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Lois and Cl... Kal-El 8/9
Jun 10th, 2010 at 5:22am
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Day 4 Evening

“Nigel, I assume you’ve discovered where the intrepid Ms. Lane and her sidekick have gone to ground?” Lex Luthor asked his security advisor.

Nigel St. John smiled. “Indeed I have, sir. My people followed Doctor Lane to his brother’s flat on the south side. We also found Miss Lane’s car parked several blocks away. There was blood in the interior.”

“Mister Kent’s blood, no doubt,” Lex commented with a sly smile.

“No doubt. I am surprised Myerson’s people let him survive. Apparently the Bureau’s reputation for ruthlessness was a bit exaggerated,” Nigel said. “My sources also tell me that Mister Kent’s parents are being brought in by private jet to facilitate his recovery.”

“Is this an opportunity we somehow missed?”

“I’m sure we can redeem something from the situation,” Nigel responded. “One warning, however. General Straker’s people do not take kindly to being interfered with. It will not go well should they discover our dealings with the Bureau and our acquisition of advanced alien technology.”

“Are you saying this Straker could be a threat?”

“I am saying that SHADO is a dangerous enemy to have. Their reputation for ruthlessness is not exaggerated.”

Lex considered Nigel’s statement for a long moment, weighing his options. “Pity,” he said finally. “I was so looking forward to meeting the senior Kents and rescuing the damsel in distress.” He paused, eyeing Nigel thoughtfully. “Make sure there’s nothing linking us to the Bureau. And should you locate any of Myerson’s people, be sure to let the General know. We do want to cooperate with the authorities.”

“Naturally, sir,” Nigel agreed.

-o-o-o-

“Eddie, what the devil’s going on?” Jonathan Kent demanded as he walked into the Daily Planet newsroom, his wife holding on to his arm. “First we get a call that Clark’s been kidnapped, then we hear Lois was taken too, then we get word they both escaped and you fly us out on a private jet?”

“Nice to see you too, Jonny, Martha,” Straker responded with a faint smile. He beckoned them to enter the conference room.

“Eddie, what’s going on?” Martha asked.

Straker ignored her question for the moment. “I’m not sure who you’ve met here. Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, the Planet; Detectives Henderson and Reed, MPD and I’m pretty sure you’ve met Alec Freeman over there,” Straker said, indicating each person in turn.

“Mister Olsen is the one who got Clark and Lois away from Myerson’s base. Then, like the resourceful and completely terrified kids they are, they dumped him, ran and went to ground.” Straker paused, gauging their reactions.

Martha looked at him in wide-eyed confusion. “But they’re safe now?” she asked.

“We believe so,” Henderson answered. “At least for the time being. But Clark is very badly hurt and we believe Myerson may have the ability to kill him, even from a distance.”

“But how...? Why would anyone want to hurt Clark?” Jonathan asked.

“For the same reasons they went after him in Smallville,” Freeman answered. “They think he has information on Superman. Plus, Clark made them look like fools, twice.”

“Ed, if you know where they are, and you know these bastards are after them, why haven’t you done something?” Jonathan asked. “I assume you can do something.”

“The circumstances demand this situation be handled more delicately than normal for us,” Straker said. “Not simply because family is involved, but because we can’t use our usual tactics when dealing with someone as severely injured as we believe Clark to be, not to mention the paranoia Myerson’s techniques will have instilled in them. If we could, this would have all be over two hours ago, and the two of them would be in protective custody, probably in Smallville. That old barn of yours would make a real good sniper platform.”

Jonathan looked over at Martha, worried playing over both their faces. Jonathan was about five years older than Straker but looked much older thanks to worry and lack of sleep. Martha’s usual vivaciousness was dimmed for the same reason, her blue-gray eyes washed to almost colorlessness behind her glasses.

“What do you need us to do?” Martha asked.

-o-o-o-

Sam bandaged Clark’s back as best he could with what Mike had available. The two Lane men then wrestled the unconscious Clark into the bathtub, pouring ice into the already cold water as Lois stood by, watching.

Sam had already explained the process to her. The ice bath was the fastest method of getting Clark’s body temperature into the normal range before there was irreparable damage to his brain and internal organs. Sam didn’t need to tell her that chances were, the damage was already done, that whatever poison had sent Clark’s temperature into the stratosphere had most likely done its dirty work already. Chances were Clark would never come out of the coma he’d slipped into.

Lois sat on the edge of the tub to keep an eye on him. Unconscious, there was a good chance his head could slip under the water. He looked like he was simply asleep, but normal people didn’t sleep in bathtubs full of ice.

“Clark, I don’t know if you can hear me, but please wake up. I don’t know what I’d do if you died, if you left me like that. I know I didn’t want a partner. I know I was mad at Perry for making me take on a partner, but I’ve gotten used to you being around, being the voice of reason even if I want to...” She was babbling and she hated it when she started to babble.

