THE SUPERWOMAN FROM KRYPTON: THE ETERNAL COURSE (VI)
Written by MalloryDyatlov59 :: [Tuesday, 05 September 2023 13:43] Last updated by :: [Friday, 17 November 2023 11:58]
This is the sixth chapter of my fanfic about Superwoman.
In this installment the Maid of Might fights a terrible fire while Lex Luthor finally gets what he's been waiting for so long…Will it do him any good against Superwoman? Will it cause any aberrations in the process? Our superheroine has to face the fact that she can't be everywhere, and as Clara Kent, at last, she and Louis Lane confess their feelings to each other and share her first night together!
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
For the second chapter of the fanfic you can check hereSWM Library - THE SUPERWOMAN FROM KRYPTON: THE ETERNAL COURSE (II) - SuperWomenMania
For the third chapter of the fanfic you can check hereSWM Library - THE SUPERWOMAN FROM KRYPTON: THE ETERNAL COURSE (III) - SuperWomenMania
For the fourth chapter of the fanfic you can check hereSWM Library - THE SUPERWOMAN FROM KRYPTON: THE ETERNAL COURSE (IV) - SuperWomenMania
For the fifth chapter of the fanfic you can check hereSWM Library - THE SUPERWOMAN FROM KRYPTON: THE ETERNAL COURSE (V) - SuperWomenMania
For a fanfilm about the story see here!(1) SUPERWOMAN 1948 - YouTube
October 25, 1948. Metropolis
Lucy, Jimmy and Clara were laughing after eating together at a Metropolis coffee shop.
– Remember when Steve Lombard accidentally broke Katz's nose with a baseball?
– How mean you are, Lucy," Clara laughed.
– Oh, please, Clara, you'd be the first one to break Katz's nose," Jimmy joked.
– Katz is too close to Louis," Lucy said mischievously.
– You are the Witch of the West today, Lucy.
– We're not in Kansas anymore!
Clara smiled as she looked at her two friends. She was happy to work and hang out with them. And it was true that she didn't like Katz. He was a very disrespectful guy, and even once she had heard him make obscene comments about her. In revenge, she had heated his coffee with her heat vision until she heard him scream from a very slight burn. They had spent the morning in court, Clara hated doing court reporting, but Cat Grant, taking advantage of Louis' absence, had sent her to interview judges and prosecutors up for re-election. Jimmy and Lucy had spent the night as crime photographers, taking pictures of their friend as Superwoman, stopping criminals and avoiding accidents. Clara looked at them amused, the two photographers were exhausted and had crossed paths with Clara half a dozen times during the night, but they didn't know it.
– Clara darling, you hardly ever look tired.
– I'm one of the shortest but most restful sleepers in the world," the journalist boasted-that's a privilege I have as a farm girl!
Jimmy tapped the table.
– Well, who are you finally voting for?
– You know damn well, Truman. The economy is good, he doesn't want a war with the USSR like many of Dewey's allies, plus he's been able to tame the Southern Democrats and push for civil rights, Lucy replied.
– You're not thinking of voting for Wallace?
– Jimmy, for the umpteenth time, I'm not a communist and I don't hate Superwoman.
– He's not a communist.
– I don't care, communists will vote for him. And he does hate Superwoman.
– Yeah, I'm undecided. I'd vote for Wallace if it weren't for the Superwoman issue.
– Clara, you're not voting for Dewey, are you?
– Maybe she is, Clara spends her days with Dewey's clone.
– Louis is better looking.
Clara smiled at her.
– I'm voting for Truman for the same reasons Lucy said. I like Dewey a lot, but I don't like the top names in the GOP and civil and labor rights are essential for me…but no apprehension. My mother is voting for Dewey, Louis is voting for Dewey, Cat Grant, Lombard, Katz, Menken…as for me, I think I'll vote Liberal for Mayor, Democrat for Congress, and Republican for the Senate.
– There's not much to it. We work for a newspaper that has a bias. Even my father, who is an old liberal, is going to vote for Dewey. My father is very emotionally invested in this election, although if Dewey loses, I don't think he'll have as bad a time as he had when Willkie lost in the '40 election.
– I have a hard time imagining Louis and Cat voting the same way as Perry.
– Didn't Louis get upset about your vote, Clara?
– Louis isn't that partisan, plus he more or less took it for granted. I think the poor guy thinks I'm practically a socialist. Anyways Louis' man is General McArthur, The most dangerous guy in the USA after Lex Luthor.
– Louis is not that conservative…he was the one who launched the campaign "The Daily Planet Believes in Equal Opportunities" in '39, and who got Ronald Troupe hired. He has some sensitivity to civil rights.
– Ok Clara, we get it, he is to the right of most of the GOP but pretty far to the left compared with Generalisimo Franco, joked maliciously Jimmy.
They continued to chat while they ate berry cake for dessert. Then Clara and Lucy went to the bathroom to do their make-up. Neither she nor the photographer wore much makeup. Clara because every time she had to act like Superwoman and fly at super speed, her makeup would quickly disintegrate, Lucy simply because she didn't like it. She looked at herself in the mirror, she looked very pretty lately, and wore more stylish and modern clothes. She painted her lips coquettishly.
– Clara, lately you're almost always wearing pink or light-colored suits.
– I need a season of color, the journalist winked at her friend.
