By IRC Round Robin
Submitted June 1998
Summary: "Sins of the Past" focuses on Dr. Klein and his connections to a deadly enemy from Lois's and Clark's past. Can the trio work together to save themselves?
An IRC Round Robin by Zoomway (Zoomway@aol.com); chrispat (email@example.com); CrystalW (JCWimmer@aol.com); Eraygun (Eraygun@aol.com); Lansbury (Lansbury1@aol.com); Missytoo (Missytoo@mindspring.com)
Dr. Klein stepped into his office shuffling through his mail. "MSA," he sighed. "I hate MSA meetings. The food is awful and that woman with blue hair is always hitting on me." He dropped the invitation into the round file. "Lab estimates…funding…" He sighed again. Then an envelope that had not been mailed, but merely had his name hand printed on it, stood out from the pile.
He shrugged and unsealed the envelope. He pulled out a beige slip of paper. His eyes widened as he read. "Oh, God, they found me." He quickly refolded the paper, put it back in the envelope and tucked it inside his lab coat. He placed a hand on his forehead. "I thought they were all gone. I thought the bureau was gone!" He reached for the phone, only to have it ring just as he touched the receiver.
He jumped back, momentarily startled. His heart was racing. "Calm down," he told himself and picked up the receiver. "Dr. Klein," he said, surprised his voice sounded so weak.
"Klein. You know the drill. Tomorrow, the old place," a gravely voice said, and then disconnected.
"It's who?" Teng, a lab assistant asked as he strolled into the room.
"What?" Klein said, his eyes a bit wild.
"Them, you said it was 'them'."
"Oh." Klein thought frantically. "Them. Giant ants. Them was ants ..er, were ants. Old movie. Phone trivia…"
Teng smiled. "You're babbling, Doctor."
"Babbling! That's it, I have to call Ms. Lane." Klein nodded, suddenly feeling he'd found an out. A rescuer.
"Fan of old movies, a friend, a reporter, pit bull…"
Teng laughed. "I know who Ms. Lane is, Doctor. I was going to say she should be here fairly soon. She left a message. Something about Superman .."
Klein took a few calming breaths. "Yes. I remember now. Some technical information on Superman's flight capability for an article. A sidebar for the Metropolis Air Show."
Teng nodded. "Yeah, that was it. Anyway, she'll be here soon. I have to get that data on the genetic construct project so I'll see you later…Dr. Klein?"
"Yes, see you later," he said absently.
Klein spent the next twenty minutes pacing frantically. When Lois finally arrived, he grabbed her by the arms. "Ms. Lane, you've got to help me!"
"Dr. Klein! I'm a married woman. Please unhand me."
He backed off, hands raised. "Oh. I'm sorry, but I'm in trouble…deep trouble."
"Trouble? What do you mean?"
He looked around furtively. "I really shouldn't be telling you this," he whispered loudly, "but I was involved in a top secret government project a few years ago. I quit, but now they want me back."
"Well, what's wrong with that? Don't they pay well?"
Klein rolled his eyes. "You don't understand. They want something I invented. I never told them I had made a breakthrough, but they must have found out somehow, and now they want it."
Lois sighed with exasperation. Sometimes getting anything coherent out of Dr. Klein was like pulling teeth. "Well, what is it?" she demanded.
He looked around even more frantically, going to the door to check for any eavesdroppers. "Ms. Lane. I invented a weapon that could kill anyone, even Superman, and now they want it."
Lois recoiled in shock. "Who? Why would the government want to kill Superman/"
Dr. Klein sat down dejectedly and covered his face with his hands. "It's a long story, Ms. Lane."
"I've got plenty of time, Doctor!"
"Sshhh, keep your voice down, please."
"Dr. Klein, you've just told me someone is trying to kill Superman!" Lois replied in a tight voice. "I think that's reason enough to raise my voice."
Dr. Klein nodded in agreement and then led Lois to his private office.
"So now that we're alone, will you please answer my question," Lois said as the door to the office closed.
