'It is usually when men are at their most religious that they behave with the least sense and the greatest cruelty.'
Lois had been six years old when she stopped believing in God. She stopped believing in a lot of things at that time, but God was definitely the biggest thing to go. She didn't tell her father for another ten years, and so for every Sunday of that decade she would put on her best clothes and her best mask and pretend she believed the stories, the hymns, the prayers: pretended she believed it could only get better.
Lana, conversely, was three years old when she started believing in God: not in a big way, just an acknowledgement that he was there, watching over her, caring for her, loving her.
In his lavish palace, surrounded by halls and dorms of the purest white, The Authority was having something of an identity crisis. He knew that amonst his followers his will and word was infallible, but he also knew that one wrong step, one slip up and Mr. Luthor would have his guts quite literally for garters.
It had seemed like such a good proposal when the head of LexCorp had first approached him. Mr. Luthor wanted more political influence, but his band of 'close friends' within government was beginning to have second thoughts over some of his more radical beliefs. He was no fan of these 'super beings' that's for sure, and he seemed at express a genuine Christian concern for the souls of his fellow men. And he had deep pockets, very deep pockets.
He had the deep pockets, they had increasing political clout: The Authority had said it himself, it was a match made in Heaven.
But then the rumours started: other 'close friends' of Lex Luthor's who had mysteriously vanished into the night, entire countries which had opposed his plans to build factories on their national soil being invaded by the UN taskforce. And then there was the rumour that Lex Luthor knew how to kill the biggest false prophet of them all, Superman.
While The Authority was not in the least bit against this plan he couldn't help but think that if Luthor could so easily get rid of a demi-god like Superman, what would he do to a mere mortal like himself.
Suffice to say The Authority knew who wore the pants in this particular relationship. That's why he knew he couldn't afford to slip up.
"William, what is the status update?"
"John and Patrick are escorting them to the main hall as we speak." The gangly youth replied.
"Excellent. And their condition?"
"The Mother appears only to be suffering from shock, but John reports he had to shoot the Whore before she could be seized."
"No, just a wound to the leg Father."
"Excellent. Prepare my garment then. We must look at our best when we greet the ladies."
If there was one person in the world who was no stranger to military procedure it was Lois Lane. She had grown up in the US military, had close family friends in the British, Russian and Japanese military, and had read extensively, (mainly to annoy her father), about guerrilla warfare. All this taken into account, she was stumped.
The corridors she and Lana were being led down were as white as snow, and the cold, stone flagged floor sent a shot of pain up her wounded leg every second step. Lana was in silent whimpers just ahead of her. Beside her though was the cause of her confusion.
The two 'escorts' were both decked out in military uniform, problem was, they weren't the same military. One seemed to be South African and the other was Cambodian, but both the men wearing them were as American as Apple Pie. And that was another thing; differences in uniforms aside, neither of them had what you may call a 'standard military hair cut', and each had more Christian jewellery on than the Pope.
Guerrilla groups tended to have to use whatever resources they could find, which would explain the odd uniforms, but no half-decent army organisation would tolerate long hair and golden crucifixes. Things here just didn't add up.
"So-" Lois began, but before she could finish another blow landed itself on her already fragile head. The Cambodian clad man glared at her, daring her to open her mouth again. He had a gun, she didn't. Lots of sums in Lois' mind mightn't have been making sense, but that one sure as Hell did.
In front of her Lana looked horrified. Lois, audibly, clamped her mouth shut and staggered on down the corridor; her wounded pride hurting a damn-site more than her wounded leg.
After about five minutes of this imposed silence the women were led to a corridor with two big oak doors at the other end. The Cambodian man glared at them again, then motioned with his gun towards the door.
Lana, still shaking, reached for Lois' hand. Lois, still nursing her wounded pride pulled hers away.
"You'll have to excuse me for not quite being the damsel in distress just right now." She quietly sneered at Lana, who in return looked more hurt than anyone Lois could imagine.
Still, she was not in the habit of accepting pity, and as someone who would never tolerate displays of weakness from herself, she would certainly not tolerate it from others, especially if that other was Lana Lang.
The doors flew open and the two women were shepherded into the room on the other side. Only it wasn't a room, it was a hall: a hall as big as any cathedral's but as bare and spartan as a beggar's home. At the far end there was a slightly raised platform, and hanging above it, a cross of plain wood and standing beneath that an old man, rosy cheeked and plumped bellied, wearing a white robe lined with yellow thread. In any normal situation he wouldn't have looked much more than a beggar himself, but he was surrounded on all sides by a congregation wearing the tattered scraps of the world's armies. Compared to them, he looked like a king.
If Lana hadn't been scared before she entered the room, then the chorus of contemptuous boos and hisses that greeted her when she did would certainly have made up for the lost fright. As it was, she was scared: truly terrified. She'd been kidnapped before, yes, but that was usually by some single wacko-nut job, not a whole organisation of them. There was no way she could have counted all the number of men hurling abuse at her, but if she had to guess, she would easily have said five hundred.
