Superman of 2499:
and Dannell Lites
“Well, George. This isn’t the best time to talk to me, you know.”
George Kent sighed. “Klar, I’m afraid it’s the only blasted time
Klar Ken was in his office at GBS with the sonic and visual shields
up. Even so, neither he nor his brother could be sure somebody
somewhere wasn’t listening or watching. Probably, if they were,
they were Krypts as well. But Klar had been expecting his brother
to come calling, sometime like this. So he waved his hand,
inviting George to speak further.
“This isn’t easy for me to talk about,” said George, sitting in the
hoverchair before Klar’s desk. “I suppose you can understand
why.” He was cracking his knuckles semi-rhythmically. Both
of them knew it was a tell, but neither one cared.
“George, tell me about it,” urged Klar. Maybe, today, some more
of the mystery between the two families would be cleared up. But
that, Klar thought, might be too much to hope for.
“Well, to begin with,” said George. “To begin with...”
“My daughter. Your son. I’m afraid they might
Klar took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
“You’re sure of this?”
“No, Klar, I’m not. I haven’t...I don’t spy on them.”
George, who was a year younger than Klar, had sprouted white hair about
his temples two years before Klar had. He had a feeling he was
working on more white follicles every minute. “But I have senses
about such things. I know my daughter.”
“Have you seen her recently?”
“Not in the flesh. She gives us a message every day, on the
holo. Klar, I can tell. Something has gone on between them.”
“And you want me to talk to Adam about it.”
“Of course I do. But that’s not all.”
“My wife. My wife, Irinia.”
“I know her name, George.”
“All right, damn it! I don’t know what’s come between us.”
“Tell me, George.”
Klar’s brother got up, paced the floor, not looking at Klar’s
eyes. “I don’t know how to handle her anymore, Klar. Rao
knows, it’s been tough before. You know that.”
“I know.” Kryptonian law forbade divorce, but didn’t forbid
separation, and some Krypts had taken advantage of Earth law to end
their marriages anyway. Klar let George keep talking.
“Irinia, Sy, your son...it seems as though they’ve split from my
family, from us. I don’t mean to imply that Adam was part of my
“What is Adam doing?” Klar tried to keep a poker face, but wasn’t
sure how well he managed.
“I don’t know,” said George. “Outside of having sex with my daughter, I
don’t know. But I suspect things.”
“What sort of things, George?”
“I have no idea. But Irinia’s attitude...she’s even less
responsive to me now than before.”
As if that could be possible, thought Klar. “Do you think we have
enough evidence to call a council, George?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
“We could just call them for an accounting,” said Klar. “Just
have them answer a few questions.”
“We could,” George allowed. “Maybe that’d be enough.”
Klar smoothed his hair back at the temples to give himself something to
do. “George, I have something to ask, and I’d prefer you be
sitting down when I do.”
“What is it?”
“Sit down, George. I also want you to know that I’m not trying to
be offensive when I say it.”
George Kent reseated himself before Klar’s desk. “Tell me what it
“George. You think Adam is having a relationship with your
daughter. This next is really going to hurt.” He
paused. “What about Irinia?”
“No!” George leaped up from the chair, upsetting it. He
didn’t make a move on Klar, but his hands were trembling. “Never!”
“All right, George.” Klar held up a placating hand. “I’m
sorry. I had to bring it up. If they’re in an alliance, I
just wanted to know what kind of alliance.”
“He’s your son!”
“That he is.” Klar sighed. “He’s also his own man.
More even than Alan. I don’t want to have to send him to Rokyn,
George leaned on the desk. “What about my daughter? I won’t
see Sy sent to Rokyn.”
Klar stood and faced his brother. “Your daughter is guilty of
assault. You saw what she did to Katherine. You’re lucky
she isn’t there right now.”
There was nothing to be heard for a few seconds except the heavy
breaths of George. For a long moment, Klar wondered if his
brother would actually try and hit him. But it passed. Klar
felt an impulse, and acted on it.
He stepped out from behind his desk and hugged his brother.
George hugged back, more weakly, but definitely.
“It’s all right, George, it’s all right,” said Klar. “You’re
still my brother.”
George was trying to keep control of his voice. “Thank Rao for
that,” he said. “You, I can still trust.”
“You always can,” said Klar. “Can I trust you?”
“Yes,” said George, at last.
“I’ll speak with Adam,” said Klar. “You need to speak with Irinia
and your daughter. If we can keep the Council out of this, we may
be able to make it work.”
“Do you really think so, Klar?”
Klar sighed. “I don’t know what I think, George. I see my
son and two others bringing down Heaven’s Seven. I see the old
Joker dead at last. I’m proud of my son Alan. I want to be
proud of Adam. But I don’t know what to think, anymore.”
