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Pawns of the Puzzler

Written by drmuttoncops2 :: [Wednesday, 27 August 2014 16:38] Last updated by :: [Wednesday, 17 June 2015 15:19]

“Up in the sky! Look!” “It's a bird!” “It's a plane!” “It's Superwoman!”

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! This amazing stranger from the planet Krypton! The Woman of Steel: Superwoman! Possessing remarkable physical strength, Superwoman fights a never ending battle for truth and justice! Disguised as a mild mannered newspaper reporter, Clara Kent!

 

The mood at the Metropolis Convention Center was the most upbeat it had been in a while. What with the nationwide pingpong championship being held there, the city needed some good clean fine to liven up while they rebuilt from whatever monster attack they were recovering from. As the officials went about their business, setting up tables throughout the massive room, no one seemed to notice the unsavory looking, thick jawed gentleman with a crew cut removing a ping pong ball from it’s package, and slipping another one in. The man then placed a bent nail puzzle where it could be plainly seen right beside the package, and with a cruel smile, went on his way.

 

It was about two hours later, and the tournament was well underway. At the main table getting the most attention, reigning champ Jim Prentice, a dashing and well built man in his late twenties with slicked back brown hair, was giving a fast paced workout to his heavily perspiring, wormy looking opponent across the table. Jim was playing it as cool as possible, however, as his paddle swatted the ball at an impressively fast rate.

In the crowd watching the spectacle were the Daily Planet’s star reporters Clara Kent and Louis Lane. Clara, dressed in a yellow jacket and green dress shirt with white tie, seemed interested, smiling as she watched the heated exchange between the two. Louis seemed less than pleased, however, scowling as he nonchalantly scratched.

“THIS was the best the Chief had for us?” He muttered.

“Oh, Louis, at least pretend like you’re enjoying yourself! It doesn’t say very much for your profession …” Clara quietly reprimanded.

“I like my profession just fine, Clara dear, but would it be asking to much of the Chief to pretend that he respects us?” Louis shot back.

Clara just shook her head and continued to watch.

Suddenly, Prentice landed an impressive smack that shattered his ball with a loud [POP!] There was a brief gasp from the audience, followed by enthusiastic cheering and clapping.

“Oh, wasn’t that fantastic, Louis?” Clara asked with vigor. [Sure, I can do that with my thumb and forefinger, but still …]

“Sure, Clara …” Louis replied in a non committal voice. “How much you wanna bet that’s the highlight of the whole assignment …?”

As Prentice grinned from ear to ear, taking a bow, he was handed a replacement ball by one of the officials.

“Louis, will you just …” Clara began to retort, before noticing an odd rythym within the ball with her super-hearing. Quickly applying her X-ray vision, she saw to her horror, a gloopy substance within. [Good Grief! Plastic explosives! I’ve got to act right away!] She thought with a horrified expression. Quickly turning to Louis, she exclaimed in a rapid voice “Uh … Louis, I have to powder my nose!” Before racing for the exit.

“Have fun, Clara …” Louis responded in a bored voice.

Clara cut through the massive crowd like a knife, throwing open the doors and whispering in a confident voice “This looks like a job for Superwoman!”

Clara rushed to a nearby alleyway, quickly looking around, and satisfied that no one was watching, immediatley whipped off her glasses, undid her hair bun, threw her jacket off, ripped her shirt open, revealing the large red “S” symbol on her costume, undid her tie, yanked down her skirt and kicked off her shoes, revealing her true identity in her tight blue and red costume as Superwoman!

Wasting no time, The Maiden of Might took a running leap with speed of a lightning bolt, zipping through an open window and immediately landed right next to a startled Prentice, just as he tossed the ball in his air to serve, snatching it! There was an excited set of cheers throughout the crowd!

Louis dropped his writing pad with an overjoyed expression “Superwoman!” He exclaimed.

Superwoman turned to the speechless champ with a friendly smile and stated in the voice of your local neighborhood girl scout “Pardon me, Mr. Prentice, but I need to borrow your ball. Here …” The costumed heroine then handed him another ball from the package, careful to inspect the inside first. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I must be going!” The Woman of Steel said pleasantly, before once again darting off towards the window and soared out, her cape flapping behind her.

The crowd once again went into pandemonium level cheers. Louis never even had time to react. Prentice couldn’t help but feel jealous of his spotlight being stolen.

Soaring high, thousands of feet in the air, Superwoman then, with relatively no pressure, squeezed the tampered ball in her hand, and suddenly was engulfed by a flash of light and a mighty explosion! The ball of flame in the sky had not even yet begun to subside, when The Woman of Tomorrow came soaring out of it’s clutches, completely unscathed. [Well, that was relatively easy, now to find out what sort of twisted malcontent is behind this!] She thought with conviction.

 

After a quick return back to the alley, where she once again donned her clothes, Clara once again innocently trotted back into the building, feigning unawareness about what had transpired. She walked up to Louis with a confused expression. “Heavens, Louis, you’d have thought the Yankees just won the World Series. What’s with all the commotion?” She asked with aloofness.

Louis, who was scribbling madly in his notepad like a man possessed, turned to Clara and said in the voice of someone who had just won the lottery “Wow, Clara! Did you ever miss a hot scoop! Superwoman just showed up and grabbed the ball straight away from under Prentice’s nose! Your nose must be invisible from all the powdering it received!”

“Very funny, Louis …” Clara replied in a catty voice.

Louis then turned to Prentice, whom he was interviewing and said “Now, please clarify for Clara here what you told me, Sir.”

“Oh … Uh … Sure …” Prentice answered as if he had just been awakened from a trance. “So, I’m going through my mail yesterday, when there’s this strange envelope with no return address on it. Addressed to me. I open it, and inside there’s this sort of threatening note saying that I’ve gotta bow out of the tournament today out of respect for him, since he’s the one true sportsman or however he said it … It was only signed with some silly name … The Puzzler.” Prentice explained.

A look of interest and concern came across Clara’s face. “The Puzzler?” She asked.

“Yeah. I figured it was nothing more than a crank letter, so I ignored it. Other than the letter, there was this small, strange set of bent nails in the envelope. I don’t know if it was a threat or …” Prentice continued.

Louis was now in full on arrogance mode. “Did it happen to look something like … This?” He asked dramatically, holding up an identical object to the one described.

“That’s it!! Where’d you get that?” Prentice declared in surprise.

“From a nearby table. It was just waiting to be discovered.” Louis explained as if he were an expert detective. “I’d say this little nail puzzle acts as The Puzzler’s calling card. Judging from that explosion, it looks like Superwoman just averted an attempt he was making on your life with something in that ball.”

“Huh … Real strange …” Prentice said in a confounded voice.

“Take my advice, Mr. Prentice, it might be a good idea to get some police protection.” Louis instructed in a warning voice.

[Hmm … Something tells me that I’ll be hearing from the likes of this Puzzler character again soon … I’d better trail him just to see that he gets home safely.] Clara thought with concern.

