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Feel free to read the previous storyline titled "Steel Terror!" which in-directly leads up to the storyline on this page.
In the previous storyline, Superman saved the day with a big hand from an inside SCU member, bringing the dastardly Dr Hudson to justice. Clark then attended the SCU Press Conference with Lois Lane and thought about what to do next....
It had been three days since the Hudson incident, and for Clark Kent, three sleepless nights. At first he had put it down to the fact that the ordeal had been pretty horrendous. He had a failed on a number of occasions, many people had died, Lex Luthor had been brutally violated, and he, or rather Superman had had to be saved by a police officer - not that Beedler didn't deserve the attention he was getting now.
No, Clark knew why he couldn't sleep. He had tried to get the nagging problem out of his mind. The first night he stayed at The Planet and worked late, but this made his dilemma worse. The second night he went out on patrol. There were several burglaries, five shootings, a hit and run and one cat up a tree. By the third night, the Metropolis underworld must have got the message. There was nothing the police couldn't handle themselves, so Superman realigned a falling satellite, something no one else could do.
As he sat now at his desk, he looked at the root of his problem - Lois Lane. She too was sitting at her desk. He watched her as she chewed delicately on her pencil as she typed up her story. Occasionally she would use the pencil to scratch her head, then it was popped back into her mouth. Jimmy Olsen crept up behind her and said something in her ear. It must have been something disgusting as Lois removed the pencil from her mouth and threw it in the bin. Five minutes later, Lois rose from her desk and began to walk to the elevator. Clark quickly slid his chair back and followed after her.
"Going down, Lois?"
"You wish, Kent. Observation level."
Clark pushed the button. "Mind if I join you?"
"It's a free country, Kent."
"Would you like dinner?" Clark blurted.
"You asking me on a date, Kent?"
"Well, as you said, it is a free country." Clark smiled.
"Yes I did." The elevator told them they arrived, and Lois stepped out. "8.30, Dooley's" she said as the doors closed.
If Clark could sweat, his shirt would have been soaking by the time Lois arrived. He sat at the bar thinking that this wasn't exactly what he had had in mind. Mind you, they do serve good bar food at Dooley's.
Lois arrived. Clark was shocked to see her in jogging pants and T-shirt, complete with wrist and ankle weights. As she moved over to Clark she put her fingers up to her neck to check her pulse rate.
"Coffee, double cream and sugar."
"Lois?" said Clark, his eyebrows raised.
"What? Can't a girl spoil herself once in a while? Besides, Centennial Park is hard work." Lois stopped moving as she took the coffee from Dooley himself. "You're looking smart?"
"Thanks, Lois. So are..."
"I look like hell. There's a table." she said pointing to the middle of the room. "Come on, Kent."
Clark winced inside as she called him that. He had to admit that he was disappointed. He was expecting a romantic meal for two, and instead he got... a sweaty Lois Lane. Maybe that wasn't so bad.
As the pair began to sit down, a group of three men came into the bar. Clark's attention was drawn to them because they were so quiet, almost business looking, and then because he was sure that he had seen them before.
"So, Kent. What were you expecting? Me in a nice flowery dress." said Lois.
"Be quiet." said Clark without thinking.
"What did you say?"
"Those men, I'm sure..."
Before he could finish the sentence, one of them jumped over the bar, grabbed Dooley and held a knife to his throat.
"OK ladies and gentlemen. All we want is your valuables. Give them over and no one gets hurt." Said the one who had propped himself up on the bar. No one said a word. The third crook began to move around the room collecting anything that people had to offer. Then he came to Lois and Clark's table. Clark could tell by the way she was sitting, Lois was about to do something stupid.
It was clear that Clark had to do something fast. Although he had only known Lois about nine months, he knew her well enough. She was fond of pulling stupid stunts. After all, she did try to drown herself once, or at least make it appear that way. Mind you, Lois did usually get her way, as she did that day. She got her exclusive interview with Superman, but he, as Clark, got his version in first. It was that that had made her hate him ever since. He hoped that "hate" was too strong a word.
As the crook reached out for the their belongings, Clark began to panic, and in doing so "accidentally" knocked over the candle on the table. The candle hit the man's trousers, and with a little help from his heat vision, they burst into flames. The man dropped his gun as he began to pat his flaming trousers.
The man behind the bar tensed, and brought the knife he held closer to Dooley's neck. The last thug, who was leaning on the bar pointed his pistol at Clark. Clark grabbed Lois and knocked her to the floor. Around them the bar was in panic. The flaming man had fallen against several tables and set them alight.
Making sure Lois couldn't see, Clark dipped his glasses slightly and took a quick shot at the thug's gun. It was so intense that the gun superheated so that the man should have had to drop it, but he didn't!
