Written by Chris Ruppenthal
Transcript prepared by Sarah Wood, submitted to the L&C board by carolm.
Lois and Clark enter the Daily Planet lobby and stop to buy some coffee before going up to the newsroom. "Okay, so barring any further bouts of amnesia," Clark begins.
"Or shrinking," Lois puts in.
"Or cloning, or kryptonite, or time travel, or voodoo... I say we get married sooner rather than later," Clark finishes with a grin.
"Me too. I just have to wait long enough for my mother to recover from our last wedding."
"Oh, Lois," Clark says, feigning dismay, "I'd like to get married this century."
Laughing, they take their coffees to the elevator. A dark- haired man sitting at the counter watches them.
Upstairs they run into one of the researchers, Sarah. "Oh, here's that research you wanted on that subway project," she says, handing them some files.
"That was fast," Lois says. "We just asked for it yesterday."
"I stayed late," Sarah says.
"Well for that, you deserve a donut," Clark says cheerfully, grabbing one from a box Jimmy's carrying past them.
"Whoa, not the banana cream, the Chief'll kill me," Jimmy implores. With a shrug, Clark puts it back. Jimmy looks at Sarah and his hormones kick in. "But you can have mine," he tells her. Just then Perry hollers for him. "I gotta go," he says sheepishly.
Sarah goes down into the pit with Lois and Clark. "I know I'm sort of new here - well, not that new, I've been here for a month, but... Do you take suggestions for stories from someone else?"
"Yeah, if it's a good idea," Lois says.
"Well I was thinking, there's always so much bad news... What if you did a series on people who make personal sacrifices for the good of society. Like astronauts."
"Or medical missionaries," Clark chimes in, liking the idea.
"Or Superman," Lois adds with a smile.
"Exactly! What really drives him, or people like him?" Sarah asks eagerly.
"Well I would say it's -" Clark begins, but he's interrupted by Perry storming through the newsroom.
"All right, turn those things up," he says, pointing to the television sets. "They're about to christen the space station."
Everyone gathers around to watch the reporter announcing that in five minutes they'll go live to the opening ceremonies of the United Nations Space Station, home to over 100 orbiting scientists and astronauts.
The dark-haired man in the lobby takes out a little remote control of some sort and presses a button. The space station's thrusters fire, pushing it out of orbit.
"Apparently there has been some kind of technical difficulty," the reporter says anxiously. "The space station's rockets have misfired and are driving the space station towards the Earth's atmosphere, where the space station will burn up if reentry cannot be prevented. Mission Control is in contact with the space station, but so far they are unable to ascertain the reason for the station's thrusters firing." Lois and Clark exchange anxious looks, and Clark nods to her.
Perry immediately issues orders to his staff. Clark, needing a reason to leave, says, "I'm going to try calling my friend at NASA." He bolts for the door, and Sarah watches him go.
"Oh boy, if only we had Superman's telephone number," Perry says.
Opening credits and commercials here.
The reporter announces that the station will begin to disintegrate in about one minute. Clark, having donned the suit, speeds to a position from which he can get a look at the station, to figure out how best to change it's direction. Then he gives it his best effort, straining with all his might, and manages to get the station back into orbit. He salutes the three astronauts who watched him in awe.
The newscaster reports that Superman has turned the space station around. Sarah immediately leads the staff in hearty applause, and moments later Clark comes back, adjusting his tie. "Did I miss anything? I heard cheering."
"Superman saved the space station," Lois informs him with a smile.
"Oh man, he was like a fly on the windshield of a car, except this time the fly stopped the car... Whammo!" Perry says happily. "Lois, Clark, I want everything you've got on this story. I want to know why a 64 billion dollar space station tried to turn itself into a charcoal briquette. And I want it by one, because that's when I got a car coming to pick Jimmy and me up, and nobody is gonna interfere with my fishing trip. You got it? Nobody!"
"See ya," Sarah says as she goes back to work.
Lois notices Clark rolling his shoulder with a grimace. "You okay?" she asks in concern.
"That was one of the toughest things I've ever done," he tells her. "I almost didn't stop it!"
"But you did. That's the important thing. So, STAR Labs?"
As they start to leave, Sarah tells them, "If you need any research for your story, just let me know."
