A Cosmic Kismet — An Elseworld Tale

By Philip Mogul <phmogul@mindspring.com>

Rated PG-13

Submitted June 7, 2004

Summary: The author explores the mysticism of the soulmate concept and the creation of the incredible Utopian society envisioned by Wells. The effectuation of the Wellian society is fraught with the looming threats of Luthor and Trask on Earth and Nor and reptilian locusts on New Krypton. In tumultuous combat, the Kryptonian family must confront their malevolent foes before a new and astounding world order can be created.

Standard Fanfic Disclaimer's apply

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 phmogul@mindspring.com.


Clark Kent — called CJ by his friends and associates — left Perry White's office with a disconsolate expression on his handsome face. As he strolled toward the exit, he attempted to look a bit more cheery than he felt. However, Clark knew it would be difficult to put on a happy face since his job interview was a flop and he had to pass the desk of that headstrong person, and that rather crass individual, Lois Lane.

As CJ moved toward the building's exit, to his consternation, that rather boorish female, Lois Lane, suddenly appeared and partially blocked his departure route. Clark couldn't tell whether the Lane woman had purposely positioned herself to further Intimidate him. In Kent's view, seeing this woman for the second time within the space of an hour didn't produce any great joy in Clark's psyche. Lois Lane, he was reminded by his inner voice, had interrupted his interview and exasperated Mr. White, the editor-in-chief of the Planet. Clark knew that her unexpected arrival and subsequent disruption of his meeting with the paper's editor was the death-knell of his interview and destroyed any possibility of a job with the large Metropolis daily.

The dissolution of his interview by Lois Lane disrupted the dialogue between Clark and the Planet's editor at a crucial juncture. After her unannounced intrusion a rather- irritated Perry White was forced to contend with a very aggressive woman who seemed to care little for anything or anybody who stood in her way. To halt Lois' babbling attack, an increasingly agitated Perry White introduced Clark to his top reporter. After the rather perfunctory introduction, the Planet's editor in chief forced a cantankerous Lois Lane from his office. As Lois was leaving the chief's inner sanctum, Clark was aware that Lois' interruption had irreparably damaged his rapport with Perry White. His interview at this point, CJ felt, could not be salvaged.

Clark's psychic notions unfortunately came to fruition shortly after Lois' reluctantly departure from Perry's office. Because of the Lois incident, CJ sensed that Perry's interest in him had subtly changed. Within a relatively short period, CJ knew that his gut feelings were correct. As CJ continued to watch Perry, the chief sought to calm himself. During this brief quiet time, Clark reviewed the events of the past several minutes. He noted when the Lane woman invaded the chief's office Perry's interest in him rapidly abated. Lois Lane so aggravated the Planet's editor that after she'd left his presence, Clark had the distinct impression that Perry wanted to be left to his own devices and recover his composure, among other things. Of course that meant first ridding himself of one Mr. Clark Kent, a potential new hire, who currently sat quietly across from him.

As CJ waited for the chief to resume their dialogue, Clark further sensed from the chief's tense body language and other noticeable factors the man's mounting disinterest in the Kent interview. It was all too evident. Perry didn't bother to read Clark's clips and his new story about the Metropolis landmark theater targeted for demolition. Perry also ceased questioning Kent about his qualifications and his other interests and talked aimlessly about some one called Elvis. He didn't even open the special letter of reference from Alan Jacobs — Alan was one of Perry's oldest friends and associates. The Planet's chief became more and more listless and didn't look into Clark's eyes. He stared at the ceiling, then at the floor, while occasionally glancing at the clock. Then, after rambling about that Elvis person for another few minutes, Perry smiled and smoothly inserted his mental stiletto by softly saying, "I'm sorry, son, the Planet is currently on austerity and is not hiring. But, I'll keep your material on file just in case something comes up." As the interview ended, the two men shook hands, and Clark left the chief's office disheartened.

As Clark walked across the Planet's bullpen, he angrily wondered, "What did Lois Lane substitute for her grey matter? Maybe her head was filled with cotton, hay, and rags," he quietly mumbled.

Reviewing the events of the past few minutes, as he moved toward the exit of the Planet building, Clark suddenly realized that it was that Lane woman's words and actions that were the causal agents which together initiated a series of events that shattered Clark's interview and destroyed any possibility of his obtaining a position at the Daily Planet.

Still, ambulating towards the exit, the man from Kansas was jostled from his reverie by a voice that sounded like liquid gold. Looking in the direction of the sound, Clark saw an attractive woman leaning on the railing giving him a fetching smile. As their eyes met, the woman added, "Hi there, gorgeous, my name's Kat. Whatcha doin' tonight? How's about takin' me to supper?"

He thought to himself, "Boy, this woman has an aggressive personality and it appears to be combined with a highly active libido. While Lois' colleague could have been a nice person, for all Clark knew, she was far too pushy for his taste." After a slight pause in their tete-a-tete, CJ replied, "Sorry, Kat, I'll have to take a rain check on your offer. I'm catching a plane this evening. Going to Kansas to visit my folks."

Kat nodded and was about to say something else when Kent's interview despoiler again intervened into his affairs. Her voice now had a sneering quality as she remarked, "Kansas, huh. How could a hack from nowheresville think he could land a position at the Planet? Farm boy, you put your nose where it just doesn't belong. No wonder it's been bent way out of shape. Just a minute," she added, "I'll get you a mirror so you can see just how disfigured your face has become."

Clark turned and located the source of the rather irritating and insulting voice. Making contact with Lois' eyes, he glared at the young woman as his temper began to rise. Although a peacemaker by nature, this inconsiderate female, with apparently no compassion nor kindness for others, had pushed his buttons — the wrong buttons — for apparently no reason at all.

With a subdued fury, Clark said with a smile that did not extend to his eyes, "Ms. Lane, who in hell invited you into my conversation?"

Kat Grant knew that she initially liked Clark Kent for his obvious physical beauty and by the manner in which he carried himself, but when Kent spoke to Lois with that strong and biting tone, she was positive that her original gut feeling about him was correct. This was a real man in her book. Now she admired him more for the words he directed at the bullpen's resident social pariah, Lois Lane. As Kat continued to watch the verbal duel between Lane and Kent, she recalled that this mid-West fellow really didn't know her from Adam, and yet, he treated her with respect — this Kent guy was a first-class person. Kat knew her men and was well aware that this was the kind of hombre you could take home to meet your folks and not get questionable looks — like stares which silently shouted what the hell has the Kat dragged home this time.

Returning to Clark's verbal assault on Lois, Kat heard, "If your comments were worth listening to, lady destroyer, I wouldn't be infuriated by your classless behavior. But, from what I've seen and heard today, your sarcastic comments are not surprising. What you did in Perry White's office and your uncalled for comments just now are not how properly brought up individuals behave towards others. However, your attitude toward others apparently is well suited to your warped social behavior. Lois, you apparently fit a pattern that advocates kicking a dog when it's down and bleeding and then continue to beat on its corpus until it has expired. From what I've seen, top dog journalist, you would fit nicely into that category. You know, I could almost believe that you would do almost anything to maintain or improve your status at the Planet. Am I right, Lois? Is your demeanor on a par with your unfeeling nature and lack of concern for others?"

After a short pause, Clark added, "By the way, my name isn't 'farmboy,' lady viper, it's Kent, Clark Kent. As far as your nowheresville comment is concerned," his voice rising as he added, "I've seen more of this world than Marco Polo and have learned far more about the ways of humankind than I believe you'll ever know let alone see or understand. From my adventures, I've acquired a sympathetic attitude for all people inhabiting our world, and from humankind's heterogeneity I've learned to appreciate the diversity of every living thing on this world. From my parents, I've learned to respect and treat all individuals with courtesy — a precious gift I've come to cherish more over the years. You know something else I've picked up from those hinterland folks you like to 'kick around' with your inhumane talk and snobbish behavior are the following simple, but powerful, notions? What is hateful to them they would never think of inflicting on others. And, Lois, they treat everybody as their neighbors and always try to 'make love, not war.' I wonder how those concepts would fit in with your philosophy of life."

After another slight pause in his subdued tirade, CJ added, "If you really wanted to say something intelligent or appropriate, maybe your addled mind could have added to your nose remark something like, 'If your nose hurts so much maybe we should amputate it on the spot.' That would have been a good aggressive comment. Or being practical," he continued, "You might have asserted, 'poor dear, how can you drink with such a disjointed proboscis?' Being a bit more dramatic you could have remarked, 'Oh dear, from such an experience your nose must be bleeding and flowing like the Red Sea.' Or, 'How come you're not wearing green jeans with your outfit to complete your hack from the sticks uniform?' These, Ms. Lane, could have been some of the comments you possibly would have made if you possessed some knowledge of letters to color your crude remarks. But, wit I'm afraid you do not possess and there are only three letters that are needed to describe you — A.S.S."

"Idiot!" Lois screamed. "How dare you insult me!"

Smiling Clark countered, "Insult you! That would take an artist, and, as you implied, I am a punk, just a poor low- grade reporter from nowheresville not worthy to be hired by such a newspaper as the Planet."

Sneering, Clark added," Just chalk it up to a lack of breeding, Ms. Lane. I'm sure you'll understand that one of my farm-upbringing could not be expected to acquire culture and good manners by working in a pigsty, don't you agree? Or maybe this city is too refined for a second-rater from a backwater hamlet."

Pausing for a moment Clark continued, "If you ever want to publish our little discourse, Ms. great reporter, just call it 'Ravings of Two Barbarians.'"

"What do you mean by that?" Lois spat.

"I'm quite aware," CJ said, "that Clark Kent has been classified by you and the newsroom staff as backward and unrefined, a barbarian by definition. Naturally, you applied this label to me because of my small town and farming upbringing. However, you and your ilk, Lois, are also rather barbaric in your own right. Many journalistic professionals in Metropolis lack compassion, seem to be devoid of caring, and would probably step on a colleague and ignore a competitor knocked down during a news frenzy and who is not capable of helping themselves. Although my depiction of your conduct and that of your associates may be somewhat exaggerated, any amount of such behavior does describe barbaric conduct, wouldn't you agree? And, since I am a majority of one, my original title 'Ravings of Two Barbarians' suits me just fine."

Gazing upon Lois' face, CJ then added, "I guess with your kind of credentials, Ms. Lane, you are regarded as a member in good standing within the Planet family and are a person generally admired by your co-workers. And, it appears that an individual needs your type of accreditation to be hired by this newspaper." Shaking his head, the man from Kansas then lightheartedly remarked, "Maybe, just maybe it was Clark Kent who lucked out today by simply not possessing the right stuff to be employed by this daily."

Staring at Kent, Lois was thunderstruck by the wit of this Kansas swine herder. His thoughts were coming too rapidly for her to marshal her own replies and launch a concerted verbal counter stroke. In frustration she screamed, "Do you know who I am?"

He replied, "Yes, you told me—Lois Lane." After a lull in his tirade, CJ continued, "Whom are you trying to impress? Me? If you think your name has any significance on moi, don't flatter yourself. In fifty years, more or less, even the best of us will be less than a memory. It's one of the follies of humankind to believe that what we accomplish in life will provide us with everlasting notoriety.

"If my rhetoric is aggravating you," he said, "find yourself a wall and bang your head upon it three times and ask for Joe. I'm sure after your experience with the wall's intractability, you'll feel a lot better. The wall can't respond to your angry disposition or hurt feelings."

With that parting remark, Clark Kent smiled and bowed to Kat Grant and took his leave of a flustered Lois Lane and the Daily Planet.

As Clark was leaving Metropolis' most successful newspaper, Lois, seething, retreated to her desk. She was stunned at the tongue-lashing she'd just received. No one, but no one, had ever talked to her in that manner. No one dared, that is, till Kent visited the Planet. When Lois had foolishly caused a confrontation between herself and the farmer's kid, the man from Kansas gave her a mental thrashing she'd remember for the remainder of her life.

After reflecting on her exasperated discourse with Clark Kent, Lois grudgingly admitted that the man from Kansas might have been somewhat justified in his tirade. She knew that she had done Clark a great injustice by interrupting his interview and setting Perry off. "Well," she thought, "I'll probably never see him again, so no apology would ever be necessary." A mea culpa therefore was a moot point. Then shaking her head Lois mused, "Too bad he wouldn't be around. Clark was a gorgeous looking man, and he apparently possessed a fine mind. Finding a man with both notable mental and physical attributes, like Clark, was rare, very rare indeed. Kat had seen his potential almost immediately. Frowning, Lois was quite aware that she hadn't as yet found such traits in the men she dated from time to time. After further thought on the subject, the Planet's top reporter realized that the melding of prominent mental and physical qualities in a single individual was an uncommon occurrence no matter what the gender. Lois hoped that she possessed some of Clark's exceptional attributes."

In her incensed exchange with that Clark Kent, Lois was not always fully aware of what she said. When Lois became furiously angry, she had a tendency to say things that she later regretted. However, Lois was also aware that her verbal exchange with the Kansas farm boy was heavily influenced by her past disastrous liaisons, coupled with insecurities acquired growing-up in a dysfunctional family.

During her tete-a-tete with Kent, Lois also recalled having resorted to chauvinistic remarks to bring her adversary down. To her discredit, most were not ladylike expressions. She was aware that there were instances of rebuttals in which she hurled guttural phases at Kent. To be honest with herself, Lois was not fully conscious of what she had said during her verbal interchange. She was just too frustrated and angry at being verbally plummeted.

Later, Kat informed Lois how she viewed her verbal exchange with Clark Kent. As the verbal confrontation became more heated, Lois was informed that she started to hurl hurtful and despicable comments at her opponent. When the verbal confrontation began to escalate, Lois, using her past relationships to fuel her anger, foolishly added guttural invectives to her verbal rhetoric. In her argument with the man from Kansas, Kat also informed Lois that she began to use foolish male-female invectives that one would expect from the bottom rung of Metropolis' society. She was also told by Kat that Kent never utilized any kind of guttural language during their verbal wrangling.

As one day followed another, Lois' memory of her encounter with Clark Kent would fade. In the meantime, notwithstanding the fresh sting of the confrontation, the Planet's top journalist was again working up to snuff, unaware of the damage she had inadvertently caused to her potential soulmate bond.

When Lois finished another of her stories and LANed it to Perry, she turned toward Kat and saw a woman in a dreamy state. "A penny for your thought," Lois laughing remarked.

Shaking herself from her reverie the gossip columnist replied, "Your tete-a-tete with Clark Kent started my thinking about the direction my life is taking. I have been contemplating, for some time, Lois, the affairs which have affected and influenced my promiscuity over the past few years."

Hearing Kat's comments Lois' senses perked up. It was true confession time, and Lois was all ears. However, when she gazed into Kat's eyes, Lois knew that her brilliant friend was troubled.

Since Lois showed some interest in her serious comments, Kat Grant walked over to Lois' workstation and planted her derriere on her desktop.

After Kat seated herself, she said, "We are both professionals at the top of our game, wouldn't you agree?"

Lois nodded affirmatively.

Continuing her chitchat, Kat added, "While our successes furnish food for our egos, what nurtures our souls? The basic reason I seek paramours each evening," Kat continued, "is not just for the physical pleasure it gives me for a short period. Although I must admit a night at some swank hotel with a hunk is very enjoyable. But, Lois, there will come a time, as it does to all men and women, when our body's biological functions will be altered by time and we will begin to lose those alluring qualities that attract viral men. As the aging process steals a women's alluring qualities, lovers and romantic interludes will become fewer and over time cease altogether."

Looking Lois straight in her eyes Kat added, "I'm deeper in the well than you are, my friend, but at present our life paths are nearly identical. I'm just a bit older and more socially active than you, Lois." Pausing for a moment, the gossip columnist said, "As things currently stand, our life ending scenarios will be very similar — alone, awaiting or maybe even praying for death."

"Think, Lois, if I didn't carouse, what would I do? I'd go home each evening, watch sleazy soaps, read incessantly and occasionally cry into my food. Does that sound like somebody you know? So, my friend, I nightly share a room with a guy that I'll probably never see again. I grant him sexual favors so for a moment in time I won't be alone. During each intimate encounter, I will be held and fondled and fantasize that I'm loved. I know that the sensations are just physical, but they allow me to believe that I'm being cherished by a loving life partner, a person I've searched for incessantly, but never found. Someday, and that some day will come, I will just go home and stare at the four walls of my apartment and be alone. Then I'll cry myself to sleep realizing that the parade has finally passed me by. And, in time — Kat swept her arm in an arc around the newsroom — this also will end. Except for a few friends who will occasionally drop by, I will essentially join the 'out of sight out of mind crowd.' As my body becomes more and more infirm, there will be nobody around to sooth my hurts and all too soon I'll be praying for release from my mortal coils. And when death finally arrives, as it does to all who live, no one will be there to hold my hand as I pass from this life nor mourn for me after I'm gone."

After a slight pause, Kat continued her remarks saying, "Lois, for the last few years I've been frantically searching for a life companion. We are not meant to be alone on our journey through life." Seeing Lois' surprised reaction, Kat commented further, "Don't worry. I won't marry someone that I couldn't love. But my friend, I pray that a decent man will come into my life. One who would cherish me and be the father of our children. You know what I'm referring to. Kids, Lois, those little 'munchkins' you've often told me are annoying little pests. But for a while now, Lois, I've been thinking of them as an extension of myself and my mate — children who will reach a time that my husband and I won't live to see. Children, I'm beginning to suspect, are the hope of humankind. Hopefully my kids, if my spouse and I can conceive, will make a useful contribution to this tired old world of ours. If we are successful nurturers, Lois, I feel we will be remembered and blessed."

After taking a sip of coffee, Kat resumed her discourse saying, "We live in a world of two's, Lois. I see a magnificent design in that truth. It also appears to me, my friend, that the older one gets the more important a relationship of this kind seems to become."

Rising, Kat stated, "My biological clock is ticking loudly and I'm finally listening to its clear unambiguous rhythmic message. Do the same Lois, my friend. Discover your true needs before it's too late. You are a warm hearted and a caring person. You've hidden the true Lane personality behind skillfully erected emotional barriers. Let the walls of Jericho fall, my friend, and allow people to see the real you. If you don't, my poker-faced and amusing amiga, Lois Lane will dream alone throughout her entire trek through life."

When Kat became silent Lois asked, "What brought on your philosophical outburst?"

Smiling Kat replied, "I was thinking about Clark Kent. He struck me as the man that's our kind of guy." Shaking her head, Kat Grant said in a melancholy tone, "I think that you, chum, with your impetuous temperament, might have just pushed Mr. Right out of your life or quite possibly my own."

Then, patting Lois on her hand, Kat headed for the coffee machine to tank up on caffeine.

As Lois watched Kat stroll off, the Planet's ace reporter began to reflect upon her colleague's thoughts. "It is amazing," Lois mused, "that the paper's sexy gossip columnist should comment about a permanent relationship that is very similar to my own views on that subject." As Kat was enjoying her beverage, Lois' mind again wandered to thoughts of Clark Kent. If she were looking for an equal — a true life partner — his profile would definitely fit the kind of man she envisioned for a life companion. Although she had only seen Clark Kent briefly, and most of it in the midst of a heated conversation, she felt that there was an aura about him that seemed to draw her to him.

Lois was suddenly nudged from her reverie when Perry placed his hand on her shoulder. When she looked at him, he remarked, "Darlin', are you okay? That was a rather unpleasant intellectual drubbing Kent gave you."

Smiling, she replied, "It was a piece of cake, chief. I'm okay, but thanks for asking."

"You know," Perry drawled, "Kent was right about one thing."

"What's that?" she inquired.

"I didn't give him a fair shake at the interview. It was partly your fault, Lois, because of your confounded impatience. Secondly, I was not focused during his interview. That darn budget was on my mind. The 'suits' want me to cut expenses. Being on the horns of a dilemma, so to speak, it lured my mind away from Kent's interview. While Clark was talking, I was thinking of ways to divide the monetary pie equitably among the staff. As I tossed the problem around in my head, Kent became an unwanted factor instead of a person in search of a job. G-D knows we need good reporters. Most of the competent newspaper people are opting for the electronic media. That's where they can cash in — big bucks there. And, we are being left with the dregs." Realizing how his last remark could be interpreted Perry quickly said, "Don't take that comment personally."

Lois laughed and replied, "I won't if you give me a raise." Then they both started to laugh.

As Perry turned to trudge back to his office, he murmured to Lois in a more serious tone, "I got a bad feeling about Kent. My gut keeps telling me that I made a horrible mistake by rejecting that Kent fellow."

Lois chimed in, "That's just a feeling, chief."

"Unfortunately darlin'," Perry replied, "those gut feelings of mine are usually good indicators and I ignore them at my peril."

After a short pause the chief added, "I've just had a chance to peruse a rough draft Kent's theater article. While it needs some polish, it was a rather good piece of journalism — a very good story indeed. From his copy, I'd be willing to bet that he'll be a fine journalist someday soon, one as good as you, Lois. You know," Perry continued, "Clark's style and yours would have dovetailed nicely. When I carefully read his story, my instinct told me that in time you two could have become the most celebrated reporting duo of the century." Shaking his head Perry sighed, and remarked, "Because I was distracted by other business considerations that were dumped in my lap by the suits and your impatience, my gal, it may be that we'll never know the answer to my musing. Our combined improprieties unfortunately coalesced at the wrong time. The result certainly hurt Clark Kent and might have done an inordinate disservice to this paper and maybe the entire journalistic community."

"By the bye," Perry continued, "did you happen to notice that when you rushed into my office that Kent stood and offered you his hand? Of course, in your haste and over eagerness, you probably ignored or overlooked his greeting. His gesture spoke volumes. It told me a lot about his upbringing and character. By that simple, but elegant act, Clark Kent showed me breeding. That kind of class is acquired at your parents' knee when you're a tot and once learned is used over and over throughout life always marking you as a special person. You don't see that much anymore. Today people are shoving each other around instead of treating one another with dignity and consideration."

As Perry again tried to make his way towards his office, Jimmy Olsen yelled, "Chief, I found an envelope on the floor. It's addressed to you." He briskly hoofed over to Perry and handed him the mailer. Except for the name on the envelope, the letter wasn't fully addressed. However, Perry recognized the signature scrawled across the back of the item that Jimmy found. The letter was from his old friend and colleague, Alan Jacobs.

Hastily opening the envelope, Perry started to read the contents with gusto. As he pored over Alan's note, his eyes narrowed and his face became taut. Then he uttered an expletive, "Damn." A few seconds later he repeated the expletive several times — "Damn, damn, damn." Each time he articulated the word his tone became louder and more emphatic. Finishing Alan's letter, Perry scooted into his office, closed the door, and picked up the phone.

Lois was perplexed because just before the chief left she heard him mumble, "I knew it. I knew it. Sometimes I believe my gut instinct is an infallible extension of my psyche."


When CJ left the Planet he walked briskly to the city limits where he searched for a secluded spot. Locating a relatively isolated alley, he entered the narrow passageway and began to spin like a whirling Dervish. As his body gyrated, Clark Kent changed from his normal attire into a black suit with a small insignia — the El crest — on the upper left side of his garment. After a momentary pause, the man from Krypton streaked skyward leaving a rush of air and a sonic bomb in his wake.

When Clark reached near space, he halted his dash for altitude and just floated between the Earth and the distant stars.

Within a few minutes, CJ began to relax and he started to think about his future. Suddenly, he was aware of an unfamiliar aura. From this new source of pulsating energy, Clark knew that another Kryptonian had to be in the vicinity. How could that be, his inner voice demanded? As far as CJ could recall from his studies, he was the only survivor of the Kryptonian catastrophe. Nevertheless…

Searching the area, Clark detected another individual hovering in the air, approximately a hundred meters distance from his current position. As they gazed at each other, Clark felt a presence in his mind. After a few moments a voice resonating in his head said, "Hi, my name is Dar-El. In English people know me as Daren Miller. To communicate mentally with me, form words in your head and push them in my direction."

Clark did as he was instructed saying, "My Kryptonian name is Kal-El. In English I'm called Clark Kent, Clark Jerome Kent to be more specific." After a slight pause Clark asked, "How are we communicating?"

Dar-El replied, "By matter waves generated within our cerebrum. When these energy oscillations are composed, they are transferred telepathically to the mind of another person and converted to images."

"Can humans learn to communicate in this manner?" Clark inquired.

Dar-El, who had now moved to within several meters of CJ, nodded his head affirmatively. The newcomer then added, "When humans fully understand the paranormal, they'll be able to create and project mental messages between one another as Kryptonians are capable of doing."

Then Clark's new acquaintance indicated that they should seek an isolated island and continue their conversation by conventional means. CJ learned from Dar-El that extended use of telepathic abilities tended to exhaust one's energy reserves at an undesirable rate. Mind to mind communication was generally used for a quick communique, usually in emergency situations.

As dusk approached, two blips suddenly materialized on RADAR screens throughout Earth's South Pacific region. The display terminals disclosed two unknown objects streaking at near light speed moving in a Westerly direction — destination unknown.

Because of Clark and Daren's RADAR presence, combat information centers — CIC's for short — throughout the world went to battle alert and war boards in command and control bunkers lit up like Christmas trees.

Arriving at their destination, the two Kryptonians found a secluded island and made themselves comfortable.

Dar-El was well aware that Kal-El was anxious for information, so he said to his new acquaintance immediately upon arriving at their destination, "Be patient for a little while longer and I'll tell you what you want to know." Clark nodded and waited.

Closing his eyes for a moment Daren said, "Your parents, Jor-El and Lara, were the preeminent scientists on Krypton prior to our home world's destruction."

Before Dar-El could continue, Clark interrupted him and said, "Dar-El, although Jor-El and Lara were my natural parents they did not raise me and therefore shouldn't be called my parents. Maybe a more proper term would be my biological providers," Clark added. CJ then told Dar-El that while he would always honor Lara and Jor-El's memory and be grateful to them for preserving his life, he would always consider Martha and Jonathan Kent of Smallville, Kansas to be his parents.

After a brief pause, Clark continued, "I want you to understand why I feel that Martha and Jonathan Kent are my parents." Taking a breath, Clark then remarked, "I believe that parents are those brave individuals who raise children, but may not be the individuals responsible for the child's conception. Jonathan and Martha Kent are those kind of people. They nurtured and loved me without any thought of their own wellbeing. There were many options at their disposal, but they decided without any qualms to give an orphan from G-D knows where a home. In making that choice, the Kents placed themselves in a constant state of uncertainty and suffered the psychological pain that accompanied their decision. Also, my new friend, because of their decision to give me a home, the Kents have lived with constant fear from the time I came into their lives to the present. Their love for me is unbounded as mine is for them. They truly are my mother and my father."

Dar-El placed his hand on CJ's shoulder and said, "I understand and accept your reasons without any qualifications."

Then rephrasing his thoughts Dar-El reiterated, "Your genetic providers were very gifted scientists. However, their warning about the coming destruction of Krypton was not heeded by the political establishment. It's analogous to the gradual global climate changes that the people of this planet must soon face or suffer the catastrophic consequences of their inaction.

"Fortunately for the people of Krypton, about a thousand years ago a planetary system was located within the Milky Way galaxy which possessed a planet that was conducive to our kind of life. Our ancestors also discovered a stable dual wormhole configuration that connected Krypton to this new solar system in the Milky Way galaxy. This unusual wormhole framework allowed Kryptonians, if they wished, to visit this new star system and provided them the means of returning to their mother world. In time a single planet in the new solar system was colonized by some of our more adventurous people who called their new home NK, or New Krypton, in honor of the mother world. When the planetary disaster occurred, which destroyed Krypton, it killed the entire population on the planet's surface. By some miracle about seventy-five thousand people managed to escape moments before the disaster engulfed the Planet. These survivors, as you surmise, traveled to New Krypton. You should know, Clark that New Krypton is often referred to by the initials 'NK' by those currently living there.

"Over the years, the population on NK has steadily increased and is now approaching a hundred thousand souls — a borderline genetic viable community.

"When I was forced to flee NK, the fabric of its society was already in disarray and rapidly approaching a chaotic situation. The social order of my home world began to deteriorate about five years ago, just prior to my leaving for Earth.

"To be more specific, the chaos began soon after Lady Zara, the current leader of New Krypton, and her consort, Lord Ching, were presented with fraternal twins — a boy they called Lar-El, and a girl they named Kara. After the birth of their children, Lord Nor wanted his infant son, Ragnor, to become betrothed to Kara. He said that he had the right to demand such a union because of his royal ancestry. Nor argued that he and his son were also heirs to the royal lineage through a past marriage between their houses — El and Nor.

"I know the engagement and marriage of infants may appear somewhat bizarre to you, Clark, but hear me out. In the past, to maintain stability among the noble houses, alliances were made between Kryptonian families through the betrothal of their children. In that way, the most illustrious houses can maintain their bloodlines and their political strength that are the main factor which guaranties stability of the New Krypton population at large. My home world is governed by a system that is akin to Earth's constitutional monarchies. While this betrothal policy did strengthen ties among the so called royal families and maintain social stability, the down side of this marital scheme fostered infidelity and nearly corrupted the mores of the current New Kryptonian civilization, which caused civil unrest and almost precipitated a planet wide conflict.

"Because of this crisis, child betrothal practices were abandoned to preserve the stability of our civilization. However, the statute was never officially repealed. Now, after many centuries of non use, Nor is attempting to reactivate this statute. He is putting pressure on the council by causing legal assassinations among the more prominent families on the planet. Nor has masterfully orchestrated these killings by using a group of outcast warriors as his political killing instruments. If it could be proved that Nor was supporting and directing these reprobate warriors, he, of course, would be tried and executed for high treason. To date no such evidence has been uncovered.

"About four years ago I was targeted for execution by Nor by one of his so called legal execution gangs. Unfortunately, Lord Nor was unaware of my military preeminence and I dispatched three of his assassins when these killers cleverly provoked a public incident. Their challenge was based on some trumped up pretense. To maintain my honor, I was forced to fight them. Their public charge was necessary to certify that my death was legitimate in the eyes of the judiciary. Although I survived Nor's legal death legion, my immediate family was decimated by a band of so-called roving marauders. While the government lacks proof, it is a known fact that these marauding bands are supported by the Nor clan and do its bidding when ordered.

"My parents' home was invaded by what the authorities here on Earth would call brigands. I believe, as do Zara and Ching, that the attackers were simply Nor's military surrogates. In the raid my entire family was slaughtered — mother, father, siblings and servants. There were no witnesses." As he told Clark of his family's downfall, the man from Kansas saw Dar-El wipe the tears from his face now streaming uncontrollably from his eyes.

"Nor, through his surrogates, was sending a message that was as loud as it was clear. Give me what I want or else. I was fortunate that because of a dinner engagement I was attending with Zara and Ching that evening, I lived. So, Clark I survived my family's fate. My friend, I'm the last of my house."

"Realizing that I was marked for death," Dar-El added, "the Sela and Ching trusted me with a secret only Zara and her consort knew until, of course, I was informed.

"They possessed an interstellar spaceship. It was a duplicate of your biological parents' original design. Furthermore, Zara and Ching also knew Earth's galactic address.

"To blunt any more of Nor's attempts on my life, my death was also announced with the news of my family's demise.

"Using the commotion, which followed my immediate family's annihilation, as a screen, Zara and Ching whisked me to a space port hidden deep within New Krypton's only moon.

"Since I couldn't deprive Zara and Ching of their only means of escape from Nor's clutches, if such a situation became necessary, I duplicated their interstellar spacecraft. It took me nearly a year to accomplish this task. My ship is currently in a parking orbit on the far side of Mars."

Then Clark raised his hand and said, "Dar-El, you'll have to tell me the rest later. I'm late for dinner, already. If I don't show up, my parents will become apprehensive. I know it's foolish for them to worry because of my super abilities, but that's parents for you. Sometimes I think parents always worry about their kids, even from the grave.

"Hey," Clark suddenly said to his new friend, "why don't you come with me to Smallville? You'll meet some really nice folks and get a home cooked meal in the bargain. My mom's one heck of a super chef," Clark proudly boasted.

After a slight pause, Dar-El said, "Give me a sec." Daren then closed his eyes and concentrated deeply for a few moments. Opening his eyes he smiled at Clark and said, "Okay, let's go. My wife has to work late this evening. We've postponed our dinner at Angelina's until tomorrow evening." Grinning he said, "Let's go meet your parents and chow down."

A short time later, two super beings landed near a farmstead in the western part of Kansas. When Clark and his friend reached the farmhouse, Martha and Jonathan ran to Clark and hugged him and then greeted his Kryptonian guest — the Kents had seen both men descend from the sky, which meant that there were now a least two supermen living on Earth.

During dinner Daren told the elder Kents about New Krypton and his odyssey. When he'd finished, Jonathan remarked, "Wow, that's some tale, son." Clark's father then added, "Dar-El, Martha and I want to thank you for the information about our boy's origins and his natural parents."

When dinner was over the foursome adjourned to the living room and made themselves comfortable. Then, Clark said, "Tell me more about your soulmate, Dar-El."

"Where did you learn about the soulmate concept?" Dar-El asked his new friend and spiritual brother. The exiled New Kryptonian was somewhat surprised that Clark had any knowledge of Kryptonian culture.

CJ then added, "I learned many Kryptonian concepts from my 'AI' unit."

After a short pause, Daren asked, "What's an AI unit?"

Smiling, Clark replied, "It's the nickname I've given the artificial intelligence system which manages my electronic library, a athenaeum which was sent with me from our people's home world, Krypton."

"In the name of the seven goddesses of goolo," Dar-El declared, "you actually have a complete Kryptonian library system at your disposal!"

Clark nodded affirmatively.

CJ's new Kryptonian brother then looked skyward and softly said, "Oh thank you, Creator of all things, for this wonderful gift." Grasping Clark by the shoulders, Dar-El asked, "Can you duplicate your library module?"

Clark again nodded affirmatively.

"Can you duplicate one for me and my wife this evening?" Daren excitedly enquired.

Smiling Clark said, "Of course." Then Clark inquired, "Why would you need your own library?"

"To enlighten my wife and for our expected children's education," Daren responded.

"Children?" Clark said taken aback.

"Yes," Dar-El replied. "In six months I'll be a daddy."

Martha jumped up and hugged Clark's new friend, and with tears of joy streaming down her face, she quietly whispered, "Congratulations."

Jonathan and Clark together slapped Dar-El on the back as Jonathan also commented, "May your children be healthy and wise."

"How come you didn't include wealthy in your congratulations?" Martha asked her husband.

Jonathan Kent replied, "If you have good health, Martha, then one is wealthy beyond all reckoning."

"Of course," she said, giving her husband a hug for his understanding of what constituted the essence of a good life.

Before Dar-El could continue his questions, Martha inquired, "Could you explain the concept of a soulmate?"

Scratching his head Dar replied, "I hope I can answer your inquiry intelligently."

After a brief pause, Dar said, "It's believed by ancient Krypton's spiritual philosophers that there exists a place somewhere beyond time and space where all life-giving forces reside — this place is known by some as the well of souls. When not inhabiting a life form, the soul essences can always be found in this special place. As a rule, these essences exist in pairs. From this philosophical presumption the soulmate hypothesis came into existence. When one of the soul pairs enters what we call the realm of life, the other soul joins its partner in the same life dimension. In the Kryptonian view, therefore, the term soulmate represents two halves of a whole — a male and a female form. Their combined spirits define a completeness, a whole greater than their individualities."

Taking a breath, Dar-El continued, "Sometime during their lives the two halves find each other and complete themselves by marrying. At death they return to the well of souls to await another resurrection. It is presumed that soulmates will continually be born and complete their life cycles again and again throughout all eternity. When our current universe ends our spiritual philosophers believe that the souls will remain safe in their place of refuge and will be ready to provide the seeds of life when a new universe has been created from the ashes of the old.

"Simply put," Dar said, "when two people find their true lover and marry, we Kryptonians say that a soulmate pair has found one another and reestablished their forever bond."

In his conversation with the Kent family, Dar-El also told them, "Our spiritual mentors reasoned that when a soulmate was not located by its partner or was rejected by its other half, then each part was doomed to make a solitary trek through life's highways and byways. I don't wish to infer that the two disjointed soulmates would not marry. They could choose to form a union with a non soulmate entity. However, if such a union occurred, we have strong evidence that there would be a high probability of spiritual and sensual failure in such a union."

After a moment of quiet, Dar-El remarked, "I hope my thoughts answered, at least partly, the concept of a soulmate. While I don't fully understand the entire concept myself, I can state unequivocally that the soulmate ideas, as they apply to our species, appear to be valid."

"What happens when two soulmates don't connect during life and return to the well of souls?" Clark asked.

"Our philosophers believe that once the disjointed soulmates return to the Well of Souls they will resolve their difficulties and reestablish their union. This will result in a stronger aura, which is the quintessence of the bond that links their vital essences.

"Before our conversation becomes any more muddled," Dar-El chortled, "let me place a couple of things about my life into perspective." Pausing for a second he said, "My wife, the former Linda Fox, and I were married nearly a year ago. We both work for the Metropolis Star. I know your feeling about Star's product, Clark, and I wholeheartedly agree with most of your views. The editors of the Star tend to encourage a near tabloid oriented story base, especially in their newspaper's feature articles.

"Linda is one of the few staff reporters with any stature. She provides the paper with some credibility and has earned several Kerths over the years. Only Lois Lane has been accorded more honors than my soulmate. Currently, I'm the editor of what is known as the Meteorological — Environmental desk. Science, Clark, is my bag. I earned a Tan Alpha on NK, which is equivalent to your doctoral degree. While the natural sciences are my bailiwick, I specialized in theoretical modeling on molecular systems and on my practical side do some engineering design."

When Dar finished speaking, Martha asked, "What's your wife's due date?"

Dar-El smiled and replied, "Our children are expected early in March."

Clark heard Martha gasp as she quietly said, "Children? How many young ones do you expect?"

"Five," he replied. When Clark heard Dar's response, he flopped on the sofa, stunned and just stared at his friend.

Shaking his head Jonathan just murmured, "Oh Lord."

After Clark recovered his composure, he murmured, "Why so many?"

Hearing Clark's question, Dar replied, "My thoughts on this subject have led me to believe that our Kryptonian genomes and the radiation from old Sol have produced this syndrome — a multiple birth condition. I believe that the same kind of radiation that has given you and me our unique super abilities has also affected our reproductive systems. I don't believe that Linda and I will ever conceive just a single offspring. If we do, it will probably be a rarity. Multiple births between Terrans and Kryptonians may turn out to be the norm."

Smiling at Clark's amazed expression, Dar added, "Don't worry about Linda's health. The hormones and enzymes from the fetuses seem to protect her as well as themselves. The other day I watched her levitate as she worked in the kitchen. She has even developed invulnerability and generally appears to be as healthy as fat squirrels in winter."

"Do you know the gender of the children?" Martha queried Daren.

He replied, "Three girls and two boys." Then shaking his head, Dar remarked, "Even with our super capabilities, I feel that our brood will keep my wife and me incredibly busy around the clock."

Taking a sip of tea that Martha prepared, Dar added, "We've tentatively worked out a program to get our kids raised properly. For two months after Linda gives birth, we'll both stay at home with our offspring and be our mutual support system. During this time hopefully we'll bond into a strong and loving family unit. At the end of this period, I'll return to work and Linda will continue to remain at home with the kids. It will give her more time to breastfeed them and provide them with the stroking and physical attention that infants seem to crave. After two months at work, I'll become the househusband and she'll return to the paper. During my watch, Linda will mechanically extract her lactating fluid and refrigerate it in traditional baby bottles. I'll use her breast milk to feed the kids as I form a stronger bond with our progeny. When my time at home ends, our children should be ready to be weaned.

"When Linda and I have returned to the Star, our kids will be placed in the paper's day care facility. Being at the day care center will provide Linda and me opportunities to visit them and continue our special nurturing program. It will also give us a sense of wellbeing knowing that our kids are close by. Later in our children's lives some of their behavior patterns may cause us some difficulties. Those special Kryptonian genes you and I carry, Clark, are dominant reproductive factors. Linda and I are aware that a super genome will be inherited by each of our offspring. When their special abilities begin to manifest themselves, we'll have to be 'super careful' so to speak. As yet, we haven't really thought about that phase of our children's maturation."

Before Dar could utter another word, Martha chimed in, "Tell Linda I'll be there to help you both when the babies arrive."

Dar-El was startled by Martha's offer and said, "Ms. Kent, Linda and I both wish to thank you for your offer, but such a dislocation could cause you, Jonathan, and Kal many inconveniences by continually flying between the farm and our home in Metropolis. I have a strong suspicion," Dar added, "your offer, Martha, would upset the farming schedule and interfere with your livelihood."

Martha shook her head and with a subtle smile said, "There would be no problem in traveling between the farm and Metropolis." After a slight pause she quietly told Dar, "Some years back Clark developed what we call TD's — teleportation doors. He created them to minimize detection by the many Earth's RADAR installations. When he flies without his cloaking device, RADAR instruments throughout the world can track his movements. So my boy created the TD's — a transportation network. With the TD's, he doesn't have to make long flights. Once a TD portal has been established at a particular location, he or anyone else can flit almost instantaneously to the new position or to any other teleportation portal on the planet. So, if it's okay with you and Linda, Jonathan and I will be able to help raise your children without too much trouble. We'll come for a few hours, when needed, and then return home in time to do our chores. As you said, in time your kids will develop their special abilities. When that time arrives, you certainly won't want them in a normal day care facility. Our farm is a relatively isolated place and will provide you and your progeny at least one option to your super duper problem. By using Clark's TD's, you could bring your children here for their schooling and physical activity. Using the same system, they could be home soon after you and Linda return from work.

"Anyway," Martha further commented, "Clark's involvement in helping raise your kids will provide him with invaluable experience for the future. It will help him be a more experienced nurturing individual when the time comes."

"That's wishful thinking, Mom," Clark chimed in.

"No, son," she replied. "I'm praying for you to find a loving life partner, or as Daren put it, a soulmate."

After hearing Martha's ideas, Dar said, "Kal-El, I was unaware that you have scientific interests."

"Yeah," Clark replied, "I earned my undergraduate degree in physics at Yale — with the appropriate supporting minors.

"As an undergraduate at Yale, Dar," Clark told him, "I took a number of courses in creative writing, mostly in the journalism department. I also earned am advanced degree in journalistic studies at Metropolis University. You," Dar- El, "are looking at a strange bird. I am enamored with both journalism and science. Using my super abilities," Clark added, "I'm able to contribute to both disciplines. However, recently, my journalistic output has been significantly reduced. No job, just freelancing a bit."

Returning to the subject of his post high school education, Clark added, "When I left Yale, I matriculated at the California Institute of Technology. There, I earned a doctorate in physics with minor studies in chemical engineering and mathematics. My Doctoral thesis was a theoretical study of subatomic particles and how they affect the states of matter. I guess you would classify me mostly as a theoretician — a dreamer in a strange world.

"When I left graduate school," Clark added, "I was a research fellow for a year in a nuclear program run by Harvard and CERN.

"You, of course, are aware, Dar, that my undergraduate and graduate studies were only acquired to procure professional credentials. Accreditations I would need to move freely within Earth's science and journalistic communities. My AI unit had already educated me in all the Kryptonian arts and sciences, which as you know, are many, many millennia in advance of their Earth counterparts.

"As I was completing my formal academic studies," Clark continued, "LexCorp contacted me. At the interview, I was very impressed with their research facilities and their perks, which tempted me to accept their offer right off. However, two items plagued me. One, I wanted to do some journalistic freelancing and second, there was a little voice coursing through my head whispering caution, caution. LexCorp's interviewers seemed to be painting a much too rosy picture of the corporation's attributes and what it could do for me and my career.

"As the LexCorp people euphorically droned on and on about the virtues of their facilities, their incessant rhetoric increasingly elevated my uneasiness about their corporation. Then it hit me why I was becoming apprehensive about LexCorp. The interviewer's jargon began to sound like a fairy tale. While I was being bombarded by the increasing gibberish being spewed from the LexCorp people, I suddenly recalled one of my father's jingles — All that glitters are not necessarily golden; proceed with prudence at your peril.

"After my interviewing ordeal ended, I went to supper alone and thought over what I had seen and heard. For some reason, I concluded that what LexCorp offered to me at the interview didn't ring true.

"That evening, the city was overcast so it gave me the opportunity to hover over LexTowers and listen to a conversation between Luthor and two of his lieutenants. What I overheard made me ill.

"After Listening to Lex and his cronies discuss me as though I were a piece of meat and how one Clark Kent was to be manipulated, I could never work for such a corporation, especially one controlled by a man named Luthor. Lex plays with power as a musician reads a bar of music and doesn't care whom he injures to get what he wants.

"Unlike the musician, however, who dispenses beauty through sound, I believe that Luthor liked to manipulate people to purposely hurt them. I discovered that he would even go so far as to snuff out their lives. As Luthor and his associates continued to talk, I obtained knowledge of his horrific schemes. From that moment on Lex Luthor represented, to me at least, the personification of evil — he was Lucifer's number one boy. As I continued to listen, it became apparent that Luthor was a megalomaniac. He craved power for the sake of control. The lives of people meant nothing to him. No one mattered except Lex Luthor and his desires. I strongly suspect that he enjoyed destroying life and inflicting pain upon the individuals he controlled and those he could not influence.

"After my nightly excursion over LexTowers, I told the management at LexCorp that I would require several days to consider their offer and make my decision. Then I return to Kansas and informed my folks what had transpired.

"A week later I sent the LexCorp executives a politely worded letter refusing their offer of employment.

"What I hadn't realized was that Luthor wanted the use of my talents at any price. Lex reasoned that my scientific ability could further expand his power base and increase his control over the world financial markets. So I was subtly blackballed by LexCorp. All attempts to secure a position with other firms or academic institutions met with failure. From that time to now, Dar, I've never been invited to interview for any other positions in my field. In short, I couldn't find a job with the scientific community.

"Luthor's strategy was to leave me no alternative than to accept LexCorp's offer of employment. He was doing so by attempting to destroy my support base and self esteem.

"So, I flew to Mars and mined nearly one hundred and six billion dollars in precious materials from that planet's huge reservoir of mineral wealth. The monies I received for these commodities were placed in a special Swiss bank account. When this was accomplished, I utilized most of the Mar's capital to finance a nonprofit corporation, which I named The Lara and Jorel Foundation — LJF for short. A portion of the foundation's benefits was then used to create two other monetary accounts — one for me and another for my parents."

"After the Swiss accounts were established," Clark told Dar, "I was content. My parents' and my own financial future were secure.

"Returning to the farm, I constructed a hidden laboratory beneath my parents' barn. During the next year or so the TD transportation system was created. Its technology is based upon my natural parents' String Theory hypothesis. From the information I gleaned from the AI unit, I developed an indestructible metallic like substance and created two extremely powerful weapon systems. The indestructible material I created was from a substance known to science as stabilized neutronium — SN for short. I used this material to construct several interstellar spacecrafts, which I've already utilized to explore the cosmos within about a hundred light years of Sol Three.

"With the monies acquired from my Mar's adventure," CJ told his friend, "I've purchased modest homes in strategic locations throughout the world. In each dwelling, I've installed a TD portal. In this way, Dar, I could travel essentially around the world without worrying about being detected and tracked by RADAR or other surveillance devices.

"In the past few months, I've incorporated these weapon systems into my interstellar space vessels. This joining will provide the spacecraft with both offensive and defensive capabilities."

"Tell me about your new weapons systems," Dar asked Kal-El.

After a momentary pause, Clark asked, "Do you really want to know about their potential for death and destruction?"

"Yeah, I do," Dar replied.

Pausing for a second or two, Clark said, "Okay, I'll fill you in."

"The pulsing weapon system produces a disintegrating energy oscillations similar to high powered LASER emissions that will rend any material reducing the targeted objects to their molecular components. This weapon is a relatively short range device, up to a ten thousand kilometers range and is limited to annihilating relatively small areas. I guess you can say it's analogous to a handgun. I estimate, Dar, that the beam emitted by this disintegrating weapon will engulf around three square meters — about the size of a large motor car."

"The second weapon I labeled the continuum disrupter. It removes its target — any form of matter — from our universe and thrusts it to null dimension where it ceases to exist. Its range is extensive. Both systems were developed to defend Earth. To be honest," Clark remarked, "I would think long and hard about using the continuum disrupter. If the disrupter device were not properly handled, it has the potential to destroy our universe. When I tested it some years back," Clark added, "I also observed an undesirable side effect — a space quake. Depending on the power emitted by this weapon, the disturbance upon the void would vary. A moderate blast could move entire star systems several light years from their original positions. If this weapon were used for a prolonged period — as it might in a major space engagement — there is high possibility that star clusters could be hurled into one another maybe destroying planetary systems and any life they may harbor.

"Besides my weapons systems, I've developed a stealth device which can cloak objects making them undetectable to the eye or any other kind of surveillance mechanism. I've attached these cloaking implements to the reconnaissance platforms I've scattered throughout the galaxy. These reconnaissance stations are our sentinels and will alert me when an alien spacecraft or an invasion armada moves through the Milky Way.

"When I completed these space projects, it was then that I enrolled in the two semester Journalism School program leading to a Master's degree at Columbia University. There, I met Alan Jacobs and over the ensuing year we became very close friends — I believe, like us Dar, Alan and I also became spiritual brothers.

"At the end of my journalism studies, I was awarded a Master's degree with distinction and was offered an editorial position by Alan Jacobs at the Singapore bureau of the Daily Planet. I accepted and was off to Asia as an associate editor working with my buddy Alan.