As Prentice prepared to leave, Clara tapped Louis on the shoulder and said “Louis dear, there’s a friend I’d like to visit in this part of town. You go on without me. I’ll take a cab.”

“Whatever you say, my love. More time to get this story into print!” Louis said enthusiastically, before giving Clara a smooch on the cheek.

As Prentice exited the door, Clara clandestinley followed, quickly sneaking into the alley once again, and using her super vision to track him.

As he approached his car, Prentice was horrified to see a very distinct bullsye painted on his driver’s side door! “What in tarnation?” He exclaimed.

[I knew it!] Clara thought.

“Damn kids …” Prentice muttered to himself as he entered the vehicle.

“If my hunch is right, kids had nothing to do with this, but Superwoman will!” Clara said as she whipped off her glasses.

 

Moments later, as Prentice drove down the street at an even pace, Superwoman, as unassuming as a bird, kept at a safe distance, soaring high in the air, keeping tabs on him.

 

Off in a meadow, two tough looking thugs, waited with machine guns, hidden in the field.

“You sure he survived da ping pong trick, Chuck?” The thug who had placed the explosive ball in the package said, turning to his friend, a terrible looking gangster with wirey faded red hair, a scar across his eye and a Scottish wool hat on his head.

“Dat’s what da Boss told me. Dat Superwoman dame interfered, so we’s changin’ our approach …” Chuck answered before quickly turning his head. “Get ready, I think dat’s him!”

Sure enough, Prentice’s targeted car came over the hill side stretch of road.

“Now aim for da target, Barry!” Chuck teased as the men raised their guns!

However, just at that moment, Superwoman had looked ahead just in time to see the gunmen about to fire! [THERE!] She exclaimed, as with the finesse of a hawk, she executed a power dive straight towards the side of Prentice’s car! Just as the gunman began firing their Tommy guns, Superwoman landed right in front of the target, the bullets bouncing harmlessly off her chest! Prentice slammed on his breaks in amazement! “It’s you!” he said joyfully. The Woman of Steel responded with a friendly smile.

“CRIPES! Its Superwoman!” Barry exclaimed in fright.

But before the stunned men could even react, Superwoman lept right over to them like a human flea, and grabbed them by the fronts of their shirts, lifting the muscular men off the ground!

“Now, boys, don’t you know that hunting humans out of season is a Federal Offense?” She reprimanded in a sweet voice, as if they were disobediant pre-schoolers. “Now, let’s see what you have here …” She said, reaching into Chuck’s pocket and extracting another nail puzzle. “My, what have we here? Looks like another calling card of The Puzzler. I’d better take you boys for a little ride!” She said authoritively. “Now, I’m presently without handcuffs, but these guns should do just fine!” Before snatching the weapons from the men and, upon rougly letting them down, quickly twisted the solid metal guns around their wrists! She then looked over at Prentice and called out “You should be alright for now! Drive safely!” Before grabbing the bound men by the collars of their shirts and taking a skyward leap!

Prentice was completely astonished! “Wow …” Was all he could utter.

 

Two Officers were outside chit-chatting with each other when Superwoman gracefully descended in front of him with the two glum thugs in tow. The cops were dumbfounded despite the fact that they should’ve been used to it by now.

“Afternoon, boys!” The Maiden of Might greeted pleasantly, before shoving the two crooks over to the boys in blue. “I believe this handful should keep you busy, what with trying to murder Jim Prentice and all …” She then produced the nail puzzle and tossed it to one of the officers “Here’s their boss’ calling card. Bye!” She then saluted before leaping into flight.

After a short moment of stunned silence, the cops hustled the two goons into the station.

 

The men were searched, photographed and fingerprinted, where it was discovered the two had a mighty long rap sheet of robberies, assaults and burglaries. They were taken to the questioning room where little progress was made to find who had ordered the hit on Prentice, other than the mugs growling “I ain’t sayin’ nothin’.” After about a half-hour of this, the men were taken to a holding cell.

“Hey, Chuck … You don’t think the boss is lettin’ us take da rap for dis, do ya?” A nervous Barry asked.

“Eh, don’t sweat it, Barry, da boss is good on his word … He’ll spring us.” Chuck reassured.

Just then, there seemed to be a commotion near the front of the station.

“Unhand me, you brutish buffoon!” Came a peculiar sounding man’s voice.

Near the front door, a fancily dressed middle aged man with a thin goatee, holding a walking cane, with old fashioned spectacles, and long dandified brown hair atop a repulsive, almost skeletal looking face, struggled with the arresting officer, who was roughly tugging at his arm.

“Hey, pal, you were the one who threw a brick through that window! No sense in bawling now!” The Officer reprimanded.

“What’s the problem here, Sam?” Sgt. Casey, the grizzled older officer asked as he entered the room.

“Just a senile old delinquent. Probably on the loose from a home or somethin’.” The other Officer theorized.

“Would you like to bet, gentlemen?” The strange old man asked in a soft, sinister voice, covertly twisting the end of his cane. “I think you may have overplayed your hands …” Then, with a sudden, swift motion, he pointed his cane at the officers, and with a flash of light, thousands of volts of electricity surged through their bodies, knocking them unconcious to the floor!

With a snicker, the man quickly tossed off his wig, revealing a hideous balding head, barely covered by whisps of grey hair. Taking hold of the keyring on Casey’s belt, the man walked briskly towards the cel that housed the two gangsters and without even giving them a second look, unlocked the door and opened it.

“Let’s get going, you bumblers! There’s work yet to be done!” He ordered.

“Gee, thanks, Boss! I knew you wouldn’t forget us!” Chuck said with a near toothless grin.

“Silence! If I had any more operatives at the moment, I WOULD HAVE forgotten you! Steal some guns and ammo from the closet and let’s get going!” The ugly old man ordered.

“I dunno, Boss … Dat Superwoman broad’s pretty quick and strong!” Barry said uneasily.

“True … She is quite powerful …” The old man said in a reflective tone, before placing a familiar nail puzzle upon Casey’s desk. “But she has yet to play The Puzzler’s game!”

 

Back at the Planet, Clara had just walked through the door, when Jenny Olsen followed her in. “Clara! Boy, am I glad I ran into you! The Chief wants to talk to you. An urgent scoop just came up!” She announced.

“Thanks for letting me know, Jenny! Where’s Louis?” Clara asked.

“Delivering his story, I guess. I’m not sure if he made it in, yet.” Jenny responded. “Say, how did you get here before him? Didn’t you two go together?” She asked suspiciously.

“Oh, I …uh … had some other business to attend to, and I got into a cab that hit a bunch of green lights …” Clara explained on the fly.

“Oh, Alright then! Better catch the Chief before his head falls off.” Jenny cheerfully replied.

“Well, once more into the breach …” Clara remarked good naturedly.

 

Clara hadn’t even set an inch of either foot in Perry White’s office, when the large man lept from his desk and rushed to her. “Land sakes, Kent, where have you been?! A massive scoop just broke out and half the staff is out to lunch!” He shouted.