"Thanks, Sarah, we will," Lois says, and Sarah moves on. "I think somebody has a crush on somebody," she teases Clark.
"But I'm an engaged man," Clark reminds her with a smile.
"All the more tempting," she points out.
"Somebody else isn't jealous, are they?" he shoots back at her.
"Not in the least!" she protests with a laugh.
"What a pity you lack self confidence," he jokes as they head for the elevators. "We're definitely going to have to work on that."
Lois presses the button. "Well, maybe I need some private instruction," she says coyly as they enter the elevator.
"You know, it could be rigorous and intensive," he says, pulling her closer.
"No pain, no gain," she purrs. "What do you say we start now?"
As the elevator doors close, they begin to kiss. Sarah has been watching and listening in to the whole thing.
* * *
At STAR Labs, Dr. Klein helps Lois and Clark. "Seconds before the main thrusters ignited, the station received a very brief, tight beam microwave transmission. It sent in a computer code that overrode the automatic controls and fired the thrusters."
"Do we know where the transmission came from?" Clark asks. Klein shakes his head.
Lois, typically, is poking around, looking into things. "Don't touch that!" Dr. Klein shouts, and she drops the lid to a see-through container with some sort of experiment inside. A red beam is aimed at a device (sort of like binoculars), and comes out in two separate beams. "I'm measuring the electron flow along the plasma wake as the laser passes through two different gases," he explains. "Plasma wake! That's it!" he suddenly realizes, turning to his computer.
"Dr. Klein," Lois begins.
"Caution," Clark says quietly, "mad scientist at work."
"No matter how brief it was, the microwave beam must have left a trail of agitated molecules along its path," Klein explains.
"I'd say something was agitated," Lois says softly to Clark.
"Agitation means heat," the scientist clarifies as he types away at the keyboard. "Therefore, by using the infrared detectors on some low-orbiting satellites, we should be able to identify and backtrack down the column of heated molecules to its source. Ah-ha! Gotcha!"
"I don't see anything," Clark says.
"I'm switching over to the NIA spy satellite. We'll get real time photos now that I've locked in on the molecules."
"The spy satellite?" Lois asks. "You can do that?"
"The name is Klein... Bernard Klein," he replies in a fairly good Sean Connery impersonation. They look at him blankly. "You know, like James Bond," he adds. "Bond... James Bond."
The reporters laugh. "Oh yeah, that was really..." Clark says.
"We were just teasing," Lois assures him, "that was really very good."
Poor under-appreciated Klein turns back to the computer as they connect to the NIA satellite. "Here we go! Eastern seaboard, looks like New Troy, there's the river," he says as the photo zooms in, pinpointing the origin of the transmission. "Charlotte Drive. Looks like it came from right here in Metropolis!"
Lois sighs. "Of course, where else would it be? Every villain in the universe seems to operate out of Metropolis. For once I just wish we could have a villain in Maui, or Aspen, or Monte Carlo," she says wistfully.
"How accurate is this?" Clark asks.
"Plus or minus six feet," Klein says.
"I'd say that's close enough. Thanks, doc."
* * *
Lois and Clark arrive at the proper house on Charlotte drive, which has a For Sale sign on the front lawn. They knock, and while they wait, Clark looks around at the house. "It's a nice little yard."
"Yeah, it's cute," Lois says, giving it a brief glance.
"Nice little fence," Clark adds. "I like the driveway, too."
"I like the latticework around the porch," Lois puts in.
"I've always liked this kind of style of a house," Clark says warmly.
"Yeah, it's pretty great," Lois says vaguely, knocking again.
"Definitely the kind of place I could go for," Clark says, obviously not thinking about the reason why they're there.
Lois, of course, is thinking only of that. "Me too, let's try around back," she says, so they go to the back yard, where there's a large satellite dish on the lawn.
"Okay, well we know that this sent the signal, but where's the device that the signal came from?" Clark wonders.
Just then a man comes out of the house, wearing a maroon jacket. "Can I help you?" he asks. It's the same dark-haired man from the Daily Planet lobby.
"We were just looking at the house," Lois says quickly. "We saw the sign and thought we'd stop."