"Why does the government want to kill Superman and how are you involved?"
Dr. Klein sighed. "This concerns a part of my life that I wanted to forget. But I guess you can't really escape your past." He took a seat behind his desk and motioned for Lois to take a nearby chair. "You see Ms. Lane, I used to work for a secret government agency that was responsible for tracking down UFO's and other unexplained phenomena. It was called …"
"Bureau 39!?" Lois interjected.
"You've heard of it?!"
Lois looked at Dr. Klein as he lowered his head. "Dr.Klein, how could you have worked for *them*?"
Before she had the chance to say another word, he looked at her and pleaded with his eyes for her to understand. "I was very young, just finishing my graduate study at MIT when a very well-dressed man came into the lab one morning. He knew all about me and all my research to date. I was very flattered he knew who I was. He told me he was from a 'special' government agency who wanted me to help in researching a problem they had. He promised me a lab full of every imaginable piece of equipment I could think of. I thought I had been handed the job of my dreams."
Lois shifted in the chair. "What happened next?"
"I finished my post grad work. I took the job and begin working on my second doctorate in nuclear physics."
"They let you work and study?"
"Yes. Then after a few years there I noticed some of my research and ideas were being used in the military. I was first appalled but soon got over it when I thought they were going to be used to protect and not destroy. I was such a fool, a fool living in a fool's paradise."
Lois moved from her chair and came to lay a hand on Klein's shoulder. "Dr. Klein, how does all this affect Superman? What did you invent?"
"I'm getting to that. It was when a man by the name of Trask came to work in my department that everything for me began to fall apart."
Lois visibly cringed at the mention of Trask's name. "What did this Trask want?"
"Trask felt that Superman was the advance man for an alien invasion. He thought that all the good works he performed were just 'publicity stunts'. Of course, I had no idea what he planned to use my research for .. . It was a laser generator that utilized radiation from the sun's rays, and then amplified them into an intense energy beam." Klein sighed. "It was intended to be an alternate source of energy; a means to produce cheap electricity only much safer than conventional solar technology."
"What made him think it would be harmful to Superman?"
"I suppose the sun's energy was the most powerful force he could think of… small-minded little man…"
Lois almost smiled. Dr. Klein's opinions and her own generally ran totally in sync when it came to evil-minded ne'er-do-wells. "What happened to the technology, Dr. Klein?"
"I hadn't quite perfected it when this Agent Trask approached me about converting the plans to some sort of weapon. I told him that I would *never* consider making something eco-friendly into a government issue nightmare."
"So what did you do?"
"I refused to do the conversion plans and the next day discovered that my initial prototypes had been stolen."
"They got everything?"
"No, Lois. Just the prototypes. I hadn't quite worked out all the problems with the energy conversion, so the stuff they stole was flawed in its science. I took all my notes, and drawings, and anything I thought would be useful for them, and destroyed them, or changed them to disguise them, and I left. I never went back… even moved to another city. I never did get to finish my doctorate in nuclear physics."
"So now they've contacted you again? Want you to finish it?"
"I'm afraid so. No one could perfect it without my input. I had only figured out the corrections I needed to make that morning of the break-in. I distinctly remember that I was getting out of the shower and slipped on the floor, and bumped my head on the toi-…uh.. well, after I came to, I realized I had been pursuing the conversion from the wrong approach.. it all seemed so clear to me. I rushed to my lab and found it in ruins."
Lois sighed, "Thank God the prototype was useless to them, and you never finished it."
Dr. Klein blushed, and looked away from her, unable to meet her eyes.
"Dr. Klein? You *didn't* finish it?"
"Well… er… uh, actually… I did."
"Well, Lois. Once a scientist, always a scientist… and if I *could* help provide the world with clean, safe solar energy, I owed it to humanity to finish it."
Lois felt her mouth fall open in disbelief as both of them heard the sound of trotting feet in the hallway, and turned toward the door. A dark silhouette appeared in the window of the door, and they realized the doorknob was being turned in a very slow, quiet manner.
