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Superman: Creature of the Atomic Age
(© Robert Denham)

Page 2

"Those things," another man, Doctor Mark Vance, spoke up, reminding the group. "There were three, there; this one won the fight. It was the...’good guy’. There’s been no sign of it, them, or anything like them, since. We honestly thought it was dead."

"Well, Doctor Vance, it’s not dead," General Gatsby mildly scolded. "And your ‘good guy’ did a helluva job out there," Gatsby shook his head. "I, for one, would like to prevent the same thing happening, here."

Vance was visibly impacted by the sharp, not-so-offhand remark. His expression darkened, and he responded, snidely, "you of all people, General, should understand the concept of collateral damage in combat."

The two then began a tense, caustic "discussion". The others in the room stood silently by. General Beck, the Chairman and USMC representative, merely chuckled and drained his coffee cup.

"Gentlemen!" the president, sighing, cut in sharply; "this is no time for bickering. Please save your pissing contest for afterward, if you like." He tossed a pencil to the table; it rolled over the edge of the yellow legal pad before him, on which were scribbled any number of notes and figures. He sat back, chair creaking, rubbed his eyes and folded his hands. International and domestic politics was bad enough; terrorism, jobs, the economy. He gazed at the real-time satellite image which, at the moment, showed only a huge dark mass, distorted by the water, making a vast wake through the ocean. He didn’t need things like this. But the admiral was right; at least Metropolis had its own ‘weapon’; that was something. Always assuming that weapon was at home, of course; all too often, he wasn’t. Their job was merely to minimize damage to life and limb.

"Why Metropolis, though?" the president asked Vance, at last. "What’s bringing it?"

"There is a theory," Vance answered, after a moment’s consideration, "...that it is attracted to sources of high-intensity radiation, which is, after all, what made—or rather, restored—it. If there was something going on, there, that gave off such a signal, it might have homed in on it, somehow. We don’t really know what its qualities and abilities are."

"Then why are you here?" General Gatsby asked.

"They called me," Vance replied simply, with a shrug.

"Well, have someone look into that," the president said, before Gatsby could comment further. "If we can find out what it is, maybe we can neutralize it. Let’s get past this crisis, first."

10:54am; Metropolis Daily Planet

"Early lunch, Lois?" Clark Kent, holding his jacket, asked, poking his head into the office of Lois Lane, star writer for the Daily Planet, a great metropolitan newspaper.

The pretty brunette glanced absently up from her computer monitor. Unlike many of the staff writers, Kent included, she still preferred to use the solid, familiar accoutrements of the—granted, more modern and streamlined—desktop unit, rather than a laptop, or a tablet or pad. She said she found the larger keyboard more comfortable than having to reach up and hunch her shoulders slightly, to use the smaller keyboard on a desk-seated laptop. And actually placing the laptop on her lap required her to find a comfortable balance for the device, and then hunch over and reach down. Also, she said, she preferred to cross her legs when she sat, making that comfortable balance that much more difficult. Kent amusedly speculated that she just didn’t like to change.

"What?" Lois glanced up and asked, vacantly yet alarmed, "is it lunch time, already? Crap..."

"Yes, almost," Kent replied with a grin. "What’re you working on?" he asked, coming over to stand behind her desk. He noticed that her legs were not crossed, and smiled to himself.

Behind them, out in the cityscape, the polarized glass of the new Wentz Tower a newer, 75-story structure of gleaming steel-and-glass on the edge of downtown, gleamed darkly in the late morning sunlight. They had watched it being built over the last two years, from groundbreaking to completion.

[ Continue to page 3 ]

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Genre:Science Fiction
Type:Medium length story
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