Help! The fire is approaching the cars! We need dynamite, if we blow up the bridge and this grove of trees, maybe we can get a fire break…oh my God, poor people…help! A torrent of desperate voices and anguished souls shook Clara's entire body. There was a fire in Oregon that had surrounded a little town.
– Are you all right, Clara?
– Yeah, I just forgot I have a 2:30 interview in Brooklyn Heights, I must leave immediately.
– You're not going to make it.
– No, I'm not on time, but I must go now.
Clara left the restaurant barely saying goodbye to Lucy and without saying goodbye to Jimmy. She immediately went around the block and entered an alley at super speed. In a fraction of a second, she took off her glasses, untied her elegant bun and let her wavy hair and a curl fall across her forehead. She took off her pink knit jacket and opened her white silk shirt, revealing her blue tights and the red and yellow House of El crest…as she took off her skirt and stockings, she unfurled her long, bright red cape. The superheroine known as Superwoman took off into the sky at full speed!
Superwoman reached the fire-surrounded valley in barely a minute and a half, hovered in the air surveying the scene…Dear God, help me. A caravan of a hundred cars and hundreds of people covered with wet blankets were returning to the town. The road was cut off by the fire. Superwoman saw other people getting into the river. Her super-hearing picked up the cries of a father and son. Flying at full speed, she found them in the middle of the road, surrounded by fire. Superwoman landed and rushed over to them.
– Are you all right? Don't worry, I'm going to get you out of here right now…are you alone?
– Yes, it's just the two of us, we had to leave the car over there.
Clara could see wondering, hopeful looks in the eyes of the father and child.
– Please come under my cape.
Superwoman spread her cape and covered the father and son, then wrapped her arms around them.
– Hold on tight… up, up and away!
Superwoman flew over the fire and smoke and deposited them back in the center of the city. Superwoman could see the police and firemen in the middle of the crowd and rushed over to them.
– Superwoman, thank God you're here!
– Thank you Superwoman!
Superwoman waved shyly.
– We are surrounded by fire…
– The fire was coming from the west, pushed by the wind, but the wind has changed direction and is now surrounding us.
– Are there any injuries?
– At the moment, several from smoke inhalation.
– What is the nearest hospital?
– St. Charles, about 30 miles away.
– I will get them there as soon as I get this fire under control. I've got an idea.
Superwoman took off and flew over the fire…I have to be very careful, with my super breath I can fan the fire more and with my freezing breath it can take too long to put out the fire and help these people and the wounded. Superwoman flew a low glide over the lines of fire that were closest to the road and the town, and with her freezing breath she was able to make them go down quite a bit. The fire still surrounded the town, but it was farther away…Now, Clara, calm down and try it again like you did two weeks ago…Superwoman flew to what she thought was the epicenter of the fire, placed herself a few dozen meters high and began to spin at super speed like a top until she created a solid tornado around her figure. The fire was caught in the whirlwind, turning into a tornado of fire that amazed the town dwellers, but was soon consumed, leaving a cloud of smoke and steam behind.
It's working, Clara, you're getting it! Superwoman repeated the same operation several times at different points of the fire until it was over. In between, she rescued several deer and their calves and dropped them off near the town. Soon the fire was completely out and a ring of smoke surrounded the town…No fire, no smoke, back to work! Superwoman repeated the operation once more, concentrating all the smoke around her figure and without stopping spinning, she lifted it into the sky. The smoke from the fire was lost in the heights.
In the town, everyone watched in amazement at what had just happened, praying, clapping their hands, or watching in silence. The beautiful red-caped lady descended from the sky again and was greeted with a huge round of applause. Superwoman landed and greeted the crowd with shyness but a big smile…I made it! Now I must help the wounded!
October 25, 1948, Area 51
President Truman was surrounded by the Army commanders, scientists, and Rand Corporation executives. Luthor sat smiling next to General LeMay, who, despite his warmongering impulses, was loyal to Truman and hostile to Maxwell Lord and General Hardy, who sat in the second row. Lord with some discomfort and Hardy with an expression of utter gloom.
The lights went out and a movie began to be shown from a small window in the obsidian wall of the subway room where they were sitting. First, it showed how very sharp metallic tools made of Kryptonite, handled by scientists wearing scuba, slowly amputated a foot and a hand from the body of ICARUS, the intact corpse of a Krytponian from the 1946 invasion. They then poured the thick black liquid found at Roswell, which they called the Pathogen, over the amputated foot of ICARUS. The foot began to swell, blacken, and deform. The toes of the foot became elongated and swollen and turned into tentacles. The foot, turned into a blackened cylinder with tentacles, began to move at full speed and beat on the glass window room in which it was enclosed. Then they spat out a thinner black liquid, the same Pathogen but refined with arsenic, liquid hydrogen, and a load of terrestrial germs. The small tentacled creature began to wobble and shrivel, dark liquid began to ooze from its pores, the creature collapsed and began to rot relatively quickly. A voiceover concluded:
The original Pathogen regenerated the tissues of Kryptonian corpses, creating monstrosities like the one you have seen…the Pathogen refined by our scientists destroys the revived tissues again, and not only that, but it also destroys dead Kryptonian tissues that were not altered by the original Pathogen.
The footage went on to show the refined Pathogen acting on ICARUS' amputated hand, which had not been bathed in the original Pathogen. The hand swelled, shrank, and eventually rotted.
– What does the refined Pathogen do to humans?" asked President Truman.
