#7: The Golden Sea Jun 7, 2019 15:59:48 GMT -5
Post by Admin on Jun 7, 2019 15:59:48 GMT -5
Issue Seven: “ The Golden Sea”
Written by Eric Guptill
Cover by FieryStampede (click the link for his DeviantArt)
Edited by Mark Bowers
Even if he was Superman, he was still our son and we would always be proud of that.
I remember the first article that Clark ever wrote. It was our prized possession. Martha had cut it out, placing it in a newly created scrapbook. She had always created photo albums, but was not a big scrapbooker. This was different, this was the beginning of our son’s career and she wanted to celebrate that.
I was skeptical at first, but Martha soon won me over. Just looking at each article (only a few in the beginning) made me swell with pride. It also gave me fodder when talking with Clark about his exploits. It didn’t hurt that some of the articles were about his other life as Superman.
He loved telling us about each adventure. Well, he did at first. He had always talked with Martha about this or that story, but what he told me began to focus more on a woman he worked with, Lois Lane.
Clark wouldn’t admit that he had feelings for her, but the way he talked about her, the frustration with her, was all a cover for his true feelings. I saw it a mile away, this woman that got under his skin. It was all a front, but I couldn’t say anything. I knew he would deny it. He was his own man and needed to come to the truth in his own time.
Of course, I discussed it with Martha and she just loved asking Clark questions about Lois. She was never obvious, but grinned when Clark blushed ever so slightly or changed the subject quickly. It was our little joke with him, well, with each other. It wasn’t done in cruelty, but until Clark understood what he felt, we would give a little push here and there.
Our son deserved a woman who would be his equal and Lois was more than up to the task. I loved each visit, as he grew to accept how he felt through the years. He was Clark, and he needed his time for certain things. It was my pleasure to give it to him and to watch him grow as a person and hero.
Clark walked through the golden sea of wheat. The breeze moving the reeds to and fro, creating the illusion of waves rippling along in front of him. He felt lost, the slight scratch of the stalks as they pulled along his skin and clothes. It kept him grounded, that slight tug with every movement, kept him focused on the here and now, not on the past.
He listened to the wind, a sweet song playing across the instruments of the plain. Not a whistle, not a howl, but a gentle whisper that held words that were not made to be understood. He loved it, he embraced it and he let it dominate his thoughts. There was no distant sounds of traffic or the city, no cries for help, just him and the fields.
He had always found comfort in them, even as a small child. Yet, back then, he ran through the fields like a whirlwind. His hands had been outstretched, daring the stalks of grain to try to hold him back. Even as they whipped across his face, he had laughed and continued running.
The memory made Clark smile. He loved Metropolis, but here, here in this moment, he felt at home. Surrounded by nearly all of his family, except for Pa, whose death still ate at him, and his half-brother Kru-El, who had to work. His job as a fireman was an important one and Clark would never want to pull him away from saving lives.
His body pirouetted in the morning light, enjoying the sun on his skin as it fought to heal the wounds that had been inflicted by the Leopard.* He loved the warming rays as they nourished him, it was a feeling others couldn’t experience and he had few words that could adequately describe it.
* Superman #6
Lois’s hand grabbed his, pulling him out of his last twirl and into her arms. “Fancy meeting you here.”
His eyebrow raised. “Is it? I heard you creeping up.”
Lois pulled him tighter. “You did, did you? You know, you always say that, yet always seem surprised to see me.”
“Maybe I’m just a good actor.”
“Or maybe I’m immune to that super-hearing.”
Clark smiled down at her, squeezed, and buried his head into her hair. She could feel the tears as he fought to not break into sobs.
“Shh, it’s okay.” She kept saying the mantra over and over as the tears continued to flow. She held back her own, Clark needed her strong and she would give him that. He wasn’t one to give up, but this wasn’t that. This was him, letting go of everything he had pent up, everything that was eating at him. Clark would do this and then that self-assurance would return. She had seen it before and was happy being what he needed in this moment.
The last shudders left his body. He breathed in the scent of his fiancee and raised his head high. The glint of remaining tears still fresh on his face as he allowed the sun to dry them off. Lois wasn’t as patient and freed her hands to wipe them away.
