#6: Back to Basics, Conclusion Mar 8, 2019 14:22:16 GMT -5
Post by Admin on Mar 8, 2019 14:22:16 GMT -5
Issue Six: “Back to Basics, Conclusion”
Written by Eric Guptill
Cover by Ariel Duran (click the link for his DeviantArt)
Edited by Mark Bowers
He grew not just into a man we could be proud of, but a man that the world could be proud of.
I could see Clark in the distance, sitting in the back of the truck with Lana. I knew what he was doing, but it still broke my heart to watch. All through high school, Lana, Pete and Clark had been inseparable. Best friends, but it was always obvious that Lana wanted more with Clark.
They had never dated, but that had not stopped her crush growing into something more. Clark was not oblivious and did not encourage it, but with his two friends being the only ones that knew about his powers, he couldn’t keep his distance. It had grown even more complicated since Pete had a crush on Lana. None of them had discussed their feelings, only grew closer as friends.
Clark walked away from the truck while Lana began to drive away. His head was hung down and his shoulders slumped. His son had just broke Lana’s heart, not out of any sense of mean-spiritedness, but because he could not give Lana what she wanted.
“You okay, Son?” I knew that he wasn’t, but wanted to give him the opportunity to share. Clark had always been more open with his emotions than me, but there were times when he needed to keep a lid on them.
He paused for a second, then looked up at me. Tears were forming in his eyes, but he was fighting them back.
“Pa, I told her.”
It was four words, but they brought the tears cascading down. I walked down the steps and hugged him. “It’s okay, it was the right thing to do.”
“I know, Pa, I know.”
I squeezed him tighter before pushing him away so that I could look at his face. There was such agony there. “Clark, you’re done with high school, you’re leaving Smallville. You were made for more than this little town.”
He wiped the tears away. “I know, Pa. It’s just Lana has loved me for so long and I wish that I felt the same way…”
“Do you?” I interrupted. Clark had the biggest heart of anyone I had ever known, even Martha. Sometimes, he would let his desire to help others overcome his desire to help himself. Not to say, that wasn’t important, just that you can lose yourself if you never put yourself first.
“Do you wish you loved her for you or because it would make her feel better?”
“For her.” He was sheepish in his response, a slight crimson rush running from his neck to his cheeks.
“That’s what I thought. Son, you are brave. Telling her what you did and doing it to her face, that was brave. You can do what you can to help people, but you also have to do what is right for you.”
“I love you, Pa.”
“I love you too, Clark.” The pride was evident in my voice.
Emil Hamilton pulled himself out of the warming chamber, embarrassed by his nakedness, but not willing to hide out any longer. He had been awake for twenty minutes, wondering how he had gotten in this chamber, followed by uneasiness about his lack of clothes.
His memories were spotty. He remembered finding the information about the transmissions and planet, then the attack from Xa-Du and the Leopard. He had thought that was the end, but Superman had arrived. The Man of Steel had defeated the Leopard, but not before his body had been covered in claw marks and each wound was dripping with kryptonite. Liquid kryptonite to be exact. He was barely standing, but he freed Emil.
That’s when Emil had run to fix the computer systems and turn on the defenses. It had been enough, but then what? Hmm, Xa-Du came behind him. He’d activated the defenses, then air and cold. He was thrown into the Antarctic Ocean at the entrance to the cave. Now he remembered the cold ripping him apart as he hit the water. It forced a shiver out of him, even though the temperature in the chamber he lay in was like sitting on a beach in the Caribbean. Apparently he had been saved, but there hadn’t been much doubt about that. It was Superman, after all.
One of the service robots came up to him, handing him a robe. “For you, Professor.”
“Thank you,” he said as he quickly put it on.
The robe felt great, but couldn’t wipe away the memory of the cold. He shook his head, he didn’t have time for that now. Superman had been hurt. He glanced around and saw him on a nearby table, Xelek and another robot working on him.
The Man of Steel was unconscious, his breathing seemed to be shallow. Blood dripped in a steady flow to the floor below, the whiteness of the ground marred by the rorschach-like shapes, many of them already dried and crusting.
