Like so many things SHADO had been involved in over the years, it was in the paper – but not all of it was in the paper. It rarely was.

"And, in the end, Jason Trask's obsession caused him to search for a mystical rock he alone imbued with destructive powers, and to confuse one reporter with the target of his fixation, Superman. He came to see his strange visitor from another planet where he was not, and to see enemies where there were none. It was an obsession that for Jason Trask would prove fatal," Freeman read aloud from the Daily Planet. He and Straker were back in bustle of Metropolis. Freeman, for one, was glad to be back.

"Luckily everything worked out," Straker commented. "General Zeitlin is already planning on how he's going to ask Superman for help on that little problem we know is coming up."

"And the item you retrieved?"

"Research has it in a secure place. Don't want it to fall into the wrong hands," Straker said with a smile. His expression turned more somber. "Some of Trask's people managed to evade us. We'll catch up with them, hopefully before they hurt anyone else."

"But we still don't know what tech they may have gotten away with."

"Very true. Research has been keeping an eye out for unusual technological breakthroughs that might indicate other-world influences. Of course, someone like Luthor or Wayne would be smart enough to cover their tracks if they were dealing with off-worlders."

"Or time travelers?"

"Exactly. Though I do wonder what Luthor is really up to with building that bunker of his beneath Lex-tower. Can't be because of the asteroid… that wasn't even confirmed until recently. And the level of secrecy around it…"

"Inside information and he doesn't want questions about how he knows?"

"Maybe. Or maybe he's just up to things he doesn't want questions about. And his security is almost as good as ours."

"Speaking of security, we're covered in Smallville," Freeman said. "Since Trask was pretending to be a federal agent, the FBI swooped in, collected all the evidence including the body. The poor sheriff's on tenterhooks right now, but she'll get the news that the investigation's cleared her before the week's out."

"Good. I'd hate to have to try to explain how Trask ended up with two slugs in him," Straker said. "And Harris seems like a good officer." He took a sip of his coffee.

"Do we have any idea why the time device didn't work the first time?" Freeman asked after a moment. The question had bothered him ever since he realized what had happened.

Straker leaned back in his chair. "Virginia thinks there may have been interference from a similar device being used by someone close by. The man in the odd clothes, probably. We managed to get a picture of him, even got his fingerprints, but we haven't been able to identify him. I have a hunch he's a time traveler like Wells, only with a different agenda."

"An anti-Superman agenda?"


"So, why did the device work this time?"

"Not the same device. The one I had this time was based on alien technology. Not nearly as powerful as the one Turner used… it can only create a time bubble of several seconds, but that's all I needed to make the switch. We figure it used a different frequency and so whatever blocked Wells' device didn't work on ours."

"Hurrah for the aliens then," Freeman said, not bothering to keep the sarcasm out of his voice. There were still unresolved issues with having 'aliens' living on Earth. Having one super-powered one around was only one of the possible issues. But now SHADO had a way of dealing with him, if it needed to.

Only time would tell if they'd ever need to. And time was a lot more complicated, and a lot less forthcoming, than most people knew.