Clark became afraid. Not for himself, but everyone else. These men were not normal. The people inside Dooley's needed Superman, but Clark was stuck. He didn't really have much of a choice. Clark got up and ran towards the gunman. The man fired. Clark jumped and twisted. As he span he caught the bullet so no one else would get hit. Clark collided with the man. His superdense body caused the pair of them to crash through the bar and land at Dooley's feet. The man who had Dooley, seemed surprised and let go of Dooley. He reached down and picked Clark up. Dooley ran through the newly made gate in his bar.
The flaming thug had managed to put out his flames. All of his clothes had been burnt off. His hair was singed and his skin badly blistered, but he didn't seem to care. He too closed in on Clark Kent.
The three of them stood over Clark and began to pound him. Their fists smashing down onto his back and head. Any normal man would have been killed after the second blow. Clark began to crawl. Just a short distance away was the trap door to the cellar. Clark made it easily and tumbled down.
Lois got to her feet and was horrified at what she was seeing. There was no way that Clark could survive the pounding they were giving him.
"Superman, where are you?!"
There was a deafening crack , and Superman suddenly appeared above the three thugs. Below, Clark had changed and flown back up at superspeed, breaking the sound barrier.
"Clear the room!" said the Man of Steel. "Including you, Lois."
Superman went to work. He set down and grabbed the first thug in a double nelson. He broke free. Superman was not surprised, he should have realised after the pounding they gave him how strong they were. There was something strange about these guys.
As he suspected, Superman had seen them before. They were the guys who had tried to rob the bank a few days back, whilst he was on his way with LexCorp security to stop Hudson. But he had caught them and handed them over to the police. Maggie Sawyer should have had them safely locked away. It was something he would have to talk to her about.
Whilst Superman was thinking this, the thug he grabbed decided to take a shot at him. The punch was very powerful and sent Superman down the inside of the bar and out the other end. It didn't take long for Superman to come back. As he did he ripped a string of lights off the top of the shorts rack. Dooley had put the brightly coloured lights up at Christmas and hadn't taken them down. The wire was probably going to be strong enough.
Superman flew towards them, and at superspeed wrapped up the three thugs. They struggled, but they were well and truly captured.
Superman handed over the tangled robbers as soon as two police officers arrived. "You two be careful. These two are more slippery than eels, and stronger than they look. But, I think I have everything wrapped up." With a smile Superman leapt into the air.
"Superman!" shouted Lois Lane as she ran out of Dooley's.
"There's something else that needs my attention Lois." There was a crack as the sound barrier was broken and Superman was gone.
Lois looked at the three hoods that stood before her, all tied up in a row of Christmas lights. There was something strange about the three of them. There complexions were very pale and their eyes were all clouded over. The lack of colour didn't seem to just belong to their faces. Lois could see that their hands and arms were the same sickened colour like they hadn't seen sun in years or... they were dead.
Lois began to reach out. Her hands was mere centimeters from one of the thugs throats when her wrist was grabbed.
"What are you doing Miss Lane?" said one of the police officers.
"That's Ms Lane, to you."
"We'll be off now, Ms Lane. If you want to touch the men you'll have to come to the station." A police van pulled up and the two police officers bundled the three thugs into the back and then drove off, leaving Lois standing on the pavement and thinking about....
"Clark!" Lois ran back inside Dooleys. Last time anyone had seen Clark he had been behind the bar having the living daylights beaten out of him.
When Superman flew off at the speed of sound, he picked up the velocity so that no one could see him. Well, any non-powered human. Sneaking back to Dooley's he burrowed from outside the shop so that he ended up in Dooley's cellar. Clark, quickly put on his clothes, which he had compressed and hid where no one was likely to find them. He took the right arm of his jacket and ripped it off. Then he tore the knee on his trousers and ruffled his hair. He thought about dirtying his face but, he knew that the aura that protected his body would simply remove it within seconds.
Before he began to walk up the ladder, he put a small piece of brick from the shattered cellar wall in his shoe, it was a trick he learned from seeing an old western when he was a kid. It would help him to remember to limp. Then putting on the appropriate noises, he began to climb the stairs.
Clark looked up to see Lois' head appear in the cellar trap door above him.
"Er... Hi Lois." Said Clark as he continued to climb.
"Are you ok?"
Clark smiled inside. Was that genuine concern that he heard in Lois' voice?
"I've been better." He replied. Lois stepped back as Clark climbed out of the trap door. Lois actually helped him out.
"My God!" she said when she saw the state of him. "What did they do to you?"
"Good job Superman turned up, or I'd be strawberry jam."
"Oh forget Superman. We better get you to hospital." said an outraged Lois. Clark raised an eyebrow at the female reporter. "What?" she asked.