"It was now time to build a career and to begin my battle against evil, with Lex Luthor as my 'numero uno' target."

Clark then told Daren that while working in Asia, he used the pseudonym Kal Ellis as his byline in articles which directly attacked LexCorp and its subsidiaries: LexMining, for example, was a strip mining venture, which consumed the environment as if they were pursuing a scorched earth policy dictated by military logistics; then we had LexGen, a genetic research organization that was killing thousands of primitive people in the subsidiary's rush to develop new vaccines; LexOrphan masquerade as a charitable institution, but was nothing more than a slave bazaar which supplied brothels with a continuing supply of young women and was also a bargain-basement labor force for sweat shops throughout the world.

As the corrupt LexCorp's subsidiaries started to fail, Luthor, in a panic, started to hunt for his nemesis, the reporter Kal Ellis. He figured if he could eliminate this journalist's investigations, not only would his large economic losses cease, but also his tarnished social image could be salvaged, and Mr. Evil could avoid prison. Prison, Lex knew was almost a certainty if Kal Ellis were allowed to continue his probes into the working practices of LexCorp and its subsidiaries.

With each expose, Clark, using the Kal Ellis byline, was getting closer to ending the depraved career of Lex Luthor and cleansing the world of his sordid stench.

For now, many of Lex's handpicked C.E.O's had taken a fall for Luthor, but sooner or later Lex would slip and as Clark said innumerable times to Alan, "I'll be there to slam the prison gates shut on the devil's disciple."

"It is essential," Clark added "that Luthor must be removed from the company of decent folk. He is a sick dog running amuck hurting decent folk."

"Yet, Dar," Clark remarked, "I've only been able to tarnish Lex's image with my exposes, and help place some of his henchman in the calaboose. My actions, I'm afraid, have just scratched the surface of Lex's evil activities. Although they've tended to make people more wary of him and his schemes, desperate organizations still seek him out for his philanthropic contributions. These handouts have allowed Lex to use his charitable donations as stratagems to launder some of his ill-gotten monetary gains."

At that moment the phone rang. Martha quickly answered its summons and a moment later said, "Clark, it's for you."

Taking the phone CJ heard the familiar voice of Alan Jacobs. After a few minutes of long distance jabber between the two friends, Clark returned to the living room and informed everyone, "Alan wants me to return to Singapore posthaste. I accepted his offer with the proviso that I'd be allowed time to work on some of my Kal Ellis articles in and around Metropolis from time to time." Looking at his folks and Dar, CJ told them, "Alan agreed to my terms, so off to Asia for me." Adding some comments, Clark said, "Things in the Singapore area seem to be happening in rather unexpectedly patterns and in rapid succession. Alan indicated he needed my help the day before yesterday." Gazing at the night sky, Clark murmured, "My brother sounds desperate."

After a pause, Clark remarked, "I've been talking too much. However, before I go," Clark said, "Dar, there's something I need to show you." Beckoning to his friend, they entered a TD portal that whisked them to the ternary Centauri star cluster some four light years from Sol Three.

When they arrived at their destination, Dar-El realized that he and Clark were on a platform hovering in the void surrounded by three stars: Alpha a, Alpha b, and Proxima Centuri. As Clark showed the refugee from NK around the space station's living quarters area, Dar-El spied another structure attached to the residential area of the space platform. Clark told his friend that what he was seeing was Sanctuary's energy source, and it was housed in a stabilized neutronium structure — a nearly indestructible material. Dar also became aware that there were nine spacecraft berthed near Kal's home away from home — his space station. Dar-El mentioned to his friend that the design of the space stations interstellar ships were very similar to the spacecraft Dar used to leave New Krypton.

Aware of Dar's mounting curiosity, Clark allowed his spiritual brother some time to wander about the space station to get his bearings and learn what was available to him if needed. After the two Kryptonians had wandered a bit, Clark informed Dar-El, "I call this place my space sanctuary. It has five hundred self-contained apartments in the living section. Each living chamber contains all the amenities one could expect to find in an Earth dwelling. There are also large communal areas where children can play and adults can relax and socialize. In essence," Clark added, "Sanctuary is a miniature world hidden from the universe — it's an island unto itself."

As they walked through the Centauri space station, Clark indicated that attached to the living facilities was also a modern laboratory and a hospital complex with up-to-date Kryptonian and Terran technical and medical equipment. Clark then added, "Within this station's laboratory facilities is also a small military complex. It is utilized, at present, for mainly surveillance work. As you are aware, I have probes scattered through the galaxy that monitor all unusual travel throughout this region. Dar," Kal-El continued, "there are about twenty to thirty interstellar space faring races scattered among the myriad of stars that makeup the Milky Way. Many of these races have visited Earth in the past to study its relatively primitive cultures. They won't make any formal contact with Sol Three until the hostile ways of our planet have been eradicated, and the inhabitants of Sol Three have achieved some sort of interstellar travel. Anyway," Clark concluded, "that's what I've been led to believe when I chatted with several ET cultures several years ago."

Sweeping across the entire facility with his arm Kal commented, "This entire complex is cloaked. If my calculations are correct, Sanctuary cannot be detected by any device outside this facility's stealth curtain. Essentially, we can't be seen by the rest of the universe. On this station, Dar, we are truly a hidden island in the midst of uncounted stars."

Looking at the spaceships, Dar said, "Why have you constructed so many interstellar vessels?"

Gazing at his friend, Clark replied, "I want you to first know that each one of those ships is a potential war craft. They have been constructed from my indestructible material — stabilized neutronium — and contain both defensive and offensive weaponry." Reflecting on Dar's concerned countenance, Clark chortled and said to him, "Just consider that those spacecrafts are normal interstellar vessels, which have been protected by madman Kent's heavy armament." When CJ had completed his subtle but poignant repartee, both Kryptonians broke into almost uncontrollable laughter at Kal's ludicrous statement.

"In all seriousness," Kal continued, "you should know that each vessel is armed with a cosmic disrupter and a disintegrator weapon system. When I'm truly finished building this fleet, the squadron you now see berthed at this station will number twenty-five vessels. Hopefully, they will only be used for pleasure and exploration. The destructive capacity contained within each ship will only be utilized for the defense of our families and the world upon which we dwell — the Sol Three To me the taking of life unnecessarily is abhorrent and the thought of killing makes me ill, unlike Lex Luthor, who unfortunately has a passion for killing and mayhem."

Dar then shook his head indicating to his Kryptonian kin that he understood and would be supportive of Clark's philosophical views when such a time arose. Dar-El also understood that his spiritual brother, Kal-El aka Clark Kent, was mainly a man of peace and for him to become belligerent, where lives would surely to be lost, could only be justified by his basic principles — preservation of his own person when he was in jeopardy, to protect his family, and to defend Earth from a space born attack. If one of those three events would ever occur, Kal-El would adopt the Kryptonian combative philosophy of "No doubts, no mercy, just the kill." Putting his head down, Dar murmured, "I pray that no situation ever arises which places my brother in such hostile circumstances."

As the two Kryptonians wandered through the space complex, Clark said, "Dar-El, I want you to consider this space station as the Dar-El clan's abode." As Dar heard Kal-El words he knew, at that moment in time, that Martha and Jonathan's Kryptonian son had become one with his family.

While Dar and CJ roamed through the space station, the man from New Krypton became aware that Kal-El's journey through life might be that of a solitary traveler. However, Dar also knew in his bosom that his friend would never be lonely. Clark would always be surrounded by Linda, himself and their children and always be part of his family. Still, Dar secretly hoped that Kal-El, aka Clark Kent, and Lois Lane would ameliorate their differences and allow their soulmate auras to bind them into devoted life partners. "Maybe," Dar reflected, "he and Linda could play the role of cupid in the Lane-Kent situation."

Their meandering through the Centauri space platform eventually brought them to one on the communal areas. As they made themselves comfortable, Clark asked his friend, "Why didn't Krypton develop interstellar vehicles? With spacecraft, most of the planet's population could have been saved. A great people would be alive to serve creation."

"Theoretically," Dar replied, "our people researched the possibility of interstellar travel and built several kinds of experimental spaceships that did function rather well. The major obstacle to continued interest in interstellar voyaging was the time element. It would take many years to traverse the immense distances between Krypton and stars, especially in other galaxies. Local star systems, however, were within relatively easy reach. For example, to reach a solar system several hundred light years from Krypton would take only a few hours or days. However, travel to Earth, eight billion light years distant, would require more than a million years. So, just a few interstellar ships were constructed to explore star systems within a radius of a thousand light years or so from Krypton. In time, Kryptonian interest in interstellar travel waned and nearly ceased. If it weren't for the twin worm hole configuration located near the Krypton's solar system, NK would never have been colonized, which, in time, saved a modicum of Krypton's people from destruction."

As Dar-El gazed at the silent stars through one of the space stations portholes, Clark brought him back to reality when he asked a question of his brother. "Wasn't the Kryptonian scientific community knowledgeable about the subatomic string particle theory?"

Shaking his head, Dar replied, "The Kryptonian Science Council rejected your natural parents' notion that an atomic fragment particle — Jor-El's string particle — existed especially since it was believed to be smaller than a quark. A quark was considered by the mainstream Kryptonian scientific community to be the basic building block of all matter. Jor-El and Lara's new particle views were just too controversial for them.

"It was Jor-El and Lara's determination and unshakable belief in their new theory which spurred them to construct a powerful string engine and incorporate it into a small interstellar ship. A spaceship they would use to send their infant son across the immensity of the void to Sol Three."

After a lull in their conversation Clark, remarked, "So, that's why the extra terrestrials — the ETs — asked me about my method of interstellar travel. When I displayed a reticence about divulging anything about my string driven spacecraft, the ETs didn't press me. They seemed to understand the need for secretiveness in the area of spacecraft propulsion."

From Dar's information, Clark finally understood why Lara and Jor-El couldn't escape the catastrophe that destroyed his birth world. People just didn't believe in the String method and its ties to interstellar space flight, and therefore wouldn't provide Jor-El and his soulmate with the necessary materials to construct a family size string driven vessel.

Traveling the interstellar distances between the galaxies in the older Kryptonian spaceships would have required thousands or hundreds of thousands of generations to reach a particular destination — suspended animation equipment would be required for such a trek. However, from experimental data, the suspended animation equipment that existed could not be expected to remain functional for the time needed to cross the universe. Since the suspended animation equipment was problematic at best over extremely long journeys, one could expect entire families would perish before reaching their destination. Since such a high probability existed that many travelers would perish on journeys exceeding a million years, trips through the void and interest in interstellar voyaging waned and was soon abandoned. At the time of Krypton's destruction, only a few ancient spaceships existed, which were utilized as life vessels, but saved very few of the planet's inhabitants.

Now Clark understood why the other interstellar races he'd encountered wanted information about his particular method of star voyaging. If one race acquired the means to move almost at will through the void, such beings could rapidly secure most of the best habitable worlds within a certain galactic cluster. By getting there first, these extraterrestrials could exclude other space faring peoples from establishing colonies in that region. In doing so, other life forms could be doomed to eventual extinction for lack of living space or worse be forced to engage in an intergalactic war for the sake of their own species' survival.

From Clark's new prospective of the intergalactic problem, he said to Dar, "When our descendants or the people on NK begin to expand into the cosmos, there must be a directive which prohibits Kryptonians and/or Terrans from burgeoning unchecked through space and seizing all the habitual planets and barring other races from establishing new worlds of their own."

Dar-El agreed with Kal's views regarding Earth's and New Krypton's places in the cosmos after both worlds had become space faring people.

Reflecting for a moment, Dar-El then commented, "Kal, I have a problem which is closer to our needs and also needs solving."

Clark replied, "I'm all ears, Dar."

Searching for the right words, Dar remarked, "From one of my research projects, I've discovered that a bridge can be established between human and Kryptonian physiology by using electricity. I believe between the two of us we can construct a device that can turn my research results into working reality. If we are successful, Clark, I will be able to modify the genomes of Earth folk and provide them with our unique abilities. However, at present, I'm specifically thinking about using such a device to change my soulmate, Linda, into an Earth born Kryptonian."

After considering Dar's thoughts, Clark excitedly remarked, "Your notion has merit and I believe the two of us can devise the necessary apparatus to accomplish the proper genetic modifications. Your wife and all Earth folk who marry into our super clan can have the genome modification. Think of it," Clark again almost yelled, "all future life partners of your kids will become Earth born Kryptonians."

Musing for a moment, Clark continued, "You know that you and Linda may become the Adam and Eve of our people on Earth. New Krypton would not be the exclusive neighborhood where Kryptonians still exist within the cosmos."

"You are aware, of course, Kal," Dar remarked, "that you're left yourself out of this scenario."

Giving Dar-El a grimace, Clark said, "As things stand now, I will never have the opportunity to father children with my so called soulmate. She is the most self-centered and uncaring person I've had the misfortune to meet."

"You may be wrong about her," Dar replied.

"Maybe," Clark responded, "but, as of right now, I have no desire to find out if we are compatible enough to form a union. I must tell you that our last meeting and subsequent vocal exchange were so traumatic that I don't ever desire another face to face encounter with that woman."

After a moment of silence, Clark added, "You know, Daren, as Lois and I were squabbling, I did sense something or other attempting to fashion a linkage of sorts between us. However, because of the vehemence of our antagonistic wrangling, any auras striving to link our souls in such a hostile environment would never succeed."

"Never say never," Dar answered Clark.

Smiling at his friend, Kal-El simply replied, "We'll see."

After a momentary pause, Clark reminded Dar, "Why are we debating this issue? It's a moot point. At the present, my brother, I still don't have a significant other. Well, maybe I do, but to my mind she's nonfunctional."

Then grabbing Dar by the arm, Clark said, "Let's say goodbye to my folks before and return to Metropolis. Like you, Dar, I also need to get to the big city, find a place to hang my hat for a few days, while I complete my affairs. Then it's off to Singapore for moi."

After saying their adieus to Martha and Jonathan the two Kryptonians walked toward a TD portal located in the Kent's farmhouse. As they momentarily stood in front of the teleportation unit, Dar suddenly said, "You'll stay with Linda and me while you're in Metropolis. We have a vacant guest room." When Clark started to protest, Dar said, "There will be no argument about my decision, Dr. Kent — remember your family."

For the next several months, neither Kal nor Dar rested much. During the day, Dar worked at the Star and Clark freelanced and wrote several articles he'd promised to a biweekly publication called the Metropolis Enquire. As time permitted, Clark worked with Alan Jacobs in the Singapore office of the Daily Planet, fulfilling his promise to a friend.

At night, the two supermen labored in the lab attached to Kal's Centauri space platform developing Dar's chromosome modification device.

During her third trimester, Linda was taken to the Centauri space station where her genome was modified providing her with super abilities. Linda, as Dar long desired, had become the first Earth born Kryptonian.

She and Dar then took some vacation time from the paper and went to the Kent farm in Smallville, Kansas. There, Dar taught Linda how to use and control her new powers.

As Daren and Linda Miller alternately worked and rested at the Kent's Smallville homestead, Clark completed the first of his freelanced articles for the Metropolis Enquire and put the finishing touches on an expose for his friend Alan Jacobs.

Using the facilities of the Metropolis Enquire, Clark published the first of his blockbuster exposes under the Kent byline. It was entitled "The Destruction of Landmark Sites — Greed Destroys our Heritage." His story made the people of Metropolis aware of a grave situation, the loss of Metropolis' historical landmarks to the modern robber barons, the real estate merchants of the city. Due to his story the Sara Bernhardt Theater was saved, and a law placed on the books of Metropolis that protected the other historical locations within the limits of the great city. Because of the Kent article a historical sites' bill was also introduced in the State Legislature, and after a much heated debate, a law was passed which protected the historical treasures throughout New Troy.

Luthor was furious with Kent's exposes. The master of evil stood to lose a small fortune. He had plans to build a deluxe hotel on the Bernhardt theater site. Here, wealthy and famous individuals could carouse in garish luxury and spend tons of money all for Luthor's coffers.

Several weeks after his first, Clark's second article appeared in the Enquire attacking LexCare — supposedly a first-class nursing facility. In his expose, Clark Kent described the LexCorp's subsidiary as a butcher shop. Kent's article described in graphic detail what occurred within the buildings that housed the LexCare facilities. His article described and illustrated the genetic and toxicity experiments which were performed on the geriatric and ailing population by the LexCare organization, which was licensed only to aid and comfort sickly and aged patients. LexCare's actions, which Kent had documented thoroughly, were the cause of many unnecessary deaths. Clark's article detailed how the parts from some of the bodies were sold to transplant agencies, while entire cadavers, with no next of kin, were marketed to medical schools and other research establishments.

For his third story, Kent used VCR recordings graphically to show LexChem employees abducting young homeless people. These forgotten individuals were used as guinea pigs in the testing of new LexChem drugs or were just exterminated, dissected, and their remains sold. By selling parts or the entire human body, these activities provided LexChem with enormous profits. In describing the extermination process, which LexChem utilized, Clark indicated that the killing procedures were akin to the methods used in Hitler's concentration camps some fifty years earlier.

When Clark's stories broke, the C.E.Os of LexCare and LexChem were arrested and indited for murder. When approached, Luthor simply said that he was innocent of any wrongdoings. Lex told the authorities that he had no knowledge of the misdemeanors and felonious acts perpetrated by the heads of his subsidiary companies. Since there was no hard evidence directly linking Luthor to either LexCare or LexChem cases, the villain of villains again eluded arrest and prosecution.

When Clark heard Lex plea his innocence on a local news channel, he remarked to Linda and Dar, "The murderer doth protest too much, me thinks."

As Clark's exposes hammered at Lex's corporate subsidiaries, Luthor and his financial empire began to acquire an insidious reputation. And, although it took some time, the Metropolis' judicial system, under increasing public pressure, finally empowered a Grand Jury to investigate Lex Luthor's intrigues and the internal workings of LexCorp itself.

While Lex was not in custody, his name was being vilified, and the billionaire was becoming something of a pariah where once he had been extolled by his peers and the public at large.

Although Luthor was being slowly isolated for his alleged evil deeds, the devil's number one boy still possessed sharp claws and deadly fangs, which he continued to use in his many felonious and clandestine operations.

To avoid any more exposure like in Kent's LexCare story, Luthor's LexCorp took control of the Metropolis Enquire in a hostile takeover and closed the biweekly publication. In this way, Lex reckoned he'd silenced Clark Kent's zealous journalistic voice.

Realizing that his only publication source in Metropolis area had been eliminated by the dissolution of The Enquire, Clark approached Linda Fox Miller and asked her to be his partner on his final investigative story about the doings of Lex Luthor and friends. Without hesitation, she agreed to share her byline with Clark. It would be a Kent-Fox byline on Clark's final Luthor-LexCorp story.

As Clark was winding up his exposes about the LexCorp's subsidiaries with another LexGen tale, Linda's husband Daren was getting very disturbing information about the weather conditions in the Atlantic Ocean near its confluence with the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently, a small energetic meteor had impacted in that vicinity causing a temperature increase in the path of an approaching tropical depression.

With the energy supplied by the meteoric impact, a small tropical depression, which had been brewing in the area, suddenly acquired the energy to evolve into a raging storm front.

The first sign of impending trouble was a sudden plunge in the barometric pressure near the entrance to the Gulf. This atmospheric pressure depression was rapidly followed by the typical rotational pattern of a hurricane. All the preliminary weather data was sent to the newspapers in Metropolis and other cities as a matter of routine. While this deadly storm was just being scrutinized by the NOAA and the Weather Service, this killer storm had been detected hours early by one of Daren's special weather satellites.

When Dar first saw the pictures of the approaching storm, it appeared unusual in two ways. First, it was traveling toward the Gulf stream at abnormally high speeds. Rates approaching forty miles per hour were being recorded by his satellite instruments. The satellite data also informed Daren that the winds around the eye of the storm were approaching one hundred sixty miles per hour. From the satellite pictures and pressure info, Dar-El became aware that the storm's cyclonic air speed was increasing at an alarming rate.

By using his modified Kryptonian weather system Clark's spiritual brother was conscious of the killer storm's destruction potential hours before the National Weather Service and NOAA would be mindful of the Hurricane's actual existence.

The key to Daren's advanced weather warning system was a remarkably efficient computer program, which he fabricated from an advanced Kryptonian language. To complement his software package, Dar-El had constructed several advanced weather tracking satellite. Several of these tiny and stealthy electronic moons, as he called them, were placed in geosynchronous orbits about the Earth. When these satellites went on line, it provided Dar with an unprecedented planet-wide weather tracking network.

As the ferocious storm plunged into the Gulf, Daren's computerized weather network had already been tracking the raging tropical depression for many hours, collecting the vital data which would be needed to track the storm's direction and its varying intensity. Finally, the New Kryptonian became convinced from the satellite's information that a violent and rapid moving depression was increasing in size and a destructive storm was being transformed into a monstrous hurricane with more than two- hundred and fifty miles an hour winds — an F5 category storm. Without a moment hesitation, Daren telephoned the Department of Commerce and faxed that agency all the data at his disposal. They thanked him courteously and indicated that they too were just becoming aware of the storm he'd been monitoring. However, because of their outmoded equipment, the government meteorologists were not yet cognizant that Earth's natural forces within the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico were on the rampage and soon would be threatening the lives of thousands of people who lived and worked in the path of the raging gigantic storm system.

When Dar's information was received by the Commerce Department, an employee of that agency, who was also on LexCorp's payroll, routinely relayed Daren Miller's information to Lex's corporate headquarters. Perusing all incoming information, as was Luthor's custom, the unusual weather pattern building just inside the gulf caught his eye. Mostly out of curiosity, first, Lex ordered his meteorological scientists to check out the reliability of the weather data LexCorp had received from their agent within the government's weather service's bureau.

With their relatively crude equipment, LexCorp couldn't definitely confirm the magnitude, direction, or the destructive potential of the hurricane reported by the Star's weather desk. To Lex, non-confirmation of an event meant that the situation was probably not critical and could be ignored for the moment.

Not to cause any uneasiness or panic in his corporate empire, Lex called Doug Williams, The Secretary of Commerce, and intimated to him that a reliable source had intimated that the information from the Star's weather desk was dubious at best. With his debonair mannerisms, Lex convinced the Secretary not to alert the possible threatened areas until substantiated data were obtained which could support such an emergency condition. To strengthen his position and aggravate an already critical weather situation still further, Lex reminded the commerce secretary that the climate information from the Star was probably questionable at best and suggested that any warning about the Gulf situation was far too premature and suggested a wait and see policy.

When the government official acquiesced to Lex's foolish suggestion, the pale horse now galloped in cadence with the ever increasing strength of the storm surge. Death was no longer just an onlooker, but a full fledged player in this sea drama.

As many people, to their peril, have assumed throughout history, when wealthy people speak, their words are considered wisdom from on high — what they have to say represents truth. So, Lex's arguments lulled Secretary Williams into a sense of wellbeing, and he cancelled the weather alerts related to the Gulf storm. The die was cast dooming thousands of common folk to a watery grave.

Secretary Williams' cancellation of the weather alerts halted any withdrawal announcements in the threatened coastal areas and ended the immediate evacuation of personnel from the oil-rigs operating just inside the Gulf.

Of course, an evacuation was not in the best interests of LexCorp. Luthor's communication with Secretary Williams was motivated by a simple factor — greed. Shutting down LexCorp's oil-rigs would cost Luthor's corporation enormous sums of capital. Money that Lex didn't intend to lose.

In the Gulf of Mexico, LexPetrol had six rigs. Each oil platform was pumping more than twenty million dollars of oil per day and stuffing the profits into LexCorp coffers. A storm warning would cause the shut down of the oil-rigs and the evacuation of the LexPetrol's open sea platforms. Lex also knew that to shut down the rigs and start them up again would require more than a week's time, time in which nearly one hundred and fifty million dollars would be lost to LexCorp and its investors. Luthor couldn't allow that to happen based on what he deemed sketchy weather information.

To ensure that no inkling of the fanciful storm would become common knowledge until Lex deemed the weather data was correct, Luthor ordered his man in the NOAA organization to disable the government's weather detection facilities. This down condition would be maintained until his own weather tracking devices could ascertain the actual weather patterns moving toward one of the many positions where the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean could intersect.

When Lex's orders had been executed, the endangered Gulf region and areas north of that position were essentially isolated and at the mercy of the natural forces now running amuck. Life saving information was no longer available to the people or agencies in the threatened areas.

A short time after Luthor issued his delusional orders crippling the NOAA satellite system, Daren became aware that his warnings about the impending storm were being ignored. At that moment, the Star's weather expert nearly became frantic.

After getting control of his emotional demeanor, Dar called his colleagues at the Weather Service in Washington and was unofficially told what had transpired between Lex Luthor and the Commerce Secretary. Daren, fortunately, had the presence of mind to record his conversation with the men and women who were part of NOAA's Washington political bureaucracy. During his conversation with officialdom, Dar was also informed that an aircraft had just been dispatched to check his weather data. Thanking his associates at NOAA, Dar broke the telephone connection and rushed to the editor's office and begged him to issue a storm warning so that the people living in and around the Gulf could evacuate the threatened areas. Linda knew by the tone of her husband's pleas that there was a disaster brewing. However, because of his frantic pleas most of the reporting staff thought that Daren Miller had lost his marbles.

Ed Malone, the Editor of the Star, another of Luthor's sub- rosa cronies, had wanted to cashier Daren for some time. Lex's nephew needed a metrological position at a major newspaper to further his career. Now Malone had the perfect opportunity to dismiss his weather-environmental reporter and hire Lex's relative. Smiling Ed said, "Daren, I have been noticing that you have become more and more unstable over the past few months. In view of your apparent psychological problems, I'm afraid I'll have to let you go. I'm truly sorry, Daren. Please pack up your things and be off the premises within the hour." As Daren turned away Malone thought to himself, "For this favor, Lex owes me big time."

Dar-El picked up his spatial computer and data that supported his contentions about the growing severity of the killer storm and quickly exited the Star and rushed toward the Planet.

When Dar-El fled the Star building, his wife, Linda, began to empty his desk. She had overhead the conversation between her husband and the newspaper's editor.

Leaving the Star at a dead run, Dar hurried to the Daily Planet where he hoped to get help in getting the word out about the Gulf storm. While Daren was attempting to help, a compatriot of Ed Malone commented quietly to his boss, "What if Daren is correct? Your ass will be grass, chief."

Grinning, Malone replied, "I'll place my money on Lex Luthor. LexCorp knows what's going on." Ed's crony shook his head agreeing with his editor's views, and then they both laughed heartily at Malone's coup and Miller's misfortune.

Upon entering the Planet's bullpen, Daren searched furiously for his friend and colleague Ann Simms — the Planet's science department head.

Spotting Ann at the far end of the bullpen, Dar move quickly toward her work area.

Reaching his friend and colleague, Daren informed Ann in a frantic voice, "I need your help post haste." After a slight pause, Daren told her about the horrendous storm of unprecedented magnitude brewing in the South Atlantic that was about to enter the Gulf of Mexico. It appeared to be a category five plus hurricane moving West by North at around 35 knots. Waves associated with this storm were fifty to seventy-five feet high and increasing the last time he had checked. "I believe that the lives of hundreds, or even thousands, of people are great in peril depending on where the storm makes land fall," Daren finally told his friend.

After his relatively excited discourse with Ann, Daren showed her the data he'd collected and the computer analysis of his information.

Ann knew her friend and colleague well enough to know that Daren was a very good scientist and not prone to exaggeration. As she gazed into his eyes, Ann saw fear. Fear she knew was for others who were, if Daren was correct, now in the path of a massive killer storm.

After seeing her friend's weather data, the Planet's weather editor was no longer surprised at his concern. As she continued to peruse Daren's information, Ann, knowing that Daren and his wife Linda were always responsive to the needs of people couldn't understand how the Millers could work for a tabloid-oriented paper like the Star. However, that was really a horse of a different color and considering the urgency of the current crisis it had to be a topic for a different time.

The director of the Planet's weather desk also was aware through the grapevine that Daren had developed an advanced weather system. She'd been told that it could detect changes in climatic conditions long before the equipment now being employed by the Weather Service could detect any pertinent storm information. Therefore, Ann knew that Daren's information was in all probably very reliable.

Looking at her friend, Ann said, "Daren, why haven't you sent the usual warning to the National Weather Service and NOAA?"

"I tried," he replied. "For my efforts, I was sacked."

"What?" She nearly yelled.

Daren simply shook his head and added, "NOAA is not functioning and the Weather Service has been muted from someone high up in the national administration. Another political dummy has interfered with the nuts and bolts of the systems that drive the government to protect its people. The result of this interference will be the deaths of individuals who might normally have been saved."

Daren then informed Ann, "Unknown to the Washington Weather Service hierarchy, associates, at my request, have sent an aircraft into the storm zone to verify my findings."

"To confirm your data by that ancient method, Daren, will take hours," Ann replied, horrified. "The current speed of the storm will make it almost impossible for people to evacuate the threatened areas when an alert is finally announced."

"Jimmy," Ann yelled across the newsroom, "come here."

When Jimmy Olsen arrived, Ann said, "I've got some sub-Rosa work for you. I want you to hack into the Department of Commerce phone system and find out who called the Secretary today." As he was hurrying away, Ann discretely said, "Jim, don't get caught."

As Jimmy was leaving the Science Chief's work area, Ann summoned Lois Lane.

When Lois arrived at Ann's desk, the science editor introduced the Planet's top reporter to Daren Miller and proceeded to tell Lois about the violent hurricane moving through the Gulf and the political hanky panky that had somehow gotten involved in one of nature's most destructive assaults on humankind.

Just as Ann was completing her tale, Jimmy returned. He told Ann and Lois that The Commerce Secretary received four calls, which went directly to his private office. Two of these phone transmissions were from LexCorp's central office complex.

"That figures," Ann spat.

"Why did you say that?" Lois queried her friend.

Ann replied, "The NOAA weather system was built by LexCorp and could be easily manipulated by an individual who was involved in its construction and trained by Lex's corporation. Therefore, if anyone on LexCorp's payroll were inserted into the NOAA's staff, such an individual could probably disable the weather monitoring instrumentation without the operation crew knowing what's causing the malfunction."

"Also," Ann added, "Lex Luthor knows Dough Williams on a personal level."

After answering Lois' questions, Ann arose from her desk and began to pace to and fro.

Suddenly, she turned toward her colleagues and said, "I'll bet a week's salary that if Lex Luthor didn't want any information from the government satellites to be broadcast, he'd have his scientists or a person inside the NOAA organization power down the weather tracking system. The question that really bothers me is why would he do such a horrible thing?"

Jimmy then blurted out, "Lex Luthor generally operates on a greed principle."

As Jimmy finished his terse statement, Daren's face became illuminated. He said, "A subsidiary of LexCorp, LexPetrol, has six rigs in the Gulf extracting oil from beneath the seabed. If there were a storm, he would have to shut down those platforms and in the process lose tons of money. Since those rigs are built to withstand category five hurricanes, Lex wouldn't have to worry much about his oil extracting hardware." Anyway Daren added, "I'll bet that Lex is probably heavily insured."

"What about the crews working those rigs?" Lois asked. "Wouldn't he lose them in this type of blow? Lex would be hard pressed to replace those kinds of technical people."

In response to Lois' question Daren replied, "LexPetrol's platforms are the newest and most well equipped of their kind. There is a hollow shaft at the center of each oil rig made of reinforced concrete. At the bottom of the shaft is a chamber that rests on the sea floor. Each chamber is stocked with survival equipment and a snorkel device that will provide the chamber with air. The platform employees will survive even if the rigs themselves collapse. So, the obvious answer to your question, Lois, tells us that the garnering of wealth is again taking precedent over the welfare of people — an old story," Dar murmured. Pounding his fist on Ann's desk, Daren added, "We can expect that Luthor's oil rigs will continue to operate until the last possible moment to maximize LexCorps' profits."

Scratching her head, Lois remarked, "It's hard for me to fathom that kind of behavior from Lex Luthor. I've gone out with him, and he's always acted like a perfect gentleman and was always amicable towards the people who served us."

Ann looked at Lois and said, "Because you're a close friend of mine, I'm going to say something that maybe should be better left unspoken. However, for your sake, Lois, I'll throw caution to the wind. If Lex gets wind of my thoughts, I may suddenly become quite dead."

Pausing for a moment Ann stated, "Lex Luthor is an amoral ass. I've seen him treat people with disdain and at times with brutish contempt. He watches himself when you're around, Lois, because I think he wants you for his life partner — his wife.

"If you ever were to fall into his matrimonial trap, my friend, your life with him would be disastrous and in a short time, your world would become a hell on Earth. Luthor is a control freak and he would constantly attempt to force you to his way of thinking. If you resisted and did not fall into line, I believe you would be uncomfortably harassed. If that method were not successful, my guess would be that Luthor would hurt you badly in some other manner to bring you into line. As you saw from Clark Kent's articles, Luthor is probably the most despicable gangster of all times. If Daren is correct about the weather issue, as confirmation of his data will soon corroborate, that information would be the clincher to my long standing suspicions about Lex Luthor and his devious mannerisms coupled with his evil intent. In my book," Ann added, "he's the devil's number one boy."

Lois was somewhat shocked at Ann's comments, but surprisingly her colleague's thoughts were not offensive to her psyche. Although there was no hard evidence, Lois, without the hard evidence she usually demanded, accepted Ann's views. If truth were to be told, Lois too had her suspicions about Luthor's motives from time to time. Now, with the exposes and the scientific evidence placing LexCorp and its subsidiaries as the fountainhead of the developing catastrophe, Ann's words started to make perfect sense. Lois had a feeling that Ann's thoughts had somehow freed her logical intuitiveness from Luthor's snares. For Ann's courage, she had nothing but admiration. The Planet's science desk chief was a friend who might have placed her life in peril to open Lois' eyes to Lex Luthor's scheme. Ann had lifted the veil, and Lois Lane would now be able to see through Lex's debonair facade.

As the select group of journalists continued to discuss Daren's storm data and the titanic disaster in the making, the monitors in the newsroom suddenly burst into life.

Apparently, all afternoon amateur weather people and radio enthusiasts on the west coast of Florida had been receiving "Mayday" transmissions from oil rigs and fishing trawlers in the Gulf. The messages from these sources repeatedly stated that a massive hurricane was moving about forty knots in the direction of Brownsville, Texas. These communications also told the world that the six LexCorp oil platforms had already been demolished by cyclonic winds, now swirling at about two hundred and seventy miles per hour.

As Daren and the Planet staffers gazed at the monitors, they were presented with a view of a monstrously raging sea and heard the LNN newscaster disclose that the oil rig crews possessed by LexCorp and the oil rig personnel from other companies had been evacuated to safety by the Coast Guard, and the Gulf fishing fleets were attempting to move out of the path of the monstrous storm and were now fleeing for the lives.

In the commentary which followed, the LNN people wondered why the NOAA system failed to alert the Commerce Department about the ferocity of the storm, and why the Weather Service neglected to issue a timely warning so evacuation procedures could have been initiated much earlier in the survival. Because of the apparent delays, the inhabitants of the Gulf coast from Brownsville, Texas to Pearl River, Louisiana were now in deadly peril. Thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands of people living in that region could be seriously injured or lose their lives.

As the LNN continued to broadcast its doom and gloom prognostications, Daren was busy setting up his weather equipment in Ann's work area.

Some twenty minutes into the LNN special broadcast, Lois and Ann heard a hushed "Oh my G-D" gasp from the LNN newscaster. Regaining her composure, the TV reporter added, "From our sources, the storm's trajectory has altered. The storm seems to be turning in a more northerly direction. Our weather department has now indicated that the coastal impact area is expected to occur near High Island, Texas. All people within a hundred miles east and west of the expected landfall area should evacuate expeditiously."

"They should run for their lives," a voice could be heard yelling off camera.

Several minutes further into the broadcast, the LNN commentator remarked, "The NOAA system is now back on line. The first pictures should be coming through anytime now."

Several seconds later, visual confirmation of the storm and its destructive potential was being viewed on the Daily Planet's monitors. The ferocity of the storm surge was unbelievable. The waves whipped by F5+ hurricane force winds were mountainous. As Daren and his colleagues watched, they beheld the wrath of nature gone berserk and were awed.

As everyone was glued to the TV monitors, Perry White moved to center stage and began barking orders. He wanted the Planet to get out an extra. As Planet's chief was returning to his office, he asked Daren if the young scientist would mind being interviewed by Ann and Lois as part of the paper's extra edition. The ex-Star employee nodded his consent.

While Daren was being interviewed and the Planet's staff was working like there was no tomorrow to get out an extra about the super storm, Clark was seeking out Linda Fox Miller, Daren's soulmate.

As the killer storm was speeding through the Gulf, Clark finally located Linda at the Star cleaning out Dar-El's desk. By a series of rapid telepathic exchanges, Clark was apprised of Dar's sacking and how it was related to the F5+ hurricane now hurtling toward the Texas coast.

After being apprised of Dar's situation, the man from Kansas took Linda to the nearest conference room. There, Clark showed the very pregnant Linda Fox-Miller the final expose, which specifically targeted the LexCorp subsidiary, LexGen, and would destroy another of Luthor's world debasing enterprises.

LexGen, a Metropolis based genetic engineering firm, had made a name for itself by producing beautiful hybrid species of common garden flora. And, for the past several months, their new hothouse orchids had been the hit of the floral world.

Unknown to the general public and law enforcement agencies, LexGen had genetically altered the opium poppy to mimic its new hybrid orchid.

The opiate producing plant was propagated in large greenhouse facilities among the normal hothouse orchids. Since the two floral species were engineered to look exactly alike, no one except those cultivating and harvesting the drug-producing crop knew how to differentiate between the two plant species.

In this way poppies disguised as orchids were being grown in the Metropolis area right under the noses of the law enforcement authorities.

In a relatively short time, large quantities of the normal orchids were being marketed at local floral shops, while the opium producing look alike plants were being shipped around the world. Soon, illegal opiates throughout the world began to increase at an alarming rate. Worldwide law enforcement agencies were becoming frantic as they attempted to locate and destroy the new opium sources.

Using his unique abilities, Clark soon uncovered the source of the drug manufacturing facilities and discovered the bioengineering procedures that created the new opium- producing orchid. By utilizing voice and video equipment, Clark gathered the hard evidence needed to support his expose. When the man from Kansas had completed his undercover work, he sent a copy of the drug information to the Metropolis police department in care of inspector Henderson and duplicates of his article to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

Clark agreed with Bill Henderson's request to wait until the raid on LexGen was in progress before the Kent-Miller drug story hit the newsstands.

As Clark patiently waited for the police assault on LexGen to commence, he recalled the days he worked with the Metropolis Enquire who were only too eager to publish his works. Clark would make sure that his friends at that now defunct biweekly newspaper would still share in the glory of this drug bust. By doing so, he'd place another nail in Lex's corporate coffin. To ensure that the Enquire received credit for this latest battle with corruption, Clark had incorporated the whys and the wherefores of the paper's demise into his drug article. After the Enquire went under, Clark turned to Linda Fox Miller for help. With her influence, Clark's expose would be published in the Star soon after the police did their job.

Linda was quite willing to help Clark publish his story and didn't care whether her name was included as part of the article's byline. However, Clark insisted that she should share the credit. All that CJ really wanted was to get the expose to the public sector and further tarnish the evil one's — Lex Luthor — crumbling image. Clark was one of those rare individuals who didn't care about fame or fortune. Truth and justice were his credo — that's what he wanted most from his work.

After some good-natured wrangling, the byline issue was settled, and the copy sent to the editor. When Ed Malone saw the Kent-Miller story, he immediately contacted Lex Luthor — Malone, like many amoral people in Metropolis, was on the payroll of the devil's disciple.

When Lex heard about the LexGen article he almost lost it — he became nearly psychotic. After a few minutes, Luthor regained a measure of his mental stability and ordered Ed not to publish the story and to sack Linda. Ten million dollars was to be deposited in Ed's Swiss bank account for his cooperation.

Malone then called Linda to his office. Clark accompanied her. When Linda entered Doug's office he said to her, "Yours and Kent's article is not fit to use to clean up doggie droppings. It is a slanderous article about one of Metropolis' most honored citizens."

After a pause, Malone said, "You stories have been a little ragged, Linda, since the onset of your pregnancy. I'm afraid because of your condition, the quality of your work has not been up to the Star's standards for some time." In a rather harsh tone he delivered the coup de grace, "This paper has no further use of your services, Ms. Fox. You're fired. Now take this hack, pointing to Clark, and leave this paper's premises post haste."

"Return the copy of my article, please," Clark asked politely with a rather edgy tone. Acting on Clark's request, Malone began his search for the LexGen story.

As he waited for his hard copy, Clark, using his x-ray vision, scanned Malone's phone system and discovered that the Star's editor had recently been in contact with Lex Luthor.

After some minutes, Ed Malone, after a very superficial examination of his desk area, stated that he couldn't locate their story at that moment. They would have to return tomorrow to retrieve their article. When Malone began to hammer Linda again, Clark became very angry. A few seconds after listening to Malone's building harangue, Clark's ire finally reached its boiling point. Suddenly, Clark grabbed the Star's editor by his lapels and hoisted him in the air. As Malone was dangling in midair, Linda heard Clark remark, "You'll find my copy now or suffer the consequences." Looking into Clark's eyes, Ed Malone knew that Kent meant business, and his physical wellbeing was on-the-line. Upon being returned to the floor, Malone miraculously located the missing manuscript and handed it to Clark. As Linda and Clark left the editor's office, Kent turned and said, "Give my regards to Lex, willya?" Malone just blanched.

After rapidly cleaning out Linda's desk, Clark and Linda made a dash for the Planet building.

Arriving at the DP, Clark and Linda both noticed that the bullpen was functioning at full throttle. It looked like the entire Planet staff was operating on a war footing.

Sighting her husband with Ann and Lois in the midst of the hubbub, Linda pulled Clark across the newsroom toward the Planet's weather workstation. Arriving at Ann's desk after wading through a hectic bullpen, Linda and Clark were briefed and updated about the storm of the century and Ann was informed of Linda's sacking. Giggling, Ann commented, "Now the Millers are both unemployed."

Upon hearing the joviality in Ann's voice, Daren remarked, "It's not a laughable situation, Ann. How will we eat?"

"Don't worry," Clark chimed in, "if you need money, just let me know. I've acquired enough green stuff to last my folks and us three until Hell freezes over."

"You know, Linda," Clark said to her, "I'm kinda of glad you and Daren are no longer affiliated with the Star. Since you're unattached, the Millers can reside at the Kent farm, where Linda can have her babies in a safe and clean environment, and Dar can delve into the mysteries of nature to his heart content. At my parents' place," Clark added, "you'll never have to fear for your children's safety or want for anything." Linda nodded, gesturing to Clark that his comments made perfect sense.

Then Linda briefly turned pale and quietly gasped. Neither the Planet's science chief, Lois, nor the others in the room were cognizant of Linda's unusual behavior. They were wholly absorbed in the discussion about the Miller's financial and living conditions.

Suddenly, Dar became aware of his wife's unusual condition. He literarily sized her and placed her in Ann's chair. "What's wrong, baby," the man from New Krypton nearly yell. Dar was scared.

Taking her husband's hand in hers, she commented, "The babies are kicking the hell out of me."

Immediately placing his hand on his wife's abdomen and closing his eyes, Linda's condition almost miraculously improved.

After a few minutes, Linda said to the father of her unborn children. "Thanks, Dar."

Linda's soulmate kissed her on the forehead and said, "Are you sure you're okay, my love?" She smiled and just nodded.

When Linda was perking-up, Lois asked Dar, "What happened? What did you do?"

After a brief pause, Dar told Lois, "Someday I'll tell you, but not now. You're not ready."

When Dar and Linda's semi-emergencies had been quelled, and their domestic problems had been largely settled, the ex- Star reporter, Linda Fox Miller, remarked to those gathered around Ann's desk, "We have an expose about LexGen and its involvement in the drug trade which must be published. The Enquire is no more, and the Star won't print our article. The police, even as we speak, are raiding the LexGen laboratories and their production centers."

Getting the group's attention, Linda asked, "Can the Planet publish Clark's Story?"

"Our story," Clark reminded Linda.

"I don't see why not," Ann replied.

At critical times, timing can be all important.

Unfortunately, at that moment Perry was busy with the budget, so Lois summoned an assistant editor, Tom Griebe. When Tom arrived at Ann's work area, he was given the LexGen article to read and edit. As Griebe was perusing the Kent-Miller story, Lex Luthor with his lieutenants, Nigel and Asabi, charged into the bullpen. When they located Kent and Linda, they hurried toward the science desk.

Seeing that Griebe was editing Kent's drug story, Lex yelled, "You can't print that stuff; it's slanderous. I'll sue the pants off the Planet and send it into oblivion if that story goes to press." It was obvious to everyone there that Lex was employing his well-known scare tactics.

Lex's blustering did upset the young editor until Clark chimed in and remarked, "Don't worry, Tom, I have the hard evidence to support my drug story. That evidence has also been turned over to the FBI, Metropolis' finest, and other international police agencies."

Then turning to face Lex, Clark, with his anger pouring from every fiber of his body, said, "As you are well aware, Lex, a copy of my drug article with its supporting documentation has been sent to the police. I do believe that both the city police and Federal law enforcement agencies are now raiding of the LexGen facilities."

Realizing that he couldn't stop the LexGen story from reaching the people of Metropolis, the master of evil, Lex Luthor, attempted to cover his rear by appealing to Clark's sympathetic demeanor. With oiled ease, Luthor said, "Mr. Kent, please forgive my boorish behavior and my threatening gestures." In his apology scenario, Lex conjured a story in which he indicated that he had reacted from fear induced by the unlawful actions of LexGen's senior management and how it would affect him. It was this fear that caused him to lash out at a perceived antagonist instead of using logic and understanding to bridge the gap between gentlemen. In a whining tone Lex then added that while he still didn't have all the facts, he was still shocked at the unlawful activity of LexGen's C.E.O. and his staff. Pausing for a moment, Lex continued, "I had no idea that the LexGen hierarchy was involved in drug trafficking. I'm sure you'll find, as the investigation proceeds, that there is no direct connection between LexGen's illegal business practices and LexCorp."

Again, Clark realized that Luthor was throwing his lieutenants to the dogs to save his own hide.

Nearly barfing in Lex's face, Clark remarked, "Sounds like the same old theme, Lex — denial, denial, denial and more denial — followed by throwing your associates to the dogs." Turning and looking at Lex squarely in the eyes, Clark finally added, "You're like the boy who cried wolf again and again until his bellowing was unheeded nor believed. Your philosophical image of the good guy is now at an end, oh disciple of evil."

Luthor glared at Clark. After smirking Lex said, "Tell me, Dr. Kent, do you have an aka called Kal Ellis? And, I also would like to know whether you will be my judge, jury, and executioner."

Ah, Clark retorted, "You found me out. How long did it take your great big technical staff to deduce my alter-ego — about three years, my dear Beelzebub? Not a very proficient organization, wouldn't you say, Mr. Luthor?" Then after a slight pause Clark added, "In a way, I'm delighted that you know that Clark Kent and Kal Ellis are one and the same. When the LexGen article hits the street in a few hours, my work here in Metropolis will be done. There will be no need for any further subterfuge. Because there was no hard evidence between you and LexGen, you may again escape the law for the iniquities perpetrated by LexCorp and its subsidiaries. However, I believe meddling with government agencies attempting to monitor the current killer Gulf storm will warrant some kind of societal punishment. And, Lex, I presume your punishment will include jail time, lots of prison time."

Smiling Clark said, "Lex when the guillotine falls for the your government infractions, it will fall for all those who never received justice for being victimized by your other unlawful and evil schemes."

"Dr. Kent, you amaze me," Luthor quipped with venom. "First, you refuse a million dollars a year job to work for LexCorp, and then you go to war with me. For a person with perhaps the single greatest mind of our era, you've behaved with extreme stupidity."

Without rancor, Clark retorted, "I'd never work for you, Lex, or be affiliated with people who regard less fortunate individuals as insignificant and replaceable. Luthor, all of us are unique in some way, and in my view invaluable and irreplaceable. We all have talents, which if nurtured and brought to fruition could help this old world of ours evolve into a better place. I am aware, Luthor, that building a better world will be slow to be sure, but that movement is inevitable and is even now moving toward a society you'll never be able to fathom, oh maven of murders. You with your gluttonous desire for great power and 'your Hitlerian' ideals, in a short time, will soon be less than a memory."

Pausing momentarily, Clark then added, "I want to thank you for blacklisting me, Lex. Since no industrial or academic institution would interview me for any kind of position, I was forced to consider my other love, journalism. I want you to know that it was my journalistic studies that showed me how to confront you, fight your evil, and beat back the malignant ideas, ideas you attempted to disseminate throughout our world corrupting it in turn, oh captain of murderers. Your hunger to control, Lex, and the power you've use to crush people will in the end destroy you and all your sinister works."

As Clark was speaking, Luthor's face became distorted, and for the first time in public, Lex revealed signs of his psychopathic disposition, which, over the years, he'd hidden so well behind a controlled facade. Gone was the charisma that had duped so many. Vanished were his charming airs and debonair ways that had flattered and seduced many women. His usual suave mannerisms at last gave way to rage; rage which was clearly discernible in his gaze.

