waited.

Taking a breath, Clark continued, "Lois, what did you do before I came on the scene when a guy wanted to begin a romantic relationship with you or just wanted a date?"

After a second or so, Lois said, "I'd cut and run because of my horrible past relationships." When Lois spoke those words which hinted at events she hadn't thought about since the beginnings of their married life, she understood what her soulmate was driving at. If Samantha came on to Jon as Lois had done to Clark during the early days of their relationship building, Jon would most likely flee to his sanctuary in the far East and bury himself in work.

Lois then left her husband, telling him telepathically what she intended to do, and hurriedly went to find her daughter. Samantha had to understand, or there was a good possibility that she and her soulmate would be lonely and unhappy travelers on the road of life.

Fate favored Lois this day. She interrupted Samantha and Jon's conversation as they were about to considered a future together. Lois excused herself and asked to speak with her daughter for few minutes. It was important. Jon just smiled as Samie followed her mother.

Taking Samie to an isolated spot, Lois conveyed what Lois and Clark had deduced. Samie kissed her mother and thanked her for her information about Jon's earlier years. With her new knowledge, Samantha felt sure that her budding relationship with Jon Grieb would rapidly move toward a soulmate union.

As Lois returned to her beloved Clark, Samantha rejoined Jon who she knew would be her future husband. Samie would not lose her life partner and their future together because he was mentally tormented as a teenager by greedy and sick relatives.

Within a few minutes, Samantha had devised a plan for dealing with Jon's teenage trauma. First, she had to convince her new soulmate to trust her. After she acquired his confidence, all else in their relationship would fall smoothly into place. She was well versed in soulmate lore and knew what must be done to complete their bonding.

Later that night, when all but Jon and Samie had retired; the two young soulmates made their way to the rose garden where earlier Lois and Clark had deduced Jon's hang ups brought about by mercenary relatives and a corrupt judge. Emotional issues which might have destroyed Samie's and Jon's romance, if not immediately handled with understanding and love.

In the quiet of the rose garden, Samantha Lane- Kent and Jon Grieb placed their hands together and allowed their foreheads to touch. As flesh met flesh Samie and Jon allowed their minds to meld. An amalgamating process took less than ten seconds. As the two lovers became one, all that was Jon's became Samantha's and all that was Samie's belonged to Jon. Minds joined and two soulmates became an intimate couple. When the mind unification process was completed, all Samantha and Jon's fears had been put to rest and cleansed from their souls. Their minds and bodies were now operating on a spiritual plane and were essentially one entity with two personalities linked by a soulmate bond. After experiencing the mind meld, Jon and Samantha realized that they were on the threshold of becoming husband and wife. All that was needed was a formal wedding ceremony and properly witnessed documents and their union would be complete.

Samantha would see to it that their nuptials would shortly occur, hopefully within the month. Their physical desire for one another could not be delayed any longer than that. As it was she wanted to strip off his cloths and have her way with him.

When Samantha told her parents of her experience, Clark asked Jon to join them at their home post haste. When Jon arrived, he and Samie were informed that what they had done was usually reserved for a time immediately after the formality of a marriage celebration and the witnessing of nuptial documents. However, both parents were aware of the conditions which made their daughter, Samantha, to act as she did. Clark then informed the young couple that they were, in reality, spiritually married. Since that was the case, their nuptials should occur immediately, or their desire to consummate their soulmate union would probably overwhelm them. That evening, Samie, with her parents, and Jon Grieb flew to Las Vegas where Samantha Lane-Kent was formally joined in marriage to Jonathan Grieb.

After their wedding supper, it was decided that Samantha and Jon's marriage would remain a clandestine event, and a normal affair would occur later — within the year. Then giving his kids funds for their honeymoon, Clark told them to have a great time and that he and Lois would expect to see them in about two weeks.

As Samie and Jon flew off, Lois smiled at her husband and remarked, "Superman is agreeing to hide information from the community. The mighty have surely fallen this day."

"First, wife of my life," Lois' spouse replied, "Superman wasn't involved in this affair, Clark, the father of the bride was the so called culprit. And, baby, I'd do it again to protect my daughter from any kind of humiliation or ridicule."

