THE SUPERWOMAN FROM KRYPTON: THE ETERNAL COURSE (IV)
Written by MalloryDyatlov59 :: [Tuesday, 20 June 2023 11:36] Last updated by :: [Friday, 17 November 2023 11:48]
This is the fourth chapter of my fanfic about Superwoman.
In this installment we learn who is helping Lex Luthor against Superwoman and his real plans. We also witness the difficult relationship of Clara Kent and Louis Lane while wewe go back to a few years earlier, to see the worst of the confrontation between Superwoman and the Kryptonian army of Zod and Faora who tried to end human life.
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 a fanfilm about the story see here!(1) SUPERWOMAN 1948 - YouTube
Somewhere in Vermont, September 1948
Lex Luthor got out of the car, a black Studebaker, under the watchful eye of his chauffeur and bodyguard, and walked along the roadside. The forest almost closed over his head. The sun was shining brightly, yet it barely filtered through the branches. He walked briskly towards a clearing where a stream sounded and there was a wooden bridge. The summer had been very difficult for Luthor. The work with the Kryptonian pathogen had not ceased and was extremely complicated. Several scientists had died, as well as several people used as guinea pigs. The work with ICARUS continued, but the Kryptonian's corpse did not reveal all its secrets for the time being. Only a few months had passed. On the Island of Death, or whatever they called it in the Aleutians, they had drained the lake and were about to start digging up the capsule that emitted the strange sound. Twelve thousand years buried. All the last months of work of all the teams of the Rand Corporation were in his hands, and the most important of that work was to be found on six microfilms hidden in six fountain pens he carried in his jacket.
The summer was ending, the election campaign was in full swing. Luthor had obtained authorization to move ICARUS' body from Area 51 to an island in Metropolis Bay owned by TELCORP where a group of scientists were working with him. He had thus removed him away from the Pathogen. Maxwell Lord was still obsessed with the Pathogen but had suddenly regained interest in the capsule buried in the Aleutians and in the alien technology. The Area 51 team seemed to have discovered some very interesting things in the alien technology concerning wiring and chips.
Luthor sighed and stubbed out a cigarette over the bridge railing. A young bald, well-dressed, priest-like little man emerged from the trees and approached Luthor.
– How are you, Colonel Luthor?
– Colonel?" Luthor's expression was one of surprise, but he quickly understood.
– Congratulations on your new rank, Comrade Stalin is grateful for your services. The Russian atomic bomb and our extensive knowledge of extraterrestrial life would not be possible without you. I have nothing to give you, just shake your hand.
The little man smiled. Luthor knew his name was Karla and that he lived in San Francisco, but he treated him as Tony. Luthor smiled and shook the other man's proffered hand.
– So Luthor, what do you have for us?
– A collection of fountain pens, Luthor took them one by one out of his jacket and held them out to Karla.
The little man smiled-This is very generous from your side.
– The last three months have been full of effort and hard work.
– Won't the political change affect you?
– No, I have subordinated myself completely to Maxwell Lord and I am his strongest supporter in the Rand Corporation, and to General Hardy. They now believe they are in charge, giving orders and counter-orders. I have gotten them to agree to move the Kryptonian's body away from the Pathogen and it is now on an island in Metropolis Bay. Research on alien technology and the pathogen remains inconclusive. Perhaps your scientists can advance faster than ours.
– Don't be confused Mr. Luthor, your scientists are not really your scientists, and mine are your comrades.
– It's clear to me.
– It's normal, sometimes in these situations you get confused about what role you are playing, right?
– I am very clear about which side I am on.
– Don't worry.
The little man smiled at Luthor with beatitude and understanding.
Luthor was besieged by the cynicism and distrust of the Soviet agent. His political evolution had been chaotic. He had always been upright in his personal life, had never had religious concerns, believed in progress and equality of man but also in freedom. He had believed in the scientific method. He had believed in capitalism. He had been a staunch conservative in the early 1920s, when he began working for Nikola Tesla and they founded the TELCORP company, making enormous advances in broadcasting, aviation, electricity generation and computing. The Great Depression unhinged Luthor. The upright, conservative world he believed in crumbled. Corruption and poverty were everywhere. Luthor was still wary of communists and revolution. The Soviet Union seemed to him incapable of making real progress. He had become enthusiastic about the Nazis and the Italian Fascists. The Fascists would bring Europe to its feet, would stop the American expansion which he saw as too corrupt and above all the French and British depredation in Africa and Asia. His illusions were soon shattered when it became clear that they were only racist, violent, delusional, and reactionary regimes. Without quite knowing why Luthor began to study Marxist theory, he sympathized with them, they were historicists like him. Marxists believed strongly in the study of history to understand present and future processes, and in the progress of man. The brutalities of Stalin's regime were only an anecdote explained by history, perhaps a necessary evil. He began to correspond with university professors.
When the Nazis invaded the USSR he felt a strange passion, and he himself went to discreetly take to the Soviet embassy some secret computer plans they were preparing for the US army and a plan for efficiency in secret radio communications. The Soviets were suspicious of him and forbade Luthor to go near them again. They must have been watching him closely, because a few months after Pearl Harbor, Karla, the little man recruited him. He was the first big businessman to be recruited in America for the Soviet cause. Luthor had learned not to hesitate, and the collaboration with the Soviets had been like a balm to his spirit. All his genius and abilities were both in the service of scientific progress, and the only viable path for mankind, which seemed to be socialism or at least a socialist hegemony that would keep the USA and Europe at bay. He was the rallying point, a bridge man, a demiurge confronting the pettiness of imperialism and capitalism while playing the role of the best man in American capitalism. His pride was inflamed. But that damn flying woman...Superwoman, meant a setback for Humanity. A terrifying and uncontrollable inhuman force, but that under the mask of kindness would subdue all mankind...and also made the USA believe that it had the strategic advantage of a super-powerful woman, pushing the military conflict with the USSR. World War III was at the gates under the baton of a beautiful alien. It was unacceptable. She had to be put down.
