THE SUPERWOMAN FROM KRYPTON: THE ETERNAL COURSE (II)
Written by MalloryDyatlov59 :: [Tuesday, 25 April 2023 10:42] Last updated by :: [Friday, 17 November 2023 11:40]
This is the second chapter of my fanfic about Superwoman.
In this installment Clara Kent/ Superwoman has to deal with a very complicated rescue and painful memories… while Maxwell Lord and Lex Luthor discuss their findings on a horrendous alien technology that they had found… and they're going to use it against Superwoman!
For character context, introduction and fanart you can check here
For the first chapter of the fanfic you can check hereSWM Library - THE SUPERWOMAN FROM KRYPTON: THE ETERNAL COURSE (I) - SuperWomenMania
Metropolis, May 1948
A blue and red blur landed in an alley and appeared a second later on the street dressed as Clara Kent.
– One more day in the office," she said to herself.
She was holding in her hands two croissants that she had bought in Paris a few minutes before. Clara had the habit of bringing a couple of days a week some Parisian croissants that Louis loved. He always asked her where she got them, of course she didn't plan to tell him. Paris was three or four minutes away flying at top speed for Superwoman, but that Louis wasn't to know, at least for the moment.
Clara bought her newspapers as she always did at Abe's Newsstand, an elderly black man from Georgia who was a celebrity among Metropolis newsstand owners.
– Good morning, Abe!
– Good morning Ma'am! Don't you come singing any songs today, blue-eyed?
– Oh Abe, I sing horribly.
– What can I give you?
– The Planet, the Times, the Tribune, and the Post, please.
– Today we have the Pulitzers, the premiere of Hamlet, Superwoman saving a test pilot, Superwoman averting a flood in Spain, more war in the Middle East and Greece, and something from the Supreme Court.
– Oh, thank you very much, quiet day then," Clara laughed.
Clara entered the large Planet building. Eighty floors topped by a large bronze world ball on the rooftop that she knew so well. How many times had she landed there as Superwoman, and how many times had she accompanied Louis Lane or Lucy Weiss as Clara Kent to smoke there, despite her pleas to both to quit smoking. She even had occasional clandestine encounters with Louis on the roof as Superwoman...the only times they had kissed or touched...which had never ended well, as Louis had fled in turmoil, leaving her frustrated and confused. Those encounters had always been followed within days by an article from Louis criticizing Superwoman and governments for not putting legal and political roadblocks in place to control the superheroine, and an increase in affection and gifts from Louis to Clara. "It's to go completely crazy"...Clara had made a mental scheme to understand Louis: he desired Superwoman as so many men did and that embarrassed him deeply, he truly distrusted the Superheroine but well, it was clear that he cared and loved Clara Kent, although with obvious limitations. He was a married man and was weighed down by his religious concerns that she respected as much as they annoyed and seemed unfair to her. It had been hard to understand him. Any woman would have sent him packing or would have left the job, but she wasn't just any woman...and after all she deliberately lied to Louis every day. Clara was sure that at some point Louis would understand everything and they would get together, that was her hope.
Only the last thirty floors of the Planet building belonged to the newspaper, its agencies, and archives. The rest were luxury housing, assorted offices and even until recently had been a Republican Party campaign center, but Perry had convinced the Board of Directors to ask them to vacate the building to avoid compromising the paper's image of neutrality. The Daily Planet, even though it had reporters of all political sectors and that Perry had supported Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936, had too much of a reputation as a Republican paper.
As soon as she entered the lobby of the newspaper, she met Lucy Weiss. She was a political photographer and Perry's oldest daughter (he had two other girls, his only son died on Guadalcanal, an event which had broken the reporter's heart). Lucy Weiss was Clara's best friend on the paper along with Jimmy Olsen. Sometimes Clara felt self-conscious about her, in the end, like Louis, Lucy belonged to the snobbish and worldly environment of Metropolis, among millionaires, actors and politicians, but they had hit it off very well. Lucy was a tomboy who hated snobbery and had no prejudices whatsoever. She had no problem spending a Sunday in Clara's small apartment cracking jokes and washing dishes. She was a spunky, determined girl and it was even joked in the Daily Planet that Lucy was Superwoman's secret identity. It was the only female photographer outside fashion reporting. Jimmy Olsen adored Lucy and they were close friends. Clara felt guilty at times for not confessing her identity to them, she wished she could tell them all her troubles and anxieties, but she couldn't put them in danger. As much as she cherished them, her secret was too big.