– It has a very similar effect to the original Pathogen, destroying tissue and killing and rotting the person, but more slowly. We have a detailed explanation in the report," replied a scientist.
– I have already read the report, but I want you to confirm it loud and clear, just as the report says.
A faint laugh of discomfort floated through the room.
– Is it impossible to know what the two Pathogens can do to a living Kryptonian?
– We don't have complete certainty, and therefore the risk is not acceptable given the dangers…we are almost certain that the original Pathogen would cause mutations and that the refined Pathogen would intoxicate and damage tissues, but we are not sure to what extent or with what consequences.
– I've seen the calculations.
– Mr. President…
– Well, you're doing a great job here with the wreckage and the analysis of alien technology. And this refined Pathogen is an extraordinary find and a potential weapon. As you know, this completes Contingency Plan I. All of the original Pathogen must be destroyed immediately or converted into the refined Pathogen. We cannot have a single liter of that liquid that produces alien monsters. Let's have a good amount of refined Pathogen on hand for any contingency with space visitors and continue to research alien technology. Now, as you know, we politicians have bad dates with the damn election campaign. You already know the changes, and after the election, whether the winner is me or my opponent-who is already informed of all your advances-we will continue to work hard.
There was a small round of applause, and the President and his escort and military staff began to leave the room. Luthor looked at Hardy and Lord, both of whom had been disgraced. The military chiefs and the President had purged them when their decision to delay reporting the discovery of the capsule buried on Isle of Death was discovered. Lord would lose his security clearance on January 1, 1949, and Hardy had been transferred to the reserves. Luthor had protected Lord, kept his business deals with him, and even though Lord was out of the Rand Corporation and the research at Area 51, he would continue to invest and profit. One never knew when he might exploit the television business and whether Lord would regain his security clearance if Dewey won the election.
Baroness Paula Von Gunther emerged from the crowd. Luthor looked at her condescendingly. She was a woman of elegant and aristocratic bearing, and a great scientist. Luthor despised her now that he knew the details of her actions in the war, but she was also of great use to him.
– Mr. Luthor.
– Congratulations on your work with the Pathogen.
– We expect great things from your work here as well.
The Baroness slipped two small items into Luthor's jacket pocket and leaned close to his ear.
– Keep your promises or we'll both go down.
Back in Metropolis, in the solitude of his office, Luthor revealed the microfilms Baroness Von Gunther had given him. They were a handwritten letter, accompanied by a series of directions to a sea route, photographs and a plan of a makeshift battery. Luthor sighed.
It had all happened relatively quickly. A few weeks earlier, Luthor had come to the opening of the capsule buried in the dried-up lake on the Isle of Death. It was some kind of massive diamond-shaped thing made of a very dark unknown metal but with a high Kryptonite content. Luthor sweated and felt a genuine panic at what was inside. They detected no sound inside and no sign of life beyond the faint beeping sound. They found what looked like a hatch, but it was sealed and only opened slightly after the use of several very powerful explosives. Using hooks and chains pulled by oil machines, they managed to make it give way. They had covered the whole excavation with a tent to avoid Soviet espionage, but thanks to Luthor the russians knew exactly what was there… Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, Mercy Graces was waiting for a call from Luthor, who had ordered her that if he called from the island, even just to tell her a series of banal things, she was to immediately call from a phone booth to a number of a flower shop in San Francisco and say a series of meaningless things, "Cobalt blue to match the satin," "Bloody red on top for the hat," "Delivery with maximum urgency," not knowing that they were messages requesting a Soviet nuclear bombing of the Isle of Death.
To Luthor's luck, no army of Kryptonians emerged from the capsule, only a terrifying silence and the beeping of gauges indicating that the ship's atmosphere was unbreathable and contained some radiation. A team of soldiers and scientists entered the ship, wearing scuba gear and carrying oxygen bombs. They claimed to have found nothing but alien machinery and several Kryptonian corpses, indistinguishable from humans but mummified or decomposed. The discovery was wildly celebrated - a complete alien ship at last! Even though it was only a safety capsule from a larger ship that was destroyed. The celebration was short-lived. As soon as Luthor left the island, he discreetly leaked the discovery to the President using a third person, blaming Lord and General Hardy for withholding the information. A special Army division took control of the discovery, and the Rand Corporation was allowed only to examine the ship's engines.
Luthor then used Baroness Von Gunther. Karla and the Soviets had already given him the information. Baroness Von Gunther had collaborated with the Nazi war effort…that was common knowledge, and so her position at the Rand Corporation and other research groups in America was extraordinarily discreet. The OSS had fabricated a biography of her as an Austrian monarchist and passive Nazi resister in case the scientist achieved a certain level of publicity. But the Soviets gave Luthor a series of pieces of information that exposed her not only as a committed Nazi, but as a delusional esoteric who had worked closely with the SS and even collaborated in the Holocaust and experiments on Jews. Luthor felt disgust for the Austrian aristocrat, but this information could put an end to her quiet life in the U.S. In addition, the Soviets informed him that they were holding the Baroness's only brother, a less than brilliant SS agent, who was Paula Von Gunther's weak point, the one person she adored. It was easy for Luthor to blackmail her, he had to use her closeness to Hardy and especially to Maxwell Lord, with whom she had an occasional intimate relationship and a certain political closeness.
