By BanAnna <firstname.lastname@example.org> and Carol M <email@example.com>
Submitted: July 2005
Summary: In a spate of character generosity, our authors redeem Andrus and H.G. Wells in a Utopia gone awry.
Carol: I wrote the first part of this challenge with a convoluted idea of how it would end. Along came Anna who came up with something much different that worked too. Anna rocks! Thanks to my BRs — though it's been so long I've forgotten who they are — probably Missy and someone else — will have to check the MBs for that.
Anna: Well, Carol issued me this challenge, and truth be told, I thought it ended just fine the way she had it. But I was threatened with bodily harm if I didn't fix it the "right" way, so I did. This was my first challenge and my first time working with another author, and it was a lot of fun on both accounts. :)
All characters are copyrighted by DC Comics, Warner Brothers, December 3rd Productions, and probably some other people too. No copyright infringement is intended; this is just for fun.
HG Wells sighed contentedly. There was no sign of violence and the streets were quiet and peaceful. Yet another Utopia safely in place. Ever since he had started dimension hopping, this was his favorite part — finding everything neat and in order. It had amazed him to find one Utopia that was not founded by Lois and Clark, but that had turned out okay in the end. Surprisingly well, in fact.
All he had to do now was find the statue of Lois and Clar… er, Superman and then he could move on. He still wondered why people in universe after universe chose to build a statue to Superman when they knew Clark Kent was the real person. Finding the statue was easy enough to do. It was always in the same place. Centennial Park — right where Clark had proposed. He hurried through the silent streets to the park, fully expecting to see a statue of Lois and the superhero, cape 'fluttering' in the breeze.
He slowed down as he walked through Centennial Park — he always did. It was usually so serene and peaceful, no matter who had created the Utopia. Something was different though, something he couldn't quite put his finger on. It became a little more obvious when he reached the fountain. There was no statue, first of all, but secondly, the fountain was different.
The water ran over and trickled around spinning pieces of metal, a weird sort of sculpture or mobile.
"You better move along, sir."
Wells started a bit. "Pardon me?" He looked to see a police officer holding what appeared to be a variation on an M-60. This was getting stranger by the moment. There weren't supposed to be weapons in Utopia.
"No one can loiter here tonight. Everyone is supposed to either be at or be watching the ceremony at Scardino Coliseum."
"Scardino?" Wells did a slight double take and glanced at the fountain. Oh, dear. His sense of self-preservation took over and he went on. "Oh, right." He cleared his throat. "Of course. On my way."
The police officer looked him over for a moment. "See that you do."
Wells left the park and headed toward a small bar not too far away, anxious to find out what was wrong in this Utopia.
HG Wells sat down at the end of the dilapidated bar and cleared his throat. When the bartender looked his way, he spoke. "Tea, please."
The bartender laughed and turned back to the television set at the end of the bar. He picked up the remote control and flipped channels. He muttered an expletive. "Only thing on."
"That is the ceremony?" Herb asked.
"Of course, what else?" The bartender grunted his agreement as an elderly gentleman sat down next to Wells.
"Forgive me. I'm new to the era, er, area. What is this ceremony?"
Sarcasm dripped. "This is the reenactment of the event that set in motion this *Utopia*. Dan Scardino proposes to Lois Lane."
Wells almost choked. "Who proposed to whom?"
"You don't know the story, bud?"
He pointed to the screen. "That's my aunt up there you know." He took a sip of his beer and then extended his hand. "James Olsen. Junior. My dad married her sister."
Wells nodded as he shook the man's hand. This could be his source of information. Jimmy Olsen was close to Lois Lane and Clark Kent in every universe that he had ever been to. "Wells. That's all anyone calls me. Tell me the story."
"It all started in the early 1990s." He motioned to the screen again. "No one really knows how Lois and Dan became so influential but they did. Dad always had a theory, but he never told anyone — no one but me that is."
"And what was that?"
James sighed. "I've never told anyone. I don't know why I'm going to tell you."
"Before you do, what about Superman?"
"Superman? That's all part of the story."
