By M. Anthony Reynolds
Summary: Lois, Clark and Jimmy cover a wrestling event and interview a wrestler whose prowess may be due to super powers — powers that may be even too much for Superman to handle.
Superman created by: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Samurai Steve and Southside created by: M. Anthony Reynolds
The Metropolis coliseum rocked as the crowd roared its approval at another victory. Lois, Clark, and Jimmy, late to the event, tried to worm their way to the three empty seats on the floor.
"I don't believe this, Clark! Who'd want to come to a filthy place like this and watch people beat each other senseless?!" Lois demanded with a disgusted look on her face.
"Relax Lois, its just entertainment." Clark smiled,
"Besides look at Jimmy; he's having a great time." Clark gently chided as he motioned to Jimmy, who happily snapped photos for the Planet. Jimmy heard Clark and waved an acknowledgment at hearing his name. On his finger was a uniquely carved stone set atop a uniquely carved ring.
"Samurai Steve Jackson is going for the World Title Tonight!".
"Samurai who?" Lois asked, totally bemused. "Hey Jimmy, where did you get a ring like that?!"
"Susie gave it to me as congratulations for winning the top photography spot at the Planet. CK what do you think?"
Clark felt a mild headache come over him, but when he tried to reply, two rather obese men wearing clothing that barely fit jumped to the entrance music of Samurai Steve. As they jumped up, some of their beer splashed out of their cups and landed on Lois' jacket.
"Serious journalism indeed" Lois mumbled as she brushed futiley at her damp jacket. "Perry is gonna get it when I see him."
"Lois," Clark began after hearing her complain with his super hearing, "you remember what Perry said. With Cat on leave to write her book, we all have to cover our share of the 'Human Interest' stories"
"'Human Interest', No one wins an award for 'Human Interest'…"
Jimmy, still riveted to the wrestling match, exclaimed, "Wow! Samurai Steve eclipses Superman" and happily snapped another photo for the Planet. Lois and Clark continued arguing.
Nearly directly across from where Jimmy was sitting, another spectator viewed the wrestling match with intense calculation. His smartly pressed Admiral's uniform stood out in stark contrast to the casually dressed fanatics.
Not used to so many people surrounding him, Southside's husky frame was tense and volatile. He snapped at one person who accidentally bumped him when Steve's entrance music played. His eyes were stone gray and had acquired an intense stare over their sixty plus years of usage. His hair had faded from its brown mane to a silver gray and his features, to the untrained eye, resembled that of former Chief Justice Warren E. Burger.
Southside's Personal Log:
Took three days to sort through the mess in that file. Most of the stuff I found belonged in a TIME LIFE series. Anything that was indescribable by normal standards was thrown in here ranging from petty light tricks to alien invasions. Still, I did find some useful material (and a few sins of my past). I'm in Metropolis to check up on a Samurai Steve Jackson. The file says he's been beating up on the local wrestling competition, almost too easily, for over two years. It also says he grew up in and orphanage, still something is all too familiar to me. This is his first World Title Match. I hope he doesn't disappoint me, I hate wasting time.
Meanwhile the match began. The champion pummeled Steve like he was a brash rookie. From pillar to post he chopped him, kicked him, and literally beat the crap out of him. Steve winced in frustration as he weakly rose to his feet.
"Two years all for nothing" he thought to himself
The Champ stalked Steve like a tiger stalking a wounded animal and leveled him with a chop to his chest. Steve fell down and felt his breath leave; he knew this was going to be the end. The Champ taunted him as he grabbed his legs and slapped his patented figure four on him (which no wrestler had ever escaped). Steve screamed as it seemed every nerve was exploding. He gasped for air and tried to sit up, but the champ slapped him in the face and knocked him onto his back again. His legs groaned, the pain was inexorable.
"Give up!" Champ yelled at Steve and slapped extra force on the figure four.