As Planet staffers looked on, you could see the disgust and mounting anger on their faces for having been deceived by Lex's pernicious masquerade for such a long time.

Luthor, having revealed his true nature, caused Clark to comment, "My efforts to date might not have destroyed you entirely, Lex, but my investigations have allowed one Clark Kent to alert the world about your nefarious doings and provide Earth's population with the tools to check your depraved abilities from injuring more descent folk. The strength of the press has placed my words before humankind, and it seems that they have sparked a movement that will move against your power base and other ploys. Others, more skilled than I, I'm now sure will finish the job."

For one of the rare moments in his life Luthor knew fear — fear of failure and the knowledge that jail time for the great Lex Luthor was a real possibility. When the Planet's expose of Lex's illicit schemes became public in a few hours — using Clark and Linda's article — Lex Luthor would become an outcast in Metropolis, a city he once nearly owned.

As Lex stared at the man who was responsible for shattering his empire and painting him as a pariah among his fellows, all Luthor could do was show his contempt for Clark Kent and bathe in the resentment and anger of all those present — people who would be witnesses to Luthor's downfall and humiliation.

While the malevolent entrepreneur stood there staring at his nemesis, CJ Kent, the evil of evil was tapped on his shoulder. Turning Lex beheld a well dress and immaculately groomed individual who introduced himself as Bob Durlac, FBI. When Luthor acknowledged his name, the agent said, "Lex Luthor, I have a warrant for your arrest. I am authorized by this federal document to take you into custody for meddling with the NOAA weather satellite system and interfering with the Commerce Department's ability to perform its duties. Your interference has placed a host of people in harms way, many of whom may perish because of your interference in the nation's business."

As the federal agent was leading Luthor to a place of incarceration, the head of the LexCorp conglomerate turned toward Clark and said, "You turned down a million dollars or more a year to work for peanuts in the newspaper racket. What a fool you are, Kent, to worry about the little people. You, Dr. Kent, could have been one of the controlling factors in world affairs. What a nincompoop you are. You've become the big loser in this affair, a very big loser. Life will render your works to the dung heap, and it is you who will be forgotten by history."

I think not Lois heard Linda murmur.

When Lex had concluded his unusually quiet tirade, Clark said to himself, "Guess I'm a loser. But, I wouldn't have it any other way, Luthor."

As Clark watched Luthor being escorted from the Planet building, Kent was unaware of the exquisite smile Lois directed towards the man from Kansas. She was overjoyed at hearing Clark express his ethical and moral codes. Lois was just beginning to realize that the Lane and Kent value systems were the same.

It must be noted that just as Lex was about to leave the bullpen area, Clark did make one final comment. He told Luthor, "I may be a loser, but if you ever reminisce about our clashes add this comment to your thoughts. My father told me long ago that there are no pockets in a coffin and even the best of us will probably be less than a memory in a hundred years or so.

"My father told me, Lex, that the only thing a person can leave to posterity is a good or cursed name. In his inevitable way, he implored me to dedicate my life to the service of others. If I did as he subtly implied, I would always possess a cheerful heart and would be content with my lot all the days of my existence."

"Sounds like sound advice to me," Durlac said as he led the apostle of evil out of the newsroom to jail.

As Lex disappeared, Clark whispered, "The tree of transgressions always bears bitter fruit."

"There he goes," Linda said with a joyous timbre in her voice.

"Unfortunately," Clark declared, "he'll be back all too soon. With his power and influence, I'm convinced that Lex's jail time will be minimal. Power and money can create strange bed fellows."

When Clark quieted down, Jimmy remarked, "Hey, CK, can I use that tree phrase as a caption under my lead picture of Lex being taken into custody?"

Smiling at the cub reporter, Clark replied, "Sure, you can use it. I'm flattered that you think my little ditty is worthy of being linked to your photograph."

Pausing for a second Clark remarked to Jimmy, "Always remember the character of Lex Luthor and his onslaught against the people of the world. When he's gone, there will be others who will attempt to take his place."

"When you really study Lex's actions, Jimmy, you'll learn that he spurned all that makes our country great: The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of our nation. To me," Clark added, "Lincoln expressed who we are simply and succinctly. The folk of our country founded this Federation on principles that stated that this nation is a 'government of the people, by the people, and for the people,' not for those who would be tyrants over the land and, like Lex Luthor, would apply the principle that you make bread and I'll eat it.

"For a little while, the world will have a respite from Lex Luthor's menacing ventures. The viper's fangs have been pulled, but they will grow and again to become an instrument of death.

"What made Lex a dangerous animal," CJ added, "was his ability to blend, almost seamlessly, into his surroundings. He was a psychopathic killer who could easily masquerade as a charming gentleman and use his vast sums to buy his way into society. If you recall, Lex used his millions to promote a philanthropic image, which blinded the good people of Metropolis to his real goals. Remember," Clark reminded his friends "that although Luthor's camouflage has been ripped away, the man still has teeth that can rend an intended target and laugh as he watches death claim his victim. So watch your backs."

After Lex was hauled off to jail, the reporters gathered about Ann's desk again and began watching the large monitors scattered about the newsroom. The killer storm, had been given the name Luthor, after the creator of nature's confrontation with man. The storm was becoming more menacing as it advanced at an unheard-of speed of fifty miles per hour across the Gulf of Mexico.

As the Planet's bullpen gang watched the most violent storm in recorded history, Constance Hunter, the chief lawyer for the Lara and Jorel Foundation, quietly sauntered across the news floor as she headed for Perry's office.

While Ms. Hunter was conferring with Perry White, Tom Griebe finished reading Clark's LexGen story and commented, "In my estimation, this story is one of the best- investigated articles I've read in quite some time."

"Thanks," Clark replied. Then, Kent turned to the bullpen monitors and began watching the belated evacuation activity begin throughout endangered coastal areas.

Army and civilian helicopters commandeered from every conceivable location in the Southern part of the U.S. and support groups up and down the Eastern Seaboard were making Herculean efforts to remove people from the hurricane Luthor's path.

As Clark was starring at the bullpen monitors, Griebe suddenly made an inane statement. He commented, "Since you want the LexGen story to be published in the Daily Planet, I believe that one of our reporter's bylines should be included with the article — in the lead position, of course."

Thinking Tom was teasing, Lois, snickering, chimed in, "I believe that's a fair request."

Kat Grant, who just joined the group gathered about Ann's desk, gasped in disbelief as she heard Tom Griebe's rather glib statement. The gossip columnist hurriedly remarked, "Tom, your statement has the ingredients of an extortion declaration compelling those who can't defend himself to surrender part of his/her wages. I hope," Kat then added, "what you articulated was said in jest." Kat then remarked, "What you've proposed is nothing more than theft of intellectual property. Please say something, Tom, which will refute your pronouncement and restore your integrity and the morality of this newspaper. If you follow through and seize Clark and Linda's article, you'll mark us all as lousy and untrustworthy journalists."

Then the gray complexion that suddenly appeared on Kat's face when the gossip columnist initially heard Griebe's statement became paler as Kat's intuition finally accepted the realization that the young assistant editor's statement had serious intent behind its declaration. Kat was now aware that her feeling about Grieb's announcement was valid. It was what Kat feared most. What Griebe had said in sorta of a joking mood was about to become reality. The young Planet editor was about to make a terrible faux pas — the worst mistake of his life. His decision would also drive Kent and his friends from their midst, probably for good, and as she had just stated to the group gathered around Ann's desk, the Planet was about to receive a terrible black eye by calling into question its hard won integrity status.

Before Lois could Join Kat and clarify her own statement, a rather stunned Clark Kent slowly turned to face both Griebe and Lois, his eyes now mirroring the anger that was now coursing through his body. Pausing to regain his equilibrium, Clark Kent responded, with anger in his voice, "Is it really your desire to have a Planet staff writer be included as a contributor in the byline of the LexGen story and have his or her name placed at the first credit position?"

To Lois' horror, Griebe nodded confirming his original assertion. Seeing the rage erupt on Clark's face, Lois, like Cat, was frozen by the shock of the situation and the fear of the repercussions due to Grieb's foolish act. Her mind was numbed by Griebe's outrageous demands. By the time her mind was firing on all thrusters, Lois knew that her teasing had supported a mendacious ploy and again sent the wrong message to Clark Kent.

Lois watched Clark grab the LexGen article from Tom's hands and slam it in cold fury on Ann's desk. Then, CJ Kent grabbed a pen and scratched out his and Linda's names in the by-line box. He then printed Lois' moniker onto the credits line. Turning to Linda, Clark then asked, "Is what I've just done okay with you, Ms. Miller?" Dar's soulmate nodded, totally in agreement with Clark's angry gesture. Like CJ and her husband, Linda did not do things for notoriety or accolades.

When Clark obtained his partner's agreement, he placed the LexGen news copy back into the hands of Thomas Griebe, intellectual bandit and assistant editor of the Daily Planet.

After Griebe obtained control of the manuscript again, he jumped up and began looking for a copy boy. At this point Lois tried to intercede and stop this farcical scenario gone wrong. However, she was pushed aside by a very excited assistant editor who rushed onto the news floor searching for someone to help him get the Kent-Miller story into print. Such an expose, Grieb thought, would increase his standing with the Planet hierarchy. This story had Pulitzer written all over it.

As Tom continued to search for a copy boy, Lois went after him in an attempt to stop this journalistic travesty from proceeding any further. The consequences of Grieb's folly would be far reaching and be damaging not only to the Planet's reputation, but any further relationships with Clark, Daren, and Linda would be dead in the water.

As Lois tried to follow Tom Grieb through the bustling bullpen, she lost him in the crush of people rushing about the newsroom.

Not being able to locate a copy boy, Tom Griebe dashed to the publishing department and gave orders that the LexGen story he handed to the department head should appear on the front page of the Planet's extra edition then in the composing room.

As Clark watched Tom Griebe disappear with his LexGen story, he turned to Linda and Daren saying, "Let's blow this joint. There's nothing here for three unemployed reporters except deceit, extortion and thievery."

After a slight pause, Clark added, "I have a notion that we should leave this city before dawn and head for greener and, hopefully, more honest pastures." From the Miller's facial expressions, Clark knew that both Dar and Linda hardily agreed with his suggestion.

To support his brother's views, Dar added, "I'm afraid you're right, Kal. It's time to leave this honest and upright city. Then Dar broke into a fit of cynical laughter."

As they were about to exit the newsroom, Linda whispered to Ann, "Please come to our house about eight this evening. It's important that we see you before the Kent and Millers blow this berg."

About a half hour after Clark and the Millers left the paper, Perry and Constance emerged from the chief's office.

Walking to the center of the newsroom, the chief raised his arms and yelled, "Everybody, let me have your attention."

Perry stated, "First, let me introduce the chief counsel for the Lara and Jorel Foundation, Ms. Constance Hunter. Grabbing Constance's hand and raising it in the air for a moment, Perry remarked, "This young woman has informed me that the people she represents have just purchased the Daily Planet." Pausing for a moment to allow his message to penetrate the gray matter of his staff, Perry then further added, "Folks, I've been told that nothing will change in the basic operational procedures of the Daily Planet. The people Constance serves have a hands-off policy when competent people run the organizations they administer. Her superiors, therefore, have assured me that we'll have complete control over the paper's operation as long as the Planet maintains its current level of integrity and insures that the news quality, which I might add makes our paper the finest daily on the face of the globe, is maintained at its current level. We'll thrash out the Paper's new operational details at our monthly dinner meeting next Monday, boys and girls. All who are able should attend this restructuring dinner-conference should do so. I want y'all to know this association with the Lara and Jorel Foundation people will free us from the possibility of a hostile takeover and supply the paper with almost limitless capital for its operational needs."

Later that afternoon Perry began leafing through the Planet's extra edition, which hit the streets of Metropolis earlier that day. As he was perusing the front page, the LexGen article, by now a familiar story, appeared to be written in an unfamiliar style. By allowing his reporter's instincts to guild his feelings, Perry knew that something about the article was out of kilter. Then it hit him. While the story bore Lois' byline, the writing style, which narrated the LexGen article, was definitely not hers. The piece lacked the sharp hard-hitting edge, which characterized all the Lane stories. However, Perry recognized that whoever composed this expose was undoubtedly a first-class investigative reporter and superb writer. It was one of the best articles he'd ever read. The touchy-feely element imbedded within the story provided the article with dignity and grace and gave its characters a human quality. As he was about to summon Lois to his office, Perry also realized that this story would finally discredit Lex's image as a philanthropic good guy and an honest broker. Perry also was well aware that Lex would be back. The LexGen article would only take Luthor out of his power game for a short while. A snake like Luthor just didn't vanish from the world stage without a titanic struggle. That battle would be waged soon enough, but for a little time, yet, Lex Luthor would do his worst.

When Lois entered the chief's office, he handed her a copy of the Planet's extra edition, which largely dealt with Luthor's fall from grace, and directed her attention to the LexGen story. Seeing the article with her byline for the first time, Lois exclaimed, "Oh my G-D." The shock of seeing her name on someone else's story literally shocked her into silence. The room began to spin, forcing Lois to sit down, while the Planet's top journalist attempted to regain her composure. After regaining some control over her emotions, Lois realized that Tom had really done it. He published Clark's article under Lois Lane's byline. With her eyes riveted on Clark's article, Lois began to sob as she understood the consequences of Tom's actions. He had made Lois an accomplice in the theft of another reporter's material. In essence, her name on the LexGen story indicated that she was in cahoots when Tom Griebe in his despicable action of appropriating Kent's LexGen story for his own use. Breaking into tears, Lois awkwardly explained to Perry the events surrounding the LexGen affair, which eventually led to the publication of Kent's story under an imposter's byline — the Lane byline.

After hearing Lois' tale, Perry rose from his desk and slowly walked to his office door and bellowed, "Tom Griebe, get your duff to my office right now!" A few moments later, a rather perplexed assistant editor rushed into Perry's newsroom sanctuary.

The editor of the Planet didn't mince words; he went right for the jugular. "Thomas Griebe," Perry White nearly yelled his name, "did you authorize the publication of the LexGen Story with Lois as its author? Just answer, yes or no."

"Yes, sir," Tom immediately replied.

Gazing angrily at Griebe for several seconds, Perry then indicated that his assistant editor should take a seat. Perry closed and said, "You know, son, I should fire you on the spot for your breach of this paper's ethical codes. In your haste to enhance the name of this newspaper or maybe your own stature, you actually sullied the nom de plume of our publication and did considerable damage to your own reputation. You pilfered a story from a fellow journalist and made Lois appear as an accomplice to your unprincipled behavior."

Perry arose from his desk and walked over to Tom and said, "You'll pack-up your things and pick up an airplane ticket to Anchorage Alaska from Doris in personnel. You are being transferred to our bureau there for the present — maybe for a long while. Who knows? I'm too angry and disgusted to make a rational decision."

"Before you leave Metropolis, Tom, I want you to write a letter of apology to the Planet and especially to Lois Lane for your censurable behavior. Your communique should be addressed to the journalistic community at large."

As Tom was leaving the chief's office, Perry further remarked, "A newspaper, Tom, isn't a machine that just spits out the news without any regard to people. A paper is driven by a special group of talented people, people with feelings who attempt to educate the public we serve. The staff of a good paper like the Planet is a community of spiritual kin, dedicated to telling the truth or as close to the truth as they can get to counter ignorance and want; ignorance which politicians and business tyrants would prefer to quash so that their special interests could be better served. What you forgot, young man, is that all of us who call the Planet home help each other, and in really are spiritual kin dedicated to telling the truth. This paper, Mr. Griebe, as do all good newspapers, attempts to supply relatively truthful information to the people they serve. Our printed copy is simply the end product of what we do as a journalistic family. The Planet's creations are the glue which, in the end, holds the Planet family together."

Pausing for a moment, Perry added, "The Daily Planet hopefully will survive long into the future espousing truth and justice — well maybe not justice. That concept is difficult to define. Justice is really an abstraction completely devoid of reality. To speak of justice in a world of diverse cultures and views where people are rarely tolerant is a logical absurdity."

Pacing about the office for a few more seconds, Perry said, "You and I know that the people who are now creating our publication will, in time, pass from the scene giving way to others who will uphold the Planet's ethical and moral traditions of this paper. Griebe, If you want to be a company person then you better consider moving on. Here, we work for the welfare of others not just for the stockholders and their pocketbooks. When you get to Anchorage, think hard about what I've told you. I believe some of my thoughts may eventually serve you well, if you take them to heart." Then, grasping the former assistant editor's hand, Perry ended their conversation with, "Have a safe and rewarding adventure, Tom."

When Tom Griebe left the chief's inner sanctum, Perry turned to Lois and said, "Darlin', maybe I should have given him his walking papers, but I strongly believe that every person deserves a second chance."

"So do I, Perry, so do I," Lois replied.

Returning to her desk, Lois spied Kat. As she sat down, the gossip columnist came over and casually remarked, "Penny for your thoughts."

"Oh, Kat," Lois replied, "me and my lousy personality has again created a mess."

As Lois was lamenting her circumstances, Kat urged her on saying, "Go on… go on, gal. Let it all hang out."

Shaking her head, Lois continued, "As you know, Kent was here during the hurricane announcement and the ensuing excitement. While walking beside him as we approached one of the large wall monitors, we momentarily came in contact with each other. As we briefly touched, Kat, I felt some sort of electrical energy flowing between us. Its effect seemed to be binding our souls to one another. Apparently, Clark felt something too. I could see a startled look on his face. Then, to cover this rather awkward situation, I said something foolish, which at the time I believed was subtly humorous. After another of my brainless comments," Lois continued, "had again betrayed me by insulting Kent again in some way, he turned and looked me with such venom that I shuddered. Clark then returned his attention to Tom Griebe and after making a few scathing remarks, Kent and the Millers angrily left the newsroom. I'm afraid, Kat that after this last encounter, I'll never see Clark Kent again. It's not fair. Life has kicked me hard, again, but, this time with a hurtful vengeance. Oh, Kat, when we touched, it felt as though Clark and I were meant to be together, forever— beyond forever. Now I'm afraid that dream has ended."

Looking at Lois, Kat said, "I've always believed in Kismet. If it's meant to be, you'll see him again, Lois." Placing her hand on her friend's shoulder, Kat, added, "I've got a strange feeling, Lois, that Clark Kent is your destiny."

"From your mouth to G-D's ears," Lois replied to Kat's prophetic articulations. Then, the Planet's star reporter gave into her hurts, placed her head in her hands, and quietly began to sob.

At eight p.m. that evening, Ann Simms arrived at the Miller's abode, located a few short blocks from the Planet. Before she had a chance to knock at their door, it opened, and she stood facing a smiling Daren Miller. Ann was startled and wondered how Daren knew that she was on his stoop. Then shrugging her shoulders, she entered the house. Daren took her coat and escorted her to the living room.

As she entered the main living quarters of the Miller home, Ann saw Clark Kent and a very pregnant Linda Miller. As she seated herself, Daren handed Ann what appeared to be a normal laptop computer.

Nothing then was said for some minutes while Ann examined the small computing device. When she finally looked up, Daren informed her, "That laptop you're cradling is yours to keep. It's a gift from all of us here to a true friend and colleague and a gracious and kindhearted person."

"Thanks, guys," she replied, "but I already have one of these gizmos."

"Please keep this one, Ann," Daren replied, "It's happens to be unique."

After a slight pause, Daren added, "While that computing instrument you're now holding may appear to be a standard laptop computer, Ann, it is capable of a myriad of systems, and can perform more sophisticated computations that any such machine of its size. Within its indestructible case, I've inserted a special software language in your microcomputer's memory. The symbolic language within your machine is mainly oriented toward forecasting weather conditions. In that capacity, it is more sophisticated that any such program that will exist on this world in many years. And, Ann, no one, and I repeat no one but you, will be able to access this laptop you're now holding except yourself and the three of us."

Daren then took Ann's right hand and placed it on the case that housed her special laptop. As Ann's hand was placed upon the computer case, she sensed a tingling sensation, which rapidly coursed through her body. Later she learned that the tingling feeling was her body's aura coupling with the electronics emissions produced by her new weather computer.

Allowing Ann a few moments to digest what she just learned and experienced, Daren added, "When you want to access the weather program contained in your laptop we've named the WSP, touch the computer case and say or think the words 'Andromeda seven.' Then, by using either the keyboard, talking to your laptop, or mentally communicating with the WSP, you can request the most current weather information from any location on planet. While the laptop's computer program is functioning, the WSP will also be updating the weather conditions, second by second, throughout the world. The information will be provided by twelve cloaked satellites, each in its own geosynchronous orbit, about the Earth."

Daren then handed her a hand-held device that, in appearance, looked like a TV controller box. If for any reason, Ann were told, the computer containing the WSB package was misplaced or taken from her desktop, the TV like tool she now possessed would help her locate the special laptop. If for any reason the WSP computer could not be retrieved within a seven-day period, the weather laptop would self-destruct. Also, Ann was informed that upon her death the computer would immediately destroy itself. These safeguards had been incorporated into the special weather computer so that the technology, which powered the laptop and the WSP weather system within the special computer, would not fall into the wrong hands.

When Daren finished his mini lecture, he seated himself in a comfortable chair and remained ready to comment further about the laptop's capabilities. As Daren waited, Clark said, "My brother, I do believe you left out several points that Ann should know. So if you don't mind, I'll add a few comment?" Dar-El nodded his head in agreement.

Facing Ann, Clark said, "Your WSP bearing computer also possesses a cloaking device which will emasculate the audio and visible senses and shield the WSP from detection by fabricated surveillance contrivances and humankind's organic senses. By saying or thinking the Andromeda seven, your code word, followed by adding cloak the WSP, your laptop will become invisible. The cloaking apparatus," Clark added, "works by refracting a special color pattern which will surround your portable computer. These optical arrangements are beyond human perception and will block any apparatus containing all kinds of surveillance equipment."

After a few moments Ann replied, "Clark, in your presentation, there was a particular concept which was not clear. How do I communicate with the WSP by just thinking or projecting thoughts at the laptop."

Giggling, a very pregnant Linda waddled over to Ann and placed a small metallic cap on her head. When it was activated, Ann felt that parts of her brain felt unstuffed.

When Ann Simms recovered from her astonishment, Linda said, "Tell me whether you can sense the following thoughts I shall mentally transmit to you?" With that surprising statement, Ann and Linda's mechanical conversation ceased. A few seconds later, the Planet's science editor heard coursing through her head, "Hi there, my friend."

After a moment Linda saw Ann's eyes become as large as saucers and the meteorologist began to shake her head excitability as she said, "Telepathic communication. You're communicating telepathically and I'm receiving."

"Yep," replied Linda.

After a brief pause in Linda's telepathic banter, Dar's soulmate told Ann, "Think of a word or phase and sort of push it at me."

Closing her eyes, Ann created the phrase and gave her message a thrust towards an image of Daren's life partner.

Linda almost immediately repeated Ann's telepathic remark to her friend. Linda then told Ann, "The mental barriers which were repressing your telepathic abilities have been removed from your mind. If you wish," Linda added, "you could now mentally communicate with the WSP or anybody, for that matter, by using your new mental skill."

Staring at Linda, for a moment, Ann asked, "Do all earth people have the potential for telepathic communication?"

"Yes," Linda replied. "When humanity truly understands the paranormal, the people of this world will be capable of developing telepathic abilities."

Gazing at her three friends, Ann asked, "Where do you guys come from?" It was a question she'd been dying to ask since this idiosyncratic scenario began.

Answering Ann's query Linda replied, "I was born on earth. Clark arrived here as a baby from a planet called Krypton. His home world was destroyed soon after he was launched into the wilderness of space. My husband came to Earth about five years ago from a space colony established by the original Kryptonese people, a world called New Krypton or NK by its inhabitants. The people of Krypton and New Krypton are biologically compatible with Earth folk. I can attest to that." She patted her abdominal area emphasizing her obviously very gravid condition.

After pausing briefly, Linda added, "It is believed that the current inhabitants of Earth are the descendants of some of Krypton's early interstellar explorers who arrived in the Sol solar system via a wormhole approximately two- hundred millennia in the past. Having no way of returning to their home, they eventually colonized Earth. The major difference that now appears to separate our two peoples is the modified genome that was incorporated in the modern Kryptonian's biology about seventy-five thousand years ago. My husband and Clark have recently developed a genetic mutation device that can create the special conditions needed to transform an Earth born individual into a modern Kryptonian. My children," Linda added, "will be Earth born Kryptonians since the modified chromosomal condition is a dominant biological factor and will be passed on to their progeny as long as one of the genetic conception donors possesses the modern Kryptonian genetic characteristics."

As Ann and Linda's conversation faltered for the moment, Daren took this opportunity to chime in and add, "Ann, please be careful not to disclose what you've seen or heard this evening. If you want to talk to someone and possibly learn more about us, contact Bernie Klein at STAR labs. Use the phrase Andromeda seven when you introduce yourself and he'll know that you are part with our group.

"If you wish, Ann, you can also communicate with Bernie telepathically. His mind has also been conditioned for mind to mind exchanges." However, I do suggest that you inform him face to face before you attempt any mental interactions. He's very sensitive and may react in a negative way.

Clark then remarked, "Whether you apprise your spouse of what occurred this evening, Ann, is left to your discretion. That's not a problem."

Ann replied, "My husband was killed in a car accident some years ago."

"I'm terribly sorry," Daren murmured.

Placing her hand on Daren's shoulder, Ann quietly said, "I'm okay." Pausing for a moment, Ann added, "While the hurt from my loss will always be part of my psyche, I must tell you that the ache does diminish slowly with the passage of time, and you somehow manage to continue your trek through life."

Then Ann added, "While I don't expect the anguish of my husband's untimely passing to entirely disappear, you reach a point where you can cope. I think that's the psychological posture of my kids. That's the current condition where my kids and I now emotionally reside. Maybe, just maybe, if I meet another man with whom I can again share love, the pain of my husband's loss will fade and become just bitter sweet memories, memories that will be forever locked in my heart and will always somehow spiritually connect my soul to his."

After a quiet pause to let the emotions of the group return to a semblance of normalcy, Daren said, "Ann, please don't inform your children about us until they've matured. Kids have a tendency to talk without thinking."

Ann nodded affirmatively.

Then to bolster the spirits of those present, Linda smiling broadly said, "Let's enjoy some pie and ice cream."

"I can go for that," Clark said. The Miller's company that evening followed Linda to the kitchen to imbibe in a pie-a- la-mode orgy.

As pie and ice cream were being consumed, Linda pulled Ann aside and gave her a TD button and told her to place it on a wall in a remote part of her home. Linda then informed her friend how to work the teleportation device, an instrument that would allow Ann to visit the super family any time she wished.

As Ann and Linda were returning to the living room, the Earth born Kryptonian said to her newspaper friend and colleague, "The guys have asked me to request a favor of you. You can decline our solicitation if it doesn't meet with your approval."

Pausing for a few seconds, Linda said, "Each member in our family group has contributed semen or in my case ovum and tissue samples to be stored in a stasis container — like immersing living tissue samples in liquid nitrogen for revival at some future time. The quantity we asked is small. I have harvested a hundred of my ovum along with a tissue specimen for this project. We need more male and female material to increase the genetic diversity within our biological repository."

After another slight pause, Ann inquired, "What's the purpose for storing genetic material?"

Smiling Linda replied, "If for any reason Earth suddenly became devoid of all life for any number of reasons, automated equipment, in a place we call Sanctuary, would take the stored genetic material and initiate conception in artificial wombs. With the proper DNA sequences at our disposal, life forms, both Kryptonian and those of our Earth cousins, would not perish from the cosmos — they would not become extinct. Your harvested ovules will add to the diversity we'll need for a genetically viable population. Overtime, Ann, we hope to add more semen and ovum specimens to our repository." Now understanding the reason for Linda's request, Ann agreed to harvest some of her ovum and have them placed in the stasis vault located on the space platform Sanctuary.

Later, when Clark and Dar left the kitchen for the den area to discuss some scientific matters, Ann again pulled Linda aside.

Then Ann quietly asked, "Why don't you try to locate a life partner for Clark. He's a lonely man."

"A good question and a better idea," Linda replied. "However, my friend," Linda added "Clark already has found his soulmate; his life partner you spoke of, Ann was informed. Unfortunately, Linda continued, "Both times Clark encountered his soulmate in a face to face situation; tension quickly developed between them which resulted in a verbal donnybrook. Clark found his life partner to be a very self-centered person — a me, myself, and I kind of person. Kal-El may adore her, Linda also pointed-out, but because of this woman's narrow view about relationships between men and women, especially about trusting and sharing, I feel he'll never make an attempt to court her. Because of what occurred when they met the last time, Clark told me, he'll strive to avoid all contact with his battling soulmate during the remainder of his lifetime."

"Do I know Clark's soulmate?" Ann asked.

Hesitating for a moment, Linda replied, "Her name is Lois Lane. Please, Ann, Linda said immediately, don't mention that you know the identity of Clark's life partner's and don't mention her occasional dysfunctional attitudes when she interacts with people, especially men, when Clark is around. For Kent's mental and emotional stability," Linda said to Ann, "maybe we shouldn't speak of the Lane woman at all." Linda then added, "I have this feeling that CJ is ashamed that Lois' and his biology are linked."

After Linda finished talking about Clark's soulmate condition, Ann just nodded. Then the Planet's science editor remarked to Linda, "Maybe Clark's not reading Lois correctly. She has had several intimate relationships since I've known her. It may be that her liaisons with her paramours were far from satisfactory. Such an unsatisfactory ingredient added to Lois' already complex and high strung nature just might have triggered her hostile attitude toward Clark and men generally."

"I agree with your supposition," Linda replied. "However, the question of their relationship remains moot unless we can somehow get them together. That means we must help Lois and Clark resolve their current rift. That, my friend, could give us nightmares till the end of time."

"You're right," Ann remarked. "What you suggested, Linda, is gonna be a hard nut to crack. They can be extremely stubborn when they've been rebuffed or when they believe they have been slighted."

After deliberating a moment longer, Linda remarked, "If they don't somehow overcome their impasse, you know that Clark and Lois will each have a loveless and lonely existence."

Although saddened by Linda's thoughts, Ann had to agree with her friend.

Later that week, Ann, using the TD system, teleported to a designated location and had some of her ovum harvested and placed in the Sanctuary repository. During the harvesting process, Ann reminded Linda that her ovum was from a middle-aged woman and might possess some genetic aberrations due to her age. She was told not to worry. Enzymatic chemicals were part of the bio-storage system and would correct any damage to her reproductive material, if required, before it was permanently added to the stasis chamber.

Before returning home, Ann was informed that she could use any of the destination portals within the TD transportation network. However, for the present, Ann was asked not to include any of her children on her trips through the TD complex. Clark and the Millers were still very concerned about blabbing kids.

As Ann was about to leave for home, she asked Linda, "Can I tell Lois about my adventures?"

After a momentary pause, Linda smiled and replied, "It's fine with me." Both Clark and Daren, who had just rejoined the gals, also agreed that informing the Planet's top reporter about what Ann had learned was fine, providing Lois promised to keep what she was told a secret.

"Thanks, guys," Ann replied telepathically. "If Lois believes me and can restrain herself, I'll have someone with whom to share my fantasy land adventures." Ann heard chuckling coursing through her head as a reply to her ludicrous remarks.

Kissing Linda on the cheek, Ann entered the teleportation gate and was instantly whisked home.

It wasn't until almost a week later that Ann had time to start learning the ins and outs of Daren's gift — how to use special weather laptop. As she studied the Kryptonian device, the Planet's science editor began to realize the significance of her friend's scientific and engineering accomplishment. Like Clark, Daren, too, was intellectually and technically gifted.

When Ann started using her new weather device, the newsroom had settled down and was producing high quality work.

Several weeks after the storm episode, however, Trask and a number of Bureau Thirty-nine troopers descended upon the Planet's newsroom in blitz tempo. As they charged into the bullpen, Perry attempted to intercept them and prevent Bureau Thirty-nine's aggressive trespass onto the news floor. Perry, with all his swagger, was unsuccessful.

In Perry's face to face confrontation with Trask, the Bureau Thirty-nine leader waved what appeared to be a document of some sort over his head and shouted, "We're here on National Security business." He then handed the paper to Perry proclaiming, "This is a court order allowing us to search the premises and interrogate your people."

"You're violating the First Amendment," Perry screamed as the Bureau Thirty-nine militarists pushed their way through the bullpen area.

As his men were placing themselves at strategic positions around the news floor, Jason Trask yelled at Perry saying, "That's why we have courts. That warrant you're holding, Mr. White," Trask continued, "is also a guarantor of the Constitution of which you speak. Such a document allows the government to protect itself and the people it represents."

Angrily Perry replied, "Your words are like the utterances of a tyrant, a man who distorts the people's rights to further his own ends."

"Think what you like, Mr. White, but I still have my mandate from the Federal Court that says I get what I want."

Perry barked, "Jimmy, get on the horn and find out about this writ." Jimmy rushed into Perry's office and called the Planet's council.

Within a few minutes, Perry had his answer: Trask's authority was legitimate.

As Perry looked on, Bureau Thirty-nine rolled in a number of polygraph machines and attached them to various staff members. Then Trask's goons started interrogating the Planet's people about Daren Miller and his unique weather equipment.

From Bureau Thirty-nine's investigation, Trask learned that a new laptop computer device had been given to Ann as a parting gift from the Linda Miller.

With a little more probing, Trask also learned that Ann was also a close friend and colleague of Daren Miller, Linda's spouse. The Bureau commander then demanded to see Ann Simms.

Smiling, Perry said, "This is her day off. She took her kids to the zoo."

Learning of Ann's absence from the newsroom, Trask, in a psychotic display of pique, slammed his fist continually on a desktop until blood began oozing from his battered hand.

Seeing his own blood, Track ceased walloping the wooden desk and began thinking about Ann Simms. Regaining his composure Trask remarked, "Forget the broad. She's not important at present. We got what we came for — the alien's computer."

"Alien!" Perry bellowed at Trask's comment.

"Yeah," Trask replied. "If you do a complete computer search to locate a person who calls himself Daren Miller, with his apparent technical credentials, you'll discover, Perry, that such a person didn't exist on this planet until about five years ago." Pausing for a moment Trask further added, "We'll find him and that alien loving bitch, Linda Fox, and remove them from the habitats of humankind."

"You mean kill them," Jimmy retorted.

"You got it, kid," one of Trask's lieutenants replied with a snicker.

After one of Trask's grunts made a similar remark, the Bureau Thirty-nine chief added, "We call it the extermination of vermin."

"When we dispose of Linda and Daren, we'll track down the third alien," Trask declared vehemently.

The hatred in Trask's voice was matched by the crazed look of the Bureau Thirty-nine's leader. As Trask relished the coming execution of the alien scum, the Bureau Thirty-nine commander drooled — another indicator of his mental instability.

"What do you mean a third alien?" Perry inquired.

Taking a deep breath, the Bureau Thirty-nine chief informed all who were within ear shot that his Bureau's security unit was aware that a space craft had landed near Smallville Kansas sometime during May of nineteen sixty- six. "We know that this date is relatively correct because a strike force of our Bureau found the ship shortly after it arrived on Earth. Our scientists think that the occupant was an infant or small child. It is also our contention that the nineteen sixty-six arrival has already linked-up with Daren and his traitorous harlot."

As Trask continued his invective insinuations, Perry spat, "Linda's his wife, damn you."

Jason Trask then sarcastically replied, "To me, Linda Fox is a traitor to humankind. That bitch, her so called husband, and their mongrel offspring must be found and eliminated to maintain the genetic purity of our species."

It was at that moment that Perry and his circle of colleagues realized that the Bureau Thirty-nine commander was a taco short of a full deck — a very dangerous mental case. He was way, way out of touch with reality. This man desperately needed a keeper for his own sake and for the safety of others. If Trask was not removed from his position soon and placed in an asylum, many homicides would be committed in the name of Earth's preservation.

As Perry and the Planet's staff were coming to terms with Trask's mental condition, one of Trask's men ran over and said, "Colonel, we're having a problem with the alien's computer."

Hustling over to Ann's desk, Trask lifted the laptop. As soon as he lifted the laptop, a deep metallic voice said, "You are not authorized to move this computing system from its present location. Any attempt to do so will initiate a self-destruction sequence."

Placing Ann's computer immediately back on her desk, Trask called for cutting instruments to gut the laptop and remove the explosive elements. The parts of the computing device then could be thoroughly examined, at leisure, in the secure environment of the bureau's headquarters.

Unfortunately for the Bureau Thirty-nine commander, each cutting tool in Bureau Thirty-nine's arsenal failed to penetrate the computer's casing of Ann's laptop. Scanning devices also could not reveal any details about the electronic components within Ann's special computer. Daren had made quite sure that the hardware and software within the weather laptop were secure from unauthorized prying eyes.

After hours of frustrating work, Trask finally hurled the laptop across the newsroom. As it hit the floor, an intense whitish light appeared which rapidly reduced the small computing device to a pile of white powder.

With a gesture Trask scooped up the remains of laptop and within a few minutes the men of Bureau Thirty-nine had vacated the Daily Planet.

Later, Jason Trask would also learn that the white residue, the remains of Daren's special computer, would not yield any viable information even when probed by the most sophisticated analytical tools on the planet. The residue from Ann's laptop was as mysterious as a black hole or a gamma ray source near the edge of the universe.

During the entire Bureau Thirty-nine affair, Lois had been quietly writing a scathing article about government intervention into domestic affairs and connecting her story to the violation of the first amendment. Of course, when Lois' article hit the streets, the government quickly denied any involvement in the Planet incident and declared that as far as their records disclosed, an agency known as Bureau Thirty-nine was a nonexistent. The federal judge who supposedly issued the warrant also denied discharging the writ. When asked to yield the warrant as evidence, the Planet's hierarchy couldn't produce the document. The court order had apparently decomposed soon after Trask and his troopers retired from the newsroom.

All surveillance tapes and telephone records had also been judiciously removed or deleted as Bureau Thirty-nine concluded its business with the Planet and disappeared.

Since there was no physical evidence that Trask's invading force existed, the government subtly attempted to muzzle the Planet's Bureau Thirty-nine investigation. However, the Federal bureaucracy was thwarted in its attempt to silence the Daily Planet's inquiries because of the numerous witnesses that could be subpoenaed if the matter ever reached the courts.

Before peace could fully return between the federales and the Daily Planet, certain agencies of the Federal Government had to cease their information blocking tactics. Legal action was threatened by the paper to force this issue. The Planet's action was successful.

However, there was still a last ditch effort to hinder or stop the Planet's investigation into Bureau Thirty-nine's activities. Some government bureaucratic underlings — a minor group of officials- threatened the paper with penalties if they continued to impede and interfere with the natural flow of the government's work. When the courts were supplied with the harassing information sent to the paper coupled by supporting witnesses' corroborating the Bureau Thirty-nine raid, the judicial system unexpectedly stopped the government's subtle sub-Rosa browbeating tactics and freed the paper to continue, unhindered, its Bureau Thirty-nine investigation.

Unhappily, the FBI, NIA and other covert agencies of the Federal Government were now forced to cooperate with the Planet and its investigation into the workings of the elusive Bureau Thirty-nine.

Hearing about the altercation at the Planet later that day, Ann came to the newsroom that evening to inspect the damage to her workstation.

As the science editor entered the bullpen, Ann Simms became aware that Lois was still there working on her antigovernment expose.

After a few minutes of searching about her desk area, Ann looked up and met Lois' eyes. Continuing to gaze at Lois, the science editor quietly remarked to the Planet's top journalist, "Do you know what was lost today?" After shaking her head, Ann then murmured, "An irreplaceable device that over time could have saved innumerable lives." With tears beginning to pool in her eyes, Ann bid Lois good night and headed for the exit and home.

Early the next morning, Ann and Lois happened to meet on the elevator taking them to the bullpen area. Entering the newsroom Ann was surprised to see a familiar object resting on her desk. Running to her work area, she saw the familiar features of Daren's laptop weather computer. Attached to the device was an envelope. After almost ripping the envelope as she opened it, Ann found a note that read, "Thought you could use this — A. 7." Hardly daring to believe that Daren's weather forecasting system had been restored, she mentally projected the coded phrase "Andromeda seven" at the laptop. Almost immediately, Ann perceived a thought flashing through her mind saying "Ms. Simms, what can I do for you today?" Sighing, she telepathically said, "WSP, please cloak yourself."

Watching the emotions play over Ann's face, Lois suddenly was filled with curiosity then with awe as she watched the laptop vanish before her eyes. Gazing uneasily at her friend, Lois saw Ann give her the come hither high sign.

When Lois arrived at the weather desk a few moments later, Ann quietly said bending toward Lois, "My friend, can you keep a very big secret?" Smiling, Lois whispered, "yes — cross my heart."

Ann then added, "If you ever reveal what I'm about to tell you, people's lives would be placed in harms way. Do you understand what I'm intimating?" Lois nodded her head.

Looking around to make sure no one was within earshot, Ann said, "Please sit down, Lois. Do I have a whale of a tale to tell you!"

Taking a deep breath, Ann said, "It all started during my second semester at Metropolis University where I first met Daren Miller…"

As Lois was learning about Ann's astonishing adventures, Clark was getting Dar-El and his wife Linda settled on his parents' Smallville farm. After seeing to the Miller's needs and visiting with his folks for a few days, Clark TD to Singapore to resume his working relationship with his friend Alan Jacobs.

During the months that followed, the relationship between Alan Jacobs and Clark Kent became increasingly closer until both men considered the other as a member of their respective families.

While the two newsmen worked together in the South Pacific region, near the equator, Clark felt that Alan was becoming more anxious as he approached his time of retirement. When that day finally dawned, Clark was well aware that Alan Jacobs, his friend and old venerable newspaper reporter and editor, would have nowhere to hang his hat. Being an orphan, Alan really had no immediate family or a place he could call home. Only Clark, Perry, and few other people could Alan truly call his family.

To assuage Alan's uneasiness about his perceived years of loneliness which lay before him, Clark, after conferring with his parents and the Miller's, told Singapore war horse that after retirement his new address and home would be the Kent farm Smallville, Kansas. With tears in his eyes, Alan hugged his friend and spiritual kin and gratefully agreed with Clark's game plan.

Since Alan would eventually settle on the Kent farm, Martha, with her son's blessing, told him about Clark's and Dar's unique abilities. When Alan recovered from the shock of his revelation, he told Martha that he would never, under any circumstances, tell a living soul about the super-powered clan that was currently centered about the Kent farm near the hamlet of Smallville, Kansas.

Then Martha, supported by her son, told Alan that Linda, too, had super powers and their expected offspring would inherit these abilities. Alan had to be aware of the Miller's situation so as to be extra careful when neighbors or guests visited the farm — considering the Trask problem, any faux pas concerning the super clan could have devastating consequences upon the entire Smallville community.

On a snowy day, early in March of that year, Clark was summoned home. Linda was in labor. During the wee hours on March tenth, Linda Fox Miller delivered five healthy children. Martha and Clark assisted Bernie Klein in the birthing process, and as each child entered the world, a nervous father severed their umbilical cord.

Events surrounding the super Smallville clan and its Singapore extension were alternately calm and hectic for the next few months.

On weekends Clark and Alan Jacobs would spend their down time in Kansas helping the Millers cope with five boisterous and very energetic kids — Kira, Lara, Samantha, Jonathan, and Joshua.

After returning to Singapore from one of their frequent Kansas visits, Clark said to Alan, "You're aware, aren't you, Alan, that you've become a grandfather to the Miller kids? That means lots of baby sitting time after you retire."

Alan, with tears pooling in his eyes, simply replied, "I'm looking forward to it. I'll spoil those kids rotten. Isn't that the job of a grandparent?"

Clark just smiled.

Over the ensuing months, the profit margin of the Alan Jacobs managed Planet bureau had risen by twenty percent. The directors of the paper, enthralled by the profitability of this overseas bureau, sent a management specialist to the former British crown colony to study its operation and ascertain why the revenue of its Singapore subsidiary was exceedingly lucrative — more so than its sister bureaus throughout the world.

When the managerial pundit returned to Metropolis from his Singapore sojourn and filed a report, Perry White had a feeling that Clark Kent was again working with Alan at the Singapore bureau as the director of its editing department.

To confirm his gut feeling Perry picked up his phone and called his old and dear friend Alan Jacobs. In their conversation, Perry's intuition was born out concerning Kent. At Alan's urgent request, Clark was currently employed by the Planet's Singapore bureau. However, during their conversation, Perry was informed that Kent would shortly be leaving his Singapore position.

In his stead, Alan reported to Perry that Kent had trained a very talented young lady as his replacement. Because of Clark's work and that of his creative hard working replacement, the efficiency of Alan's bureau would not deteriorate after Clark left the scene.

During his conversation with Alan, Perry asked his life long friend to have Clark visit him when he left his Singapore position. He had a very exciting proposition for the young man, if he, of course, were interested.

"I'll ask him," Alan replied to Perry's request. After quietly thinking more about Perry's invitation to Clark, Alan added, "Of course, I can't guarantee anything. Kent often talks about his humiliating experience at the Metropolis bureau and is still not highly enamored with you or your staff. Clark is in Singapore because I needed him. He came because we are like family."

Several weeks later and shortly after ending his Singaporean position, Clark was in Metropolis heading for the Planet building. He was again in the big city. Clark's visit was the result of Alan's request. Otherwise, he would have avoided Metropolis as though it were infected with the Kryptonian plague.

Now that he was here, Clark walked slowly toward the Daily Planet building. As he perambulated, Clark was recalling that he was not particularly fond of Perry, primarily because of their last professional encounter. The hurt from that meeting still lingered in his gut. However, because of Alan's request, Clark felt he owed the Metropolis bureau at least a listen before returning to Kansas. The Smallville farm, his boyhood home with its scientific facilities beckoned to him. The farm and its technical equipment would help him put together a project he'd been toying with for the past year — a voyage to New Krypton. Clark was excited about such an interstellar voyage of discovery and anxious to begin preparing for such an adventure.

All too soon Clark was standing at the entranceway of the Planet building. As he looked at the imposing edifice, the super being was still debating with himself whether to enter this place. After a brief internal struggle, Clark decided not to snub Perry White despite the way that man treated him in the past.

When Clark Kent entered the bullpen area, he paused for a moment, took a breath, and then headed for the editor's office.

Entering Perry's outer office, Clark viewed a middle-aged woman sitting at a desk that nearly dwarfed her form. After he introduced himself, Kent was informed that Perry and most his staffers were at a working luncheon and should return within the hour. He was also apprised that the man covering for Perry was Stuart Thompson, an assistant editor of the Planet, and a recent hire.

After informing Thompson that there was a visitor in the outer office, the secretary told Clark that she was going to lunch.

Clark thanked Perry's secretary for her cordial and efficient behavior on his behalf and then sat down and waited to be summoned by Stuart Thompson.

When the chief's secretary returned from lunch some thirty minutes later, Clark realized he'd waited long enough to be received by the guy sitting in Perry's chair. So, CJ Kent walked to the entrance of Perry's private office and cleared his throat to gain the ear of the new assistant editor. Hearing the noise, the assistant editor looked up somewhat annoyed. He had been interrupted from his favorite pastime — working crossword puzzles. With an agitated voice, he said, "You could have waited till I finished my work."

Not liking Thompson's deceitful attitude, Clark replied rather sarcastically, "Solving riddles is your work? I don't believe Mr. White would consider that endeavor more important than seeing a person who was waiting a considerable time in his outer office."

Giving Clark a sour look, Stuart asked, in a flat monotone voice, "What can I do for you?"

Smiling at a man, who obviously had much to learn about public relations, Clark replied, "Perry asked me to see him about a possible position."

"Well," Thompson drawled, "The chief and most of the staff are at lunch. But, I can tell you that the only position available is in the mailroom. It doesn't pay well, and you'll have to do a considerable amount of running and being a general gofer for the reporting staff."

Gazing at the assistant editor, Clark replied, "I'm a reporter not a runner. Tell that to Mr. White when he returns from lunch." After his brief comment, Clark turned and left the Planet and within a few minutes had TD to Smallville. He had fulfilled Alan's request. He had discharged his obligations to the Planet, and now Clark was now free to follow his heart.

At a Planet staff conference several days later, Perry happened to comment to Kat that he couldn't understand why Clark Kent hadn't come to see him. Perry knew that Clark had promised Alan that he would talk to the Metropolis bureau chief, and the chief had been informed by Alan that Kent was not the type to renege on a promise.

While Perry was thinking about Clark Kent's absence, he heard Stuart Thompson say to Rod West, "I talked to a guy named Kent maybe two or three days ago. He was a good dresser, but an arrogant chap. Oh," Thompson said, still smirking, "this fellow Kent that Perry mentioned indicated that I should tell the chief and I quote, 'I'm a reporter not a runner.'" Then turning to Perry, the young assistant editor said, "I'm sorry about not informing you about the Kent encounter, but I didn't think it warranted using your valuable time to bring this matter to your attention. Can you imagine," Thompson added, "he had the audacity to interrupt me while I was involved in a frustrating mental exercise."

Turning to his secretary, Perry asked her, "How long was Kent waiting?"

Cogitating for a moment, Perry's escritoire said, "After I informed Mr. Thompson that someone was waiting in the outer office, I went to lunch. When I returned, Mr. Kent was still waiting. It was shortly after I returned to the office that Mr. Kent reacted as he did. I'd say Mr. Kent waited nearly an hour, sir," the secretary concluded.

