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Lois and Cl... Kal-El 5/?
May 30th, 2010 at 5:40am
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Day 3
Lois tossed and turned all night. When she finally climbed out of bed, she felt like she hadn’t slept a wink. Her eyes were puffy, her face splotchy, and makeup wasn’t doing anything to cover it up.

She grabbed a quick cup of coffee at the kiosk outside the entrance to the Planet. Joe the coffee guy looked at her quizzically.

“Haven’t seen Clark for a couple days. Is he all right?”

“Oh, he’s fine,” she told him cheerily. “Working on a story. Should be back in a day or so.” I hope.

“Glad to hear it,” Joe told her as he turned to tend another caffeine deprived customer.

Arriving on the newsroom floor, Lois noticed the worried expressions on the faces of her co-workers.

“What’s happened?” Lois asked Jimmy Olsen as he hurried towards Perry’s office.

Jimmy paused. “The FBI’s made it official. Superman is missing and presumed kidnapped. Some kids found his cape and boots in a dumpster by Hob’s Bay. The two officers they were looking for, the ones the ATM camera caught putting him in the squad car? They were found dead, not too far from where the boots were found. Single shots to the back of the head, execution style.”

“Oh dear God,” Lois murmured. “What about Clark? Have they said anything about Clark?”

Jimmy shook his head and sighed. “Henderson told Perry they’re pretty sure whoever grabbed Superman grabbed Clark too, so they’d have some leverage over him. I also overheard him tell Perry that chances are, Superman’s already dead and time’s running out for Clark. The lab reported there was blood on the cape and they’re pretty sure it’s Superman’s blood, as impossible as that sounds.”

Jimmy nodded to the closed office door. “Henderson’s in there with Perry and a couple of government intelligence types. I guess they’re trying to figure out what the Planet can do. Perry’s already authorized a reward for any information leading to Clark’s recovery. So far, no joy.”

“Jimmy, we can’t lose hope,” Lois told him, even though she couldn’t keep the tremor out of her voice. She headed for Perry’s office and walked in without knocking. Henderson and two older men were standing in front of Perry’s desk.

“Lois, darlin’, don’t you know how to knock?” Perry complained. “I’ve got company here.”

“Perry, I’m meeting one of Clark’s sources in half an hour. The one Joe the Nose was setting up for him.”

“And who is this source?” Perry asked.

“I don’t have a name,” Lois admitted. “I don’t think Clark did either. But, according to Joe, the source had information on Bureau 39.” She didn’t tell him that Joe was scared half to death.

“Lois, this is General Straker and Colonel Freeman,” Perry introduced the older two men. “They’re here helping the MPD to find Clark, and Superman.”

“Jimmy said the FBI was involved.”

“They are, Miss Lane,” Freeman said. “But this situation needs a ‘special’ touch. One that we are uniquely suited to give.”

General Straker nodded. “Miss Lane. Can I assume since you came in here to tell Mister White about your meeting, you’re willing to help us?”

“Why is the military interested in Clark Kent?” she asked.

“Because Jason Trask and his hoodlums were interested in him, Miss Lane,” Straker replied. “And even dead, Trask is a bad enemy to have.”

-o-o-o-

Between the beatings, the weakness and the pain, Clark had lost all sense of time. He thought they might have resorted to drugs again, but he couldn’t be sure. The heparin-lock sutured into his arm kept intravenous injections from leaving marks.

He knew he was running a fever from the kryptonite exposure, and was now alternating between chills and sweats. The cold dampness of the cell wasn’t helping any.

He heard a key turn in the lock. No, no more, please God, no more.

-o-o-o-

Despite the warning to come alone, Lois agreed to have Straker’s people put a microphone on her and to follow her at a discrete distance. Under normal circumstances, Lois wouldn’t have even told Perry who she was meeting with, much less where. But these were not normal circumstances. Clark, I’m not stealing your story. I just need to find out what you’ve gotten yourself into.

She parked her jeep in the parking garage adjacent to Dacy’s department store. She was still a few minutes early, so she spent a few minutes looking at the summer displays in the large windows. Finally it was time and she crossed the street to the north-east corner of Martin and Westover.

A tall man in dark glasses, a dark suit, and unfashionably narrow black tie was standing beside the newspaper vending machines, reading the Inquisitor. He folded over his paper as Lois approached.

“Were you waiting for Mister Kent?” Lois asked quietly.

The man turned his head to look at her. The glasses made it difficult to read his expression. “And if I was?”

“Mister Kent is home with the flu. I’m his partner, Lois Lane. He sent me in his place.” She held out her hand to be shaken. The man ignored the gesture.