– You would do well to have a more political profile in the months ahead, Mr. Luthor.
– I beg your pardon?
– Be a hawk, you must be the most hawkish and the most anti-communist in the Rand Corporation. You must pressure the new government to use any scientific discoveries against us. If you succeed, we may be able to bomb Area 51 and the Isle of Death eliminating any dangerous alien remnants.
– Have you made any progress with the small sample of the pathogen I gave you last time?
– I am not authorized to tell you. It is up to you to make as much progress as you can on your side.
Luthor stared into infinity. He wasn't used to truly obeying anyone's orders, but the Soviets were the only ones he could trust to take down Superwoman and stop World War III. He had already gone too far. He himself had killed Nikola Tesla, his mentor, his teacher, the man who made him rich...he had smothered him with a pillow in the hospital because he had discovered that Luthor was passing Manhattan Project information to the Soviets. He had done it with tears in his eyes, but he had done it and he would do it again.
– How are your wife and daughter?
Luthor's heart skipped a beat, he hated it when the Soviets referred to them. They were his weakness, what he loved most, what he could never sacrifice unless he then assumed his own death.
– They are very fine, thank you very much.
– They are in the press a lot," the little man laughed, "It's good, it helps us a lot, no spy has such a famous and nice family. Do you think they would adapt to the Soviet Union?
Luthor thought of his wife Aline, busy at the Tesla Foundation, the leading philanthropic organization in the USA. He thought of his daughter Leda with his little grandson. Leda was a lover of art, photography, fashion...always on the cover of magazines. No, they would not adapt to the USSR.
– What worries me, Tony, is what's in the capsule.
Tony handed him a lighter and made him put it in his jacket.
– These are the codes for when they open the capsule. If there is anything of concern you will know, contact me by phone in San Francisco and repeat those codes. In two hours there will be a nuclear bombardment on the Isle of Death. Comrade Stalin will tell the world that we had to do it because the United States of America was playing with forces that could cause the death of millions of people, and that we don't want any war and we don't want to disturb American civilians. And we will get you out of America in 48 hours and you will go to Leningrad as our greatest scientist.
Luthor looked at Karla/Tony with distrust. He would never accept an extraction; it would be a noose around his neck. The Soviets would never trust him, and he would fall in any purge. If discovered, he would take his own life. He would leave a detailed written explanation for his family and History itself to absolve him.
– And think about how to use ICARUS and the Pathogen against Superwoman as soon as possible. I have been told that Comrade Stalin is very uneasy about her. Believe me, Comrade Stalin is in more of a hurry to take down that alien than your Rand Corporation comrades, who I see as somewhat confused and greedy, Colonel Luthor.
The little young man smiled and plunged back into the forest.
Metropolis, Harry's bar
Clara Kent looked at Louis Lane with some concern as he sipped his whiskey. She adjusted her glasses and smiled slightly.
– So Saturday we go to the movies?
– Yes, but to see Tom&Jerry or Donald Duck, we can't take Emily to see McBeth," they both smiled.
Louis looked down at the table, suddenly pulling himself upright and putting on a holier-than-thou expression as he threw his shoulders back, something Clara had learned to identify as a sign of nervousness in him.
– As soon as the elections are over, we should talk, Clara.
Clara was startled and blushed a little.
– We should talk?
– Yes, talk, about our friendship, our career... you have been working with me for three years at the newspaper. We could go away for two or three days. Nantucket, Innsmouth or some discreet little town. Walk, talk, make decisions.
Speak clearly please, foolish man, Clara thought.
– Are you going to quit the paper if Dewey wins the election, Louis?
– No, I don't think so, I just want to talk to you calmly, with time. Just you and me.
Clara's heart was racing, finally, finally it can't be true.
– I would love to Louis
– Two rooms, some books, a lot of walking.
– You're putting too much emphasis on walking, if you want, we can take a walk from Battery Park to Riverdale today.
Louis laughed, and grabbed Clara's hand, squeezed it tightly.
– There are many things I want to tell you, perhaps I should have said them before. My situation needs to be clarified. And you are a woman with great potential, you are a much better reporter and writer than me.
Don't beat around the bush, Louis.
– I think the same thing...about the fact that we have to talk about many things...I don't agree with the other thing.
– Oh Clara, you're always competitive and stubborn, and you didn't like me as a columnist, don't play docile now.
Clara ignored the joke. Louis had proposed a trip together for two months from now, just the two of them together. At last everything could start to become clear, maybe at last she could tell Louis the whole truth about her. She felt anxious.
– Louis, why two months from now and not now? I would "walk and talk" with you for as long as it takes today.
– I have a few things to do first, and I can't get too distracted by the election campaign. I'm sorry. It's just that I need to go without any burden on my back to "walk and talk".
