Superman of 2499:
and Dannell Lites
Adam Kent was about to turn in when he sensed another presence in his
house. Whether it was by hearing the disturbed molecules of air,
or subtly seeing a few rug hairs awry, or by smell, or by something
beyond normal sense at all, Adam couldn’t have told you. But he
knew someone was there. In another second, he analyzed who it was.
“Hello, Dad,” he said.
Klar Kent reduced his vibratory speed to normal. He was wearing a
regular suit and looked as grim as if he’d been called on to fight
Muto. “Son,” he said, his arms folded.
Adam ran his tongue along the inside of his mouth. “So. Why
are you here?”
“I’m here,” said Klar, “because of a conversation I had down at the cop
shop with one of my reporters. Terry Carlos. Ever hear of
“Can’t say that I have,” said Adam, striving to keep his pulse and
heartbeat steady. “Why? Does this have something to do with
my labor problems?”
The older man moved in closer to his son. “He said Chang Yinsen,
one of the top crime bosses in this city, had been done in by a man
“Oh,” said Adam. “Any clues?”
“Terry was rescued by a man with super-powers. Evidently the same
man who did in Chang Yinsen. I want to know if it was you, Adam.”
“What?” The word exploded from Adam Kent’s lips. He was
proud of his acting ability. His heartbeat had to be artificially
stimulated to fool his father’s super-hearing, if it could be
fooled. He had to put on an air of surprise and indignance.
“Dad, that’s...how could you...”
“There are dirty things going on in this city, more than usual,” said
Klar. “I know it isn’t Alan. I checked to see if any Zoners
have escaped. They haven’t. I have to check the
Family. If it isn’t one of us...we need to know. I need to
“And you think it’s me?” Adam looked incredulous, and hoped he
was doing a great job of it. “Father, I am hurt.”
“You should be.” Klar Kent paused a long moment before his next
statement. “Son, above all things, I don’t want to believe it’s
you. But there is...a manipulative strain in your makeup.
Don’t deny it.”
Adam leaned against his paneled wall and folded his arms. “Why
not? To make it in the power business, Dad, you have to know
something about making people do what you want. Otherwise, you
end up on welfare credits.”
“I hate to say it, son, but perhaps it might have been better that way.”
“You think...you actually think...that I would kill a man? That I
would murder an Earther? Father, I was going to be the
Superman. Do you think that I would be capable of that, if I had
prepared myself to take the cape?”
Klar Kent didn’t say anything. He didn’t trust himself to.
Adam waited on his father. He could give back a glare with the
best of them when he had to.
“You’re leaving your business behind,” said Klar. “What do you
intend to do?”
“Travel a bit,” he said. “Take Sy with me, with her mother’s
“I’m not sure that’s such a great idea, son.”
“The Family entrusted me with her supervision, Dad. Where I go,
“Are you sleeping with her?”
“Yes.” Adam hesitated just long enough to indicate that it was
hard for him to say. But if you told one hard truth, it might
help to put a hard lie in the shadow.
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” said Adam.
“I don’t think you give a damn for the way I feel,” said Klar, almost
in a shout. He got in his son’s face. “I’m not sure
anymore, Adam, if you give a damn about anything except yourself.
Adam sighed, sincerely. “The Family’s always been about power,
Dad. You know that.”
“Used in the right ways. Kal-El showed us that, five hundred
years ago. I will not have that legacy tarnished. But
there’s more to our legacy than that, son. Kal’s father, Jor-El,
discovered the Phantom Zone. We can still use it.”
Klar’s eyes did their best to bore into Adam’s soul. Adam
wondered what they’d find there.
“I’ll remember that, Dad,” he said.
“See that you do. And when you leave, Adam, I want to know where
“Of course. Anything else?”
“If you father a child by Sy...” He left the rest of the sentence
“We’ve been careful about that, Dad.”
“So careful you make me sick.” Klar Kent let himself out the
normal way, through the door. “Remember what I told you.
The door schussed closed behind him. Adam Kent pushed away from
the wall and headed towards a chair. He remembered Kru-El, all
right. The black sheep of the El family, the one Jor-El himself
had sentenced to the Zone.
He was stupid enough to get found out.
Adam Kent took off his shirt and got ready for bed.
A green nimbus formed within the confines of a cloaked satellite.
From it stepped three figures. The Green Lantern closed the
verdant door behind them.
Superman noted that Batman smiled, and decided he’d fix it in memory
just to be sure he could recall what it looked like. “Home,” said
the Batman, and went to his control chair to lean on it.
“For one of us, perhaps,” said the Lantern. “Not quite what I
expected of our first mission as the League of Justice.”
“I’ll bet,” said Superman, with no small irony.
“We’re not the Justice League,” said Batman. “We just got
together for a mission. That’s all.”
“That’s all the old League did, friend,” Superman said. “They got
together when the world needed them.”
“The world doesn’t need a damned old man in a bat suit,” Bron answered,
looking into the next room. “Count me out, Superman. The
line ends here.”