“Heavens, Chief. Whatever’s the matter?” Clara asked in a concerned manner.

“The Puzzler’s gang has just been broken out of prison! Knocked out two officers and left his calling card behind!” Perry explained.

“Good grief! Right on it, Chief!” Clara inadvertantly rhymed, saluting briskly, before dashing off.

 

Louis, cocksure as ever, sprinted into his office, a broad smile on his face. “Oh, boy, if this isn’t a surprise scoop! Superwoman herself foils assasination plot! And here I was carrying on about it being a rotten assignment!” He chuckled.

Once again, cub reporter Jenny Olsen walked in, this time carrying an envelope in her hand. “Oh! Uh … Louis …” She greeted him nervously with a deep blush.

“Hi there, Jenny.” Louis replied, seemingly ignorant to her affectionate behavior. “Say, what have you got there? The tax office sending my notices direct to The Planet?”

“Uh … No, Louis, it was actually for Clara …” Jenny remarked a little sadly, seeing her affections unreturned. “I was wondering if you could pass this onto her …” Handing him the envelope.

“Sure thing, doll.” Louis said, taking it in his hands. As Jenny walked out, Louis looked at the solid red envelope suspiciously. [Hmm, no return address … Could this be …?] He thought, his pulse starting to race as he swiftly tore it open, exposing the letter within.

It read in plain, neat cursive text [Miss Lane, I seek your audience for an interview regarding the motivations for my playful actions. I shall await your prescence at -] And then provided the address of what Louis recognized as a downtown apartment block, before signing it [The Puzzler].

A sly grin crossed his visage as he thought. [Oh, boy! What a lead! Sorry, Clara dear, but I’ve got to strike while the iron’s hot!] He then adopted a cautious expression [Sounds like it could possibly be a trap. Better take some precautions …]

 

“Electrocution came from his cane?!” Clara asked Sgt. Casey in a surprised voice.

“Yes, Miss Lane! It hurt like the Dickens! We were out cold, and when we came to, the cell door was wide open and some of our guns were missing!” Casey explained, his face flushed with frustration.

“That’s horrible!” Clara replied, adopting a look of righteous anger as she jotted his responses into her notepad. “Was there anything else unusual you noticed?” She asked.

“Well, there was the matter of that little ball of nails left on my desk. I don’t remember it being there before.” Casey stated, pointing to the desk, cluttered with papers.

“What?!” Clara exclaimed as she rushed over to the desk, and sure enough, there was the familiar nail puzzle placed out in the open. Clara immediately spun around, addressing Sgt. Casey as if she were interrogating him. “Did you get a good look at the man’s face? His features?!”

Sgt. Casey was somewhat taken aback. “Uh … Yes, I did, Miss Lane, he was truly an unpleasant sight to behold. He had a bony, malnourished complexion, a very thin grey goatee, and a pair of spectacles. He was also wearing a long brown wig, which he seems to have left there on the floor.” He detailed, indicating to the cast off head of hair on the floor. “So I’m unsure what the top of his head looks like.”

“Thanks, Sgt. Casey! I’ve got to be going!” Clara quickly stated, dashing out the door.

“Wait! Miss Lane!” Casey attempted to call out, before scratching his head in confusion.

Once outside on the curb, Clara spotted a yellow cab heading her way. “Taxi!” She called out, holding up her hand. As the cab pulled up beside her, Clara thought. [Boy, what a lead! I hope Louis hasn’t tried anything risky while I’m gone!]

 

When Louis’ blue sporty Ford pulled up to the apartment that matched the address on the piece of paper, quite frankly, he wasn’t surprised that this is where a criminal would want to hold up. The place looked like it was destined for a wrecking ball, what with it’s cold grey walls full of spider-web cracks, a battered, sagging roof and several broken windows on muliple floors.

“Oh well … There but for the Grace of God …” Louis muttered under his breath, as he took great care getting out of his car, looking about cautiously as he carefully edged his way towards the front door. As soon as he opened the front door, it nearly fell off its hinges. “Boy, this place certainly remembers the Alamo, he quipped as he headed inside.

The interior was just as bad. The stench of mold emitted from the ratty, worn carpet, paint chipped off the faded beige walls. The elderly manager behind the battered front desk was fast asleep, another sign of a crooked operation. “Sweet dreams, Mister …” Louis remarked sarcastically as he headed towards the shoddy looking staircase. [No way in heck I’m taking the elevator!] He thought.

The location, which was mercifully only three flights up was more of the same, musty smelling, uneven masonry. However, there was an added bonus waiting to greet him, as soon as he reached the top, the two thugs, Chuck and Barry, stood menacingly, pistols in hand with somewhat startled expressions on their hideous faces.

“Who da Hell are you? We was expecting the dame!” Chuck raised his voice in surprise.

“Sorry to disappoint, gentlemen, but Miss Kent couldn’t make it. I’m Louis Lane, her co-worker at The Planet. I’ve come instead.” Louis informed the goons with a sly expression.

The thugs gave an uneasy look to each other, before Chuck growled “Alright, but don’t you try no funny stuff!”

The two then gripped Louis tightly around the forearms and muscled him through door “312”, and into a darkened room, where he was thrown into a hardbacked, uncomfortable chair, where a bright, blinding light was then shone on his face from above. As Louis squinted to adjust his eyes to the glare, the silhoutted image of the frail baldheaded being came into focus.

“Good day, Sir. I was actually expecting a young woman, but I suppose I shall make due with you …” The sinister, high pitched voice said. “I must apologize for your rough little escort, but a man in my position must take great care, you see …”

“Think nothing of it …” Louis muttered bitterly, before explaining. “My name is Louis Lane, and I’m another reporter at the Planet. So, I assume you’re this great Puzzler character …”

The Puzzler’s bony frame and face, sitting behind a fancy looking oak desk now came into the full view of Louis’ vision as he began to expound “Yes, Mr. Lane, I am this “Great Character” you speak of. Allow me to explain. You see, from the time I was a young boy, the very concept of games of chance, riddles and puzzles fascinated me. I was amazed at the great mental skill it would take to conquer some of these obstacles, and others would simply be blown in one direction or another by the sweet breath of fate herself. Being of a sickly sort most of my life, I decided to exercise not only my brain, but my sense of pleasure as well, and what better way to combine the two, then to wreak a little havoc on the citizenry, then to subject them as living pawns in my game of chance on a grand scale!” The Puzzler concluded with a dramatic flourish and wave of his hand. Before staring directly into Louis’ eyes with the glare of the devil himself, informing him with a sense of darkened glee “A game of which you have now become a player, Mr. Lane!”

But Louis, Ever alert, simply raised his eyebrow in a cunning manner, objected “Sorry Mr. Puzzler! Not today! I’m invoking my “Get Out of Jail Free Card!”” Before swiftly reaching into his waistband and extracting a revolver, which he pointed straight at The Puzzler’s face! “Now if you don’t mind, I’ll be taking my leave now!” Louis informed him confidently.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Lane, but that card is out of play!” The Puzzler informed him matter of factly, before swiftly pressing a button beneath the desk he sat at.