"Nothing Lois, nothing."
Clark managed to convince Lois that he was fine, and that he didn't have to go to the hospital, but she insisted that she check him over and cook him dinner, albeit microwaved at her flat.
The next morning at the Planet newsroom, Lois ignored Clark for the first few hours.
"Hi, Lois" said Clark as he sat on the edge of her desk. Lois beckoned for Clark to come closer. As he did, she grabbed his tie and dragged his face up to hers.
"Don't tell anyone about last night. Don't mistake my concern for you as a personal thing. I was concerned for Perry. As much as I hate to admit it, you're good and Perry needs you. So don't get all starry eyed, I don't have feelings for you, I don't even like you." Lois let go of his tie, and got up. "I'm off to see Sawyer, you coming?" Lois swung her handbag over her shoulder and walked off.
"They're dead" repeated Clark.
"Yes." said Maggie Sawyer. "The doctor checked them over and over again. He can't explain it."
"I should say so. Dead people don't just get up and walk around, let alone hold up bars." said Lois.
"When Superman captured them, when they robbed the bank a few days ago, did you realise they were dead then?" asked Clark.
Captain Sawyer put on an embarrassed smile. "No, though they had the same 'signs'. We assumed it was make up or something. we didn't even realise they had super strength until they busted themselves out."
"I know about their strength," said Clark and he rubbed his upper right arm for effect. "Where are they now?"
"They are en route to STAR Labs. Under high security. If you have any more questions I suggest you ask them."
"Thanks Maggie" said Lois, and the pair of reporters left.
Lois and Clark stood outside the police precinct. Clark suddenly let out a cry of pain and clutched the side of his face.
"What now, Kent?"
"Wisdom teeth, Kent?"
"I better find an emergency dentist. Bye Lois." Clark ran off down the road and into the crowds.
"Kent! Come Back Here!!!!"
As soon as Clark had disappeared into the crowd he burst into superspeed, got changed and leapt into the air.
Dan Turpin had insisted on going with the convoy. He sat in the back of the armour-plated security vehicle, opposite the three captives, a helmeted STAR security officer on either side of him. It was warm inside the van, and Turpin took off his bowler hat.
"Dead super muka-muks. I just don't get it?" he stared into the lifeless eyes of the man sitting directly across from him, his hands, like of the rest of them, down behind them with energy dampeners to counteract their super strength.
"You will." said the STAR officer to his left.
"Huh?" said Turpin. As he turned his head to look at the officer, his nose came into contact with the butt of a shot gun. Turpin's body span around and landed on top of the other STAR officer.
"Pass me the remote!" ordered the first STAR officer. He removed his helmet, with the visor gone, his confused colleague could see he had the same lifeless eyes. The floored officer tried to remove the unconscious Dan Turpin from on top of him. "Leave him there!" The floored officer removed the remote form a pouch on his belt and pressed the button.
The three captives burst free as dampening fields shut down. The "dead" STAR officer, picked up Dan Turpin's body, pointed his shot gun at his fallen colleague and fired.
Superman was about one hundred meters above the van as it travelled over Hob's Bridge. A quick peek with his x-ray vision soon showed him what was happening. Acting fast, Superman sped down and smashed through the top of the armoured van and ploughed into the three released captives.
The "dead" STAR officer, with Turpin slug over his shoulder, leapt up and through the hole that Superman had made.
As Superman turned to watch the escape, the three dead men knocked him to the floor.
The support towers that held up the suspension bridge that crossed Hobbs River swung slightly in the wind that rushed up the man-made valley caused by the various buildings that covered the banks of the river.
On the bridge itself Superman continued to get pounded by the three "dead" men as they smashed through the armoured van and landed on the tarmac. Below the binoculars, the man's mouth crept into a smile. He was busy watching the fight from bank to which the convoy was travelling. His black hair waved about in the wind occasionally crossing in front of the binocular lenses. The man quickly swept his hair back out of the way. The binoculars were also filming The Man of Steel in action. More footage to add to the pile the man had already amassed. Soon he would have all he would need, and by then it would be too late for the Superman.
"I have had... just about enough... of you guys." said Superman. With each phrase Superman landed a punch on each of the "dead" men sending them spinning out into Hobb's bay! He could go back for them later. First he had to rescue Turpin.
The "dead" STAR officer was climbing up one of the support towers, like some miniature King Kong, with Dan Turpin slung over his shoulder. Superman stood and watched for a while. What could the man hope to achieve by climbing up there? Superman leapt into the air and soon came into line with the STAR man and the unconscious Dan Turpin.