“I have nothing for you, Miss Lane,” the man said, beginning to turn away from her.

“Not even Bureau 39? Wasn’t that what you were meeting Clark about?”

The man stopped and turned back to her. As he turned, she saw the wire and ear-piece to a miniature headset. A muscle in his cheek twitched as he seemed to listen to instructions.

“And what do you know about Bureau 39?” he said after a moment.

“I was there when Trask was shot while trying to kill my partner. I know as much as Clark does about those people.”

Another moment while he listened to distant voices. She wished she could see through the glasses, see his eyes, his expression. Somehow, she knew she wouldn’t like what she’d see.

“Come with me,” he ordered, taking her arm.

“And go where?”

“No questions,” he ordered, pulling her along with him.

-o-o-o-

“They’re moving,” S’vram announced from his post in the back of the white van with a floral delivery service sign on the side He watched a small dot that was superimposed over a map of Metropolis on the monitor screen. Another screen showed an outside view of the street.

“Got an ID on the man?” Paul Foster asked a second technician.

“Tentative,” James Ford answered. “Looks like Lyndon Smith, one of Trask’s personal recruits. Nickname: the Enforcer. If I’m right, she may be in trouble already. He’s a cold-blooded killer. I don’t know how he could have even passed the background check.”

“Trask was doing his own,” Foster told him grimly. “We weren’t involved. And we’re paying the price now for not taking care of him sooner. Our negligence may cost Superman his life. Not to mention those two reporters.”

-o-o-o-

The black-suited man pulled her into a nearby coffee shop. He looked around and proceeded past the serving counter, into the back area.

“Hey, you can’t go back there!” the casher protested.

The man pulled out a badge, showing it momentarily before putting it back in his pocket. The cashier stepped aside and let them through to the kitchen and the backdoor to the alley.

A dark sedan was parked in the alley. The man forced her into the back seat. “Down on the floor,” he ordered.

She opened her mouth to protest. Then she realized that there were two men already seated in the front of the car and one of them held a gun. She went down on the floor and the man who’d brought her here covered her with a blanket.

The car started and she felt the roughness of the pavement as they drove away.

-o-o-o-

“I’ve got a good trace on them,” S’vram told Foster. “I’ve got a good reading on the tracker.”

“Now, with any luck, they’ll lead us to where they’re holding Superman and Kent,” Foster said. The man knocked on the partition that separated the technicians from the driver. “Follow them, but stay well back. We don’t want to be noticed,” he ordered the driver.

The van pulled into traffic, following a dark sedan as it turned the corner and headed south.

-o-o-o-

Lois felt the sedan drive up several ramps. The car finally stopped and the man who was supposed to have been meeting Clark pulled off the blanket and forced Lois out of the car. He ordered her to leave her shoes and purse in the car. Once she and the ‘contact’ were standing in the parking garage, the sedan pulled away.

The man took Lois by the elbow, holding a pistol in his free hand, and led her to a locked storeroom, near the elevators.  He unlocked the door, handed her a paper bag with something soft in it. “Inside, strip down and put these on,” he ordered.

She stepped inside the closet and attempted to shut the door. He blocked it with his foot. “You have two minutes, or else you’ll never see your boy friend alive again.”

“My boy friend?” she asked as she pulled a set of green surgical scrubs from the sack and started to put them on.

“Your panties and bra, too,” he ordered. She stripped down to the skin, kicking her discarded clothes out to him. Somebody was going to pay for this, she swore to herself. That was a silk shirt and a brand new skirt, one she’d bought because Clark had mentioned he liked the color on her.

“I don’t have a boy friend,” she told him, coming through the door dressed in the scrubs.

“Our intelligence says otherwise. Or didn’t he tell you his real name is Kal-El?”

“Well, I certainly would remember if I had a boy friend named Kal-El,” she told him.

“In that case, you have nothing to worry about. But it won’t go as well for him, I’m afraid,” the man said. He grabbed her arm again, leading her to another car, a black SUV with blacked-out windows. The passenger side door was already unlocked and another man was seated on the driver’s side.

“People know I was meeting you,” Lois told them. “They’ll come looking.”

“We already know that Commander Straker has been in contact with you. Do you really think that SHADO cares about you? They want the same thing my people do. The information Kal-El has in his head. Information about the threat Superman and his people pose to the U.S. and the rest of this planet.”

“Superman? You have Superman? Where?”

“In the car, Miss Lane, and I’m sure you’ll get more answers than you want.” He stuck the muzzle of the gun in her ribs. She climbed into the passenger seat and buckled herself in. He pulled a small spray bottle from his pocket and sprayed her in the face. “Sleep well, alien whore,” he said as she fell back, unconscious.