“If I was taller, I’d kiss your tears away.”
“Why not just kiss me?” Clark lifted her up with ease and allowed his lips to touch hers, gently at first and transforming into a hunger that she returned. He gently floated backwards, through the golden sea and onto the solid earth, Lois still in his arms.
Martha Kent knocked on Conner’s door and waited for a response. None was forthcoming, so she tried again, more persistently. Again, nothing. She opened the door quietly and walked into the room. Her new ward, a clone of her son, but thought of as more like a brother to Clark, lay tangled in a mess of covers and sheets, his Nintendo Switch laying haphazardly on a nearby desk.
She moved it to ensure that it was more secure and then faced the bed. “Get up, young man.”
Conner’s head shot up from the tangle of sheets. “Whatchawantma?”
Martha couldn’t understand his mumbling and let the sternness of her expression wash over him. He realized it too and sat up, caught in the tangled mess that was his bedding.
“Do you know what time it is, young man?”
Conner looked around, clearing his head. His phone wasn’t around, no clock on the wall, but he could see the sun. “Early enough for me to sleep another hour or two?”
Martha gave him an incredulous look, but couldn’t help smiling. Conner did that to her. He would push for a little more of this or that, but was a good kid. He was a godsend to her, him and Kara. It felt nice to have children in the house, especially with Jonathan gone these past few years.
“Barn, remember. Chores.”
He yawned, slapping the side of his cheeks. “Okay, Ma. I got it. Hay, milk the cow, I got it.”
Martha turned out of the room and paused before peeking back in. Conner had laid back down. “Now!”
He jumped out of the bed. “Yes, Ma’am.”
“Better.” Martha headed back downstairs. That kid would drive her to insanity, but she loved him.
She walked into the kitchen, and saw Kara finishing up some dishes.
“Did you get Stank up?”
“Kara, stop calling him that, you know that he hates it.” Martha loved that Kara was beginning to open up, since being so unhappy for so long. It had been the trip to the future with the Legion of Superheroes that had caused a change in her.* Even Conner and Clark had noticed it.
*Action Comics #48-50
Kara continued to wash and dry the few remaining plates. “I know, but c’mon, Ma, he stinks. All boys his age do.”
Martha began pulling out a few things from the fridge to start breakfast. “Girls his age aren’t much better.”
Kara laughed. “Ya, ya, not true, but sure. I don’t know how you can stand to go into that room. Feet and B.O. That’s all I get from it.”
“Hush, he’ll be down in a minute. Don’t give him any crap. You think he was bad, he doesn't hold a candle to Clark.” Martha giggled as she began pulling out her electric griddle and waffle maker. She began searching for the flour in the freezer.
“Why do you keep it in there?” Kara put the last of the dishes away.
“Keeps it fresh longer.”
“If you say so.” She pulled out the coffee beans and grinder. It had been about a year ago that she had convinced Ma about the importance of fresh coffee. Martha had argued that ground coffee was just as good and it had taken Kara a good three months to convince her that freshly ground beans would have a more robust flavor. The Food Network had taught her key words to use in her battle with Martha. Eventually, she had won and Martha had never been happier.
Conner jumped down the stairs and rushed into the kitchen. “Coffee’s not ready?”
Martha shooed him away. “Milk or orange juice for you.”
“You’re too young, Stank,” Kara said.
“Stop calling me Stank. You aren’t a picture of roses,” Konnor retorted.
“Really, you’re one fart away from smelling like a garbage truck.”
Martha couldn’t help it and burst into laughter.
“Et Tu, Ma?”
This put Martha into bigger fits of laughter. Both Kara and Conner began laughing as well. It wasn’t all that funny, but they couldn’t stop.
“One fart away,” Martha said, reigniting the laughter. They all had a few tears before she began to compose herself. Kara followed suit and finally Conner laughed his last laugh.
He cleared the water from his eyes and wiped it on his jeans. “Where’s Clark?”
“Don’t listen for him!” Kara yelled.
Conner looked at her, confused, but only for a moment. “Gross, so gross. Uggh, yuck.”