"Well, you found a good one," he says. "I'm Dave Miller."
"Lois Lane. This is my fiancé, Clark Kent."
"Is this something you'd be interested in?" Miller asks.
"Yes, actually it's sort of our dream house," Lois gushes, "and we love the neighborhood, but, um, this morning around five to nine we were driving by and we saw some, um..." She looks to Clark.
"Strange people," Clark puts in for her.
"Yeah, sort of just hanging around. Wondered if maybe you happened to see them?" she asks Miller.
"No, I haven't seen anyone except for my clients, they're an elderly couple in their sixties. This is one of the safest neighborhoods in Metropolis. If you'd like, I can give you the name of the listing agent."
"Oh, so you don't handle this house?" Clark asks.
"No, I represent some buyers. I'd be happy to show you some of my listings if you'd like," Miller offers.
Lois grabs Clark's arm. "No, we're really just getting started."
"I understand. Don't hesitate to call," he says congenially. "At Century 22, we being your future to you." His smile vanishes as he watches them leave.
* * *
Lois and Clark come into Clark's apartment. "I'll just be a second," Clark assures her.
Lois finishes talking on the cellular phone. "The UN is in an uproar. They canceled their science conference to deal with the space station. No terrorist group has claimed responsibility, and the NIA thinks it's a lone gunman."
"Great. What's next, the Eiffel Tower? The Parthenon? It takes one single lunatic to bring everything crashing down," Clark says as he heads over to the bookcase.
"Yeah, not unlike our wedding," Lois says as she sits on the steps.
Clark chuckles. "No kidding!"
"You know, for our next wedding, maybe we should do something different. I was thinking we could just... elope," she suggests hesitantly.
He turns slowly to look at her. "Elope?"
"Yeah, it'd be fun! Intimate, less complicated, sort of a spur of the moment kind of thing, it'd be romantic! Just you and me and a few friends, and our parents... amiable passer-by," she jokes, "a mariachi band." She does a little flamenco snap of her fingers and starts to giggle. Then she realizes that Clark's staring at her. "What? What're you looking at?"
"You," he says softly. "Just sitting here wondering what my life would've been like if I'd never met you." He comes over to sit beside her on the steps.
"Yeah. If you never left Smallville..." Lois says contemplatively.
"Smallville?! What if I never left Krypton!"
"You probably had parents there that had their hearts set on a daughter-in-law from Jupiter," Lois teases gently.
"How did you know about her?" Clark asks, and as Lois's eyes widen, his face relaxes into a grin, and she smiles with him, knowing he's joking. "I bet they really would've liked you... Jor-El, and Lara."
"Do you think about them much?" she asks.
"Sometimes," he confesses. "But that is in my past. What's in my future, is us." He kisses her gently on the forehead.
"Okay, well go find your fake-bug-on-a-hook and lets get out of here."
"Fake-bug-on-a-hook? This is my lucky fly!" Clark protests with a laugh. "Jimmy told me he was going to go fishing and I said I'd lend it to him, but I can't remember where I put it." He's searching the bookcase again. "I was looking for it this morning, and... Ah-ha!" he says triumphantly as he pulls a folded envelope out from between some books. "Here it is. My dad gave this to me when I was seven," he tells her, opening it and showing her a rather tattered looking piece of fluff. "It never misses."
"It looks like the moths didn't miss either," she says as she looks at it.
"Man, I love this fly," Clark says in disappointment as he sees how ruined it is.
"Come on," she laughs. "I'll buy you another one on our honeymoon." They leave.
* * *
Dave Miller, the real estate agent, is in a very sparse chamber of some kind, working on something at a table. He concentrates, and contacts Sarah, the researcher, telepathically. Sarah's in the newsroom, looking through a book and keeping an eye on Clark surreptitiously. "Are you alone? Or are you having another donut?" he asks.
"I'm alone," she thinks back, sounding a bit annoyed. "Did they find it?" she asks hopefully.
"No, and it was super obvious. A child of two could have discovered it. Perhaps we should have laid down a trail of bread crumbs, or a neon sign, or a large -"
"Ching, don't start!" Sarah thinks in irritation.
"Why are you so protective? Do I detect admiration?" he asks.
"Not at all," she denies coolly.