The Baroness proved to be a very unresistant woman, much to Luthor's delight. In recent weeks, after the fiasco of the Gotham Harbor operation, she had confessed in detail to him all the activities that Lord, Hardy, and a small group of scientists, including herself, had been engaged in outside the official activities of the Rand Corporation. The Nazis had discovered remnants of prehistoric antediluvian civilizations, as well as remnants of Kryptonians and their technology, all over the world, and had used them in their war effort, with little success. Almost all of the scientists and archaeologists in charge of the project had either died or been imprisoned by the Soviets, as had her brother. She had worked to get General Hardy and Lord as much information as possible from these works. Luthor was disappointed that the Soviets already had this information and had not shared it with him.
Luthor continued to press her until she confessed that General Hardy and Lord did have a plan, despite their expulsion from the Rand Corporation. There were more than bodies on the Isle of Death ship. They had found a pod with an intact, living Kryptonian in cryostasis that they had not dared to open. They had named the Kryptonian CRONOS. The pod had remained operational because it was the closest one to the Kryptonian ship's emergency power generator and the system that emitted the distress signal. Apparently, the pod was powered wirelessly. All the others had opened over time, and their occupants had starved to death or suffocated inside the ship, buried under mud and water. The ship had no way to take off under that great weight. Only one had survived. Lord and Hardy had discreetly removed the pod from the ship and placed it next to an electrical generator on a ship that would carry excavating machinery, soldiers, and workers back to Alaska. They had disguised it as machinery. Their plan was to keep the Kryptonian alive in cryostasis and find a way to experiment on him. They called it "Contingency 2". They had the support of "underground" sectors of the Navy and Air Force and were operating completely behind the government's back.
The ship had not yet sailed. It would be escorted to Alaska by a pocket submarine. Luthor was elated… at last… a living, unconscious Kryptonian… the gateway to the latest experiments to find a way to defeat Superwoman. Kryptonite was not enough. If you fired a Kryptonite bullet at Superwoman, her powers would always give her the time and ability to dodge it. If Superwoman were to fight a robot or a human in Kryptonite armor, as Luthor had tried with Metallo, even if the superheroine was injured or weakened, she would never be sufficiently exposed. The atomic bomb was not an option for the moment. Luthor had not found a way to deliver one, and Superwoman would always have time to escape the blast wave. But with a live Kryptonian and the refined Pathogen, perhaps fire could be fought with fire.
Luthor asked the Soviets for permission to put pressure on Hardy and Lord, threatening the military man and millionaire that he would reveal his plans to the President if they did not let him work with them on Contingency 2 and take control of the body. He expected the Soviets to turn him down and ask for his help in stealing the body and getting it to Russia, but when he relayed the information to Karla and Karla returned the orders from Moscow 72 hours later, he was shocked: the orders were to help the Soviets get the body and the ship, but then the body was to arrive in Metropolis after a long voyage on other ships in camouflage, and Luthor's obligation was to experiment with it and report his findings every two days . The Soviets either lacked the resources or preferred that Luthor take the risk. If a catastrophe were to occur, it would be better for Metropolis residents to be exposed rather than Soviet citizens. Luthor accepted this with giddiness. He finally had the opportunity to put an end to Superwoman forever, and he hold the door to strategic balance between the USSR and the U.S. in his hands. The door to Peace. All was in his hands.
Luthor carefully copied the route the ship and the pocket submarine would take from Isle of Death to Anchorage, as well as the dates and weather forecasts. There would be a storm. A Soviet team would take control of the ship, execute the crew, destroy the pocket submarine, and take the cargo to Kamchakta. A Chinese-flagged ship would take the capsule with the body and the generator to Malaysia, from where they would transfer them to a Mexican-flagged ship that would cross the ocean to Panama. They would cross the canal and an American ship would take the capsule and generator to Metropolis, disguised as agricultural machinery. Luthor closed his eyes, in a few hours the information would be in San Francisco with Karla, his Soviet controller, and in another few hours it would be in Moscow. There was very little time…what about Superwoman, what to do with her, and what if she intervened?
Luthor pulled out another folder of photographs and notes. Despite the uncanny physical resemblance and several suspicious points in her biography, he refused to believe that the sprightly, mild-mannered reporter Clara Kent was Superwoman. But in their brief encounter at the Tesla Foundation party, it had occurred to him that they were undeniably the same woman. He would send his report on Louis Lane and Superwoman's possible secret identity to Moscow. Though he would keep some information to himself. The Soviet Union, even if they won, was an annoying, authoritarian master and they didn't trust him enough. And he could finally put an end to this flying alien who, in the long run, meant the end of mankind.
As usual, after a night of saving lives around the world, Superwoman was late for work as Clara Kent, so she entered flying through the window of her own office, which she shared with Louis Lane, and within seconds appeared on the door as Clara Kent.
A contrite Ronald Troupe typed furiously.
– For the afternoon edition, Ronny?
– Hi Clara, I didn't see you come in…well…what do you think?
– Well…people don't want to break away from the current model and Dewey hasn't mobilized his base, Clara tried to hide a grin.
Ronald looked at her with some sympathy.
– I know you're happy about Truman's triumph, don't worry, I wanted change, but it was a bad campaign…it lacked more work on the Jewish vote and the Catholic vote. It lacked risk taking and a lot of talk about civil rights. Dewey should not have been the tough candidate with Superwoman after he had supported her so much as governor and after how Superwoman helped break the Berlin blockade peacefully. Anyway…
Lucy Weiss appeared smiling and took her arm.