Lois backed into Klein as he backed into the wall. They both stared at the doorknob as if to will it not to open. Then there was a soft rapping noise.
Klein and Lois nearly collapsed with relief. Klein opened the door. "Come in, Mr. Kent."
Clark smiled. "Hi, Doctor Klein, I heard Lois was.."
Lois grabbed Clark by the lapels and kissed him firmly. "God, I'm glad you're you," she sighed.
Clark smiled and adjusted his glasses. "Me too, at the moment anyway."
Klein shut the door behind him as Lois hustled Clark to the far side of the room. Clark narrowed his eyes with suspicion. "Am I missing something here?"
"Clark," Lois said as she scanned the office. "Bureau 39 is back."
"Clark, don't say 'what' when you know 'what'."
"Honey, calm down, I remember Bureau 39 all too well. Trask nearly killed me and my parents. How can they be back? What do they want?"
"Superman," Klein said, staring directly into Clark's eyes, something Clark found unnerving until he realized that Klein was simply answering his question. "It's all my fault, Mr. Kent. I completed a project I'd started for them, but I'm afraid they want to pervert it as a weapon against Superman."
"Clark," Lois continued. "It started as a cheap energy source, and then Trask stepped into the picture."
Klein nodded. "He seemed to have this EBE obsession."
"Extraterrestrial Biological Entity," Lois said softly. Both Clark and Klein looked at her.
Klein smiled faintly. "That's amazing, Ms. Lane. I had no idea you followed UFOlogy."
"I don't," she shrugged. "But I did watch The X-Files. I kind of liked seeing an attractive, professional woman with a worse social life than mine."
Clark put his arm around her. "Honey, whatever this is, I don't think it can hurt Superman."
"I'm afraid it can, Mr. Kent. I'm not one hundred percent sure, but its power is nearly infinite."
Clark frowned. "Can it be destroyed?"
Klein sighed. "Yes, but they have the prototype, and with a correction in its design flaw, they'll have what they need to mass produce their own."
Lois looked up at Clark. "Dr. Klein used to work for them…at least until he quit."
"Now they want you back?"
"Yes." Klein swallowed. "I'm trapped! You have no idea how powerful they are."
Clark's expression darkened. "I have a pretty good idea how powerful they are."
Lois knew Clark was getting angry. He had that 'determined' expression. She placed a reassuring hand on his chest. "I think we should find Superman."
Clark nodded grimly. "With pleasure."
Mere minutes later, Superman was scouring the skies in search of signs of any out-of-place military setup. He knew he was being optimistic hoping to find something this obvious, but he wanted a head start on the meeting that was planned for the next day.
Unfortunately, he found nothing. Although he thoroughly scoured the entire area surrounding the abandoned fuel depot where Dr. Klein had said he was to meet them, he found no lead lined bunkers or military equipment…sure signs that Bureau 39 was setting up shop.
He was slightly frustrated as he returned to STAR Labs, and landed near Lois and Dr. Klein.
"Thank goodness Clark was able to find you," Klein said, rushing up to the superhero. Clark spared a glance for Lois. He knew that she had wanted to go with him while he 'searched for Superman', but Dr. Klein had been in no state of mind to be left alone.
"I didn't find anything yet," he told them as Lois met his gaze. Dr. Klein became even more agitated at this news.
A few moments later, they had agreed that it would be best for Dr. Klein to remain at STAR Labs overnight for his own safety. Clark checked with the night security guard, and ensured that he would keep an eye on Dr. Klein's office throughout the night.
With that task done, he took to the skies once more, this time to follow Lois' progress back to the Daily Planet. By the time Clark had changed and returned to the newsroom, Lois was frantically trying to piece together the air show report for Perry.