As he walked closer, Emil got a better look at the cuts. They were deep, the area of each swollen, and many of them continued to bleed, though the ones on his face were nearly healed. Attached to each of his arms were two tubes. One was pulling out his blood, the deep red liquid filled with flitting green lights. It brought to mind the fireflies that filled the skies of Metropolis in the warmer months. It passed through a small, but highly intricate machine, exiting without the lights. They were scrubbing his blood of kryptonite, but at the rate that the blood was flowing, it was a very slow process.
“Looks like kryptonite poisoning, correct?” He walked closer to Xelek, another fascination to him. A female robot that had developed her own personality and was, in Emil’s estimation, a sentient creature. Yet the other two robots had remained automatons.
“No, Professor, he’s taking a nap.” Xelek didn’t even bother to look at him.
“This is no time for flippancy.” His voice wasn’t harsh; all part of the interaction between the two.
“I'm just worried. We have been pulling the kryptonite out for hours, but there is still plenty in his system. His cuts are healing, but the kryptonite is in his bloodstream, flooding his cells. It may even be bonding with his tissue. That’s worse case, but it could mean that there is no real way to cure him. At best, it is only in his blood, at worst we clean what we can and the rest would begin to affect him like a slow-burn cancer. Eventually killing him.” Xelek smacked the table, not hard enough to damage it, though that was possible.
Emil could see the anguish, though her head was nothing more than a golden oblong with a black screen. Lights on the screen were representative of eyes, but that was more his attempt to see aspects of humanity in a robot form. If he didn’t know any better, he would think that she was about to cry, though that was an impossibility.
“I’ll get back to getting more information about the planetoids and the transmissions. There may be something in there about the liquid kryptonite. Something I can use to counteract it.” He began to walk away before turning back. “He’ll be fine, Xelek. He’s Superman.”
“I hope that you are right, Professor. I hope you're right.”
Perry exited the elevator and headed to the receptionist’s desk. He was here, at LexCorp and nothing seemed to make sense. He’d been wracked with grief over the near-death of his son, only to be told that he was not Jerry’s father.* Instead, it was Lex Luthor, but that didn’t make any sense. He had had time to clear his head and think about Lex and Jerry. When Alice became pregnant, Lex was barely in college. Even after Perry had been presumed dead as a war correspondent, even after he had returned, Lex and him had still had a relationship. He had mentored him and Alice seemed to distance herself from Lex. She had made reference to Lex’s contacts in the military, but again, he hadn’t had those at that time. It just didn’t seem plausible.
*Back in Superman #4
“How may I help you, sir.”
The receptionist was extremely polite; Perry would expect nothing less from Lex Luthor’s employees. “I would like to see Mr. Luthor.”
“I'm sorry, but he is indisposed at the moment.” The perfect mix of politeness and firmness, it would have been enough for anyone else. Even Perry, if the situation had been different.
“Listen, my name’s Perry White. Buzz him, he’ll see me.” Perry had to restrain himself from smashing his fist on the desk and yelling, but he didn’t get this far in the news business without knowing how to control himself.
He almost laughed. A minute ago he was thinking about the implausibility of Lex as Jerry’s father and the next he was about to attack the receptionist. Three days, it had only been three days since Jerry had been attacked by the Parasite. If Superman hadn’t showed up, his son would be dead. Well, that had started it all. Jerry’s kidneys were shot and blood testing had proved that he wasn’t Jerry’s father. Alice thought it was Lex, but he was dubious. So he was here, trying to figure it all out.
The receptionist was unflappable, only raising an eyebrow at his name. She pushed the intercom button. “Mr. Luthor, I know you did not want to be disturbed, but there is a Mr. Perry White to see you.”
Perry didn’t hear Lex reply, but knew that he would let him in. Even if it was just to gloat. He was glad that it was just him; Alice had wanted to follow him here and confront Lex. She was strong, but this may have been too much for her. Also, he still felt like he wasn’t seeing the whole story. He needed to be alone with Lex in the hopes that he would get the information from him and a pledge to help his son, if possible.