After a pause, George said, “This world, Klar. It really was
never built to hold that many Supermen.”
Klar kept hugging his brother, but had nothing to say.
Katherine de Ka’an would not sit down to wait for Dan-Le. She
stood, barefoot, in her sleeved halter and shorts, the latter with a
yellow stripe that signified she was better than a novice. As
before, she stood in the middle of a mat in the exercise room.
There were no others present. At least, none that she saw.
The short hairs at the back of her neck prickled. Kath
immediately turned, ducking low, her fist outstretched for a
counter-blow. She kept turning until she faced the direction she
had faced before. This time, Dan-Le was there, and he was aiming
a hand-blow at her.
She caught his wrist between her two crossed arms and kicked out,
hard. He took the blow on his hip. Kath grabbed his wrist
hard, fell back, threw him. By the time he had finished his first
roll, she had sprung to her feet. An instant later, so had he.
The next few minutes were a blur of parrying, thrusting, kicking,
chopping, and hitting. Dan-Le pulled his punches more than Kath
did. No words were exchanged. None were necessary.
Then Dan backed away with a leap and struck the mat a hard blow with
his right fist. That signaled the end of the sparring
session. Kath assumed a defensive stance.
“Do I have to hit this mat again, Tynth de Ka’an?”
Kath went to an at-ease position, but still looked wary. She
“I see improvement,” said Dan. “Considering your training time, I
would be disappointed if I didn’t. Are you willing to continue on
“I am, Tanth Danior,” she said. “Show me the way.”
“First, I’ll show you the way to the commissary,” he said. “Then,
we’ll get back to work.”
Kath allowed herself a smile.
The Six, the gang chiefs of Metropolis, were in session. Wally
Curso, Chang Yinsen, M’Nath, Abb 2706 Quam, Albert Tothman, and Vincent
Delta sat in their lowdown establishment, protected by gunsels and
security devices from the outside world. The customary dinner had
been served, by M’Nath this time, who had mixed in enough Earth cuisine
with the Coluan offerings. While they ate, Curso had put the
question to Yinsen. “Did you get ahold of him?”
“Well, Wally, you know the arrangement,” said Yinsen, nibbling gingerly
on a meaty leg from some species he’d rather not know the name
of. “I don’t get hold of him. He gets hold of me.”
Delta put his arms down on the table. “He might not be the only
one to get hold of you. You know that, Eastie?”
Hands got very near weapons before Tothman leaped up and stepped
between them, hands separating them. “Vinnie, shut it. You
are two parsecs outta line, fratello. Make with the apology.”
“Apology?” Vincent Delta bristled with the hubris common to too
many young mobsters who rarely become old ones. “To him?”
The weapons of five divisions of mobsters were trained on Delta and his
coterie. “To us,” said Curso, quietly.
Delta took a look around, gauged the odds, breathed in heavily, and
said, “Okay. I’m sorry. I was outta line. Shouldn’t
have called him a...what I called him. I’m sorry, Yinsen.”
“Mister Yinsen,” said the Asian, with deadly softness.
“Awright, Mr. Yinsen,” said Delta. “I’m, like, trusting the
difficulties are done between us.”
“Let your mouth not speak again till your brain has aged enough to
direct it properly,” Yinsen said. He nodded to his boys.
They lowered their weapons, and so did the rest.
To himself, Curso wondered how long they’d have to put up with Delta
before having him scrubbed. Out loud he said, “We’ve got the
proof, boys. Mister Mask asks us about Heaven’s Seven, and last
week you saw what happened. On top of that, the Joker’s out of
the competition. Anything else you need to fall on your heads?”
“Wally, no offense, but I wish you’d use different words when you’re
speakin’ of Mr. Mask,” said Abb Quam. “He just might.”
“We’re working on that.” M’Nath looked at them with the sly
sinisterness all of them admired in him. His computer crimes had
put almost as much revenue in the combine’s coffers as any three of the
others combined. “Have faith, we are working on that.”
“How fast?” said Tothman.
“We’ve learned from the Seven,” M’Nath said, standing to lecture.
A hologram of a newsfeed appeared in the air before them.
Heaven’s Seven were being rounded up by the Metropolis cops, with
Superman and Green Lantern visible. “They had traps for the Big
S. Seawater all over the place, enough to rust the pipes.
Didn’t work. He scoped out the place beforehand with his
X-Rays. Plus the Lantern, they didn’t know about him. We
got the advantage. We know.”
“What about the Batman?” asked Abb.
“He’s in the plan, too,” said M’Nath. “The main one we want is
Mr. Mask. I’ve studied the Lantern from the archives.