"I was supposed to conclude this with Dr. Klein's statement," she told her husband quickly. "I can't tell Perry why I didn't get the interview, and I have no clue what to fill in for its place. I can't tell him what's really going on. If I did he would want it in the evening edition, and I don't want every criminal in Metropolis knowing that it may be possible to kill Superman…"
Clark stepped forward and pulled Lois into a gentle hug. He knew that she took any threat to him seriously, and he was certain that her babbling was a sign of her distress. Lois quieted and hugged her husband back.
"I know I'm over reacting, I just know it, but I can't stand the thought of that man coming after you again. I can still see him when he pulled that gun on you. If it hadn't been for Rachel…"
Clark rubbed her back and spoke soft words until she quieted. "Trask is dead," he reminded her when she was finally silent.
"I know, but if the Bureau is still out there, then there is someone behind it."
Clark didn't have an answer for that. Instead of trying to placate her with words, he released her, and bent over her keyboard. He added a few personal quotes regarding flight experiences to the article, and LAN-ed it to Perry. "Who needs technical information when you can have experience," he told her with a smile. Lois smiled in return, but he could tell by her face that she was still worried.
"Honey, I've been thinking. Superman isn't the only one who can look for those Bureau 39 holdovers."
"What do you mean Clark?"
"Well we're 'award winning investigative journalists', why don't *we* do a little checking around."
Lois flashed a bigger warmer smile. "Great, but where do we start? This is a little out of Bobby Bigmouth's league."
"I was thinking we might want to start with our NIA contacts."
"Use one set of out-of-control, running amuck, rogue government agents to track down another?"
"Works for me," Lois said. "Who do you suggest we call first?"
"How about Jack Olsen?"
"Now how do you suggest we go about getting in contact with Jack Olsen? Even Jimmy doesn't know where he is." Lois looked at her husband as he appeared to be in deep thought. "Clark, didn't you hear me?"
"Sorry, honey. I was trying to think when the last time was Jimmy mentioned his Dad. Wait, didn't he say last week his Dad was going to be in Las Vegas this coming weekend to visit Jimmy's mother?"
"He sure did. But this is Tuesday, the weekend is days away. There has to be another way."
Lois was about to continue when Jimmy walked up to her desk. Both stopped to stare as he laid a folder on the top of her monitor.
"What? Why are you guys staring at me? What did I do? What have you heard? Is Perry going to can me or something?" Each question came at them faster than they could answer.
"Calm down Jimmy, nothing is wrong. We were surprised to see you, that's all." Clark walked around to stand next to Jimmy. "Hey weren't you going to show me the picture of the new lady in your life? How about doing it now?"
Jimmy's concerned look faded as a huge smile appeared on his face. "She is the greatest, CK. I have her picture here in my wallet."
Lois gave Clark a puzzled look. As Jimmy opened his wallet to pull out the picture. Clark used his super vision to scan the wallet for any address or telephone number for Jack Olsen. Jimmy was handing the picture to Clark as he came across what he was looking for.
"She is pretty, Jimmy, I hope it works out for you this time." Clark was on his way out of the news room as Lois caught up with him.
"What was all that about?"
"I know where we can get in contact with Olsen."
"Where?" Lois asked in a whisper.
"Ok, if he's in Nashville, he's probably investigating some kind of mind-altering sound waves infused into talentless recording artists' music to manipulate the poor deluded music-buying public."
Clark took Lois by the elbow, and barely kept himself from laughing as he looked her straight in the eye.
"Honey,… you're babbling again."
"Oh.. well? Ever since Hank West's tragic death, I haven't been able to listen to any country music, you know that."
"I know. You really liked his music. Why don't we have Superman fly down there and see if he can find him? It shouldn't take too long… I mean, how big can Nashville be?"
"Okay, you go find Jack, and I'll go back to STAR Labs to sit with Dr. Klein. Maybe Jack knows someone who can help us."
Clark sighed and kissed her on the forehead.
"Honey? Maybe you'd let me escort you over to STAR Labs first, okay?"