Perry slowly stood looking balefully at his assistant and said in a loud angry voice, "Firstly, mister, anything which is connected with the Daily Planet is my business, got it?"

Thompson rapidly shook his head cringing at Perry's stinging verbal barbs and his angry demeanor.

After a brief pause, Perry asked a rather frightened assistant editor, "What caused Kent to leave in such a hurry after he got your attention?"

Taking a deep breath, Thompson replied, "I told him that the only jobs the Planet had available were in the mail room."

"You what?" Perry shouted. Then looking at the ceiling, the chief counted to ten, slowly, very slowly.

With an angry look, Perry barked, "Before you leave my sight, Mr. Assistant Editor, I want you to know that because of your stupidity, we probably lost one of the best investigative reporters in the business." Then the chief pointed to the door and said, "Get out of my sight before I throw you out the window."

As Lois listened to Perry's tete-a-tete with his assistant editor, a lone tear ran down her cheek. Seeing Lois' distress, Ann placed her hand on Lois' arm in an attempt to comfort her friend.

When the staff meeting ended, Perry turned to Jimmy and quietly said, "Try to locate Kent." Rising, Jimmy Olsen nodded his head and scurried towards his computer.

After procuring what he needed from his computing facilities, Jimmy quickly exited the Planet and proceeded to execute the chief's orders.

However, unbeknownst to Jimmy, Clark had already returned to his boyhood home. At that very moment, he and the Millers were planning a sojourn to New Krypton or NK1, as Daren liked to call his birth world.

After Clark returned to the farm, a hamlet was constructed beneath the Kent homestead and dubbed NK2. It was patterned after two beautifully crafted Kryptonian cities and could only be entered or exited via a TD portal.

When Jonathan first saw the subterranean village, he told his son and the Millers that the town was a masterpiece of architectural engineering.

When the NK2 project had been started, Clark and the Millers were well aware that the numbers of Earth born Kryptonians would increase over time. Therefore, the three adult Kryptonians had decided to create a new Earth bound sanctuary, which would be utilized with the Centauri system place of refuge.

So, by using their combined super powers, Clark, Daren, and Linda excavated a cavern with a two-mile radius five hundred feet below the Kent homestead. There, they constructed half a dozen homes in a village setting where the Kent and the Miller families could live in relative peace and safety. The canopy of the cavern was made of a specially treated mineral that appeared transparent to those living in the subterranean village and as normal earthen material to those walking on the roof of the subterranean hamlet. Light could pass through the roof unchanged allowing the sun's rays to fill the underground town with its life sustaining radiance.

As Dar-El was fond of saying, the subterranean Kryptonian town of NK2 was as well hidden as the legendary village of Shangri-la.

Also, by using more Kryptonian science, sounds within the NK2 hamlet could not be detected.

For those living in NK2 the roof of the subterranean grotto would appear as normal sky to the inhabitants within the hidden NK2 hamlet and provide an unhindered view of the heavens, day or night.

For those who occasionally walked on the ground directly above the hidden village only the usual farm noises and smells would greet their senses.


So, it was to Smallville that Clark again returned after being rebuffed by the Metropolis bureau of the Daily Planet. He returned to his earthly roots a very happy camper — Smallville would always be a place of fond memories and peaceful surroundings — sort of a land of milk and honey.

A few days after returning to Kansas, Clark found himself sitting in the Miller's home, within the protective confines of NK2, proposing an interstellar voyage to New Krypton.

New Krypton was seventy thousand light years from Earth across the great expanse of the Milky Way.

Jonathan and Martha, who were also present at this meeting, remained silent throughout most of the discussion. They were fascinated by the deliberations that centered about the super group's up coming space adventure, an interstellar journey initially advocated by their son.

After a slight pause in the rather intense deliberations, Dar asked a rather poignant question. "Other than a voyage of discovery," he said, "what other purposes could Clark provide the family for trekking to New Krypton?" To Dar, traveling to his birth world would be like journeying to a medieval planet. He argued that while NK1 may be more than a hundred millennia ahead of the Earth technologically, the mores of New Krypton were considerably behind many of Earth's social attitudes. While Dar knew that many social problems still existed on his adopted home world, there was an ongoing effort to constantly improve the human inter- social systems. Not so on NK1. New Krypton to Dar-El was a feudal society where the barbaric culture of the planet perpetrated bestial ills upon one another.

Clark replied, "To be honest, Dar, it would be sort of an odyssey for me. I could get a glimpse of Kryptonians living within their unique culture. It would afford me a chance to learn more about my roots, a yearning that has persisted since my earliest years. During this trip, we could also place cloaked satellites round NK and monitor the activities of its population. With our surveillance system, we could observe the comings and goings of NK's people from afar. This information could be sent to the Centauri space platform and to us here in NK2. When we arrive upon NK, we could also place TD's at strategic positions on New Krypton's surface. With NK in the teleportation network, we could, if needed, get to any location on that planet without using our spacecraft." Finally, Clark remarked, "I would like to do Ching and Zara a kindness for saving your life. By using our teleportation network, I believe we can thwart Nor's plan to marry his son to the Sela's daughter Kara."

Of all reasons Clark suggested, Dar-El liked his last idea best of all.

"Okay," Dar said to Clark, "we'll go for the reasons and desires you stated."

"Thanks," Clark said to his kin.

When Dar and Clark finally resolved to travel across the galaxy, Linda chimed in, "You're not going without me and the children." Before her husband could launch a counter argument, Linda continued, "Three adults accompanied by children will arouse less suspicion and be less threatening when we travel through the towns and cities of New Krypton, especially Elra — the capital of the Planet. The children and my presence will be doubly important when we approach the royal residence and request an audience with Zara and Ching."

"Good thinking," Martha said patting Linda on the back.

"While I don't like placing Linda and the children in harm's way," Clark remarked, "I must admit that her reasoning is sound."

Dar-El just shook his head agreeing with Clark's statement. However, Dar told the others, "When we get to NK, I'm the one who will probably behave like an anxious husband and a crazy father, I warn you now." Then Dar laughed to break the tension and quietly said, "Once we land on NK, we'll be in the creator's hands anyway. May those hands be kind, gentle, and protective of us all."


As Smallville's Kryptonian community began preparing for its journey into deep space, Lois Lane was becoming more anxious about Clark during the days following his disappearance from Metropolis.

Lois' restive nature was becoming more noticeable ever since Lane and Kent touched one another during their second meeting. Because of their physical contact the Lane and Kent soulmate bonding process had been inadvertently activated. As the days passed the auric come-hither message between Lois and Clark was becoming increasingly more powerful. Since Clark was better able to control his psychological functions, the joining process seemed to have had little effect on him. He appeared relatively calm to his friends and colleagues. However, like his soulmate, there was within his being a raging fire and a passion that was slowly consuming his rationality. Because Clark was deeply enmeshed in the super clan's NK trip with all its ramifications and problems, the auric call of his life partner appeared to affect him less.

Several weeks after Clark left Metropolis, Lois was nearly at the end of her emotional tether. Beckoning Ann, she said, "Let's go for a walk, I'm very agitated."

Upon leaving the Planet building, the two women headed for a small park several blocks from the paper. Entering the serenity of the wooded area, Lois remarked, "Ann, I'm becoming more edgy each day. I seem to have become more argumentative with my associates, my sister, and my mother. Except for you, Ann, my colleagues are ducking me. Even Perry, who often acts as my surrogate father, is going out of his way to avoid me. To make things worse, Clark's image has engraved itself on my mind and has become more intense each time the sun rises. Can you tell what the hell is happening to me?"

Smiling at her friend, Ann replied, "Do you mind if I ask you a question?"

"Of course not," Lois responded.

After a moment of silence, Ann said, "Did you and Clark ever make physical contact with one another?"

"Do you mean in an intimate way?" Lois asked blushing.

"No," Ann replied. "Just any sort of causal contact, like shaking hands."

Thinking about Ann's question for several moments, Lois said, "During our second meeting we did hold onto one another while making our way through a rather unruly crowd. To tell you the truth, when we touched I sorta felt something flow between us. Whatever it was, it tingled, and then I felt that some sort of force was trying to draw me toward Clark."

Thinking about that episode, Lois asked Ann, "Is my contact with Kent a significant factor in my recent behavior?"

"It is, if you and Clark are soulmates," Ann replied.

"Soulmates? What the heck are soulmates?"

After a few moments of confused babbling, Lois composed herself and said, "Ann, please define soulmates."

Sitting Lois in a chair, Ann, as she walked to and fro, expounded the Kryptonian soulmate philosophy — a system that attempted to explain how the bonding of souls was connected to immortality.

Finishing her monologue, Ann just waited for the Lane reaction.

For a while, there was kind of a tense silence between the two reporters.

Suddenly Lois said, "How could Clark be my soulmate? He's a Kryptonian, an alien."

"Lo-Lo," Ann said, "Did I detect a note of prejudice in your question?"

"No," Lois replied. "I'm just amazed that the kind of bonding you've described can occur between beings who are representatives of different species."

"Why are you surprised?" Ann retorted. "Have you forgotten about Linda and Daren — they're soulmates?

First, Lois, both of them believed that they were beings belonging to two different species. Then Dar discovered that except for a few modified chromosomes the Kryptonian genome was identical to ours. In Linda's case, Dar, with Clark's help, eventually modified Linda's DNA to match his own — she now has super powers like her husband and Clark.

"You and Clark, my dear, may be in the midst of duplicating Linda and Dar's coupling journey which, as you are aware, led to a soulmate union."

"You mean that Clark and I are biologically compatible?" Lois asked with an unbelieving lilt in her voice.

"Yep," Ann replied. "If you two go the whole nine yards, marry and have kids, your children will probably be some of the most intelligent people on this or any planet. Lois, you're brilliant, and Clark may be the Da Vinci of our age. Can you just imagine the inherited abilities of your progeny?"

Lois said, somewhat scared, "I never really considered being a parent. To me, motherhood is an overwhelming and a terrifying condition."

With a slight panicky tone, Lois added, "I've gotta locate Clark and settle this soulmate thing once and for all."

Bending toward Lois, Ann said in a hushed voice, "Come to my home tonight about eight o'clock. From there, you, my friend, and I are gonna take a trip. On our sojourn you'll see and hear things that will curl your hair." Then Ann further remarked, "Tell Perry you'll be away for a few days — you know, family business."

Lois just smiled and nodded.

As the sun was setting that evening, Lois found herself entering Ann's quiet abode. After helping put Ann's children to bed, the two women quietly waited for the arrival of Ann's baby sitter.

About twenty minutes after Ann's kids were in the sack, a teenager arrived and promptly settled herself in front of the boob tube. As soon as the sitter had become mesmerized by the TV, Ann and Lois quietly descended into the basement of the science editor's house.

Once the two journalists reached the basement, Ann unlocked an inconspicuous door revealing a small alcove. As both women entered the rather undersized room, the door automatically closed and locked behind them.

After the alcove was sealed from the rest of the house, Ann walked to what appeared to be a barren wall and placed her hand upon its surface. Almost instantaneously, a portal appeared in the wall where there was no opening before. Then, taking a nervous Lois Lane by the hand, both reporters stepped through the portal's entryway into an illuminated chamber. After they had entered the concealed room, the portal silently closed behind them.

Allowing Lois to catch her breath, Ann calmly remarked, "Relax." Then she walked over to a panel and pressed a series of buttons that activated another portal on the far wall of the room. Again, Ann, holding Lois' hand, moved through the new portal arriving in the midst of a beautiful village.

"Welcome to NK2," a woman's voice rang out. As Lois and Ann turned in the direction of the sound, they saw Linda Fox Miller crossing a grassy expanse followed by five young children — some were walking while others levitated and floated after their mother.

As Lois watched Linda approach, the shock at seeing babies in flight nearly paralyzed her. Sure, she was aware that Kryptonians had special abilities, but intellectualizing their abilities and observing them in operation were a horse of a different color.

When Linda reached Ann and Lois, she hugged them both and commented, "Don't be alarmed. It can be a little disconcerting to see our special abilities in action. The solar radiation of Sol Three provides us with vast amounts of energy. It's these energy reserves which allow us to defy gravity, so to speak." Holding up her hand, Linda said, "Excuse me," as she lifted herself into the air and took off after an obstreperous child.

Later, as the three women sat in the Miller kitchen enjoying coffee, Lois explained her mission. As Linda listened, a smile illuminated her face as she recalled her own first stirrings of love for her soulmate. From Lois' narrative, Linda was quite certain that her friend, without being totally aware of her situation, was on the same road of discovery that she herself had traveled not so many years before; a path that would lead Lois to her soulmate union and a blissful life.

As Lois was completing her frustrating tale, there was a commotion in the play area adjacent to the house. Linda stood up. At that moment, Ann placed her hand on Linda's shoulder and said, "I'll go. You talk to Lois." Before Linda could protest, Ann was out of the house and heading toward the sounds of what sounded like pandemonium. After Ann had left the kitchen, Lois asked Linda, "What is it like to be married to Daren?"

Taking a sip of her coffee, Linda said in a tone filled with joy, "We are never apart. Our minds are in continuous contact without being intrusive. His presence in my mind brings me an inner peace that always says you are in a home filled with love and all that it signifies. Whenever I see him, it's as if everything is suddenly illuminated like the sun that has just risen just for us. It's been like that since we joined, and I believe it will always be so for the remainder of our lives, and if the Kryptonian soulmate philosophy is correct, we will exist beyond forever."

After a brief lull in their conversation, Linda added, "Being intimate with your soulmate is like no experience that could ever be duplicated with another partner. I know that from experience." Lois smiled as she remembered that piece of pond scum, Paul, from her college days, and more recently that thief, Claude.

Looking at Linda, Lois added, "I am aware of the frustrations associated with lovemaking. All my so called past paramours have left me wanting. My intimate relationships have been federal disasters."

Shaking her head, Linda replied, "In a soulmate relationship, you'll lose yourself in one another. All boundaries and time cease to exist. Two bodies become so entwined that they don't know who's who or what's what. The intensity of your intimacy becomes so intense at times, that you think that you're going to expire. I guess you sort of do die, leaving your separate bodies and fusing into one entity. But, you'll be aware that the one you love, really love, is still there." Linda then added, "The miracle of a soulmate union is that you can enter a blissful heaven and return alive to this plane of existence. And, Lois, at anytime this kind of bliss can be repeated with your soulmate. There is never any denial."

Breathless Lois said, "Linda, I've waited a long time to experience those kinds of feelings. Oh G-D. I hope the fundamental beliefs surrounding the soulmate philosophy are true."

"When you find Clark," Linda remarked, continuing to coach her friend, "run to him and embrace your soulmate. Allow your souls to complete the bonding process, which you both initiated at the Planet."

"After the bonding phenomenon has joined you at the hip," Linda further added, "you're gonna have to say the scary words — I love you. And, tell him flat out that you can't have a meaningful life without him being a part of your existence. When he senses the sincerity of your words, Clark Kent will understand that the emotions that have been engulfing both of you also belong to his soulmate, his true life partner and his lover. When this final barrier has been overcome, Lois and Clark unquestionably will be united as all sweethearts whose love will endure, without exception, throughout all space and time."

"Another thing," Linda finally added. "Remember that the people from Krypton, like Clark and my husband, do not hunger for either acclaim or approval. All that they really desire is to be loved for themselves and to live and die with dignity. Now I'll take you to your soulmate."

Linda then guided Lois to a teleportation portal that whisked them to the Centauri ternary star group and to the space platform known as Sanctuary.

When Lois and her companion arrived at their destination, Lois remarked, "Oh, my gosh," as the intrepid reporter gazed at the panoramic view, a view which nearly overwhelmed her senses.

Before Lois could formulate any questions, Linda remarked, "We're in the Alpha a — Proxima Centauri solar system complex. This Centauri star cluster is the closest solar array to Earth."

After her brief astronomy lesson, Linda beckoned Lois to follow her. Linda was now leading Lois on a quest that would only cease when they located Clark and her husband, Dar-El.

As they meandered throughout the space platform, Lois marveled at the wonders that met her eyes. Gazing at the works of art that covered the walls of the corridors that wound their way through the space station, she was shocked when she was informed that Clark had painted them. Looking at Linda, she said, "I knew that Clark had many gifts but, my G-D, Linda, these paintings are incredible — they're masterpieces."

Nodding Linda replied, "You, my friend, and Clark together, I feel, have been ordained by destiny to move the people of Earth toward a Utopian society."

"Don't you mean we are fated to be mated?" Lois replied laughing.

"Not fated," Linda said, "fate is too fickle. A destiny implies a definite plan. And that design, I believe, includes all who are associated with NK2. Before our lives have run their course, during this current cycle, and our spirits are returned to the well of souls, we'll see our ranks increase many fold."

Lois, looking at her friend, said, "How can you be so sure?"

"I had a dream," Linda said, gazing with glassy eyes into the infinite void.

While Lois was too pragmatic to believe in soothsayers or prophetic pronouncements, Linda's comments invoked a deep- seated response in her gut. Feelings which whispered to her that she had been given a glimpse of the future through Linda's mystic declaration.

When the two Earth women finally entered the laboratory adjacent to the main platform, Lois and Linda discovered the objects of their search — Linda's husband Dar-El and Lois' soulmate, Clark Kent.

As the men sensed other presences in the lab, they turned to see two women scurrying toward them. A moment later, Linda had embraced her husband, and Lois reached Clark and was hugging him tightly.

While Linda and Daren kissed one another with the intense passion of soulmates, the intimate bonding between Lois and Clark completed itself, fashioning two new soulmates who now had no qualms about passionately embracing one another.

When Daren and his wife finally looked in the direction of the other couple, they saw two beings in the throes of a spectacular lip lock session, a kiss that was at once passionate, tender, and soul binding. It was obvious to Dar and Linda that Clark and his lady were now truly bound together, soulmates — sweethearts for all the eternities to come.

Within the hour, Lois Lane had undergone the genome modification process. The intrepid reporter, Like Linda Miller, was an Earth born Kryptonian.

Later that evening, Lois and Linda talked about their spectacular day at the Miller lodgings on the Centauri space platform, Sanctuary.

As they chattered away, Lois said, "I know that Clark and Daren are still at the Lab, but I can still feel Clark like he's right here. I can feel his heart beat and his love for me as if he were right here in my arms."

Linda simply nodded and replied, "That's as it should be. It is one of the wondrous abilities you inherited when your soulmate bonding flowered. If you wish, you could telepathically contact Clark on a private frequency. It's a communication pathway that is distinctly yours and Clark's alone. Nothing or no one can detect what passes between both of you on your private psychic channel."

Then Linda added, "Did you realize that the kiss between you and Clark at the lab was life changing as well as a soul shattering experience?"

Clark's soulmate just nodded. "To me," Lois remarked, "our embrace and kiss were an all possessing encounter."

"Dar would agree with your analysis, Lois. During your embrace," Linda continued, "Dar intimated that Lois Lane and Clark Kent just captured each other's hearts."

"It was all that and more," Lois replied. "After we reluctantly broke our hold on one another, all that I wanted to do was nuzzle against his chest and stay like that forever."

"I too felt the Lane and Kent reaction," Linda commented.

Lois then excitedly told her friend, "Linda, I could feel a shiver of delight race through his body as his arms encircled me. With my head on his chest I could listen to his heart beat as it began to race. As he held me, I was conscious of him kissing my hair and my neck and sending me into spasms of ecstasy. Linda, I felt so secure in his arms. The entire experience was like a dream where time ceases to exist allowing two lovers to revel in their closeness forever."

"It appears, Lois," Linda further remarked, "that you, my friend, have found your soulmate bliss."

"Yes," Lois simply said and then added, "I've finally come home."

After a slight pause Linda remarked, "Better hit the sack, Lois. Tomorrow you begin learning how to use and control those new super abilities you've inherited."

As Lois started toward the guest room, she commented, "You're right, Linda, I'll probably need all the strength that I can muster."

"To tell you the truth, Linda," Lois added, "I was surprised that Clark insisted I be given super powers."

Linda just replied, "Having just found you, I believe that Clark didn't want to lose you because of a patented hair brain scheme orchestrated by Lois Lane." The Planet's top reporter just laughed.

"By the way," Linda said, as Lois headed toward her bedroom, "Did you contribute some of your ovum and genetic tissue to the stasis vault?" Lois nodded affirmatively. "Another hundred ovum for posterity," Linda murmured. Smiling at the newest Earth born Kryptonian, Linda remarked, "Good night, Lois." And then more quietly, she muttered, "I have a new sister."

"Good night, Linda," Lois replied. "See you bright and early tomorrow. We have much work to do."

For the next three months, Kal-El, Dar-El, Linda, and Lois, when the dauntless reporter could manage to avoid the rigors of her job, prepared for their odyssey of discovery. The elder Kents also lent a hand when they were able.


In the midst of a blizzard that winter, six adults and five children TD from NK2 to Sanctuary in the Centauri star cluster. There, the elder Kents watched their son, his soulmate, Lois Lane, and the Miller family board one of the interstellar cruisers and depart for New Krypton seventy thousand light years across the galactic core.

The super clan's trip would not precede direction across the galactic core because of the gravitational conditions generated by a black hole, which existed in that region of space. They would therefore take a circuitousness route to their destination. Using a powerful modification of an interstellar drive created by Clark's genetic providers, the time of their cross galaxy journey would only be lengthened by a few nanoseconds.

As the ship's interstellar engines went on line, little did the intrepid cosmic trekkers know how their presence on New Krypton would change the functioning of that planet's society. They would catalyze monumental social reforms and instigate a planet-wide political upheaval, which would make all the inhabitants of the Kryptonian colony equal under the law. This legal change would severely curtail the nobles' ability to ravage their fellows with impunity.

After the spacecraft's interstellar engines were engaged, a new planet suddenly appeared on the ship's monitors, a planet which orbited a red sun.

Gazing at the planet, which she instinctively knew was New Krypton, Lois asked, "How far is Earth from where we are now?"

"About seventy thousand light years," Linda's husband replied.

Dar then added, "We've almost traveled completely across our galaxy." Gads, Dar-El thought, and their trip was nearly an instantaneous event — an incredible accomplishment.

Within an hour after the arrival within New Kryptonian space, the interstellar voyagers had twelve cloaked surveillance satellites placed in geosynchronous orbits around the planet. Soon after the satellites were in their proper positions they became operational, and a continuous flow of information began to be received by instruments on Sanctuary in the Centauri star group and by recording equipment on Earth. The intergalactic voyagers had just completed the first and perhaps easiest task related to their voyage of discovery.

Over the next week, Clark and Daren, using a cloaked shuttlecraft landed at a number of obscure New Krypton locations. At these relatively isolated spots, Clark and Daren set up electronically concealed TD outposts and connected each NK site with the entire TD transportation system. When Dar and Clark finished this chore, the TD sites on NK were linked to their Earth and Centauri counterparts. The final TD location was created on Dar-El's now defunct estate — in the house where Dar grew to manhood. To Dar's amazement his childhood home, although now abandoned, was still intact.

With the TD hardware now in place, nine intrepid star voyagers prepared to descend surreptitiously to the surface of Dar-El's birth world, New Krypton.

As NK's red sun was making its appearance, four adults and five children quietly emerged from Dar-El's childhood home and made their way inconspicuously to the royal residence, the current home of Zara and Ching.

Zara was the NK's hereditary leader or Sela. As Sela she headed the governing council that controlled the planet. The council or tribunal, as it was also called, boasted that the best minds on the planet served with their august body — most of the members, however, were Lords, and headed the great families that dominated the planet's political structure. Like most political bodies, unfortunately, the NK governing body was rife with many intrigues, conspiracies that didn't necessarily serve the needs of the people of New Krypton. Most schemes set up by the governing council were created to line the pockets of its members with the capital created from the goods produced by the sweat of the general population.

When compared to the governments on Sol Three, the New Kryptonian administrative system resembled that of a constitutional monarchy.

Ching was Zara's soulmate. While Zara possessed the mantel of Sela, Ching, her consort, was the planet's military strategist, a title equivalent to a Field Marshall on Earth. If the need ever arose, Lord Ching would captain the hosts of New Krypton in battle.

As Clark and his kin ambulated toward the royal residence, the New Kryptonians they encountered paid them no mind. They appeared to be an indigenous part of the population strolling lazily through the city.

While carefully scrutinizing their surroundings, the people from Sol Three slowly perambulated toward their destination. During their sojourn through the NK capital city, Dar-El pointed out points of interest to decrease the uneasiness he detected among his family and clan.

When the people from Sol Three finally reached the royal residence, Dar-El fortunately was recognized by one of Zara's loyal retainers. Within a few minutes Dar, with Lois and Clark, and his own household, were rushed into the private quarters of New Krypton's first family. Once they had entered the apartments occupied by Zara and Ching, the people from Sol Three were immediately escorted to a spacious room. As they made themselves comfortable, a servant rushed off to locate her mistress and Zara's consort, Ching.

A short time later, Zara bounded into the room followed by her husband. When she first saw Dar-El, Zara had a stoic face that soon exploded into a huge smile. Ching, Zara's life partner, although more staid in his behavior, reacted in a gracious but more subdued manner.

In the happiness engendered by their reunion, Dar-El clasped both Zara and Ching to him. As Dar hugged Zara and her soulmate, Ching became more open and he too expressed his great joy at finding Dar-El alive and well.

When things settled down, Dar introduced his wife, children, Kal-El and Lois to New Krypton's Sela and her soulmate.

As the Earth adults were made to feel part of the Sela's immediate family and the children amused themselves, Dar-El related his adventures since departing his home world. If it were not for the presence of Linda and their offspring, and Kal-El and his soulmate Lois, Zara and Ching would probably have thought Dar's story was a tale told by a madman "full of sound and fury signifying nothing" — a person deranged by his trials and tribulations as he journeyed into the void.

After Dar completed his narration, Zara turned and addressed Kal-El. She asked, "Are you the child of Jor-El and Lara?"

Clark simply nodded his head corroborating her presumption.

After a brief pause Zara exclaimed, "Cousin."

"Cousin," Clark repeated her statement, surprise all too evident on his face.

Smiling she said, "You are my third cousin, Kal." Then, she launched in the genealogy of the where's and how's of their common lineage. Zara then ended her babbling with several succinct questions. "Did you inherit your parent's genius for science and had Lois and he completed their bonding process on Earth?"

Smiling back at Zara, Clark replied, "I'm a scientist among other things, but as to your genius characterization," Clark blushed, "only after tinkering with the natural world for a lifetime will I really know whether I've inherited my natural parent's scientific abilities. To your second question, yes, Lois is the lovely lady that completes me." Placing his arm about Lois, Kal-El said, "Lois is and will be the only romantic liaison in my life and that fact will remain constant for all time."

Zara then said to her cousin, "From your aura and Lois' energy field, I could tell almost immediately that you were both life partners, but your soulmate status, according to our traditions, has not been finalized. And, according to New Kryptonian laws, Linda's and Dar's soulmate union, while respected, has not been established according to the traditions of Dar-El's family.

"On New Krypton," Zara told both couples, "your marital situations may cause problems, but in different ways."

After a moment's pause Zara continued, "While visiting New Krypton, you will naturally mix socially with people who attend court functions. Your status as potential life partners could present a problem and may even place you both in dangerous situations. I think your joining according to Kryptonian customs should be formalized promptly to avoid any potentially dangerous situations."

"Joining?" Lois asked.

"It implies the same meaning as marriage connotes on Earth," Clark informed his soulmate.

Turning to Dar and Linda, Zara continued, "I know that you two are already joined and I am quite sure that your nuptials will be recognized by New Kryptonian authorities. However, to avoid any potential conflicts both of you should renew your vows in the temple of the two goddesses. In the temple, as part of the service, a microdot contract authenticating your Kryptonian union will be placed on the left palm of each partner. The microdot will insure that there will be no interference from our rather amorous nobles, nobles who possess almost insatiable libidos. An unmarried woman under New Kryptonian law would be fair game to these highborn dissolute men."

"A clique of courtly rakes," Lois murmured.

"After the temple marriage," Zara continued, "your children will also be marked with a microdot which will insure against their being kidnapped. Because of the tragedy that befell Krypton, we are now a people on a developing planet. Children are in high demand on this world." After a brief discussion, Linda and Dar-El agreed with Zara and made ready to visit a nearby temple.

After Linda and Dar agreed with Zara's suggestion, Ching added, "My soulmate and I will act as your witnesses and place the seal of our family upon your marriage document to add a greater degree of legitimacy to your union."

When Ching had finished his declaration, Lois turned toward Zara and said, "I'm worried about rushing into a marital union with Clark … Kal-El. We just really discovered each other. While Kal may be ready to tie the knot so to speak, my past experiences with men makes me reluctant to become his bride — to enter a soulmate union — until I'm convinced that Clark's truly my one and only, the only man for me." Realizing what she just said could hurt her boyfriend and unravel their budding relationship, Lois quickly added, "While I'm sure that Kal's the right guy, I want some time to convince my psyche of that fact. On Earth," Lois told Clark's cousin, "a period called a courtship time is established. It is an arranged period where both people get to know one another. From what occurs during this special period the couple either move toward a final union or end the relationship."

"I take it that this courtship routine was established to determine if true compatibility exists between the couple?" Zara asked.

"Yes," Lois replied. "It's a method of discovery to determine if two people should finalize their relationship and become life partners through what we call marriage."

Smiling, Zara said to Lois, "Your compatibility was established when your auras enveloped one another after the touch-bonding sequence was initiated.

"If you weren't slated to be mated," Linda added, "the soulmate phenomenon that developed between you and Clark would have been a null result — no emotional and physical attractions would have occurred."

Zara then remarked, "By postponing the finalization of your union you're wasting time that could be shared together and cause a drain upon your emotional coinage. There will be no further change about how you both feel towards one another. Allowing your marriage to be postponed till some future time will only tend to increase the anxiety between the two of you. You only get to know and understand your life-mate better when you both have established a common household. Then, Lois, any modification you may wish to make with your soulmate can be accomplished under the safe canopy of your love."

"Let's go," Lois said.

"Go where?" Clark asked.

Smiling, Lois said, "To the nearest temple, of course." Giggling Lois continued, "I came to New Krypton on a voyage of discovery and ended up getting married to the man of my dreams; a man that I thought I'd never meet." Lois then turned to her bridegroom and caressed his face. Clark instinctively embraced her and buried his face in her hair. Then lifting her chin, Lord Kal-El gave Lady Lo-El an impassioned kiss that shook their very souls.

After they reluctantly ended their kiss, Zara and Ching grabbed the lovers and dragged them toward the temple of the two goddesses. They were followed close behind by Dar- El, his adoring wife, and five rambunctious children.

As they left the temple Lois said to Clark, "My husband, you look extremely pensive. Talk to me."

Clasping her to him he laughed as he replied, "I was just thinking how happy I am that we are now husband and wife and soulmates to boot. But, I must admit that I'm apprehensive about your welfare. Monies we have aplenty so that's not an issue. My anxieties, however, concerning your safety is troublesome. Who will care for you and our future family if I go down?" Clark then put his arm around Lois and pulled her close to him.

As Clark became silent, Lois realized that he was already using joint words — like us, we, and our- when considering their future. Her new husband was now thinking of them as a couple and not as individuals. At that moment, Lois knew that her decision to marry Clark was the wisest choice she had made and would ever make.

Gazing lovingly at her new spouse, Lois remarked, "In life, my darling, there are no guarantees. If you go down then I'll run with the ball and care for you and our kids until you get back on your feet. If something happens to me, then you will assume the mantle of sole family protector until I can again be your partner in all things." After a slight pause Lois continued, "Today we have completed one part of our life journey by joining and becoming a united soulmate couple — a love unit. While we'll both retain our individuality, the totality of what we are now is stronger than either of us alone. When it comes to things that affect us as a family, we'll handle the problem(s) together. However, my darling husband," Lois added, "for small personal things, like purchasing a pair of shoes or buying a new suit, it will mostly be done on an individual level. On occasion, though, you may intimate that I need to have my haircut or I may insinuate that you should get some new shirts. That would be a family overlap into personal space but would be most appreciated. For soulmates," Lois further added "that kind of invasion of personal space would be appropriate and probably necessary. For anyone else to say such things would cause mad dog Lane to flower and you, sweetheart, would become rather miffed at the intruder."

Taking a breath Lois continued, "No, Clark, I don't think your concerns are out of line, just somewhat overcooked. Remember, Lord Kal-El, you are my strength as I'm yours. We share a love that will endure for all time, and best of all, we are not only best friends, but adoring lovers."

Clasping his bride still closer, Clark said to her, "I love you more than mere words could ever convey."

Lois then took his lips in a passionate kiss, a kiss that tried to equal her new husband's deep-seated feelings. Before losing herself in him, Lois thought, "Husband, what beautiful fantasies that name suggests."

Shortly after returning to the royal apartments, Zara turned to Linda and remarked, "I must tell you, cousin, that you and your children are the biggest surprise and greatest joy of your visit. Your joining with Dar and the subsequent birth of your children is simply amazing as it is joyous."

Before anyone could chime in, Zara added, "I'm fully aware that Dar and you must be genetically compatible for conception to have occurred. But, for my cousin to find a soulmate across the immensity of space, which separates our two planets, is simply remarkable and almost beyond belief. Your union and successful mating have indicated to Ching and myself that there is another planet, a sister world, which is teeming with souls that can form fruitful soulmate relationships with our people. You have brought us news that may, in time, be the savior of the Kryptonian people."

"What do you mean by the savior of New Krypton?" Clark asked his kinswoman.

Zara replied, "Our population is relatively small, and therefore, our genetic pool is relatively small. In time the reproductive material in New Krypton's population may become naturally corrupted by continually using and reusing the same small genetic reservoir for the procreation of our future generations. When that occurs, more of our soulmate unions would become infertile. If such a situation were to occur there would be a slow, but irrevocable, drift toward extinction of our people. Inhabitants of Earth can augment the genetic inventory between our two peoples. I believe the resulting progeny from such unions will produce stronger and more intelligent offspring than either world could naturally produce alone. Dar and Linda's children are proof positive of my speculative thoughts. I know that the Millers are a small sample in the genetic mixture of our two peoples, but the signposts are very encouraging."

Getting no immediate response to her thoughts, Zara inquired, "Is anything wrong with my presumptions, Kal-El?"

"Nothing's wrong with your though processes," Clark responded. "However, several problems exist which must be dealt with before such a plan can be enacted."

After a momentary pause to arrange his thoughts, Clark continued, "We are all aware that NK orbits a red sun while my adopted home world, Earth, circles a class-G star. As you know, a G-type solar furnace will produce a prodigious amount of ultraviolet radiation in comparison to its red counterpart. The excessive ultraviolet radiation bombarding my body caused a rather unique phenomenon to occur. Any other Kryptonians who live on Sol Three — Earth — like the Millers, Lois and I will also experience the same kind of photo-chemical changes. On my home world," Clark added, "the intensity of the ultraviolet radiation has given Dar, myself, our soulmates, and the Millers kids unique abilities. Any Kent offspring will, I believe, inherit the same exceptional capabilities."

Clark then listed all the super powers that the Earth super clan possessed. Kal-El then added for clarity, "Dar's kids are already beginning to manifest similar super skills." As if to support Kal's contentions, Kira, the first born of Dar's and Linda's quintuplets, began to levitate and floated toward Zara. Arriving at her destination, Kira settled gracefully on Zara's lap. Once Dar's daughter became comfortable, she closed her eyes and proceeded to take a nap.

"How did she do that?" Ching inquired.

"Like all of us from Earth," Kal said, "We still retain part of the energy acquired from Sol Three. Our unusual powers, one of which you have just witnessed, will slowly dissipate over three or four days when we are no longer near Earth's sun. After that, our physical abilities will be like any other Kryptonian living on this New Krypton."

Accepting the incredible tale that Kal had just told them, Zara gazed at the child comfortably sleeping on her lap and inquired about Linda. "How did you and Lois, Earth born women, acquire the special genetic characteristics of a Kryptonian to become super powered?"

Smiling at her new relations, Dar's soulmate replied, "Kal and Dar treated Lois and myself with a device Dar designed and Kal constructed. My husband's apparatus can modify an Earth's person's genome and create its Kryptonian counterpart. So, I guess you can call Lois and me Earth bred Kryptonians." Upon hearing Linda's last statement, all the adults present broke into fits of laughter.

After the hilarity of the moment passed, Zara said, "If soulmates can be found on earth and their DNA modified as you say, why can't we establish a colony on Sol Three for the purpose of uniting our two peoples?"

"You are a noble and idealistic person, Zara," Clark remarked. "Cousin, I'm sure you are aware that there are some Kryptonians who would like to conquer and enslave a world like Earth for the sake of power and riches. Such Kryptonians," Dar added, "would certainly have no thoughts about the future of our two peoples, but would think only of their personal desires, cravings that would gratify their evil inclinations."

"Playing with power," Lois commented, "could become a mania, which has already caused the demise of many people on Earth, especially during our current century."

"And on NK," Ching added.

Gazing at his Kryptonian kin, Clark added, "The Nor chap of which you spoke is probably a good example of such a power hungry individual who would stop at nothing to achieve his baleful goals."

Ching nodded and remarked, "If Yalin Nor were aware that Earth existed and had the technology to reach your planet, he and his followers would have already set off for your planet, first to subjugate and then to ravage your world."

Clark then commented, "I can see from your facial expressions, Zara that Ching's views about Nor and his followers aren't far off the mark. Such men as Lord Nor also exist on Sol Three. They would behave exactly as this Nor fellow, if they had the opportunity to do so."

"Thank the stars that Nor and his associates don't possess the knowledge to construct interstellar spacecraft," Linda murmured.

"Amen to that," Clark replied. "We have enough trouble with Luthor, who is not super, but very adept at spreading his evil and corrupting our society."

"Talking about Nor," Dar-El asked, "is he still attempting to gain control over half of New Krypton by forcing the council to sanction a marriage between his son and your daughter?"

"Unfortunately, yes," Ching responded.

"Every plan we've fashioned has been thwarted," Zara added. "It's almost as if Nor had eyes and ears everywhere, even in our private quarters. My husband and I are on the horns of a dilemma. There seems to be no solution to the forced marriage problem. Each vote in the council brings us closer to a disastrous union between the houses of Ra and Nor."

As the gathering at Zara's nuptial dinner for her kinfolk continued to discuss the current New Krypton political situations, Clark activated a small box he removed from his tunic and began scanning Zara and Ching's living quarters. After a few minutes he raised his hand and halted the various conversations in progress around the dinning table. Clark then wrote a note that informed those present that there were twenty-four concealed surveillance devices scattered throughout the royal apartments.

"My G-D," Zara whispered, placing a hand on her forehead. "No wonder our plans were blocked before we could put them into operation." After a slight pause she added, "Everything we've been discussing has been overheard by our enemies." Ringing her hands in frustration, she started to pace about the room with tears beginning to cascade down her face.

Kal-El placed his hand on Zara's shoulder and quietly said, "Don't worry, cousin. Do you see that turquoise colored lamp glowing about your apartment?"

She nodded.

"Well," Clark informed her, "I've placed them in strategic positions when our clan first entered your home. These colored lamps are more than just simple illumination devices."

Pausing for a moment, Clark said, "The lamp while providing light is an electronic blocker. It will nullify all surveillance equipment within a two hundred feet (about six meters) radius from where it's placed."

Taking Lois by the hand, they both walked over to Zara where Clark calmly told the Sela, "No one has monitored our conversations since your Earth kin have arrived." Clark then reached into his satchel and produced twenty more anti surveillance lamps, which he then gave to Ching." Then Kal- El added, "Whenever we've conversed about serious matters, one or more of these lamps were in operation.

Facing Lois and his kin, Clark told them, "These anti- surveillance tools can only be activated by a telepathic command and only after they've been adjusted to an individual's aura." Then he showed both Ching and Zara how to sensitize the special lamps to their own bodily emanations. After the setup process had been completed, control of the stealthy lamps could easily be accomplished by mental commands.

So, after the operating techniques associated with the anti snooping devices were quickly mastered by Clark's NK kin, Kal-El produced two wafers — thin bioelectronic patches — and placed one on Zara's arm and the other on Ching's person. As the wafers touched the New Kryptonians flesh, they were absorbed and became a part of Ching's and Zara's tissues. Clark then incorporated these same bio-mechanical devices into his own tissues and those of Lois, Linda, Dar and the Miller's children.

Before either Ching or Zara could form a question, Clark commented, "The patches are personal anti-snooper devices. They have an effective radius of three meters from your person. When you are talking to someone about a sensitive subject, no one will be able to intercept your conversation when your internal bio-doohickey has been activated."

"If you'll bring your kids to me, Zara," Clark said to his cousin, "I'll place an anti-snooping patch on each of them. Children have a tendency to hear things and babble about them at the most inappropriate times."

Laughing, Linda and Zara said simultaneously, "That's so true." Zara then summoned a trusted servant who was told to bring her children to the living area.

Several minutes later the servant returned with only Kara. Kara's twin brother, Lar-El, had been taken for the umpteenth time, without permission, by Zara's mother. Ching was livid but with great restraint managed to control his feelings. He said with clenched teeth, "Zara, you must talk to that woman. If she forces me to act, I will forbid her to come to our home and not allow her to take Lar-El or Kara on any more trips. Your mother is undermining our nurturing. She will ruin Lar-El's chances of becoming an effective administrator and a good Selar." Then Ching took Zara in his arms and held her close. As the Sela and her soulmate were calming and re-energizing their emotional stability, Clark placed the anti- surveillance patch on Kara.

When Kara sighted the Miller kids in the living room, she shouted with glee and ran to join them.

As Zara and Ching looked on, Kara seemed to fit right in with Dar and Linda's children.

When Zara heard laughter from the playing youngsters, her heart was glad. Her daughter was so often isolated and very lonely. It wasn't because there were no kids in the royal residence, but Kara just didn't fit in with the offspring of the lordlings who comprised the Sela's entourage. Because of her isolation, Kara was forced, at times, to play with the few children of the lesser nobles who ran the governmental apparatus or endured the solitude of her gilded cage, the loneliness of her palatial home.

As she watched her daughter at play, Zara mused that although Dar's kids were eighteen months younger than her daughter, the Miller children seemed to be Kara's intellectual equals and accepted her into their play group without hesitation. Zara was delighted to see that the Earth children didn't possess any false airs. They, too, had sensed that Kara was a decent person and accepted her into their coterie. From the children's play, Zara knew that her cousin and his wife were doing a superb job in raising their kids. They were pouring all the positive elements of their two cultures into their progeny. She was sure that their efforts would result in the Miller offspring becoming loving and caring adults, adults with a commitment to helping people less fortunate than they.

Watching Kara interact with her Earth cousins, Zara was happy and proud of Dar and Linda. To raise five youngsters was an arduous task. Obviously, neither of them had shirked one iota from their responsibilities to their progeny. Zara was sure that when Lois and Kal decided to conceive, their children, too, would be of the same stripe and as brilliant as the Miller kids.

As she continued to watch the play of the youngsters, Zara resolved to support Ching when he confronted her mother, and confront her she knew he would. She was uncomfortable with the coming family squabble, but her mother's destructive influence on her grandson had to cease, immediately.

After a few more minutes of pleasant conversation, the entire party made their way to the dining table and prepared to enjoy a banquet fit for the gods. This feast was partly to celebrate the visit of Zara and Ching's Earth kin and the Kryptonian nuptials which had occurred earlier that evening.

As they were dining, Trey, Zara's most trusted adviser and doyen (leader) of the tribunal, entered the royal quarters. Ching and Zara considered him not only a cherished political ally but also part of their extended family. He, and his entire family — wife, children, and grandchildren — also resided within the royal residency.

Upon entering the dining area, Trey was greeted warmly by Zara who immediately introduced him to her guests. As Trey joined the royal family and their company at the table, Zara noted that her Earth brethren arose to greet him as a sign of respect. She was warmed by their gesture. Their demonstration also told her that the customs on Earth and Krypton followed similar social patterns.

When the chief counselor was seated at the table, Ching handed him a cup of a hot beverage called pulca.

After the introductions had again been made and basic family information exchanged, Trey congratulated the newly married couples. The leader of the Kryptonian tribunal, gazing at Clark, said, "Kal-El is an interesting appellation, my lord. It's a name that is generally reserved for males born into the Noble House of El. If my memory has not been corrupted by age, the last time that name was bequeathed was to a child born from the House of Lo into the House of El on old Krypton. A close friend, Jor-El by name, who was like a brother, to me, and his soulmate, Lara, chose that appellation for her first issue. The son of Lara and Jor-El was born about six weeks before Krypton, my beloved home world, ceased to exist."

Pausing for a moment Trey continued, "The last message I received from Jor and his wife, Lara, told me that they had constructed an interstellar spacecraft and were sending their son to a world whose inhabitants were compatible — both biologically and physically — to our people.

"If Kal-El survived the rigors of his space journey and endured the rigors of maturation, he might eventually find a soulmate and wed. Since an Earth woman and Kal-El would be biologically compatible, children from such a union were a distinct possibility."

Before Clark could comment, Zara remarked "Trey, he is the kinsman of which you speak; a close relation, once thought to be dead, has retuned to us after a long absence."

As Zara completed her tale about the visitors at her table, Trey praised her by saying, "My dear daughter, you've finally mastered the art of political prattle eminently well — talk, but say little which could be revealing." Zara expressed her appreciation of her mentor's platitudes by nodding toward him when the elder statesman finished his comments.

After his comments to his Sela, Trey rose from the table and walked to Kal-El, who also rose from his seat as a sign of respect for Trey's status is the New Kryptonian hierarchy.

Losing some of his emotional control, which was extremely rare for an upper class Kryptonian, the counselor hugged Kal-El to himself tears spilling from his eyes. Then, looking at Kal-El straight in the eyes, he said, "He who was thought dead is alive again. One of the noblest families of Krypton has lived to carry on work of his illustrious ancestors, some of them my friends."

Taking a breath, Trey raised his wire cup in the air and said, "The El clan lives. May its destiny now be fulfilled."

"What sort of destiny," Lois inquired.

"It is written in the Book of Elfs that an El would journey through the void to a far away world. There, he, his soulmate, and their offspring would begin to create a utopian society with the help of a time traveler. In the course of time, two peoples separated by light years of space would join forces in this endeavor and from the stock of these two peoples would come a mighty utopian civilization. A society that would be a blessing to the peaceful races that were scattered throughout our universe."

When another cup of his favorite beverage was served to him, Trey asked his personal steward to return to his apartment and procure from his soulmate, Jennif-Ra, a specific chest, which the servant was to bring to Zara's quarters. The container, which Try desired, could easily be recognized by the J and L Kryptonian inscription emblazoned on the chest's surface.

While waiting for Trey's steward to return, the statesman remarked to Kal-El, "My young friend, your physical appearance is nearly a perfect blend of Lara and Jo-El, your natural parents."

"I don't know what you're referring to," Clark responded, still attempting to cover his true identity and safeguard his Terran family. Ignoring Kal's denial, Trey replied, "I know that your biological providers sent you to the third planet of a star located somewhere within the confines of this galaxy. The spacecraft was designed and assembled in haste, and its interstellar drive was based on a theoretical subatomic particle which most of the Kryptonian scientific community rejected, calling Jor-El's concepts inane and referring to his new hypothesis as the delusions of grandeur theory. Unfortunately, the Kryptonian scientific community mocked Jor-El's views; they had doomed the Kryptonian people to extinction."

After Trey was silent for a moment, he added, "As I watched your spacecraft depart from Krypton from my spaceship, whose destination was New Krypton, I was reasonably sure you would perish somewhere in the deeps of space. How wrong I was. Your father and mother were much greater scientists than anyone on Krypton ever realized. In a way, Jor-El and Lara had the last laugh.

"Their end was a disgrace to the Kryptonian people. They were denied passage on the last few rescue vessels sent to save the leading intellectuals from Krypton just prior to the planet's demise. They perished when Krypton exploded.

"The personnel and the politicos who caused this tragic loss to the Kryptonian people were excised to the third generation, essentially destroying the family lines of these individuals. It was also a warning to the parasitic politicians that were attempting to garner power on New Krypton."

After a brief pause, Trey then commented, looking at the Earth group, "Don't worry about your secret. It's secure with me. Anyway, I don't know the spatial coordinates of your home planet, and at present, New Krypton does not possess the technical means to transverse interstellar distances within a Kryptonian lifetime. Without suspended animation equipment long space voyages are simply out of the question.

"However," Trey continued, "It would be nice to see your world, Kal-El. From the looks of your soulmates my senses tell me that your people and those from New Krypton could someday merge and become a society greater than either alone."

Zara then added, "Trey, we have already discussed that issue and our analysis agree with your tender feelings. However, certain items must first be resolved on both planets before some sort of association between our two peoples can be forged."

As Dar-El was about to speak, Trey's manservant returned and handed the requested package to Zara's chief minister.

Carefully opening the container, Trey removed the first of several wrapped objects. The first item was a magnificent painting of a physically striking woman whose green eyes exuded the intelligence one would expect from Lara-El.

Allowing the group to admire the portrait for some minutes, Trey said, "She was your natural mother, Kal-El."

Looking closer at the canvas, Lois began to recognize certain features that definitely linked Lara and her son.