– You're back at last! I thought you were coming back next week.
– I have been invited to leave by the Greeks.
– I didn't know it!
– They don't like us very much. The fact that the Communists took your reckless boss as a hostage and Superwoman had to go to his rescue but then didn't turn over any of his captors to the government has them pretty upset. I have not been allowed anywhere near the mountains. All I have are pictures of soldiers patrolling Athens and ministers with unfriendly faces.
– No need for more-Clara tried to be funny.
– I tried to sneak into the risky area of Macedonia, they discovered me and put me in a car straight to the airport.
– Lucy, admit it would have been a blunder to have a second Planet reporter rescued by Superwoman in Greece.
– She's going to end up hating us, poor thing, especially Louis, well, how are you?
– All right, a lot of work. I must tell you, I'm after some rather disturbing associations of Lex Luthor and Maxwell Lord with the military.
– How interesting! Shall we eat today? Will you sit still, or will you have one of those appointments that you always forget and make you disappear?
– I don't know how to keep a schedule, I'm a farm girl.
– Horrible excuse, Lucy laughed, I thought farming people had strict schedules and routines.
– Oh, I was the only daughter, so I was very spoiled hahaha...Otherwise everything is fine.
– What about the great man?
– Do you mean your father, Cat Grant or Louis?
Lucy gave a big laugh and took off her hat.
– I know my father is fairly well. And of course, Cat I know she is as usual making life miserable for anyone who comes near her... I ask you about Louis.
– Well, he's fine, with his things. Your father has taken him away from international reporting because of the scare he had with him in Greece, which is not the first one. He's now grounded for a couple of months. Now he's preparing a series of interviews with pre-war European politicians who are now residing or in exile here in the US: socialists, liberals, conservatives...mostly from countries that are now communist. And well, he's getting into Dewey's election campaign. On Saturday he spoke on KBBL saying a federal law was needed to control "people with superpowers or masked vigilantes". You know him.
– What about you?
– Oh! very well
– Is everything normal?
– Of course, everything is normal, we are friends... a couple of weeks ago I was with him and his daughter for the weekend at his house in Oyster Bay.
Lucy rolled her eyes and twisted her face.
– Clara dear, you can't walk around like that.
– How so?
– The image is not very pleasant, and people talk. The first one who should behave is him...the most innocent thing that is said is that he uses you as a girl for everything...I heard it from the Tribune's correspondent in Athens. That you are his secretary, his daughter's governess and many other things.
– I don't care what people say. Louis is my boss and he's my friend. That's all there is to it.
– Fair enough... Shall we eat then? I'm going to tell Jimmy.
– Can we better have a drink after the office?
– Ok, as you prefer.
Clara fled somewhat annoyed from Lucy's side...she had no right to talk to her like that. she went into her office. Fast check with her x-ray vision, there was Louis.
– Good morning, Clara Josephine", said Louis with a funny voice
– Here you have croissants and press, Major.
– The best of the day," laughed Louis, Clara smiled at him.
– Have you seen the Pulitzers?
– Very good, Tennessee Williams and the St. Louis Dispatch about the Centralia mine.
Clara remembered how she had to intervene in Centralia...she managed to rescue many miners underground and stop part of the explosion...but she could not prevent deaths. She was used to it. She had been in the war, she had been a nurse, she knew what it was like, but it was painful.
– Yes, I'm looking forward to reading Williams's.
– It's a very nice and dark play, a bit of a gothic southern thing. You'll love it, Clara. On another note. I have a leak for you. On May 14, the constitution of the Rand Corporation is going to be made public by press release. You must get your scope out before then; Friday would be best.
– I've got it ready Louis, 1,000 words, and specific mention of Luthor and Lord. Regarding Area 51 I just say they have "a test facility in Nevada".
– Did you get a second confirmation?
– Yes, but I can't reveal it to you.
– It sounds good to me. If you can, please have the draft today and we'll go to Perry and Grant with it...Are you sure you want to go ahead? You're going to be marked as hostile by the military and tech companies.
– Like dozens of other journalists.
Louis smiled-That's the spirit.
– Besides, you don't care because the government is democratic.
– Oh! How mean you are Clara! Well, where would you like to eat today? I should make a reservation.