 -o-o-o-

“Colonel,” Ford said quietly. “We have a problem. The tracer in her shoe and the one in her skirt pocket are in different places. I have to assume we’ve lost her.”

“Give Inspector Henderson the details,” Foster ordered. “I’ll let General Straker know.”

-o-o-o-

A nondescript white six-wheeled trailer was parked beside the Daily Planet building. The trailer was lead-lined and the interior walls were covered with computer monitors and electronic equipment. There were no windows except in the back doors and those were covered by opaque curtains.

Straker, Freeman and two young operatives were seated inside the trailer, the MCC. The Mobile Command and Control was a portable control center that any military on Earth would give its eyeteeth to inspect, much less own. DOD experts wouldn’t recognize most of the equipment that lines the trailer’s walls. It was SHADO’s home away from home, allowing them to detect and deal with hostile alien threats as well as more domestic ones.

“It’s okay, Paul,” Straker assured his subordinate. “We’ll just have to do this the old fashioned way. We’re working on getting a list of Bureau 39’s current operatives and any property in the city associated with them.”

“What about abandoned warehouses, or sympathetic civilians?” Foster asked.

“By sympathetic civilians, I assume you mean Lex Luthor?” Straker asked.

“It is pretty well known he doesn’t like Superman,” Foster reminded him.

“I doubt Luthor would be so foolish as to associate himself with Myerson. But I’ll get someone on that angle as well. Thank you, Paul. I’ll see you back at the mobile,” Straker said, taking off the headset. He turned to his second in command. “Well, is Luthor involved?”

“It’s hard to say,” Freeman admitted. “But I doubt it. Nigel St. John would be the one in charge of the operation, and there’s nothing to indicate he has anything like that going on. But they are both under surveillance.”

Freeman saw the worry in Straker’s eyes. “Ed, we’ll find him and the girl.”

“I hope you’re right, Alec. I hope to God you’re right.”

 

Lois woke up in a cold, stone cell. The single fixture in the ceiling gave just enough light to see the cell was devoid of furnishings and there were dark stains on the floor in the corner. Blood. Whose blood?

That answer came too soon.

Lois heard a key turn in the door lock and got to her feet, prepared to rush the door. Nobody was going to lock Lois Lane in an empty cell and get away with it.  The door opened and a man wearing a soiled t-shirt and wrinkled cotton pants was pushed into the room. He fell to the floor with a gasp of pain, facing away from her.

“We brought you company, Kal-El,” a deep voice said. “Enjoy it while you can.” The door shut and the key turned, locking the door.

Lois ran over to the man. He seemed familiar. Dark haired, broad-shouldered. Kal-El? She touched his shoulder and he shuddered as she moved to look at his face – it was Clark. He’d lost his glasses, there was a strange necklace around his neck, his face was bruised and swollen, and there was blood on his face, but he was definitely her missing partner, Clark Kent.

“Oh, my God, what have they done to you?” she gasped. “They said they had someone named Kal-El.”

“Shh,” Clark croaked out. “They’re listening.” She bent closer to listen. “They think I’m him.”

“Why are they doing this? Who are they?”

Clark shook his head and tried to sit up. He had fallen on his good arm and now it hurt as well. “I don’t know. They keep asking about aliens, about an invasion. They don’t believe I don’t know anything.”

“Do they expect him to come?” she asked, keeping her voice low. “He may already be dead.”

Clark gave her a blank look, eyes hazed with pain.

“You’ve been missing about forty-eight hours,” she explained quietly. “And the FBI believes Superman was kidnapped or captured. They’re afraid he may be dead. We figure you went looking for him and got into trouble.”

“Yeah,” he murmured. “I was looking for evidence behind Fale’s and they grabbed me. I woke up here, and they...” A horrified look came into his face. “They grabbed you. They’re going to use you to make me talk, only I don’t know anything.”

“Look Cl...”

“Kal-El,” he interrupted, keeping his voice low. “That’s who they think I am.”

“Kal-El,” she continued. “Perry and the police know you’re missing and they know I am too. They’ll find us. I promise.”

Clark shook his head. “You don’t know what sort of monsters they are, Lois. You don’t know what they’re capable of.”

“Hey, we’ve been in tough jams before. We’ll get out of this one,” she assured him.

He didn’t say anything, lying back on the cold floor, eyes closed. Lois looked more closely at him. His left hand was bruised and badly swollen and he was favoring his left arm, which was discolored with bruises. She put her arm under his shoulders to help him sit up and he gasped in pain.