"Let him go. There's no where for you to go." said Superman. The STAR man looked at him blankly for a second and then continued on climbing. Superman continued to follow as the STAR man climbed. After ten minutes and without tiring and slowing the thing stopped. He walked out along the bar between the two halves of the tower and lifted Turpin above his head.
"Don't even think about dropping him. I could catch him within milliseconds of you letting go."
The STAR man jumped!
It took Superman by surprise. He hadn't expected the man to jump too. The shock lasted only a fraction of a second. Superman dived too. He caught up with them quickly, he had power as well as gravity on his side. He reached out for Turpin's foot...
It took Superman a while to realise they had gone, and he only just managed to miss ploughing into the bridge below.
"What happened, Superman?" called out one of the STAR officers who made up the convoy.
"They got away." said Superman simply.
Dan Turpin's eyes flickered open.
"He awakes, Master." came a voice from his right. Turpin tried to move but found he could not. He was strapped to a chair.
"Good" answered another voice. This one came from behind him. Turpin tried to turn to look at who it was but his head was also strapped down. "My friend here told me that... what was it you said. 'Dead Super muka-muks, I just don't get it'." The voice stopped. It was cold and lifeless like his friends. "Soon you will understand my friend. Soon you will become my newest recruit. How does that sound?"
"Get Maggie Sawyer and the SCU down here. I have a bad feeling about this." said Superman as he began viewing the area with all his vision and hearing powers. Nothing. "What I wouldn't give for 'Spectra-Vision' Superman mumbled to himself.
"Let me outa here!" shouted Turpin as he struggled against the leather straps that tied him down. "Why don't you show yourself, you coward?"
"Now we both know that would be most unwise. You are after all, a policeman. It would be very foolish for you to see me."
"I can tell a lot 'bout ya by your voice alone." said Turpin.
"Really?" the voice showed a hint of respect for Turpin's bluff. "Tell me what you know?"
"Well, obviously you're a man." Turpin began. His ears were filled with the sounds of laughter. High pitched female laughter. Turpin's brow furrowed.
"I can be anything I want to be." continued the voice, now, a very feminine sensual voice. "I can do whatever I need to seduce the innocent."
"I'm hardly innocent!" laughed Turpin.
"Maybe not, but you have a personal code, a set of ethics and strong understanding of right and wrong. I love to corrupt such things. The taste is so delicious, especially when I have your soul for eternity."
"You sayin' you're the devil?"
The voice laughed. "Someone far worse. Someone with great plans for Metropolis. I see a night club, the death of this city's most famous man's son and my dear brother taking part in a ridiculous charade. But most of all, I look forward to toying with this city's new champion... Superman."
"There's nothing up there, Maggie. I'm sorry." said Superman.
"In the short time I've known Dan, I know not to count him out yet. He's a tough one." answered the SCU leader. She had arrived moments after STAR had made in the call. Maggie took the protection of her men very seriously.
"You hear something?" asked Superman.
"No" answered Maggie.
"Listen, it's a kind of buzzing...."
"Look up in the sky!" shouted one of the STAR officers.
Superman looked to see Dan Turpin tumbling from the sky. Superman caught him easily and flew him over to the nearby ambulance.
"It's okay Dan. What happened?"
"I'm alright. But Superman, it's you... it's you I'm worried about."
"Why? What happened?"
"Someone's got it in for you, big time."
Superman stood in his condo. The condo he now shared with Lois Lane, his wife. Clark smiled to himself as he thought about his wife. As he undressed he thought about some of the things that had happened to him recently. Dominus had been a tough cookie, but not compared to the Millennium Giants. Hopefully things could settle down for a while and maybe he and Lois could spend some time together. Things were looking tight at The Planet, and mumblings were that soon he and Lois might be able to spend a lot of time together. If The Planet did close, there was plenty they could do. He still had his novels. Banishing the thoughts, Clark walked through to the kitchen grabbing a towel to wrap around himself.
"Clark? I never heard you come in." said Lois as she removed an oven-ready meal from the microwave.
"Hi, honey. That doesn't look too appealing." said Clark as he looked down at the mushy potatoes, dried beef and washed out peas. "Why don't I pop over to Paris and get some frogs legs?"
"Clark..." said Lois.
"Not in the mood? How about Russian food?"
"Oh, by the way, this came for you today." Lois put the meal on the table and picked up a postcard and handed it to Clark.
"Nice picture." remarked Clark sarcastically as he gazed down at the picture and the words "Greeting from The Hyper Sector - Metropolis".
"The other side, Clark" pressed Lois.
Clark turned over the postcard and froze. There were only two words written upon it. The two most dreaded words Clark had ever read, and he had read these before. Clark put down the postcard. Surely it was a joke. Lois put her arms around him, but all he could do was stare at the words written in block capitals. "I KNOW!" The man from Smallville, was he back?