The Lantern felt he should say something. From behind, he came up
and lay a hand on Batman’s shoulder. “Your city needs you, friend
Batman. Your great brain, your deductive skills, you have
demonstrated them quite----“
“To hell with that!” Batman turned so quickly the Lantern’s
gloved hand was flung off his shoulder. “You’re not from this
world, Lantern. You don’t know. The Batman line is based on
vengeance. They make another—Superman—when the one doing the job
decides to pass on the franchise. They make another Batman, all
too many times, when—somebody dies.”
Superman came up and stood behind the Lantern, who could say
nothing. The Batman went on. “I don’t want that choice for
my son, or his son, or any that come after. This is it. Our
debt to Gotham, our debt to Thomas and Martha Wayne, our debt to my
family...they’re all...they’re all paid.” He turned away from
them. “The Batman is just blood and death and pain. We
don’t fly among the eagles, soaring to the sun. We’re down in the
gutters, picking through the corpses for clues. We can’t
bounce blasters off our chests. All we’ve got is two fists and
fear on our side. It’s not a legacy, boys. It’s a
curse. The curse ends with me.”
“You can’t stop being what you are,” said Superman, gently. “But
you can stop being the Batman. If that’s your decision...”
“...then I’ll respect it. I’m only glad I had the chance to work
with you.” He stuck out his hand. Batman took it.
Surprisingly, he didn’t let it go.
“You still have the chance to work with me.”
“Try to tack on an explain to that?”
“With what’s going on in Metro these days, you’ll need help.
Maybe not from a man in a cowl, but from a man with a brain. I
Superman and Green Lantern grinned. “What were you saying about
there not being a Justice League?” said the Lantern.
“There isn’t,” said Batman. “The League had a high profile.
They looked for trouble. It found them. If I’m to be of
help, I’ll be where I’ve always worked best. In the shadows.”
“I suppose, then, that I’ll handle the light,” said Alan.
“The Supermen always have,” said Batman.
In the shadows, Katherine de Ka’an waited.
Spying on someone, especially someone with super-senses, wasn’t that
easy a thing to manage. The trick was not to arouse your mark’s
suspicions, so that they wouldn’t bring their super-vision and
super-hearing to bear. She didn’t know if her foes could tell her
by her heartbeat, but she wasn’t about to take any chances.
Of course, with her own vision and hearing powers, she didn’t have to
be that close. Kath hovered in a cloud bank, cloaked by a
null-garment from Rokyn that reflected practically no light and no spy
signals at all. The government was supposed to be the only users
of it. But she had an interest in the company that made it, so...
Sy Kent hadn’t done one interesting thing since Kath started spying on
her. Of course, that was what most surveillance was: hours of
boring vigilance and a few seconds of worthwhile stuff. If you
There were other problems that Kath hadn’t anticipated. A few
times, she’d had to pee. Luckily, she evaporated it with her
heat-vision before it could reach the ground. Still, that was one
power-use she’d never anticipated.
Meanwhile, Sy had watched her absurd cheapo romance holos, plus one sex
tape that she bet Irinia didn’t know about (then again, Kath admitted
that she might have stolen it from Irinia), went out in a bikini and
sunned herself (Krypts couldn’t tan normally, but Adam’s place had a
red-sun filter over the hoverchair she lay on), and ate.
Continually. As far as Kath could tell, she’d made no calls to
Adam or anyone else, and done nothing nefarious, just imbecilic.
If Sy somehow detected her, Katherine didn’t have to imagine what would
follow. Catfight, round two. Was she eager for that?
Part of her was, she had to admit. She had new fighting skills
and wanted to show what she could do. But another part of her
wasn’t so sure. Sy was naturally stronger and she’d taken a Sheol
of a beating from her last time. Was it worth finding out how
it’d go if she just got run through the mill again?
Kath decided to table those thoughts for the moment.
How much longer was she supposed to spy? Rao knew, she wanted to
go eat something. Maybe within a few days she’d have this spying
thing down. But...there were things to be done, now that she was
back on Earth. Katherine de Ka’an had a life of her own.
People to see, investments to check on, an apartment to be kept
up...and, of course, there was Alan, whenever he got back.
She shook her head. Inevitably, the parabola of her super-hearing
shifted with her. New voices, new noises, a cacophony to be
sorted out. And...
On the very edge of her perception, what was that?
She funneled out the competing signals, focused as only a Kryptonian
could on the one sound she sought. A woman’s voice. Sheol,
no. A woman’s scream. Muffled by distance, by walls, by
soundbaffles...but still, a scream.
(Oh God NO please DON’T DO THAT OH GOD)
There was no thought involved in what she did. Before she could
register it, Katherine de Ka’an was out of the cloudbank and into the
open air, a barely-perceptible streak flying at hypersonic speed.
The wall of the sky-high apartment from which the scream came was of
the toughest building material available. Before her, it gave
The force of her entry and the shock of her impact, as well as the
hurtling material and air blast, knocked both the room’s occupants off
their feet. Thankfully, the wall fragments shattered into
gravel-size nodules and bounced off the two with little harm.