One more euphemism in their relationship full of shadows, lies and misunderstandings, "walk and talk". But who was the mouse and who was the cat? Was Louis really going to separate from his wife Patricia? Clara thought back over the past three months as Louis rambled on about polls and the chances of Dewey's victory over Truman. Since Superwoman had been busier than ever, she spent half the day with her red cape unfurled, barely getting two hours of sleep. Still, it had been a very happy and hopeful few months. People were very appreciative and felt so much affection whenever she helped someone, whether it was the victims of a typhoon in the Philippines or a robbery in Dallas. With Louis it seemed that things were moving forward, even if it was so slowly. She had spent a hot summer in the city with Jimmy and Lucy, and the three of them had often escaped to the beach. She had thought about seriously confessing at last to the two photographers that she was Superwoman but at the last moment she had backed out.
– The Superwoman issue has inexplicably faded from the campaign, complained Louis.
– Truman and Dewey agree that Congress should put limits on her, but then you talk to Congressmen and Senators and none of them know what limits. Superwoman already complies with UN protocols-Clara smiled, thinking that the criticisms of Superwoman from months ago had begun to fade from memory.
– It's anti-communism... I'm anti-communist as the most, but the temperature rises with that damn Berlin blockade. That's to be expected. Superwoman is apparently on our side.
Clara thought about the Berlin blockade. She had flown containers and containers of medicine and supplies into the blockaded city throughout the summer and continued to do so. She hadn't meant to, but the pressures on her from the army and politicians had stopped after that. She didn't know whether to be annoyed or relieved. Only Luthor was still a problem.
– Out of curiosity Louis, how many times has Superwoman saved your life?
Louis was startled by the question and his expression turned icy.
– Two, in my fall from the airship, and in Greece from the guerrilla. But I don't think my life was in danger in Greece.
Clara put on a funny look at Louis' lie. She had saved his life six times already: from the fall of the airship, from Carmine Polito's Intergang who wanted to assassinate him, twice from Zod and Faora who threw him through the air, from Metallo and Luthor's henchmen, from the guerrilla war in Greece...
– Twice is enough Louis, she must be worried about you.
– I trust she is not very clear about who I am and what my name is.
Oh, she knows who you are, I'm afraid it's quite clear for her, Clara thought. She looked around, Harry's Bar was a sleek, modern bar full of famous people, she felt a little out of place.
– Clara, what are you going to do about Luthor and the Rand Corporation issue?
– I am very blocked.
– Don't get obsessed with it, keep an eye on it, but don't look for the sake of looking.
– I'm not looking for the sake of looking, I think Luthor and Lord have cowed everyone, and no one wants to talk. And there seems to be a fairly bipartisan consensus that everything the Rand Corporation does is wonderful and is progress.
– Did you get the interview with Luthor?
– I don't understand anything, he calls me for interviews and then cancels them. He has invited me to a bipartisan Tesla Foundation fundraiser.
– That's because he doesn't want to talk too much and he wants you to see how good he is, obviously you should go.
– Of course I'm going. I'll have to rent a new dress and a pearl necklace but I'm going to stand up at that party and I'm going to stay until Luthor speaks to me.
– That's right don't let the prey escape.
– Louis...you used to like Lex Luthor...when did you change your mind?
– I don't know, it started to seem megalomaniacal and dark to me. It's an intuition. I honestly believe that he is a shady person.
Another lie, Louis, another shadow play. Clara knew perfectly well that Louis' opinion had changed as soon as Luthor kidnapped him to lure Superwoman to fight Metallo. Luthor...Clara was locked in with him and the Rand Corporation. Clara had run into a wall of silence in her investigation as a journalist. She had flown to Area 51 as Superwoman, but it was hellish. The army had lined all the buildings with lead, her x-ray vision couldn't see anything. Loudspeakers emitted an unbearable radio frequency, inaudible to a human but intolerable to her. At superspeed neither she nor Flash had been able to enter discreetly. All the entrances were coated with carbon and glass dust that made movement almost impossible. The only way in was to break in openly from the roof, but Superwoman couldn't attack a U.S. base. Whatever Luthor and the Rand Corporation were planning would remain a secret. Batman was devising a plan to quietly break into Area 51, but she knew that, if they did and were discovered, Luthor would go public, and events would be unpredictable...and Louis would turn even more against Superwoman. She had to be patient, something she was very bad at.
– Have you seen the pictures Life has published?
– What photos Louis?
– Photos have been declassified of the fight between the Army and Superwoman against the Kryptonians...from the battle in Hudson Bay two years ago.
– I didn't know there were photos.
– They must have been leaked, I don't know by who and why.
Well, my dear Louis, you were there, and I was there. Clara's memory slipped back to those days.
Just a beep.
A deafening beep. That's how Clara and everyone on earth who was near a radio or telephone knew something was wrong. It was a hot July in 1946. She had barely been working at the Daily Planet for nine months and hiding her red cape under her office clothes. Everything was new and exciting. The world was in love with Superwoman, and although she felt overwhelmed, the fact that she could finally use her powers without having to hide and help others made her happy. The moment when she had to sneak out of the office or discreetly enter a phone booth to open her jacket and shirt and show off her Superwoman costume was exciting and exhilarating. The world was complicated, the ruins and horrors of war were still present, but Superwoman gave hope to the world, and being Superwoman was at that moment more of a relief than a challenge for Clara. At the paper she was making rapid progress despite Cat Grant's horrible character, and although she was sometimes intimidated by Louis, she was happy to work side by side with that handsome, gentlemanly, serious, ironic and sometimes annoying man. She did not yet know that she was in love. Then, on July 16, 1946, a deafening beep interrupted every radio and telephone in the world, and a rough, dry voice with a strange accent broke over the airwaves in almost every language.