"Kal," Trey continued, "your mother had several outstanding talents. First, she was a superb mathematician and a master of computer science. She could 'make artificial intelligence devices sing' to quote your father. There was nothing Lara could not accomplish in this field. Secondly, she was a great author. Lara did not restrict herself to prose alone, but over time she published several folios of exquisite poetry. Lara's books and articles were highly regarded and were widely read throughout your home world. You will find copies of her finest works in this package which I'm placing in your hands."

The second portrait Trey produced was that of a regal looking man whose intelligent demeanor blazed from his very expressive eyes.

Pausing for a moment to allow those present to absorb the qualities of the two portraits, Trey added, "This, Kal, is your sire. He was probably the greatest scientist of his age; maybe the greatest that was ever born on Krypton. Your father and mother labored tirelessly together, each complementing the work of the other. You should be aware that Lara was also a strong willed woman, whose demeanor could be snappish at times, like your soulmate, Lady Lo-El. However, when it came to her life partner, there was always harmony, peace, and understanding between them. Although they had a tendency to tease one another, they did so with great love. I never saw them violently disagree with one another. There was never anger or vindictiveness associated with their union. When they disagreed it was more like an academic debate that always resulted in a compromise. With others in their circle, however, Lara often presented a prickly demeanor. I believe this behavior was partly a protective mechanism. She used her cantankerous behavior against those who were mentally sloth and individuals who tended to use exhibited political expediencies to cover up by not solving the issues that plagued the Kryptonian people. Lara detested politicians.

"While Jor-El was strongly willed and as resilient as his soulmate, he was a rather reticent individual. Jor cherished his solitude and his time alone with Lara. They never seemed to get enough of each other. I believe," Trey added, "to discourage visits from undesirable individuals — government officials mostly — she took the role as the surly guardian of their domain."

Laughingly, Lois said to her husband, "Just like our relationship." Then Lady Lo-El elbowed her soulmate in the ribs to emphasize her point. Although teasing her husband, Lois was acutely aware that the relationship between her and Clark was indeed very similar to what Trey had just described between his natural parents.

"I hope you are as good as Lara," Clark said to Lois.

"You bet I will be," Lady Lo-El responded cuffing her soulmate on the arm.

He then grabbed Lois and crushed her to him. "You know, two can play your game of wallop tag. I'm sure you're aware of that, sweetheart," Clark said as he wrapped his arms about his beautiful bride.

Relishing the feel of his strong arms Lois thought, "Oh G- D, let us behave like this always."

Ignoring Lois and Clark's horseplay, Trey renewed his palaver and said, "Jor-El was a talented man in other ways. He painted. The portraits you are currently viewing are some of his creations. He also worked with crystals and fashioned marvelous jewelry pieces — they too were magnificent works of art. Furthermore, Jor was an accomplished composer of serious music. That gift, I believe, stemmed from his immense mathematical and scientific abilities. The genes for science and math belong to what our geneticists call a creative cluster. Someone who inherits such a DNA grouping tends to exhibit more than one artistic talent."

After a brief pause to gather his thoughts, Trey then told those present, "Lara and Jor's creative works were legendary. It looks as if their offspring, you, Kal-El, has inherited many of their gifts and most importantly those creative talents which were intended to help other people."

Clark was about to speak again when Trey said, "Don't deny it, Kal-El. How else could you have created the means to visit us on New Krypton? The working of your extraordinary creative mind, with the help of an equally brilliant intellect that of your spiritual brother, Dar-El, spawned and constructed a wondrous scientific marvel, your intergalactic space vessel."

As Clark was attempting to marshal his thoughts, Trey produced the final portrait of Kal-El's Kryptonian family. This painting was of an infant about six weeks of age. As Lois and Clark starred at the picture, Zara's counselor said, "That's you, Kal-El, shortly before being hurled into the void on your incredible journey to a new home with the Kents on Sol Three."

When Trey finished his little discourse, Lois grabbed the portrait and gazed lovingly at the image. Looking at her husband, she remarked, "You, my love, were a very beautiful infant. I hope our kids will inherit the best of your physical characteristics."

"And what about their mother's beauty?" Clark responded. "I was sorta hoping our children would inherit your physical attributes."

Kissing her husband on the forehead, Lois replied, "My lord, Kal-El, may our children and our children's children, till the end of time, be blessed with all that is good in the both of us."

"Amen," Clark murmured.

Then Clark turned to lord Trey and asked, "Can we, my soulmate Lo-El and myself, have these pictures?"

Trey just smiled and handed the paintings to Lois.

Almost simultaneously, Lois gave Trey a beaming look and bowed slightly to Zara's first minister and remarked, "My husband and I thank you for your generous gift and the noble gesture it signifies."

After dinner was concluded Trey had departed for his own quarters.

Clark then asked Zara and Ching if he could install a teleportation doorway within their living quarters. After explaining how the TD's functioned and his reason for establishing a portal in their apartments, the Sela and her consort readily agreed. Then as the Sela and her consort watched, Kal-El connected the royal quarters to the TD network. When Clark completed the TD task, New Krypton had been patched into the teleportation system. Now it could be truly said that the transport complex was truly intergalactic in scope.

With the teleportation connection had been completed, Ching and Zara were informed that they and their daughter Kara were the only citizens on New Krypton who could now sense and activate any of the cloaked TD sites on their planet or for that matter any TD portal which existed within the confines of the universe.

During Clark's explanation of the teleportation system's operation, New Krypton's first family was informed that a cloaking device was also part and parcel of the transportation network, and the entrance portal could only be controlled and managed by an individual's aura. Then Clark sketched a map detailing the locations of the TD sites scattered about the New Krypton.

Now, Zara and Ching could travel as common folk and survey their domain and learn the unvarnished truth about situations that would only reach them only through official channels, channels that would provide sugar coated information or down play the seriousness of the real events.

When they were again relaxing in the living room of the royal residence, Clark announced, "I may have a plan which may thwart Nor's power scheme and forestall or even negate any unwanted marriage between the Houses of Ra and Nor." When Clark made his declaration, the conversation between Lois and the first Kryptonian couple ceased, as all present stared at Kal-El, awaiting the presentation of Clark's plan.

After a slight pause, Clark beckoned his kin to accompany him through the newly installed TD portal.

On passing through the entryway, Zara, her soulmate Ching, and their daughter became aware that they were now in a small antechamber that was part of the transportation network. In the middle of the room was a table that supported a control panel with labeled switches and buttons embedded within the wood paneling. As they studied the button arrays, Clark told Zara and Ching how the switches functioned and the destination portal that each separate switch would activate. Ching also noticed that twelve of the buttons were set for specific locations on NK itself.

Dar then added, "We just added the NK sites you've observed to the instrument panel. It will help all of us move around New Krypton without being easily observed."

Ching shook his head and smiled at the thought of mingling among the common people in an incognito role.

Dar also pointed to a toggle that was labeled NKC. As Zara and Ching listened, Dar-El indicated that the NKC switch would create a portal that would connect them to a cloaked string driven spacecraft, which had been placed in orbit about their planet. He informed the First Couple that their relatives from NK2 were giving them an interstellar vessel for their own personal use and as a means of escape in case of an emergency.

Once the operation of the TD network had been thoroughly explained to Zara and Ching, Dar activated the portal that connected NK and Earth. After the new portal had been established, the NK party passed through the entranceway and arrived at NK2, which, of course, was located under the Kent farmstead on Sol Three.

When Zara and Ching and the rest of the party entered NK2 the children became rambunctious. In their excitement to be in familiar surroundings, the Miller kids launched themselves into the air and flew off. Linda and Dar-El immediately levitated and pursued their wayward offspring.

Kara, watching her new playmates fly away, said, "Mama, I want to soar through the sky like my cousins."

"If you stay here for a few days," Clark implied, kissing Kara on the cheek, "you'll be able to fly and romp in the air with the Miller family."

As soon as the Miller youngsters had been corralled, they, with the visitors from NK, followed Lois and Clark and their parents to their NK2 home.

After a brief tour of their house, Dar and Linda put their children and their cousin Kara to bed. While Dar and his wife were attending to the kiddie tasks, Clark and the others made themselves comfortable in the den area.

Following some rather casual conversations, Ching anxiously inquired, "Clark, what is your plan to foil Nor's marriage maneuver?"

Looking at Zara and Ching, who by now were clinging to each other in the manner of soulmate lovers, Clark replied, "What I'm going to propose may appear mere lunacy, but I beg you to please hear me out."

Taking a deep breath, Clark remarked, "I want you to leave Kara on Earth. She'll live with us in the safety of NK2. Dar and Linda informed me she could live with them. Believe me, Kara would not be a problem. In the Miller's home your daughter would have plenty of love and companionship." As Clark looked at his kin from across the Milky Way, he did not perceive any hostile reaction to his plan. Instead, Clark, however, did note thoughtfulness.

Encouraged by Ching and Zara's behavior, Clark continued, "You can create a fiction that Kara was abducted. Mount a search and sustain it for a sufficient period to justify your deep love for your daughter and let your grief be visible from time to time to support your feelings. Then let the search wane to a small but continuous endeavor to show friend and foe alike that you haven't given up hope of finding your beloved child."

Clark paused as the Millers entered the den. Then he added, "In time the Kryptonian people will consider Kara lost to both her family and NK and will not intervene when the search is finally terminated. Meanwhile, you will be seeing your daughter regularly, hopefully, every day, by using the TD facilities. One of us could bring her to the palace's living quarters on NK when you wish, and you could bring her back to NK2 as you wish. When Kara gets older and is more responsible, she would be able to make the journey between NK and NK2 by herself."

"Living on NK2," Dar told Zara and Ching, "Kara's life would initially be a little unusual for her, but she is an intelligent child and will adjust quickly to her new surroundings. Knowing that she is loved and is still very much a part of her original nuclear family will do much to alleviate any stress associated with her pseudo exile. What will help most," Dar added, "is Kara's understanding of the great danger her presence in the royal residence is creating, both to her family and the people of New Krypton."

"As I indicated earlier," Clark added, "Kara will have the Miller children who would provide the peer companionship she craves. Loneliness, therefore, I believe, would not be a consequential problem. And love she'll have aplenty — from both you and those of us living here — in NK2."

Clark also added, "A bonus to her residential change would be a healthier living environment and superior educational facilities. The latter condition is especially true since she is a female who has been living on a socially retarded world, especially so where females are concerned. Furthermore, she would enjoy a privacy of spirit and security which I know you and the other royal family members have always yearned for."

When Clark completed his remarks, he arose from his chair and crossed the room. From a small chest, resting upon a small table, he retrieved a small cubical object.

Returning to Zara and her consort, Ching, he placed the item he had retrieved into Zara's hands. Clark then said, "The device you hold is an AI-library unit. It was sent with me on my journey to Earth. This modular contrivance contains all the knowledge garnered by our Kryptonian forebearers prior to Krypton's destruction. This unit, I'm happy to say, was my mentor as I matured. To help you better understand the inhabitants of Sol Three, I have also placed the wisdom accumulated by the Terrans within the duplicate AI library I've made for you."

Zara reached out to touch the cube of knowledge with a trembling hand as tears streamed down her face. Smiling at Kal-El she said, "You have restored a great Krypton legacy to its people. For your unselfish gift, Kal-El, may the goddesses bless you and may your name be remembered with reverence for all time."

Allowing Zara to get control of her emotions Clark continued, "Kara will be provided with her very own library unit. It will help educate and guide her as she blossoms into a vivacious adult. Dar, Linda, Lois and I will furnish the classroom portion of Kara and the Miller children's instruction. The Miller's and I are very much aware that it is important to give our children a well-balanced education. To us here in NK2, that means not just classroom achievement will be emphasized during the learning process. We, in this quaint hamlet will encourage Kara and the Miller's children to develop social skills which will allow them to become involved and committed not just to the obligations and requirements of our little clan, but to the needs of our two worlds. We also intend to have lots of parties and trips too. These outings will add a little sugar to the dreary and sometime arduous task of acquiring knowledge for its own sake. Learning can be a laborious chore, as you already well know, especially for a child. Classroom knowledge by itself is not a future oriented event in a child's life. Yet, we are all too aware that it's very important that they master the wisdom of the past. From that knowledge and their social commitments will come a brighter future for the people of two suns. The job of the mentors, that's us, is to make sure that our charges not only master subject material but also understand the sociology and human necessities for which their knowledge will be needed to help implement."

Dar-El then remarked, "When you take Krypton's library to NK, display the cube as you would an ornament in plain view. Objects that are placed in out of the way places can attract unwanted attention. Also, You should know that the AI unit can duplicate itself if requested. For now," Dar added, "only you, the Sela and her soulmate will have access to this library system through aura recognition. Anyone invading your home and happens to recognize the library device will not be able to access its database and exploit the information it contains, most probably to the detriment of both our peoples.

"Another safeguard has been incorporated into the library module," Dar added. "You can instruct the library system to appear as any object you wish — hutch, bed, chest, table… This camouflaging mechanism you'll find extremely useful in safeguarding this precious device."

Zara and Ching then watched Dar instruct the physical appearance of the library unit to be transformed into a small table.

After returning the cube to its original configuration, Dar-El procured an antigravity skid to help Chin and Zara transport the AI — library unit (the cube) to its New Krypton abode.

When the three couples returned to New Krypton with their children in tow, Zara and her consort, Ching, went for a walk in the palace gardens where they seriously considered Kal-El's proposal concerning their daughter, Kara.

While Ching and his wife were contemplating Kara's future, Lois and Clark returned to Earth and their NK2 home.

Immediately after Clark opened the front door of their new dwelling, the man born on old Krypton scooped his bride into his arms and carried her across the threshold. As he did so, Lois placed her head on his chest and she began to giggle.

"What's so humorous, sweetheart?" he whispered in her ear.

Smiling at him, Lois replied, "You, my darling husband, are a very interesting mixture of a way-out scientist- adventurer, social activist and romantic."

"Is that a bad thing?" Clark asked, his insecurities obviously coming to the fore.

"Hell, no," she replied. "Your behavior may appear to be strange to an onlooker, but what does that matter? Your aura conveys to me, my soulmate, that we're lovers committed to one another forever and that is all that matters in the scheme of things. From our commitment, my beloved, there will come noble deeds that in time will change our world into something wonderful. A world society that even the biblical scholars and prophets could not fathom.

"More important to our immediate personal relationship, my darling, our bond has informed me that you are, sir, a kind, caring, and courageous person. From our auric connection, I've been assured that your fidelity to me will always be beyond reproach. I also found out from Zara that Kryptonians mate for life — no ifs, ands, or buts about that fact. These things and others, which I sensed from our energy connection, have been missing in my life until I met you. More important, I've just become aware that my lifelong and intimate soulmate relationship will be repetitive over many lifetimes throughout time.

"Clark, I could have lost all this if I'd followed my usual timid maneuvers when faced with a love affair. I will always be grateful to Linda and Zara for their encouragement and your understanding."

Placing her hand on her soulmates's face, Lois quietly added, "Clark, I also know that I couldn't have you in my life on any other terms than those that presently and will forever exist between us."

"Nor could I have you in my life without the same commitments," Kal-El replied to his beautiful bride.

Then Lois told her new husband in a somewhat more serious tone, "The bond between us is so strong, sweetheart, that when I feel your love wash over me, I tend to get weak in the knees. Our devotion to one another is such a beautiful thing, but it also scars me too, my darling. What if I were to lose you?"

Taking his hand in hers she continued, "What would happen to the other life partner if some tragedy were to sever our relationship by that immutable curtain which separates life from death? How would the survivor continue without their soulmate?"

Kissing his wife on the forehead Clark replied, "From what I have learned from the AI unit, your question is moot. Unless there is an imperative reason, like the raising of children, the trauma to the soulmate bond will cause the survivor to pass from this plane of existence almost immediately after the demise of his or her life partner. Then, their essences would journey to the well of souls where they would remain until the soulmates are reborn. Lois, the two of us will never be separated."

"Well of souls?" Lois inquired.

"It is a place that exists beyond time and space," Clark remarked, "where all souls reside when not inhabiting a life form. In the Place, all the souls, which were formed at the beginning of time, call home. When not inhabiting a life form, soulmates can always be found together in the well of souls. When the essences of a soulmate couple return to the dimension we refer to as life, the same two beings will eventually find one another and live and love again. Soulmate pairs never change — they are forever."

Pausing for a moment, he continued, "At least that's what the ancient Kryptonian philosophers espoused."

Cocking her head to one side, Lois smiled at her husband and said, "I like their philosophy. I do hope it's true."

"So do I, baby, so do I," Clark declared.

Lois sat down on the sofa and patted the spot next to her. Sensing his soulmate's meaning, Clark seated himself next to her and pulled her close.

As they relished the feel of their bodies, Lois quietly remarked, "My beloved Clark, I must tell you that there will be times when I will not be the easiest person to get along with."

Telling Lois that he understood by the shake of his head, Clark replied, "My beloved Lois, I can be very stubborn at times."

Kissing her lightly on the lips, Clark declared, "I'm sure that mad dog Lane and old hard headed Kent will gird themselves for battle from time to time. I have been told that our auras will diffuse our hostility but still allow us to differ and come to a resolution of our disparities. We, my love, shall never end the day with our lives in disarray.

"Sweetheart," Clark then said to Lois, "I can feel your anxieties. Let me assure you, sweetheart, our auras will never allow our union to dissolve. Also, my love, our abbreviated courtship and marriage did not just happen because of necessity. Because of my feeling for you, I sorta hurried our union along. I'm crazy in love with you, Lois, and didn't want to spend endless hours in ritualistic courting procedures to achieve a conclusion that, to me, was already fact. You and I have a lifetime kind of love. That, my dear, is a truism which will ever be so."

As Clark was both speaking and pleading with his bride for patience and understanding, Lois could see his adoration for her blazing from his eyes and feel his caresses though their entwined auras. The effect of his feelings overwhelmed her emotional system. She knew he spoke the truth, a truth that would exist beyond forever.

To appease the amorous fire in their souls, Lois said, "Clark, why don't you just shut up and just kiss me. I'm also crazy in love with you, my beloved Kryptonian."

Clark pulled Lois to him and crushed her lips to his. As their bodies touched, the ache in their souls eased, but the craving for complete intimacy rapidly increased beyond measure.

Giving into their mortal passions, Clark picked up his bride and carried her to their chambre coucher. Their life together had begun.

As dawn was approaching, Lady Lo-El awoke with her head resting on her husband's shoulder and listened to his strong steady heartbeat. When Lois tried to move, the mistress of the house of El became aware that Clark was holding her fast as he dozed with his face cheek to cheek with hers.

While Lois Lane- Kent was lovingly entwined with her husband, she savored the security of their embrace. For Kal-El's soulmate, time seemed to cease as Lady Lo-El reveled in her husband's closeness, knowing, as sleep began to claim her, that she at last was truly home.

As dawn finally broke over the Kansas prairie, the inky blackness of the night was slowly being swept aside by the rising sun. The light of the new day again awakened Clark's soulmate. Turning over she reached for her husband; however, her hand found nothing but empty space. Lois' anxiety quickly mounted as she jumped out of bed, put on her robe and began searching for her husband.

Descending the steps of their home leading to the main level, Lois heard sounds emanating from the kitchen and could smell Clark's delectable breakfast tantalizing her olfactory senses. As she was about to enter the kitchen, Lois noticed that Trey's gift, portraits of Clark's natural parents, had been hung in their living room. She also noticed that Clark had started painting again, and the unfinished canvas was of her.

Gazing at her portrait, Lois began to realize that the man she adored beyond all imagining had many talents she had yet to discover. As Lady Lo-El admired her husband's work, she wondered why the fates had conspired to make Clark her soulmate. It was still beyond her comprehension. However, Lois was very aware that she and her husband were bound together for all eternity.

As Lois thought about the fates that had brought Lois and her soulmate together, Lady Lo-El could only conclude that destiny had chosen well when it had forged a bond between Lane and Kent. The thought of life without her soulmate was just unthinkable to the distaff side of the El household.

When Lois entered the kitchen, she went right to Clark's arms. As they caressed, eager hands touched one another causing their libidos to rise rapidly, further fusing the souls of the two lovers into a single entity.

Laughingly, Clark remarked to his bride, "If we don't stop this hanky panky, baby, my control will be gone in a few seconds, and you and I will be back in the sack probably for the remainder of the day."

From her husband face and her own delicious feelings Lois knew that Clark had indeed spoken the truth. Her emotional control was rapidly melting away. She just wanted to run her hands all over his body and take him back to bed.

Reluctantly, the two lovers separated. By now, however, each soulmate was breathing hard, their rapid heart rate keeping cadence with their spiraling libidos initiated by the newlyweds' early morning horseplay.

Coughing and laughing simultaneously, Clark said, "Sweetheart, we are so attuned to each other that the slightest excuse for a lover's encounter sends us into flights of ecstasy."

Then gazing at her husband with a rather sober look, Lois added, "The truth between us, my love, is simply what we tell each other. Our soulmate bond will never allow lying between you and me."

"That's very true," Clark replied and deeply kissed his bride again.

After kissing his wife, Clark took her hand and led Lois to the kitchen table and served his wife a meal fit for royalty.

Soon after sunrise, as husband and wife enjoyed their first breakfast together, Clark said to his bride, "Last night, my darling, I learned about the ecstasy and terror of true love. My fear of losing you almost overwhelmed me until I recognized the immortality of our relationship. That realization has destroyed my dread, and I also became aware that the lives of true lovers are a continuous spectrum of joy punctuated by moments of pure bliss. It is that sublime intimacy that will protect and sustain us beyond forever."

After a slight pause in their conversation, Clark commented, "Lois, something strange happened just as I started dozing in your arms last night."

"What?" She inquired.

He responded, "I heard a voice coursing through my mind saying the soulmate union of the fated ones is now complete."

Smiling at her husband — husband, she loved the sound of that adage — Lois replied, "I heard that same thought, my dear." Pausing for a moment, Lois added, "I feel that while the concepts surrounding the soulmate hypothesis may have validity, some of philosophical ideas surrounding the soulmate beliefs are still not clear to me. I'm having a difficult time accepting notions like the well of souls and soulmates repeatedly reborn throughout time. Clark, I can't get a handle on the mysticism that is part and parcel of the soulmate system of logic. Yet, I can feel that something is guiding or influencing us and has somehow sensed our completeness. However, my own logic still has some difficulty with some of the mystical soulmate images."

"Some of the soulmate concepts bother me too," Clark told Lois. "Let's put this entire philosophical disputation on hold. When we, as a couple, have experienced enough of the trials and tribulations of life and have also sufficiently strengthened and stabilized our lives, we'll do a complete study of the soulmate concept and its ramifications. For now let's just accept that there seems to be a power which brings special and faithful lovers together and protects them throughout all aspects of their existence."

"I'll drink to that," Lois replied hugging her husband and kissing him lightly, but with passion, on the lips.

As Clark finished serving breakfast, Lois looked at her soulmate and wondered what she had done to warrant such adoration and a world, for her, of complete happiness, a world that began at the moment of the Lane-Kent joining. Whatever power brought them together and helped fashion her world, lady Lo-El would never do anything to unravel the Lane-Kent paradise. From the moment they declared their love for one another, Lois realized that she and Clark were creating a reality of love which would bind them ever more tightly together. A love that would surround and caress them throughout their lives.

"Maybe our soulmate union had been orchestrated by destiny," Lois murmured to herself." As Clark had said, Lois continued to cogitate; both she and her lover would attempt to understand the entire array of soulmate sentiments when they had evolved into a more mature couple."

Later that morning, Ching and Zara met with their Earth brethren over the morning meal. As they dined, the Sela Zara said, "Speaking for Ching and myself, we have decided to use Kal-El's plan to remove Kara from Nor's clutches. Our daughter, therefore, will remain on Earth. It will be inconvenient for all concerned and extremely heart rending at times, but it will save her from an uncomfortable and perhaps even more dangerous childhood. Furthermore, Ching and I believe Kal's plan will protect our daughter from a horrible adult existence if the council compelled her to marry Nor's son, Tarix. Our decision, we also feel, will safeguard New Krypton and keep NK out of the grasp of a power hungry and tyrannical monster, Lord Nor. Rest assured that at least one of us, Ching or myself, or both, if possible, will see Kara every day. We will not forsake our daughter nor abandon our parental responsibilities."

As Zara completed her thoughts, a hush fell over the kitchen. Then, Dar-El commented, "I know that you and Ching have to return to NK. A prolonged absence will be noticed. However, can you delay your return until this evening?"

After considering Dar's petition, Zara and Ching agreed with his request.

As the morning meal ended, Zara and Ching took Kara for a walk in a nearby park. When they returned a short while later, it was obvious that the young girl had been crying profusely. From the look in Kara's eyes, the residents of NK2 were also aware that the young lady understood and accepted the reason for her pseudo exile.

When Kara's parents were readying themselves to enter the TD network that evening and return to New Krypton, Kara jumped into Linda's lap and wrapped her arms around her neck. While Dar, Lois, and Clark looked on, Kara seemed to hold onto Linda as if her life depended upon her embrace. Gazing at this scene, Lois marveled at the way Linda surrounded Kara with love and all the affection and congeniality she could muster. Lois knew, at that moment, that Ching and Zara's daughter would live with a family who would always surround the youngster with an abundance of love. Not only would Kara receive affection from her extended family, but understanding as well. The young girl would lack for nothing.

Before leaving for NK that evening, Ching and Zara, as was their custom, kissed their daughter good night and waited until she drifted into a peaceful sleep. Leaving their child's bedroom the Sela and her soulmate were well aware that Kara was loved by all her kin, and she would flourish in the NK2 environment.

Before bidding her parents a tearful adieu, Kara understood the political ramifications which were causing her living accommodations to change, and she knew in her heart that her mother and father had an unshakable commitment to their daughter and at least one of them would see her every day. More important, Ching's daughter was made secure in the knowledge that she had not been abandoned by her folks — she was being protected from Nor's power hungry schemes by other members of her family — kin living secretively on an another planet.

Later that evening, Zara and Ching said their farewells to Dar and Linda and accompanied Lois and Clark to the Sanctuary platform in the Centauri star system.

Arriving at the Centauri Sanctuary Station, the foursome meandered about the facility talking and laughing with each other as close family members often do. As they moved about the space station, Clark explained the various functions of the installation and the projects that were ongoing. Zara and Ching became particularly interested in Kal-El's search for star systems, which had a high probability of containing planets that could sustain both Terran and Kryptonian life forms. Zara was also very interested in his life preservation program. To help support Clark's project, she and Ching contributed some of their genetic material to the ever-increasing diversity of the egg and sperm specimens that were being preserved within the space station's stasis vault.

As Clark and the others moved toward the laboratory section of the station complex, Ching noticed thirty-one completed spaceships with three more under construction in the berthing area. Before he could speak, Clark said, "Those spacecraft are all fitted with string interstellar engines."

Ching was then informed that each ship was equipped with two lethal weapon systems. "When the spacecraft building project is finished," Clark added, "there will be fifty vessels in the squadron. Our ships are being readied to function in a dual capacity — as research vessels to explore the cosmos and as a military deterrent, if, G-D forbid, that situation ever became a necessary option."

After a momentary pause Kal-El remarked, "Those ships will only be used in a belligerent way to defend Earth and New Krypton. Your planet was placed within our defense umbrella when those of us living on Earth discovered that the inhabitants of NK were our brethren."

"Why are you so worried about an attack from some of the space faring races?" Ching inquired. "They seem to be peaceful people,"

Pausing for a second or so, Clark responded, "I would generally agree with you, Ching. However, I'm sure you're aware that there are exceptions to all generalities. We have discovered a race of being called the Frengie who have just become a space faring folk. They inhabit a planetary system about fifteen hundred light years from New Krypton. From our observations, we've found these people to be a very warlike race of humanoids. While the Frengie, at present, possess only a crude form of interstellar flight, we expect this condition to change rapidly." Taking a breath, Clark then added, "Although their current interstellar technology is still rather primitive, their engines can propel spacecraft across our galaxy in under two years.

"Because NK possesses and will maintain a much superior technological base," Clark further commented, "the Frengie are not a military threat to New Krypton. Your people should be safe from any military interference by the Frengie for way into the foreseeable future.

"While New Krypton will be safe behind its technological shield, the Frengie has recently begun to roam our galaxy in search of easier prey.

"We have also recently discovered," Kal-El added "that the Frengie have started negotiating with Nor for advanced weapon technology. If Nor can forge an alliance with the Frengie, the El's, Ra's and the other free clans of New Krypton may find themselves engaged in a conflict on two fronts. I'm concerned that when Lord Nor does decide to launch his campaign of conquest, he will have the Frengie as allies. The spacecraft you see, Ching, Dar and I believe, can quickly neutralize the Frengie threat by engaging and destroying their space armada. With the Frengie fleet eliminated, those ships you now see can then be utilized to attack Nor's ground forces and help blunt the tyrant's military designs — the conquest of New Krypton."

"How does Dar-El feel about those ships, the Frengie, and Nor's plans of conquest."

Smiling at his NK friend and kin, Kal-El simply replied, "Dar agrees with my views."

As Ching was contemplating what Clark told him, Kal-El activated a special telemetry unit. Zara and Lois were also alerted and turned their portable monitors to view the images Clark was now bringing into focus. As they watched, different scenes of Nor's NK realm were shown. After a few minutes, Ching joined them and began watching the panorama of Lord Nor's domain.

Clark explained that he and Dar had placed several surveillance satellites in a specific position over New Krypton. They were capable of monitoring all activities within Nor's provinces.

While Ching took note at the images from the surveillance satellites, he soon became very agitated as he beheld the abundance of military weaponry in Nor's arsenal of death. Ching then murmured, "Oh my G-D, his forces are nearly a third larger than our intelligence operations have indicated."

Clark said, "It appears that your sub-Rosa military operatives have been deceived by Nor's misinformation tactics."

While Ching and Zara focused on Nor's military facilities and his vast array of equipment, Lois became aware that her husband began to pace to and fro. After a minute or so, he suddenly stopped and asked Ching to show him the routes Nor would most likely use if he launched an attack against the legitimate government of New Krypton.

Using the monitor, Ching pointed out Nor's best attack routes. He also indicated the most probable starting locations Nor's forces would use when they launch their war of conquest.

"Hmmm," Clark murmured, "Only three invasion routes are available to Lord Nor." Then, facing Ching and Zara, Clark, holding Lois' hand for support, remarked, "I have a plan that just might frustrate Nor's military and political ambitions."

Then Kal nervously asked Lois and his kin to please listen to his scheme and tell him whether his ideas were sound or if they were off the wall.

Looking again at Nor's territory on the monitor, Clark said, "If I were setting up a defensive perimeter, I would first block two of the three possible invasion routes with energy mines."

Taking a rod, Clark pointed to the relatively flat land areas on the screen to illustrate his point.

"Such a defensive maneuver," Clark continued, "would force Nor to use the narrow pass that leads to the Ra province of Torin as his only attacking route."

After a pause, Clark asked, "What is the name of that pass point?"

Ching replied, "That pass is known as the NorRa Crossroads. It is a low place in the mountain range, a valley like formation, which gives the pass its name."

"Forcing Nor's forces to use that mountainous terrain," Clark commented, "will deprive his military from utilizing a sizable portion of their mechanized units. The mountainous terrain of the NorRa Crossroads is not very conducive to movement of heavy armament. Nor's generals will have to rely heavily on their infantry — their army's ground pounders — to attack through and secure the NorRa rift region and the lands beyond, including the Ra plateau, before a sizable amount of armor could be inserted into the battle zone."

"Why do you think Nor's commanders will choose the pass as their invasion route?" Ching anxiously inquired.

Pausing to collect his thoughts, Clark replied, "Facing the prospect that the most desired invasion passages have been blocked with high energy mines, the military commanders would naturally seek an alternative attacking route. Nor's generals are perfectly aware that attempting to cross any energy mined regions would destroy a sizable portion of their infantry and mechanized units. By crossing a mined region, Nor's commanders could expect destruction of their forces to occur at a prodigious rate, losses not acceptable in conservative military terms, especially if a relatively long campaign could be possible. So, Nor's generals, I strongly feel, would be forced, by circumstance, to seek another route for their attack. And, my friend, the only track available to them would be in the NorRa Crossroads."

Ching looked at his kin and replied, "Kal-El, my brother, that's not a traditional way of waging war among New Krypton's people."

Clark responded in a bitter tone saying, "The only thing that should be considered traditional about war is that it should be avoided at all costs."

"However," Clark then added, "If battle must be enjoined NEVER MEET THE ENEMY ON THEIR TERMS."

Still Ching countered, "Nor's military strength will be roughly two or three times our manpower and equipment capabilities."

Smiling at his friend, Clark replied, "Numbers don't matter when a fight is forced upon you. Also," Clark commented, "our fighting men are far stronger because Nor's sycophants have never known the dignity of freedom. When war is forced upon liberty loving folk, free people will fight to the death to preserve their cherished institutions. That's a basic characteristic of a free people. No tyrant throughout history has ever understood that esprit de corps. Despots always believe that because democratic peoples attempt to avoid conflict, whenever possible, they are weak and can easily be overcome. If a tyrannical regime does manage to conquer their victims, the oppressor's victory will generally be short lived. Their successes can be compared to a fly that attempts to overwhelm flypaper. In time, the people who have been subdued, will throw-off the yoke of their persecutors and drive the invaders from their lands."

After Clark paused, Ching mused, "The dignity of freedom… That's a strange way of expressing the attitudes of liberty loving folk."

Zara then spoke up and said, "I like the way our cousin thinks. Kal's thoughts have character."

Kal-El shook his head and smiled as he replied, "People who are free and think for themselves are always stronger than those who are trained to behave as automatons. I view the dignity of freedom as people who maintain grace under pressure."

Pausing for a moment, Clark then added, "When an army is attacking, as it moves down a slope, its hitting power will be several times its actual numerical strength. In such a clash, I've always observed that the numerical superiority of the invading force can be neutralized by such a maneuver."

As Kal-El and Ching concluded their philosophical tete-a- tete, the man from Earth again focused on his original strategy.

Clark then said to the Sela and her mate, "As Nor mounts his assault, you should have El and Ra forces deployed atop the two slopes which define the pass through the NorRa Crossroads. The El and Ra forces on heights should be cloaked to avoid detection as the aggressor advances. All that Nor's minions should see and focus upon is a moderate military force blocking their line of march at the far end of the valley.

"Expecting a quick victory," Clark further added, "Nor's forces will charge toward our fortified position at the top of the pass. As large numbers of Nor's grunts approach our come-hither military lure at the head of the valley, more and more of Nor's troops will begin to occupy the same unchanging fighting ground, thus, squeezing each enemy soldier into an increasingly smaller maneuverable area. Nor will be unable to manage the flow of his combatants because of the terrain. At this juncture in the conflict, Nor's military units will almost become a detriment to themselves by preventing military cohesion and fluidity, a tactic which is desperately needed under battlefield conditions.

"As Nor's troops continue their assault on our visible positions," Clark continued, "their numbers will not only interfere with their cohesiveness but also block any mechanized weaponry from advancing and supporting the foot soldiers which have been committed to the fray. When Nor's troops come within sight of our military lure, our defensive military position at the head of the pass will be reinforced and will bring the enemy's advance to a halt. When this static condition is achieved, the El-Ra forces on the slopes of the valley will uncloak and charge down the inclines of the NorRa Crossroads. As the two prongs of our counter attacking forces are linked, they will close the pincers created by our two battle groups. When this occurs, Nor's invading army will be surrounded, and with the proper coordination, our El-Ra forces can then systematically annihilate Nor's grunts. As the enemy foot soldiers begin to flee the battlefield, they'll create chaos that will further destroy the effectiveness of Nor's fighting forces. When the confusion reaches its maximum, Ching can then employ Krypton's heavy weapons and destroy the mechanized component of Nor's forces."

After Clark finished talking, Ching asked Lois, "Can Kal come to New Krypton to instruct our troops in his novel military tactics?"

"Why?" Clark asked.

"From what you've shown me," Ching replied, "I believe that you are a strategist in the rough — in Earth terms, a potential Field Marshall. You should be the one who leads the hosts of New Krypton in the coming conflict with the tyrannical forces of Lord Nor."

When Clark looked at Zara, she simply nodded her head agreeing with her husband's views.

"Before I can make any commitment," Clark replied, "Lois and I must seriously consider your proposal and the possible consequences to our own lives."

Zara then commented, "Do you two always consider and decide everything together?"

Looking at each other and smiling, Lois and Clark replied simultaneously with a resounding, "Yes."

"Yes, for all major issues," clarified Lois. "For small personal things, we still behave individually. However, Clark and I still give each other a synopsis of what occurred during our time apart."

"In all seriousness," Clark said to Zara and Ching, "you'll have our answer by tomorrow."

Bright and early the next day, the Sela of New Krypton and her consort dined with the newlyweds from the planet Earth.

Before Zara could ask the all important question, Clark said, "Lois and I have decided that we should return to New Krypton and help remove the menace of Lord Nor from the lives of the people of New Krypton. Lois will only be able to stay with me for the remainder of the week. Then, I'm afraid she must return to her position at the Daily Planet. However, each evening Lois and I will meet at our NK2 home or at some other chosen location which is connected by our teleportation network."

Zara asked, "What if your location position is not near one of your TD portals?"

Clark replied, "Then, I'll use my portable TD generator and open an entranceway wherever I am." He then showed Zara and Ching his latest innovation, a mobile TD generator. Clark then added, "The portable TD will have the facility to recall its initial coordinates and return the individual to his/her point of origin. So getting to our home or finding one another along the TD network is no longer problematic for Lois and me."

Clark then gave Zara and Ching a copy of his new portable TD unit for their own personal use.

To demonstrate the use and range of the portable TD, Clark had Ching set his instrument to the portal coordinates for the Kent farm. In a moment, Lois and Clark and their New Kryptonian kin had been teleported to that Earthly location.

Ching and Zara were very impressed with Clark's new scientific device. Ching of course was already thinking of military applications for Clark's new portable TD unit.

Just prior to Zara and her soulmate's departure to New Krypton with Lois and Clark, lady Lo-El and Martha had a private conversation. As they teleported to New Krypton, Clark asked his wife, "What were you and Mom talking about in such a hush — hush manner?"

"I'll tell you later," she said, as she kissed him on the cheek.

Clark was worried. He found that any time Lois got a half- baked notion trouble was not far off. However, until he heard her out, he would bury his nagging apprehensions.

Arriving at their quarters in the royal apartments on New Krypton the four interstellar travelers enjoyed a delightful meal and then went for a stroll through the El- Ra metropolitan area to see the sights of the city.

For the next several months, the close interaction of Ching, Kal-El, and Dar-El slowly but surely made them spiritual brothers. As they were getting to know one another, Ching taught Clark how to fight with a LASER sword. After mastering the finer techniques of New Krypton's main hand held battle weapon, Clark was introduced to the LASER knife. Ching, a master of both weapons, showed Clark how to use either weapon and survive when forced to fight against one or more antagonist.

While Lois was working at the Planet and Zara was taking care of New Krypton's affairs of state, Clark and Ching worked out new hand to hand fighting procedures using the LASER sword and knife combination. They both became very proficient with this kind of weapon mix and could easily take on a half dozen adversaries simultaneously and survive.

Once Clark and Ching had perfected the new fighting techniques, the New Krypton military was then thoroughly instructed in the usage of the new combat techniques. Once the free forces of NK had mastered the new fighting routines, Ching felt that Zara's army had an edge over Nor's servile troops.

During the evenings of these uncertain times, Lois and Clark would shut out the universe and create their own intimate world. Being young lovers, both Lois and her soulmate craved privacy. The lovers made the most of these moments for both El's fully realized that once children entered their household, privacy of almost any kind would seem like a luxury.

Aside from their intimate moments, Clark taught his soulmate how to fight with his new NK weapon creations, adding to her instruction periodically any modifications to the Kal-El-Ching hand to hand fighting techniques as they were developed. He felt that her knowledge in weapons usage was a necessary evil while his wife was on New Krypton. Especially, now, when Zara and Ching's home world was on the brink of a military upheaval.

Clark also helped Lois prepare some of her Planet articles to alleviate some of the stress from her newspaper vocation and allow his wife more freedom to concentrate on her growing NK responsibilities.

While Lois was a master at organizing the analytical material for her articles, Clark was equally adroit at the touchy-feely stuff, which she included in the copy sent to Perry. Their combined efforts produced masterful exposes and earned Lois several Kerths and a Merriweather award for excellence in journalism.

As the belligerent conditions on NK intensified, Lois yielded to Clark's insistence that she should return and remain at their home until needed. It was Clark who now flitted between New Krypton and his Earth to spend most evenings with his bride.

One day during this seemingly quiet period and soon after Lois had LAN'd a story to her editor, Perry summoned her to his inner sanctum. "Darlin'," Perry said, as she entered his office, "that article you just sent me, 'The Homeless of Metropolis,' is a magnificent expose."

Pausing for a moment, Perry then commented, "Lois, I'm very familiar with your writing style. Because of my knowledge, I'm aware that your latest story was a joint effort — two people were involved. Some of the story's analysis and the touchy-feely stuff I believe were composed by someone else and artfully inserted in your copy."

Smiling Lois replied, "You're right, Perry. The ghostwriter you're referring to is my husband. He doesn't want his byline attached to any article published by the Planet. So far, I've honored his wishes, but I must tell you I'm not comfortable with this arrangement. When we work on his scientific papers, he always lists me as a contributor or a co- author of his article."

When Lois told her surrogate father — the editor and chief of the Daily Planet — that she was married, her surly boss nearly passed out. After composing himself, Perry shouted, "Great Caesar's Ghost," and then in a quieter tone asked his star reporter, "How long have you been hitched, darlin'?"

Lois replied, "About five months, Perry."

After a brief pause in their conversation, Perry said, "Congrats, Darlin'. Uh, Uh… do you think you can get that new husband of yours to join our staff as your partner?"

"We are partners, chief, life partners," Lois quipped. Then the Planet's top reporter added, "Perry, I've talked to my husband about a staff position at the Planet, with me as his partner, of course, until my face has nearly turned blue." After a slight pause, Lois added, "When some of our more pressing issues have been resolved, I'll speak with him again about partnering with me at the Planet." Then Lois further remarked, "Be warned, chief, because of his history with some of the jackanapeses at the Planet, my soulmate has been reluctant even to talk to me, his wife, about your journalistic idea. I feel that because of his love for me, he has become condescending even to me and has only reluctantly allowed subjects concerning our paper to be broached. During the five months we've been married, I've proposed working together more times than you or I can count. So far, Perry, my husband has listened but has not greeted a liaison at the Planet with any enthusiasm."

"I'm surprised," Perry retorted. "Knowing the Lane persuasive powers and that irascibility of yours, I'm wondering why you didn't hog-tie your hubby and drag him here on a leash."

Smiling, Lois replied, "My husband and I do not have disputes that are long drawn-out battles. I don't mean that we don't disagree, but our discords are brief, and we resolve them in short-order. When I look into his brown puppy dog eyes and he sees me becoming upset, we simply melt into each other's arms. When we embrace, our differences, whatever they've entailed, are quickly resolved. It's funny," Lois added, "right after we settle our misunderstandings, my soulmate and I are billing and cooing like any two insatiable lovers. And, in a short time, neither of us can recall what precipitated our disagreement in the first place."

Studying his star reporter, Perry commented, "Lois, it sounds as if you struck gold."

"More than that, chief," Lois replied, "I found my soulmate. He's the other half of my heart." Lois then added, "Beyond forever is much too short a time for our love to exist."

After a pause in their conversation, Perry asked? "When can Alice and me meet the man who tamed 'mad dog' Lane."

"Soon, chief," Lois commented and giggled. "Right now he's on another pla… on a business trip. When he gets back, we'll get together. I believe we'll have some special things to tell ya."

Seeing Perry's quizzical face, Lois added, "I know I've just wetted your curiosity, chief, but please be patient." Smiling, Lois than told Perry, "There's another concept I've learned since my marriage, Perry. I've come to understand that in the intimacy between life partners there must be total trust. My soulmate and I share all responsibilities — we're partners in all that we do together."

"Five months ago," Lois continued, "I would never have believed that I could ever achieve such harmony with any man. I guess miracles do happen."

"If you learned that, darlin'," Perry told his star reporter," then you've come to grips with a concept few couples have mastered and one of the major causes, I feel, of marital dissolution."

"You're right, Perry, I became acutely aware of that fact shortly after we signed the wedding register. Both of us were cognizant that we had just sanctioned a contract between life and ourselves. Marriage, after all, is a contract between individuals. My soulmate and I were also very much aware that each of us is responsible for the other, and the combination of our individualities had created a totality which is greater than our own vital parts."

After both Lois and Perry quietly contemplated what was said between them for a brief period, Lois remarked, "Chief, I've learned that the possibilities which originated with my marriage are awesome, but I believe they could overwhelm my soulmate and me. To put your mind at ease, chief, I have this intrinsic feeling that somehow we'll get through all our rough times and become stronger and more united from our ordeals. I sense that something wonderful will come from my husband and me and our descendants. I have this feeling that the entire world will be the benefactors of my union with my soulmate. I know it sounds like a quirky comment, Perry, but I can't shake this notion."

When Lois finished her ruminations, she was afflicted with a bout of goose bumps. A shiver passed through her body as if to confirm her reflective mood.

Shaking his head, Perry bent over and kissed Lois on her forehead and said again, "Congratulations, darlin'. I'm looking forward to meeting this guy who hog-tied my number one gal with such bonds of love. Now get back to work, young lady, and get me another page one story."

Later that evening, a unique event occurred within the Metropolis city limits. Nearly a hundred souls were rescued by a superhero when the sudden appearance of a sinkhole caused a city street to plunge into the earth. The masked superhuman appeared to be a woman. She was clad in a form fitting costume created from red, blue, and yellow materials and her face was covered by a red mask. There was also a stylized S emblazonment on her chest. Before the cadre of Metropolis' reporters could arrive at the scene of the near fatal sinkhole incident, the super woman had completed saving the trapped people and disappeared.

Early the next day, the morning edition of the Daily Planet had a front page story by Lois Lane entitled, "Call Me Superwoman."

Soon after Lois' exclusive hit the streets, in the Planet's early morning edition, she was deluged by her colleagues throughout Metropolis and its suburbs. They descended upon Lois like a swarm of locusts. As they were overrunning the Planet newsroom like the sea pouring through a hole in a dyke, Jimmy muttered, "You know, it looks as if our bullpen were a ship on a tempestuous sea during the height of a titanic storm."

As the journalists from many nearby papers surrounded Lois, questions were hurled at her fast and furiously all focusing on the new super sensation who came to town, a person she, Lois Lane, named Superwoman.

Seeing the Planet's star reporter being engulfed by virtually the entire Metropolis news community and journalists from nearby hamlets, Perry grabbed a bullhorn and yelled at the morass of noisy reporters and said, "If ya'll don't shut-up, I'm calling the police and having the lot of you tossed the hell out of here. Then, the Planet will press charges against you and the papers you represent for trespassing and anything else I can think up."

Soon after Perry's angry admonition a semblance of order was reestablished within the hoard of reporters who had invaded the Planet's newsroom.

When decorum in the bullpen was finally restored, Perry invited the news people who had laid siege to Lois to the Planet's large conference theater. There, for nearly three hours, Lois answered all kinds of queries concerning Superwoman — Metropolis' newest superhero.

After the conference ended, Lois, in the days that followed, settled back into her reporting mode and, when necessary, moonlighted in her flashy new costume.

While Lois was establishing Superwoman as a permanent fixture on the Metropolis scene, Clark was completing his weaponry instruction and had moved his quarters to Mirror Alpha, the most prestigious university on New Krypton. There, as a cover, he taught natural physical law accentuating the states of matter. When not teaching, Clark spent every free moment studying with Torn-Ra, a retired global strategist — a military commander of great stature.

Torn-Ra had captained the New Kryptonian host in the last great war, which unfortunately had ravaged the planet, but saved Krypton's ancient civilization. Like the coming conflict, the combatants then were Nor's minions and the freedom loving people of New Krypton — essentially the El, Ra, and Lo clans.

While Kal-El functioned as a professor at Mirror Alpha, he acquired lodging in the home of Ser-Lo and his seven-year old daughter Ash-Ra. Clark's residence was located in a quaint village a few miles east of the university. Here, his comings and goings could not be monitored without his knowledge by any hidden surveillance devices.

Clark's landlord, Ser-Lo, was an artisan of the highest caliber. He was known far and wide for his mastery of blending precious stones into unique geometrical patterns. The jewelry Ser-Lo created was considered the finest on the planet. His original works were constantly sought after by the nobility and often commissioned by the same class and the more affluent residents of New Krypton.

Always interested in art, Kal asked Ser-Lo to teach him the fundamentals of his craft — the creation of beautiful crystalline objects pleasing to the senses.

Because Clark's request was of a voluntary nature and came from the heart, the Kryptonian master craftsman couldn't refuse Lord Kal-El's request. Ser-Lo could also sense that the professor at Mirror Alpha possessed a fine artistic talent. Ser-Lo had another reason for accepting Clark's request. The master craftsman needed another artisan of the highest caliber to transmit the fundamentals of his art to future generations. Ser-Lo knew that Lord Kal-El was that individual and struck a bargain with him.

In return for Ser-Lo's instruction, Clark agreed to educate Ash-Ra, the craftsman's offspring. It was one of Ser-Lo's fondest desires that Ash-Ra, his daughter, obtain a first- class education.

The educative requirements on New Krypton, at the time of Lois and Clark's arrival excluded all women except the females of noble houses from receiving more than a rudimentary education.