– Dad is very upset, but less so than in the '40 election. He wrote the editorial in his own handwriting, and I find it quite moderate and constructive.
– Where are Cat, Louis and Menken?
– I think they must have committed ritual suicide.
Ronald interrupted her.
– Cat is in her office, she hasn't taken off her coat and her sunglasses. I don't know if she's sober. She's dictating a column asking for McArthur to enter in politics and saying we're a broken society because people have become addicted to government intervention and welfare. Menken has come in, written his chronicle of Dewey's disappointment and left. He brought with him Louis' article, which is basically a eulogy of Dewey and a criticism of the Republican Party for being divided and having no machinery.
Lucy laughed with amusement.
– Louis must be hiding on a freighter right now, fleeing to South America. He was absolutely convinced that they had won.
– It was a very, very close call.
Clara returned to her office. She concentrated on finding the sound of Louis' heart. She had memorized the rhythm of his heartbeat as well as her mother's to make sure they were both always fine and to know where to find them. Louis seemed to be close to the city and was fine. She decided to call his home. A very familiar female voice answered.
– Mrs. Lane… this is Clara Kent from the Daily Planet.
– We've met before, Clara, no need to introduce yourself for the umpteenth time.
– Excuse me, I'm calling to see how Louis is and if he's coming to the office today.
– Mr. Lane is not at home, he hasn't shown up all night. Normally I hope that if I don't know where he is, at least you do. If you see him, remind him that he has a daughter and to stop by his house," Pat Lane replied gruffly and hung up.
Clara sighed. Katz came into the office and asked her to write a summary of the results in the state legislature. Clara wrote it up at super speed and left it on her desk. Katz would come in and get it. She changed into Superwoman and flew out the window to help anyone in distress.
After noon, she stopped by her house, picked up Krypto, and took the dog for a long walk, accompanied by Vinnie and Linda, her neighbor Charlotte's children. The children asked her several questions about Krypto and her job, which Clara happily answered, I hope someday I'll be a mother, even a foster mother. Clara lived in a tenement building near Washington Playground on 102nd St. She walked with the children and the dog to Central Park. She sharpened her super ears again looking for Louis, his heartbeat sounded very close, inside Central Park. Clara entered with the children and soon found Louis, dressed in an elegant suit as always, but completely disheveled, half asleep on a bench.
– Louis! I can't believe this! This is unacceptable!
Clara's voice woke the journalist, who immediately stirred and sat up, adjusting his tie.
The reporter looked sternly at Louis, who was staring sleepily and confusedly at the children. Krypto jumped up and began to lick him.
– Kids, this is Mr. Lane, my boss at the paper. He was just resting because he'd been up all night researching like a good reporter.
– Hello Mr. Lane
– I'll get you some ice cream.
Clara interrupted him.
– It's November and it's cold, no ice cream for anybody.
The journalist approached Clara.
– It was a terrible night.
– Please go home, Clara whispered to him.
– I think you're happy.
– Yes, but I don't like to see you drunk in public, it's embarrassing.
– I'm not drunk, I'm exhausted.
– Your wife is looking for you.
Louis straightened his hat and put it on. He approached Clara's ear.
– Do you remember the "walk and talk" we had planned, Clara? I'd like to go to Innsmouth this weekend. If that's possible.
– Tomorrow, we'll talk about it, Louis.
What a man, damn politics, and damn alcohol, sometimes it's unbearable.
– Well, children, a pleasure.
– Bye Mr. Lane
Clara, the kids, and Krypto continued to stroll through the park, but Vinnie stopped and asked her a question.
– Miss Kent, Is Mr. Lane your boyfriend? He always picks you up at home.
– No, he's just a friend.
South Gulf of Alaska, November 4, 1948
The USS Aludra, a Navy auxiliary freighter, sailed slowly, struggling against the swell. She had lost contact with her escort, a pocket submarine, half an hour ago.
Captain Auckland watched the swell through binoculars. He had thirty tribesmen and forty other soldiers and officers aboard and was on his way back to Anchorage. He did not understand what the hell the Army and Navy were doing on this island they called Isle of Death. Drilling for oil, he had been told. Since when did the Army drill for oil? In the Aleutians? Were they mining for uranium? In theory, he was taking mining equipment back to Anchorage, but the Navy had ordered him not to start unloading the ship until he contacted a Colonel, Hank Henshaw of the Army, who was to unload the equipment. Anyway, he had to follow orders and keep quiet.
– I thought I saw a light on the port side and a U-boat turret on the starboard side at the same time.
– The light must be your imagination, the turret must be ours, the pocket submarine.
– I don't understand why we don't have radar installed.
– We are not at war, calm down, they will be our people. In the worst case they are some fishermen from Anchorage.
Then the swell revealed a destroyer coming at them at full speed. It had come out of nowhere.
– Who the hell are they?
– It doesn't look like ours!
– It's Russian, damn it!
– They're coming towards us!
– They are trying to contact us by radio, telling us to stop the engines and stop the ship immediately!
– Under no circumstances, send immediately a distress signal to the navy…
He could not finish the sentence because a shell fired by the destroyer shattered the bridge and the radio antenna. No one was able to raise the alarm. Fighting against the swell, three gunboats filled with soldiers and carrying rocket launchers approached the freighter while the crew and soldiers on it struggled against the confusion.
Superwoman was flying the injured from a car accident to the hospital when, to her shock, she heard cries of horror and distress from three different places: Seattle, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh. It was terrifying when several things happened at once.