“Hush up, they’re adults in love. Let them be.” Martha chastised her youngest.
“I closed down my ears as soon as I figured out what was going on,” Kara said as she loaded water into the coffee machine.
Conner threw his hands over his ears. “Stop, stop, stop. You’re nasty, Kara.” He exited the house, heading for the barn.
Kara peeked her head out the screen door. “Buy Bessie dinner first, Stank.”
Conner turned back at her, stomped the ground and turned back towards his chores, mumbling something or other under his breath.
“Kara, that mouth.”
She came back in the house. “Ma, between me and Conner, you’ve heard way worse.”
Martha began adding the dry ingredients to the wet, her mixing machine doing the majority of the work. “That doesn’t mean I need to hear more of it.”
Kara ran up to her, kissing her cheek. “You wouldn’t know what to do without us and our young, dirty, rotten minds.”
Martha dipped a few fingers in the last of the flour as it fell into the mixer, flicking it at Kara’s face. Kara moved away at super speed, only a small grain or two hitting her forehead.
“What was that for? You know I gotta go run the store this morning.”
Martha rolled her eyes. “Don’t be dramatic, you have plenty of time before you need to open. Besides, unless I am completely in the dark, there isn’t anyone who you are trying to impress.”
“That’s not the point, a young lady should look her best.” Kara flipped her hair as she said it, exaggerating her point.
Martha turned off the mixer. “A young lady wouldn’t talk about her cousin’s farts.” They both began giggling again.
Lois rested her head in the crook of Clark’s neck as they lay on a few stalks of young wheat. She could feel the earth in her hair and smell the dampness of it as her heart began to slow down. She loved how the scent of him mixed with that of Mother Nature, it grounded her and helped to quell the ever-rising panic that threatened to spring up over the last day. It had been a constant that she wanted to smother, but was afraid to let go of. She could live with the conundrum as long as Clark was here.
She glanced up at the side of his face. “Feel better?”
His lips pulled to the side in a smirk. “You always make me feel better.”
Lois propped herself up on one arm. She brushed a curl of his black hair away from his forehead, running her fingers through the curls and waves that rested on his head. “Liar.”
Clark turned his head to look into her eyes. “I am better, Lois.”
Lois rolled her eyes. “For now, but you have to take time to work through it.”
That made her pause. She took a minute, organizing her thoughts. “Yes and no. The thought of losing you, it, it drives me insane. My heart, it’s like…like on the verge of breaking. I can’t, just can’t let that happen. But you’re Superman, my Superman, my Clark and it’s not like you haven’t been on death’s door before. We’ll work through this.”
He just stared at her for a minute. “You really believe that?”
“Yes.” She was so sure of her answer, so confident, and that confidence infected Clark.
“Then so am I, but I still want to talk to the family.”
Lois sat up. “That’s a given, Smallville. Martha would kill us both if we didn’t tell her.”
Clark sat up as well. He put an arm around the woman who would soon be his wife. The liquid kryptonite that had been injected into his system was killing him.* That was the short version. He had battled the Leopard and defeated him, but the strange mix of kryptonite that had been injected into him was sapping his strength and not even the full strength of the sun was keeping it at bay. It had been hard to hear, but he knew that Emil was working on a cure. He had wanted to spend some time with his family before checking in with Xelek, at the fortress. They had begun a process and may be able to continue it. He hoped it would help, but from everything Emil had told him, it had not done enough to cleanse him. The prolonged exposure within his body had caused his cells to begin absorbing the kryptonite. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t try to combine Kryptonian technology with Emil’s brilliant mind.
He knew that there was a lot more to it, more that could be tried, but no one knew how long he really had. He felt weaker at times and his powers could be affected as well. He wanted to live a full life and though he had shown a moment of weakness an hour ago, a release of emotions he had needed, he wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.
Lois felt his muscles tense and relax. She could imagine the play of thoughts as they went through his head. Sure, she was scared, but he would pull through. He would always pull through.
“There’s the Smallville I know.”
Clark kissed the top of her head. “Yep, ready to talk on the world with my intrepid sidekick reporter.”
Lois pulled away and looked at him, eyebrow raised. “If anyone’s the sidekick, it’s you.”