"Clark, don't be ridiculous. You know I'm perfectly safe at STAR Labs. The security guard said he'd look after Dr. Klein, and you *know* I can take care of myself."
He sighed once more, then shrugged. He'd just follow her at a discreet distance then. "Okay, you're right… you go protect Dr. Klein, and I'll find Jack Olsen."
He walked her to her car, tried to fasten her seatbelt for her, and she playfully smacked his hand. "You know that *I* know you'll follow me, just don't be too obvious about it, okay?"
He laughed, then bent down and kissed her lightly. "Drive carefully. I love you."
"I love you too, Clark. Now lemme get to STAR Labs so you can go find Jack."
He nodded and stepped back, closed her car door and watched her drive out of the parking garage.
The trip to STAR Labs was uneventful, and he waited until the security guard unlocked the front door and let her in before heading off to Nashville to find Jack.
Lois thanked the security guard as he locked the door behind them. "I realize it's after business hours, but I thought Dr. Klein might appreciate some company."
She felt the man behind her. <Too close!> She stepped quickly to the side, and turned into an automatic defensive posture. Unfortunately, the guard already had his 9mm pointed at her head.
"Well, I guess that explains why you look different than you did three hours ago," she said.
The man merely tipped his head to indicate Lois should precede him up the corridor.
"You part of the Bureau 39 Drum and Thug Corps?" Lois asked as her eyes darted back and forth considering escape routes. "I expect a lot of exposition by this point in a kidnapping," she continued noting the security cameras were covered.
They turned a corner and there was Klein, sitting at a conference table handcuffed to a chair. Men dressed in fatigues sat around the table, and turned to look as Lois was ushered in.
"Ms. Lane," a man sporting a black star against his OD cap addressed her.
"General," Lois said, noting the star. "You were a colonel the last time we met, Cash. I see you've been promoted."
He stood in feigned gentle manners and bowed his head slightly. "It couldn't have happened in the regular Army, little missy, but—"
" —but in the loony toon soldier corps you can be all that you can be," Lois said flatly.
"Show her to her chair, corporal," Cash said through tight lips.
Lois was seated and cuffed next to Klein.
"I'm so sorry, Ms. Lane," Klein apologized.
"It's all right," she said and then shifted her gaze to Cash. "I just hate to think how much of STAR Labs funding will have to be spent towards repairs after Superman takes it apart brick by brick to find us."
Klein shrugged. "We're actually insured against natural disasters, war, crime, and acts of Superman. It was that red Kryptonite thing when—"
"Stow it," Cash said, re-seating himself. "I believe you overcame your slight design flaw, Doctor."
Klein glanced at Lois and then back to Cash. "Sorry," he said firmly. "I can't help you."
Cash nodded thoughtfully. "Then I hope science can put Lois Lane back together again after we test the imperfect model on her."
Clark landed softly behind Jack Olsen, who was hiding behind a tree dripping with Spanish Moss. "Mr. Olsen?"
Jack, all intent on his current mission to keep the free world free, swung around with a brutal roundhouse kick. A kick that dropped him moaning to the ground holding his ankle.
Superman reached down his hand. "Sorry about that."
Jack removed the starlight goggles from his forehead. "Superman? What are doing here?"
"I need your help."
Jack smiled. "I'd love to help you, but I've kind of got a situation here."
"Terrorists in Nashville?"
"As a matter of fact," Jack said, checking his spare clips.
"Someone kidnap all the Elvis impersonators?" Clark said with a perfectly straight face.
Jack laughed despite the tense situation. "You've gotten a sense of humor since the last time we met. Who is she?"
Clark smiled. "Let's call that Superman's secret. How about I help you and you help me."
Jack offered his hand. "Deal."
Jack pulled Superman farther behind the tree. "Geez, they'll see you. Why didn't you consider something a little less eye-catching for a disguise?"
Superman folded his arms across his chest and gave Jack his patented stern but patient stare. "My mother designed this costume. You have a problem with that?"
"No, no. See those people over there picnicking? How about using that super hearing of yours on them?"
