Disclaimer: The recognizable characters and settings in this story are the property of D.C. Comics, Warner Bros., December 3rd Productions, and anyone else with a legal right to them. I have no claim on them whatsoever, nor am I profiting by their use, but any of the new characters and situations are mine, and the story belongs to me.

The Sting

By Nan Smith

The school buzzer went off exactly at two and Marta Kent shouldered her backpack for the walk home. The townhouse was only four blocks away and she always walked with her best friend Maria, since Maria lived exactly one block from Marta's home. But today Maria had needed to leave early for a dental appointment so Marta was going to have to walk home alone.

It had been a week since Susie Jones had taken a bite of Marta's Tabasco sandwich and so far the larger girl hadn't bothered her but Marta knew that that was about to change. Susie and two of her "friends" had been huddling together at recess all day, and every time they saw Marta they would break into giggles. So Marta had used her super hearing to eavesdrop on the other girls and had confirmed her suspicions. The trio was planning an ambush after school. Marta knew she was supposed to yell for Superman if they tried anything but there was a slight hitch to the plan today. Superman was presently in Fostonia mediating peace talks between that country and its neighbor, Tanzor. The two countries spent more time fighting than Jonny and Jimmy, two of her younger brothers. The boys were six and eight and just about any subject right now turned into a fight between them. She had complained about it once to her mother and Mom had smiled and told her that they'd grow out of it. They probably would, Marta thought. Two years ago she and CJ had fought an awful lot but that seemed to have mostly gone away. She and CJ got along pretty well together, except sometimes when he didn't want to take her advice. Then they sometimes clashed -- but even that seemed to be getting better. CJ was more willing to listen, these days. The trouble was that it didn't look like Fostonia and Tanzor ever would get over their differences. At least they hadn't so far.

Which left her with an uncomfortable situation. If the three girls ambushed her on the way home, she wasn't going to have much choice. She could let them beat on her -- which was bound to cause trouble. She wasn't invulnerable yet but she was the next best thing to it. They'd get hurt and then they would blame her. Or she could fight back and get in trouble anyway.

She pretended to have a problem with her shoe, removed the item and shook it vigorously, as if she were trying to remove a stone, simply to give herself an excuse to delay. Susie and her friends had vanished out the door. They were on their way to lay their trap. What the dickens was she going to do?

Hey, Marta! Wyatt Dillon's voice whispered in her head and she barely restrained herself from jumping.

Hey yourself, she said back.

CJ and I are getting out right now. If you'll wait for us, we'll be there in ten minutes.

That would be great, Marta said. Susie and two of her friends are going to ambush me on my way home."

Oh yeah? Wyatt fell silent for a moment. Then his "voice" came back. I got an idea. Want to catch them red-handed?

Sure. How?

Valerie Henderson's in my photography class. She's got this great camera. She says she'll help if you want. Susie Jones punched Valerie's little sister last year and bloodied her nose. She's been trying to figure out how to get even with her ever since but she didn't dare do anything, since her dad's the Mayor. Besides, your dad would have been mad at her for abusing her super powers.

Oh yeah? Marta considered that. Okay. What do you want to do?

"Just a minute. CJ's calling Valerie now," Wyatt said. There was a short pause. "Valerie says she'll be right here. Stay where you are. We'll be there in a few minutes."


Fifteen minutes later, Marta was walking down the sidewalk toward her home. Her super-hearing told her that up ahead, in the bushes that lined Centennial Park, the three girls were waiting for her. She heard one of them giggle softly and Susie's whispered command to "Hush!" But a short way behind her, Valerie Henderson was standing by the corner of Trexall's Drugstore with her videocamera, following Marta's progress every inch of the way.

Wyatt and CJ weren't far behind Marta, ready to come running on cue -- but not until the evidence was safely "in the can" as their Uncle Jimmy would say.

Marta kept her progress steady and even. She mustn't look as if she had any forewarning. This business was really getting annoying, she thought. Principal Grandon had told her mom, during his interview for the series that she was writing about school bullies, that the problem at the school was the fact that too many children were misunderstood, and far too many were underprivileged. Marta couldn't see that at all. Susie wasn't under-privileged, that was for sure -- at least, judging by the Cadillac that her mother had been driving that day that Mom had come to the school to save Marta from three days of suspension and a week in Self-esteem class. She was just spoiled rotten, in Marta's estimation. And besides, self-esteem problems weren't any excuse for going around beating up on other kids, as her mother had pointed out acidly to Vice Principal Parton. Or for stealing other students' lunches, either.

She was approaching the spot where Susie and her two side-kicks were waiting for her and wasn't a bit surprised when Susie and one of the other girls, Darlene Fry, stepped out in front of her. Behind her Lynn Montgomery stepped onto the sidewalk, cutting off her path of retreat.

Not that Marta had any intention of retreating.

Susie was grinning nastily. "You're going to get it," she told Marta. "Your smart reporter-mom isn't going to get you out of this one, and Superman's in another country."

"Three against one," Marta said. "I guess you don't believe in a fair fight."

"Listen to her," Darlene jeered. "You're gonna get yours. You tricked Susie with that sandwich, but you're not going to get away this time!"

Marta hoped that camera's directional mike was picking up all this. "I told her not to take it," she pointed out reasonably.

"Yeah, and you knew I'd take it anyway!" Susie said. "You set me up!"

"You shouldn't go around stealing people's lunches," Marta said.