"Bravo, Kal-El," Lois remarked, "I hardily concur with your attitude and our decision."

The two superheroes then took to the air and headed for home.

On the way to Hawaii for their honeymoon, Jon took a detour and acquired a rough diamond from the ring of fire that girded the Earth. When Samie's husband had finished mining the other materials needed to create a ring, the Griebs continued their interrupted journey to Maui, where they rented a cottage on the beach. Later that night, as Samantha rested, she watched as Jon fashioned her engagement ring — a two carat round stone. He then placed the diamond in a platinum setting adorned with two half carat diamond baguettes to set off the main stone. After some cleaning and polishing, Samantha had a gorgeous engagement ring to complement her band of gold.

Two weeks later, Jon and Samantha were back home.

Soon after Samantha received her doctorate, a formal wedding united Jon and Sam in front of witnesses. After the wedding reception the newlyweds teleported to the Centauri platform and embarked on one of the clan's interstellar vessels to a honeymoon destination known only to the happy couple. By keeping their trip a secret, Jon and Samantha avoided the possibility of an unwelcome shivaree on their wedding night.

When the bride and groom returned from their official honeymoon trip, the newlyweds spent a few days with their families and then returned to their home away from home on the isle of Singapore. There, relatively isolated from the K-1 community, they learned many things about their dissimilar natures as Lois and Clark had done many years before when the two reporters first started on their life's journey together.

When, in the distant future, Jon and Samantha inherited the mantel of leadership for the Earth's Kryptonian population, their experiences, while living on the isle of Singapore, would help them to lead the people of K-1 closer to their community's utopian dream.

Nearly a year after the official marriage of Jon Grieb and Samantha Lane-Kent Grieb, the couple sadly retuned to K-1 to say adieu to Alan Jacobs. He had lived a full life — a hundred and twenty-six years. In that time he had seen children born to his spiritual brother and sister — Lois Lane Kent and her husband, Clark Kent. Then he witnessed grandchildren born into the Lane-Kent clan; and was also privileged to see great grand children born to Lois and Clark's descendants. Alan also lived long enough to see great great grandchildren of Lane and Kent become part of the resurgent Kryptonian people.

The clan felt a great sense of loss. Alan Jacobs was viewed with high esteem and was considered as a close relative to each inhabitant of the subterranean village, K-1.

When Jon's and Samie's first set of triplets was born — two girls and a boy — Alan was included as part of their son's name.

Long ago, Alan told Jon that in his religious belief structure a person was not truly gone if their name was remembered and given to an individual born in some future generation.

Following Alan's tradition, Jon and Samantha were honored to name their boy after him, — Alan Jor-El Lane-Kent Grieb.

Although there were males born into the Kryptonian community before Jon and Samie conceived, Alan's name was not bestowed on any of them. That honor, as the entire community understood, belonged to the Singapore couple. Jon was Alan's spiritual son.

The day following Alan's passing, the emerging Kryptonian people gathered at a remote cemetery. All the graves had long since been occupied, save one. It now lay open. Clark, Jimmy, his son CJ, and Jon eased the coffin into the sepulcher. Then each of the hundreds of people present walked to the grave with a spade filled with some good earth. Standing for a moment at the grave side, each person added the earthen material to the open pit. This process continued until the grave had been completely filled. Having finished the entombment, Clark quietly spoke over Alan's final resting place the simple but powerful words, "Dust to dust, ashes to ashes…"

While waiting for everyone to gather around the filled grave site, Clark and Lois clasped hands. Then Clark, clearing his throat, prepared to give a final tribute to Alan Jacobs and say farewell to a brother. As lightening split the sky and thunder resounded in the hills, Clark began his eulogy.

When Clark had finished celebrating the life of his friend and companion of nearly seventy years, the man from Krypton, born on a world half a universe away, chanted the traditional Aramaic pray for the departed, "Magnified and sanctified be the glory of G-D — Yit-ga-dal v' yit-ka-dash…"

As Clark's soulmate listened to the ancient invocation, as it drifted across the hallowed ground of the cemetery, her eyes filled with tears. Then looking skyward, as the lilting cadence of the Kaddish moved the prayer toward its conclusion, Lois murmured, "Samantha, you have your friend back."