Pittsburgh was the closest place, so she dropped off the injured at the hospital and took off at super speed. She arrived in less than a minute. A nightclub troop was crowded against the wall as three men with machine guns pointed at them. There were already dead and wounded. The men began firing. Superwoman intercepted the bullets at super speed, disintegrating or melting them with her hands and heat vision. The bullets bounced off her tights without leaving a dent in them or her muscles, but she was surrounded by people and the bullets ricocheting off her body could injure the hostages. Enough, Clara.
The three men were still firing their machine guns, trying to hit the crowd pressed against the wall…why do they keep trying, why do they want to kill people? In just a few seconds, Superwoman ripped the machine guns out of their hands, smashed them with her super strength, threw the three men to the ground and tied them up. However, she noticed that the three men were convulsing and vomiting, in a few seconds they expired, Superwoman did not understand anything, those men were carrying suicide capsules of poison in their mouths! Who are they, why have they done this? Superwoman checked the pockets of the three men's suits at super speed and found nothing…she decided to concentrate on the wounded and fly them to the hospital.
Her next stop was Los Angeles, barely five minutes had passed since Superwoman had heard the distress calls. Flash had acted to stop the shooting. Something similar had happened, three men with machine guns had entered a nightclub and opened fire. Flash had managed to stop them, but just like in Pittsburgh, the men had suicide capsules in their mouths and were now dead.
– Flash, what's going on? The same thing just happened in Pittsburgh, three men shot into a crowd and then swallowed suicide capsules.
– What do you mean the same thing happened? I don't understand.
Clara looked around in amazement and picked up a wounded man.
– Help me get them to the nearest hospital, I need to get to Seattle as soon as possible.
At super speed, Flash and the superheroine carried a dozen wounded to the hospital.
Soon Clara arrived in Seattle, but she was too late…the police were there, a dozen wounded and seven dead, three of them again suicide shooters.
Superwoman fell to her knees in front of the wounded and the dead with tears in her eyes…it was unbearable that she hadn't arrived in time…would those people still be alive if she had decided to go to Seattle earlier instead of Los Angeles?
A policeman approached her and tapped her on the shoulder.
– We can't be everywhere, Mrs. Superwoman, not even you.
Superwoman lifted one of the wounded and took off into the night sky.
But the three incomprehensible gunshots and the wounded prevented Superwoman from hearing the explosion of a Soviet torpedo on the pocket submarine escorting the USS Aludra, and the gunfire inside the freighter as the Soviets took control of the ship and its cargo.
Luthor spent the morning locked in his soundproof room with the secure line phone, waiting for a call. He didn't know if the operation had gone well or badly. He sat in the dark. Hours passed. Finally, the phone rang as the indicator light turned green, indicating that it was an unintercepted call.
– Good morning.
– Good morning.
– How are you, did you get to bed early?
– I didn't sleep well.
– Our friends went fishing and came back late…
– Did they catch anything?
– Just some salmon, but they're very happy, they'll send you a steak to try.
– And the cousin?
– The cousin didn't come to fish with them. We sent other friends of ours to entertain her. She's very bad fishing company. We made sure she was distracted by other things.
– And now?
– I don't know, you tell us.
He heard Karla hanging up on the other end of the line. Soon two calls came in, one intercepted and one not. The first was from General LeMay, informing him that a freighter and a pocket submarine belonging to the Isle of Death Project had disappeared in a storm on their way back to Anchorage. Maybe it was the storm. If it were the Russians, everyone was in big trouble. The alert level was high, and the President was monitoring the situation.
Luthor smiled to himself, thinking of the absolute panic and stupor Maxwell Lord and General Hardy would be in.
The next call came from a private detective in Kansas. On February 27th and 28th, 1918, an unusual shower of shooting stars had been reported, and there had been small meteor strikes and fires in Nemaha, Jackson, Smalville, and Pottawatomie counties.
Luthor returned to his office and went over his reports on Clara Kent. He had in his hands a copy of her enlistment record as a nurse, dated January 1942. Date of birth: February 28, 1918, Smalville, Kansas. He checked another document: She served as a nurse on the USS Shuster. The USS Shuster, the hospital ship that was torpedoed in the Philippines and miraculously managed to beach itself thanks to what the military at the time called an engineering miracle and a lucky strong current.
He collapsed in his chair, overwhelmed.
I get it…but how is it possible…how can the most powerful being on earth come from a farm and live like a second-rate reporter…?
November 6, 1948, Innsmouth
Clara and Louis were walking on the beach, both wearing beige raincoats, hats and boots. Clara's boots were ironically red. Louis wore a tweed suit and struggled to light a pipe as the waves drenched their feet. They did not walk in step; Clara was slightly ahead. They had arrived the day before, the car ride was silent and almost uncomfortable. Louis persisted in talking about trivialities and the internal dynamics of the paper. At least he was no longer talking about the campaign. The blow of Dewey's defeat had been hard, and Louis wanted to forget it as soon as possible. They went to bed early in separate rooms. They had spent the morning talking about their childhood, Clara found the conversation relevant and enjoyable, but soon she felt frustrated. They had yet to discuss their future and their feelings. Sneaking out to act like Superwoman was proving difficult, but she had managed to do it all night while Louis slept and a few times in the morning, pretending to need to change clothes and calling her neighbors who were babysitting Krypto.