"Yes. A man named Clark Kent moved to Metropolis after travelling the world. He got a job at the Daily Planet with my father and, of course, the indomitable Lois Lane. The two of them were partners for over a year when they started dating. He proposed next to the fountain in Centennial Park. She said no but they continued dating until he decided that it was too dangerous for her to be seen with him — because he was Superman you see, and being connected with him put her at risk. Dan had been sort of hanging around for a couple months and now that Lois was free, they started dating.
"He gave her the oddest gifts, like the fountain at the park. It's now fashioned after one of the gifts he gave her. Odd stuffed animals, weird mosaics — they're all things that are common as gifts now. No one gives roses at Valentine's Day or anniversaries any more, just weird piles of junk. He proposed to her at the Demolition Derby and now they reenact that every year — it's required to either attend or view it on television.
"Everyone who knew them thought Lois and Clark were a better fit, but that didn't seem to matter. Lois continued to be a reporter for a while and Dan was in law enforcement. Dan eventually became head of the FBI, but you don't get positions like that without knowing guys, or guys who know guys.
"Suddenly, the cops on the street were literally invincible. Dad thought they were related to the boxers Lois and Clark had investigated right after they started working together. They used metal parts — the bionic man kind of thing. Either that or two brothers had gotten back together and advanced their technology that used human heads and brains, but bionic bodies. Everyone did what they were told. Now there was virtually no crime at all, at least not things like muggings or murder.
"Everyone wondered how had all of this happened. How had they become so influential? And how did they live so long? They don't look a day over 35 do they?" Wells nodded, intrigued by this story. "Dad always believed that Lex Luthor was the one behind all of this, the supercops and everything else. One corporation soon owned everything Lex Corp had. Lois ran it — she turned to business a few years after she married Dan — and Scar Corp began to buy up all the other businesses and force out competition they couldn't buy out. The law enforcement was now firmly under the control of Dan and no one investigated the monopoly that Scar Corp became.
"Dad thought Luthor secretly controlled everything. He was a criminal, had done prison time and had escaped. He couldn't be the front man, so Lois and Dan were instead." Olsen shrugged. "I probably shouldn't be telling you all of this, but I'm an old man now. My mom and dad knew Clark Kent and Lois Lane 'before' — I can only imagine what this *Utopia* would have been like if Lois had married Clark." He sighed. "I've finally decided I don't care what they do to me. It can't be any worse than living here is."
"What about their longevity?"
"There was a man named Asabi with Luthor often in the early days. Some people believe that he made some sort of potion for them."
James shook his head sadly. "No one is sure what happened to him. Rumor has it that Luthor got some kryptonite and lined a cage with it and killed him, but no one knows for sure."
Wells shook his head sadly too. This seeming Utopia wasn't. How could he ever fix it?
Wells did the only thing he could do. He headed back to his time machine, but he never made it. The bartender was in the employ of one Lex Luthor and as such it was his duty to report anything out of the ordinary to the proper authorities. Within ten minutes of ending their conversation, both James Olsen, Jr. and HG Wells were dead.
"Oh look, what's that?"
"What's what?" Andrus turned to see what Tempus was pointing at when he felt a sudden pain on the top of his head and everything went black.
Andrus, groggy and disoriented, opened his eyes and looked around. How long had he been unconscious? What had happened? Where was he? Why was his head throbbing with pain?
As his mind began to clear, he noticed that he was sitting on some sort of sleigh, his hands and feet were tied down, and a man was seated in the chair next to his.
"Well hello, Andrus. Glad to see you've decided to rejoin the land of the living."
"Tempus? What are you doing? I demand that you untie me at once."
"Well that wouldn't be any fun, now would it? You'd probably try and stop me from creating my own personal Utopia, and we can't have that, now can we?"
"Tempus, what have you done? Where did you get this contraption?"
"Why, I borrowed it from an old friend. I thought briefly of using that time window of yours to jump to a time where I could become the President of the United States in this universe. But then I thought you or Herb or Superdud would probably stop me no matter how infallible my plan was, so instead I used the window to jump to a week before Lois and Clark's wedding. There I stole this machine from old Herb. And this 'contraption' as you call it is a time machine of sorts. Except instead of traveling through time, it jumps between alternate universes. I plan to go to one that Herb hasn't *fixed* yet and make it my own. Buckle your seat belt, Andrus, because you're coming along."
"You'll never get away with your nefarious plan, Tempus. Men of greater character will aspire to defeat you."