GREETINGS APHTERIS, THIS IS HOW WE KRYPTONIANS KNOW YOU EARTHLINGS. WE ARE GENERALS ZOD AND FAORA.
WE ARE THE III DIVISION OF THE KRYPTON ARMY, BUT WE DON'T COME AS SOLDIERS, WE COME AS REFUGEES. OUR PLANET HAS BEEN DESTROYED. WE ARE ITS LAST SURVIVORS.
APHTERIS FRIENDS, WE SHARED A FRIENDSHIP THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO, THEN THE STARS SEPARATED US.
WE ARE AWARE OF THE PRESENCE OF A KRYPTONIAN WOMAN ON YOUR PLANET. IT IS CRUCIAL THAT WE ARE ABLE TO MEET WITH HER.
WE CANNOT SETTLE ON EARTH. WE ARE TOO DIFFERENT. WE WANT HELP FROM YOUR GOVERNMENTS TO CONTINUE OUR JOURNEY AND FIND A NEW HOME. WE NEED FUEL AND FOOD.
KRYPTONIAN LIFE IS INCOMPATIBLE WITH APHTERI LIFE. THE KRYPTONIAN CITIZEN YOU CALL "SUPERWOMAN" MUST LEAVE WITH US. WE ARE HER PEOPLE.
WE NEED YOUR HELP.
PEACE FOR ALL.
The message was not reassuring. Clara jumped out the window as she stripped off her clothes full of confusion and giddiness, and flying as Superwoman quickly arrived at the Fortress of Solitude, begging her house robot Kelex to explain who Zod and Faora were. Kelex had been sent folded up like an iron ball in the pod in which Clara arrived on Earth. He didn't deploy until 1940, when to Clara's surprise he revealed himself as a robot guide and showed her the holograms of her parents, who loudly explained who she was and what she was doing on Earth. They also told her which was her birth name, Kala-El. It was all too confusing for Clara. She wept bitterly on her adoptive mother Martha's shoulder.
With the outbreak of the war, she took the opportunity to try to forget and serve others as a nurse, but the horror of the war and the fear of making things worse with her powers was lacerating. In 1944 she single-handedly kept the hospital ship USS SHUSTER afloat and managed to beach it after it was torpedoed by the Japanese. There were more than 3,500 wounded American soldiers and Filipino refugees inside. There Clara decided that she had to talk to Kelex again and use her powers to help others. Together they searched for weeks in Alaska for a glacier where there was a large Kryptonian ship that had been there for thousands of years. Her father's hologram revealed to her that the Kryptonians had initially caused a lot of good to humans but had then tried to destroy them, fortunately failing in the attempt. All that had happened 12,000 years ago. On that ship Clara put on for the first time the ceremonial female costume of the House of El that had also come in the pod in which she arrived on Earth. In the future that ceremonial costume would be recognized as the uniform of Superwoman. She began to train her powers. She had little time. The world needed her. There she flew for the second time. Earlier she had managed to levitate briefly and in Kansas when she was a teenager, she even managed to fly a few hundred meters before crashing into a tree and splitting it in half, to the horror of her father.
It had only been a year and a half, but it seemed like an eternity. The hologram of her father and mother was clear, she couldn't trust Zod and even less Faora. They were fanatics and monsters. They had been willing to kill millions of people on Krypton. They had sent them into the phantom zone, a wormhole, sabotaging their ships. Somehow, they had managed to escape and reach Earth. She couldn't trust them. She was already human, even if her physiology was Kryptonian. She had to defend Earth and the Humans. She must not allow the Kryptonians to try to destroy Humanity again. She flew quickly to the White House to explain to President Truman that he should not trust the aliens and that they should be expelled. Superwoman would be responsible for expelling the invaders, but she needed help. She did not know how, but she had to do it. Kelex informed her that without having spent so many years on Earth to receive enough radiation from the Sun, the Kryptonians would probably be mere hulking humanoids and that Superwoman could subdue them. She didn't doubt. She was human, believed in God, adored her adoptive mother as much as she missed her father, adored her few friends, dreamed of being a mother and writing a biography of Mary Shelley. She was also Kryptonian but her biological parents or at least those holograms that repeated their thoughts were clear: Krypton had failed, its culture had become cruel and insensitive, they had destroyed the nature of their own planet. Earth did not deserve the same fate.
– Some polls just came in from Rufus, Dewey down in California and Ohio but up in Illinois, here we are at least ten points up on Truman. It's going to be tougher than expected for us.
– Am I boring you with politics? Excuse me
– What will you do if Dewey loses Louis," Clara looked at Louis in frustration, they had been so close to a heart-to-heart conversation, but it had all come back to the present day, the damn election campaign.
– I won't do anything different than what I do unless McArthur calls me.
– Would you leave journalism to work on a McArthur campaign?
Clara looked disapprovingly at Louis.
– Maybe I don't like journalism anymore Clara, I'm tired of it, you have it in your blood, you love it. I want to teach history. I would like to write about the peoples of the sea and the end of the bronze age, or about the High Middle Ages. I've always wanted to get a doctorate but marriage, war...in a couple of years I'll probably be doing that.
– Or inflating elephant balloons for McArthur.