– You won't get the pipe lit; besides you're not supposed to smoke anymore.
– When I'm by the sea, I like to smoke.
– Why, is it healthier?
– Why do you care?
– I care, Louis, it's no joke, I've been a nurse and I've seen what a blackened lung looks like," Clara struggled to keep the wind from blowing her glasses and hat off.
– My lungs are perfect," Louis' voice was ruined by the wind and swell.
That's not true, my love," Clara muttered to herself as she used her x-ray vision to check Louis' lungs, which were beginning to show slight signs of tobacco abuse.
– Louis, we've been here for several hours, and you haven't told me anything about your future.
– There's not much to tell, I'm staying on the paper. At least for two years.
– And in two years what?
– I'll think about it again, maybe I'll go to teach in the university or to a diplomatic mission.
– A diplomatic mission would mean going abroad…
– Not necessarily, just short seasons….
– And your daughter?
– That's the main reason I have doubts.
– Will you send her to a boarding school when she's older?
– That's what they did to me and my wife…and I don't think it would work. I wouldn't like it. She should be brought up by her parents. There are good day schools in Metropolis, I don't want her to go to a girls' school.
– What about me?
– What about you?
– What do I do when you leave the paper?
Louis reached over and took her arm lovingly.
– You are one of the best reporters on the paper, everyone knows that. You are no longer an assistant reporter. Frankly, you should accept a senior reporter position and be on equal footing with me.
– And if you leave, I'll have to report directly to Cat Grant? No, thank you. As your assistant reporter, I have a lot of freedom to write about whatever I want, whenever I want.
– What if that ends up being frowned upon? And whose assistant reporter would you be if I left? You've grown up as a reporter, and you must accept that.
– You don't want to work with me?
– How can you think that, Clara?
Louis was very close, and Clara grabbed his hand and leaned against his chest.
– What does your wife think about us being here? Or haven't you told her you're with me?
– She knows and it doesn't matter anymore.
Clara's heart began to pound strong and fast and she could feel Louis's heart racing as well….
– She already knows that our marriage is over…and she knew a long time ago that I'm in love with you," Louis said sharply and dryly.
"I'm in love with you."
Clara wondered several times over the course of a few seconds if she had really just finally heard that. Finally. Tears flooded her eyes and she looked into Louis' eyes.
– What did you say?
– That my wife already knows that our separation is inevitable and that I'm in love with you.
Clara could not control herself and kissed Louis. And it wasn't like the last time Superwoman tried to kiss Louis after saving him from Metallo and Luthor. Louis returned the kiss and held her close as he stroked her hair. Clara lost track of time, they kissed for a long time, whipped by the sand and drops of the waves. Clara broke away, the lenses of her glasses fogged, but tears rolled down her cheeks. Louis was also visibly moved.
– Why did it take you so long to tell me?
– I'm not very smart my dear, besides I thought you already knew, I had to fix my marital situation… no… I didn't want to commit too much adultery.
– I love you Louis, I adore you, since the first day I saw you with your crutches grumbling in the office, even if I find you unbearable.
Louis took her in his arms and lifted her up. It can't be, I've finally got it, finally.
Louis and Clara sat together in a small café by the sea. The storm had increased, and it was already getting dark. They had their hands intertwined.
– What are we going to do now, Louis?
– I can't get a divorce, it's absolutely impossible for me. Pat knows that, and she thinks the same way. She threatened me with hell if I forced her into divorce proceedings. But she has been very reasonable, she understands that she has had another life outside of marriage and that I am in love with another woman. The priority for both of us is our daughter.
– And what will you do?
– Her parents live very close by, and Pat's two older sisters and their children live there. Emily will be told that her mother needs to live with her parents and that she will live with her mother, grandparents and cousins half of the weeks. The house is all theirs and they spoil Emily very much. The other half of the weeks she will stay with me. I may do the same and live with my parents, at least the weeks that Emily lives with me. She'll be spoiled by her parents, her grandparents, her cousins…eventually we'll explain to her that her parents are no longer together.
– And trying to reach an annulment?
– Pat turned it down, asking for a year to see how Emily develops under this situation…and what I do with my life. At first, she rejected the idea of separation. She was willing to continue living together as before and wanted me to make you my lover as she had done with others in the past. I refused. We formalized the separation before the priest who counseled us, but we remain husband and wife for the moment. In a year, when my position is clear and firm, and when Emily adapts, we will begin the process of annulment together. The archbishop knows us and knows us well…the vicar of our parish also knows that we perfectly fulfill the grounds for annulment.
She understood how important his religion was to Louis and what he had suffered, but she was also a Christian and did not understand how the very words of the same God made life so difficult for Louis.
– I'll step by your side, I just want to know if I'm going to be your discreet lover, or if we can be together in the light of day.
– The second with discretion, first …. then it won't matter, and after the nullity we shall get…
Clara put her index finger on Louis' lips.
– Hey darling, it's okay, we'll see.
– I don't want a situation like this to drag on too long.
– I don't mind, but I'd be happier being your wife.
Louis hugged her tightly.
– Clara Kent-Lane or Lane-Kent?
– I prefer my last name first.
Then Clara remembered that she was still Superwoman, that she wore her blue tights and red cape under her clothes, and that Louis hated Superwoman and wouldn't accept her. Did she have to tell him now? If not, when? Would she continue to lie to him now that he had finally left his wife and opened his heart to her? Or would she tell him the truth now so that he would get angry and run away? Doubt gnawed at Clara, all the happiness of the day was crumbling away. Louis noticed the sadness in her face.