While women on New Krypton were valued as sisters, mothers, wives, and pleasure givers, all, except for those nobly born, were educated only to meet the very basic needs of NK's society.

Due to the many feudalistic views within NK's society, and those especially directed toward women, half the planet essentially possessed no education. Because of these attitudes the planet was ignoring nearly half of its creative potential. Although the world council was aware of this rather deplorable situation, the politically weak nature of this body could not force the hand of NK's ruling families to abolish the laws baring women a first-class education. It was the leaders of certain clans, jealous of their power within the NK's societal structure, who wished to maintain the status quo on New Krypton, and it was the noble houses within these clans who were mainly responsible for maintaining the female population at a barely literate level. Most of these nobles, as one would expect, were allies of Lord Nor.

Since his arrival on New Krypton Clark was appalled at the Kryptonian colony's treatment of its women. This practice, Kal-El learned, was initially established when NK was first founded and gained momentum when the home world was destroyed. He was delighted, therefore, to educate Ash-Ra and strike a blow against the unjust, foolish and abusive practices that existed and acted against all but the nobles of New Krypton. Clark knew that Ching and Zara were working diligently behind the scenes to reinstitute on New Krypton the social conditions that existed on their mother world — equality for all regardless of the gender or social status of the individual.

As Ash-Ra's studies began, Clark discovered within a short time that the young girl was a gifted student. To enhance and intensify her learning, Kal-El duplicated the AI- Library unit and linked her to its database. With the aid of the AI module, Ash-Ra's learning pace was vastly accelerated, and as Kal observed, her inherent creative talents began to develop more quickly.

As Clark continued to watch his student, Ash-Ra, Kal-El's spirit became delighted as her mental abilities blossom. Ser-Lo's daughter's love of learning filled Clark's being with joy — he was content. Another soul, Kal-El's inner voice told him, was being liberated from the scourge of ignorance.

As Ash-Ra was learning about her heritage and developing her technical abilities, Clark, too, was slowly mastering a new skill, Ser-Lo's art form. Clark was learning how to create delicate and unusual structures using precious stones strung with diamond wire and place cut precious stones in match colors into interesting geometrical arrangements. Kal's learning was slow but steady; Ser-Lo happily noted that Lord Kal-El would be a worthy successor to his unique craft.

Clark's first creation was a beautiful pair of earrings. He fashioned the jewelry entirely from diamonds mined on a number of worlds he'd visited with Ching. Each stone had a distinctive color. The main cluster, made of two carat stones, would be hung from Lois' natural hinge — a perforation in her earlobes effected soon after her birth. Another string of stones, of matinee length, Clark assembled to hang around Lois' neck. All the diamonds in Clark's creation were linked to one another by diamond strings, which were the backbone of Kal's creation, an emerald cut diamond necklace. Looking at Clark's creation, Ser-Lo told his pupil that what he fashioned for his soulmate was exquisite — his wife would love the jewelry not only for its beauty, but because her soulmate had crafted the precious ornaments himself.

Clark intended to present his jewelry creations to his life partner, Lois, when they celebrated the first anniversary of their soulmate union.

When Clark presented Lois with her anniversary gifts, she was agog by the beauty of Clark's diamond creations. From the beauty and size of the gems, Lois knew that the monetary value of her earrings and necklace was priceless. More important than the gems, Lois was very much aware that her anniversary tokens were given in the spirit of eternal love, and for that detail alone she would treasure them forever.

When Lois was told at some later time by Ser-Lo that her husband had created the jewelry especially for her, Lois, to say the least, was astonished. As lady Lo-El listened, Ash-Ra's father related the struggle that lord Kal-El had endured to create her jewelry ensemble. Lois wept with tears of love.

Looking at her blushing husband, Lois knew that her jewelry was not simply some bobbles purchased for an occasion, but a gift from the heart, the heart of her beloved. The earrings and accompanying necklace represented still another bridge that more tightly bound their souls to one another.

After he finished his tale, Ser-Lo turned to Clark and said, "My friend, I've taught you all that I know about the shaping and combining of crystals. From now on, it is up to you to help evolve our art form. When you find someone whom you deem worthy, please pass on what you have been taught and what you have added to the art of combining crystals. In that way this art form will be preserved."

"It will be an honor and a privilege to do so," Clark told his mentor.

Ser-Lo then presented Clark with a new set of tools. They were essential to Ser-Lo's art and now also Kal's crystal craft and would give the man from Smallville long hours of pleasure in the years ahead.

As he gave Kal-El his gift, the artisan said, "I must tell you, my friend, that I was most pleasantly surprised that a high lord of the El clan wished to learn something about my humble art form.

"To my delight, you've persisted and have become a master. Those earrings and the necklace you created for your lovely soulmate could not have been shaped by one of lesser ability than a true master artisan. I am gratified that the techniques of the crystal art form will not disappear with my passing.

"Clark," Ser-Lo said to his friend, "the art you will continue to create after I'm gone will bring beauty to this harsh world. It will allow people who have little time to enjoy the beauties of nature and to view and appreciate something lovely through the art you and I have and will create.

"You, Kal-El, have been given a gift from the creator, a talent that will enhance the pleasure of people as they view the wonders of your hands. Your crystal pieces, my lord, and the techniques you'll add to my own will endure and bring some joy to New Krypton's harsh society, which in time I hope will become more humane."

Lois could see the sheen of tears in the artisan's eyes as Ser-Lo said, "And thank you, Lord Kal-El, for being the repository on my work. And, thank you for setting my child's feet on the path of learning. She has been exhilarated ever since you gave her the library of enlightenment. She is no longer alone. All our people's past works will be with her throughout her life and hopefully will also gladden the hearts of her descendants."

Smiling, and with tears pooling in his eyes, Clark said, "Believe me, my friend, the pleasure was all mine."

As the semester At Mira Alpha moved toward its conclusion, Lois' visits to her husband became more and more frequent. When on New Krypton, Lois often joined Clark during his visits to Torn-Ra. She began to become an unofficial student of the master strategist. She learned quickly.

As the end of the academic year was fast nearing its end, Torn-Ra said to Kal-El and his soulmate, "You two do not need to come again as learners. There is no more that I can teach you. My friends, please visit me when you can. You are the only family I have left. I've been very lonely since my life partner passed on. My life companion, Kela, was not a true soulmate, which unfortunately is the form of most marital relationships existing on New Krypton nowadays. Soulmate relationships on this planet are rare. That's why I did not perish when Kela journeyed beyond the pale. Nevertheless, over our years together, I came to adore her as I love life itself."

As Lois and Clark, the two soulmate-warriors, left Torn- Ra's residence, they promised the retired warlord that they would visit him as often as was practicable during the coming New Krypton's turbulent period . In time, Torn-Ra's home would connect to the TD network and he could visit with Lord Kal-El and Lady Lo-El as often as he wished.

About a month after their final session with Torn-Ra, Lois visited her soulmate at Mirror Alpha and saw him having lunch with a middle aged woman and a little girl who was between three and four years of age.

Sensing his wife was near, Clark turned and smiled at Lois who was now approaching his table. He immediately sprang to his feet and rushed to greet her. As Kal-El neared his soulmate, Lois could feel his joy at her presence. This quieted Lois' apprehension when the Earth born Kryptonian encountered her husband conversing with a strange woman. She mentally chastised herself saying internally, "Lois, you must get over this jealousy streak when you see other women with your husband." She knew that her anxieties stemmed from an insecure childhood, a philandering father and the eventual breakup of her home. In time, Lois knew that her unfounded fear would pass. It had already lessened significantly since her marriage to Clark. And, she was also aware that Kryptonian's were extremely loyal to one another and mated for life.

When Clark reached Lois, he gave his soulmate a huge and very passionate kiss. Clark's action caused an uncomfortable feeling to reverberate through the university's food court. Kryptonians were generally very staid. They kept their emotions buried deep and always projected a rather severe nondescript demeanor.

Zara and Ching were attempting to change this kind of unnatural and almost emotionless behavior. The Sela and her consort had been to Earth and observed that individuals who expressed their feelings were less likely to display any contentious behavior that might become vicious. Duels to the death, currently rampant on New Krypton, were stimulated by these pent up emotions and could be reduced and in time avoided altogether if natural interactions between people were to occur.

While Zara and Ching's efforts were making some headway, the attitudinal metamorphosis of NK's population was slow- paced. Reluctance to change was natural. People on both NK and Earth tended to fear a departure from a known and comfortable situation. Unfamiliar behavior within both societies could often generate a hostile situation because of the uncertainty it wrought. What the populations of both NK and Earth avoided by assuming such an interactive position was reality itself. They closed their eyes to the fact that in the universe, change was inevitable and often violent. Although Zara and Ching were pushing for social change, progress was extremely slow. New social adjustments would often be viewed with suspicion and could lead to discord among their people. Sometimes severe violence would be the result of their action.

Escorting Lois to his table, he introduced her to Tir-Ra and her daughter Sir-Ra. After some moments of conversation with Tir-Ra and her daughter, Lois' apprehensions about her husband's possible infidelity vanished completely from her mind.

While they dined, Lois and Tir-Ra were shortly chatting amicably like old bosom friends. As the women conversed, Sir-Ra climbed onto Clark's lap, placed her head against his chest, and was soon in la-la land.

As Clark listened, Lois out of curiosity asked Tir-Ra, "How did you meet my husband, Kal-El?"

After a slight pause, Tir-Ra replied, "About two weeks ago during the noon meal hour, I was looking for an eating location for Sir-Ra and myself. While there were many partially filled tables in this court, none of the occupants offered to share their dining facilities. You see, I'm something of an anomaly and I guess a sort of pariah here at Mirror Alpha."

Tir-Ra continued, "When my soulmate was killed in an inter- family dispute, I was left with a large estate and a very young child to raise. Sir-Ra was about eighteen months old at the time. My husband's family and my parents both assumed that I would function as a widow in the traditional Kryptonian manner — raise my daughter and become a semi- recluse and rejoin my soulmate when my time came to pass on."

Looking at the sky for a moment Tir-Ra continued, "To my family's horror, I didn't follow the expected social patterns. Taking advantage of the Sela's new edicts, I enrolled in the School of Mathematics and Music at Mirror Alpha. To my delight, I was accepted by this university to study in the colleges of my choosing.

"Taking my daughter with me, I matriculated at the first opportunity," Tir-Ra told Lois. "My journey through the world of learning, so far, has been a joyous adventure. I haven't been this happy since the time before my soulmate's unexpected passing."

Pausing for a moment, Tir-Ra told Lord Kal-El, "The schooling that Mirror Alpha provides for children like my daughter is outstanding. Thanks to your intervention in our little family, my lord Kal-El, Sir-Ra came out of her shell. She is again-flourishing both socially and academically. Her peers at the dependent school of Mirror Alpha have accepted her without the prejudices that are so prevalent among their parents. Most of the adult population of New Krypton frowns upon the recent learning opportunities for accorded females. Zara and Ching are making a great effort to reverse New Krypton's medieval practices in this area.

"However," Tir-Ra continued, "because of the current intolerance concerning women and their desire to acquire a rigorous education and develop their own career, Sir-Ra and I have been forced to live in off campus housing. The conditions within our abode are rather primitive to say the least. I'm sure that our housing assignment is an attempt by the male dominated administration at the school to drive me from this institution." Smiling, Tir-Ra continued, "The powers to be at this university will not succeed in pushing me from this place. If I ever decide to leave Mirra Alpha, it will be on my own terms."

When Tir-Ra completed her tale of woe, Clark arose and beckoned Bon-El to join him. Bon-El was a young Tan-alpha — a teacher with great potential and Kal-El's assistant. He said to his young assistant, "I have to locate suitable living quarters for Tir-Ra and her child. You'll lecture today."

"Sir," Bon-El replied, "in the order of things, I believe that teaching your classes should take precedence over house hunting for" … Bon-El didn't vocally complete his thought.

While Bon did not express his thoughts, Clark knew what his assistant wanted to say for a FEMALE, OR A WOMAN…

Without saying another word to Bon-El, Clark picked up Sir- Ra and said, "Come, ladies." Then Kal-El began walking with his female entourage toward the home of Ser-Lo the master diamond craftsman.

As they strolled Tir-Ra turned to her new friend Lois and remarked, "Lo-El, people like Bon-El, Nor, and people of their ilk will be with us always. Individuals like Kal-El, Zara, and Ching are men and women who come along once in a great while. Never take these caring people for granted.

"Your soulmate, my friend, is a gift to New Krypton from the creator of all things. Love him without restraint and the joy you'll receive in returned will be beyond imagining."

Pausing for a moment, Tir-Ra added, "Our ancient philosophers said long ago that a woman with a heart of love and wisdom is exceptionally rare. You are such a person, my friend. Those men who spoke such wisdom also said that the value of such a woman is far above those of rubies. The soulmate of such a woman will always trust in her. Remember, Lo-El, charm is deceptive and beauty is illusionary, but a woman who truly loves her soulmate and strives to better the conditions of her people shall be blessed by her children and praised for all eternity."

When Tir-Ra had finished the little philosophical story and then told her of her life, Lois gave the young widow a hug. In their embrace, Lois knew that she and this Kryptonian woman had become friends with a common spirituality and purpose — like sisters.

Walking rather swiftly, Clark, Lois, Tir-Ra and her daughter, arrived at Ser-Lo's home within a few minutes.

After introducing Tir-Ra and her daughter to his mentor and explaining their plight, Clark asked Ser-Lo if he knew of suitable lodgings for the widow and her young daughter.

With a twinkle in his eyes, Ser-Lo beckoned all of them to follow him.

Ser-Lo led his company to a secluded spot a little way behind the main house. There, almost concealed by the trees, was a small cottage which the master craftsman knew would be a comfortable dwelling for Tir-Ra and her daughter Sir-Ra. "It's yours to use as long as you like," Ser-Lo said smiling.

That afternoon, Clark and Lois helped Tir-Ra and her daughter Sir-Ra move into their new home. While Clark and Ser-Lo did the heavy work of unpacking and moving furniture, Lois and her new spiritual sister, Tir-Ra, went grocery shopping. Later that evening, Tir-Ra prepared a delectable meal and all present celebrated their small victory over one of NK's traditional and most hurtful prejudices.

Ser-Lo never asked Tir-Ra for any rent. However, each month when Clark paid his rent he added an additional sum for Tir-Ra's lodgings. Clark knew that Ser-Lo needed the money, and he could not allow the artisan to be hurt financially because he possessed a caring and overgenerous nature. Nothing was ever said, but Clark and Lois knew that Lord Kal-El's generosity was much appreciated.

As the months passed the little group, which centered on Ser-Lo's small cottage, functioned more and more as a nuclear family.

For the remainder of the academic year, Lois either came to their New Krypton love nest, or Clark would meet her at his folk's farm. When Lois couldn't leave the big city, the soulmate pair would meet at Lois' Metropolis' apartment. There for several days each week, Lord Kal-El and his bride would find refuge from the rigors of life.

Several days after the close of the school year found Clark, Lois, Tir-Ra and her daughter strolling across the university campus enjoying a beautiful flora and art works that were scattered across grounds of Mirra Alpha. Suddenly, the small group was assaulted by eleven bravos hired by Tir-Ra's in-laws. It was obvious from their action that the brigands' primary objective was Sir-Ra, whom they planned to abduct. Clark was also aware that these hirelings would kill to fulfill their contract.

As the freebooters made their demands known, Lois and Clark placed Tir-Ra and her daughter between them, and in a back to back fighting position, drew their weapons — a LASER sword and knife combination.

When Kal-El and his soulmate drew their weapons, it was obvious to the mercenaries that their intended victims had no intention of relinquishing the young girl, Sir-Ra. The thugs attacked almost immediately.

In the brief skirmish that raged over the school grounds, all eleven marauders were slain and Tir-Ra was very seriously injured while attempting to defend her child.

Leaving the dead bravos where they lay, Clark lifted Tir-Ra and raced for the university hospital. Lois followed carrying Sir-Ra.

Shortly after entering the medical facility, Tir-Ra was rushed to surgery.

As Tir-Ra's medical ministrations were in progress, Clark held the sobbing Sir-Ra close, kissing the young child periodically on her head as he nervously paced to and fro. Watching Clark as he handled Tir-Ra's child, Lois knew that when the time came, he would be a great father. As Lois watched her soulmate, she was aware that her husband was well aware what needed to be done to console a very troubled youngster. When they eventually started their family, Lois knew that she would follow her husband's lead until she got a handle on this nurturing thing. However, right now, raising a child was like facing a root canal dental procedure. She just wasn't ready for babies. Then from somewhere in her psyche an inner voice quietly asked, "Are people ever truly ready for parental obligations?"

When a half-hour passed, Clark asked Lois to look after Sir-Ra.

Lois then smiled at Sir-Ra and extended her arms to the child.

As Lois comforted Tir-Ra's youngster, Clark headed for the surgical information center to obtain news of Sir-Ra's mother.

When Lois placed Sir-Ra on her lap, the young girl immediately wrapped her arms around the reporter's neck. As the child clung desperately to Lois, lady Lo-EL became aware that Tir-Ra's daughter was very concerned, even terrified, about the outcome of her kismet.

From her studies in the psychological disciplines at the university, Lois was well aware that one of the prime factors which link children and their parents in the early stages of their nurturing period was a security issue. While young children need much affection during maturation, there also appears to be an underlying fear of abandonment or parental loss. To allay Sir-Ra's fears, Lois quietly said to the young girl, "Darling, as long as Clark and I are alive, you'll never need to worry about a home filled with all the love you'll ever need."

Sir-Ra smiled at Lois as lady Lo-El babbled. As you would expect, Lois' words had a profound effect upon the child, and she was soon asleep with her head resting on Lois' breasts. Lovingly holding the child as Lois began to pace about the hospital's wanting room, she heard Clark's telepathic thought say, "That's the style, my love, that's the style. I believe your feeling for Sir-Ra confirms my convictions. Lois," Clark then added, "you'll be a great mother." As his thoughts faded, Lois looked into space and smiled. Maybe Clark was right after all about her maternal instincts.

Reflecting upon the events of the past few hours, Lois was now well aware that if Tir-Ra didn't recover from her wounds, their family of two would suddenly increase by one. As more thoughts of motherhood flooded her mind, Lady Lo-El began to feel very tender toward the young dozing girl she now held in her arms. As tears began to flow down Lois' cheeks, she tightened her grip on the sleeping form of Sir- Ra.

A short time later, Lois was nudged from her reverie when she heard Clark's footsteps as he returned to the hospital's waiting room. Reaching his soulmate, lord Kal-El gave Lois a tender kiss and then placed a peck on Sir-Ra's forehead. Then whispering to his wife, he said to her, "Still no information about Tir-Ra's condition."

Then Clark sat down and began to stare into space with a brooding expression on his countenance.

"My love," Lois softly called to her husband. Her voice quickly brought him back to reality, and he smiled at Lois, but it was a sad smile.

"What's wrong sweetheart?" Lois asked.

Looking at his wife Clark said, "Honey, today in a battle we took lives. It's the first time I ever had to kill another living being, and, my love, it was very upsetting. I understand that we were fighting for our lives, our mutual protection, and what we did was necessary, but my psyche is still disturbed by our actions."

Clark then told Lois, "After we rushed Tir-Ra to the hospital, I made love to the porcelain goddess. The actions which occurred this afternoon took my lunch as payment."

"You vomited?" Lois remarked.

"Yep," he replied. "My nervous system was really battered. Some strategist I'll make."

Lois was surprised at her husband's reaction to his combative encounter. His reaction made Lois realize that, like her, Clark was extremely sensitive about injuring other living things. In a way, she was happy at his behavior. It told her that her soulmate's psychological profile was one that didn't crave bloodletting as a sign of his worth like many of his Kryptonian brethren. However, she knew that sometime soon he would again need to become a warrior. But, Lois was also aware that Clark would initially attempt, by any honorable means, to avoid a life threatening clash.

As Lois contemplated her soulmate's attitude and how fortunate she felt to be his life partner, she became cognizant that her husband was about to speak with her. Turning toward him, she heard Clark say, "Baby, because of our skirmish with the bravos, our efforts must be redoubled not to become the grim reaper's assistants when we return to Earth. The Superheroes we become when require must never willfully destroy any creature unless our lives are threatened to be terminated — our families and the peoples of Earth and New Krypton are naturally included in this declaration."

Pausing for a moment Clark remarked, "When a person takes a life, it seems that his/her normal inhibition against killing is weakened. The life ending act, whether it is for honorable or dishonorable purposes, makes it easier to dispatch another person the second time round. That's why I believe that during biblical times only a single butcher could usually be found within a community. Slaughtering animals, even for food, tends to make individuals insensitive to life. Look at what Heinrich Himler, himself a butcher, did to people when the Nazis controlled Germany and expanded their rule throughout Europe. He became one of the architects of Germany's version of murder incorporated. If he were alive today, Himler could easily pass for Lex Luthor's psychological twin.

"Lois, my love, when you and I return to earth we must make sure to act only as the instruments that bring the accused before the bar of justice. It will be up to society, not us, to set the punishment for those people found guilty of crimes against society. It's going to be difficult. When a heinous crime has been perpetrated, you sometimes want to strike out and crush the culprit. If we became both the judge and jury for such individuals, we would be no better than they."

After Clark finished his mild rant, Lois gave him an understanding hug. Then they returned to the surgical information area, carrying Sir-Ra, and anxiously waited for news of Tir-Ra's medical condition.

Several hours later, a physician finally informed them that Tir-Ra's surgery had been completed and successful to a point. Although she had been stabilized for the present, her wound was mortal. The operation had just extended her life for a few days, at most.

While Lois stayed with Tir-Ra and her daughter, Clark contacted Zara and Ching and asked them to come to Mirror Alpha and bring a notary. He then moved Sir-Ra's belongings into their Kryptonian abode. Completing that task, Kal-El also packed up Tir-Ra's belongings and placed them in storage.

Although Clark's heart wrenching task was done quietly, his innermost self screamed bitterly at the fates that were separating a mother and her lovely daughter. Since Tir-Ra's marriage was not sanctioned by Sir-Ra's grandparents, the youngster could not expect any kind of succor from her kin. If he and Lois did not intervene, Sir-Ra would become another abandoned child who would face the vicissitudes of a lonely life, if indeed she survived at all.

After completing his heartbreaking chores, Clark returned to the university hospital. Upon entering Tir-Ra's room, he noticed that Zara and Ching and the notary had already arrived. Lois was holding Sir-Ra, who was now dozing in her arms.

As soon as the formal greetings ended, Clark, holding Lois' hand, said, "When Tir-Ra joins her soulmate, Sir-Ra will enter the house of El as our daughter. The monies she will inherit will be placed in trust until she becomes a legal adult according to Kryptonian law and can claim her inheritance."

Lois nodded her head in agreement.

The notary looked at Tir-Ra and inquired, "Is this your wish also?"

Sir-Ra's mother weakly replied, "Yes."

Turning to Clark and Lois the notary said, "I am duty bound to tell you the consequences of your decision."

Kal-El and Lo-El indicated to the notary that they wished to know the significance of their decision to adopt Sir-Ra.

After pausing for a moment, the New Kryptonian official said, "Officially speaking, by placing Sir-Ra's inheritance in trust, which according to the law should have passed to you and Lady Lo-El upon accepting the child Sir-Ra as your daughter, you both will forfeit a vast amount of wealth.

"Speaking only for myself," the notary said to Lord and Lady-El, "I applaud your covenant with the child."

"Thank you for your unofficial support," Lois remarked. "My husband and I possess more financial resources than we could use in ten lifetimes. Each day, the value of the El estates rises, and the monies it produces almost increases geometrically."

Pausing to collect her thoughts, Lois then added, "Because of our ever increasing wealth, Lord Kal-El and I have created a fund for our retainers. Seventy percent of our yearly profit is being placed in trust and used for the needs of our clan. The monies we've made available will be used for the social, medical, and educational needs of our people. These monies will be managed by us and an elected individual, chosen to represent the people who live and work on our estates."

Clark then added, "My wife, Lois, and I are not associated with those gilded lordlings and their ladies whose main activity seems to be the pursuit of pleasure. These people seem to care little for the welfare of others. It is they who keep Krypton in the dark ages by squandering the resources of this planet and caring little if at all for the people that are forced by survival constraints to serve them. If the social conditions are not altered, and the common folk of NK become fed-up, I foresee a horrible blood bath. The problems Lord Nor is fermenting are the direct result of the nobles inaction against the injustices that are running amuck on this planet. The attack upon lady Tir- Ra is a good example of this planet's slid toward chaos and eventual extinction."

"To make things worse," Clark added, "Lord Nor, in his attempt to gain total control over NK, has created a crisis of chaos tinged with fear. When he feels that the social fabric of NK has reached its critical point and the common folk will no longer support New Krypton's central government, the tyrant will strike and attempt to gain total control over this planet.

"If Nor's plans succeed, and he achieves his goal, Lord Nor's deranged mind coupled with tyrannical acts will destroy all those he believes are his foes, rapidly reducing the genetic pool of the Kryptonian people on this planet to the point were extinction will become inevitable."

Changing his thoughts to more personal ones, Lord Kal-El added, "If my soulmate and I are ever blessed with children, all of them will inherit equally from our estates here on NK and the possessions we'll acquire on Earth when it becomes our time to pass beyond the pale. The El lands here on NK will not automatically become the possession of our eldest offspring, which, of course, is the current policy of the New Krypton's nobility."

Turning to Zara and Ching, the notary commented, "Now I understand why you hold Kal and Lo-El in such high esteem." When the official finished his remarks, both Lois and Clark were seen blushing.

"Humility and sensitivity too," the notary said as he began to walk from the room. Just as he disappeared through the room's portal, Lois and Clark heard the notary say, "Those two are rare birds, very rare birds indeed."

When the New Kryptonian official had left the premises, Ching and his spouse with the Els focused on the needs of Tir-Ra, their dying friend.

A few minutes later, the notary returned with the contract between Tir-Ra and Kal-El and Lo-El. He first gave it to Tir-Ra for her signature and then to Lois and Clark for their endorsement. Lastly, to Zara and Ching who signed as witnesses.

Once the document had been officially sealed by the notary, he and the royal couple departed. Their duty required a speedy return to ElRa city and home.

Left alone with Tir-Ra, Lord and Lady El settled in for a lengthy vigil.

Two days later, Tir-Ra slipped quietly from this plane of existence. As Sir-Ra's birth mother's life force ebbed and then ceased, Lois was aware that some portion of Clark's and her essences journeyed with her and watched when she made her rendezvous with death. As Tir-Ra retuned to the well of souls, Lois and Clark, with their new daughter, returned to the land of the living.

The day following Tir-Ra's passing, Kal-El attempted to have her body interred in a grave site next to her soulmate. The grandparents blocked Sir-Ra's right to have her mother buried next to her father. They told Lois and Clark that if Lord Kal-El would relinquish his rights to Sir-Ra's estates, he could keep the child as his daughter and Tir-Ra could be buried next to her unofficial husband.

The war was on between Grandparents and Granddaughter — Greed versus justice was in the balance. Obviously, Sir- Ra's grand folks cared nothing for the child. However, they coveted Sir-Ra's immense wealth.

To counter Tir-Ra's parents and her in-laws, Kal-El, with Zara's help, had Sir-Ra's father disinterred. With both bodies in hand, Lois and Clark transferred them to NK2. On Earth, both of Sir-Ra's parents were reinterred side by side in the El mausoleum.

After the cemetery incident on NK, all appeared to be calm.

However, several weeks later, Trey pulled Lois and Clark aside and told them that their daughter's grandparents were petitioning the council for custody of Sir-Ra.

"Such a petition should be laughable," Trey explained, "except in this case Lord Nor was supporting the appeal. Through coercion and fear a dubious petition could be made to appear legitimate, the counselor warned."

Lois and Clark decided, with Zara and Ching's blessings, to take the child to NK2 on Earth. If Sir-Ra could not be located, no legal actions could be rendered according to Kryptonian law or any phony law.

During Nor's legal or not so legal maneuvering for Sir-Ra's custody, the tyrant's storm troopers invaded Tir-Ra's last home in an attempt to acquire evidence that would support the claims of Sir-Ra's grandparents. In the scuffle that ensued, Ash-Ra's father, the master craftsman, was slain.

Responding to a call for help, Lois and Clark arrived at their Mirror Alpha lodgings to find a grieving child.

When Ash-Ra settled down, she told a tale of thievery and murder.

"Nor's emissaries," Ash-Ra explained, "came to Ser-Lo's workshop and asked for Yalin Nor's commission, a bejeweled necklace for the tyrant's concubine.

"It was obviously a ploy to gain entrance to the artisan's house."

Sobbing for a few moments Ash-Ra continued, "When my father produced the article Nor requested, he asked for payment as is customary. The men seized the jeweled ornament and told my father that Lord Nor would pay him at his leisure or not at all as he willed. When my father attempted to retrieve his creation, Nor's men cut my father down with LASER swords. They were drunk and behaved like beasts of prey, caring little for life. As they left, they were singing and laughing about the man they just slaughtered."

Attempting to control herself, Ash-Ra informed Lois and Clark that some Nor's men ransacked Tir-Ra's home. Apparently, Nor's men found nothing in what use to be Tir- Ra's house.

Ash-Ra then strolled over to a hidden security device and retrieved the images of the bravados and the scenes that illustrated the murder of her father, Ser-Lo and the theft of his art treasure. She then gave the information to Clark. As Clark studied the images that corroborated Ash- Ra's story and exposed the lawless ones, Lois saw a strange look appear on her husband's countenance, an expression she had never seen before.

Although Lois didn't recognize Clark's unusual expression, she could perceive the anger coursing through her soulmate's body. Then she understood the feeling emanating from Clark's soul. It was a death warrant for those whose images Lord Kal-El held in his grasp. Looking away from the pictures and seeing his beloved wife holding Ash-Ra, his demeanor softened and reverted to her beloved Clark.

Helping Ash-Ra pack her things, including Ser-Lo's tools and store of precious gems, the threesome teleported to the palace.

That evening Lois related to both Ching and Zara her agonizing experience in the home of Ser-Lo. Trey, as Zara's most trusted adviser, had also often been invited to the Sela's family dinner and tonight he was present to hear Lois' tale of horror.

When supper ended, Zara said, "As you know, Trey, Ching and I desperately want another child. During New Krypton's present perilous condition, however, it would not be prudent for us to conceive. Thinking that I could be incapacitated throughout my gestation period, Nor could use my gravid condition as a sign that now was the proper time to plunge this planet into total war. Yalin Nor is not a patient man. Believing he has an advantage, however, slight, might cause him to risk the hazards of war and launch a military strike against the free clans of New Krypton."

Almost out of the blue, Zara said, "Ching and I would like the child, Ash-Ra, to become our daughter." Of course, Zara added, "Such a union must be with the child's consent."

At that moment, Ash-Ra was ushered into the dining room by one of the palace retainers. As Ser-Lo's daughter approached the Sela and her consort, the young girl's aura so touched Ching and Zara that they felt as if Ash-Ra were one of their birth children.

Placing her hand on Zara's shoulder, Lois said, "Go for it, couz."

After Ash-Ra entered the room, Ching seated the young lady at the table and ordered dessert for her.

While the child was munching away on her delectable desert, Zara asked, "Ash-Ra, would you like to have a new mommy and daddy?"

"Who would they be?" Ash-Ra asked.

Pointing to herself and Ching, Zara replied, "Us, dear."

Ash-Ra leaped from her chair and embraced Zara and her husband shouting, "Yes, yes…"

Smiling, Clark said, "Our extended family has just acquired another member."

"Zara," Clark remarked, "You and Ching have made a wise choice."

Lois simply nodded in support of her husband's comment.

Then Lois and Clark, with their kin Zara and Ching, embraced Ash-Ra and nearly crushed her with their hugs. As Ash-Ra and her new family came together, the glow of their love literally exploded from the five entwined Kryptonians.

Gazing at the revelers, Trey finally understood that the commonality between these diverse and incredible people had truly made them a close-knit family. However, he was aware that by bringing Ash-Ra into the royal household there would be complications. He must advise them that in the highly charged political situation of the moment, Ash-Ra's presence would undoubtedly cause the resurgence of Nor's marriage claim — the tyrants son to Ash-Ra.

As the excitement the Sela's apartment continued, Trey made a series of throaty noises to gain the attention of Zara and her guests. After a few seconds, the revelers attention finally focused on the Sela's chief counselor, Trey.

As the near pandemonium quieted Trey remarked most emphatically, "My lady, while I applaud yours and Ching's decision to add Ash-Ra to the royal household, doing so you will resurrect the marriage problem with Nor and his clan. Ash-Ra, as your daughter, whether she was born into your house or was adopted, would still subject the Sela and her soulmate to the same Kryptonian laws concerning Ash-Ra's marriage."

"True," Zara replied. "However, like our natural child, Kara, Ash-Ra will be taken from New Krypton to nullify Lord Nor's connubial challenge."

Trey was somewhat taken-a-back by Zara's statement but held his tongue for the moment.

"Trey," Zara then asked, "Are you by chance a notary?"

"Yes," Zara's friend and counselor replied.

"Good," Zara responded. "That will simplify Ash-Ra's union with our house. Please draw up the legal documents. You, my friend, will be the official notary of record. Ching and I will sign as the parents while Kal-El and Lo-El will add their names to the certificate as witnesses to its validity. When we have concluded this business, you my friend, and you alone, will record the document in the official records."

"My lady," Trey responded, "after I file the adoption papers, Ash-Ra's new house will become public information and Nor will continue his challenge."

"True enough," Zara replied. Then the Sela remarked, "What are the chances that Nor's people will search for new adoption files which would list any new member to our family?"

"That probability is slim to none," Trey replied.

A few minutes after Zara and her counselor's tete-a-tete, Ash-Ra became the daughter to Zara and Ching, the Sela and her consort of New Krypton.

After the documents had been recorded, Trey turned to Zara and Ching and said, "Now please tell me what happened to Kara?"

Looking Trey directly in his eyes and holding tightly to his soulmate's hand, Clark on behalf of his kin recounted the entire sequence of events that had occurred since he and Lois arrived on New Krypton. Trey learned about the disappearance of Kara, Earth, Lois' origins, and Kal-El's subsequent marriage to her. Trey also was told that as an infant, Jor-El and Lara had sent their son across the cosmos to a planet known as Earth. Their desperate action was dictated by a desire to spare their infant son from certain death when their home world, the planet Krypton, was destroyed in a cataclysmic explosion.

Clark omitted nothing in his narration.

At the end of his tale, while Trey was struggling to process what he had just learned, Clark crossed the room to the TD panel and opened a channel to Earth. Taking the elder statesman by the arm, Clark and Trey, followed by the other family members, entered the portal and traversed the galaxy to NK2 on Sol Three.

When Trey arrived at NK2 he noticed that the small town was modeled after a city called Trilar on old Krypton. Although It was a modified version of the Kryptonian hamlet, Trey thought that the changes in architecture had made the small village even more beautiful than the original seaside city.

Before he left NK, Ching had sent a message to Trey's life partner, Kitra, that he had accompanied the Sela and her consort on a secret inspection trip in the north country. As he may be gone for several days, the note suggested that she should stay with Stra, their married daughter, until his return.

As Trey roamed freely throughout NK2, his questions about Kara's disappearance and assumed death were soon answered.

On his second day in this piece of paradise, Trey suddenly understood what Zara and Ching were attempting to accomplish on his home world — transform New Krypton's society, using social and political designs of NK2 as their model.

As Trey walked about NK2 over the next few days and saw how the people in this village lived, New Krypton's most respected statesman vowed to support Zara and Ching's reform efforts to the best of his abilities. No longer would Trey just give lip service to the Sela's reform proposals, but he would become proactive in support of her legislation.

Watching the children at play and seeing the love between Ching and his wife and the unbounded affection they displayed towards one another invigorated his soul.

Although Trey's marital union had been a political arrangement, pushing aside his true soulmate, it was not an unhappy marriage. He and his life partner, Kitra, had three lovely children and had learned to care for each other unlike many of his colleagues and their spouses. The real love of his life and soulmate, Ze-Ra, met her death with Krypton's demise in its geologically induced cataclysmic explosion.

To satisfy their emotional and physical needs, others on the council used concubines and pleasure houses, places of sexual and psychological gratification, which the planet's policy makers had established when New Krypton was first settled.

Sighing, Trey walked about NK2 contemplating how the eccentricities of the current Kryptonian society had denied him his true love. This was another deep seated reason he vowed to help Zara and Ching attempt to alter NK's social order. No longer would one's soulmate be pushed aside for the sake of political pragmatism.

What really surprised Trey was that Dar and Kal had discovered their soulmates on Earth. He was surprised though that Dar and Linda had conceived so easily. Their progeny conspicuously demonstrated that particular fact. But, was it just a stroke of luck? If Kal and Lo-El also conceived, he could no longer consider compatibility between Kryptonians and Terrans to be a mere fluke, but a certainty. Progeny between the people of Earth and New Krypton, Trey was aware, would be a blessing for both peoples.

It was well known by New Krypton's scientific community that the small population on their planet could not sustain a viable gene pool indefinitely. Trey knew that if the people of Earth were genetically compatible with his own, then the feared eventual extinction of his society could be averted.

However, the Kryptonian councilor was well aware that allowing his people to become cognizant of their earthly cousins was also fraught with great risk.

As he had learned from Kal-El, the specially modified genome, which all Kryptonians possessed, would provide them with super powers when they were exposed to the radiation produced by Earth's G-type star for a given period.

If known, such knowledge could create a furor on New Krypton.

In the past, to control the population and enhance their own wealth and power, the nobles on NK created a feudal type system that now governed the planet. Because of the political structure created on New Krypton, management of the planet had degenerated into a barbaric confederation of clans. The administration of NK was now far, far removed from the ethical and morally based society which once existed on their mother world — Krypton itself.

If the New Krypton nobles were capable of reaching Earth, Trey told his friends, he was relatively sure that they would attempt to enslave the people of Earth. A war would certainly ensue, ending with the annihilation of the Terrans. Such a war would also be NK's death knell. Not having a sufficient genetic material to refresh their weakening DNA, New Krypton's gene pool would soon cease to produce vital individuals and the people of his home world would become extinct like Earth's dinosaurs.

Trey was now quite aware that Zara and Ching were attempting to reform the social behavior of NK's inhabitants and reestablish the moral and ethical norms of their ancestors. If they or their descendents succeeded, then New Krypton could peacefully contact and then interact with Earth's inhabitants. However, Zara's and Ching's progress, at present, was being hindered by the nobles of his world, nobles who by their own manipulative strategies were making social change painfully slow or even nonexistent. Action was needed within the next two or three generations to stave off the extinction of NK's people by genetic atrophy.

Trey was also painfully aware that there was still another factor in the NK survival equation. If Nor succeeded in the coming conflict with the free clans, all Zara and Ching's work would be for naught. The hostilities and its bloody aftermath would reduce the population of New Krypton below its survival level. If the coming war turned out as Trey feared, the genetic degeneration of the NK inhabitants would accelerate at an alarming rate. Extinction of New Krypton's inhabitants would definitely be inevitable, and in a relatively short period his home world would be devoid of intelligent life.

That evening after dinner, Trey informed his friends of his hopes and his fears concerning the future of New Krypton. In his talk were Trey's dire concerns about a planet wide conflict on NK and his hopes for an eventual Earth-New Krypton alliance in the near future.

As Trey spoke, his comments caused a melancholy mood to spread among the small gathering. When NK's councilor finished his narrative, the couples in the dinning area were clinging to one another for emotional support.

Sitting in gloomy silence for several minutes, Dar finally said, "Is this really the end of our species? After all that we have done to maintain ourselves, will the Kryptonian people just fade away without a whimper after first destroying the people of Earth? I just can't accept that notion as the fate of our two peoples." Shaking his head, Dar added, "My mind won't allow me to accept such an ending. There must be a way out of this dilemma, a way to prevent the eradication of one people and the genetic extinction of the other. By using some of Earth's vast genetic reservoir, our people could easily be provided with a life sustaining infusion of DNA."

"A life giving infusing of DNA," Trey reminded Dar, "is not an option if war between Sol Three and NK occurred and Earth's population was obliterated."

"And such a war could occur if Nor has his way," Zara murmured.

Then there were a few moments of silence when the NK2 group attempted to throw off the doom and gloom atmosphere that had nearly engulfed the psychological views in the room.

Suddenly Lois shouted, "That's it," as she jumped up and began to pace quickly to and fro.

After a few moments, Lois stopped ambulating, turned to her family and friends and excitedly said, "Dar, you just provided us with a possible solution to the Kryptonian extinction problem and maybe the salvation of Earth."

Pausing to gather her thoughts, Lois said, "Look at the subterranean town we created under the Kent's farm. With a little work, it can accommodate thousands of people. If more room is required beyond our initial expansion, NK2 could be enlarged again without too much difficulty."

Looking at Zara, Lois asked, "Can you send people from New Krypton to our subterranean village? People who can make a home here and would not be missed by your governmental bureaucracy?"

Shaking her head excitedly, Zara replied, "Yes, yes, it can be done. The intellectual communities on New Krypton, except for a few soil and architectural engineers, live in an isolated part of the planet. They are a part of the New Krypton population that is virtually ignored and regarded by many in the government as having no practical value. I'm sure that many of them would relish emigrating to Earth when told of the living conditions within this hidden hamlet. Here, they could again work at their professions. These people could also quietly advance Earth's technical base while they search for soulmates among Sol Three's population."

"How would they recognize their soulmates?" Lois asked Zara.

"While not much is known about the soulmate recognition process," Zara replied, "we do know that a soulmate can be recognized by a specific pheromone the body releases. Soulmate pheromones, our scientists suspect from their research in this area, appear to be mirror images of each other. Once an individual feels a strong attraction from another person, he or she can use special instruments that can take a picture, so to speak, of the other's pheromone array. Comparing these pheromone structures with ones owns pheromones would be the deciding factor. While the scientific data are still somewhat nebulous, the evidence is mounting that this approach to locating one's soulmate may be the way to go."

"While a person's aura is considered by many people to be a philosophical concept, our scientific community suspects that it is an individual's pheromone emissions that produce his/her special aura, which, as I told you, we believe is the attraction mechanism that is a signal to soulmates and brings them together."

Pausing for a second, Zara added, "That's why Ching and I suggested that you and Kal marry. Although you were just becoming emotionally aware of one another, Ching and I were aware that your pheromones were chemically analogous and were aligned in the proper soulmate mirror image configuration."

"How do you feel about Kal now, Lady-El?" Ching teased.

Smiling, Lois replied, "I don't remember a time without him. He's become my world."

"Ditto," Clark replied, as he slid his arm around her waist and kissed Lois tenderly and with the passion of lovers. When they broke their lip lock, Lois placed her head on her husband's shoulder causing them both to relax.

As Lois and Clark were enjoying the feel of their bodies pressing against each other, Ching said, "A week from today, a gala is being held at the palace on New Krypton. Except for the dancing, I'm afraid the entire shindig will be a rather a boring affair. Be that as it may, Zara and I would like you both to attend. The nobility is cognizant of your existence and is anxious to meet you."

Zara then added saying, "Don't take their interest as a positive sign. Seeing you will just increase their gossiping sphere. More important, Lord Nor will be present. It will give you an opportunity to see and appraise your adversary and perhaps learn a little of Nor's expectations. As you will see for yourself, The Lord of the Nor Clan has an immense ego. He likes to spout. Sometimes Yalin says things that often are very revealing about his political motives and he periodically makes comments about military objectives. Of course, Kal, one must always be aware of disinformation — deliberate misleading data."

Still embracing his wife, Clark said, "We'll be there."

When Lois joined Trey to enjoy some of Martha's homemade apple pie, Clark said to his kin, Zara, "If our emigration experiment is successful, NK2 may soon be overrun with New Kryptonians within a short time. We may even have to construct other towns to accommodate Earth's burgeoning alien population."

"What are you talking about?" Ching asked.

Smiling, Clark said to his friend, "First, don't be surprised when more intellectuals than you've anticipated move to NK2. Secondly, Ching," Clark added, "I believe that Dar and Linda represent a norm when conception between Kryptonian and Terran couples are considered — multiple births should be expected when conception occurs between such soulmates. We may shortly find that the population of NK2 will begin to expand by leaps and bounds when Terran, and Kryptonian couples form fruitful unions."

Pausing briefly, Kal further remarked, "I just hope the birth rate between our two peoples doesn't become exponential in nature."

"What do you think is the causal agent for such a potentially high incidence of multiple births?" Zara asked her cousin.

Gathering his thoughts, Kal-El said, "I think, based on my limited data, of course, that the solar influence of Earth's G-type star is the catalyst for the multiple birth phenomenon among Kryptonians living on Earth for an extended period. And, I feel that this phenomenon will be the same effect for Terran-Kryptonian conceptions. The multiple birth agent, I strongly believe, are certain components of Sol's radiation fields that act on the Kryptonian genome and induce a multiplicity factor — multiple progeny at conception. Only time and more research will indicate whether my tentative notions have any validity. However, as I indicated, my limited investigations have indicated that my views on the soulmate subject are on the right track."

"If your views turn out to be correct, Kal-El," Ching proclaimed, "then New Krypton's current genetic issues will become a non-problem."

"From your mouth to the creator's ears," Clark murmured.

A week later, Lord Kal-El and his bride, Lady Lo-El, entered the opulent palace ballroom on New Krypton where they were immediately escorted to the main table and seated next to the Sela Zara and her consort Ching. Also, sitting at the head table was Councilor Trey and his family.

As the handsome El couple was led through the semi chaotic ballroom, both Lois and Clark could feel many people staring at them. Most of the eyes that peered at the newcomers conveyed hatred, while others exuded envy and lust.

When Clark felt his wife shudder press into his arm, lord Kal-El gently tightened his embrace upon his soulmate. Lois knew that her husband was all too aware of her feelings and had drawn her closer to comfort and to provide an emotional safety net for his wife.

"G-D," she thought, "What did I do that G-D blessed me with a life partner such as my Clark."

As they walked toward the dais, Lois recalled the events that brought them together. It was almost like a miracle.

They had met only a few times, and Lois' initial behavior toward her husband, because of her past disastrous relationships, was somewhat antagonistic.

Lois smiled as she remembered that after they verbally fenced with one another, she felt as if she wanted to seize the man walking beside her, push him to the floor, and ravish him. After Clark left the newsroom that day, Lois recollected that he was never out of her mind.

During the next series of meetings and the events that followed, Lois and Clark became joined at the hip, so to speak, and were married soon after, thanks to Zara and Ching. Since then, their love had steadily become stronger. Now it seemed to Lois that they did most things together, and most importantly, secrets no longer existed between the couple.

Just before they reached the Sela's table, Lois thought of Clark and herself as two lovers whose auras had joined their souls and produced a feeling that their essences were now housed in a single body — the soulmate view.

Then Lois realized in a flash of pure inspiration that, in truth, she and Clark had somehow become an entity unto themselves — the essences of two soulmates fused into one. If her thoughts had some validity, Lois thought to herself, she might have discovered the basic reason why when one soulmate perished, the other soon followed his/her life partner into death's realm.

As they were being received by Zara and Ching, a regal looking man with several retainers made his way toward the royal table. Seeing the advancing entourage, Ching remarked, "Something evil 'cometh' this way."

Looking up, Lois and Clark saw a striking man with malicious facial expressions and cruel eyes, surrounded by seven or eight obvious sycophants, approaching the main table.

"Who are they?" Lois inquired.

"That, my dear, is Lord Nor and some of his minions," Zara's soulmate replied with the hatred he felt for the man evident in his voice.

After a short pause, Ching continued by saying to Lois, "Using the love that Zara and I feel for you and Kal will allow you to obtain a measure of the contempt we have for Yalin Nor. I would add that our feelings toward this Kryptonian are one of acute loathing. It's only with the greatest forbearance that I don't rip his heart out."

Although somewhat shocked at Ching's vehemence, Lois would soon come to understand Ching's indignation.

When Lord Nor reached the royals table, he stopped and made a courteous bow, as did his minions.

While making some polite chitchat with Zara, Nor appraised Lois and Clark. The pompous clan leader then purposely said in a sarcastic tone, "Lord Kal-El, I'm amazed that a country bumpkin as you could win such a femelle ravissant to your wedding couchette." As Nor continued to direct his caustic remarks at Clark, his eyes paid lustful homage to Lois' physical attributes. After Nor's sordid rhetoric ceased, Yalin continued to gaze upon Lois' striking figure. It was obvious from the expression in Lord Nor's eyes that he longed to seduce the wife of Lord Kal-El.

As the Lord Nor continued to scan Lois attributes, her anger started to boil. Then she heard her soulmate say to his antagonist, "Apparently, we bumpkins are better lovers than your kind of city dolt."

"Are you calling me stupid?" Nor replied menacingly.

"If the shoe fits…" Clark answered him.

As Clark smiled at the reprobate, his grin did not extend to his eyes. The hated Kryptonian Lord wondered why Zara's kin showed no fear. Maybe, Yalin Nor thought to himself, Kal-El hadn't heard about his menacing reputation as yet.

Still gazing at Lord Kal-El, Lord Nor wondered about the mettle of this man. He would have to test him.

Racking his brain for some moments, the would be conqueror of New Krypton smiled to himself as his warped mind devised a devilish plan.