“Please wake up.”

-o-o-o-

“General,” S’vram announced over the com-unit. “I think they’ve taken the bait. Someone’s tapped into the DOD satellite surveillance system and is focusing on the south side of Metropolis. They’re using Lexcorp protocols, by the way.”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Freeman commented to himself.

“Is everything else in place?”

“Yes, sir,” S’vram affirmed. “The false data stream is being fed to them and we have a ship in low orbit feeding us the real thing in real time.

Straker turned to Martha and Jonathan. “It’s nearly show time. We need to get over there.”

Traffic was surprisingly light for the mid-afternoon, so the journey from the Daily Planet to the American Bistro didn’t take long. Straker found a parking place in a day lot not too far from the café and parked the rental car.

“Miss Lane’s uncle owns the restaurant. They’re both upstairs with her father,” Straker explained as they crossed the street to the front entrance.

“And we’re just going to go in and get them?” Martha asked with more than a touch of sarcasm. Straker had given them a tactical briefing on the situation in the car. Martha had not been well pleased with his plans.

“I really wish it could be that easy,” Straker told them, leading them into the restaurant. A burly, graying man met them and led them to a table near the back and handed them menus. He seemed distracted, hyper-alert, watching the door and the customers as if expecting something to happen.

“Colonel Lane, I presume?” Straker said softly, holding the menu up to hide the I.D. he had out from prying eyes. The man’s surprise was only evident in a slight widening of his eyes. “I’m General Ed Straker, and this is Mister and Missus Kent, Clark’s parents.”

“We’re told you know where our boy is,” Jonathan said with a soft rumble.

Mike nodded almost imperceptibly. “My niece brought him here. He’s in real rough shape. Plus, I have reason to believe the building’s being watched.”

“I’m sure it is,” Straker murmured.

Mike considered the implications of the other man’s statement. “What do you need me to do, sir?” he asked.

Straker’s eyes went distant as he listened to voices coming through the nearly invisible ear bud he was wearing. “They’re here.” He turned to his companions. “Go upstairs with him. And whatever you do, don’t try to remove that torque from his neck. It’s designed to kill if you try. We have people working on a safe method to neutralize it.”

Martha paled, placing a hand on her husband’s arm for reassurance.

-o-o-o-

“How’s he doing?” Lois asked once again, as Sam checked on his patient. Clark’s fever had broken about the time the ice melted. She and her father manhandled Clark back into Mike’s bed. They’d given up on any pretense of protecting Clark’s modesty. With any luck, assuming he recovered, he wouldn’t remember any of this.

“Breathing’s better, pulse is stronger. Temperature’s a lot closer to normal. Now he just has to wake up,” Sam reported. “I still wish we could take him to a hospital. If his temperature spikes again, we could well lose him. As it is...”

“No hospital,” Clark muttered, eyes still closed.

Sam’s eyebrows went up in surprise. His last check had produced a Glasgow score of seven – severe neurological impairment. Normal people simply didn’t recover that fast unless the depressed consciousness was drug induced. And drugs normally didn’t leave the system that quickly.

“Clark, how are you feeling?” Lois asked gently. “We’ve been worried.”

“Hurts,” Clark mumbled. “Cold.” He managed to open his eyes. “Why?”

“Dad put you in an ice bath to bring down your fever,” Lois explained. “Looks like it worked.”

“I’d still like to what could cause a fever that high and not kill you,” Sam said. Clark’s eyes widened, and he started trembling. “Relax, son. You’re safe here,” Sam assured him, placing a hand on his shoulder, forcing the young man back onto the pillows. “Can you tell me what year it is?”

“’93?”

Sam breathed a sigh of relief. Despite the obvious question mark in Clark’s voice, he wasn’t too disoriented and that was a very good indication he’d avoided any serious brain damage.

Clark managed to pull his good hand out from under the covers and found the torque that was still around his neck. “Poison, hurts...”

“I knew we should have gotten that off him,” Sam muttered. “Lois, see if you can find Mike’s tool kit. Bring me a pair of nippers and a hacksaw blade.”

“No, Sam, don’t touch it,” Mike’s voice rang out as Lois turned to head out of the bedroom. “It’s designed to put out a killing shock if the internal circuits are broken.”

Mike stepped out of the doorway allowing Martha and Jonathan to get past him. Martha ran to her son. “Oh, baby, what did those monsters do to you?” She caressed his face, afraid to touch anywhere else for fear of hurting him. He had several days’ growth of beard, and it scratched a little, but she didn’t care.

Clark threw his good arm around her, pulling her close. “Mom?”

“It’s okay, honey,” she assured him. “Your dad and I are here and we’re not going to let anything else happen to you.”