The receptionist pointed to the two double doors as they swung open. Perry entered Lex’s office. It always awed him. He had visited many times over the years and every time it took his breath away. Lex Tower was the tallest building in Metropolis and this office offered a near-complete view of the city. It was breathtaking and made you feel like you were soaring above it all, or in Lex’s case, lording over it.
He walked towards Lex, who was engrossed in his computer. He would ignore Perry for a minute or two, and Perry would let him. It was all part of the show, a play that Lex couldn’t resist being a part of whenever someone entered his office. That’s what Perry thought, but it could just be for him.
“How can I help you, Perry?” Lex looked up from his screen, powering it off.
“I'm glad we can ignore formalities.”
“We have a history, Perry, even if our relationship is strained now. You were a father figure to me. And you wouldn’t be visiting me unless it was important.”
Perry almost broke down, the mention of being a father hitting him in the gut. He took a series of quick breaths, knowing Lex was watching him intently, but not caring. He would get through this.
“It’s my son, Jerry. He’s dying and needs a kidney transplant.”
Lex stood and walked around the desk. “I’ve seen the news and I am sorry.” He was genuine in his concern. “How can I help? I can get him a spot on the top of an organ transplant list, but compatibility can be hard to come by.”
“I know, Alice and I were tested. We weren’t a match.” Perry paused, it was time to get to brass tacks. He had never pussy-footed around the truth and wasn’t about to now.
“Forget it, let me just be plain. Alice says you are Jerry’s father.” Perry almost laughed at the shocked look on Lex’s face. It was genuine and that was all Perry needed to know that there was another explanation.
“Umm, Per…Mr. White, I never…”
It was a once in a lifetime event, Lex stunned into silence, but Perry wasn’t in the state of mind to enjoy it. “Lex, Alice says that you and her, you had sex the night you comforted her. The night I was declared dead.”
Lex was still silent, one shock after another, but the cogs in his mind were working back to that night. It made Perry feel more at ease. If it was true, he would remember and if he wanted to lie, it would have flowed from his mouth without missing a beat.
“Perry, I did comfort Alice that night. You were my mentor. I would never.” Lex stopped, re-ordering his thoughts, not focusing on what didn’t happen, but on what did.
“No, I comforted her, but left for the night. I came back in the morning,” he paused again, he had left and then returned. What had he seen?
“My father, he was there in the morning and he was smiling. When I went in, Alice was out of it. I thought it was grief, but thinking back, it was more than that. Her speech was slurred, she couldn’t focus or stand up straight. She was drugged.” The revelation hit him. He looked at Perry intently. “My father raped her, my god, he raped her.”
Now it was Perry’s turn to be shocked, this was not what he expected, but it had the ring of truth. It was a leap and he didn’t want to cross that bridge unless he had to.
“Lex, I just want you to test yourself to see if you are a match for a kidney. We don’t really know what happened that night, but Alice seems to think it was you that had sex with her. Can you see if you are a match, and the sequencing could also test to see if your DNA matches Jerry’s as a sibling.” Perry walked toward his desk and set a disc on it. “That has Jerry’s genetic information.”
“I’ll get tested right away.”
Perry began to leave the office.
“Perry, please tell Alice the truth.”
He looked over his shoulder. “I’ll tell her it wasn’t you, until we have more proof.”
“Just tell her what information we have, maybe she’ll remember something.”
He said nothing as he walked out of the double doors.
Xa-Du looked at the Leopard near the edge of the roof. He was in his human form, the epitome of an everyday Caucasian. There truly was nothing remarkable about him in this guise. It was amazing what he had been able to do with Kryptonian technology; transform this man into a creature that could give Superman a run for his money. And creating liquid kryptonite from his claws. What he hadn’t told him was that there was only a limited amount in his body and it would run out soon. Humans were weak and he didn’t want him dead. He wanted him to hurt Kal-El.