"I don't eavesdrop on innocent people, Olsen."
"They're not innocent. They're plotting to kidnap George Strait and demand the keys to Fort Knox as ransom."
Clark couldn't help it. He laughed. "Yeah. I can just see all those country music fans rioting if the Feds don't give in."
Jack looked hurt. "You think I'm kidding."
"Okay, okay. We think they're planning to bomb the White House and they're pretending to be tourists here until their materiel arrives. We need to find out where it's coming from and intercept it."
"Well, if it's a case of national security, I guess I can do that." Superman listened. Just by chance the terrorists chose that moment to discuss their plans.
Clark zeroed in on the conversation, and was shocked to discover that the group was indeed planning on receiving a shipment of explosive materials. After only a few sentences, he realized that the group seemed highly reliant on its leader, a middle-aged man dressed in cowboy boots and too-tight jeans.
With a quick whoosh, Clark plucked their "leader" from the center of the group, and deposited him in front of Jack Olsen. As predicted, the group scattered. The man Clark had captured didn't seem to be inclined to protect the others, and immediately began to name the ones who had been in the group. Gratefully, Clark transported both Jack and the suspect to a local police station, where the man could be held while his statement was taken.
Jack was not pleased at this involvement of the local police, but he finally gave his complete attention to Clark. "So, Superman," he said with a sigh. "What *are* you here for? Not that I don't appreciate the help, but I'm sure this isn't your usual method of assisting the government. Well," Jack prompted.
"Tell me what you know about Bureau 39," Clark said bluntly.
Jack looked taken aback for a moment, then answered, "That section of the Bureau has been closed for years. It was dismantled soon after Trask's death."
Clark shook his head, and repeated his stern "Superman" look as he crossed his arms before him. "Now, tell me what isn't in the press releases."
Jack checked both directions thoroughly, then spoke in a quiet voice. "There have been rumors, only rumors, that the Bureau has some additional … interested parties," he told Superman. "There hasn't been any confirmation, but Cash disappeared a few weeks ago, and I know that he did work closely with Trask. If anyone would reinstate the section, it would be him."
Clark thought for a moment, remembering the colonel that Lois had injured more than slightly in their last encounter. He certainly hoped the man was not involved, but that was definitely their luck.
"Do you have any idea where they might be, theoretically, if they were to reform the section?"
"Judging from your line of questioning, you probably know more than I do. Is there a problem I can help with?"
Clark thought a moment. Indirect questioning didn't seem to be bringing him any information, so he told Jack all that he *did* know about the possible weapon, and the history, while leaving out Dr. Klein's name.
Jack didn't recognize the weapon, but some of the research mentioned rang a bell. They borrowed one of the police computers, and Jack quickly secured a line to his own government computer. He attached a small device to the modem line, and explained that it would scramble any secure information that he might need. After a few moments, he found what he was looking for, and turned to Clark with a look of alarm.
"If this means what I think it does, your doctor friend may be right. Apparently, the Bureau has been utilizing this 'energy amplification' idea quite extensively, and they may have perfected it. If so, this is what you're looking at."
He pointed to some mathematical formulas on the screen, which Clark quickly scanned. While mathematics had never been his favorite subject, he was familiar with most postulates and theorems. This was something new. According to this equation, the power of the weapon would indeed be unlimited.
He turned to Jack with a worried look. "I need to find Dr. Klein and have him look at this," he told Jack.
"Of course," he replied, and quickly downloaded the information to a disk. With the disk slipped into his sleeve, Clark took off at full speed, heading straight for STAR Labs, where he had left Dr. Klein.
Dr. Klein was hunched over at his lab workbench working on the energy extrapolator prototype while Lois sat nearby on the lab floor tending to the injured security guard, both under the watchful eye of one of Cash's minions. Suddenly the door to the lab swung open and *General* Cash strolled in, a cynical smile on his face.
"I'm glad you decided to cooperate, Doctor, I'm sure you'll see this is all for the best."