Instantly, Large metal buckles emerged from one side of the chair and wrapped around Louis, binding him, and causing him to drop his pistol to the floor! “What! What the blazes?!” Louis asked in a frightened voice.

The Puzzler chuckled fatly as he casually walked to Louis and picked up his gun. “Now, Now, Mr. Lane, I’m an expert at all types of games. You don’t think I’d face someone unprepared, now do you?” He said condescendingly, before addressing his men with a harsh bark “You damned fools! Why didn’t you search him before he was brought in?!”

“Sorry, boss …” The two thugs replied sheepishly.

“Now, Mr. Lane …” The Puzzler began in a conversational tone, before hitting another switch under his desk, a panel then slid out from the wall revealing a large blue and red segmented wheel on a gold pedestal, like something out of a game show. “Let us play a game … With your continued life as the prize …” He concluded with a manical grin. Despite the man’s frail appearence, he managed to give a rather potent spin, creating a type of pinwheel effect. Giving another devilish smile to Louis, The Puzzler imparted with a sinister sense of glee “This wheel, Mr. Lane, can be compared to the wheel of fortune itself, so unpredictible … Never can tell when some terrible misfortune might befall you … That misfortune is represented by these red segments upon the wheel … If by some terrible MISfortune, the wheel is to land on these red spaces … You face a most PAINFUL death by eletrocution!” He concluded with a hiss.

[Oh, Superwoman … Please help me …] Louis trembled in his thoughts as he attempted to send some kind of psychic message.

 

“Oh, Louis deeeaar!” Clara said in a cheerful, singsong fashion as she sprinted through the door to her office, only to find it empty … “Oh, what has he gone and done now?” She muttered to herself.

Jenny, seemingly oblivious, greeted “Hello again, Clara! Say, did Louis give you that envelope you recieved?”

“What, envelope? I didn’t see any such thing.” Clara responded suspiciously.

“Isn’t it on your desk?” Jenny asked.

Clara carefully scanned her work station’s contents. Nothing. [Something sure smells fishy here …] Clara thought. She then turned cheerfully to Jenny and answered “I’m sure it’ll turn up if I look for it, Jenny!”

“Alright then, Clara! Hope you find it!” Jenny smiled as she exited.

Clara’s mind immediately flew into panic mode as she rushed to Louis’ desk. [Oh, boy! I hope I’m wrong about this!] She considered frantically. Finding nothing on his desk she peered into his wastepaper basket, and taking a crumpled up piece of paper from the top. She unfolded it and scanned it with her eyes at super speed. Sure enough, her fears were realized. [Oh, Louis! You foolish man!] She thought with fear and frustration, as she dashed from the office for the nearest stock room, already snatching off her glasses. “This is a job for Superwoman!” She exclaimed as she zipped inside the stock room, slamming the door behind her.

Once inside, Clara turned on the light, swiftly undid her hairbun, practically ripped her jacket and dress shirt off her body in one quick motion, yanked off her tie, kicked off her shoes and pulled down her skirt. Now, standing proud in her true identity as Superwoman, the Woman of Steel quickly hid her clothes behind some boxes, shut off the lights, and rushed out the door, not even bothering to look for passersby. She then pushed open the window and soared out at the speed of a missle, headed towards her destination. [Hold on, Louis! I’m coming! Please let me be there on time!] Superwoman thought with desperation.

 

Perspiration poured down Louis’ brow, as his heartbeat seemed to match the sound of the fluttering wheel as it began to lose speed. His eyes darting in desperation from each color to the next. Then, as the wheel began to slow to a sluggish pace, Louis was horrified as with a sudden stop, the wheel halted on one of the red spaces!

“NO!” Louis shouted in fright.

“Oh, too bad …” The Puzzler said with a mock sense of regret, shaking his head slowly, only to point to the floor below him. “But you see, Mr. Lane, naturally, the deck is stacked in my favor, thanks to this pedal on the floor!”

“Why … Why you cheating piece of …!” Louis shouted in protest.

“Ha! No time for that! Your number’s up, Mr. Lane!” The Puzzle smiled wickedly, manuevering towards the table, where a button press attached to a long black wire awaited!

Suddenly, the adjorning wall exploded in a shower of plaster and drywall! Right there in the large hole, The Woman of Steel stood heroically, her cape fluttering in the breeze, one finger pointing accusingly at the villain! “Not today, Puzzler!” she shouted with righteous indignation!

“SUPERWOMAN!” The Puzzler shouted with fright.

“My hero!” Louis exclaimed with relief.

In less time than it takes to blink one’s eye, Superwoman was upon the villian, jerking him into the air by his collar!

“You unhand Mr. Lane this instant, or I shall deal with you in a very unladylike manner!” She threatened, pressing her indignant face against the criminal’s.

“Hold it, Toots!” Came the voice of Chuck off to the side. Superwoman looked to see that he already had his finger on the button that would decide Louis’ fate! “Let the boss go, or your pal here gets toasted!”

Superwoman, realizing the delimma, gritted her teeth in frustration as she, quite roughly, set The Puzzler down with great reluctance.

“Oh, come now, calm yourself, Superwoman. I’m a sporting man. I shall give you a chance to save the life of your companion, if you would join me in a battle of wits in an invigorating game of checkers!” The Puzzler explained with a sneer, pointing over to a checker table set already set up in the corner of the room. “If, by some odd chance, you manage to best me, I shall set Mr. Lane free.”

Superwoman looked over sympathetically at Louis, before glaring defiantly at the madman, and declaring “Very well. But ODDS are that you shall be embarrassed!”

The villain grimaced as the two moved towards the table. The Puzzler sat at his place before the board’s black pieces.

Superwoman playfully raised an eyebrow, asking “Not seating a lady? My, how rude!” In a taunting fashion. She sat daintily, positioning her cape behind her chair.

“If I further my lack of tact by going first …” The Puzzler half-heartedly aplogized, as he reached for his first piece, making a short move on the board. “By the way, I think I should warn you that I happen to be the best checkers player on Earth!” He boasted.

Superwoman only smirked and said with confidence “Well, I haven’t played this game since I was a young girl, but I know I still have enough know-how to best you!” Before expertly jumping her red piece over one of the puzzler’s!

The game carried on. The vile Puzzler made several brillaint tactical moves, but he was quickly trumped at every turn by The Maiden of Might, who matched each of his manuevers with precise efficiency!

Louis, still bound to the chair, could only look on fightfully, sweat cascading down his face. [Superwoman, please use all your mental faculties to beat this malcontent. I beg you!] He thought with abject uncertainty.

By this point in the game, several “captured” pieces from each player’s army now rested on the opposing team’s side, off the board. The Puzzler’s lead black piece already had a single piece atop it, but Superwoman’s was already a fully crowned “King” (or Queen in this case) with three.