-o-o-o-

“Targets are in sight,” the sniper leader announced softly into the headset. His associates called him Kras and he was among the best, hand picked by Straker for this operation. He recognized four of the men in the alley below. Two more were unknowns, but in an operation such as this one, the only non-targets were the people he was assigned to protect – the six people currently in the apartment, the three members of the Kent family, especially the boy, and the three Lanes.

He sensed rather than saw a shadow falling over him. He rolled over, pulling a throwing knife out of its sheath and throwing it in a single seamless motion. The other man was down, a knife through his throat. The man gurgled as he tried to pull the knife out. Kras was on his feet, finishing the job before his target hit the tarred roof. He cleaned the bloody knife on his victim’s clothes and went back to his station.

“One down,” he murmured into his head set. From his vantage point, he could see Jerry Tauben call out to the Bureau 39 men, demanding their surrender. Both ends of the alley were blocked by MPD panda cars and armed police. There could be no escape for Myerson’s men.

A shot rang out, followed by a fusillade of fire.

-o-o-o-

Inside the apartment, they heard the shots. Lois started toward the kitchen, to one of the windows overlooking the alley. Mike knocked her to the floor.

In the bedroom, Martha and Jonathan pulled Clark, and the bedcovers, off the bed, holding him down and bundling him up as he struggled to get off the floor. “Clark, honey, stay down,” Martha insisted.

“Mom, I have to...”

“You don’t have to do anything right now, honey. Except stay quiet,” Martha ordered.

The kitchen window exploded.

-o-o-o-

In the American Bistro, the shots were also heard. Straker stood as the patrons began to worry, then panic. Several of the kitchen staff ran out of the back area, away from the gunfire.

“Everyone stay calm. Stay inside the building, away from the windows, please,” he announced. “This is a police matter and it’s being handled.” He didn’t stop to see if his orders were obeyed, heading toward the kitchen and the back door. Out of sight of the restaurant patrons, he pulled out his gun, an ASP 9mm, and headed toward the back door.

A man in military fatigues was standing just inside the back door, holding a gun on two of the kitchen staff. Myerson.

“It’s over, Myerson,” Straker announced. “Put down the gun.”

“It’s not over until we know what that damned alien has planned for us,” Myerson said. “It’s not over until that alien bastard is dead. Until we have him laid out on a slab for study.”

“And how do you plan to do that?” Straker asked softly. The longer he could keep Myerson talking, the greater the chances the other man would make a mistake. Straker noted the confused expressions on the two cooks. That was something to be dealt with later, if necessary.

Myerson’s expression turned sly and he put a hand into his pocket. “You people make me sick. You have access to all this tech, stuff my people found for you, and you won’t use it. You won’t do what needs to be done. You’re all so in love with the pretty boy who can fly that you can’t see how dangerous he is. You’re soft, Straker.”

In his peripheral vision, Straker saw the two cooks exchange a look and slowly move apart.

Myerson noticed. “Hold it right there!” he ordered the two white-coated men.

“You can’t take out all three of us,” the taller cook said. “Shoot one and the other two will take you out.”

“And you can’t get to me before I do this,” Myerson said, pulling a small box from his pocket and pressing a blue button with his thumb.

-o-o-o-

The shooting in the alley had stopped. Mike peeked out the shattered window to see Metropolis police officers wearing flak jackets coming out from behind their cars to check on the five men who were on the ground.

Lois pulled herself to her feet. “Is it over?” she asked.

“I think so, maybe,” Mike told her.

In the bedroom, Martha’s thoughts were racing. “I need something to act as an insulator. Rubber, glass, wood, anything that won’t carry a current.”

“Latex?” Sam asked. He pulled a bag of latex gloves from his medical bag and handed it to her.

“I also need some insulated wire, an extension cord, anything,” Martha added, tearing open the bag. She started stuffing the gloves between the metal band and Clark’s neck. Clark whimpered at the pain of the torque touching his neck, hands pressing, even temporarily, against his throat. “I’m sorry, honey, I’m so sorry,” Martha kept repeating to her son. Pain was the last thing she wanted to cause him, but it couldn’t be helped.

Jonathan disappeared a moment, then returned with a white extension cord. He already had a pocketknife out and had cut both ends off the cord. He stripped the insulation off both ends and handed the wire and the knife to his wife. She scraped at the surface of the torque then wrapped the raw wire around the scraped off area of the metal band. Jonathan took the other end of the wire, taking it into the bathroom. Sparks flew as he wrapped it around the nearest cold water pipe he could find.

Martha screamed. “Clark!”

Jonathan came running to see Clark’s body arching off the floor, then collapse. Sam ran over to them, checking for a pulse at Clark’s throat. He didn’t find one.

Martha tilted her son’s head back, recalling her CPR lessons, and began breathing for him. She’d taken CPR and kept her certificate current for Jonathan. His family had a history of heart disease and when they’d started getting older, she’d been afraid for him, afraid that an ambulance would never make it to the farm in time if there was a problem. She never dreamed she’d end up using her training to keep her son alive. This wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Children weren’t supposed to die before their parents. Please God, don’t let my baby die like this.