She and Lois were pushed through the crowd and then forcibly shoved down onto the ground, just in front of the platform where the white-clad man was stood. Over the roaring in her ears Lana could hear cries of "Whores!", "Temptresses!" and "Infidels!", and yet she hadn't heard a sound from Lois since they had entered the room. It was as if she was saving herself up for something, something Lana had the feeling was going to get them both in a lot of trouble.
"Silence!" Called out the gangly youth who was stood just behind the white-clad man. "The Authority wishes to speak!"
And just like that, the room went quite. The Authority looked down at the two women kneeling before him and marked their very different facial expressions. One looked like thunder, the other lost innocence. They were just as he had thought they would be.
"My Brothers!" He began. "We stand today at a crossroads. One path is hard, the other easy. If we choose the easy path we shall witness the end of Christian civilisation as we know it, but if we choose the hard path we shall bring about a revolution that will see sin and temptation wiped from the face of the planet! This is the path we shall choose!"
A loud cheer went up from the congregation. Lana looked over to Lois, Lois looked back: both knew that this wasn't going to be good.
"But my Brothers," The Authority began again. "We are alone in our determination to rid the world of malice. Too many of our fellowmen have drunk from the Devil's fountain: we must save them from themselves before it is too late! We must show them the path of justice, we must show them the path of truth!"
Another cheer went up and the Authority stepped off his platform and walked slowly towards Lana and Lois.
"Brothers, we have here two examples of the evil in our society today. Firstly the Mother!" He said, turning to Lana. Lana turned her head away, she didn't want to look into those eyes, but it was no good, she felt his hand grasp her chin and turn her face towards him.
"A Miss Lana Lang. A Mother out of wedlock! A Mother whose blood mingled with one from that race that God made lesser! A Mother who-"
"No! No, I'm sorry but that's really going too far."
Lana caught the flash in the old man's eyes as he turned to his right. She couldn't see what had happened, but she knew: Lois had cracked.
"I mean really, there's a lot of things you could accuse Lana of. A Hell of a lot of things, but being a mother really isn't one of them!"
"Ah, the Whore!" The Authority dropped Lana's head and grabbed Lois' in turn, forcing her eyes to look into his. "I was warned about you."
Lana knew she didn't have the strength to wrestle her way out of that grip, but she was surprised to find Lois struggling just as vainly against the power of an old man.
"Nice to see my reputation precedes me." Lois grunted, still struggling to free her head from that iron grip.
"Indeed it does my dear, indeed it does. My Brothers, here is one whose pretty face disguises the horror within! Sin herself is in our presence: The Temptress, The Witch, The Whore! New Eve I name her, leading mankind evermore into the abyss of his fall.
Here is one who champions vice! Who says men can lie with men, while women paint their faces and practice their arts for money! Who says that the infidels should not burn and that science and blasphemy should pollute our children.
But before all this, she is an idolater of the highest kind! A wily serpent who will lead mankind to the false prophets and as such, to it's doom!"
Another chorus of booing went up.
"I don't know what your game is." Lois said still struggling. "But if you're hinting at what I think you're hinting at then you are hugely mistaken."
"See! Even now in the face of our goodness she defends these false saviours, these harbingers of doom!"
"In the face of your goodness? I see no goodness here, all I see is a bunch of fanatics with an attitude problem!"
"Heretic! Whore! Can you doubt the face of your salvation? Or are you already too lost to see the light we offer!"
"If you're the face of my salvation then I would rather be damned!"
"So you admit you have sinned! You admit you have aided these Flashes, these Arrows, these Supermen in their quest to corrupt mankind!"
"You really are deluded! Superman is here to help mankind, not destroy it!"
"So you do admit it! You do have knowledge of this Devil!"
"He's not a devil!" Lois' frustration was starting to show: she could feel the tears stinging her eyes. She wanted nothing more than to turn her head away from those piercing eyes, but the Authority's hand still had her chin tightly gripped.
"The adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about!"
"Even the Devil may appear as an Angel of Light! In this guise the Devil has clouded the judgment of man! Made him weak, made him feeble, made him forget who the true Messiah is! Idolater! Witch!
And yet you have done more! Even more to taint the pool of God's Chosen People! You and this, this, Superbeing!"
"No!" Lois grunted again.
"Yes!" The Authority cried, almost gleefully. "Admit it that you, Lois Lane, have fornicated with this False Prophet!"
"Liar! Lair! Witch! Temptress! Whore!"
"NO! NO! no…" And there, in front of five hundred men, Lois Lane sobbed.
"You fornicated with an inhuman being!"
"No," She whispered again, lifting her head up. "We made love."
Lana could no longer hear the ringing in her ears. Beside her she saw the Authority contemptuously throw Lois' head out of his hand. She saw the other woman crumble into a heap on the ground, sobbing for her daemon lover. All about her she could see men hurling insults, abuse and curses but she could hear none of them. She couldn't hear the sobs, she couldn't hear the order to take them back to their cell.
At that moment the only sound Lana could hear was: "we made love."