– Anywhere really Louis-Louis shrugged his shoulders as a response.
They both sat down, Clara started typing and Louis began to read the day's newspapers. She turned on the radio, she needed a little music. After a while Bing Crosby's voice was interrupted by a news bulletin.
"Special Report. Eduard Menotti, a former lieutenant of Carmine Ponto's Intergang, has escaped from Brooklyn courthouse number 5 with a gun supplied by a member of the public. Miraculously, no one was injured, but Menotti was holding hostage an unidentified trial attendee and a typist. The police did not dare shoot him so as not to injure the hostages and he fled in a car believed to be green in the road to Long Island. Police are in pursuit although it is not known how far down the road the fugitive is."
Clara cleared her throat and looked nervously at the door.
– Louis, I'm going down to the photographers' floor, I want to have breakfast with Lucy who has just returned from Greece.
– Whatever", Louis was concentrating on reading the newspaper and taking notes, maybe he hadn't even heard the news.
Clara rushed out of the office and unnoticed disappeared down the service stairs. "This is a job for Superwoman" she said to herself confidently. In a split second she took off her glasses and undid her bun, letting her black curl fall over her forehead, opened her shirt revealing her blue tights and the red and yellow crest of the house of El in the shape of a stylized "S", took off her skirt and stockings, and unfolded her bright red cape. In a few minutes she was already lifting Eduard Menotti's stolen car with her hands and rescuing his hostages.
Area 51, Nevada
General Hardy, a man of flesh and age, with a pale face, presided over the meeting. The room was large and dark, with walls and ceiling of a strange black ceramic, soundproofed and armored. There were a dozen men, most of them military men or scientists in white coats, but there were also two men in suits and ties. In front of them was a domed glass screen surrounded by wires and a cloth screen.
General Hardy was presiding at the table and looked at everyone with attention.
– Well, this is the summary that I am going to send now directly in physical form to the president, independently of the more detailed reports that we will send later on.
"The Conclusions of last month's work in connection with the Roswell event and the Death Island Finding (hereinafter referred to as the ATLAS Event) are as follows.
- The spacecraft that crashed at Roswell was probably unmanned.
- There are almost total similarities between the technology debris recovered at Roswell and the technology debris recovered at the ATLAS Event.
- Now, given the state of the remains, we can only conclude that they use a technology of circular ships, nanotechnology, and advanced connectors. The metals, although unknown, appear to be identical. There are traces of kryptonite in the metal remains but not enough to extract it successfully.
- There is absolute identification between the writing and numbering systems found in the remains of the Roswell Event and the remains of the ATLAS Event.
- ATLAS Event must have taken place 12,000 years ago.
- This leads us to conclude that the Roswell Event and the ATLAS Event are related to the same extraterrestrial civilization.
- There are scarcely similarities to the technology used by Event 1946, the Kryptonian invasion, but there is high correlation with the writing and/or numbering systems used by the Kryptonians.
- The above allows us to conclude that the Kryptonians of 1946 were either part of another distinct or influenced civilization, or a degeneration of the civilization to which the Roswell and ATLAS event ships belonged.
- The twelve-thousand-year difference between the ATLAS Event and the Roswell event and the differences of both with the Kryptonian invasion led us to conclude that either (i) the spaceship that crashed at Roswell was lost in space for years before crashing on earth or (ii) there is another potentially hostile extraterrestrial civilization.
- The pathogen found at Roswell is extraordinarily dangerous and unstable. It has absolutely destructive effects on human beings and produces horrible mutations on the remains of Kryptonian individuals whose bodies we guard. This leads us to conclude that the Kryptonian genetic material is different from the human one and that the purpose of the pathogen was to destroy human beings or analogues.
- Pathogen is not resistant to fire or hydrogen injection.
- It is recommended to continue investigations as at present."
– As you see no word of the object that emits signals that is under the lake on the Isle of Death. We believe it is better to go for fait accompli and inform the president of its existence when we have already had contact.
– Are you not afraid that the President will ask you about the effects of the Pathogen?
– I will be transparent
– He's going to show him what we've seen," said another soldier, pointing to the screen.
Lex Luthor sighed.
The morning had been a thread of carnage. He was already informed and knew all the events; he had almost seen them live. Science and the unknown were like that. He had been shocked by the Pathogen but also by the fact that some of the military had so little stomach for watching the footage of the experiments. Only General LeMay stayed calm while watching the horrible footage.