Susie gave her an impolite gesture. "You're gonna pay," she said. "I'll show you what happens to people that set me up!"

"You wouldn't dare," Marta said.

"Yeah? And who's going to stop me? And if you tell anybody what happened, I'll make it worse the next time!" She stepped forward, drawing back her fist.

Marta slipped out of her backpack, and stepped backward. Lynn Montgomery blocked her way and a glance over her shoulder showed Marta that Lynn had a wide grin on her face. She looked back at Susie, just as the other girl swung.

Marta tilted her head sideways, bringing up one hand to barely brush Susie's fist, deflecting it just enough that it missed her by a hair. Lynn Montgomery wasn't so lucky. Susie's fist connected with her face, hard enough to knock her backwards. Lynn screamed, clapping her hand to her nose and upper lip. Blood spattered.

Marta ducked beneath Susie's arm. Darlene lunged forward and seized her by the hair, yanking her back. Marta went with the pull, allowing the other girl to throw her to the ground. Lynn was sobbing and both her hands were red with her own blood, which showed exactly how much force Susie had put into her punch. Susie whirled around and lunged for Marta, who rolled sideways. Susie tripped over the discarded backpack and plunged to the sidewalk beside her, skinning both hands on the concrete. Darlene scrambled to her feet, aiming a kick at Marta's ribs. Marta rolled again. If she allowed one of the other girls to connect with foot or fist they would be lucky to escape with only a bruise.

Darlene's foot slammed into Susie's side and Susie screamed with combined rage and pain.

"Hey!" CJ's voice said. Marta looked around. Wyatt and CJ were standing a few feet away, staring at the shambles.

From halfway down the block, the blue-clad figure of one of Metropolis's finest was sprinting toward them. He came to a stop beside the girls. "What's going on here?"

Lynn Montgomery wiped away the blood running down her chin and spit out a gob of red. A tooth came with it and hit the sidewalk with a faint clink. She reached down to pick it up and glared at Marta.

"She attacked us! We were just talking to her and she jumped us!"

"I don't think so." Valerie Henderson had approached while the three larger girls were sorting themselves out. Marta got to her feet and picked up her backpack. Valerie kept her face expressionless, but Marta could see the corners of her mouth twitching. "I saw the whole thing from across the street. They attacked Marta."

"You're just saying that because she's your friend!" Susie screamed at her. The girl was clutching her side and Marta took a peek at the spot. Nothing seemed to be broken but it looked as if she was going to have some pretty sore ribs for a while.

The cop cleared his throat. "You girls are going to have to come down to the station," he said. "We'll call your parents and see what they have to say."

Marta nodded without speaking aloud. Did you get the pictures? she asked Valerie via their silent mental speech.

Sure did, Valerie told her. I'll show it to my dad when he gets home, and I'll bet your mom can use it, too.

So do I, Marta said. She looked straight at Susie and smiled innocently.


"Honest, Mom, I didn't hit anybody," Marta said, fastening her seatbelt. She glanced back at the police station. "Susie and her friends are saying I did, but --"

"I know," her mother said. She started up the car and pulled out into traffic. "I've already spoken to CJ, Wyatt and Valerie Henderson. And her father and I have already seen the recording she made. This has been allowed to go farther than it should, and Susie and her friends are in serious trouble this time. We're going to see a friend of your father's. She's expecting us."

"Who?" Marta asked.

"Her name is Constance Hunter. She's a lawyer. If Susie's parents won't voluntarily control their daughter, then they're going to have to be made to do it. If you were an ordinary human, you could have been badly hurt."

"But I wasn't," Marta pointed out.

"Yes. But the next girl that Susie goes after probably won't have your advantages," her mother said. "Susie's already well on her way to big time trouble with the law and sooner or later she's going to really injure someone. If her parents won't make an effort to save her, we will. And if the school tries to blame you for this, I've already got signed statements from some of the children that Susie's attacked in the past, and their parents. They gave them to me last week for my series. And CJ identified two other witnesses to what happened today besides Wyatt, Valerie and himself." She turned abruptly into the parking lot of a tall building and, after several minutes of searching, located a parking spot. "Let's go."


"So Mom and Dad are filing a lawsuit for assault against Susie and her friends," Marta said. "And against Susie's mom and dad. If Mr. Grandon asks me about what happened I'm supposed to tell him that I'm not allowed to talk about it, because of legal stuff, and that he'll have to ask Mom and Ms. Hunter. Ms. Hunter's even getting a court order for a doctor to examine all of us for injuries -- just to back up what's on the recording Valerie made, and all kinds of other stuff. Mom's really mad," she said with a faint sense of awe. "You know, I'd like to be able to hear what happens when Susie's mom and dad find out."

"Yeah," CJ said. "What did they say when they picked her up from the police station?"

"Her mom told me I was a horrible child," Marta said. "She had to get out of work to come pick Susie up. She swallowed everything Susie told her."

"Figures," Wyatt said. "She probably did all the other times somebody told her Susie beat them up, too."

"Yeah, probably," CJ said. "Y'know, sometimes people let their kids get away with murder. It makes you wonder why they even have 'em. If we'd pulled stuff like Biff and Grunt do --!"

"Or Susie," Marta added. "Mom and Dad would have grounded us for life -- and made it stick!"

"That's for sure," CJ agreed. "You know, I'm glad they're our parents."

"Me too," Marta said.

The End