Steve wanted to. He wanted to go home and rest, but something inside of him refused to let him quit. Wrestling was his career, he had no were else to turn to. Deep down inside him his determination ignited a spark that slowly grew into a roaring flame. A weird energy convulsed through him and suddenly the pain was gone, everything was gone except for the flame…
Steve flexed his leg muscles and broke out of the figure four. The Champ looked at Steve in fright and began to back up into the corner, but Steve grabbed him and threw him the rest of the way with a right hand smash. Now it was Steve's turn to pummel the champ. He pressed the champ, one handed, over his head and slammed him to the ground with a thunderous smack. Steve looked at the Champ and then made his was to the top rope, leaped off and landed on the Champ with a flying splash. The ref counted the unnecessary three count and Steve became the new World Heavy Weight Champion.
Steve easily won that match, but I don't see anything that could constitute a super power. Besides wrestling is faked for all I know this whole thing was planned weeks in advance. Looks like I wasted my time. DAMN
The security guards barely kept the mass of fans outside Steve's locker room at bay as Lois, Clark, and Jimmy waded their way towards the front. After hastily flashing their press passes to them, the security guards ushered them into Steve's locker room.
"The Group from the Planet is here, Champ." said one of the guards.
Lois, still peeved over her "Human Interest" story flashed a barely civil smile to the guard who left slamming the door to resume his duties (Jimmy rapidly took photographs as if they were going out of style). Lois then turned to Steve.
"OK Samurai Steve, We'll keep this short. You tell me a little about yourself. Jimmy'll snap some pictures and we can call this story finished."
"Please" Steve motioned to a group of steel chairs. Lois made a quick brushing motion over the seat and gingerly sat down as if the chair would permanently soil her outfit and her career. Their interview was constantly interrupted by other wrestlers who wanted to congratulate Steve on his victory.
"First off, " She began, "where do you come from?"
"I was born in Japan on an American Naval base. My father was American who was later transferred to Vietnam, where he was never seen again. My mother, unable to support us, gave me up for adoption and I slowly found my way to an American orphanage, the Molly Morgan Orphanage. I stayed there until I turned eighteen, then I entered the professional wrestling circuit. Here I am two years later the World Heavy Weight Champion" he said with a smile.
"O.K. thank you Mr. Jackson for your time."
"Lois.." Clark raised his voice slightly and motioned for her to talked to him.
"What?!" she replied with indignation.
"Is that all you're going to ask him?"
"Yes it is. I've heard sob stories like that all my life, they used to move me, but… " she hesitated
"Clark you know as well as I do that these matches are all predetermined. For all we know this story is too!"
"Fine if you won't finish the interview. I will." Clark replied flatly.
Clark didn't have a chance to continue. The constant pounding on the doors increased until it flew open and at the threshold stood, the now, Ex-Champ. His eyes were wild and his body still covered in sweat, he looked ready to fight.
"That Title is mine! Do you hear Mine! I won't rest until I regain that which is rightfully mine!" The Ex-champ was quickly subdued and order soon returned. Lois flashed Clark a I-BET-IT-WAS-A-SETUP look, while Clark flashed her a BE-QUIET look.
"It says here Steve you were in accident when you were five. Can you tell me anything about it? How did it feel?"
"Yes I was. I don't remember much about it, I was so young, except that the Doctors feared that I would never be able to walk again, let alone become a world champion wrestler. Oh yeah and the scars on my back as well."
The rest of the interview proceeded normally without any interruptions. Lois was visibly relieved when it was over. Jimmy beamed with pride over his nights work and his autographed picture. Clark just felt himself coming down with a headache.
Later that night Steve walked to his car as the alcohol sifted his brain, with his championship belt tucked safely in his gym bag. As he walked, he heard a strange noise from behind. Steve turned and was face to face with Ex-champ. A dim light glinted off the knife in his right hand.
"You've taken everything that means something to me. You were supposed to lose."
"I don't know what you're taking about." Steve replied.
Before Steve could say another word, the knife lashed out, heading straight for his heart. Steve screamed as the blade cut through his shirt and touched his skin. But once the blade touched his body, it suddenly shattered.
"Wha…" they both exclaimed.
Steve looked at the shattered remains of the blade then at the ex-champ and swung his fist. A sickly snap cracked the still air. "Get up!" HE yelled "Get up and I'll smack you right back Down!"
Not until Steve leaned closer did he realize what happened. The champ's neck hung at a weird angle and Steve ran away realizing he had committed his first murder.