The Pathogen was a very smooth black liquid, like water or coffee that was inside obsidian cylinders that had been found in Roswell...fortunately intact, Luthor now understood.
The first scientist to try to examine them had been immediately attacked by the Pathogen, his entire skin and organism had turned black in a matter of seconds, and from all his pores came out a blood that on contact with the pathogen turned into pus. The scientist was reduced to a mass of wet black flesh covered with white pus.
Then they had tried the Pathogen with the Kryptonian remains in sealed chambers...and the result had been even more surprising.
Upon contact with the Pathogen, the arm (nothing but an arm) of a defeated Kryptonian had also blackened, but within minutes it developed some sort of tentacles and went into motion with surprising strength. Fortunately, the fire took care of it. Then they sprayed Pathogen on the incomplete, scorched body of another of the Kryptonians from the 1946 invasion...same process, blackening, pus...and strange bubbles and bumps. The body developed a kind of webbed tentacles, and a set of eye protrusions that emitted heat, as well as extraordinary strength. An absolutely aberrant creature. Before it was made to disintegrate with fire and liquid hydrogen, it took the lives of five soldiers and auxiliary personnel.
And finally came the human experiment. They brought in a live prisoner, a deserter, Luthor was not surprised that he was black, considering which people were conducting the experiments. He saw during the experiment almost pleasure in the eyes of Maxwell Lord. He personally despised and did not understand racism but he had been a promoter of an experiment with a larger amount of pathogen and a living human. They took the prisoner into the same sealed chamber with a television recording circuit (a gift from Lord Industries which were becoming the pioneers of television). As soon as the living human was sprayed with the Pathogen he simply fell apart, disintegrated, rotted, and calcined before their eyes in mere seconds. Not even the skeleton was left. Just a puddle of foul-smelling liquid on the ground and a wet ash-like powder.
No doubt it was an atrocious and marvelous technology. Absolutely deadly to human beings. Luthor would have fought to immediately destroy any trace of it if it weren't for Superwoman. The fake Kryptonian goddess with those movie star traits, the greatest danger to Humanity and its future. The Pathogen could be useful in taking her down. That was the most important thing. The ways of Humanity and the course of History were ironic. A probably Kryptonian chemical weapon meant to destroy humanity thousands of years ago could be what saved Humanity from Krypton's last daughter. Luthor reveled in irony. He was not formally a Marxist even if he sympathized with them, but he was sure Marx would have been delighted with the discovery. His thoughts were interrupted by Maxwell Lord's jovial voice.
– Aren't we going to tell him about the submerged ruins near the Isle of Death?
– The President already knows that until twelve thousand years ago there was a global human or human with alien component civilization that was destroyed by rising sea levels and the movement of the poles, probably caused by our friends from space. He is interested to know why they did not complete the work, but I remind you that there is another team that unfortunately we are not allowed to contact which is studying similar ruins in Antarctica.
– How do we know that in Antarctica they won't find anything more important than our research?
– Because the moment anything susceptible to military use or alien origin was found it would come under our supervision, there are probably only crushed stones.
– We don't have any contacts or leaks?
– I do, and believe me, there are only stones...
Maxwell Lord stood up and interrupted again.
– Gentlemen...all the technology we are finding is scorched, broken, melted...it is incomprehensible. Its military performance is very low, and its economic performance is nil. All the millions being squandered will only serve to issue tons of insensitive reports...until we find the buried object that emits signals. And it may even have to be destroyed with one of our fantastic hydrogen bombs if we discover that there is something uncontrollable inside it. We only have the Pathogen. We must make understand the Pathogen is our priority. Its danger to Humanity is clear...let's work on diluting and limiting it...and we have seen what it does to the Kryptonians...it brings them back to life in monstrous but easy to destroy forms. The Pathogen as we all know and have already discussed is the gateway to taking down Superwoman and eliminating any alien threat today. I propose that we urge the President to continue with the Pathogen research as an absolute priority over any other consideration. It will take decades, if ever, to mimic those flying saucers.
Luthor smiled inwardly as he played a grimace of distaste. All those days he had inoculated those ideas to Lord, pretending to be overly concerned about the Pathogen, and even asking Lord to intercede to ignore and destroy the Pathogen and focus research on the technology. Luthor had well appreciated Lord's disloyalty and ambition. Now the shot was centered on the Pathogen and on Superwoman.