Clark mimicked her raised eyebrow. “Nobody puts Baby in a corner?”
“Well you’re Baby, so…..I’m okay with the corner.”
Clark laughed. He felt better now. He had needed this time alone with Lois, especially after the craziness of the last week.*
“Now, we gotta clean up. Husks of wheat and dirt aren’t appropriate breakfast attire.” Lois began shaking bits of dirt out of her hair.
“I got this.” Clark stood up and pulled Lois close to him. She wrapped her arms around him, standing on his feet as they began to hover about six inches off the ground. She took in a deep breath and held it as they began to spin rapidly in the air. This was not new to her. It only lasted a few seconds, but the dirt had flown out of her hair, along with the few flecks of grain that had been hidden away.
“Not quite as good as a shower, but it will do.” Lois said.
Clark kissed her on the lips as he set back down on terra firma. Lois stepped off of his feet and promptly fell on her butt. She tried to get up again and fell down on her side. Clark couldn’t stop laughing.
“Stop, I can’t stand or walk. You better get a head start, Clark, ‘cause I know you did this on purpose.”
Clark laughed even harder, giving her his hand, but she only attempted to smack it away. The vertigo caused her to miss and pulled even deeper guffaws from Clark.
“Better run, I’ll be up in a minute.”
Clark blew a kiss at her and took off through the corn toward the house.
Karen flew down to the farm, faster than the eye could follow, landing in front of the barn. It had been odd, getting an invitation from Clark to join him and his family for breakfast. She had never been that close to him, feeling more like a distant family member. He had even said as much, apologizing for not making more of an effort with her. It had surprised her when he had gone a step further and said that he would remedy it, bringing her into the Kent family fold.
Of course, she had just been to the farm a few weeks ago.* Kara hadn’t been here, well, the current Kara, but one from the future. It had been great to have dinner with everyone, but she still didn’t think there would be another invitation after that. It was just the way things were, people say things, but get busy and don’t follow through.
*Action Comics #48
She was Power Girl, she thought that was enough until she got that call. It wasn’t like her to get her hopes up, but with Supergirl, Superboy and Superman, she knew she belonged with them. And this, this went beyond that. Clark hadn’t invited her as Power Girl, but as Karen, to a family breakfast. It excited her and made her feel like she was truly wanted and no amount of chiding herself could make it go away.
She hadn’t known what to wear, it was like she was on a first date. Karen had settled on a loose-fitting silk blouse and some slacks. That had been the tenth outfit she had tried out. Packing her weekend bag had taken even longer. She had spent little time with Clark, Lois, Conner and Kara and just wanted to fit in.
As if her thoughts called to him, Conner came out of the barn. “Hey, Karen.” He had one hand shielding his eyes from the sun.
“Hey, um, Conner.” She noticed him staring at her chest. “My eyes are up here. Give me a bit of respect.”
He blushed and looked and turned back towards the barn.
“Wait, wait.” Karen said as she went after him. “I didn’t want to start off on the wrong foot.”
Conner turned around, the blush slightly visible. “It’s okay. I was just finishing some chores.”
“Superboy does chores.”
“No, Conner does,” he said with a slight edge to his voice.
Karen held her hands up. “Calm down, I didn’t mean anything by it. I’m just, well…uncomfortable. Haven’t spent a lot of time with you guys.”
His defensiveness died down. “Let’s start over. I’m glad you are here, Karen,” Conner said as he held out a hand.
Karen took it and shook. “Why, thank you, young man.” She smiled at him, a twinkle in her eye.
“Wanna help milk a cow?”
Karen knew nothing about farm life. “No, I’ll leave that to the expert.”
She turned away from the barn and headed back into the driveway just as Clark emerged from the wheat field. His smile broadened as he saw her. Before she knew it, he was in front of her with a hand on her shoulder.
“I’m so glad you came, Karen.”
She smiled back at him. “Me too.”
She could sense the bit of awkwardness around them. It would vanish with time, especially with Clark’s warmth. That same sense of love and caring he held as Superman was just as evident in Clark. He was the epitome of an open heart, someone who would do his best to make others comfortable.