Steve huddled in a dark corner. The police would soon find the ex-champ's body and it wouldn't take a rocket scientist to point blame at him. A police siren suddenly pierced the night. Steve ran deeper and deeper into the alley and was blinded by a bright light. Unannounced to Steve, a shadowy figure had watched the exchange.
Good thing I decided to stay around. Using my credentials I was able to sort out that Steve was supposed to lose that match. I don't think anyone told that to Steve (Who'd want to tell a 320 lb. wrestler to throw a match.) Anyway I figured the champ would try something and of course he did. That knife incident was a clear whistle; the kid definitely has some kind of super power. And since his wrestling career is pretty much over maybe I can use that to my advantage.
The following day, the "Planetarium" was organized chaos as various reporters filed their stories while other followed up on leads. Lois and Clark stepped off the elevator together, still discussing (read arguing) last night's interview. Lois was glad it was over and was ready to take on something else.
From his office, Perry and Jimmy watched with amusement at Lois and Clark's arguing; they had gotten used to Lois and Clark's almost family like bickering. To Perry it meant everything was business as usual. Grabbing the police report and a stack of newspapers, Perry stormed out of his office when he saw Lois and Clark about to take their seats.
"Lois, Clark, I'd like a word with you." he began.
"Sure Chief." Clark replied.
"Lois have you filed that Wrestler interview yet?"
"Umm no Perry I was just about to …"
"Let Clark do it." Perry responded much to Lois' relief "get back out there." he said as he handed her the papers and the police report. Perry showed one to Lois and Clark "Since when did the Star become a Shakespeare fan 'Murder most Foul' indeed. The main point is the Ex-champion is playing hood ornament to a Cadillac and guess who is missing."
Lois wasn't listening. As soon as she scanned the word 'Murder', the adrenaline raced through her system like a bolt of lightning and her reporter instincts took over. A quick scan of the articles and then the police report revealed something interesting. Grabbing her purse, she flew out muttering something she forgot to do.
Perry watched her exit with amusement, "good ol girl. I knew she wasn't going to like her 'Human Interest' so I thought I'd make it up to her. Now for you, Clark…Clark?" Perry turned to Clark ready to say something, but was amazed to see Clark had left with out a trace.
A quick dash up the stairs, a quick change of clothes and Superman was flying. He started at the Metropolis Coliseum and, using his x-ray vision, began to scour the city in search of Steve. Frowning at his lack of success, he decided to make off towards the poorer side of Metropolis.
Steve was huddled in another dark alley. All he had left was the tattered remains of his shirt and his gym bag. Steve was slightly amused that, through all this, he still kept his gym bag clutched in hand. The bag, with the championship belt inside, was his only anchor to reality. He heard a strange sound as he peered into his bag. A…A flying man he thought to himself!
Superman spotted Steve and shouted, "Hey wait a minute!"
"Leave me alone!" Steve roared and started to run.
Superman wasn't about to let Steve go. He landed behind Steve and tapped his shoulder, then crossed his arms,
Steve pivoted and punched Superman as hard as he hit Ex- champion last night. Superman, unprepared and surprised anyone could hit him so hard, flew backwards and crashed into a wall. Shocked and hurt, Superman set his jaw and flew back after Steve. This time Superman didn't hit a brick wall, rather he passed trough Steve and crashed into the opposite wall. By this time a crowd had gathered and loose brick began raining down on the spectators. Upset that Steve was escaping through the brick wall in the back, Superman caught the larger pieces of debris. After checking to make sure everyone was okay, Superman flew to a roof top and did a quick x-ray scan with no results. He flew off wondering how Steve could have acquired such power. Clark punched the buttons on his phone that his twenty plus years had taught him would connect him to his parent's house in Smallville. He examined his newly formed blackeye in the mirror as he counted the rings. On the third ring someone answered.
"Yes, Hello." Ma Kent answered.
"Mom?" he asked.
Ma Kent motioned to Pa mouthing it was Clark, "We saw you on the news today. Are you OK?"
"Yeah, he didn't do any permanent damage. I just wonder where he came from. He seems like a scared kid.. it's just that I never thought I would come up against someone stronger than me."