Kath didn’t have to do much deduction when she saw what was before her.
The woman who had screamed had most of her clothes torn off her by
force. The man was already pretty well nude, and had a device in
her hand that was illegal as hell. It was a pain-inducer, for
rapists who liked a little more fun with their game than they could get
Kath slapped the thing away from his hand and broke his wrist in the
process. He yelled, in pain and surprise. His voice was
She drew back, drove a fist at him in anger, thought better of it and
burned the air beside his ear with the force of the blow. Then,
holding herself back, she elbowed him under the chin. His jaw,
impacting something harder than a steel girder, broke in several places.
A slap to the side of his head put him out. Kath stared at him in
anger for a long, long moment. Her face was partially hidden by
the cowl of the null-garment. To the woman who was to have been a
victim, she was a flickering figure, almost unreal.
In a gloved hand, Kath picked up the pain-inducer. Then she tore
away a section of hanging from a wall and wrapped it about the woman in
an improvised shift.
She spoke to her rescuee.
“I will take you to a place of safety, to a police station,” Kath
said. “Give them this thing he was going to use on you.
Tell them about him. If you don’t, he’ll only do this again when
he recovers. Do you understand?”
The woman, a pale redhead, nodded.
“Give me your word you’ll do this.”
“I’ll, I’ll do it,” said the girl, in a tiny voice. “Who are
you? Are you an angel?”
“No,” said Kath, taking her under one arm.
“Then who are you?”
Kath pushed off, taking them both through the hole in the wall into the
air. She made a decision.
“Supergirl,” she said. “Call me Supergirl.”
George Kent looked at the object in Irinia’s storage chest. The
chest was contained in her bedroom. Irinia was out, and if she
had spycams recording him, he really didn’t give a damn.
Ostensibly, it was an antique lamp from the 2300's. The thing
was, it was lined with lead. That, of course, was good for
blocking the x-ray vision of Kryptonians.
But it was also great for raising their suspicions.
With a squeeze of his hand, George broke the shell of the lamp.
Amidst the fragments, something fell out. He picked it up.
A kid’s water pistol. A very, very large water pistol.
Somehow, he didn’t have to guess too hard to figure out what sort of
water was in it.
“Irinia,” said George, with feeling. “Irinia.”
He emptied the pistol into the bathroom sink and then began finding a
way to fit and fuse together the pieces of the lamp.
“But he’s my son, Klar,” said Lyra. “He is still my son.”
“He’s our son, Lyra,” Klar said. “Is it supposed to be easier on
me because I didn’t bear him?”
“How can you be so certain he was to blame?”
Klar looked at her through his glasses. “Certain? That
implies I know for sure. I don’t. But when you’re dealing
with a member of the Family, Lyra, you have to take every suspicion to
the max. We’re just too damn dangerous.”
“Including you, Klar?”
“Yes, Lyra. Especially including me.”
She crossed her legs on the hovering sofa. “You said he’s going
“That’s what he told me.”
“To where? With whom?”
“Don’t know the answer to either. I intend to have him stay in
touch with me.”
Lyra shook her head. “Klar, Klar. How did your Family get
to be this way?”
Klar sighed. “I don’t know. Five hundred years, it’s a
wonder it didn’t get this way before.” He reflected. “Sometimes,
it did, or nearly.”
“What happened then?”
“Some of them got sent to Rokyn. There’s a lot of the El clan
still living there. Nobody’s been Zoned or...worse. Not
“Why do you say ‘Not yet’? Don’t you know what that does to me?”
“Don’t you know what this is doing to me? I...we...have two sons,
Lyra. The one, Alan, he’s trying to do well, and he’s managed
okay so far, but sometimes I think he’s too weak to handle it.
The other, Adam, he’s strong but...”
“But what, Klar?”
“But I don’t think he has the morality for it. Businessmen have
to be tough to make it, I know. Maybe too tough sometimes.”
“You think he’s too ruthless.”
“I don’t know what I think. I only think that I can’t trust him
“That’s a deadly statement to make, Klar.”
“You don’t know the half of it.”
“So what are you going to do?”
He sat, massaging his temple. “I can’t convene a Family council
until and unless there’s definite proof he did something wrong.
As yet, I only have suspicions. This is like the 20th
Century. First a Superman turns up, and then a batch of
super-heroes starts popping up around him. We’re not the only
ones with powers. All I have is Carlos’s words.”
“He said a very powerful man killed Chang Yinsen and saved him from the
Metropolis mob. Is that a bad thing?”
“The saving, no. The killing? Yes. The Family doesn’t
“You told me that they killed the Anti-Monitor back in the 20th.”
“And if they hadn’t, the whole Multiverse would have died and neither
of us would be talking tonight. Extenuating circumstances.
None of the Family would have had to kill Yinsen.”
“What are we going to do, Klar? What are we going to do with
He stared at the floor.
“Only one thing I know how to do, Lyra. We wait.”