“There’s one more thing you need to do.” Xa-Du looked at him intently. He did not turn around.
“The only thing I want to do is hurt Superman.”
“You're such a broken record. Kill Superman, hurt Superman, blah, blah, blah. Well, that’s what this next job is. Though I doubt you will kill him. He is ever so resourceful.”
The Leopard turned around and faced his creator. “Then hurt him.”
“Good to see you’re on board.” Xa-Du began cleaning his nails. “I’m sure those robots of his are trying to rid his body of the kryptonite. They won’t get it all, but they can slow its progress. I don’t want him getting any stronger. That’s were you come in, you need to lead him here and the way to do that is there.” He pointed across the street at the Daily Planet building. “Attack them, he will come. If any die, you'll hurt him, trust me.”
He looked at Xa-Du and his body began to ripple. There was a slight cracking of bones and intense pain ran across the surface of his face, but he embraced it. Fur poured from his skin. His incisors began to grow and his claws ripped from his fingers, their greenish hue in stark contrast to the beautiful sleekness of his feline body. He was ready for attack.
“Calm down, pet.”
“Don’t ever call me that.”
“Fine, fine. I have a message for Superman. Just deliver it.”
The Leopard listened, anticipation coursing through him.
Emil had multiple images on the screen, as well as a compilation of programs that were hidden within other data nodes within the system. The shutdown may have affected them and he wanted to make sure that there were no more surprises.
He glanced at the planetoid moving towards this solar system. It was small. At first he had thought it was about the size of Pluto, but now that he had received more data he knew it was bigger. About double the size, roughly equivalent to Mercury.
It was troubling, at that size it could cause gravimetric problems if it got too close to any other planets, or even asteroids. It could carry asteroids towards Earth, causing a calamity of a different sort. That was only a minor problem, if it moved close enough to Earth, it could disrupt its orbit or cause massive waves and earthquakes. Still, he knew that he was only scratching the surface of problems that could affect the whole solar system.
He stared closer at some of the data as an alert flashed on the screen. He hit one button and the screen filled with a news report. It was the Leopard, in front of the Daily Planet. He was hurt, but Emil had to notify Superman. He thought they would have more time, but it looked like that wasn’t going to happen. Hurt or not, Superman could take him.
As he ran to the medical lab, another alert came on the screen. PROJECT CLONE INTERRUPTED, INITIATING EARLY. Then it was gone.
Televisions littered the Daily Planet’s newsroom. They were currently filled with amateur video of a cat-like man attacking vehicles and people. Traffic was at a standstill, bodies littered the street and people were fighting to get away.
Lois and Jimmy ran to a window, straining to see the street. They could tell that there was a ruckus, figures running away. One car was on fire, another had steam coming from its engine. This was not looking good. They were too high up for any finer details.
Lois began pushing through a crowd that was now surrounding her and Jimmy. The Daily Planet staff loved news, especially when it was happening right outside their building.
She pulled out her cell phone and dialed the Metropolis police, more importantly, the Special Crimes Unit. Maggie Sawyer was head of the unit; one that specifically dealt with metahuman attacks. Lois had her on speed dial.
The phone rang twice before Maggie answered. “Detective Sawyer, Lois Lane. We have a situation at the Planet.”
“We know all about it, Lois, and we are on our way.” Lois could hear the sirens through the phone, but no telling how far away they were. “Can you give us any information?”
Lois took a quick breath and let it out. “Not really, one guy, looks like a cat.”
“Umm, Lois.” It was Jimmy calling from the window. “I think he is climbing up the side of the building.”
“And he’s climbing up the side of the building.”
Maggie wasn’t surprised, if there was trouble in front of the Daily Planet, it was likely they were the target. Superman had a relationship with many of them, it made them targets. This wasn’t her first response to this location.
Lois muscled her way through the other reporters and to Jimmy’s side. “I don’t see him.”
Jimmy looked at her. “I think he crawled in a window a few stories down.”
“Maggie, gotta go.” Lois heard the protest on the other end of the line, but hung up anyway.