[Hmm … It seems I have underestimated this heroine in the brains department! Better switch to another strategy!] The Puzzler thought, his eyes darting about nervously. He then addressed her in a very unassuming manner. “Alright, Miss Superwoman, it is now your move …” However, at that moment, as he nonchalantly seemed to motion his hand across the board, he secretively palmed one of Superwoman’s pieces in his hand! [Heh! Stupid girl! Now let’s see you get out of this one!] The evil man gloated internally.

However, The Woman of Tomorrow was only too aware of the crook’s little trick. [Hmm … Think you’re clever do you, you fox? You messed with the wrong woman!] She then addressed him with as sweet a dispostion as possible “Ah, so it is! Alright then, watch carefully!”

Then, with an incredible burst of speed, Superwoman’s hand, in a blur quicker than the blink of one’s eye, executed a dazzling series of moves across the board, coming to a sudden stop at the top of the Puzzler’s side, with most of his peices off the board, his one remaining piece blocked!

Slowly and deliberately, Superwoman looked The Puzzler dead in the eye and with a smirk, declared “Game!”

“WHAT?!” The villain exclaimed, grabbing ahold of the board and looking at the remaining pieces with a sense of disblief! He then sunk down in his chair, mumbling “Unbelievable …” Before regretfully rising and walking toward the desk and pressing a button that released the bonds on Louis, who sighed with relief.

“There you go, Superwoman, I’m a man of my word …” The Puzzler said with a grimace.

Superwoman rushed to Louis, taking him in her arms, and looking him lovingly in the eyes. “These monsters didn’t hurt you, did they?” She asked with a concerned voice.

“Nah. Besides, I’m alright now that you’re here.” Louis, responded, returning the look.

Just as Louis was about to move in for a kiss, however, they were inturrupted by the Puzzler’s maniacal laughter. “HAHAHA! You fools! You didn’t think I’d let you two escape alive, did you?!” He cackled, before running over to a nearby lever built into the floor and pulled it!

All of a sudden, there was a nearly deafening rumbling sound! Suddenly, from above Superwoman and Louis, pebbles and small rocks began to fall!

“Farewell, Woman of Steel! Apologies for your swift burial!” The Puzzler taunted before he and his henchmen made a break for it!

All of a sudden, from above the heroine, a piece of the plaster and brick masonry came collapsing down upon her and Louis!

“Superwoman, Look out!” Louis shouted in fear, before ducking and covering the top of his head!

But right as the large heavy support reached the two, Superwoman reached out her hand and caught it effortlessly with one finger, before tossing it aside. At that moment, half the entire room’s ceiling then collapsed upon them! Again, with little effort, Superwoman palmed it away like a volleyball, where it crumbled to dust at their feet!

“Never underestimate a sore loser …” Superwoman grumbled to herself, before scooping Louis up in her arms, and leaping into the sunlit day, soaring through the air!

“Where on Earth are those crooks?!” Superwoman said in frustration as she scanned the surrounding area with her super sight and hearing. Not a single clue. She then turned to Louis and said kindly “Oh, well. I’ll find them most promptly! Let me get you to the police station on the double, Mr. Lane!” before playfully winking at him.

Louis could only gaze at The Woman of Steel with a loving look in his eyes …

 

The sun was still just beginning to color the cityscape of Metropolis with a golden brush of light when Louis swung the door to his office open with a suspicious expression. He then began a slow and careful sweep of the entire room, almost as if he were a police search dog. Much to the chagrin of his co-worker, Clara.

“Um … Louis, would you care to explain what you’re doing …?” She asked suspiciously.

Louis then sprang to his feet with an accusing expression “Alright, Clara … Where is it?” He asked as if he were an impatient schoolteacher asking for an unruly student’s homework.

“Where’s what, Louis?” Clara asked, as if genuinely confused as to what he wanted.

Louis then adopted a sort of teasing smile, leaning up against his desk and said “Come now, Clara, dear, you know what I’m talking about. On my way up here, Jenny told me about how she had placed an important letter for me in this office … You wouldn’t have happened to have seen it, have you?”

Clara just gave Louis an unassuming look and smiled. “No, Louis, I can’t say I have.” She said earnestly.

Louis took one more dubious look at his lady love, before smiling warmly at her again. “Alright, darling, I believe you.” Louis conceded, before sitting behind his desk, innocently typing away.

Clara then gave a long, showy yawn, before standing and stretching her elegant figure. “Well, sweetheart, I’d love to stay and chat, but I have a quilting bee to cover …” She said with a subtle hint of sarcasm, before taking her hat from the hatrack, and waltzing out the door. She then dashed quickly down the hall to the nearest stock room, not even bothering to don her head cover. She quickly entered, closing the door, turning on the lights. She tossed her hat on the ground and thought to herself [Sorry, Louis, my darling, but I can’t have you getting hurt again …] She then reached inside her coat and pulled out a blood red envelope upon which was written “Mister Louis Lane” Again, no return address. Clara, a purposeful expression on her face, tossed her hat to the ground and quickly opened it, extracting a letter and, oddly enough, a puzzle peice. Clara quickly ran her eyes over the neatly written note. It read, in an almost artistically cursive script, [Mr. Lane, please turn this puzzle piece over to your lady friend, Superwoman …] “Well, that certainly cuts out the middle-man …” Clara sardonically remarked, before continuing. [Have her read the instructions upon it, she should be able to figure it out, if that meddler is as clever as she claims to be!] It was of course signed [The Puzzler].

“Hmph … My, that sounds like a challenge!” Clara exclaimed softly with a feigned appalled voice. “Well, I know Superwoman very well … And she’s certainly up to this challenge!” Clara said in an assured tone, whipping off her glasses and shaking her hair down, adopting the appearence of Metropolis’ heroine. She then looked the puzzle piece carefully over. One one side, it read in plain black text [World’s] Upon turning it over, she was greeted by the words [Carper’s Cove]. Clara simply smirked and said “Then the game is afoot …” Before unbuttoning and tossing off her jacket and, with great fervor, ripped open her blouse, revealing the large red “S” on her costume!

Seconds later, the door opened, and after looking around carefully and satisfied that she was alone, Superwoman, regally strutted her powerful physique to the nearby double windows that she knew so well and pushed them open, taking a mighty leap out into the open air, soaring across the skyline towards her destination!

 

The Woman of Steel had zipped over to the picturesque shimmering cove in a matter of seconds. The pristine, sparkling waves gave a mighty roar as they slapped against the cream colored coastline [Hmm … Well, the fiend certainly picked a nice looking place for the first clue! I’ll have to consider this place for my next vacation. But, first things first …] Superwoman thought pleasantly to herself, before mapping out the area with super vision. All of a sudden, Superwoman noticed a bottle floating right in the middle of the ocean! [Hey, that could be it!] Superwoman realized, before power diving down towards the prize like a hungry seagull.

With a large splash, The Maiden of Might hit the surface of the salt water, emerging chest deep with the bottle in her hand, held trumphantly above her head. However, at that moment, Superwoman felt the unusual sensation of slowly being pulled under! At that moment, Superwoman realized that she was in the middle of a swirling whirlpool! Nonetheless, Superwoman merely chuckled to herself! “Heh! So, there was a trap attatched to this little clue, huh? Well, Mr. Puzzler forgot who he was dealing with!” With that, Superwoman simply wiggled her mighty hips and was immediately free, leaving her to jettison up into the air once again!