While those at the head table awaited Nor's next move, he suddenly reached out to caress Lois' beautiful coiffured hair. Among the Kryptonians, touching a person's hair was a very sensual act. Since Lois was married, this would be a serious affront to her husband and would certainly cause an altercation. A clash, which could end with the death of one or both of the antagonists, could be expected to follow such a provocative action.

As Lord Nor's hand moved towards Lois, Clark seized his arm and shoved Yalin away from his wife. If Nor had not been held up by one of his retainers, the rogue lord would have fallen to the floor.

Without allowing Nor time to respond, Clark said, "If you attempt to touch my soulmate again, I'll kill you where you stand. By your actions, you have attempted to sully the name of our house. If we were not in the presence of the Sela and her soulmate, your remains would litter the floor of this hall. Since my wife abhors violence, for her sake and her sake only, I will forgive your lack of etiquette and your stupidity. Remember, Lord of dummies, that my wife is more precious to me than life itself and I will not tolerate her defilement in any shape or form upon pain of death for the perpetrator."

As Nor was about to leave the head table, Clark said, "Mark me well, Lord Nor, I grant you this reprieve only once. If you ever again attempt to despoil my house, G-D help you, for only the Creator could shield you from my wrath."

Watching Nor and his retinue recede, Lois leaned against her husband and, in a loving gesture, kissed and then caressed his hand. Lois knew that her love for Clark was profound, and she didn't think that it could be lifted to any greater heights. Tonight had proved her wrong. Her love for him overflowed its previous bounds and threatened to engulf her reason. It was as if she and Clark had again become a single being. Lois, although aware that her thought was unrealistic, had a desire to be with her husband always. Only together could her love for Clark be truly satiated.

While Lois' ardor for Kal-El would never cool, she knew that reason would temper her passion. Lois knew her passion for Clark had to be controlled for her intellect to function at maximum efficiency.

As Clark went to dance with Lois, Ching said to his wife, "Our cousin is a worthy successor to his father's house. He may be a quiet man, my love, but Clark's mind and his fists become steel when the need arises."

"Not only are Kal-El and Lo-El our closest kin," Zara commented, "but they will also be our formidable allies for all times to come."

Smiling at her husband, Zara asked, "Would you like to dance?"

Rising and bowing to his wife, Ching escorted her to the dance floor.

Later, during the festivities, Clark beckoned to Marnina, one of the elected managers of the El estates, and in their conversation commented, "Tonight will be unusually clear. You should use the new electronic telescope and record some images of the Andromeda-seven nebula."

The young woman responded, "Andromeda-seven. I'll act on your suggestion when I return to the El estates this afternoon."

As she was leaving, Marnina began to give homage by bowing her head to the leader of the El clan but was interrupted by Kal-El. Smiling with her eyes, the young woman shook her head knowingly and left the hall. For a moment, Marnina had forgotten that Lord Kal-El and his wife frowned upon a person humbling himself before another individual. Lord and Lady El considered all the people living and working on their estates as family. Kal-El just demonstrated that fact quite emphatically in a very public forum. Walking from the ballroom, a warm glow effused through the steward of the El clan.

A few minutes after Marnina left the palace, Clark summoned Dani. He repeated the Andromeda message to his second steward, and the young man left the festive surroundings a few minutes later. And, like Marnina headed for the El estates, but by a different route.

The coded phrase, Andromeda-seven, meant a priority alert — attack imminent.

Two messengers were sent to ensure that the warning would be certain to reach his people — those of the El clan.

When the message was received by the directors of the El estates, the code words immediately triggered a military mobilization.

The Andromeda-seven alert signaled a gathering of the El clan at the main house. From there, all, with the exception the El warriors, would be TD to NK2 on Sol Three. The El combatants consisted of about one thousand men and women who armed themselves and took up defensive positions according to Lord Kal-El and his soulmate's instructions. These fighters were trained by Clark and later by Lois and Clark together when Lois' military instruction with Torn-Ra had been completed. The El warriors were thoroughly trained to use a LASER blaster in combination with a sword and/or a knife. The conjointment of these weapons in the hands of highly trained troopers was an extremely deadly combination. The new fighting techniques of the El clan would provide its warriors with an effective striking force nearly ten times its actual size. When the troopers of the El clan confronted any other military units on New Krypton, a slaughter of the El clans' opponents could be expected.

When Dani had departed the ballroom, Ching leaned toward his cousin and asked, "Kal, what's afoot?"

Activating his anti-surveillance device, Clark responded, "I've placed my people on alert and activated defensive measures. I'm concerned that Nor will order an attack on the El estates this evening. I believe he'll disguise his troops as night marauding bandits so as not to incriminate himself."

After a slight pause, Ching replied, "Do you really think he'll strike tonight?"

Clark nodded his head indicating that he believed Nor's men would attack late that evening when the El estates normally would have retired.

"Ching," Kal remarked, "I insulted him in a rather harsh manner and damaged his ego in the process." Furthermore, Clark added, "My verbal invectives might have caused him to become somewhat irrational, and it's my feeling that his need for vengeance would have become heightened and his actions more reckless because of my hostile moves. Anyway, I'll feel better if my people are prepared."

Ching nodded his head in agreement.

Several hours later, Lord and Lady El said their farewells to Zara and Ching and to those who came to the Sela's gala to wish the Els well.

Returning to the El estate, Lois and Clark found that the estate's defensive preparations were nearly complete. Changing into their battle gear, Clark called a strategy meeting. Midway through the conference, word was received that many marauders were moving toward the main house. From other surveillance outposts, Clark was apprised that a significant number of bravados were stealthily approaching his position from the East — the direction of a Nor's enclave.

Marnina and Dani, it was decided, would command a small group of warriors who would defend an area several hundred meters directly in front of the main house. The remaining fighting men and women were separated into two fighting units: one directed by Lois and the other lead by Kal-El. The two combat teams would separate and entrench themselves about a thousand meters from each other, forming two sides of an imaginary cup, with the brigade at the bottom of the imaginary vessel commanded by two stewards, Marianna and Dani. At the proper time, Marnina and Dani's warriors would expose themselves, drawing the attacking rogues towards their position and to their doom.

As darkness began to blanket the land, the El troops were prepared and waiting patiently for the arrival of Nor's forces disguised as freebooters.

As they waited, Avella, a young woman, asked Kal-El why they abandoned the main house and the homes of the El folk and were going to fight in the open against a force that was at least two and a half times their size.

A warrior next to her smiled and murmured to himself, "I was thinking the same thing."

Smiling at his two inquisitive companions, Clark quietly replied, "When a fight is forced upon you, numbers become a relatively insignificant part of the battle equation.

"One thing you should learn from this conflict, my young friends," Clark added, "Never fight the enemy on their terms."

As the bravos moved through the abandoned hamlet, Avella said, "I wonder what they'll be doing?"

"Do you want to go and ask them?" Clark replied sarcastically.

As Clark was finishing his reply, Avella excitedly said, "Look, Nor's troops are burning the village."

Smiling at his sister in arms, Clark said to her, "What did you expect them to do? Give your homes a fresh coat of paint?"

Turning to look at her Lord, Avella was now beginning to look at Kal-El with new eyes. Beginning to realize that Lord Kal-El was a first-class strategist, the young woman remarked, "You knew that Nor's bully boys would burn the estate. That's why you had us abandon our houses."

Clark nodded his head confirming her statement.

Then he added to his comments, "Nor has great influence with those who administer the law and sit on the great council. Give Lord Nor any excuse and he would brand us as outlaws."

With eyes blazing Clark continued, "Nobody can blame us for destroying night raiders intent on burning our homes, stealing our possessions, and killing our people.

"So now, my young friend, it's time to rid New Krypton of these night riding vermin."

Then Avella asked, "How do you know they'll take the route which we guard to the main house?"

Clark answered her, "From the lack of opposition, the raiding party will believe that the El clan has abandoned the land and become lax — its human nature. Seeing no opposition, Nor's troops will take the shortest path to the main house to loot it of its possessions and then destroy it, completing at least part of their mission for their Norian master."

As the El Warriors waited, Clark told his fighters to watch for his attack signal. Then he informed his troopers that the battle this evening was strategic, and then smiling he simply said to his kin, "Send Nor's scum to hell."

As Kal-El had predicted, during the ensuing battle, all the nightriders were eliminated except for two who were deliberately allowed to escape. Those two reported what occurred directly to their master, Lord Nor. After receiving the disturbing information, he slew the two surviving marauders by his own hand.

At the inquiry on the day following the military altercation, Nor, of course, was present. After finding no wrong doings by the El clan, Lord Kal-El rose to address the assemblage.

"My Lords and ladies," Clark began. "What occurred yesterday on the El estates has occurred too often in the past. The military conflict near the El's main house is similar to other attacks, which have plagued our planet from some time. It stops now."

Pausing for a moment Clark continued, "From a dying prisoner we learned who ordered the attack. While a single voice, according to Kryptonian law, cannot be used as conclusive evidence against a peer, especially a noble, let that Kryptonian who was accused by his dying compatriot be forewarned that there isn't anything I can't do on your territory that you can enact on mine. Remember you have far more to lose. The El clan and I will do battle for the privilege of being left alone. Do not force us to fight because you won't like the way my clans wage war. And war it shall be, make no mistake of that."

To drive his point home, during his speech, he just stared at Lord Nor for several seconds without a sound being uttered.

When the meeting ended, Nor and his retinue left the hall without so much as a goodbye or by your leave to the Sela and her consort, Ching.

That evening, as Kal was making his adieus to Zara and Ching, he said, "I believe that Lord Nor's military maneuvers will be held in check for a time — my guess is from about three to five years. He has just met an unknown force that may well jeopardize his plan for world domination. He'll, therefore, spend a good deal of time attempting to neutralize it — or should I say me."

Both Ching and his wife agreed with Kal's appraisal of the situation.

Just before Clark entered the TD portal, he inquired, "Has the energy mining of the two possible invasion routes been completed?"

"Yes," Zara replied.

As Lord Kal-El, now the strategist of New Krypton, was entering the transportation network, he said, "The battle area for Nor's attack has now been forced upon our adversary. We now know that the ElRa pass will be the place where Nor must initiate his war to conquer New Krypton. The odds of winning the coming conflict have shifted in our favor."

While the gateway was closing, the last words Zara and Ching heard were "See you folks this weekend."

During dinner on NK2 that weekend, Clark said to Zara, "Please garrison our New Krypton estates to protect them from looters. Work the land, if you want, and use the proceeds to help the destitute and the indigent on the planet." Smiling at her cousin she nodded her ascent to her cousin Kal's request.

While Zara held her daughters Kara and Ash-Ra, the Sela couldn't help thinking how Kal was managing. He was like her husband in so many ways. This Earth raised Kryptonian was a kind and caring man. The act of helping impoverished souls on NK with his great wealth clearly demonstrated that fact. Like herself, Kal was fortunate to have found a life partner whose interests matched his own. "Kal and Lo-El are soulmates and so much more," she murmured to herself as she pondered the events leading to this point in New Krypton's social and physical evolution. When the history of this period would eventually be added to the Kryptonian book of time, Kal and Lo-El's odyssey will be a story that will be read and reread in awe by all future generations. Although people of the future might accept the fact that Lois and Clark existed, many people would find it difficult to internalize that these two Els, like themselves, were merely flesh and blood individuals—two people, to the best of their abilities, who were attempting to preserve what was decent within the societies of two worldly cultures, those of Earth and New Krypton.

Will it matter how the history books of the future present the happenings during these times? Zara thought not. Only the actions and their results will be of significance. How a historical text of the future would view the momentous events now occurring on Earth and New Krypton or how they would be colored by the prejudices or biases of the books' authors in reality matter little. Most likely the most important events that she and her friends acted upon would be taken for granted and be nearly invisible — freedom of thought, license to do what you believe is right without harming others, freedom of choosing one's life partner without compulsion (a most horrible form of slavery), and other more subtle and unpretentious liberties that are usually taken for granted in a free society.

"If we are successful," Zara thought, "all that history need report about us is that in a time of great peril to the peoples -those of New Krypton and her sister world of Sol-Three — there arose a great one, Kal-El, son of Jor-El and Lara, born out of the house of Lo into the house of El. This Lord who, with his beloved soulmate Lo-El, daughter of Earth, halted the forces of darkness captained by the evil Lord Nor. When their work had been completed, New Krypton and its sister world, the planet Earth, would walk together into the broad sunny uplands and the broad meadows of peace and learning, something that always would be cherished by the peoples of two worlds, now one entity like two soulmates."

Then-excusing herself, she took her two daughters to bed.

While Zara was gone, Ching asked, "Kal, what are you planning to do while awaiting Nor's next move?"

Clark replied, "I'll stay here and train the six thousand or so Kryptonians that now call NK2 home. They will be instructed by Dar, Linda, Lois and myself and become warriors who are experts in hand to hand combat. They'll also be shown how to operate the space cruisers currently berthed at Sanctuary in the Centauri ternary star system. The new emigres must be well schooled in the control in the super powers Earth's G-type star will soon produce in their bodies. Furthermore, we must teach our brethren who emigrate to Earth how to recognize and woo a soulmate which they're locate, with a little electronic help, within Earth's various societies."

After a slight pause, Clark continued, "When they have mastered these fundamentals of which I spoke, some of the El clan may take jobs in Earth's vast technical community. In that way we may be able to help the people of this Sol- Three move closer to a planetary society — a community of nations moving toward one world. The current attempt at creating a world community has been erratic at best. The politics of the United Nations is currently fraught with self-interest and unmitigated inter-loathing among the world body's members bordering on hatred."

Pointing at his soulmate, Clark said to Ching, "Lois will probably return to the Daily Planet and resume her newspaper career and her new super activities. I'll back Lois up with her super job, if she requires my help. Until my soulmate needs super assistance, I'll be engaged with some novel scientific ideas I wish to explore, which, of course, will require time and tinkering in a lab."

When Zara and her entourage retuned to NK on Monday, Lois, Clark informed his friends, went back to her reporting position at the Planet.

Perry was delighted to see her. He had been anxiously waiting for his star reporter's return. Several articles that were right-up Lois' alley had just emerged, and he was anticipating the scoops she would garner for the Daily Planet.

As they talked over lunch, Perry said to Lois, "I'm still waiting to meet the Guy who made an honest woman out of Mad Dog Lane. He must be one hell-of-guy to keep you at bay."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Lois retorted. "My husband doesn't have to treat me like some animal that has to be kept on a short leash and tamed."

Giving Lois an unbelieving look, Perry said, "I'll bet."

"Okay, okay chief, I do get ill-tempered with people from time to time and I do still have an explosive disposition, but, Perry, my soulmate is one in a million trillion. He accepts me as I am. My husband does not try to change my behavior and attempt to make me into a trophy wife. You know the kind, one who says little and can be placed on his pedestal to be gawked at by her husband's guests. That's something that Lex Luthor would endeavor to do. No, my life partner is a loving, kind, and a caring man who puts me first before all things. Although he views other women as friends and treats them well, when he looks at me, gang Busters. Sometimes he's generous to a fault. I'll never take advantage of him. You know Perry, I never thought I could love someone as much as I adore my husband."

"Sounds as though you struck gold," Perry remarked.

"Yeah," Lois sighed. "Gold isn't even the half of it."

After a moment of contemplation, Lois added, "More than gold, Perry. It seems that my soul has been touched by infinite love, and we've become two independent minds behaving as a single entity."

"Boy, Lois, you've just flung some pretty heavy philosophy my way. Now, gal, I've got to meet this husband of yours pronto," Perry insisted.

Thinking for a moment, Lois commented, "You know, chief, I believe that a meeting between you and my husband would be a good thing. I'll try to arrange for a get together as soon as possible."

As Lois was about to stroll back to her workstation, Perry remarked, "You know, darlin', I never caught your husband's name during our little chat."

Turning and smiling at the chief, Lois commented, "Give that man a chocolate cigar. I never told you. After all these years, Perry, you still got the juice. I think meeting my beloved spouse will be a pleasant surprise. So, I'll just keep his name a secret for the present."

That evening the Metropolis' super heroin was back in action.

Toward dawn, when Lois was streaking above Metropolis towards home, she felt a presence paralleling her flight path. Looking up, she saw Clark flying garbed in a very colorful costume.

When they finally met at Lois' apartment a few seconds later, both superheroes reaffirmed their love with a spectacular kiss. Then Lois pointed at his attire and asked, "What, who…?"

Placing his hand gently over Lois' mouth, he said, "Mom made it for me so I could help out if ever there was a need. She also told me that married people who play together stay together. I think that's a good idea." Lois just laughed and kissed him again with great passion.

Kissing his wife for the second time in as many minutes, Clark remarked, "I'm not sure my parents fully understand the soulmate concept, so I just let Mom do her thing. The result was this costume or as she said, a superman suit."

Looking at his regalia again, Clark added, "This outfit is just a little tight. And, Lois, I'm a little embarrassed at how much of me it reveals."

Gazing at her husband with adoration Lois commented, "It surely does that, honey. That's why people call that kind of outfit you're wearing tights."

After a momentary lull in their conversation, Lois remarked, "Let's go home. I have a physiological experiment of my own that I would like to carry out with you."

Taken aback by her boldness, Clark whined, "Lo-is," as he followed her through the TD portal.

With Nor's camp in disarray and Lex Luthor still occupying a prison cell, Lois and Clark's life style approached an almost idyllic state — for them that is.

A few weeks after their return to NK2, Clark and his soulmate had settled into a rather calm routine. Lois was completing another expose about corruption in the Mayor's office, and Clark was putting the finishing touches on a project that would allow him to fabricate a nearly indestructible material for architectural enterprises. Clark's new metallic like substance would eventually be the material of choice for all kinds of construction. At present, however, strengthening the cruisers in NK2's interstellar space fleet using this new material would take top priority.

At dinner one evening, during the period that Lois called the phony calm, she remarked, "I would like to invite a guest to stay with us for the weekend, if that's okay with you."

"That's fine, dear," Clark replied giving Lois a peck on her forehead.

After they dumped their dinner dishes into the cleanup unit — a combination of washer, dryer, and butler — Lois entwined her arm in Clark's as they headed for the park to talk some about the future and to enjoy, without any disturbance, the presence of one another's company.

At the end of the following day, Friday, Lois, accompanied by Perry walked towards her Metropolis residence. As they strolled through the city, Perry said, "So, I'm finally going to meet the mister that's hitched to Lois Lane. You don't know darlin' how much I'm looking forward to this weekend."

"Perry," Lois replied, "I believe your stay with us will be as surprising as it will be enlightening."

As they walked, the two reporters chatted about the Planet and other work related topics. One thing Perry recognized almost from the start of Lois' marriage was that his topflight reporter had become a much calmer person and a better journalist to boot. Marriage to this unknown fellow had given his gal composure and poise, which in a hundred years he never would have guessed that his star reporter could ever have achieved. To Perry, it was a dream come true — a miracle.

Upon entering Lois' lodgings, Perry noticed that her place, although neat and clean, didn't have a lived in feeling. As the chief looked on, Lois walked over to a seemingly empty wall area and placed her hand upon it surface. Almost immediately, a portal opened and Lois beckoned Perry to follow her through its entranceway.

After Lois and Perry had passed through the portal, it closed. Looking around, the chief found himself in an antechamber of some sort. Keeping a grip on his sanity, Perry watched as Lois walked to a control panel in the middle of the room and activated several switches. When she had finished her task, a second doorway appeared. Taking Perry by the arm, she escorted him through the new entranceway, which led into a beautiful hamlet, pulsating with the ebb and flow of people going about their business.

Although stunned by the series of rapid events that just unfolded, Perry was still capable of functioning, if only barely. While startled, Perry was rational and capable of following Lois as she maneuvered herself across a small square surrounded by magnificent looking buildings of very unusual architectural design. Besides the strange surroundings, Perry was also taken aback by the many people he saw soaring through the air. His reaction to all these new and unusual sights nearly caused him to collapse. However, the chief, being a tough old bird dug deep into his mental reserves and made it to the far side of the plaza where Lois was waiting for him.

Realizing that Perry was confused from the shock of seeing so many new things almost simultaneously, Lois picked him up and flew to her home. As Lois levitated, Perry's senses finally overloaded and he blacked out.

When the Planet's chief editor finally regained consciousness, he found himself lying on a sofa, with a pillow supporting his head. In front of him was a transparent table with a glass of wine that had been placed upon it — apparently it was for him. Sitting up he gingerly grasped the wine glass and slowly began sipping its contents. As the mild alcoholic beverage coursed though his body, Perry could feel himself relaxing and he began returning to his normal self. As he calmed still further, his senses became more balanced — his homeostasis was nearly restored.

A few minutes after Perry awakened, Lois returned to the room. She immediately sat down in a chair adjacent to the Planet's chief and asked Perry how he was feeling.

Lois knew that her question was stereotypical considering the several shocking experiences Perry had just encountered. Nevertheless, it still was a good way to begin a conversation.

"I'm okay, Lois," Perry replied. "Well, sorta."

After a slight pause, Perry remarked, "Great Caesar's Ghost, Lois, where the hell am I?"

Grasping Perry's hands, Lois remarked, "I want you to hearken to a remarkable tale of love and wonderment and listen to what is said with an open mind."

For more than an hour, Lois related the events that had occurred to her and her husband from the time of her soulmate's first interview at the Planet until the present. In her narrative, she did not mention Clark's name. Lois still wanted that information as her final surprise for Perry.

When Lois finished her tale, Perry said, "My dear, if I hadn't seen some of that science 'fictiony' type stuff in town, I'd say that you'd taken a walk on the wild side and went around the wrong bend in the road."

Pausing for a moment, the Planet's editor and chief said, "I can't believe my little girl is that super hero witch woman who's been kicking the derrieres out of Metropolis' most undesirable residents."

Cuffing him on the shoulder, Lois commented most emphatically, "I'm not an enchantress or witch, chief. You're looking at a respectable married superwoman who happens to fly around and helps bring the criminal element to its knees."

Lois then said, "Come to the kitchen while I prepare supper."

"You can cook?" Perry said in a startled tone.

"Yeah," she replied. "That's one of the perks which came with my set of super abilities." Then Lois laughed and added, "Who would've ever thought that Lois Lane would enjoy cooking and become a kitchen maven."

As they casually talked while Lois created one of her culinary masterpieces, the front door of the house opened and a voice rang out, "Honey, I'm home."

Walking into the kitchen Clark was rather pleasantly surprised when he came face-to-face with Perry White. Clark put his hand out, which Perry clasped, and remarked, "Welcome to our home."

After a brief pause, Perry blurted out, "Don't I know you?"

"Yeah," Clark replied. "Several years back, I had a rather disappointing interview with you at the Planet. You were busy with some sort of budget obligation at the time of our meeting and as I recall the newsroom personnel were constantly interrupting our meeting. So obviously, you couldn't pay much attention to me or seriously review my credentials. The outcome, of course, was inevitable. I politely received the old 'heave ho.' By removing me from a list of irritations, at least one of your problems could be eliminated, and alleviate some of the stressful pressure you were obviously under. A rejection that dashed my hopes of obtaining a staff position at the Planet, a position, I might add that had been advertised throughout the country and an interview for which I'd spent a goodly number of hours preparing for." Then Clark asked, "Are you starting to remember who I am?"

To jog his memory further, Clark added, "Tell me, Perry, did you ever read my reference from Alan Jacobs?"

With that last bit of information, Clark knew that a light went on in Perry White's head because his face exploded in a broad smile as he remarked, "Clark Kent."

"That's me," Clark replied extending his arms to emphasize his reply.

After pausing for a few moments, Clark added, "Later, when you wanted to see me, I really had no desire to be insulted again. However, I acquiesced to Alan's request and made several attempts to see you at the Planet. I must say that your assistant editors were superb defenders of your office. After the last insulting visit to your newspaper, I decided that becoming a reporter at the Planet no longer had any bearing on my trek through life. The only significant event that occurred while visiting your newsroom was meeting my soulmate. For that and that alone, I shall be ever grateful to the Daily Planet — not the inhospitable or offensive receptions I encountered when I wished to see you. Other than that, Perry, I view the Planet, like any other large business, as an organization run by soulless individuals to the detriment of free individuals like me. People and their emotional needs don't seem to matter to these kinds of organizational individuals, or maybe it's better to say business establishments, anymore. The bottom line of a monetary ledger is all that seems to matter to such establishments. I understand that profits are necessary, but when a company's receipts approach the greed point and people simply become a sort of computer component, wouldn't you say that such an organization has no soul and in time will crush the spirit of their employees? Well, Perry that how I felt interviewing with your paper. The Planet's humanistic side, I believe, needs a house cleaning."

"You should be a philosopher, Kent," Perry replied to Clark's remarks. "I hope some day you'll take another look at us. I apologize for my faux pas at your first interview. To tell you the truth, Clark, I've regretted my foolish behavior toward you ever since that abortive interview. As for my assistants, I must also apologize for their behavior since I hired them. Since your rather bigoted experiences at the paper my assistants and the secretarial staff have been dealt with quite severely and access to my office has become relatively easy. I don't know how many good journalists we lost because of the Planet's brutal attitude towards potential new hires."

Clark smiled at Perry and said, "I'll have to come by sometime and see how your rhetoric stacks up against your deeds. Please excuse my pessimistic attitude, but my ego still smarts from the emotional beating by the Planet's hierarchy and Luthor's underhanded thrashing of my psyche his sycophants gave me."

After Clark's combination lecture and sermon, he took Perry by the arm and led him to the dining room. As they meandered toward their destination, Clark said, "Let's forget old hurts and foolishness for the moment and enjoy some of Lois' delectable fare. Then, we can talk a bit, if you wish."

After Perry seated himself, Clark helped his young bride bring her banquet to the dining table.

As Perry savored Lois' festive meal, he said, "Clark, I know that you're still smarting over your past encounters with the Planet, but I wish you would consider joining our paper's staff and be partnered with Lois. Not only are your styles complementary, but you're both great writers. Kent, your touchy-feely approach could soften Lois' hard edge commentary where needed, and she in turn would give an edge to your work making it more forceful when required."

"Perry, my friend," Clark replied, "you don't give up."

"I didn't become the editor and chief of the greatest newspaper in the world by sitting on my hands and indulging in wishful thinking," Perry replied.

After a momentary pause, Clark said, "Perry, I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. Lois and I will consider your offer and get back to you in a couple of days. Meanwhile, I've work to finish which may be as important to the survival of two planets as the coming of the messiah."

Not understanding the meaning of Clark's thoughts, Perry just smiled at his hosts and dove into Lois' delectable vittles. As he dined, the Planet's chief thought, "Boy, has this gal learned to cook or what." Smiling to himself, Perry could recall when Lois could only scorch water successfully.

Later that evening, when Perry TD back to Lois' apartment and proceeded home, Clark and his soulmate talked to nearly sun-up about the possibility of their becoming working partners at the Daily Planet.

Lois knew and understood that her husband had important concerns that were currently high on his priority list. These matters were more important than his own desires and the needs of any other individual unless, of course, it was a matter of life or death. He still had to train all the new emigres living within NK2 to be warriors, increase the size and re-configure the rapidly growing interstellar fleet, and instruct his brethren how to maneuver the spacecraft while in combat and as they moved rapidly through the vastness of the void.

After his obligations to the people on Earth and New Krypton had been fulfilled, he'd come to grips with his feelings toward a certain metropolis newspaper. He would try to reconcile Lois' wishes and put aside his ruffled emotional feathers, so to speak, and become her partner at work as well as in their personal lives.

As Clark was debating with himself during the subsequent months concerning the Planet job offer from Perry, Lois was also trying, in her own subtle way, to help him heal from the rather insensitive battering he received at the hands of Perry's dunce-like subordinates.


Some months later, a dapper Clark Kent again entered the news floor of the Daily Planet and made a beeline to the editor's inner sanctum.

As he passed his wife's workstation, Clark winked at her. Fearing to smile and compromise their true relationship, Lois telepathically said, "Welcome to the Planet, my love, and may the thirteen gods of gooloo bring you luck" — an ancient Kryptonian saying. She then fixed her gaze on her monitor and attempted to finish writing an article, wishing she could be in Perry's office with Clark. Smiling, she said to herself, "Why not?" Lois then merged her psyche with that of her husband.

As she settled into his mind, Clark said, "Nice of you to join me, oh curious one."

"Yep," she replied. "Those soulmate abilities do have their uses." Then Lois telepathically giggled.

When Clark reached Perry's secretary, he said to her, "My name is Clark Kent and I'm here to see Mr. White about a possible position at the Planet."

Before Clark could get another word in edgewise, Ms. Mildred Goodbody replied, "The only positions which are currently available are mail room runners and all around gofers."

Then-looking Clark up and down, Perry's secretary continued, "You're kinda old for those jobs. Why don't you look elsewhere for work? I'm positive some business or other is looking for a strong back," she remarked sarcastically. "Good day sir," she added. "I'm sure you know where the exit is located," she commented in a belittling tone.

Lois was astonished by Perry's private secretary's flippant attitude and uncaring disposition. How many good fledgling reporters had this woman turned away. She was assuming a duty that was not hers. "I wonder," Lois thought, "how many other people in similar positions had developed inflated egos and become a detriment to their place of employment. What a potential story," Lois concluded.

Just before Lois transferred her mind back into her own body, she felt a surge of pain and then anger course though Clark's body.

As Lois looked up from her desk, Lois saw her husband with a grim smile on his face as he began walking toward the Planet's exit.

"Oh my G-D," Lois said to herself. "All those months of trying to convince Clark that he should work with me here at the Planet had vaporized in an instant."

She could feel his anger and resolve not to be humiliated ever again by this newspaper. "Three strikes, I'm out," she heard his mind scream. "This is my final journey to this place of human humiliation. I'll never enter these premises ever again."

Quieting down as he neared the bullpen exit, Clark murmured, "Lois and I will always be a loving couple and family of two and hopefully more someday. But, as long as my wife's work-a-day world centers about the Daily Planet, any partnering with Lois in a journalist capacity is out of the question. That's for sure, that's for dang sure," he stated with finality as Clark Kent exited the Daily Planet.

Hitting the street Clark briskly walked away from the Planet building and the people who always seemed, in some way, to be the focus of his earthly pain and the ruination of his plans.

As Clark walked toward the center of town, Lois dashed into Perry's office and said in a somewhat perturbed tone, "I just wanted you to know that Clark attempted to see you today."

Perry smiled, and he whispered to Lois, "Get that lunkhead of a husband in here. What a team you two will make."

"I'm afraid that's not possible, Perry," Lois replied. "Your Chief of Staff just dismissed him in a rather- disparaging manner."

"My what?" Then Lois added rather sarcastically, "You apparently have another majordomo who controls all access to your person."

Perry immediately activated his intercom and summoned Ms. Goodbody to his office.

As she entered Perry's office, the chief didn't mince words and asked right-off, "Did a person named Clark Kent ask to see me?"

Ms. Goodbody immediately replied smiling, "Yes, he did. That dapper Dan was here about fifteen minutes ago and tried to see you, but I foiled his attempt."

Attempting to control his anger, Perry said to his soon to be ex-secretary, "Since when did you become the lock and key to my office?"

"I assumed that was one of the functions of my job," Ms. Goodbody replied in a huff.

"You assumed," Perry's voice was now approaching a thunderous tone. "When one assumes, you make an ass out of you and me. Is that clear, Mildred?"

Blanching, Ms. Goodbody meekly replied, "Yes, sir."

Rising Perry said with teeth clenched, "Get down to the secretarial pool for reassignment. And, while you're at it, you can thank Ms. Lane here for saving your job. I would have fired you on the spot if it weren't for the good graces of Lois Lane. However, I'll see to it that you are placed in a position where your delusions of grandeur will not interfere with the operation of this newspaper."

As Mildred Goodbody left the news floor, Perry yelled for Jimmy Olsen.

When Jimmy arrived a few minutes later, Perry said, "I'm sorry, Jimbo, but you'll have to act as my secretary until I can select another person from the secretarial pool."

"That's okay, chief," Olsen replied, as the young cub reporter sat down at Goodbody's recent workstation.

"Good kid," Perry murmured as he and Lois walked back into Perry's office and closed the door.

Upon entering Perry's inner sanctum he said, "Lois, get into that suit of yours and find Clark and get him back here."

Shaking her head affirmatively, Lois went into Perry's private room and whirled into her super outfit. Opening the window she streaked skyward and began scouring the city for her husband.

In a short while, Lois located her soulmate, swooped down and scooped him up.

As Lois started to fly toward the Planet, Clark complained, "Haven't I been humiliated enough by that… that rag you work for? Why are you taking me back to that place of…"

"No profanity, sweetheart," she remarked, as she placed her hand over his mouth. "It's not your style."

Lois then added, "Perry will explain. Be patient."

So Clark just leaned back and relaxed as Lois flew toward the Planet building.

A few minutes later, Lois and her soulmate were in the chief's office.

Before Perry spoke, Clark noticed that Ms. Goodbody no longer sat at the secretarial desk and guarded the chief's inner sanctum.

Then Clark became aware that Perry was addressing him.

"Clark," he said, "As you can see, I removed Mildred from her position as my secretary. She exceeded her mandate. I want to apologize for any ill will that she caused. I'm bringing Betty Miller on board as my executive secretary. You'll like her. She's a journalist and the niece of Al Jacobs. You remember him." Clark just nodded his head.

"She just had her second child," Perry added, "and by elevating her to this position, Betty's salary will be commensurate with a reporter's pay scale. She and her husband could use the bucks. Furthermore, she'll be able to keep an eye on her kids in the Planet's day-care center and provide her infant with the extra care it still needs." Lois and Clark agreed with Perry's plan.

In addition, Perry added, "I'll have a mature woman guarding the gates to my office who not only has a brain but an understanding heart to boot.

"Just as important," the chief concluded, "Betty will ask questions instead of assuming prerogatives that are not hers to exercise."

Eyeing Clark for a moment, Perry asked in a pleading voice, "Please consider working for the Planet. If you turn me down, my plans to improve this paper will be frustrated and may never come to fruition."

"I take your offer on one condition, Perry," Clark replied.

"What's that?" The chief asked.

"That my soulmate and I are partners in this venture," Clark responded laughing.

Smiling, Perry thrust out his hand and said, "Welcome to the Daily Planet, Clark Kent."

As Clark clasped the chief's hand, he remarked, "Perry, Lois and I don't want anyone to know that she and I are married. Very, very married I might add."

Perry nodded his head indicating that he would abide by Lois and Clark's request.

After acceding to Lois and Clark's request, Perry asked them, "What in Elvis' name is the reason for not wanting anyone to known that you're hitched?"

Clark replied, "Lois told me that she would feel more comfortable, among her associates, if they were unaware of her material status for the present. If that condition makes my wife happy, chief, then that's the way it has to be."

"So be it," Perry declared. Then Clark took Lois in his arms, hugged her, and gave her an impassioned kiss.

"Hey, hey, hey," Perry remarked, as he tried to subdue a chuckled none of that kind of shenanigans in the newsroom. "The Planet is not one of those who-ha establishments. As Elvis knows, the Planet is where respectable business is done. Remember that kids when you're so inclined to be romantic in the bullpen," he remarked with a smirk on his face.

"With the way you're acting, I'm still confused about this hidden marriage thing," Perry told the Kents.

After Clark caught his breath, he told the chief, "Come to supper Friday night and spend the weekend and we'll tell you just why we don't wish people to know about our marriage status, just yet." Perry nodded, and then told Lois to give Clark a tour of the paper's facilities.

As Clark was learning about the newsroom capabilities from his wife, Kat Grant sauntered over and remarked, "I see that the tight end has returned. Is he joining our little family?"

"Yeah," Lois replied, her hackles beginning to rise.

"Well, well," Kat said.

"Good-lookin'," she said, taking Clark by the arm, "how's about lunch?"

Clark, after removing himself from Kat Grant's grasp, craftily replied, "Lois and I are partners. You know what that means, Ms. Grant. A partnership in the news business is very much like being married. That means Ms. Lane and me, we'll be together most of the time. So, let's postpone any get together until Lois and I have had a chance to get to know one another real well."

And then, Clark added for good measure, "The way Lois zips around I don't think that I'll have much time for lunch anytime soon, and certainly not today."

"Nice cover," Lois' telepathic message said just as their psyches became lovingly entwined.

As Lois and her husband were mentally linked, Clark asked his bride, "How can we dump your favorite coquette? Your gossipy colleague behaves like a sexual python with a tremendous appetite." Then Clark said telepathically to his soulmate, "My Love, maybe I should have never left the lab. It was a place of security and serenity. I have a feeling that my newspaper adventure will be turbulent and very unsettling, especially if I have to deal with individuals like Katherine Grant." After a moment, Clark asked, "Lois, just how many aggressive females are there working for the Planet? On second thought, just tell me who I'll have to avoid or those I'll have to somehow discourage from time to time?"

"Poor baby," Lois psychically cooed. "Clark, go see Jimmy and tell him to finish the tour for me. I'll take care of your misgivings."

As Clark strolled toward Jimmy's desk, Lois turned toward Kat and commented, "Remember what we talked about during Clark's first interview."

Kat nodded.

"Well," Lois said as she continued, "I've got a first refusal on him. Until I decide that we have no future, hands off. Please tell the rest of my female colleagues to keep away from him."

Smiling, Kat replied, "So Mad Dog Lane has met someone. A guy to share her life."

Before Lois could reply, Kat remarked, "Good for you, gal. I hope you and Clark's love continually fires on all thrusters and it's forever."

After a brief pause Kat asked, "Are there anymore like him back on the farm?"

Lois smiled as she realized Kat had wished her well and was a little envious. She felt good about Kat's reaction.

As the gossip columnist prepared to return to her workstation, Lois gave her a hug and said to her, "Thanks for your good wishes. I'll look around and see whether there's a bedfellow for you roaming around Clark's clan. The man you'd need should be a strong intellectual type with a high libido, a man whose fidelity to you is unshakable. Are my thoughts accurate, my risque friend?"

"You got me pegged just right," Kat replied as she strolled off.

When Clark returned, Lois whispered, "Your female problem has been taken care of."

Relieved, Clark kissed Lois on the forehead and said, "Dear, let's chow down. There seems to be a nice delicatessen around the corner."

"Good," she replied, "I'm in the mood for an extra large hot pastrami sandwich with mustard and pickle."

"Ye gads, Lois, you have a tremendous yen for deli foods," Clark chuckled, as he gave her another loving peck, this time on her lips.

"I know," she sighed returning his kiss. "I'm just a bottomless pit when it comes to seasoned smoked beef."

Tucking her arm into his, the incognito Mr. and Mrs. Kent strolled toward the newsroom exit and a rendezvous with one of Lois' favorite cuisines.

That Friday night, as the sun was setting, Perry arrived at Lois and Clark's NK2 home.

After a scrumptious meal, they all retired to the living room where Perry commented, "Lois, you can really cook. That's two great meals in a row."

Lois smiled and replied, "Chief, I finally conquered my nemesis. Clark was a great teacher and a tower of strength when he and I did battle with my old and usually frustrating opponent, le marmite."

"I'm sure glad you did," Perry chuckled. "You can invite me over anytime. Your meals have become delectable and festive, darlin'."

"You're always welcome, chief," Lois replied, giving him a kiss on his forehead. "If you ever decide to retire, we want you to consider NK2 as your home away from home."

Then Perry became somewhat more serious and said, "Okay, you've got me here and buttered me up with a great meal, now tell me what's bothering you guys."

"Babies," Lois and Clark said almost simultaneously.

"Great Caesar's ghost," Perry yelled. "Are you guys pregnant?"

"Calm down, Perry," Lois commented. "I don't think I'm in a parturient way, yet."

"What do you mean 'yet'?" Perry queried her.

"Unlike the people of Earth," Lois replied, "Kryptonian soulmates are very conscious of their fertile period. They could pinpoint their time of ovulation to within an hour of its occurrence. This knowledge helps them regulate their population. Information of this kind is essential because most Kryptonian births are multiplicative — two to three children seem to be the norm for each conception. While the interacting pheromones for each soulmate pair appears to regulate the ovulation window and alert the couple to their fertility period, as with most biological systems, such hormonal systems are not an absolutely perfect mechanism."

After a brief pause, Lois continued, "If soulmates have been intimate just prior to a woman's fertile period and the fertility warning hadn't been recognized or the hormonal message was too weak or nonexistent that month, then whamoo instant parents. Don't worry Perry, usually pheromone interactions between soulmates will provide the couple with sufficient warning about a woman's fertility time line. But, let me say, experience has shown that pheromones and menstrual cycle information are still not thoroughly understood and do not represent the best predictors in the Kryptonian conception process. At present, Perry, all that one can say about biological mechanisms are that they are complex and not subject to the precise mathematical laws like those involving many nonliving systems. Since it appears that nearly all Kryptonian couples are fertile myrtles, Clark and I must be extra cautious as I near my fertility time line unless parenthood is our objective."

After a pensive period, Clark added, "If we do conceive, you'll need to provide us with an overseas assignment, like gun running in a particular third world country or a white slavery story in East Africa as a cover. Other happenings will occur, I'm sure, while we're on our overseas assignment, which will provide the paper with additional and unusual stories.

"If you could set up such a scheme," Clark said, "we could be out of the States during Lois' entire gestation period and no one should be the wiser."

Hearing Clark's comments, Lois said, "We didn't discuss this part of our pregnancy condition."

Then becoming somewhat perturbed, Lois turned toward her husband and slugged him in the arm and added, "I'll transfer the fetuses to you and go back to Metropolis, you over sexed reprobate." Then laughing she kissed her soulmate.

Perry turned to Martha and said, "Do they do that continually?"

"Continually," she replied. "Those two can't seem to get enough of each other."

"Just like you and I, Martha," Jonathan commented.

Martha smiled at her husband and laid her head on his chest.

Clark then told Perry, "That's why we didn't want the Planet crew to know that we are married. Going on some overseas assignments would be preferable for a married couple. Such assignments wouldn't be considered that unusual for an unmarried reporting team."

Turning the conversation back to Lois and Clark's potential children and the problems it may pose, "Perry," Clark added, "during Lois' gestation period, we could email you stories from here, NK2. No one should get suspicious. The only problem I can foresee is if someone from the paper traveled to that part of the world where we supposedly had been posted and began to look for us."

Perry then remarked, "I'll take care of that situation, when and if such an event were to occur."

"What will be your general procedure?" Perry, asked the younger Kents.

"Chief," Clark remarked, "I would go into the bush or another assigned area and gather the needed data — the hard facts as you call em, Perry. Then, I'd send or bring the data to Lois at NK2, where she would be during her gravid period and being monitored by Mom and the NK2 medical staff."

When Clark finished telling Perry his plan, Lois stuck out her tongue at Clark. Everyone at the table laughed at her antics. Clark knew that her teasing was brought about by her awareness of her relative inactivity during her gravid period.

After the laughter died away, Clark said, "When my information gathering expeditions were finished for a particular story, Lois and I would work on the article together and send it to you via the Planet's email express channel."

"Sounds like a good plan, son," Perry said. "We'll put it into operation when the time comes."

"Now," Perry said, "let's enjoy the festivities of this evening."

Later that night, an exhausted Perry White returned to his Metropolis home after one of the best fun-filled evenings he had in years.

During the next seven months, Lane and Kent, as Perry expected, became the hottest team around. Their news output was always of high caliber. Professionalism was their middle name.

During this period, Perry was as happy as a pig wallowing in cool dank mud. While all the Lane and Kent stories were great, four of them Perry knew were Kerth caliber. He didn't tell the Kents for two reasons. One, because Perry didn't want to hex them and second, he didn't want them to worry about something that was really beyond the Planet's control.

Sometime during the seventh month of Lois and Clark's Planet partnership, Clark's soulmate began to have regular morning entanglements with the porcelain goddess.

Without alarming Clark, she contacted Zara and made arrangements for a physical examination on New Krypton.

A newspaper meeting called by Perry, with Jimmy's and Clark's required attendance, prevented Lord Kal-El from accompanying Lady Lo-El on her journey to New Krypton. This meeting was a G-D sent to Lois. It was a window of opportunity for her to visit a physician on NK without Clark's knowledge.

On the evening Lois arrived on NK, she had dinner with Zara and Ching and another gentleman called physician Ga-El — an obstetrician.

After dinner, physician Ga-El thoroughly examined Lois Lane-Kent and within the hour Lady Lo-El was informed, as she half expected, that mistress of the El clan carried new life within her body.

Physician Ga-El informed Lois that in approximately two hundred ten days she would deliver triplets — two females and a male.

After the obstetrician excused himself and departed for his quarters, Lois said, "Clark's going to be a daddy and I'll be a mom." Lois smiled and said, "You know Zara, he's going to have his fondest wish realized."

Then, placing her hand on Lois' shoulder the Sela asked, "How do you feel now?"

Lois replied, "Exhilarated and anxious simultaneously. This will be new territory for both of us."

Smiling and placing her hand on Lois' shoulder, Zara told her, "You'll learn together. And, you both will discover that much of the information you need to successfully raise children you already possess. You've acquired the methods of nurturing partly from your parents and by watching other families and friends handle their own newborns."

Following a brief pause, Lois said, "For years, Zara, I never considered having children as an option for my life style. I think my views of kids were strongly influenced by my parents' failed marriage and their inadequacies as nurturers."

"It's almost funny," Lois added to her comments. "Although I now want children as much as Clark does, who would have thought just a short while ago that Lois Lane, fearless reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, would be ecstatic over her gravid condition?"

Zara then walked over to Lois and gave her a loving hug.

As the Sela held Lois, she said, "You'll discover, my friend, that children will bind you and Kal-El still closer together while placing more stress on your relationship. Having children, Lois, Zara told her friend and kin is a two edged sword. You take the bad with good and pray for guidance."

Pausing for a moment, Zara then said, "Lois, when your kids arrive, you and Kal will almost immediately discover why two parents or two individuals are needed to raise a single child. Since you will have three babies, cooperation between both of you will be most essential. I know that you and your soulmate are inseparable, which is good, very good. You are about to discover how essential that cooperative relationship will be in your child rearing adventure."

Entering the room, Ching commented, "You and Kal-El will also have to figure out how to recharge your romance from time to time. Zara and I sorta dump the kids on their grand folks and head for the hills to restore our spirits — the romantic part of our life. You probably didn't realize it, but that's why we dropped in on you every month or so and stayed for several days to a week on your lovely planet. Our new twins, Zara told Lois were conceived on one of our romantic sojourns to Earth. But anyhow, you'll work out your own infant survival strategy and find ways to keep the romantic aspects of your lives in high gear. I'm sure of that."

After a pleasant evening discussing babies, Lois returned home to the comforting arms of her husband, carrying a bit of exciting news.

As Lois lay in Clark's arms, she contemplated how to tell her big baby boy from Kansas of their changing lives. As she contemplated her options, she came up with the idea that, a nice quiet dinner at Angelina's would best set the mood. Quietly disengaging herself from her soulmate, she got out of bed, went to the telephone, called their favorite restaurant, and made a reservation for that Friday evening. It would be a nice dinner with an exquisite chocolate dessert. Then she'd break the news about the coming visit by the stork.

When Friday evening came, Lois was ready.

All week, Lois had roamed the stores looking for a special dress or outfit that would set the mood for this special occasion. When Friday evening came, Lois was in full battle array. She had purchased a burgundy colored dress, which ended just below the knee. The dress draped over one shoulder leaving the other bare. She also purchased matching shoes and was wearing the diamond pendant that Clark had fashioned for her. As an added touch, she sprinkled herself with his favorite perfume — Chanson d'amour.

Clark was wearing a charcoal suit for this occasion with one of his unusual ties, which Lois had presented to her soulmate for his birthday.

When Lois appeared at the top of the staircase, Clark bowed and said, "Lord Kal-El eagerly awaits his beautiful soulmate and bride, Lady Lo-El."

Lois giggled and curtsied to her lover.

Several minutes later, Lois and Clark were off to Angelina's for what Clark would later refer to as their "night of nights."

When Clark and his beloved wife arrived at their favorite feasting retreat, the waiter whisked them to a secluded table located in one of the secluded darkened corners of Angelina's place. A place reserved where lovers could relax undisturbed.

As they were being seated, the waiter brought them a bottle of their favorite red wine and poured each a glass of the alcoholic beverage.

As Clark picked up his glass following Lois' lead, he made a short but poignant toast, which she repeated — "le chaim, to life." While Clark relished the bouquet of the wine and imbibed a small quantity, Lois simply placed her wine glass back on the table a little to one side.

When the music Lois requested — Fly Me To The Moon — began to caress Angelina's patrons, Lois took Clark by the hand and led him to the dance floor.

As they swayed to the music, both lovers could sense their auras taking their love to new heights.

Cuddling closer as the music caressed them, Lois thought that she really couldn't love Clark anymore than she already did, but she was wrong. As the music swelled to a crescendo, the love between them carried the lovers to further heights and into their own dimension of bliss. The auric bond, which linked their souls, was again magnified, but this time beyond measuring.

When the instrumental sounds finally ceased, Lois and Clark slowly and reluctantly returned to their earthly domain as they ambulated back to their table.

While the lovers were dancing, foods, consisting of many kinds of pasta dishes, were being placed on their table. A cake containing three candles was also positioned at the center of their dining table. One of the candles was blue, while the remaining two were pink in color. The icing on the cake itself was one third blue while the rest of the sweet confection possessed a pink hue. As Clark stared at the cake and recalled that Lois did not consume any wine, Clark Kent aka Superman felt a shiver of anticipation run through his body. His head snapped up and stared into Lois' eyes looking for confirmation of his revelation. Seeing his questioning eyes, Lois smiled and simply said, "Yes, Daddy, our children will make their appearance sometime around New Year's."