Yellow is his problem.”
“He’s a doublechicken?” It was the first sentence Vincent Delta
had spoken since tangling with Yinsen.
“Ancestors forgive me,” hissed Yinsen. “The color yellow.
His ring doesn’t work on it.”
“Hey, now that sounds interestin’,” acknowledged Delta. “So
what’s the plan?”
“Let me show you,” said M’Nath. He waved his hand and the
hologram went off. Then he nodded towards one of his boys.
The gunman went out and came back with a guest. Said guest was of
medium height, wearing a cheap suit, blindfolded, gagged, and equipped
with a plastic tie that kept his hands cuffed behind him. He was
“Let me do the talking,” said M’Nath. “Okay, do the mouth.”
Obediently, the hood in charge ripped the gag away from the man’s
“Shut up,” said M’Nath.
The man obeyed.
“Tell us your name,” said the Coluan.
“I gotta repeat myself?”
“My name is...Terry Carlos 8907. 8907.”
“Okay. Terry Carlos 8907. Tell us what you do.”
“I’m a reporter. Reporter for GBS-2. I’m low level.
Really, you don’t want me. You don’t need me. I’m...”
“Terry Carlos 8907. Shut up. We’ve got something to tell you.”
The reporter fell silent.
“You ever heard of Superman? We’re gonna give you a scoop.
I want you to listen, Terry Carlos 8907. I want you to listen
really good. Okay? Here’s your scoop.
“Superman is bent.”
Alan Kent went through the fifteenth take of a bit for We’re All Martians before the
director finally called for a break. He hadn’t been messing up
that badly, but one of the new Martian girls had trouble getting her
lines straight. Even when two of the other green guys telepathed
the right dialogue into her brain, her nerves got the best of
her. If she didn’t look like a whiz-bang wallop on two legs, they
would have chucked her and been done with it. This show was not
going to be her claim to fame.
Akon, Alan’s Rannian friend, was getting fed up with it himself.
He’d managed to impress the Powers That Be and, more importantly, the
audience, with his brief appearance a few weeks ago and had been
written into the series as a regular. That made Alan feel better
even than when he’d taken down Heaven’s Seven. A steady paycheck
was the dream of every actor.
Lazio, the director, took the Martian girl aside and Alan knew it
wasn’t going to be for any pleasantries. He sagged back against a
bench and closed his eyes. Akon came up behind him. “Alan?”
“I’m tired, Ake.”
“Know you are. Doubleplus good, though. I’m finally making
jack enough to pay my rent on schedule. Tremendous!”
“Tremendous it is.” Alan slapped his hand and had his slapped in
return. “See what happens when you stick with me, kid?”
“That I do, friend. First rule: you never forget your friends on
the way up, and they don’t forget you on your...uh...”
“On your way down,” said Alan, smiling a bit. “I’ve heard it,
Ake. Assure you, I’ll be prepared.”
“Reyna and I want to take you out tomorrow.”
“Maybe. Got a favor to ask, Ake.”
“Name it, as long as it isn’t Reyna.”
“Just met somebody recently. He needs a place to stay while he’s
finding a flat of his own. Can you help?”
“He’s got your guarantee?”
“Okay. Why me? Is he an actor?”
“No. He’s from your homeworld. His name is Tal Thorn.”
Adam Kent ran through the hologram for the eighteenth time. The
one news feed with Heaven’s Seven taking the fall, and his brother,
Batman, and the outworld Green Lantern on the sidelines.
He shut the holo off and crushed the controls in one hand. Why
wasn’t it him? He had braced the Six for news of the Seven’s
whereabouts. They didn’t know, but they were working on it.
Or they said they were. Now, brother Alan had found out, somehow,
where they were stationed and had brought them in.
Or Batman had found them. That had to be it. Alan couldn’t
be trusted to wipe his own nose without help. And then there was
the Lantern. Aside from him, Superman the Latest would
probably be a corpse floating in brine water.
So they had a modern triumvirate. A new version of the ancient
Justice League. Pathetic.
What was to be done with the Six? They’d have to learn that when
you dealt with Adam Kent, even if he wore a mask, you’d damned well
better give him what he asked for.
And if you didn’t...
Sy stepped into the room, wearing only a robe. “Adam.
“Bad holo,” said Adam.
She came up behind him and stroked his shoulders, warming his head with
heat vision. “Let me make you feel better.”
He sighed hard and stood up. “I’ll feel better, Sy. I’ll
feel better, in time. Before long...”
A 3-D cube of Adam and his family rested on a transparent table.
He picked it up in his left hand, studied it.
“Before long, we’ll have to take the sun out from under the bucket.”