Klein began to respond, but Lois interrupted. "I'm sure he sees the same thing I do, Cash. You're an overgrown little boy looking for a new toy."
"No Ms. Lane, I'm a patriot, trying to protect my country, my world from an alien invasion."
"You mean Superman don't you? You sound just like that madman Trask," Klein interjected.
"Trask wasn't a madman, he was a visionary. He knew that Superman was the advance man for more Kryptonians and they came here! He was right."
"They also left, remember?" Lois replied flatly, and added with a trace of bitterness, "and Superman almost died making sure that they did."
"It was all an act, little lady. They'll be back and this time we'll be ready for 'em. Once we have this little beauty here perfected," he said as he rubbed his hands on the gleaming weapon. "Of course we'll need to test it. And I know the perfect guinea pig."
Lois looked over at Klein. "Cash, this man needs medical attention. Why don't you let Dr. Klein help him?"
"You think I'm a heartless beast, don't you, Ms. Lane?"
"Well if the shoe fits," she said under her breath.
Cash's head jerked around. "What was that you said?"
Klein put himself between Lois and the general. "Come on, let me take a look at him. What harm will it do?"
Cash looked down at the unconscious man and back to Klein. "Do what you can for him." Cash turned to leave the room but stopped at the door. "I'm going to tell my people if they see you do anything strange, they are to kill Ms. Lane."
"You have my word I will only help this man."
Klein knelt beside the man. Lois moved to make room for him. "Doctor, you are not to finish this weapon. Cash doesn't want it for only for killing Superman. I would bet my next paycheck he has plans to use this on the very people he says he wants to protect."
"I have no plans to finish the weapon. But I have fixed it…"
Just then the guard came towards them and stood closer to Klein. "Could you get me some water?" Klein motioned the guard to the other side of the room. "I need to clean out this wound." The guard looked at the blood on Klein's hands and moved towards the sink.
"Listen carefully…I've fixed the weapon with a fail-safe trigger. If it's not set before firing it will explode."
Lois looked at the doctor and was about to ask where the fail-safe was located but the guard stopped all conversation.
The guard looked down at Lois, his stare unswerving.
Finally Lois sighed loudly. "What!"
"General Cash told us you're the one the alien chose to breed his hybrid army."
Lois looked up into the dull wit of oppression. "Hybrid army?"
Klein looked aghast as he dabbed water at the wound. "Ms. Lane is a married woman!"
"The general said that's just a front."
Lois shook her head. Propaganda of the salacious type. No doubt sparking what little imagination these men had. "Well, I tell ya, I do often mate with Superman, but I'm never in bed with him unless my husband is there too."
"Oh, good lord," Klein wailed, overturning the water.
The Neanderthal smiled or made the effort. "For real?"
Lois now knew the way to distract her captor's attention. She stood up seductively. "It's pretty exciting," she said coquettishly, moving back and making it look more like a dance than a retreat. "It's sooo good."
The guard leaned forward, only his oversized jump boots keeping him balanced.
She eyed the device Klein had been working on out of the corner of her eye. "You'd be surprised how *really* different Superman is from ordinary men."
The guard's eyes widened. "How diff'rnt?"
"Well," Lois said, thinking this was one of those men who believed stories of women being abducted by baboon tribes. "That 'man of steel' name…trust me."
The man's mouth went dry. "Yeah? Man of steel, I don't get it."
Klein shook his head. "Even *I* got it."
Lois backed up further. "I love when he rips off my *buttons*, Dr. Klein," Lois said, trying to decipher the various colored buttons on the machine.
Klein began to perspire. "I..I'm sure you do, Ms. Lane."
Lois began unbuttoning her blazer slowly as the guard kept advancing slowing. "Care to guess what *color* buttons, Dr. Klein?"
"Not at this juncture, Ms. Lane."
Lois sighed. "It's *fun* to guess. There are so many buttons to *choose* from."