“We don’t have much time.” She had a unique talent, she could think better and faster under pressure. It had saved her life many times. She knew that everyone needed to get out. If they waited, this would turn into a blood bath. She ran to the nearest fire alarm and pulled it. As the alarm began to blare, she knew that if people exited the building then there’d be less of them there to hurt. Superman was her fiancé, she knew the staff on this floor were most likely the target of the attack.
She grabbed Ron and Jimmy out of the crowd that began to move. “Northwest stairwell!” she screamed. The crowd looked at her, but began following her directions. She looked at Jimmy and Ron. “Herd them to the northwest stairwell and get them down. It is farthest from this side of the building.”
Ron and Jimmy were both young and thankful to have someone else take charge. They began urgently getting people away. Lois took off in the opposite direction. She wanted to check the closest stairs.
As she opened the door, she heard a scream. She walked in and looked down. A few storeys below her, she could see a man lying in a pool of blood, the cat-like man standing over him. He looked up at her, licking blood off of one of his claws. She could see the stark redness against the green glow.
“Looks like I found a main course.” The Leopard began climbing up the handrails. He had a glint in his eyes. He was having fun.
Lois took off her high heels, aimed and threw both of them in quick succession. The first missed, but the second slammed into his forehead. She saw the pause in his ascent, but he didn’t fall. Instead, his smile broadened and he winked at her.
She swiveled and ran back into the offices. Ron and Jimmy were getting the last of the people down the other stairwell. “FASTER!” Her voice carried over the blare of the fire alarm.
She ran through the office, dodging cubicles, desks and chairs. She heard the door behind her burst open. It was the cue she was waiting for. She slowed down for a second, so that the Leopard would see her. Not everyone was in the other stairwell. She would be the distraction.
Ron saw; he didn’t know what he saw. Lois running through the office, no shoes, and some creature, something like a cat, running after her. It was on all fours, but looked kind of like a man, its tail flicking left and right as it homed in on Lois.
As the last of the people entered, he shut the door. “Move fast, people, it’s right behind us.”
Lois had made it, running through the door, up the stairs and out on the roof. It was a dead end, but she could maneuver better and she secretly hoped that Clark was on his way. She positioned herself near a corner. She had formulated the makings of a plan. He was a cat, cats leapt. Her hope was that he would leap, she would dodge and he would fall. It was a long shot, but at least he was focused on her and not on the others.
He came through the door, faster than she thought he could move. Her plan was looking less and less like it might work, but it didn’t matter. The others were getting to safety; she had accomplished her goal.
“Name’s Leopard.” He bowed to Lois and then began stalking towards her. There was no other explanation for how his body was moving, all grace and tension. Like he was waiting for his moment, but the attack was already encoded in his muscles.
“Lois.” She didn’t know why she replied, but maybe it would keep him off balance.
“No, your name’s food, and I wanna play.”
Lois saw movement behind the Leopard, but didn’t focus in on it, that would give it away. Maybe she was going to get out of this.
“Well, this food fights back, and fights hard. Your cute little tail and claws ain’t got nothing on Sam Lane’s daughter.” She had to make sure he didn’t hear the man sneaking up on him.
He was closing in, and Lois continued to chatter. “I'm allergic to cats, so please don’t get any closer. The sneezing is horrible and my eyes water. It won’t be a fair fight for me.”
“You think there’ll be a fight? I just want to eat.” He prepared to leap when he was tackled from behind. He felt fists pummeling him, as Steve Lombard hit him again and again.
“How ya like fighting a ma-” Steve began as the Leopard rolled on his back, scraping Steve off of him. The hits had been nothing more than an annoyance.
He picked Steve up, throwing him in the air and hitting him, center mass, with a kick. It sent him sailing over the edge of the Daily Planet.
“Now where were we?”
Lois knew that she wouldn’t be able to dodge, and Steve…he was a pain, but he had tried to save her. This mouthy, belligerent, arrogant man had risked his life when a clear path out of danger had been offered to him. She would remember him.