– What is it, my love?
– Nothing Louis, it's been too much news and emotions for today, I'm overwhelmed-Clara gently grabbed Louis and pulled him to her.
There are days when I hate being Superwoman, today is one of those days. We could fly anywhere we wanted tonight and every day, if only he understood who I am and why I do this….
They ate in relative silence.
– You don't know how happy I am that you don't mention the campaign.
– It's your way of saying "Vae Victis," "Woe to the vanquished."
– You're a sore loser, my dear.
– I hope you haven't just figured that out.
They walked up the stairs of the small hotel in silence and stood at Clara's door. Louis gave her a quick, chaste kiss. Oh no, not this time, my dear.
Clara opened the door and waved Louis in. Clara could feel Louis torn between his desire and his scruples. Clara walked all the way into the room without turning on the light, leaving the door open. Louis finally entered. The blue and pink neon lights of another hotel across the street filtered through the window. They looked into each other's eyes with a strange expression. I waited a long time for you, Louis.
Clara turned and went into the bathroom while Louis sat in the dark in the armchair. In the bathroom she took off her clothes, then her Superwoman outfit, which she carefully folded and hid under some towels. She looked at herself in the mirror, her hair was down now, and she wasn't wearing glasses. It was impossible for him not to recognize her. It was crazy that he didn't. She decided to pull up her hair and put on a nightgown and a silk robe. Shyly, she walked out of the bathroom.
Louis jumped up as soon as he saw her coming out. Clara looked beautiful in the silk robe. Without glasses her look and expression changed…it can't be, she's identical, I've never seen her look so much alike, no, it's not, it's crazy, forget it, please, you're finally here with her. The vague neon lights changed color, changing the image of the two of them. Clara came closer, burning with desire, and threw herself into Louis' arms.
Louis kissed her intensely, accepting Clara's strength so they both fell onto the neon-lit bed. Tonight I won't be Superwoman.
At the same time, Luthor was preparing his final report for Karla. He wrote brief notes on Louis Lane and Clara Kent.
LOUIS JACOB LANE […] reactionary ideology, history degree from Arkham University, son of the well-known Jewish plutocrat but reactionary Admiral Samuel Lane. Raised Catholic. Interested in ancient history. Member of the Republican Party. Wins Pulitzer Prize in 1941 at the age of 29 for his articles on the capture of the mafia group "Intergang". Married to a wealthy Catholic like himself. Army major in the infantry. Served in North Africa in 1942, Italy in 1943, France in 1944, and Germany in 1945. Recruited by James Jesus Angleton in 1944 as an interrogator and analyst for the OSS, discharged in 1945, apparently with decorations, but in fact after being court-martialed. Despite his reactionary ideology, he was very sensitive to anti-Semitism. He is said to have pushed to death a captured Nazi boss whom the OSS wanted to turn into an agent and fell out of favor with the army. Violent and unpredictable, despite his advanced education. Obvious connection to Superwoman, saved by her on her first day of public appearances, was the first journalist to interview her, saved by her from the clutches of the Kryptonians in 1946 after the Army recruited him to negotiate with the invaders. He was seen with her in affectionate situations until at least early 1947. Superwoman is obviously interested in him. His virulently anti-Superwoman public stance, obsessively repeated in articles and radio talks, may be a cover. He may be the government's official handler of Superwoman.
Luthor reread the text, written in a tone and vocabulary the Soviets could understand. It was impossible that Louis Lane did not know that Clara Kent was Superwoman, and that the two had not come to an understanding. He then checked Clara Kent's profile.
CLARA JOSEPHINE KENT. Raised on a typical Midwestern farm. Large acreage, but strictly a family farm. Her birth is recorded on the same day there was a meteor shower in Smalville, Kansas, February 28, 1918, which may have been the date her ship accidentally crashed to Earth. Did she arrive as a baby? (…) no college education (…) elementary school teacher between 1938 and 1940 and navy nurse since 1942. Served in Guadalcanal, Coral Sea, New Guinea and the Philippines (…) scattered testimonies of miraculous healings and cauterization of wounds. Did she use her powers on the sick? Why didn't she act in the world war against the fascists? (…) Disappears for eight months after the torpedoing of the USS Shuster, a ship that inexplicably survived the Japanese attack (…) Reappears already hired at the Daily Planet under Louis Lane command as an assistant reporter (…) Quality reporting and relevant information but insists on a low profile (…) "liberal" ideology and insistence on the "civil rights" of blacks, European refugees, and other minorities. Occasionally practices Quaker religion, in reformist or progressive groups, sometimes attends their meetings (???) She does not separate from Louis Lane, they have lunch and walk together mostly every day (???) She has never been seen with Superwoman (???) She has never written an article about Superwoman.
Next to Clara Kent's profile were several photographs of the journalist and Superwoman, showing the absolute similarity of their features, their height, and a study showing that despite the clothes, the glasses, and the hair bun, they were necessarily the same person. Luthor hesitated, but he held the great secret in his hands. He had nothing to gain by sharing it with the Soviets. He could not risk a Soviet action against Clara Kent that he had not prepared. No, for the time being, his bosses in Moscow were not to know. Luthor put Clara Kent's file away again. He would only share the Louis Lane file with Karla and Moscow.