“Is Lois inside?”
“No, she’s right here.”
Karen looked around Clark and saw Lois pull herself from the field as he began to laugh under his breath.
“I can see your shoulders shaking, Smallville. You getting a good laugh, ‘cause somebody’s gonna pay later.”
Karen felt like she was in the middle of something that was meant for those two. She stepped back a little as Conner approached from behind.
“Don’t worry, they’re always like this. It’s sickening.” He walk slightly past Karen. “Whatcha do, Clark?”
“What did he do, he decided to spin me around like a top and then watch me try to walk.” Lois came up to Clark and began poking his chest as she spoke. He feigned pain with each poke.
“Lo, you wanted the dirt out of your hair.”
“Lame, Clark, lame excuse.”
Karen was lost. “Dirt? Hair?”
Conner looked over at her and shook his head back and forth, eyes wide. Then she knew, and began to blush herself.
“See what you did now, Karen’s embarrassed.”
That sobered Clark up. He turned to Karen. “Sorry, you just got caught up in a little lovers’ joke.”
Karen smiled. “It’s okay.”
“Lovers’ joke, or tryst?” Conner smirked.
“I can’t imagine you finished milking Bessie, now have you, Stank.”
“Gawd, Lois, low blow, super low blow.” He mumbled under his breath as he returned to the barn.
“Lois, you know he hates that name.”
“I know, but I couldn’t help it.”
Lois turned to Karen. “I’m glad you came. It’ll be great to get to know you better.”
“I’m glad I came too, though I can tell how familiar you are with one another.”
Lois wrapped her arm through Karen’s as she pulled her towards the house. “You’ll get there in time.”
It was a comforting thought that made Karen even surer that she had made the right decision in coming.
Fortress of Solitude:
Xelek awoke on a table, a Superman robot standing over her, while two others were picking up nearby debris. Her oblong head turned left and right, noticing the destruction that filled the fortress.* Heavy chunks of ice had fallen, one of them landing on her. She had thought it was the end.
“Status?” she asked the robot. She had not expected the Superman robots to have activated. They hadn’t awoken for the battle within the fortress, so it seemed odd that they would awaken now, unless the fortress had activated them. If that was the case, then things were worse off than she imagined.
The robot looked at her, its shiny metal skin smudged with a few bits of debris. “You are the only functioning servitor, the others were damaged too heavily. Repairs on the fortress have begun.”
“Why were you activated?”
“System launch caused extreme damage to the infrastructure, I and two others were needed to assist with repairs.”
Xelek pulled herself off of the table, and made her way around chunks of ice. Something the robot had said, launch….launch. Then it hit her as her memory banks pulled her last images. There had been a launch of twelve pods, twelve pods that she knew nothing about.*
She moved even quicker, needing to get to the main computer. As she rounded one last ice boulder, she saw that it was damaged, all but one small section of the main console. It would have to be enough.
She cleared off the dust from the screen, booted up the system and waited. It seemed an eternity before the system logged on, having to work around the damaged circuits.
Xelek tapped a few keys, pulling up logs on the launch. Twelve pods had been shot into space in a decaying orbit. Each pod seemed to be about six and a half feet in length. A few more key strokes and she saw them in orbit, though they were not clustered, instead they were beginning to descend on earth.
Xelek, quickly began processing their trajectories, double-checking with the computer’s calculations. Four were headed to Metropolis, two to Midway City, two to Denver and four more to Smallville.
“No, no…” Xelek couldn’t reach Superman directly, she couldn’t reach those he loved in Midway City or Denver. The one person she could reach was Emil Hamilton, as well as sending out a short wave message at a high enough frequency that only Kryptonians would hear. It was a last ditch effort, hoping that they could react fast enough. She sent the warning message relay through a host of satellites, one to S.T.A.R. Labs and then to relay a message out through the country. Xelek hoped she had enough time to warn Emil and Superman. Ignoring the rising panic, she called to the three Superman robots, sending one to Denver, one to Midway City and one to Metropolis. She hoped it was enough.
TO BE CONTINUED IN ACTION COMICS #52, OUT IN TWO WEEKS!
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