– One of the things I propose is, immediately, to conduct an experiment on the subject ICARUS," Lord continued.
Luthor jumped in his seat, just the one thing he didn't want, which seemed too risky and uncontrollable, to use ICARUS.
– I think we should save ICARUS for better uses," General Hardy quickly replied.
– ICARUS is the linchpin of the vault," interrupted a scientist, "he is the key to our strategic autonomy. If we can get the Pathogen to have a totally destructive effect on him and not just turn him into a horrible mutation like with the other Kryptonians...we can destroy Superwoman and stop depending on her and being at her beck and call...and we can deal with any alien threat.
Luthor was in complete agreement, but he didn't want the rush and anxiety of those around him to destroy and misuse those marvelous findings: the Pathogen and ICARUS. Who was ICARUS? It was the only complete and intact body of a Kryptonian they had ever obtained after the 1946 invasion. While Superwoman was destroying at full speed the Kryptonian giant robot ships and devices with which they wanted to destroy mankind, and while she was ejecting them burning into space with her super strength...and while the Russians and Americans discovered that the Nazi V2 flying bombs were a good weapon to shoot down the smaller Kryptonian ships, and they found burnt remains of those aliens so similar to humans...meanwhile a Kryptonian was trying to escape...He disguised himself in the tattered uniform of a human soldier, one of the five thousand who perished in the brief fighting that took place in Hudson Bay or the Indian Ocean, and tried to flee in a very small ship, barely a Kryptonian rescue beacon to anywhere else, where he could pass for human. Those Kryptonians had not developed extraordinary powers like Superwoman...perhaps they had been on Earth too short a time, or perhaps Superwoman was not really Kryptonian, Luthor mused. Those Kryptonians were very resilient but deadly. Even Superwoman had a hard time taking them down, because of her reluctance to kill thought the public, for darker reasons in Luthor's opinion.
That Kryptonian who was trying to flee had bad luck, his ship fell into a snowy mountain in Colorado. He could not get out. He died of cold in days or hours. He was found by the vibration emitted by his ship. The body was intact, simply dead. He had not been dissected. With kryptonite tools they had managed to sever a finger, draw some blood, cut some hair. But it was a complete Kryptonian body. And it was a human. A strange human, a little taller and stronger...but very different from the strong and busty flying version of Gene Tierney known as Superwoman, who pretended to be just an American girl capable of flight. ICARUS was a rather a young dark-skinned man, with features somewhere between African and Mediterranean, similar to an Egyptian or a Libyan, with dead, dilated dark eyes, and silvered hair and beard. An almost mythical figure. A fallen god. He could be Osiris, Viracocha, Zeus, or an Old Testament angel. Luthor found him much more sympathetic than Superwoman. That Kryptonian had fought and died. He had fallen, had flown too close to the Sun. First, he wanted to rule the Earth, then he wanted to run away and hide among humans as a fallen god, but men and nature defeated him. A dead god. The revenge of man. The revenge of Prometheus. He had given the body the nickname ICARUS. Now ICARUS was to be useful for Humanity, it was to mean a step forward for Man. It was to be the key to the destruction of Superwoman, to the knowledge of biology and genetics. His body was to be bread and wine. Luthor, atheist and materialist, passionate humanist, was delighted. He was as much an admirer of Jesus Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, and Luther as he was an enemy of organized religion. They should not waste ICARUS turning him into a humanoid octopus with many eyes and great strength, which was what the pathogen had done with the remains of the other Kryptonians.
– ICARUS is indeed crucial. As it is so crucial, we cannot waste it. The Pathogen produces horrible mutations on the remains of Kryptonian bodies...in fact the larger the remains the more monstrous the mutation. The Pathogen destroys human tissues, but regenerates Kryptonian tissues in horrendous ways. Therefore, on the complete body of ICARUS and on the complete and living body of Superwoman it can produce an uncontrollable aberration. We must focus on the Pathogen I recognize it, but we have to work on it and refine it a lot before we dare to use it on ICARUS. Before that we must do all possible genetic and medical studies on ICARUS' body. When we have all this, we can have the ultimate weapon against aliens, and we will be able to finish Superwoman without any doubt.