"Yes, well that's why I plan on finding a universe where Clark Kent is already dead. Duh."
Andrus cringed at the sound of Tempus laughing at his own genius. Then, to Andrus' chagrin, Tempus started up the machine, and in a flash the machine disappeared from sight.
Tempus popped in and out of a few universes and looked around, but after a dozen or so tries, he had yet to find one where Clark Kent was already dead. The one thing he found constant in all of them was that infuriating statue in Centennial Park. He got more and more frustrated as he discovered the same statue over and over again. He popped into one universe, took one look at big, brawny, blue man and his galactically stupid wife, and popped back out and into the next universe. It was always there, taunting him. Telling him that he'd found yet another universe with 9,000 channels and nothing on.
Tempus popped into another universe, glanced at the water trickling down the twisted pieces of the metal mobile statue and reached for the machine controls once again.
Wait! Twisted metal mobile? He'd found it!
Tempus climbed out of the sleigh and took a deep breath of the sweet air of triumph. "Well Andrus, it looks like I've succeeded in finding the one universe that Herb hasn't manipulated yet." Tempus took in his surroundings and when he had turned halfway around he noticed that there was not one, but two identical machines in the park. "So, Herb's already here, is he? Well, this ought to be fun. Stay here while I take a look around, eh Andrus?" Tempus gave him a pat on the head and walked off toward the exit of the park.
He was nearly out the gate when something in the bushes caught his eye. "Well, well. This might not be as much fun as I thought, but this will certainly make things easier," he said with an evil laugh.
After exiting the park, he strolled along the eerily quiet street. If this wasn't a utopia founded by Superman, then where was the violence, the disarray? Where were the people stealing and swearing and spitting? Everything here seemed to be in peaceful order. Where was the chaos?!
Confused and sickened by the serenity of this universe, Tempus needed to find some answers.
There! Across the street he spotted a bar. An establishment for drunkards was just what he was looking for. He ducked inside and ordered a drink.
The bartender filled his order with a funny look on his face. "Have you been watching the ceremony?"
He sighed. Another one of these? How many people was he going to have to turn in today?
"The reenactment of the events that set Utopia in motion. Dan Scardino proposing to Lois Lane."
"Dan Scardino proposed to Lois Lane, huh? And I assume she accepted?"
"Hmm, not so galactically stupid after all. And… Superman? Where is he?"
Man, how out of it was this guy? "He's been dead for years."
The laughter sounded inherently evil. "Ah, well good. I appreciate the information."
The bartender shook his head and picked up the phone as the stranger walked out the door.
Tempus headed back to Herb's contraption, but he never made it. The bartender had done his civic duty once again by reporting the stranger to the proper authorities. Within ten minutes of leaving the bar, Tempus was dead.
After the ceremony, Jerome left Scardino Coliseum and took a short cut home through Centennial Park. He walked along the path, through the trees by the light of the lampposts that cast a soft glow at his feet. When he reached the fountain he saw a strange sled-like machine containing a man tied to a chair. Jerome looked around and, seeing no one, he walked over to the sled.
"Need some help?" he asked the man.
The man turned suddenly at the sound of Jerome's voice. "Oh! Young citizen? Would you be so kind as to untie me? I have been detained at the hands of a ruthless villain."
The man seemed honest enough and despite the fact that Jerome could hardly fathom a ruthless villain existing in this day and age, he untied the man.
"Thank you. You have done the world a good service. My name is Andrus, may I ask yours?"
"Jerome White," he answered cautiously.
"Yes, good to mee-White, did you say?"
"Are you of relation to Perry White, Editor-In-Chief of the Daily Planet?"
Jerome was stunned at the mention of his namesake. "Well actually, yes, Perry's my great-grandfather." How could-what was his name? Andrus?-know who his grandfather was?
"That is certainly enlightening information. Now, I believe… yes, here it is." After searching the sled for a moment Andrus had come up with a small silver box. He slipped the box into his pocket and started off down the path toward the park exit.
Jerome was still watching him when he saw Andrus stop and focus his attention toward the bushes near the park gate.
"Oh dear!" Jerome could hear him say in the distance. "This will never do."