– Would you find it too unbearable? Let's forget politics Clara, I know you could never vote the same as me... The article you told me about last week for a literary magazine? And your children's stories? The two publishers I introduced you to told me your stories looked promising.
– I don't have time, Louis.
– I can cover all the time you need Clara, you are a walking writing machine, I have enough articles for three weeks. Go on vacation. I'll say it was my order. Only Cat can be bothered, and it really doesn't matter.
I wish you could understand Louis.
The government distrusted her. The military mobilized, all the armies of the world. She did not know whether to fly towards Zod's three ships that hovered barely a thousand meters above the waters of Hudson Bay or to wait, she did not want to disobey the President. The U.S. government then prepared a secret embassy to meet the Kryptonians within hours of the message. Military and scientists led by General Hardy, two senators, Lex Luthor was invited, but declined...and Louis. Even she didn't understand why the government immediately went after Louis, perhaps because he had interviewed and conversed with her for so long...perhaps because she was being followed and had shown some unwitting display of affection for him while acting as Superwoman. The government ordered Louis to join the embassy because of his supposed experience dealing with Kryptonians. Clara waited for an order or a message to report to Zod, knowing that what awaited was likely to be terrible, but she had to fulfill her duty.
– You seem distracted Clara, you really should rest. I insist that you take a vacation. If you want, I'll leave you the keys to Oyster Bay and you can take your dog with you for a week to rest and bathe and write about whatever you want. I don't want to see you like this.
– How so?
– Clara, you are very unfriendly today.
– No, I am as usual.
– I doubt it very much. If you were always like that I would prefer to eat with Adolf Hitler, or worse, with Cat Grant.
Clara looked down at her plate, she was angry, she didn't know why.
– Clara, go to Oyster Bay to my house for a week. Forget about Luthor, the election, me, Cat, everything. No one will bother you. Not even me.
Clara changed the subject.
– What were your favorite adventure novels as a child, Louis?
– Julio Verne, Salgari, Stevenson... anything that had to do with the sea.
– I wanted to be the Scarlet Pimpernel but as a girl, of course. I wanted to go with a mask and a sword helping those who needed it.
Louis looked at her with a glance that seemed to Clara to be one of suspicion or vague fear.
Clara Kent simply did not show up at the office the day after Zod's message. Many other employees didn't either, staying home with their families. People assumed Louis had done the same. He telephoned his wife and said he was wanted by the Army. In a few hours he was standing with the rest of the human embassy and his escort beckoning on a military barge in Hudson Bay. Superwoman had been flying around the world doing rescues and reassuring people, waiting for Zod's next move. She went to talk to the Soviets themselves, but they had no intention of listening to her, she was the Super-Lackey. She returned home to ask her mother Martha for advice.
You will do what you must do my love, you have a big and clean heart, I can't imagine there is anyone stronger than you. You have always thought of others. Do the same now. I will pray for you. Perhaps it is true that they come in peace.
No, it was not true. Through a painful frequency inaudible to humans came a constantly repeating message from Faora and Zod, both of them alternating every sentence.
Why don't you come Kala El? Are you afraid of us? How can you live among these busy and ridiculous apes? Do you hide among them? Why do you play the role of a Goddess who protects them if you don't live in a palace and you live like one of them? How much has it cost you to adapt to these stupid animals? Do you have esteem for them? How is it possible? Right now there are several of them that I've just threw off my ship and they have crashed into the water. Too noisy. The others are my prisoners. Report to me, reunite with your people. There is no logic in your servitude to these monkeys. We are waiting for you. If you do not come, I will throw out the rest of this ridiculous embassy sent to me by the Kingdom you serve and begin my task of sanitizing this planet without you. You will lose your chance.
Superwoman flew at full speed into Hudson Bay. The Anglo-Canadian and American armies were taking up positions along the coast of Ontario and Quebec, warships of all nations were entering the bay through Hudson Strait taking advantage of the thaw. Generals Patton and Montgomery were deploying tanks and barges. Superwoman had no time to meet them. Above the waters a thousand feet above floated among clouds three huge black ships, each much larger than the largest ship she had ever seen. One was huge and was a semicircle, another was seed-shaped and seemed to rotate, and the other was a strange rectangle with some sort of masts on either side and strange folded metal sails. Kelex and her parents' holograms had explained to her that they probably had no fuel either to continue the journey or to establish force fields. And what was she going to do? Kill them? Push them back into space without weapons so that they could continue their journey, although perhaps without any chance of survival? Her heart was pounding. With her X-ray vision and her superhearing she detected where Zod and Faora were, and where the prisoners were. Her heart skipped a beat when she recognized Louis among them. She flew with determination and with her fist she attacked what seemed to her a hatch, but it was not a normal metal, it was much harder, she felt pain, she barely dented it. The hatch opened.
– Emily wants a Superwoman doll.
– Really?" Clara felt some pride and happiness, despite Louis' negativity towards Superwoman, his daughter was now a fan of the superheroine.
– I'm afraid it's true...she had her Cinderella phase... now it's time for the Superwoman phase.
– What did you say to her?
– That she is an alien that we don't know if it is good or bad, that we can't control her...That we always must doubt people with such extraordinary powers and hold them accountable.
– What does she think?
Louis shifted in his seat uncomfortably.
– She sees her as some kind of angel or space princess. She just sees a pretty, smiling woman flying around in a red cape rescuing people and with wonderful abilities...she's been bouncing around the house in a cape for a week. I preferred her playing a princess or Daisy Duck.
