Lois turned the channel to a news station. The alien ambassador's speech was playing. "Greetings, citizens of Earth, from Argo City. We wish to fix your environment with our technology, so that your planet will last for many years to come. In exchange, we want 50 of your women. It is a small price to pay. I must return home today, but I have left a ship on your planet to transport the women to Argo City. It is on autopilot and will not fail. I thank you for welcoming me and we look forward to forming a kinship between our peoples."
Another old clip played. "I am so thrilled to be one of the chosen ones," the woman with the Save the Whales t-shirt said as if she had just made it to the final round of a Miss America contest. "It is a great honor to know that I am doing all that I can for my planet to make it truly green."
The TV anchor came back on in real time. "Well, there you have it, folks. 5 women have been chosen to participate in the exchange until positive proof is given that they can and will fix our environment. The committee is still in session to determine final approval of the exchange. In other news—"
Lois hit the off button on the remote with a vengeance. She believed in the good of fixing the environment as much as the next person but this exchange that was going to take place was so medieval.
Lois' father was a part of the committee that was going to decide if it was a good idea. Perry White had put her on this story because of it. She waited for her dad to return to his apartment.
"Well?" she asked as soon as he came through the door.
"The committee has agreed to the exchange," he answered.
"Why am I not surprised? Comfort over citizens."
"It's not as if we will be kidnapping women off the street and making them go. They want to go."
"Only because they don't know any better. What happens if they change their mind when they get there? Will they be allowed to come back?"
He was slow to answer. "I'm sure if they—"
"But you don't know," she interrupted. She picked up her purse.
"Where are you going?" he demanded.
"I've got another interview."
Lois managed to sneak past the guards that were guarding the ship.
Lois saw the 5 women waiting on the platform next to the ship. They'd had a lot of publicity in the past couple of days, but she had only seen the Save-The-Whales woman before. She was looking very satisfied. Another was a woman with square, black frames. Lois surmised by the way she studied the ship that she was the astrologist. Another woman was applying lipstick. She didn't remember what her profession was but by the way she was dressed, it was clear the thrill for her lay in marrying an alien to put it mildly. One was an older woman, who must have thought this was her last chance to get married and have children. The last was a shy-looking girl, who looked like she thought the same thing, although she was still quite young.
Lois planned to try and talk them all out of it, but she realized her best chance was the shy one. She immediately started talking to her as soon as she got onto the platform. "Hi, I'm Lois Lane with the Daily Planet. I have a question for you. Why? You don't know what these aliens are like. What if they're cannibals? What if they're a sexist society? Do you know anything about their culture other than the fact that they have a bunch of fancy gadgets?"
She started to look a little unsure. "No, I guess I don't."
"So why are you throwing your life away for the unknown?"
"I—I don't really know."
A voice came over the speakers. "Please, get into the ship. Takeoff will be in 5 minutes."
Lois was desperate. "There's still time to escape, time to save yourself. Do you really want to leave the only home you've ever known, your family, your friends?"
She vigorously shook her head and took off in the direction away from the ship.
The 4 remaining women went into the ship. She sighed a sigh that was half relief and half disappointment. At least she'd had one victory. She started to leave the platform, but one of the guards, who came to check that the platform was clear, saw Lois on the platform.
"Why aren't you on the ship? The ship is getting ready to take off. Are the other girls on board?"
"4 of them are. One of them changed her mind."
His eyebrows furrowed angrily as he realized by her tone that she was the one who had helped change her mind. "Do you know where I was born?" he asked her. "In Los Angeles. Smog just settles in the air and there's not enough rain to wash it away. Now I admit that pollution has been dropping, but it's still out of control. I am not going to jeopardize the chance for a pollution-free world. If you talked a bride into leaving, you can just take her place."
Before Lois knew what was happening, she was shoved onto the ship and the door was locked behind her. She banged on the door and yelled for someone to let her out, but she knew nobody could hear her over the sound of the engines firing up.