Flying high in the air, Superwoman carefully crushed the bottle in her bare hands, being careful not to destroy the clue within. She then extracted from it, another puzzle piece! [It figures …] Superwoman thought somewhat wearily. The front read [TOUGHEST]. [World’s Toughest, huh? Right now, that honor should go to me!] Superwoman made an internal remark. The back read [SUTTON’S PEAK]. “Ha! That should be a cinch!” The Woman of Steel thought, before mapping out her surroundings and flying off.

 

Superwoman streaked across the fantastic countryside that brought thoughts of her growing up in Kansas flooding back. She kept her emotions at bay, though, as she scanned ahead with her super vision [Come on, now … Where is … Ah! There it is!] Superwoman thought as she located off in the distance, a rather high grassy hilltop, below which, a shoddy, there was a hand painted sign that read [Sutton’s Peak]. Superwoman then put on a quick burst of speed and descended down on the toe of one of her boots.

Superwoman looked around cautiously, not able to spot anything resembling a puzzle piece. [Now, where can it be?] Just then, by chance, she looked up towards the sky to see a rather large red helium balloon hovering in the air with a puzzle piece attached! “BINGO!” The Woman of Steel then lept a couple hundred feet in the air easily. Superwoman then grabbed hold of the puzzle piece and yanked down … Only to have the balloon instantly explode with a [POP!] releasing a dark purple vapor into her vicinity! “Ah! Poison gas! Does this malcontent honestly know who he’s dealing with? However, this toxic cloud might prove harmful to those living out here, so without further ado …” Superwoman said to herself, before inhaling deeply, sucking the poison fumes into her lungs, before quickly ascending high into the stratosphere, and expelling it! “There! That should take care of it! Now, my next clue is …” Superwoman declared, before inspecting the puzzle piece. The front read [INTELLECTUAL], the back [DAVIDSON MINE]. “Hmm … Shaping up to be quite an adventure …” Superwoman said aloud, before affirming “Off to the mine!” With that, she swooped downwards.



It didn’t take long for Superwoman to locate the wooden plank entranceway and sign that read [Davidson Mine] hundreds of miles on the ground.

“Easy as pie …” Superwoman said to herself as she careened down towards her target, before landing on the ground with both boots and immediately racing inside.

Once in the darkened hole in the Earth, Superwoman made use of her keen super vision that allowed her to see in pitch black as if it were day. [Mother was right! Those carrots DID work!] She joked to herself. She then noticed a small cylinder of steel sitting beside itself on an otherwise neglected board of wood laying on the dusty floor. [That may be my next clue …] Superwoman thought cautiously to herself as she gently took hold of the object. But as she attempted to lift it from the board, she found that the cylinder was attached to the piece of wood by a strong adhesive. She had barely moved it, when suddenly, the board gave way, causing the rock wall it had been up against to come tumbling down, creating a domino effect that collapsed the whole entranceway down upon Superwoman, who had no time at all to react!

A cloud of dust rose over the ruins of the mine for a second or two, when Superwoman’s muscular arm broke the surface, followed by her entire upper body. Other than being covered in dust and having her hair minorly out of style, she was completely unscathed! [I should’ve known …] Superwoman thought with a roll of the eyes as she took hold of the cylinder, and looked inside, and with a smirk, reached inside and pulled out yet another puzzle piece. The front read [GAME]. “So that’s it … The World’s Toughest Intelletual Game …” Superwoman pondered aloud, putting all the hints together. Figuring this must be the final peice, The Woman of Tomorrow then flipped the piece over, and sure enough, instead of a location, there was a message printed on the back! It read: [Congratulations. I never expected you to survive all the traps …]

“Well, then, apparently, you’ve never heard of me …” Superwoman scoffed.

The message continued: [But now that you know my message, it remains to be seen whether you are clever enough to utilize it!] It was signed oh so pompusly. [THE PUZZLER!]

“Oh, you’d better believe I will, buster! In no time flat!” Superwoman thought with a renewed sense of indignation. She then turned to the ruins of the mine’s entrance. “However, I can’t leave this place without repairing the damage I’ve just done to this place of business!” Then, rushing towards the debris, and creating yet another cloud of dust. Then, in the sudden blink of of an eye, she had completely reconstructed it as though it had never collapsed in the first place! “Well, that’s taken care of!” Superwoman said, as though she had just swept up a small amount of broken glass. She then dusted herself off, and said with a strong resolve in her voice “Now, onto finding what our friend Mr. Puzzler is up to!” Before launching herself into the air like a rocket.



Upon swiftly sneaking back into the Planet building, via the window and quickly dressing herself in her street clothes once again, Clara hadn’t even began to walk down the hallway, when Jenny Olsen approached her with an uncomfortable expression. “Chief wants to see you …” She informed her, before making a comic strangling motion around her neck.

Clara giggled and said “Thanks for the warning, Jenny.”

 

Clara hadn’t even stepped one inch into Perry White’s office, before he roared at her, his face bright red. “Thanks for finding the time to see me, Kent!! By the way, the next time you go off to dilly-dally on an assignment THAT ISN’T EVEN HAPPENING …!!” He erupted, emphasizing the last four words, as Clara looked down at the floor, pretending to feel ashamed. “Make sure you don’t do so ON COMPANY TIME while I’m trying to get ahold of you!!” He concluded.

“I’m terribly sorry, Chief … I made a big mistake, and it won’t happen again …” Clara said in a sincere voice. Humility seeping from her every pore.

“You’re damn right it won’t …” White mumbled to himself, before taking a very long drag on the stump of cigar in the side of his mouth and exhaling a white cloud of smoke into the air. “Now, if you’d like to continue working here, Miss Kent, I’ve just recieved word that there have been several major kidnappings across the city. All the work of the Puzzler’s men. His little nail puzzle was found at the scene of each kidnapping!”

“My goodness!” Clara exclaimed. [Could this be …] She thought with a sudden sense of inspiration, before asking curiously “Do you happen to know their names, Chief?”

White gave her a curious glance, before picking up a piece of paper off his cluttered desk and replying “Why, yes, I have the names right here: Elmer King, John Bishop, Sylvia Queen, Cornelius Knight, and Philip Clausen.”

With that, the figurative puzzle pieces snapped into place! [Just as I thought!! CHESS! The World’s Toughest Intellectual Game!! He’s captured citizens whose names correspond to pieces on a chess board!] Clara thought with a self congratulatory smile. [Although the name Clausen seems out of place … Wait a minute! He must be the man who runs Clausen’s Pawn Shop downtown! PAWN! That’s it!] She performed some minor mental detective work, before cheerfully announcing “Right on it, Chief!” and sprinting out the door.

“Hmmph … I honestly wonder where that girl gets all that energy …” Perry remarked with a weary shake of the head.