Maxwell Lord smiled at what he thought was his personal triumph and the rest of the table nodded. Luthor sighed, remembering poems from German romanticism of virtuous and humane heroes facing the gods and their priests.
In Metropolis, ironically, Louis Lane, Clara Kent and Emily, Louis' daughter, were also into poetry. Sitting on a terrace in Central Park, Clara was trying to teach the six-year-old a poem.
– Comin thro' the rye, poor body/Comin thro' the rye/She draigl't a' her petticoatie/Comin thro' the rye! /Gin a body meet a body/Comin thro' the rye/Gin a body kiss a body/Need a body cry?
– I don't understand it", cried the girl.
– It's about a lonely boy and a lonely girl that meet in the fields, it's about love. It's a poem by Robert Burns.
– My dear Clara, she is too young for Robert Burns.
– I sang this with my mother when I was a child.
– I hope she did not talk to you about the double meanings of the poem.
– The truth is, as Monet said, that you puritans have filth in your heads and that's why you see filth everywhere," Clara complained sincerely.
– Clara Josephine, is Manet no Monet. Anyways don't think that Robert Burns was a charming gentleman from the Scottish hills, he's no Lord Darcy from "Pride and Prejudice". He was a radical and bawdy...very bright and funny that's for sure...but there's no Scottish charm there for children, Louis replied almost amused.
– Nonsense, Clara feigned a pout.
– Emily doesn't like poetry much, she's like me, but ask her, she's reading Kipling's Jungle Book...Emily Who do you like best in the Jungle Book?
The little girl stood up and began to imitate the little elephant's gait. Clara laughed next to Louis and looked at him with affection.
– I have to go Louis", said Clara with some sorrow
– We must pick up Patricia from I don't know what kind of fashion show... You're going out with Jimmy, Lucy, and the other photographers, aren't you?
– Yes, I will
– Music-Hall again?
– They say I'm too corny and no more Glenn Miller for me...they want to take me to some Bep Bop club or something like that.
Louis smiled at her-You'll have a good time.
– Lucy wants to find me a musician husband," Clara asked mischievously, to see if Louis would get jealous.
– Professional or amateur? Because I am an amateur musician. Anyways I think Ma' Kent won't enjoy a jazz musician-Louis feigned a joking tone, but Clara picked up on a certain concern that delighted her.
She said goodbye to Louis and the girl and walked out of the park. She had three hours before she had to meet Lucy and Jimmy, so she was super speeding home in barely a minute. She took Krypto for a ten-minute walk, stripped off her clothes and flew with her red cape through the trap door in the roof of her house to wherever she was needed.
Superwoman repaired a bridge in Peru, allowing a caravan of pilgrims to cross. Then she flew to prevent a robbery in an Arizona town, the robbers insisted on shooting her even though they knew the bullets would bounce off her body and they had nothing to do against her. She handed them over to the police with some melancholy because they were just kids. In Los Angeles there were many shootings and car accidents as usual, much worse than Gotham and Metropolis. Superwoman had to take many people to the hospital and a few to jail. She was thinking of asking Flash at the next Justice League meeting to move from Chicago to Los Angeles. Superwoman was flying all around...putting out a fire with his super breath in Mexico City and another in Manchester, and finally rescuing a Japanese fishing boat caught in a terrible storm, she lifted it into the air with her super strength and flew it to calm waters. She looked at the clock on a Japanese port building, she had half an hour to be combed, dressed, and perfumed in front of Jimmy and Lucy, plenty of time for Superwoman...but then something rang.
It was a series of crossed alarms and pleas for help in Russian, which she barely understood although she had taken some time to learn it over the past few years. Something had gone wrong. Planes searching for something flying at full speed, insults, accusations... she finally understood, a missile! The Russians had mistakenly launched a nuclear test missile headed for Nobosivirsk! She had to stop it! Superwoman thought fast: she had to catch the missile as soon as possible, and push it into the stratosphere or space, so it would explode at maximum altitude. The Russians would never find out, there would be no formal diplomatic complaint and the inhabitants of Nobosivirsk would be safe. She flew at higher speed, trying to pick up with her super hearing the sound of some missile but it was too difficult. How much time did she have? She didn't even know where Nobosivirsk was, she knew it was a big city. The best thing to do was to fly there and wait for the missile to appear and destroy it.