Point for me, Louis
– Louis, if you don't give her a Superwoman doll, I will.
– You've never been particularly enthusiastic about her-Louis lit up a Cuban cigar.
– Are you going to smoke that stuff?
– I don't swallow it, it's healthy, I quit smoking thanks to you, but I think I can smoke a cigar.
– Whatever...no, I've never been particularly enthusiastic. The media focuses too much on her. She's just a woman of extraordinary background and abilities doing her duty. She does what she has to do. No more, no less. And I'm fine with her being regulated and subjected to laws, as long as she always has a free hand to help civilians. I neither hate her nor am I a fan.
– What would you do if you had her powers, Clara?
– The same thing she does. Do you, Louis?
– I would hide underground or fly into the sun to disintegrate or something. Such an existence is ineffable. Such a being cannot exist. It goes against thousands of years of humanity. It is not controllable. We are simply at her goodwill. It is not bearable.
Oh, Louis please don't, don't, don't say these things...
– You don't think she could be a normal woman?
– A being with those capabilities will never be able to share, understand, feel...our values, our way of life, our feelings...it will have tried to adapt and even tried to feel and behave like one of us...but it is not possible. And as the years go by, she will realize it more and more, and she will become a kind of empress or sovereign...not a kind of flying nurse or policewoman.
Clara felt very hurt and very far away from Louis. How could he be so close and yet so far away. How could she ever make him see how wrong he was, she felt like crying, but she pulled herself together.
– You know her, you've interviewed her, she's saved your life twice, you said...do you see her like that?
– I see an abysmally superior and different being, trying to behave like a human, but failing.
You are blind, Louis, blind, completely blind my love, what are we going to do?
Zod and Faora did not convince her. They greeted her with almost friendliness. The ship was very strange, it was different from the one in Alaska and her pod. It looked like a cyclopean metal temple. Only a few holograms and panels with buttons appeared discreetly. There were no more than thirty or so Krpytonians on that ship, and as many on the others on the other ships. She and a hundred other lives were all that remained of Krypton. They were all dressed in strange metal armor that looked electric.
Zod and Faora were very clear, there was no need to deceive themselves. They were coming to take over Earth and transform it using the planetary machines they had brought with them, all of humanity would perish. Their father Jor-El had betrayed them, but they were willing to forgive her if she would help them refound Krypton.
– The only thing I can say is that you must leave immediately, or you will regret it. You have no business here. You cannot adapt to living on this planet, so leave. I will not allow you to...
– Where are we going to go? Faora laughed gruffly, Zod hardened his gaze.
– Do you really appreciate them? What about your people? Your legacy? A million years of Kryptonian civilization, the most advanced and perfect the universe has ever seen. Do you live in love with these apes? Have you been able to integrate among them? That's crazy. You're mentally ill. You suffer from a mental disorder that many Kryptonian explorers had in the past when they spent too many years marooned on distant planets.
– There is nothing left of those million years. Wars and the permanent erasure of works of art and texts have destroyed everything. My father told me. Kryptonians fought to erase its own memory as hard as it fought to destroy its own planet. You will not do the same here.
– Your father, your father, you shouldn't listen to those ridiculous messages. Your parents were smart, but they were fanatics and they hated Krypton. I'm sure they longed for its destruction.
Superwoman decided to perform a demonstration of her powers to intimidate Zod and Faora, she stiffened her Kryptonian muscles which were marked on her blue suit and launched a series of heat rays on what she thought was a control panel, but it wasn't as easy as on earth, the panel took time to melt. The ship's light flickered.
She had barely been trying to melt the panel for two seconds when Faora angrily grabbed her by the cape with a force Superwoman didn't expect and threw her to the ground.
– Ridiculous stupid bitch.
Faora started punching Superwoman, who was struggling to defend herself. One of Faora's blows broke her a tooth. Faora's fighting skills soon overpowered her. She did not understand how this was possible. Faora grabbed her by the neck and slammed her to the ground.
– Stupid, stupid, you are a genetic aberration...you think we are fascinated by your little tricks...we have been traveling through space for years and we have received all kinds of radiation. This ship is made of metals that carry Kryptonite and it is an element that is deadly to you. We can kill you whenever we want.
Zod stepped forward and gently stepped on her back, Superwoman was bleeding but trying to stay calm and regain her strength.
– I can stab you here and now, daughter of Jor-El, but we need you. Where we are now was the North Pole of this planet before. 12,000 years ago we decided to modify it and erase Humanity. Beings so much like us, but so inferior. We do not understand how they got here. Perhaps descendants of some degenerate Kryptonian explorers. This planet has an eternal curse. At first many Kryptonians settled here and sympathized with those apes that looked so much like us, just as you have done. We taught them and also enslaved them. But as soon as we moved a few centuries away from them they dared to rebel and despise us. They even found ways to kill us, these damned critters. We should have finished the job and wiped them all out then, but there were too many Kryptonians like you and we left the job half done. It's a ridiculous and pathetic reverse of Krypton. It must be sanitized and repurposed into something else. So that Krypton can be reborn. The poles will return to where they were before. I have already sent a planetary machine to the antipodes of this place, where the action will begin. The eternal curse of these beings is to be fulfilled. They will be erased. To be frank, we believe we are exposed to some of their weapons and we need to work calmly. I am willing to spare your life, and even let you have some humans as pets or toys, if you help us destroy the armies of the Earth kingdoms while we activate the planetary machines. This would be an eternal course for Kryptonians, reach the stars of our potential, be the master race, and cast an eternal curse on the indecent animals of this planet.