 

Clara raced back to her office and flung open the door, only to find Louis absent! Clara thought somewhat uncertainly [Louis, you had better be using the men’s room!] Before rushing over to the nearest city directory and scanned through it at super speed. Pages fluttering so fast they could’ve burst into flame. [Now, let’s see … The only chess piece that leaves is the Rook. The nearest name that relates is “Castle” … Aha! Here we are!] Clara pondered, before coming upon the listing [Castle Steel Mills – Owner/ Manager: Edward Castle]. “Alright! Now, I’ll just nab Mr. Castle’s address, and then Superwoman takes over!” Clara said aloud, adopting an assured expression.

 

The information now in hand, Clara once again raced towards the stock room, swung the door open and quickly entered, shutting the door behind her. Seconds later, Superwoman cautiously emerged, carefully looking this way and that, before walking to the windows, flinging them open, and taking a flying jump straight out!

 

Cutting through the late afternoon air at near sonic speeds, Superwoman soon came upon the Castle residence … Just in time to see a somewhat large man toss a limp figure into the back seat of a car and enter the driver’s seat, before speeding off!

“AH! He’s just been taken! But this thug’s out of luck if he thinks he can outrun Superwoman!” The Maiden of Might said in a furious voice, before diving down towards the car as it began to enter traffic!

Then, to Superwoman’s surprise, the kidnapper suddenly lept from the vehicle without even stopping the car, just as it was headed for the back of an unassuming family sedan! “Heavens! I’ve got to stop that car!” Superwoman thought, her eyes wide with fright. Then, as if fired from a cannon, she shot down towards the imminent collision!

Just in the nick of time, the Woman of Steel landed in between the two vehicles, and placed the force of her shoulders against the front bumper of the runaway car, where it screeched to a halt!

Superwoman yanked open one of the backseat doors to free the kidnapped businessman, only to see a cloth dummy, dressed in men’s clothing! “Of all the dirty …!” She exclaimed in a perturbed voice, before taking a closer look at the dummy’s chest. Hanging around his neck by a chain was a large playing card, the Ace of Spades, to be precise! “Wait a minute! It’s another clue!” Superwoman observed … [Dummy … Card … Dummy … Card …] The Woman of Steel turned over in her mind, before realizing “Of course! The dummy card in bridge!” She then went back to deducing [Bridge …] And then, the lightbulb went off again. “That’s right! Tom Level is the head bridge expert!” She then looked behind her “And there’s a level bridge nearby!” And with that final realization, The Maiden of Might lifted the entire car up one-handed, and effortlessly manuevered it to her shoulder! She then walked over to the shoulder of the road, gently set it down so it wouldn’t block traffic, then jumped into the air, taking flight immediately!

All the drivers around her, delighted at the sight of her, honked their horns wildly to show their support!

 

The temporary headquarters beneath the level bridge was a cold, musty place, illuminated by only a few bare lightbulbs. Decorated only by a fancy red curtain off to one side.

The captured businessmen and women sat tied to chairs with cross expressions on their faces, understandably none too pleased at their situation.

Sitting at a cheap looking desk, The Puzzler sat, fiddling with a linking ring puzzle, flanked by Chuck and Barry at his left and right.

“Hey, Boss … I don’t get it. What was da point in leavin all dose puzzles for that super dame ta solve?” Chuck asked, bewildered.

The villain simply chuckled to himself, still in disbelief of his henchman’s stupidity. “The point … My dear Charles, was to tickle my vanity just a trifle … You see, I’ve grown so complacent over the years in easily outwitting the majority of the simpletons on this Earth, that to find an actual … CHALLENGING opponent, is like sweet honey to my soul …” He reflected, with a sense of almost euphoric glee.

“I dunno, Boss, dat Superwoman broad is also plenty strong too … You’re takin’ a big chance givin’ her hints like dat …” Barry stated in a nervous fashion.

“You two just leave her to me … Remember our little “insurance policy …”” The Puzzler reassured them before turning his attention to his prisoners, asking gruffly. “So, have you fine ladies and gentlemen come to your senses yet?”

“We already have! The answer is still no! We’re not going to do business with a crone-faced malcontent like yourself by ransoming ourselves!” Elmer King, The Owner of a large supermarket, yelled out defiantly, straining against his bonds.

A look of rage boiled inside the Puzzler’s hideous visage “BOYS!!” He shouted, his voice cracking a mite. He quickly composed himself, before ordering in a calm, yet bone-chilling voice “Persuade them …”

“You got it, boss …” Chuck replied with the anticipation of a boy who had been given a new toy rifle for Christmas. He then extracted a blackjack from his trouser pocket and began advancing towards the captives with Barry in tow.

Suddenly, there came a series a deep, loud thuds which shook the seemingly sturdy bunker!

“What’s dat? An oithquake?!” Barry asked, adopting a fearful expression.

“My word … Can it be …?” The Puzzler said aloud, looking quite uneasy himself.

Sure enough, there was a deafening explosion of concrete next to the men, knocking them off their feet! Emerging from the dust with a heroic smile was Superwoman, her hands firmly on her hips! “Sorry I was late, boys, but you weren’t very clear with your directions!” She scolded playfully.

“Da! Superdame! Oh, Hell! We’re in for it now!” Chuck shouted with the face of a man who had seen Lucifer himself.

“Superwoman! Hurray! We’re saved!” Came the cheers of the prisoners.

“Hold tight, everyone, I’ll be with you in a moment!” Superwoman reassured them. “But first … I’m going to take care of this vermin problem!” She said as she adopted an intimidating expression as she advanced towards the gangsters.

The Puzzler then smirked in a wicked way, as he backed up towards the curtain. “Not so fast, Woman of Steel! You’ve not yet seen the Ace up my sleeve!”

The villain then yanked the curtain aside, revealing a large transparent tube, in which a distressed looking Louis Lane was trapped within! At the sight of his heroine, an overjoyed expression came over his face. He began pounding on the glass, shouting in a muffled voice.

“LOUIS!!” Superwoman yelled with a horrified expression, as she began to advance towards her love.

“STOP! Not another step! Not unless you value his life!” The Puzzler ordered.

“I swear, you VULTURE, if you’ve harmed him …” Superwoman began to threaten, gritting her teeth.

“Not to worry, Miss Superwoman, we merely abducted and chloroformed Mr. Lane as he stepped outside the Daily Planet building. He has not been harmed … But he will be if you attempt to free him … A canister of poison gas will release from above him. If you pass the barrier of light rays you see in front of him, you shall trigger an electronic device of my own invention. You pass it … He dies …” The Puzzler explained in a cold and hateful voice.

“Alright, you egg-headed fool … You sent for me … What do you want?” Superwoman said eyeing The Puzzler so angrily that her look alone might stop his heart.

The Puzzler then smiled in what seemed to be a soft and friendly fashion, but only looked hideous. “As you are already quite aware, Superwoman, I’m a betting man. And that crushing defeat you handed me in our game of checkers shook my ego in such a way that I had to seek another game with you. This time, I assure you, if I, or my partners should lose … I shall set Mr. Lane free.” He explained.