But where was Nobosivirsk? She had no idea, somewhere in Siberia. Superwoman said to herself "calm down Clara, focus, you can be in a minute in Anchorage, ask there for any world map and look where Novosivirsk is located. That's at most another minute or two. Once done that you can fly to Novosibirk in another minute or two, in total five or six minutes, the missile will not have arrived...you can do it."
Superwoman knew Anchorage well because she had lived there for a season in early 1945 when she was secretly searching for the Fortress of Solitude. She landed in the harbor and made her way to a military office. She knocked on the door politely.
Sergeant Schreider was playing chess with a rather young fisherman, son of his neighbors, they were Yupik Indians. Schreider himself was married to a Yupik. He was from Ohio, but he had ended up in Achorage and actually liked it quite a bit.
– Check," said the young man.
– That's right, you risk your Queen, you'll see," Schreider replied.
– I think there was a knock at the door," he answered.
– We are closed! Hours of operation until 5:00 p.m.!
– It's an emergency! shouted a female voice
– What the hell? Sergeant Schreider said to himself and opened the door. His knees trembled and he was short of breath when he saw wrapped in her red cape and with messy curly hair and blue eyes Superwoman herself.
– Sorry to bother you, do you have a map of Russia?
Schreider was nearly shaking and was unable to answer.
The young man was flushed with surprise and excitement but immediately got up, threw down the chessboard and ran to a bookshelf.
– Here is a world map.
Superwoman jumped in and began flipping through the world map.
"Here it is, here it is, perfect, come on Clara" the superheroine said to herself memorizing the place and the geographical features.
– Thank you very much, mates" said the Superheroine and disappeared in less than a blink of an eye.
Schreider and the young man were dumbfounded.
– I think we need a good coffee if we want to finish the chess game," said the sergeant.
Superwoman flew up to an altitude of fifty kilometers and then descended at super speed. In barely two minutes she was flying over Nobosivirsk. It looked like a city of a million people, everything was in darkness, for them it was night. "I made it in time, thank God," Clara improvised a prayer in thanksgiving and sharpened her hearing. After a while she heard a whistling sound, the missile was about a hundred kilometers away. In a quarter of an hour or less it would be in Nobosivirsk, she had time to stop it.
Clara flew guided by the sound and soon found the missile. It was black and held numbers and letters in Russian. It was quite large, more than fifteen meters. It looked like the Nazi V2's, "They're all copying that hellish German technology". Clara tried to use her X-ray vision but nothing... jeepers! The missile had a lead coating on it. She suspected that both the Russian and American military had discovered that she couldn't see through lead, how mean! Clara wouldn't know what the bomb looked like now. She had analyzed several to know how to act. She was afraid of them. Clara had been able to verify that she could withstand temperatures of fifty or a hundred thousand degrees Celsius...but she had heard that an atomic bomb, when detonated, could release up to a million degrees. Kelex, her friendly robot and guide from the Fortress of Solitude had not been able to tell her if she could survive that temperature or not.
"Ok, here we go Clara, easy now" Superwoman got under the missile at the same speed and hugged it gently, as she softly pushed the missile upwards, correcting its course, vertically "ok we're going good" she sighed, Clara uttered a prayer again. Now the two of them, the missile and her were flying vertically. Clara was calculating the altitude; she needed a little more. When they'll would be at twenty kilometers altitude, she would place herself three kilometers from the missile, which was the maximum distance that her heat vision could reach. She would reheat the missile and explode it with the atomic bomb inside. She would fly at her maximum super speed. Superwoman would probably get hit by some of the shockwaves but nothing she couldn't handle. So she did, she could see the metal of the missile overheating with her heat vision, the lead melting inside and showing a type of bomb she had never seen before...but then and without her being able to react, a glow blinded her. She felt a wind of such unbearable force as she had never known and an atrocious heat, and everything melted to black.
Clara felt that she was in a very familiar place, a long time ago, years ago, she felt a strange pain...
– Damn it, you selfish girl, get down from there!
– I'm not going down.
– You stubborn girl!
– For God's sake, Clara, come down.
– Someone will see you from the road. Is that what you want?
Clara was crying disconsolately dressed as a ballet dancer on the roof of the Kent farm, below were her parents and Jerry, her dog, an adopted mixed breed dog, barking back and forth. She could see her mother worried, but most of all she could see her father with an expression of mixed anger, despair and sadness that hurt her, but angered her more.