“What have they done to you?” she asked again. He started shaking again and she realized he was crying.

-o-o-o-

It took several hours, but SHADO finally had a list of locations for the MPD to search. Foster just hoped the actual location was on their list, and if it was, they’d be in time. He assigned a SHADO operative to each of the four pairs of officers Henderson could spare for the search. The FBI had sent four people from the local office to help out.

The MCC was too small for a briefing of this size, so he commandeered the conference room of the Daily Planet.

Straker and Freeman didn’t appear concerned about their sudden close association with the press, an attitude completely at odds with their prior opinions of the Fourth Estate. But that was a long time ago. Things had changed a lot in the fourteen years since SHADO had become fully operational.

In 1980, SHADO was the most sophisticated intelligence gathering/fighting machine ever assembled. It had only one purpose, to prevent an invasion by technologically advanced extra-terrestrials whose modus operandi included organ stealing, kidnapping, and murder. By early 1984, SHADO discovered it had won the conflict and they’d been actually dealing with two warring parties from the same dying world.

One of the factions sued for peace, which, as unlikely as it appeared at the onset, was granted after many long hours, days, months, of top-secret negotiations. Fifty thousand Rokan-shou were allowed to emigrate to Earth, to North America, with the understanding that any high technology or advanced knowledge be parceled out slowly with SHADO being the first beneficiary.

They were still at war with the other faction, the Rokan-shui, but those attacks were now few and far between. SHADO had evolved into an anti-terrorist group whose mandate included more than just homegrown fanatics. Pundits within the organization joked that Tom Clancy had it almost right – he just had the names wrong.

Foster looked over the law enforcement officers assembled for the briefing, judging how much he could tell them of what he already knew. Sophisticated satellite scans of Metropolis, in fact the entire Eastern seaboard, had failed to show a Kryptonian bio-signature. That meant the boy was either dead, in a radiation-shielded area or under at least ten feet of dense material such as concrete or stone.

He took a deep breath as the conference room door opened and one of the Planet reporters slunk in. Olsen, Jimmy Olsen, Foster recalled the name. His briefing notes on the Daily Planet staff said the kid’s father was NIA and he was a computer wiz.

“I hope you guys don’t mind,” Jimmy stammered. “But I’d really like to help out. Lois and CK are... They’re like family.” He looked forlorn, almost ready to cry.

“Have you cleared this with Mister White?” Foster asked.

The boy nodded, face clearing. “It’s my day off, actually. I really want to help find them.”

Foster nodded and Jimmy found a seat next to one of the MPD officers. Foster picked up the remote control for the video machine beneath the wall mounted television monitor and turned on both units. “I’m sure you’ve all seen this,” Foster began. On the screen was a video of Superman walking into the alley followed by the two police officers and moments later, being ‘helped’ out of the alley by the same two officers. “Those two officers were found dead. We are dealing with a paramilitary cell that has no qualms about killing police, civilians, or their own people to achieve their goals.”

“And that is?” one of the FBI men asked.

“Bureau 39’s function was to collect evidence concerning hostile extra-terrestrial activity on this planet. And before you ask, yes, Superman is not the only extra-terrestrial living on Earth. He is, however the most obvious, thanks to a certain penchant for theatrics,” Foster gave them a humorless smile. “Bureau 39 has overstepped its mandate and is now targeting Earth-born under the mistaken belief they are party to an impeding alien invasion. An alien invasion, I must add, this planet has more than adequate resources to handle, should it occur.”

“Do you really think Superman is still alive? If they have the capacity to render him helpless, what are his chances?” Betty Reed, one of the MPD officers, asked.

“Frankly, we’ll be lucky to find his body.” He paused, gauging his audience. “Of more immediate concern is the kidnapping of the two reporters who have had the most contact with him, Clark Kent and Lois Lane.” He handed out the maps his people had prepared for the briefing. “We’ve come up with a list of about thirty locations in the city that fit both the Bureau’s profile and the criteria our people have come up with as to where they might be being held. I shouldn’t have to remind you that our primary goal is the safe retrieval of Kent and Lane. We don’t want any dead heroes. Should you locate the Bureau’s hideout, call for backup immediately. Do not attempt a rescue yourself.”

Foster stood back as the officers and SHADO operatives divided up the search areas based on local knowledge and location. He saw Betty take Jimmy’s arm, bringing him into her group.

Good, somebody’s taking charge of the kid. An extra pair of feet and eyes won’t hurt.
« Last Edit: Jun 1st, 2010 at 2:03am by SHADO Librarian »  

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