"Clark," Pa began, "We've tried to teach you that strength isn't measured in muscles nor is it your only weapon. Use you head, out think him and try to find out what makes him tick."
Suddenly infused with confidence, "Thanks Mom, Dad. I love you." Clark hung up the phone.
Clark walked into the 'Planetarium'. Lois, sensing the movement, looked up and stifled a grin at the sight of Clark's eye.
"Where have you been?" she asked
"Umm out chasing a lead."
"Must have been a dead end." Lois chided. "Here what do you make of this?" she passed him the police report.
Clark looked bemused, but knowing Lois was up to something, played along. "a police report?"
"OK now look at this." she handed him a file with all the newspaper articles related to the death of Ex-champ.. "
"I don't see anything." Clark replied.
"Thank goodness you have me. Look here." She pointed to the police report, "The police report mentions a broken knife and fibers belonging to Steve's shirt found at the scene, but the papers make no mention of it. I've called all the other reporters who covered it and they said someone high up forced them not to print."
"Any luck on finding out who?" Clark, seeing where it was going, asked.
"No but a better question would be why? (besides I couldn't find out who)." Clark grinned.
"What!" she blurted.
"Nothing. Leave it to Lois Lane to turn a simple 'Human Interest' story into a front page headline." Clark smiled.
Infused with pride, Lois patted Clark on the chest and smiled "Thank you."
Clark was afraid he pushed a button and decided to change the subject, "Has anyone tried contacting the orphanage where Steve said he grew up?"
"I tried but the orphanage is in California. I left a message.. I mean I want to write the best story 'Human Interest' or otherwise, but it'll just get buried in the sports section. This is how it all started before…"
Clark realized this story meant a lot more to Lois than what she fronted and let her go on.
"When I was just getting started, I was a local entertainment writer (kinda what Cat used to do). My stories kept getting buried on the last page in some obscure section. One day I got a chance to prove myself to Kay Fering (then senior reporter) that one of my stories was front page material. Guess what?! she took the credit for the story and I got the back page again. I decided right then that I would never again settle for anything less than the front page."
Lois nor Clark saw Jimmy rush towards them and both were momentarily startled.
"Guess what?! Police band just picked up a call spotting Steve. They have him cornered in an abandoned building on Lee and Vine!" Jimmy, already with camera in hand, was ready to go. Lois scampered off with him. Clark excused himself saying he had to grab his notebook.
Steve cringed in the darkened building his bag still clenched tightly in hand. He knew it was almost over; the police had fingered him as Ex-champ's killer. Steve swore to himself that if he could help it, he would never let an innocent person die because he lost control. He ducked as a police spotlight pointed though the window.
"Come out quietly," an amplified voice called.
Superman landed in front of the police captain. (Southside stood nearby with a watchful eye) "What's going on Captain."
"We have Steve surrounded in that building and have backup in route, but we were afraid to open fire seeing that conventional weapons do not hurt him."
Superman mentally cringed at the not so subtle reminder of his earlier encounter with Steve. He heard a familiar voice belonging to Lois call his name.
"Superman, over here." and she ran to him when Superman looked in her direction.
"Lois stay back." he held her at arms length.
"But what are you…"
"Captain, if I'm not back in ten minutes," he turned towards the building, "Come get me." Lois buried her face in her hands.
Using his x-ray vision, he spotted Steve on the 3rd floor. He flew through the window only to be repulsed by a blow to his stomach. More determined, he tried his heat vision which just passed through Steve. Super breath failed too.
"Leave me alone!" Steve yelled and threw a heavy crate at Superman.
"I can help you!" Supes replied, caught the crate, and threw it back at Steve. Steve took the brunt of the blow, but didn't stagger.
There was only one way left. Superman flew to the backside of the building and surprised Steve. Steve flew backwards, but recovered quickly and dove at Superman. Superman grunted as the blow hit, but was glad that Steve was angered which Superman hoped would make Steve forget about his intangibility. A solid target would be easier to hit.
The battle continued while outside the police stood impotent to do anything. Debris flew out the windows and Superman suddenly erupted from a wall and crashed to the ground. Steve stood at he mouth of the hole then jumped and landed on Superman with a flying splash.