Sam started chest compressions.

Puff puff, thirty compressions, puff puff, thirty compressions. It was hard to inflate his lungs properly. It seemed like an impossibly long time, Lois weeping on her uncle’s shoulder in the background. Then, finally, Clark took a weak breath on his own.

Sam sat back on his heels and listened to Clark’s heart through his stethoscope. It was irregular, but getting stronger, more even. “He’s back,” he announced. “But, for the life of me, I don’t know how.”

“Clark’s a strong boy,” Jonathan said quietly, but the gray worry in his expression told another story.

“Clark, honey, wake up,” Martha said, peering into her son’s face. He was very pale. His eyes fluttered open as he tried to orient himself. His right hand went to the torque and found the wire that was wound around it. He shuddered and tried to pull away from Sam and Martha. He found Jonathan kneeling behind him, stopping him from getting away. Clark pulled himself into a ball, shaking.

“Oh, son, what did those bastards do to you?” Jonathan murmured.

-o-o-o-

As Myerson pressed the button on the controller, the two cooks moved. The taller one kicked the controller out of his hand while the shorter one simply tackled him, knocking the gun out of his hand, sending him slamming into the aluminum canned goods rack behind him. To Straker’s surprise, the heavy food cans didn’t fall, but when Myerson slumped to the floor, there was blood on several of the rack ends.

The taller cook grabbed the controller and tossed it to Straker. “Superman may be an alien from outer space, but by God, he’s our alien from outer space and no freakin’ jerk is going to change that.”

Straker put his gun back into its shoulder holster, under his jacket. “He’ll be glad to know he has friends. And I’ll make sure he knows as soon as I find him and undo the damage this freakin’ jerk has already done.” He nodded to Myerson, moaning in pain. “See to it that Colonels Freeman or Foster are the ones to take him away. Tell the police officers you’re under orders of General Straker. And don’t let him get away.”

“Sergeant Warren, sir,” the tall man introduced himself. “This is Corporal Singer. And yes, sir, we’ll see to it.” Both men glared at Myerson. Singer picked up the fallen gun and held it on Myerson.

Straker gave them a nod, headed into the alley and up the stairs to the apartment above. Myerson had triggered the torque. Straker just hoped it hadn’t been set on the highest setting, that the young man he’d been trying to save wasn’t already dead.

Jonathan was seated on the bedroom floor, holding his grown son in his arms, rocking him as one would a small child. Martha was beside them, murmuring reassurances.

Lois was on the floor beside the bed. “Its okay, Clark, it’s over,” she was saying.

Clark was shivering. “He’s still out there... I can feel him... He’s going to come after me...”

“Myerson isn’t coming after anyone ever again,” Straker announced. “Most, if not all, of the rest of his team is dead. We’ll pick up any stragglers after we’ve interrogated him.”

“Like he interrogated Clark?” Lois asked.

“Hardly, Miss Lane,” Straker said. “Myerson wasn’t interested in answers. He was interested in destroying, mentally and physically one of the few people who’d ever stood up to Trask, who’d ever cried foul against him and his madness.”

“I wrote the article,” Lois reminded him.

“Clark was the one who physically faced him down, but you would have been next,” Straker said. “My people will have Myerson’s secrets and we’ll track down the rest of his people, although it may take some time. And no, we don’t use torture. There are much more effective ways of getting what we want.”

Straker looked at the controller in his hand, frowned, made an adjustment on the dial and pressed a red button. The torque came undone. Martha pulled it open and away from her son’s neck. She handed it to Straker.

“It should have killed him, you know,” Straker told them.

“It almost did,” Sam said. “Mrs. Kent managed to ground it, probably kept the full force of the shock away from him. It was touch and go for a while. His heart stopped.”

“Electricity always takes the easiest path to ground,” Martha explained. “We just had to make sure the easiest path wasn’t straight through Clark.”

Straker grinned. “Cousin, I hope you know how lucky you are to have her.”

“I know how lucky I am to have both of them,” Jonathan admitted. “So, what happens now?”

“An ambulance should be here in about five minutes...”

“No hospital,” Clark managed to say.

“How about a private clinic for a couple days, get you checked out? Then we’ll probably ship you off home with your folks until you’re well enough to go back to work,” Straker said.

“Private clinic?” Clark’s color had improved almost immediately on the removal of the torque, but the fear hadn’t left his eyes.

“Clark, you have broken bones that need to be set,” Straker reminded him. “Believe me, you need a few days under observation.”

“Clark, we’ll be with you,” Martha said. “And we’ll make sure Mister White knows where you are.”

“And I’ll be there, too,” Lois promised.
  

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