"Children," Clark nearly yelled. "How many?"

"Three," Lois responded — "two girls and a boy."

Sighing, Clark got up, walked over to Lois, and raised her gently from her chair. He then gently clasped her to his breast and passionately kissed her. They remained in that position, hugging and kissing one another, for what seemed like forever.

Since they were in a relatively isolated and dimly illuminated area, not many people were aware of the passionate antics of two young people who were obviously very much in love.

After things returned to a semblance of normalcy in their booth built for two, Clark commented, "We'll have to tell Perry about our blessed event soon and initiate our baby plan." Lois just nodded with a big grin spread across her face.

When they started homeward that evening, Clark, with tears streaming from his eyes, said to his soulmate, "Except for you and my parents, nothing on this world ever made me feel that Earth is my home. Because of my unique abilities, I've always felt like an outsider. Our children, my love, are the final anchor that will truly make me a part of Sol Three. At last, at long last, I'll have a connection to Earth, a connection that will truly make Earth my home."


About a month after Lois' gestation period commenced, the Kents were sent to East Africa to investigate a vast gun running operation, prostitution farms, and slavery institutions. While Clark hunted down the sources of these blights upon humankind, Lois was busy training her temporary superwoman replacement.

When Clark's investigation produced enough information about the illegal gun running enterprise, he returned to his boyhood home and Lois. There, Lane and Kent wrote their expose and sent it by email to Perry at the Planet. Their baby plan was functioning smoothly.

When the three Lane-Kent children were born, Lois and Clark had published three Kerth caliber exposes, which successfully put a stop to three ruthless and unethical practices which were harming the hapless individuals in the East African region.

About three months after the births of Kela Ellen, Kara Marta, and Jonathan Samuel Lane-Kent, Clark and his soulmate returned to Metropolis.

Arriving at their old stomping grounds, Lois and Clark were informed that Lex Luthor was out on parole and might soon receive a Federal pardon. They also were told that Asabi and Nigel St. John had already rejoined Luthor at his Metropolis tower. Furthermore, clandestine information further indicated that a new person, named Jason Trask, had been added to Lex's inner circle.

It was rumored that Trask's influence, with the backing of some secret government agency, Bureau Thirty-nine, was the muscle which helped gain Lex's early release from prison and seemed be the organization pressing for Luthor's full pardon.

While Luthor reestablished control over LexCorp and its subsidiaries, Trask established a command station in Lex Towers and began his search for Superwoman who Trask believed was the harbinger of an alien invasion designed to conquer Earth and slaughter its people. In Jason Trask's deranged mind, he believed that it was his duty to discover and dispose of Superwoman and her associates to protect the inhabitants of Earth. Therefore, he had persuaded certain elements of the government to have Lex Luthor released so that he and Bureau Thirty-nine could use Lex's vast criminal and international contacts to track down the super being.

Even if Luthor was the worst sort of criminal that humankind had ever spawned, that fact was meaningless to Trask whose main focus was the location and destruction of Superwoman. Destroying Superwoman and blunting the imagined invasion of her people were more important to the commander of Bureau Thirty-nine and his followers than the outrages Lex Luthor, a proven psychopathic monster, would perpetrate on humanity.

In Jason's mind, what Luthor could perpetrate upon the masses was nothing in comparison with the planet-wide problem, which currently faced the inhabitants of the world through an alien invasion. Trask believed that by using Luthor's networks, the Federal government and Bureau Thirty-nine's association with Luthor's criminal activities could easily be denied if all or part of their illegal partnership was ever uncovered.

As long as Luthor played his part, there would be cooperation between their two organizations — LexCorp and Bureau Thirty-nine. If for any reason Luthor tried to double cross or even destroy Trask's agency, there were other government organizations in position to terminate Lex and his pals and to make Luthor's passing as painful as is possible.


After the Kents had established their partnership at the Planet, the Millers, the Kents, and the Sela with her family began meeting nearly every weekend at NK2.

At these get-togethers, not only did the three adult couples become a stronger family unit, but their dozen or so kids enjoyed the freedom afforded them within the hidden confines of NK2.

During the week, when time permitted, Clark or Dar-El continued to train and improve the military tactics and strategy of the El Clan, now inhabitants of NK2. At other times, Kal-El shadowed his soulmate when Lois patrolled Metropolis as alter ego, Superwoman.

It was on one of their super excursions that it became necessary for Clark to actively assist his wife. During the ensuing action, Clark, in his Superman costume, was seen by more than ten people. The next day, Lois and Clark reluctantly had another expose — My name is Superman.

The Lane and Kent story told of a Superman who was kin to Superwoman and came to Earth to help in her battle against injustice. No more was written in their copy.

When Jason Trask was informed about Superman on the day following the Superhero's debut, the Bureau Thirty-nine commander nearly lost his marbles. To Colonel Trask, the sky was falling.

Trask went into a frenzy when the Lane-Kent expose hit the street. He then demanded that Luthor supply him and his agency with specific kinds of information. The data requested were rapidly forthcoming fulfilling the first phase of the unholy alliance. Furthermore, the quickness of the data delivery made Jason jubilant, and he knew that for the present Luthor was cooperating with his agency, as stipulated in their unholy contract.

As Trask contemplated the limited information about the super couple, he wondered whether this new guy was kin, cousin or something closer, like a husband to Superwoman. If they were married, there could be children. Eventually, he reasoned, there could be more alien creatures roaming the Earth. Perhaps, this was the alien's intention, Trask rationalized. More children meant, in time, more warriors to confront and overwhelm Earth's defense forces.

Mulling over his irrational thoughts, Jason Trask began foaming at the mouth and uttering strange sounds. Anybody watching his behavior, at that moment, would know that the leader of Bureau Thirty-nine was a taco short of a combo plate.

Finally pulling himself together, the field director of the government's Bureau Thirty-nine operation, Colonel Trask, called his lieutenants to a strategy meeting.

During the next few days, Trask and his aids studied the alien data provided by Luthor and information collected by other agencies over the past half century. Unfortunately for Trask and his cohorts, Bureau Thirty-nine was still operating with limited data. The only tangible material in their possession was a small space ship discovered near Smallville in nineteen sixty-six.

Placing all his information into perspective the nearly frantic and mentally unstable Jason Trask mobilized a military strike force from among his own men and mercenaries supplied by Lex Luthor, and sent them west under his trusted lieutenants to Smallville, Kansas. Trask's strike force was not an unauthorized agency, but virtually unknown by any civil or military authorities of the Federal government.

Three days later Trask's combat team was in position to execute his insane plans. Unknown to the Smallville population, Jason Trask's military unit had surrounded the hamlet and blocked all access roads leading to the Kansas town essentially isolating it from the rest of the state.

Two hours before sunrise, Trask's forces struck.

Armored vehicles transporting Bureau Thirty-nine's men and Luthor's mercenaries entered Smallville and began dragging people from their homes and placing them in makeshift stockades to await their interrogation session with Trask's and Lex's troopers. To procure information from the rather reticent Smallville residents, painful electronic shock methods and other torturous procedures were used to obtain what Trask wanted. Those who were thought to be a suspect or continued to profess their innocence about any collusion with aliens were executed, usually by being shot in the head. Others had their throats cut.

While the auxiliary troops supplied by Lex Luthor helped tear apart the houses looking for any unusual information, they also systematically looted the Smallville community and raped many of the female inhabitants.

When forces under Trask's command left Smallville, more than half the residents of the small town were dead and many of the remaining survivors had been savagely mutilated and had to be rushed to the local hospitals in the area.

When the State and Federal authorities finally concluded their investigation and left the town of Smallville, they were still at a loss as to why such an atrocity had been perpetrated upon this quiet Kansas community.

While the law enforcement agencies were baffled by the Smallville incident, the people of NK2, situated below the Kent homestead, had photographed the entire Smallville incident and by their own painstaking investigation discovered the culprits.

The question now was what to do with their evidence.

Some days after the Smallville decimation, a NK2 conference was convened. The entire population of the subterranean town was invited to participate. Every member of the Kryptonian hamlet attended. They would be the decision makers and had to understand that any action that was taken might have dire consequences upon the entire population of NK2. Yet, each resident of NK2 knew that the atrocities that occurred in Smallville could not be left unavenged.

After much debate about the Smallville bloodbath, it was decided to apprehend those who were directly responsible for the Smallville incident.

Using video information recorded by the NK2 inhabitants, the underground community began to search, find and apprehend those responsible for the atrocities during the nefarious attack on Smallville.

Within nine weeks, all who directed and carried out the Smallville raid had been apprehended. After a swift trial the Bureau Thirty-nine troops and Lex's support grunts were found guilty and sent to what the Kryptonians called the phantom zone.

The phantom zone was a solar system in another dimension where numerous planets circumnavigated a single star. It was in an isolated star system where Kryptonian felons serve their prison sentences.

For the convicted killers involved in the Smallville raid, the sentence was exile for life to the various planets within the phantom zone.

It was a humane sentence. All medical and social facilities would be provided for those incarcerated during their life long internment.

Although the perpetrators of the Smallville killings had been apprehended and punished, Lex and his industrial complex and Jason Trask still functioned.

While the two human depredators, Luthor and Trask, were still at large, these two villains were idle. Both were not pleased with the results of their Smallville incursion. Also, they were greatly agitated by the sudden disappearance of the men who carried out the Smallville raid. These men knew too much.

For safety, the Luthor and Trask camps went to ground and waited.

Although the forces of evil went into hiding, they were quickly located by the members of the NK2 community.

To keep tabs on Lex and his lieutenants including Trask and his Bureau Thirty-nine, these men and their sycophants were silently tagged with biological surveillance devices so that they could easily be followed anywhere on the planet.

As Clark's surveillance tags were being put in place, Trask's twisted mind was forming his own a plan to eliminate Superwoman, the alien witch who he damned for the disappearance of his most trusted warriors. Deep in his mind, Trask's crackbrained thoughts now focused on Superwoman, who he now often called that super bitch. She had to be eliminated before Bureau Thirty-nine's hunt for the other off world invaders could continue.

Smiling, Trask murmured to himself, "And I'm pretty sure I have the weapon to do the job."

Recently, Trask's people found a rock that glowed incessantly and produced radiation that apparently was not harmful to humans. When the Bureau Thirty-nine scientists analyzed this mineral, they discovered that it contained an element with an atomic mass of one twenty-six. This new element strongly suggested that the glowing mineral-like material were not indigenous to Earth.

After a number of attempts, government scientists working in other classified agencies could combine a powerful weapon system, called a quantum projector, with a gaseous form of the glowing rock.

Now, Trask felt he had the tools to spring his trap on that alien hellcat, Superwoman.

At four o'clock in the morning, some weeks later, Lois received an alarm that indicated one of the control locks in the Metropolis aquifer system was about to rupture. The torrent of water released from such a malfunction, she knew, would destroy a considerable amount of property and probably kill scores of people.

Kissing Clark on the cheek, Superwoman took to the air and streaked toward the aquifer complex. Upon arriving, Lois was almost immediately felled by bursts of gaseous kryptonite ejected from Trask's new weapons.

Once down, Lois, in her superwoman guise, was whisked away to Trask's clandestine headquarters.

As Lois was being brought down, her mental connection with her soulmate instantly awoke Clark. He immediately spun into his own super outfit and streaked into the air. Using Lois' heartbeat as his compass he followed Trask to his lair.

While a Bureau Thirty-nine medical team was placing Lois' comatose form on a gurney, Clark was already positioned over Trask's top secret headquarters. Using his x-ray vision, Clark saw Trask enter the chamber that already accommodated Lois' unconscious form.

With a sickly smile covering Trask's face the Bureau Thirty-nine chief advanced toward Lois' comatose body. As he slowly ambulated toward his victim, Jason raised his quantum projector. He intended to fire a lethal blast from his weapon at point-blank-range to insure that the alien piece of trash, Superwoman, was no more. As Trask, now menacingly closed in upon Lois' form and was about to discharge his weapon, Clark plunged through the wall of Bureau Thirty-nine's secret command center, scooped up his wife, and allowed the super couples' momentum to crashed them through the blank wall on the opposite side of the room to freedom.

A few days later, Trask was apprehended by Superman in a central American country. A signal produced by his biological surveillance device had disclosed his new hiding location and made the pickup rather easy.

After Jason Trask was taken captive, he was transported to NK2, where the commander of Bureau Thirty-nine was placed on trial. Trask argued that he was an Earthling and should be tried by a court on his home planet. The electronic prosecutor argued that since the alleged crime have been perpetrated against an individual who was a Kryptonian or of Kryptonian descent, Trask fell within the purview of Kryptonian law.

However, since a challenge had been made, research would be required.

It was several days later, after an extensive search by the electronic law library of NK2, that the court found Trask's crimes did indeed fall within the jurisdiction of the Kryptonian judicial system.

Trask was then tried before the bar and found guilty of many heinous crimes against both Kryptonians and Terrans. The sentence of the court was death by molecular dispersion. However, after some deliberation Jason's death sentence was commuted to life, marooned on a space platform; a space station placed in orbit about the zodiacal star called Castor — it was forty-nine light years from Earth. As in all Kryptonian incarcerations, the necessities and conveyances of civilization would be provided for the prisoner during the individual's life long exile.

As Trask and his cuckoo ideas were going into oblivion, Lord Nor was finalizing a treaty with the Frengie, a reptilian war like race whose life style was analogous to Earth's locusts. The renegade Kryptonian, Nor, it was learned by sub-Rosa means, would supply the Frengie with some advanced weaponry, and in turn the Frengie would provide Nor's military with their drive system. Although possessing only a rather crude interstellar drive system, the Frengie's technology would still allow Lord Nor's forces to travel throughout the galaxy and conquer other planetary systems.

The weapons technology Nor supplied to the his Frengie allies was many millennia out-of-date according to Kryptonian standards, and therefore, could not be used to harm his home world. But, it would be sufficient for the Frengie's needs.

The Frengie were a people who used a specific form of parasitism to survive. They would conquer a world, preferably one who possessed a host population, and one that possessed a credible knowledge base. Then they would establish their own civilization on the conquered planet and remain there until all the resources on the subjugated world had been consumed — they essentially gutted the planet. The surviving inhabitants of the vanquished world were also considered a commodity and consumed as food. When the conquered planet had been stripped of all its usable raw materials, the Frengie would leave the now barren world and travel to another populated planet and repeat their destructive brand of parasitism.

If Krypton still existed, the highly ethical people of that planet world would have long ago eradicated the Frengie. As it was, the Kryptonian people, a mere shadow of their former selves, now lived on a politically divided planetoid (essentially a large space rock) and couldn't worry about the time when Krypton's galactic civilization was a beacon of light and liberty to other space faring peoples and emerging planetary societies.

As Nor plotted with is new allies, his engineers, using Krypton's vast scientific library, rapidly improved upon the Frengie's crude interstellar engine technology and soon could swoop across their galaxy in less than a month. Nor shared the improved engine information with their Frengie allies to show his goodwill among the beings in a new anschluss.

Using their modified interstellar ships, the Frengie could now range far and wide. It wasn't long before these parasitic people discovered Earth by detecting the electromagnetic pulses emanating from the Sol star system. Unknown to its inhabitants, Earth became the Frengie's next target in their march across the galaxy, after, of course, the reptilian locusts helped Lord Nor became the master of New Krypton.

From Zara and Ching's covert operatives the Kryptonians living in NK2 became aware of the Frengie threat. The undercover agents also informed the free Kryptonian communities that the day of Nor's attack was fast approaching — within several months, at most, was their agent's estimate.

Because of the Frengie's intervention, it was decided to give the defense of the Earth sector to Dar and Linda. They would command the space battle group, which would be positioned near the Antares star system — about five hundred and twenty light-years from Earth. There, they would employ the two new weapon systems that Clark had developed. A close range disintegrator device could rend all matter within its range — it was mainly a defensive weapon. Also deployed with the fleet would be the cosmic disrupter. The disrupter was a weapon of unbelievable power and would be utilized to consume the Frengie space armada moving against Earth and obliterate the reptilian-locust scourge for all time.

Clark would not speak much about the disrupter because of the horrible destructive effects it wrought when unleashed. Lois' soulmate knew of the disrupter's destructive capacity and prayed that after this battled the space destroying weapon system would never again be loosed upon the universe. But at present, the defense of Earth against the horrific parasitic reptilian monsters almost demanded that the disrupter be used. The die had been cast. It was now Nor's move.

Working at near warp speed, Zara's camp was shortly ready for the coming battle — the forces of New Krypton and Earth were now in place. For the moment, it was now a waiting game. Nor's battle groups with their Frengie allies would make the first military thrust. Initiating the conflict would make Nor's forces and his allies the aggressors in the coming struggle. In the eyes of the other space faring worlds the free clans of New Krypton and the forces from Sol Three would have taken the high ground and be in the right.

As the months slipped by, the activities between Nor's clan and their allies markedly increased. From the free Kryptonian cloaked surveillance satellites, they observed the continued marshalling of Nor's troops near the ElRa area. Although Nor took pains to camouflage his warriors and their equipment, Kal-El's satellites easily penetrated the enemies' concealed military installations.

When, at last, Nor and his generals began attacking through the ElRa pass area, Lois and Clark teleported to New Krypton and called the fighting men and women of the free Kryptonian clans to arms. The next day warriors from NK2 joined their brothers and sisters on New Krypton in their fight for their liberty. After assembling in prearranged phalanxes (battle groups), the armies of the free clans marched into the ElRa pass where they took up pre-assigned battle positions.

Once the free clans' battle positions had been occupied and secured, it became a waiting game — waiting for Nor's grunts to move through the ElRa region in their attempt to conquer all of New Krypton.

While Nor moved his military units to their assault locations for the coming battle, a sizable number of Frengie's spaceships moved into their assigned aerial positions where they were to support Nor's ground forces during the coming attack. Not believing the entire Frengie battle fleet would be required for the New Krypton operation, the major component of the Frengie space armada had weeks before set sail for Sol Three to subdue their next victim, Earth.

As that part of the Frengie battle fleet attached to Nor's army moved to its attacking positions, New Krypton's camouflaged war cruisers de-cloaked and destroyed the Frengie spacecraft in one swift maneuver. Then the New Kryptonian battle cruisers took up the positions where Nor still believed the Frengie were positioned to support his ground operations.

When the success of the aerial operation was reported to the Sela, she, with a great sigh of relief, passed this information to her global strategist, Lord Kal-El of New Krypton and Earth.

Now, Krypton's free forces had an umbrella with teeth; aerial fangs that would maul Nor's troops from above once the battle had commenced.

Four days after the free Krypton forces had moved into their positions; Nor's military juggernaut struck. As Nor's army advanced through the ElRa crossroads, the tyrant's grunts and his armor initially found the going easy. As they fought their way through the mountainous topography, the terrain became more craggy slowing Nor's armor and even halting its movement in several places. So as Lord Nor's troops advanced, their supporting armored vehicles couldn't keep pace with the advancing ground pounders.

As Nor's ground troops continually moved further ahead of their supporting armor, the fighting intensity steadily rose as Nor's adversaries, large numbers of El warriors, began entering the fray adding to the strength of those now defending the ElRa crossroads.

As the battle through the pass raged on the ridges above the ElRa valley, the main fighting body of the free clans was moving into their attack positions. One unit was commanded by Lois and Clark while the warriors on the opposite slope were under the command of Zara and her consort, Ching. The supreme commander of Zara's planetary army had been placed in the hands of global strategist Lord Kal-El.

It was nearly time for the free Kryptonian clans to move against Nor's attacking forces. As the final preparations were being completed, Kal-El could sense an uneasiness in his troops.

Using his telepathic powers, Clark broadcast to his comrades in arms, "I can sense that many of you are uneasy about the coming conflict. Well, my friends, you don't have a monopoly on that feeling." Clark could sense a chuckle percolate through the minds of his troops.

"Let me tell you how I feel about this crusade we've been forced to fight," Lord Kal-El telepathically told the men and women who were about to place their lives on the line. "We are a unique army about to come to grips with a military force bent on stealing our liberty. Those of us who are here today are not fighting for loot, pay, or to acquire slaves, more land for the sake of power, or just because we like to kill. We are here to maintain our dignity and our freedom and to set other men and women free from a cruel bondage they have been forced to endure under Lord Nor's cruel despotism, a bondage that Nor and his accomplices have imposed not only on their own people, but upon individuals they've already subjugated."

Pausing for a few moments to collect his thoughts, Kal-El added, "In the realms of the free clans, we judge you not by who your parents were or what they could accomplish, but upon your abilities and what you can do to improve New Krypton. We of the free Clans all have value, and we feel that worth in the respect you receive from your peers. What we're fighting for, my friends, in the end, we're fighting for each other."

After a brief pause, Clark added, "Look around and you'll see men and women in our battle group from the smallest and largest clans, all Kryptonians. Some of us have, at times, been criticized or bullied because of the clan to which we belong, or the traditions we practice. For you and me now all that is gone. We'll soon be moving into the valley of the shadow of death where you will watch the back of the man or woman next to you as that person will watch yours. You won't care what clan he/she comes from or by what name that individual calls the creator.

"So let us understand the situation. We are going into battle against a tough and determined enemy. I can't promise you that you will all return to your homes alive. But, this I swear before you and before the mighty creator of all things that when we go into battle, I will be the first to enter the battle zone and I'll be the last to leave the field of battle, and I will leave no warrior behind. Dead or alive we'll all come home together. That I say to you in the creator's name."

Historians say that after Lord Kal-El/Clark's speech, no hesitancy or fear about the ensuing confrontation was felt within the ranks of the free Kryptonian forces.

When Nor's forces had nearly crossed the ElRa valley, the army of the free clans de-cloaked and charged down the slopes of the pass and engaged their enemy. Almost simultaneously, the air armada started to attack and destroy Nor's heavy equipment.

By the end of the day, Nor's invading forces had been broken and were fleeing for their lives. Before sunrise of the following day, Lord Nor and his captains had been captured and brought before the Sela and her consort, Ching.

As Zara was confronting Nor, Clark sent combat teams to secure areas of New Krypton which were controlled by Lord Nor and his sycophants.

When Clark received reports that all Nor's territories and his holdings had been secured, he was also informed that the horrible condition of the people in the former Norian territories could not be described in words. Reading the reports and seeing the photographic evidence, Lord Kal-El immediately ordered relief columns carrying food and medical supplies and physicians of all kinds to be rushed to the former occupied areas. After studying the photographic record of Nor's ghastly handiwork, the commander of all New Kryptonian military forces wept. Lady Lo-El became so ill from the pictures of Nor's atrocities that she had to be confined to bed where Lois received medical treatment for her depressed state.

Later, when Zara and Ching saw for themselves the state of affairs within Nor's detention camps and ravaged villages, their psyche's were devastated. As Zara looked on in horror, the Sela knew that Lord Kal-El didn't exaggerate in his report. The barbarity she and her husband viewed was indescribable. She wept. Lord Ching, a relatively staid individual, made no sound as tears poured from his eyes and cascaded down his face.

As Zara and Ching continued their survey of the devastated towns and villages in the liberated areas of New Krypton, Lois and Clark were rushed by Tor-Lo, one of Kal-El's captains, to a particular Norian detention camp. What they saw again made Clark very ill. Also, after seeing the conditions within this particular camp, Lois couldn't hold down any food for several days. Ching and Zara, when they arrived at this camp later that day, reacted in a similar fashion.

In a summary court-martial which was quickly assembled, Nor and his cohorts were convicted of heinous crimes against the Kryptonian people and promptly executed by molecular dispersion — bodies reduced to their molecular and atomic units and then scattered throughout space.

While Lord Kal-El was mopping up Nor's forces on New Krypton, Zara and Lois were busy rushing aid where needed to help heal the soul of the world — aid for those maimed in body and crushed in spirit by Nor's bestial treatment of the people once under his control.

As the fighting on New Krypton was ending, Dar and Linda were maneuvering the NK2 interstellar fleet to intercept the Frengie near Deneb.

Eight days after Nor's execution for crimes against Kryptonians, the NK2's battle fleet intercepted the Frengie — Dar estimated that the enemy had nearly a million large spacecraft at their command.

The hundred Space ships from NK2, initially berthed at Sanctuary in the Centauri star system, met the Frengie with all disintegration LASERS blazing. The Frengie ships perished by the score and then by the thousands, but still they came on. They were like the marabunda, army ants, who keep coming despite enormous casualties to their ranks.

While the Frengie weapons could not directly damage a Kryptonian-Terran spacecraft, a secondary effect, vibrations from the Frengie weapon systems, could penetrate the Kryptonian defense shields. This secondary effect would disable the Kryptonian-Terran warriors within the spacecraft over time. With the space sailors not functioning, the battle defending Earth cruisers would be out of action leaving Sol Three defenseless. By sheer weight of numbers, therefore, the Frengie could win the day and move on to conquer Earth — after which, of course, the reptilian-locusts would capture, enslave and then consume the inhabitants of Sol Three.

It was soon after the space engagement commenced, Dar and Linda realized that Clark's Disrupter had to be used.

When the decision to use the super weapon had been reached, Dar ordered the fleet to form a tight spherical formation, a formation that maximized the fighting volume of Dar's command and minimized the surface area that could be targeted by the enemy. When NK2 ships formed their defensive formation, the Frengie armada bunched up and came on eager to crush their adversaries.

When the Frengie fleet was about twelve parsecs from the NK2 battle cruisers, Dar gave the command for each battle curser to activate their Disrupter weaponry.

Pale, ghostly beams stabbed out of the prow of each war craft. Those pallid beams seemed to creep along, fanning out as they traveled.

As the Kryptonians warriors looked on, no change in the space surrounding the Frengie spacecraft seemed to be happening. Then little specks began appearing on all the NK2 curser's detection monitors. A few moments later, the advancing Frengie battle fleet seemed to waver slightly. While the defenders looked on, a ripple was observed passing through the entire Frengie battle fleet. But, still the enemy fleet came on.

"Nothing's happening," Linda groaned with a tinge of hysteria in her voice. "Clark's device must…"

Then they saw it. A point of blackness began to appear far ahead. It started to grow rapidly, pulsing and throbbing as it expanded.

Soon, it was a great growing blot of blackness, not the blackness associated with a mere absence of light, but a living, quivering blackness as no living being had ever witnessed.

On the monitoring screens, one could now see that the entire Frengie fleet had been swallowed by this strange darkness, a darkness that could be observed by the recoiling detection beams returning from the black blot that had by now enveloped all the Frengie vessels.

G-D in heaven," Linda cried out, "Clark's Disrupter is destroying space itself in an area in which it's been sighted.

The awful, the unimaginable answers to the Disrupter's dread power flashed through Dar's quaking mind at last.

Dar, Linda, and most of the other Kryptonian scientists would never understand the science that created such a weapon. But, the effect that it produced terrified them. The Disrupter created a force that annihilated not only matter, but space itself. Anything within the Disrupter's range would be drawn into sort of a null continuum. Once there, mass would cease to exist.

"It appears, Linda," he said to his soulmate "that our space-time continuum is a four dimensional globe floating in an extra-dimensional abyss. The thrust of the Disrupter's beams destroys a growing section of that sphere by thrusting it out of the cosmos into a null sub space — a null continuum — where normal matter can no longer exist."

When Dar finished speaking, he commanded his fighting force to discontinue using their Disrupters.

What seemed like a nanosecond later, Dar, his wife and their confederates saw the universe go mad. Titanic hands seemed to hit the NK2's interstellar battle fleet with unbelievable power. The spacecraft crews then witnessed stars and space itself go crazy. The huge glaring white mass of Deneb moved wildly through space. Comets and dark stars streamed insanely through the void.

Dar-El and his soulmate Linda were hurled against the walls of their ship as the universe seemed to rise in mad vengeance against the puny people who had dared to lay desecrating hands on the warp and woof of the eternal universe.

As Dar came back to dull awareness some minutes later after having been rendered unconscious, the NK2 battle group was still being tossed around by furious electromagnetic storms. However, it seemed to Dar and Linda that the starry vault of space was quieting down from its insane convulsions.

Shaking his head, Dar remarked, "We've just been through the backlash reaction Clark told me about. Those convulsions nearly threw our ships into Deneb and quaked the stars in this part of the Milky Way."

Looking at the video screen, Linda remarked, "The entire Frengie fleet is no more, along with its entire race. Their scourge is ended for all time."

A video of the battle between the stars was sent soon after the battle at Deneb to Clark and the Sela on New Krypton.

Later that evening, three families, the principle architects whose genius destroyed a tyranny that would have eventually threatened the galaxy, were reunited. After a light meal, Lois and Clark, Ching and Zara, and Daren and Linda convened a mini conference where the results of the recent great military clashes were recorded for posterity. Also registered and placed in the archives were their hopes and fears for the future of Earth and New Krypton, two sister planets.

Most of the remaining material discussed at this mini conference and placed in the records were routine matters. However, when the Disrupter eventually entered their discussions, this subject was not treated as a commonplace part of the agenda.

When this weapon system was mentioned, Clark immediately said, "I've given the Disrupter much thought. Please listen closely to what I have to say. At the end of my comments, I'll need input from you guys. The Disrupter is much too important a subject to leave any decision making about its usage to just one individual."

Collecting his thoughts for a moment, Clark continued, "The Disrupter, which Linda and Dar used in the defense of Earth and in the process annihilated the Frengie, I feel, must never be used as a weapon unless our two peoples are again faced with a dire emergency. Therefore, I believe this weapon system must be controlled by only our three families.

"You are all aware that the Disrupter is a device that if misused can destroy the universe. Therefore, while I would like to destroy this weapon system, unfortunately, such a move would not be practicable. It may be needed, if ever the populations of Earth and New Krypton together or singly are threatened with annihilation by some aggressor people."

When Clark became silent, the others attending the mini conference, after some discussion, agreed with Kal-El's views.

Then smiling at his forever partner, Clark commented, "It is natural that our children will locate soulmates and form intimate unions within the next twenty to thirty years. This cycle is, of course, the natural progression of life.

"It is about our descendants and the Disrupter that I now wish to speak."

Taking a breath, Clark added, "To protect all life in the cosmos from the consequences of the Disrupter's horrible destructive potential, I've planned to inject each of our children with a dominant sex-linked genetic fragment. It will appear in each generation of our closest descendants. For the sake of simplicity, I've called this special genetic component by its initials DGP. They stand for Disrupter Genetic Protector. While we live, the DGP in our children will remain dormant. When we are gathered to our fathers, the DGP in each of our firstborn will become active and they will become the guardians of the Disrupter. If our firstborn happens to be deceased, then the DGP in our second child will become activated and that individual will become responsible for guarding the Disrupter device. So it shall be through each succeeding generation of our genetic lines. It is through our descendants that the protection of our people, and the universe, will be maintained for all time."

Pausing to catch his breath, Clark then added, "We'll build a citadel to house eighteen disassembled Disrupters and plans showing how to assemble the device, or if need be, to construct new Disrupter devices from fundamental materials. A special type of radiation will fill the fortress protecting our ultimate weapon and will immediately destroy any living or non-living entity which enters the Disrupter's stronghold and does not possess an activated DGP genetic code fragment."

Contemplating for a moment, Clark said, "The DGP genetic unit will be eliminated or deactivated from any carrier possessing psychotic problems. That will rule out any unstable descendents from gaining control of the Disrupter — If the psychotic problems are genetic the DGP will be eliminated from that descendant's genetic line."

"Like Lord Nor," Zara replied. Lord Kal-El simply nodded his head as a sign of agreement with her terse statement.

By the end of the week, Clark had finished inoculating all members of the three special families with his DGP serum.

Soon after the inoculations program had been completed, the first citadel to protect the Disrupter was completed, and the weapon from hell was placed within its fortified lodgings.

Within the next quarter century, Clark's prediction about soulmate unions among their children had been corroborated. All their offspring had married and started families of their own.

During the years following Lord Nor's threat to New Krypton and the Frengie assault on Earth, both Kryptonian sites flourished. Several large TD facilities connected the two population centers. People could choose to live on NK or on NK2 and work at the other Kryptonian location.

A major Kryptonian university was constructed on Earth under Antarctica's Queen Maud Mountains. Here, the youth of NK and NK2 merged and became one people and, upon commencement, received a copy of the library Lara and Jor- El had sent to Earth with their infant son, Kal-El, a gift to be cherished for life.

While Lois and Clark were at work on Earth, Ching had organized an exploration bureau on behalf of the entire Kryptonian federation. It was during this period that a galactic cluster was discovered about twenty thousand light years from Sol Three. In this cluster of stars, Ching's explorers found one hundred and four G-type stars. Each of these solar furnaces possessed Earth type planets revolving about them. Soon after their discovery, Ching had these planets terriformed. Although it would take nearly ten thousand years for them to completely develop Earth-like characteristics, the time line, Ching informed his people, was well within the chosen time frame for their emigration to their home worlds. Ching named this new Cluster of stars as the Utopian group and designated each planet according to a letter and a numbering system — K1, K2, K3, etc., where K was in remembrance of the planet Krypton.

When the planet conversion process was complete, a massive exodus would occur where Kryptonians from the Sol Three solar system and those on New Krypton, together, would emigrate to the Utopian system and establish themselves on the refashioned worlds scattered throughout the star cluster.

After the galactic war, Lois and Clark returned to Earth. And, for the remainder of their working lifetime, they routed out the last of the big time crime organizations, many of which operated on a global scale — Lex Luthor syndicates and intergang conglomerates were among the most notable crime establishments that ceased to exist.

Aside from their newspaper work, Dar and Clark still tinkered with their scientific toys. One of their noted discoveries allowed the inhabitants of New Krypton to acquire super abilities when special elements were added to the nucleus of New Krypton's solar furnace.

Later, during Lois and Clark's lifetimes, Kryptonians began to integrate themselves in Earth's work places — science labs, hospitals, social organizations, etc., — to speed up the unification process that would make a multi cultural Earth one world and one people. This process was well on its way toward completion when Lois and Clark passed from this plane of existence.

When the New Kryptonian Federation was finally established, Zara and Ching were no longer needed to be the governmental authority of their world.

Towards the end of their lives Lois and Clark, Dar and Linda, and their New Krypton counterparts, Ching and Zara, moved into a small housing complex they fashioned in NK2. Here, they enjoyed the fruits of labors — a well-earned retirement. During many an evening, they would discuss the past and speculate about the future of their people.

A few years before his passing, Clark made one of his many philosophical utterances. It came about during one of the retired group's lively debates after a tasty dinner. Nobody seems to know who caused Clark to make his comments, but it was one of the very few in which his views would not be valid.

Kal-El, probably the greatest mind ever born on old Krypton, said one evening, "Soon after our three families pass from this plane of existence, I believe our works will be forgotten and our thoughts will be ignored and scattered like seeds in a strong wind."

When the time leaving finally arrived for the three fated couples to return to the well of souls, they all passed on within the span of a week's time.

When the last of the fledging federation's founders were laid to rest, Clark's comments about not remembering who they were or what they'd accomplished very shortly proved false.

Within a year's time a shrine of sorts had been set up at NK2. This area encompassed the homes of the federation's founders in a park-like setting. It permitted visitors to wander along the paths that wound their way through the gardens surrounding the founders' homes.

The visitors were also free to access each of the founders' homes and meander, at their leisure, through each dwelling, viewing reading material and scrutinizing video clips about the adventures of the federation's creators. They also observed the beauty of the house furnishings, and as they left the grounds, each visitor passed through an enclosed chamber where portraits of the founders could be seen. Portraits painted by Clark Jerome Kent aka Lord Kal-El of Krypton and Earth.

When the great exodus to the Utopian star cluster occurred some ten thousand years later, Earth and New Krypton, now a federated unit, were maintained and counted with the new planets of the federation in the Utopian Star Cluster. These worlds were maintained mainly as a memorial to the Kents, the Millers, and Sela Zara and Ching.

Clark was wrong about the founders' remembrances. It was one of the few times that Kal-El's logic so thoroughly failed him. The creators of Utopia would be remembered for all time.


A million or so years after the populations from Earth and New Krypton emigrated to the Utopian star cluster, an elderly gentleman dressed in nineteenth century garb, watched as two Lane-Kent descendents wandered through the wooded area and the buildings, which were constructed to honor their ancestors, the original Lois and Clark, and the other founders of Utopia. The time traveler, and guardian of the time stream, H.G. Wells, marveled at how closely the present day Lane-Kent descendants resembled the portraits all visitors viewed as they departed the founders' shrine.

The Lois and Clark of this far future time were fourth cousins and definitely soulmates. Using his soul tracker, Well's also discovered that this Lane-Kent pair was an exact reincarnation of their twentieth century ancestors.

The Lane-Kent soulmate pair of this era was now gallivanting about the galaxy visiting historical sites. At present they were on the planet Earth to pay homage to their ancestors who, with the Millers, Sela Zara and her consort Ching, were responsible for the majestic Terran- Kryptonian civilization which flourished in the Utopian star cluster twenty thousand light years from Sol solar system. In a few weeks time they would return to their home world of K1 to prepare for their joining ceremony.

After the future Lois and Clark returned from their honeymoon, the couple would serve with the Utopian Guardian and Exploration service, which was created to keep peace across the universe.

While the major work of the Guardian Service was to insure that all life forms throughout the cosmos be permitted to mature and thrive, a lesser known but equally important part of this agency existed- that of exploration and research. Exploration and research, one of Utopia's many interstellar work areas, would be the bailiwick of the reincarnated soulmates.

Wells, as he traveled about the Utopian star cluster, noticed that the population density of the Terra-Kryptonian descendants hadn't varied much over time — each world within the Utopian domain, depending on its size, could not exceed a set number of people. This population ordinance allowed the environment of each Utopian planet to be maintained in a pristine state.

When Wells first arrived in this future time, he discovered that the planets from which the current Terra-Kryptonians society had emigrated over a million years before were still considered by the people of the Utopian star systems as their mother worlds. The time traveler was also delighted to note that the Utopians, because of their population policies, had been able to keep the number of people on their inhabited worlds nearly constant, and, therefore, would never be forced to ferret out more living space among other star systems in cosmos. The Utopians long ago recognized that, if their own people and beings from other space faring races began utilizing more and more living space throughout the universe, such expansionist policies would eventually cause overcrowding and stifle or inhibit rising civilizations from benefiting the universe with their own unique views of creation. Terrible intergalactic wars would, in time, probably occur from the competition to acquire ever more living space.

Recently, the Utopian civilization had discovered other universes as they journeyed through the void. These peacemakers and explorers from the Milky Way were now preparing several expeditions to one of these new macrocosms. It was in one of these treks that Utopian Lois and Clark hoped to join.

Unknown to the Lois and Clark of this time period, H.G. Wells had other plans, strategies that would affect infinity.

Soon after the future Lois and Clark returned from their honeymoon H.G. Wells contacted the soulmate pair. After Wells explained who he was, he demonstrated his time transport by taking the soulmates to the worlds of their forebears — the federation's founders and watched as they fought and destroyed the evil forces of Lord Nor and the Frengie.

Returning to Utopian era via the time stream, Wells accompanied the newly married couple to the Hall of the Great council where they met with the current Utopian leaders. To their surprise, the reincarnated Lois and Clark discovered that the traveler in time was well known and highly respected by the Utopia governing council. The Utopia leaders again thanked Wells for his assistance in the capture of the destructive time bandit and psychotic personage known as Tempos.

The Great Council leaders were also quite familiar with Wells' work as the guardian of a time stream which tracked and guarded Utopia from its earliest inception to the present time — a million years or more.

So, when the inventor, from the end of the nineteenth century, was presented to the Council, he was not an unknown quantity. Using his notoriety and good standing with the Utopian leaders, Wells asked permission to address the assembly. His request was granted without opposition; the time traveler paused for a few moments gathering his thoughts. Then the guardian of time said, "Since the beginning of Utopia, I've been able to protect the time stream with some occasional help from this august body and the Lois and Clark of the twentieth and twenty-first century periods, Earth time, of course. Now that you've discovered other universes and penetrated other dimensions, assaults on Utopia from other dimensions and our own time stream will inevitably become more frequent and approach your society from many more directions. While I can still safeguard the first million years of the Utopian time line, what will occur beyond this point has me concerned. I feel that attempting to patrol any more of the time stream will be physically beyond my means or for that matter for any individual to manage. So, I'm asking that the Lois and Clark of this era become watchers, like me, and protectors of the expanding interdivisional landscape and our own dimensional time trail, using this moment as our nexus."

Before the Council heads could reply, Wells added, "A modern Zara and Ching will join them shortly, and a new Dar-El and his soulmate will be added to their company later in this century. These other couples including Lois and Clark who now stand before you will all contain the souls of the federation's founders — the Kents, the Millers, and Sela Zara and her soulmate Ching. My soul tracker has verified these facts." Looking each Council member in the eye, Wells said, "Can I count on you to listen to my proposal with open minds?"

After a lengthy debate among the Council leaders the Utopians agreed to Wells' request.

"Thank you," Wells humbly replied.

Then, Wells, pacing slowly to and fro, said, "Over time, I've developed a stasis environment where time can be suspended within specific areas." Fidgeting a bit, the traveler in time then stated, "Not really suspended, my friends, but any living organism within the stasis field would live an extremely long time with respect to what is now consider a normal life span. To a living person in the so called outside world, an individual existing within the stasis habitat would appear to be in the forever realm. Of course," Wells chuckled, "we all are well aware that nothing really lasts for forever."

Becoming more serious, Wells continued, "For a time, it will be necessary for the three couples of which we speak to live in a small community among their fellow Utopians. Their daily contact with their brethren will allow them to understand the commitment they'll be making as guardians of their people. While living among their fellows, I will instruct our three special couples about the time stream and explain how to manipulate and travel within its flow. Then, after they've experienced past and future time lines emanating from Utopia, our special guardians will leave the haunts of man and retire to a hamlet which will be enveloped in a stasis field and cloaked for security. This special community, of course, will be constructed somewhere within the Utopian star cluster. Only the leaders of the Great Council in each generation will be aware that these guardians exist and where they can be located if needed."

Continuing, Wells added, "Eventually these special couples, the protectors of the future part of the time stream, will have children. These offspring, in the fullness of time, will bond with one another — the first generation issues of time stream protectors will themselves be soulmates. However, after the guardians' children have formed their soulmate unions, the grandchildren of the original guardians will have to find soulmates from among the general Utopian population. By obtaining life partners from among Utopia's masses the genetic health of the guardian clan will be maintained at a high level."

"Why, would an increasing number of time stream protectors be necessary?" One of the Council leaders inquired.

"A sensible question," Wells replied.

"As we all know, Utopia continues to explore and discover more and more diverse universes and other oddities within this and other space-time continuums. Because of these increasing discoveries an ever increasing number of time warriors will be required to watch and thwart any threat from unknown time periods and belligerent societies from other dimensions. To tell you the truth, I too may need some assistance on my side of the time nexus if some of your unsavory characters or disruptive conditions spill over to my monitoring portion of the time line."

A chuckle went through the Council chamber.

Then Wells said, "I know the thought may appear humorous, but please don't dismiss my views, ladies and gentlemen. The time line of which I speak is not a discontinuous function. We are merely attempting to separate it into two manageable portions. I'm sure that the new guardians and I will need to join forces on occasion to keep the destructive inclinations of our potential antagonists at bay."

"We are not laughing at you, Mr. Wells," the chairperson of the council responded, "but you must admit that your notions are a somewhat fanciful."

As the assembly adjourned, Wells took the future Lois and Clark to a secluded spot where the three of them had a very sobering and elucidating conversation.

Then the nineteenth century inventor and the newlyweds went on a tour of infinity using Wells' time transport. The sights Lois and Clark saw were simply amazing and would be remembered for the remainder of their extremely long lifetimes.


Later that century, H.G. Wells stood before three reincarnated couples, which he had described to the Utopian Council some year before. Now in their new stasis home, the time traveler gave each couple the memories possessed by their ancient selves, a million years in the past. From that information, the new guardians could now piece together and understand all the events that occurred since the beginnings of the two planet-federation and the eventual founding of Utopia itself.

After Wells finished showing his new colleagues how to utilize the soul tracker and to move to and fro through the centuries by the dimensional transporter, Wells left the Lane-Kents, the Millers, and Zara and Ching to their own devices.

Just before the time traveler from the nineteenth century left for his own stasis quarters, he installed a temporal portal that linked Wells' home with the one he'd helped the new guardians create. After checking the link between their two time worlds, Wells returned home.

In the serenity of his home, over the next several days, Wells contemplated what had just been accomplished. Then it hit him. Wells had just helped establish a clan of new guardians which would defend the time stream leading to Utopia from future times, and a man from eons past realized that a nineteenth century inventor and three couples, born one million years beyond his own era, had started an inter- dimensional family. Two households dedicated to maintaining the health of the time stream and providing the ancient time mariner with the warmth of a family's love, a love that would release him from the loneliness he'd endured during the untold centuries he'd journeyed alone through the infinite byways and highways meandering through the stream of time.

Over the years to come, the space-time travelers from two different eras would meet often especially during festive seasons and battle many antagonist who sought to destroy the Utopians and their way of life.

After one such encounter with a Luthorian civilization, H.G. Wells happened to be watching Lois and Clark and some of their descendants. He suddenly had a feeling that in all the strangeness, which might occur over the coming years, he would never again have to battle alone. Without realizing it, he and these fine young time travelers had created a warrior cast within their own virtual universe. Not only did Wells have a family, but he realized that the guardian units supposedly patrolling two ends of the time stream were becoming a single entity.

While Wells stood in the garden, time's ancient mariner suddenly had a profound thought. As Utopia spread its messages to people through all space-time and to the numberless dimensions that surrounded their own continuum, he, H.G. Wells had inadvertently created a cast of time traveling warriors, a Clan of closely related kinsmen that would protect, for all eternity, the wonders which Utopia had wrought and was now spreading throughout all star systems and dimensions where intelligent life existed.

As Wells continued to speculate about what he had helped wrought over the years, the ancient time traveler speculated, maybe, just maybe, he'd been guided by an unseen entity as he worked to found the time traveling clan created from Utopia's moral and ethical society. Of course, Wells realized that he would never know for sure if his speculations had any validity. But, did that really matter? The nineteenth century inventor had learned long ago that it was important to start a journey, but to finish that trek, while desirable, was of no consequence. Once shown the way, some others who were interested could easily complete the voyage.

As Wells sat in Lois Lane-Kent's beautiful rose garden during a quiet period, a young woman of about twenty approached him. Upon studying her more closely, he recognized her as one of Lois' grandchildren — Ellen Marta Miller.

Pausing at the spot where Wells was sitting, Ellen said, "Hi, my name is Ellen, Ellen Miller."

Glad to meet you Ms. Miller," Wells replied," as he shook her hand.

As flesh touched flesh, Wells felt an electrical sensation flow through his body. From the look on Ellen's face, Wells was all too aware that she too felt the current of the same energy pattern.

After some rather innocuous but pleasant conversation, Ellen excused herself and quickly left the area returning to her immediate family.

Smiling to himself, Herbert thought, "Perhaps the creator of all things has at last freed me from my single solitude. Maybe, just maybe I'll never again need to travel the highways and byways of time-space alone."


On a cold blustery evening in old London town late in eighteen ninety-nine, a man of about thirty and a woman in her mid twenties followed by five lively tots entered the Inventers' Club in the Down House, Kent (South London). As the woman and the youngsters stood to one side, the club members surrounded H.G. Wells, almost mobbing him. They continually asked him where in blazes had he been for the past few years and then peppered him with a host of rather mundane questions.

Wells finally raised his hands gesturing for quiet. When the chaos subsided, Wells announced to his colleagues that he had gotten married since he saw them last and that he and his wife had spent the intervening years raising a family. Wells then placed his arm about the woman at his side and remarked, "I would like to introduce my wife, Ellen Marta Lane-Kent Miller Wells."

Pointing at his youngsters, Wells commented, "I would also like you to meet our offspring." As Herbert then placed his hand on the head of each child, he named them. "Our first born," Wells said, "is named Jonathan Clark, while the appellations of the others are Samuel Dar-El, Jor-El Ching, Lois Zara, and Linda Lara."

After a slight pause, Wells remarked, "You Chaps won't be seeing much of me for some time, I'm afraid. Once our family holiday has ended, my soulmate and I, with our youngsters, of course, will be returning to our home. Once there, I'm afraid, we'll be rather busy with nurturing chores and attending to our other arduous duties."

"Just where do you reside at present, Herbert?" One of his inventor friends inquired.

Smiling ever so subtly, Wells replied, "In Never Land, of course, which as you chaps are aware, pointing at the sky, is the Second Star From The Right And Straight On Until Morning."

After Herbert's last gesture Ellen Marta Wells lovingly placed her hand within her soulmate's grasp and simultaneously provided his inventor friends with an enigmatic smile.

Then, quietly speaking with her husband, Ellen queried, "Home?"

H.G. Wells nodded, and replied for one and all to hear, "It's time to travel."


** From thoughts of Edmond Hamilton.

** From myths and legends of Peter Pan.

** From the thoughts of Lt. Gn. Harold G. More (Rt.) and Joseph L. Galloway.

** Slomo ben David (Ecclesiastes)

If you have comments pertaining to this story, please contact me privately at phmogul@mindspring.com.