[You liar … However, I shall still find a way to beat you …] Superwoman thought, with an arrogant expression, before saying “Deal! But with a bigger game, we should raise the stakes to the captives ALSO being freed!”

The Puzzler chewed on the side of his mouth with a reluctant expression, before saying “Agreed.” in a polite voice.

 

“Gentleman … And Madam …” The Puzzler announced, accomodating Superwoman with an insencere apologetic smile, as the four sat around the table “The game is poker.” He said as he began to shuffle the cards. Louis and the captives could only look on tensely.

Superwoman turned to Charles and asked as if he were a casual aquaintence “So, does your boss often play cards with you?”

“Oh, yeah …” The goon replied somewhat nervously.

“He always wins back da money he pays us dat way …” Barry interjected somewhat bitterly.

[Hmm … Interesting …] Superwoman thought to herself. She then slammed her cards face down on the table. “The nerve of you taking advantage of a lady that way! I refuse to play this crooked game!” She shouted with much fervor.

“Crooked? What are you getting at?” The Puzzler asked in an annoyed voice.

“Yeah, what’s the deal?” Charles asked defensively.

“The Deal is always going to be in HIS favor, because these cards are MARKED!” Superwoman accused, pointing at the Puzzler like a hot shot attorney. She then used her X-ray vision to accurately read through the cards he was holding to add credit to her charge. “Look! Queen of Hearts, Jack of Diamonds, Ace of Clubs, Nine of Spades!”

“Lemme see!” Charles snarled, grabbing his boss’ hand and yanking the cards into view. “The Dame was right! Dere all here!”

“So DAT’S how you been stealin’ our money from us!!” Barry growled and advanced towards The Puzzler in a rage, while Superwoman began to sneak away behind him.

“NO! You fools! It’s a trick!” The Puzzler shouted out in protest as his goons grabbed hold of him violently.

“And a darn good one!” Superwoman shouted cheerfully, as she then dove into the concrete floor as if it were a swimming pool. The hard material smashing upon it’s contact with her as she then proceeded to quickly tunnel a hole under the electronic barrier, and smashed up through the other side where Louis resided!

As Louis looked on with a rejoicing expression, Superwoman took hold of his glass prison, and easily wrenched it from the ground! Louis then gasped for air, before rushing over to his beloved heroine and embracing her! “Oh … Sup … Superwoman … Thank you … I … I thought I was a … a goner …” He managed to say between gasps of breath.

“It’s alright, Louis. But we’re not out of the woods yet! Hold on tight!” She reassured him, as she grabbed hold of his waist with one arm, and swooped down the makeshift tunnel, coming out back the other end.

“Look, you dummies! She tricked you in order to rescue the reporter!!” The Puzzler bellowed at his thugs, as he frantically pointed at the two. “Kill them!!”

“Hey! He’s right!” Chuck realized, as the two mugs released their boss and dashed towards the two. The Puzzler, knowing full well the futility of their efforts, made a cowardly escape through the exit.

Louis flinched as the two gangsters pulled out their weapons, a blackjack and a pistol, but Superwoman didn’t seem to mind at all. She kept a confident appearence as Chuck swung the blackjack across her face, only to have the metal object splinter and snap apart! The thug jumped with fright, shouting “Nothin’ affects this dame!”

“That’s right!” Superwoman replied cheerfully, as she then reared back her fist and hammered him in the face, sending him flying across the room, out cold. She then turned her attention to Barry aiming his pistol at Louis and quickly, she jumped in front of him, grabbing his gun and crushing it with her bare hand as if it were putty, before expertly uppercutting him on the chin, temporarily sending him skyward, where the goon bumped his head on the low concrete ceiling and fell to the ground like a sack of potatos!

Louis and the captives all gave a collective cheer of appreciation.

Superwoman then raced across the bound dignitaries like a strong gust of wind, and in an instant, they had all been freed!

“No need to thank me, everyone! Right now, I have one last puzzle piece to hunt down!” Superwoman announced, before shooting out the exit at super speed.

On the outside, Superwoman didn’t need to search for the fugitive Puzzler long, she caught sight of the fiend shimming up one of the support cables of the level bridge! With one super leap, she was right next to him, staring at the bald villain with a smug expression. “I’m sorry, Mister, but climbing on that bridge isn’t allowed! I’ll have to write you a ticket!” She said as if she were a police woman.

“YOU!” The Puzzler exclaimed in fright with a hoarse voice, embracing the cable as though it were a loved one.

“That’s right, you little troublemaker! This game has come to an END! Come along now!” Superwoman ordered like a perturbed mother to an unruly child, as she took hold of the villains collar, and yanked him off the cable!

“GRRR! You may have beaten me but you’ll never take me alive!!” The villain growled petulantly, as he slipped out of his coat and immediately careened to the ocean below, screaming the whole way down!

“Oh, no, you don’t!” Superwoman hollered as she dove for his falling body. Putting on speed She swooped under him and caught the villain this time around the waist! “Gotcha!” She said with a sense of achievement, as if she had just caught a ball at a major league game. “I’m sure Lady Justice won’t be too kind to you!” She reprimanded. The villain didn’t respond, as his head simply slumped forward unconsciously.

 

The headlines in the Planet the next day read: “SUPERWOMAN SMASHES PUZZLER GANG ; FREES KIDNAPPED BUSINESS OWNERS” The byline read “Story by Louis Lane” A subheadline read “Superwoman Vanishes Yet Again; Wherabouts Unknown”.

Clara and Louis sat at Louis’ desk. Louis was looking the latest edition of the paper over while Clara fiddled with the same type of linking rings that the Puzzler had been playing with.

“Well, Clara, Superwoman comes through again! And I get another great story!” He said with a sense of pride in his voice.

“You’re one lucky guy, Louis …” Clara remarked with a sense of jealousy, hiding the giddiness she was feeling inside.

“Oh, don’t be angry, Clara dear. You know how much I love you. I helped you get good with the Chief again, didn’t I?” Louis smiled at Clara.

“Yes, Louis, I appreciate you vouching for me for my parrallel reporting.” Clara replied. Noticing that Louis was looking away, she quickly and effortlessly used her super strength to mold the rings into a heart, before changing them back into a flash.

“I suppose the shock of Superwoman catching The Puzzler in mid-air was too much for that old creep to take, seeing as how he basically became a vegetable.” Louis said with just a tad of concern in his voice.

“I suppose, Louis. It’s really a shame, seeing as how he can’t be prosecuted right now. Although, right now, he’s sort of trapped in the puzzle of his invalid body, so that may be the greatest punishment there is …” Clara remarked philisophically.

“Yes, I suppose … The greatest puzzle for me is figuring out who on Earth Superwoman really is …” Louis said with a sigh.

“Keep trying, Louis … Keep trying …” Clara replied sympathetically. She then turns to us, smiles heroically, pulls down her glasses, and gives us a knowing wink!

THE END

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