Superwoman tried to hold back the pain and the dizziness. She thought of her adoptive mother and father, she thought of the people of Smalville and the Daily Planet, of her neighbors, of Louis...she thought of the people she had seen die in the field hospitals in the Pacific islands where she was a nurse, of the refugees and wounded of the USS Shuster she saved from the torpedo, of the pictures of the Nazi concentration camps, of the images of Hiroshima...no, she would never allow it, it was too much for her, it was unfair, but she would never allow it, she would fight to the last consequences. Despite the pain of the blows, she moved at super speed. The Kryptonians were also moving fast but not fast enough. She grabbed Zod by the electrified boot and threw him with all her might against Faora. The two crashed into the wall and were stunned. Their guards were firing strange beams at her, but she could more or less dodge them. There was a large domed glass, a kind of visor or window, Superwoman threw herself towards it with all her strength and broke the glass into a thousand pieces escaping from the ship. That kind of glass wounded her and cracked her suit and cape. Oxygen flooded into the ship as Zod and Faora gave orders to their guards to fire their cannons at Superwoman and to expel what was left of the human embassy from the ship.
The dozen or so remaining embassy men were thrown from a hatch while Superwoman super-speed-dodged the beams and projectiles. Enduring the pain, Superwoman using her super-speed rescued all the embassy members and deposited them on land or on nearby barges as best she could. Louis was the last to be thrown through the hatch and the last to be rescued, Superwoman flew towards him at a speed she had never had before.
– God bless, what are you doing here Louis? Superwoman didn't realize she spoke in Clara Kent's voice; Louis was too nervous to notice.
– Kala, thank God, who are they, what do they want? They have killed half of the embassy...
– I didn't get here in time... they're the worst thing you can imagine.
– The army forced me to come...they thought I would know how to deal with the Kryptonians because I was the first human to interview you.
Louis touched her face affectionately as he inspected the wounds on her face.
– Kala-El...you look awful.
Thank you, Louis.
– I feel fine, you have to get away from here, get as far away as you can, I have to warn the President, their plans are terrible.
She repressed the urge to kiss and hug Louis and took off at full speed as she watched the seed-shaped craft launch a strange bluish beam over the sea that caused an explosion. The shockwave was approaching a British battleship that was too close. Superwoman did not arrive in time, the shockwave burst the battleship. Nearly eight hundred men were killed. With almost her last breath Superwoman lifted the other 40,000 tons of another battleship and pulled it away from the blast wave and carried away the other barges. Then she lost her breath and was left floating on the water. She didn't know how long she was like that, maybe barely an hour, she was awakened by the pain and the roars of polar bears around her. She saw how the seed-shaped ship kept shooting a blue lightning.
She was to fly to the Fortress of Solitude and get more information from Kelex and her father to inform the military and attempt to destroy them. A complicated plan occurred to her against Zod as she flew in desperation to Alaska.
– Will you come to the boys' orchestra concert on Thursday?
– Yes, If I'm able, I'll go.
Louis had assembled an orchestra of boys from an orphanage and reform school in South Metropolis. It was actually a long-standing project of Louis' father, who, although a wealthy man, came from the area. The journalist knew how to communicate with young people and was not a bad conductor. He put in several hours a week and took his daughter with him to rehearsals. It was one of the things about Louis that amazed Clara when she discovered it.
– Do you have any of your special appointments, Clara?
– In this job, you never know...
Louis looked at her fondly.
– We don't sound bad
– Not at all...you sound wonderful.
– Don't give me a hard time, but the kids manage to get noise out of the instruments. And I manage to make sure that nobody notices that I'm not really conducting anything... just like in the newspaper.
Clara grabbed his hand across the table.
– I will do my best to be there.
– South Metropolis is not the Himalaya, you'll get there on the subway 4th line, my dear.
Twenty-four hours had passed. Superwoman had flown to the Fortress of Solitude and had argued for hours with the holograms of her parents and Kelex. Then she had flown to Kansas and brought her mother to safety in the Fortress of Solitude. Now she was in a White House office in front of a group of military men, politicians, and President Truman. In Hudson Bay the seed-shaped ship was still casting a blue beam on the water that made it boil. A swarm of small Kryptonian ships orbited around the beam and a giant humanoid robot walked around the beam and launched projectiles at any ship that came near them. The small Kryptonian ships attacked the Anglo-Canadian or American troops but could be shot down. Large caliber shells could injure and even kill Kryptonians. Even so, casualties numbered in the hundreds, perhaps thousands, not counting the casualties on the British battleship, HMS Manchester. Superwoman had flown there several times to help shoot down those ships and to discreetly protect Louis, but the important thing now was to talk to the President and the army leaders.
Superwoman was still wounded and almost disfigured, even though she had been able to regain strength and heal largely with sunshine.
– They must not have much fuel. Their small ships can be shot down by heavy artillery. There is a possibility of destroying their big ships, using the small ship in which I come to earth.
– We have received word that there is another ship in the Indian Ocean, very strange, also sending out that strange blue beam and an electromagnetic pulse. American, British, French, and even Soviet ships are heading there. It is also being protected by a swarm of those small ships, we call them "fly" ships that are easily shot down.
Truman's voice was broken, and he raised his voice again.
– Can you tell us again what these things are, Mrs. El?