– I'll go up, do you think I can't go up? Who do you think repaired the roof of that house? It won't do any good for me to go up, but I'll go up.
Clara didn't move, after a few minutes her father emerged from the trap door crawling awkwardly. His red hair was starting to turn gray, with her x-ray vision she could see that her father's heart was weak, or at least weaker than other people's, she felt stupid and bad.
– What do you want Clara? Answer me.
Clara was unable to look at her father.
– You have disobeyed us and let us down. You have done exactly what we asked you not to do. You ran two hundred miles there and back, alone, without our permission, to go to Kansas City for your ballet competition. We had forbidden that you and for a very clear reason. And you refused to obey something we did for your sake and for the sake of the others...And? You left everyone impressed, they had never seen such an agile dancer...and yet you have asked, you have been disqualified, and you will not go to the national competition. You don't know how relieved I was when I phoned and was told that you lost the competition. A minimum of justice still exists in the world.
Clara wiped away her tears and looked defiantly at her father.
– They've praised me, everyone. They've disqualified me because they say I'm too tall and too broad in the back for anyone to want to see me dancing. It's horrible.
– It's fair, not the reasons they gave, which I would find horrible in another girl, but it does seem fair in your case. You didn't deserve it. None of what you do with the Ballet means any effort, none, all those movements, those passes to your classmates cost them hours of study and suffering and sacrifices...for you it's like opening a bottle or jumping over a puddle.
– It is not true.
– Yes, it is, and you know it, you have dedicated hours to it because you like it, but you have skills that make it little more than a game. You don't find any effort or sacrifice on this. Those abilities that God has given you...and I say God because I don't think there is a scientist in this country who can explain them to me...they are not for you to take advantage of others and place yourself first in all the lists without any effort. We have not educated you for that, those are not our values.
Clara was now beginning to feel guilty and stupid, she also felt angry.
– What do you want me to do? You won't let me help people either, you want me to hide forever, to live on this farm locked up.
– No Clara, I don't want you to live in this farm locked up, I know how small it is for you... I want you to be responsible and to do good. We're saving money for you to go to college and be a great teacher, which is what you like. But the more you have, the more you must give. That is in the Gospel, but it is also thought by people all over the world of all religions and none. I am terrified that you will use your abilities for personal gain...and I am terrified that you will show yourself fully to the world as you are, and they will worship you as a false goddess and corrupt you. The world is unhinged...have you seen how millions of people follow monsters like Stalin or Hitler? You know it well because you spend your nights reading books and newspapers in the kitchen and listening to the radio. I am sure you know what is going on in every corner of the world. Have you seen how much evil is done in our country only for being richer than the other or more famous? You have to help others of course; you have to use your skills for it. But you must do it by putting yourself in the last row, in silence, with discretion, that your right hand does not know what your left hand is doing. First to those who are close, and when you have experience to the others. Not to hurt anyone, you have no right to it. That's what a good Christian would do, that's what a good person of any religion or no religion would do. That's what you have to do with your abilities.
– I wish I didn't have them! Clara shouted crying.
Her father hugged her tightly.
– I love you madly my daughter, I love you, I know you are wonderful lady. I know you will do great things, but you have to stand up straight and learn.
Her father was kissing her hair and Clara was crying, soon everything seemed ethereal and full of smoke, "oh Daddy, Daddy, for the love of God, don't go away", Clara felt herself embracing smoke and crying. Then she woke up, her eyes were bathed in tears. Above her it was dawn. She had fallen on top of several pine trees that she had cut down. She sat up. It didn't hurt at all...the missile! She was sure she had blown it miles overhead. She began to levitate. Well, she could fly, that was for sure. She launched herself into the sky and from above she saw a river, she landed again. She washed her face a little and drank from the river water. She looked at her reflection. No burns, nothing, she sighed. Here alone in a forest drinking river water thousands of miles from civilization, like in one of the novels she loved so much as a child.
Clara took to the sky again; in a few minutes she was flying over Nobosivrisk. The city was calm and starting the day "thank god" Clara said to herself. She decided to fly at super speed towards Metropolis. She felt great sadness. As Superwoman flew, she wondered if truly wandering the world with a red cape and allowing herself to be called Superwoman was truly following her father's advice, and if being alive, Joseph Kent would be proud of her as was her mother. She felt a small twinge of pain. Halfway through she heard several calls for help "Well, it's a job for Superwoman".