She wouldn’t be defeated. She looked at her enemy and laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
Lois saw Superman set Emil Hamilton and Steve Lombard on the roof. “You're about to get your ass kicked.”
The Leopard looked behind him, seeing Superman. His uniform was in tatters, black rings lay under his eyes; the scratches on his face were nearly healed, but his body still had deep gashes that oozed crimson. He looked like he could barely stand.
“Looking good, Superman.” The Leopard leapt, claws outstretched, and took him and the Man of Steel over the edge and into open air.
Lois walked over to Emil and Steve. Her arms wrapped around Steve as she kissed him on the cheek. “This means nothing, but thanks.”
Steve blushed. “I got your back, Lane.”
She turned to Emil. “What happened to Superman?”
“The Leopard happened to him.”
Lois looked over the edge, watching the two locked in combat and descending. If he had done all of that to Superman, he was much more dangerous than she had ever imagined.
“We have to help him, somehow.”
“We can, S.T.A.R. Labs has facilities that can be used heal the damage.”
They headed in the building. “You two, head to S.T.A.R. Labs, get everything prepped and I will meet you there once Superman defeats this bozo.”
Emil looked at Steve. “Hey man, this chick just fought this beast toe to toe. I would listen to her.” Emil agreed.
Superman had to make this fight quick. He was in pain, dizzy and felt like throwing up, all from the Leopard. When he had hit him, he had reacted quickly and grabbed both of his wrists. His mouth snapped close to Superman’s face, but he was able to dodge it. His main objective was to keep the claws and teeth away from him, though their kryptonite composition was sapping his strength.
Both fell, entwined, and the Leopard knew that he needed another tactic. He couldn’t bite or use his hands, but his feet had small claws. He began raking Superman’s legs, digging in and digging deep. No one ever noticed them, not even the Man of Steel. Now it was too late and more and more kryptonite was injected in each slash.
Superman’s face contorted. He had felt pain before, but not like this. Each slash, each cut, burning and sapping his strength. Agony ripped through every opening, lighting every nerve synapse like it had been branded with a hot iron. He didn’t have much time, he could feel himself weakening. He needed to get rid of his burden.
It was a simple equation. As the ground came closer, Superman began spinning in the air until the Leopard was thrown off of him. It was only ten feet down and the Leopard was not caught unaware. Like his namesake, he landed on his feet, bounding through the traffic.
Superman flew above the cars, watching the weaving pattern of his foe. He was closing in when he saw a car, tire slashed, careening towards a bus. He changed direction.
If he let the Leopard go, he may hurt more people, but ignoring those in harm’s way, Superman had no choice. He couldn’t ignore those in front of him. It had been a long week, and the attack on Jerry, leaving one of his classmates dead, was hanging heavy on Superman’s shoulders. For some reason, it was easier when it was adults. Children had their whole life ahead of them. Not that he fought any less to save anyone, it was just guilt eating at him. That guilt drove him to land, acting as a barrier between car and bus. His arms flexed as he picked the car up to help redirect its momentum, before setting it back down on the street.
The driver stuck her head out the window. “Thank you, Superman.”
He didn’t have time to respond as claws aimed for his face. He moved at superspeed, causing the Leopard to stumble as he landed. He recovered quickly and glared at his enemy.
“I'm not the only friend that will be coming to play, you better believe that. I just figure they’ll only have your corpse when I'm done.”
Superman could feel his energy ebbing. It was more evident than in the battle in the fortress. Every muscle ached, every sense on fire and his nerves were screaming with each movement. He wanted to sleep, to close his eyes. It was nearly overpowering, but he fought against it.
He began to fall, half on purpose and half reality. The Leopard ran at him, claws getting in a few good cuts before Superman knocked him into the side of a nearby car. He hit him harder than he had intended, but it left his enemy disoriented.
His advantage wouldn’t last long. He moved to the Leopard, faster than eyes could see, and flicked his chin with his middle finger. The fur-covered head slammed back as his body collapsed into unconsciousness. Superman dropped him to the ground and closed his eyes. His body followed suit, collapsing to the ground, blood pooling underneath.