Superwoman gulped at the many hostile stares.
– They are planetary machines...they alter the electromagnetic pulse of the earth and the tectonic layers, they need days to do it...they change the continents, the poles...then the Atmosphere...total destruction. In order to...well...design another planet. The one in the Indian ocean is the most important machine.
– Why should we trust you if during the worst war mankind has ever seen you were missing," said a foreign prime minister present at the meeting over the intercom.
Superwoman was hurt by the question but pulled herself together.
– I ask myself the same question.
Truman spoke again.
– Do you think you can finish off the Indian ocean ship...if it's the important one...before you help us with the Hudson's Bay ships?
– I'm going to try
– It's been a long, hot summer Clara...with the campaign in the middle.
– The campaign....
Louis gave her a cold look, but then that look turned to one of affection and almost pleading.
– It doesn't matter what I do or say because it looks like I'll end up hurting you...I don't want to waste your time.
Clara was trying to hold her breath and hold back her tears, why does everything have to be so difficult?
– You do me much more good than harm, much more good...Louis you have no idea how you brighten my days. Maybe you don't understand, but my day-to-day life is very complicated.
– There are many things we need to talk about.
– There are a lot of things we need to talk about and explain about both of us, but I am hopeful.
– Me too Clara.
Superwoman was flying at full speed around the planetary machine in the Indian Ocean. It was very different from the seed-shaped ship she had seen in Hudson Bay. It was a sort of perfect golden sphere that constantly shot out a blue beam that made the water boil. It was surrounded by two strange huge metal rings perhaps a thousand feet in diameter that were constantly spinning and emitting an unbearable buzzing sound.
The small Kryptonian ships protecting the planetary machine fought against the cannon fire of human ships and planes. They launched projectiles and rays, but human projectiles could shoot them down. Superwoman interrupted the beams with her heat vision and exploded the projectiles with her superstrength, protecting the planes that managed to shoot down the small ships. It weighed heavily on Clara's heart to know that there were thinking, sentient beings in there too. Very similar to her, very similar to humans. She had flown past each small ship begging the Kryptonians onboard to surrender in her rudimentary Kryptonian speaking, but she had not succeeded. The small ships were reduced to a third.
Then Superwoman placed herself between the two giant metal rings that were spinning and began to spin around the large sphere in the opposite direction, faster and faster, and throwing a heat vision at the same time. Soon she reached her maximum speed. The heat and exertion were unbearable for her, but she continued for several minutes until she heard popping and cracking noises...she ceased and closed her eyes. All around her the rings were exploding and falling to pieces into the sea...they were dozens of meters wide and high. They had not been able to overcome Superwoman's strength and speed in the opposite direction. Soon only the great golden sphere remained. The blue beam it was throwing had been reduced to almost nothing. Superwoman prepared to lunge at the sphere at full speed and with full force. She couldn't see if there was anyone inside. She slammed into the sphere at full speed and smashed through it. The pain was unbearable, she felt burns, broken bones in her hands and chest, metal melting around her... the Kryptonian materials were too strong for her, but she managed to reach the other side. Badly wounded, she could see how the sphere exploded and fell into the sea as well.
She could no longer fly fast, she was too exhausted and injured, her suit was in tatters. She waved to the pilots she distinguished as British and Soviets and shouted "thank you very much guys". She needed to fly into space and get some sunshine, she didn't know if she would have time to recover. She cried and prayed, then she stood still under the sun, I can do it, I must do it, and rose to the sky in direction to the sunlight with the highest speed she was capable of at the time.
It was time to take on Zod and Faora and wipe out the Kryptonian detachment in Hudson Bay.
– Maybe the world was about to end in Hudson Bay, it was just over two years ago and one has the feeling that it has been almost 20.
– Louis, maybe not, sure...who knows which horrible weapons the Kryptonians had.
Both had left Harry's Bar and were waiting for a taxi. The sun was fading and nightlights were on.
– Clara, Bob Menken has a strange, rather sinister theory about the whole Kryptonian invasion and the Superwoman thing...he told me about the other day in a social dinner.
– Hahahaha, I know you don't like him. He's professionally rude, but he's a very witty and intelligent man, for me he's the best head in the paper.
– And what is his theory?
– That the Kryptonians were called by the Nazis. That they were the famous secret weapons that Hitler and Goebbels talked about. They managed to contact the aliens and offered them the planet thinking the kryptonians were aryans but they arrived too late for the nazis. And that Superwoman is an alien or an android discovered by us or by the Nazis, whom we have brainwashed or programmed to obey us.
– What a horrendous crackpot... Do you believe it?
– No, but it's a curious idea. There might be something real in between.
Sometimes, you are really the dumbest man in the world, my dear Louis.
– Are you coming by taxi with me Clara?
– No, I'll walk to the office, I forgot my watch there.
Louis took her hand and kissed it, she blushed, and as a many times when Louis did that, the electric lights around them flickered from the invisible energy emitted by Clara. He didn't seem to notice.
– I'll see you tomorrow, Clara.
– See you tomorrow, Louis.
When the taxi left, Clara discreetly looked for an empty alley. Surely Superwoman has work to do. Under an emergency stair, she took off her glasses and jacket, opened her shirt revealing the El's house crest, pulled down her skirt and stockings revealing her almost unbreakable blue tights and unfolded her red cape. Up, up, and away!
The younger or more impressionable passersby pointed to the now recognizable red and blue blur flying overhead...