Andrus took the box out of his pocket, tossed it into the air and, to Jerome's complete surprise, a blue, iridescent window appeared. Then, even more shockingly, Jerome watched as Andrus stepped through the window and it closed around him. He and the window disappeared without a trace.
Jerome blinked a few times, trying to convince himself that he had imagined what he had just seen. But when he turned around, the gaudy sled was still there, looking as out of place as ever. He shook his head and started towards home again. There sure were some strange people in Metropolis.
Andrus stepped out of the time window, hoping he'd gone back far enough. He looked around the park, searching for a sign that would show him what to do next. Trees, bushes, lampposts, the park gate. Beyond that, the streets of this parallel Metropolis were serene. He exited the park and looked up and down the street. Coming out of a building across the street was a little man in a brown suit and a bowler hat. Andrus hurried to intercept him.
"Mr. Wells, we have not met, but I know much about you. My name is Andrus. I am a Utopian Peacekeeper from the future of your universe, and I am here to prevent your death."
"My death? Oh dear, that can't be good."
"I found you lying in the bushes of Centennial Park and I used a time window to travel back 30 minutes. Wherever you were going, you must not continue in that direction or your fate will remain unchanged."
"Quite right, quite right. I was headed back to my time machine to set things right for this Utopia. As you can probably see, this world is not what it should be."
"Yes, but you cannot go back to your time machine, or you will certainly come to a tragic end. I have something else that shall be of use, however." Andrus pulled the time window out of his pocket and showed it to Wells. "It is a time window. It serves the same purpose as your time machine, but its compactness is much more practical."
"Hey! You there!"
Andrus and Wells turned to see a man with a large weapon walking toward them.
"I thought I told you not to wander the streets during the ceremony. You'll both have to come with me."
Andrus looked at Wells. "I believe a demonstration is appropriate at this moment." He threw the time window into the air, took Wells' arm and guided him through it. The last thing they saw as the window closed was the stunned look on the face of the law enforcement official.
Wells took in his new surroundings. The park was still across the street and the bar was still behind them, but there were cars driving along the road and people roaming about the sidewalks. That time window was an amazing contraption. Andrus had managed to leap them back to before the ceremony started, when there was no danger of being shot for walking the streets.
"Well, we do seem to be quite a bit safer now don't we? Wonderful contraption you've got there, you know?"
"Yes, it is a useful device."
"Yes, well we've got to fix this place, now don't we? But I don't imagine we'll be able to do it from here. Perhaps you could jump us back a little farther? To before Clark broke up with Lois for her own good? Speaking of which… smart boy, that Clark, except for a few instances like that one." Wells shook his head at the thought of Clark's lapse in judgment, but Andrus' voice brought him back to the problem at hand.
"Yes. I shall set the time window to bring us to the proper place and time." He fiddled with the little silver box for a moment and then tossed it into the air.
Upon arrival, H.G. Wells had a heart to heart chat with Clark and made him rethink his decision to break up with Lois. After that, things were relatively back to normal in this universe. Clark took Wells' advice and didn't break up with Lois. He comforted her and told her everything was going to be okay, and in return she told him that she was ready to say yes to his proposal. That, of course, resulted in the world's most passionate kiss. Well, the world's most passionate kiss up to that point in history, anyway.
Wells was satisfied that this universe was on track to result in a wonderful Utopia. He noticed that everything was normal, with the minor exception being that Lois was never involved with Patrick Sullivan as she was in many other universes. But Wells didn't think that this was a detail that would be missed from the lives of this universe's Lois and Clark.
After changing the future destiny of this universe, Wells and Andrus returned to the point in time where Wells had entered the universe. There they discovered that Wells' time machine was sitting in Centennial Park, seemingly untouched. The universe had simply changed around it, leaving it completely intact because the machine itself wasn't of this universe.
Intrigued by this discovery, Wells and Andrus took a look at the bushes near the park gate. Sure enough, there was Tempus, still lying there, shot in the back. They never did find out how or why. It couldn't have been the work of one of Lex's henchmen, now that Utopia was as it should be, but, nevertheless, Tempus' fate had been determined. Because he wasn't of this universe, his fate didn't change with the fate of the world around him, just like the time machine.
James Olsen, Jr., however, was of this universe and was, therefore, alive and well.