Light, it burned his eyes. Pain lanced back into his brain, creating a massive headache. He closed them again, listening to the sounds around him. Machines were whirring, people were whispering and he was exhausted.
He tried to open his eyes again, ignoring his desire to sleep and the uncomfortableness of the light. The rest of his body didn’t seem to want to respond. “Too bright.” It was a croak, but caught the attention of those around him.
The lights dimmed and he could see Lois, a smile filling her face. Next to her were Steve Lombard and Emil Hamilton.
“You stopped him, “ Lois said as she rested a hand on his shoulder. It seemed to be the only part of his body that didn't have an open wound.
“Where is he, where am I?”
Emil piped up. “You're in S.T.A.R. Labs, your friend is heading to prison. Don’t worry, I plan to study up on him and reverse whatever Xa-Du did.”
“Thanks for the save.” Steve held out his hand like he wanted to shake the Man of Steel’s, then put it away as he realized that wasn’t possible. He turned to Lois. “I’m out, Lane. You got too much action for me, I’ll stick with sports.”
He turned back to Superman. “I could've been street pizza. I need to get a few drinks in me to get over that. Get better.” Then he turned and left the room.
Superman didn’t answer. He felt himself creeping back into sleep, but not before he needed a few questions answering. He fought against his body, his will, winning. “How long?” It was all he could get out.
Lois didn’t understand the question, but Emil seemed to have a grasp. “I don’t know. The equipment that I have here is not nearly as efficient in cleaning out the kryptonite. My hope is to work on you for a few days. It takes time to scrub all of your blood at a slow enough rate to eliminate all of the kryptonite particles. Some have started bonding with the tissue. It is a race. Even if we get most of it out, that which does bond may cause some problems.”
The last few words trailed off as the Man of Steel let the blackness absorb him.
ONE DAY LATER:
Lex sat in the chair as Dr. Kelley drew blood from him.
“Are you sure that you want me to run these tests, Lex?”
He looked at her. There was an anger and sadness in his eyes. “Yes, I’m no saint, but I won’t let my father destroy Alice White’s opinion of me.”
She took the vial and placed it in a holder with the other four. “Is her opinion really that important?”
“No, it has more to do with my father. I couldn’t care less about the White’s, but doing this. Well, I have my own thoughts on how to benefit.”
Gretchen Kelley raised an eyebrow.
“He’s my half-brother after all.”
Dr. Kelley shook her head. “Yes, all the tests I ran point to Lionel being his father.”
“Make sure you send the information to the Whites.”
Xelek closed down the command system. The last few traces of Xa-Du’s infiltration had finally been erased from the system. Security had also been boosted. This wouldn’t happen again, at least on Xelek’s watch.
She backed away from the computer when a light began blinking before command entries popped up on the screen. PROJECT CLONE INTERRUPTED, INITIATING EARLY.
Xelek rushed back to the console, trying to stop whatever was initializing. This was not a project she was familiar with. She had seen references to project clone, but had deleted them and their subsidizing command codes. Apparently that had not been enough.
The command disappeared from the screen followed by the word PURGED and the floor beneath her began shaking uncontrollably.
Xelek backed away from the console, her hovering allowing her to maintain an upright position. She looked around and saw the ocean near the entrance. The water was frothing, small waves lapping at the edge, but growing in size and intensity.
She moved to the edge of the water, but could see nothing. Her sensors, on the other hand, picked up twelve objects. They were pushed into the ocean before exploding in an eruption of fire that shot them through the ice and up into the atmosphere.
The roof of the fortress began collapsing, chunks of ice cascading down. Xelek attempted to dodge, but one chunk hit her body. It pinned her to the ground. She looked down, seeing one shard of ice piercing her body; electricity sparked. She had to shut down, it was the only way to save herself, so that was what she did as the ice continued to rain down into the fortress.
TO BE CONTINUED IN ACTION COMICS #51, OUT IN TWO WEEKS!
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