CHAPTER 17

"There have always been monsters," the President of the United States was saying.

The whole day had been filled with world leaders relating times Superman had saved their countries from some terror supernatural, extraterrestrial or of their own making. Many had shared a sense of dread in regards to the future, to living in a world without Superman.

He was the last to speak, his goal to try and reassure a world that losing its one and only superhero was not a death sentence for planet Earth.

"And while the Man of Steel was certainly our best line of defense against such things, he was not the first, nor the last.

"In the 1800's, when a group of aliens invaded our world, and all Earthly weaponry proved powerless to stop them, a group of human scientists created a virus that wiped out the invaders.

"In the 1950's, when radioactive fallout gave birth to a race of giant monsters, modern day counterparts to the fire-breathing dragons of old, who roamed the land destroying city after city, human soldiers answered the call, and drove them to extinction.

"Decades ago, when a meteor was heading for the planet Earth, a group of brave astronauts flew into space and sacrificed their lives to divert the falling death.

"And though each time, the price of victory was high with human life, the human race endured.

"But over the last few years, we have become accustomed to a benevolent alien, perhaps the first to come to our world with plans to save it rather conquer, arriving just in the nick of time to stop the danger without a single loss of human life.

"And so now we find ourselves on a precipice. Yes, there may be dark days ahead. But let us remember this: There have always BEEN monsters, and there will always BE heroes!"

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General Lane walked into his office and, turning of the light, found his daughter Lois sitting in his chair.

"Dammit, Lois. I have the best security on the planet. How the Hell do you keep sneaking in here without me knowing?"

Lois stared back at him, not answering.

Reading the expression on her face, the General knew instantly what conversation they were about to have. He walked over his private bar and poured them both a drink.

"How am I still alive?" she asked.

The General downed his drink in one gulp.

"I asked you-"

"I heard," he said.

General Lane stood there for a moment, looking down at a photo of himself and his wife, on their wedding day. He sighed.

"We fixed you," he said.

"How?"

"How? How do you think? The human body is a machine. We replaced everything inside you that was broken by Superman and Doomsday."

"Who donated the organs, Dad?"

A pause.

"You did," he replied, pouring another drink.

"What?"

"Lois, this is highly classified information," he sighed. "You are my daughter, of course I used every resource at my disposal to save your life. Why can't you just leave well-enough alone?"

Lois glared at him.

"Why did you only save me?"

"What?"

"All those people, wounded and injured in the fight. I woke up without a scratch on my body. What about them? Why didn't you save them?"

"The process is… expensive," the General said. "Time consuming."

"Then how come I woke up only a few days after the fight?"

"Because I already had enough spare parts saved up for just such an emergency."

"Spare parts?" Lois asked, her mind desperately trying to put all the pieces together.

"My god," she said, it all finally clicking in one giant leap of illogic. "You cloned me!"

No answer.

"Am… Am I even the real Lois Lane, or just a copy?"

"It doesn't work like that," General Lane said, unable to make eye contact for what might have been the first time in his life. "It's impossible to copy memories. The clones are just brain dead organ farms. Ever since Luthor developed the process-"

"Lex Luthor! This was all his work?"

"Ever since Luthor developed the process, men and women of a certain position have been using these things to keep themselves alive and in power. I'm on my third heart as it is.

Lois couldn't speak.

"I refuse to feel guilty for saving the life of my daughter. Whatever the cost, be it in terms of money or… of the cost to my own soul, I refuse to apologize. You are alive, that's what counts!"

The General reached into his pocket and pulled something out. Walking over to his desk, it laid the item in front of Lois.

"They had to cut that out of your hand. Figured it must have been important to you."

Lois looked down at the object in front of her.

It was Clark Kent's glasses.

In one fluid motion she rose from the desk, her hand sweeping the glasses into her pocket as she headed for the door.

She stopped.

"Don't forget Dad. Everything has a price. Your body and now, thanks to you, mine, belong to Lex Luthor. How long do you think it'll be before he comes to collect?"

"Luthor is no longer a concern, Lois. He's been stripped of all his power and influence. We're going to take him down any day now."

"Oh, Dad," Lois lamented. "That just makes him more dangerous than ever before."

Lois walked away, closing the door behind her.