"Hmm? Oh! Yes! The red buttons are the most passionate," he said, looking over his shoulder.
Lois made a sudden lunge for the device, but heard a bolt racked back.
"I wouldn't try it, little lady," Cash cautioned, an automatic weapon pointed at Klein's head. Cash stepped forward. "If she hit that button, the whole place would have been blown to bits," he said almost casually.
"Theoretically," Klein nodded.
"You'd sacrifice your life for that invader?"
Klein sat back, propping an elbow on his knee. "Superman is my friend, General. I'm not a brave man, but the world needs him more than it needs me, and a whole hell of a lot more than it needs you."
Lois smiled. Klein was 'Superman's' friend. Maybe the only one Clark had in that persona.
Cash looked at the man he had mistakenly left guarding them. "Take her into the next room," he said curtly.
The man grabbed Lois' wrist, but she struggled. He twisted her wrist and she cried out. There was a crashing sound. Clark, his expression distorted by anger, took the weapon from Cash and broke it in half. He turned to the guard holding Lois. "You take your hand off her wrist, or I'll take *your* hand off *your* wrist."
The stunned man relinquished his grip instantly and stepped away just to make it clear he was not in any contact whatsoever with Lois Lane.
Clark looked down at Klein. "Are you all right, Doctor?"
"I'm fine, Superman, but this man is badly hurt."
Clark nodded and handed the other guard's gun to Lois. "Watch them, Ms. Lane while I get rid of this," he said, lifting the device.
Lois watched as he flew out of the room through the hole he had created to enter. She smiled pointing the gun at gun at Cash. She was also glad that Clark had spared STAR Labs' insurance carrier a claim for extraneous repairs.
There was the sound of a distant explosion and Clark re-entered. He lifted the injured man. "I'll get him to the hospital. I trust you and Ms. Lane can turn these men over to the authorities, Dr. Klein."
"Yes, it's the most fun I've had all day, well, that and Ms. Lane explaining the joy of creating hybrid armies."
Clark lifted his eyebrows and looked at Lois. Lois blushed. "It was …nothing. You'd better hurry, Superman."
As Superman departed, Lois helped the good doctor from the floor, and then impetuously hugged him. "Thank you," she said as she pulled away, looking into his puzzled eyes. "For being Superman's friend."
Klein smiled warmly. "You're a pretty good friend to Superman too, Ms. Lane. You always have been."
"I guess," she shrugged. "But I think that makes Clark a little jealous."
"Understandable," Klein nodded. "If he'd just get married or something, his wife could take care of him."
Lois laughed. "You're the first person I ever knew who thought Superman needed someone to take care of him."
Klein sat in a chair; the adrenaline had left his legs weak. "We *all* need that, Ms. Lane, but Superman …" he paused thoughtfully, "… needs it more than anyone. The problem would be finding the perfect woman."
Lois swallowed. "That would be the hard part," she agreed, feeling a bit awkward, and hoping Klein wouldn't suggest a blind date with a lab tech.
"Impossible," Klein smiled. "You're already married to Clark Kent." Lois felt her eyes tear. Klein continued, "Superman belongs to Metropolis. She's a pretty good wife, but she nags him a lot."
Clark hurried in through the door followed by a couple of police officers. He put his arms around Lois. "Are you all right, honey?"
"I'm fine," she said, her voice kind of small. "My hero, Dr. Klein, was here the whole time."
Clark smiled as Klein blushed a deep red. "As long as it's not Superman. I'm so jealous of that guy," he said and reached his hand out to Klein. "Thanks for rescuing my wife."
Klein shook his hand, still blushing. "It…was nothing. As long as she kept me from fainting, I could protect her."
Clark laughed and he and Lois left the office hand in hand. The officers escorted Cash and his associate away.
Klein sighed and picked up a whisk broom. Though it was woefully small for sweeping the large chunks of plaster, he needed something to do. As he knelt in the plaster dust, he smiled. "Lois Lane *and* Metropolis, some guys get all the breaks."