Southside decided to make a move. He removed himself from the shadows and approached Lois. Lois felt a cold shiver up her spine as Southside touched her shoulder.
"Excuse me, Miss Lane. Could I have a word with you?" (Supes flew by as Steve punched him).
"Its MS. Lane and what do you want? In case you haven't noticed Superman is in the fight of his life." (Steve flew by as Superman punched him back).
"Information comes a high price. Its Steve I wish to discuss."
Her reporter curiosity piqued, and she followed Southside. He lead her to a nearby and began his plea.
"Ms. Lane, Do not print your article on Steve."
"Its a matter of National Security. We don't know what Steve is. His power may well be sufficient to destroy the Earth."
"You!" she began, "You were the one who has bullied the other newspapers into submission. I thought I saw you at Steve's wrestling match! Sorry no deal." She icily replied only to have her arm grabbed by Southside. She felt more fear than ever, a primal fear that chilled her to the bone.
"Ms. Lane, I don't think you understand."
The fear strengthen her blow as she kicked Southside in the stomach. "I said No deal!" then she ran off.
The kick caught Southside off guard. All his reports said Lois was a whiney, wimpy smalltime reporter without a backbone or a good back heel kick. Unaware of where she was going, only the thought of getting as far away from Southside as possible rang through her, Lois was inadvertently walking towards Superman, her own anchor. Unknowingly she stepped right into the path of the truck carrying reinforcements.
"Lois…No.." Superman muttered as Steve held Supes by the collar and prepared to hit him again.
Lois looked, but too late to react, she was about to be crushed by the raging truck. Just when she felt the heat of the truck's engine, a warm tender hand grabbed her and tucked her into a protective grasp. Steve pumped his density up to full and took the impact of the truck. He didn't move a millimeter, but the truck crumbled.
Lois, still dazed mumbled, "Superman?" then she looked up into Steve's scared eyes. "You?!"
Steve didn't return the gaze, he was fixed on a certain point in the destroyed truck. Letting Lois go, he lifted that portion of the truck and found his flattened gym bag. He looked inside only to see his belt, his anchor, crushed and dented. He began to wander in a direction away from the scene. Southside knew this was his best opportunity when Steve was his most vulnerable.
Superman, after getting painfully to his feet, checked on Lois then flew off after Steve. For a big guy, Steve sure moved fast. Superman caught up to Steve a minute too late. Southside had already approached him with a promise of help.
"No wait! I can help you, Steve"
"Can you protect me all the time from the press and the people? Can you help prove it wasn't my fault?"
"I.. I can't do that." Superman reluctantly agreed, "but I can help you face up to your accusers and promise you'll get all the help I can provide."
"Southside promised me complete protection… What choice do I have? I'm going with him."
Steve went with Southside who flashed Superman a triumphant cocky grin then closed the door. Superman had the power to physically stop them, but Steve had made his choice and Superman couldn't blame him. Lois arrived momentarily.
"Where is he?"
"He left with Southside. I couldn't stop him."
"But Southside was the one who's been altering the news. He told the other papers not to print the facts concerning the knife!"
Piecing the story together, Superman was aware of Southside's plan. He broke down the door and took a quick x- ray scan, but nothing. Southside had cleared out completely. Superman walked out, told Lois of the news and asked if she was okay one more time. She answered the affirmative and Superman took off.
The reports were filed and Lois had won another first page article (with photos from Jimmy). She decided she deserved a break and went home early. Lois was just getting out of the shower when she heard a knock at the door. She put on a robe then opened the door and saw a pensive looking Clark standing in the doorway.
"Clark what brings you by?!"
"Can I come in?"
"Sure." she ran a hand through her hair.
After a few tense moments, Clark began
"Listen, Lois I have something to tell you."
"Well go ahead."
"I have to tell you I'm sorry I put you in so much danger today. I could never forgive myself if something happened to you because of me."
"Clark you're silly. It was… Superman."
"Lois.." he began then removed his glasses then he began to unbutton the top few buttons of his shirt. He pulled the top part of shirt apart. Underneath was a blue spandex outfit. Sewn to the outfit was a big red S.
Let me know what you think
M. Anthony Reynolds
"Jimmy Olsen: Man of Steel"