"Wait, I sense... you're attracted to how tight his clothing is across the muscles of his posterior!"
Sarah was, in fact, watching Clark's backside as he leaned over something. "No, I'm not! I was thinking about phase two."
"Oh, is that what they call it? Let's just continue as planned, shall we? It should be interesting to see Superman try to survive this." With a blink, he stops communicating. Sarah also blinks as though shutting down her end of the 'conversation'.
Commercial break here.
Lois and Clark are in the conference room, adding up what they know so far. She's pacing, he's sitting down. "So we have a satellite dish but no transmitter."
"And no suspects," Clark adds, aiming a rubber band. "Off the lamp." He lets it fly, it bounces off the lamp and lands in a coffee mug on the table.
"Can't be Lame-brain or the Prankster, or Tempus..."
"Because they're all in jail," Clark finishes for her. "Off the door frame with a back flip." The rubber band unerringly pings into the mug.
"And Lex and Bad-brain are dead."
"Also correct. Off the water bottle, off the coat rack, in the cup," he announces cockily. Lois, by now a little irritated with his antics and his perfection, tries to block it without success.
"You know, you could miss one every once in a while," she says, making a face at him, and he laughs.
"Guys!" Jimmy says as he bursts in. "Dr. Klein's on line three."
Sarah enters right behind him, armed with files. "Here is all I've been able to find on companies involved with microwave technology."
"Oh, that was quick," Lois says in surprise.
"I knew it was important, so I just moved you right up to the top of the list," she explains with a smile for Clark.
"Thanks, Sarah," he says kindly. She lowers her eyes and ducks out.
"Is she seeing anyone?" Jimmy asks after she's gone.
"Jimmy, we'd be the last ones to know," Clark tells him.
"And you guys call yourselves reporters!" he jokes.
"Don't you have a limo to catch?" Lois asks.
"Hey, some things are more important than trout... like your phone call," he reminds her as he leaves.
"Oh!" Lois presses a button to put Klein on speaker phone. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Dr. Klein."
"I just finished deciphering the last of the computer code that was sent to the space station. It was very interesting, actually," he begins, and launches into a technical explanation of details.
"Dr. Klein," Clark interrupts.
"Right. Okay, to the point. If Superman wasn't able to save the space station, the main thrusters were programmed to stop, and the altitude thrusters would have fired anyway. The space station would have saved itself."
"So you mean there was never any real danger?" Lois asks in astonishment.
"But why program it to put itself in jeopardy, and then rescue itself?" Clark asks.
"That's the 64 billion dollar question," Klein says.
"Thanks, Dr. Klein," Lois tells him as she disconnects. "Maybe that real estate guy didn't tell us everything," she says after some thought. She begins dialing a number. "What was his name?"
"Dave Miller." Clark stands up and takes the receiver from her. "Never let it be said that I don't pull my weight in this relationship." He smiles at her. "Hello, may I speak to Dave Miller, please?... He's one of your brokers, he showed me a house this morning... Okay, I see. Thank you." He hangs up.
"No broker named Dave Miller?" Lois asks knowingly.
"Bingo," Clark says.
Simultaneously, they turn to the door and holler, "Jimmy?"
Jimmy coincidentally is right there a second later. "Good news, she's single!"
"That's great," Clark says. "Call Detective Koromodo, and see if you can get us some mug shots on guys who might run real estate scams and or be experts in microwave technology."
"Oh yeah, those two are related," Jimmy says, making a face. Clark shoots a rubber band at him.
Perry comes in. "Lois, Clark! I just got an anonymous phone call! There's a bomb set to go off in front of the Metropolis Museum of Natural History, it's in a backpack by the lions."
"Clark, you get the car," Lois says quickly, giving him a reason to split.
"Jimmy, I want you to pull up everything you've got on the museum," Perry adds.
* * *
Clark, wearing the costume, arrives at the museum. "Superman!" a teacher says in surprise.
"You all have to leave immediately, there may be a bomb," he tells them worriedly.
"Cool," says a little girl.
"I want to stay!" says a boy.
Clark is busy X-raying two backpacks that are near the lion statue. The first has lunch, the second has some sort of machinery.
"Is that the bomb?" the teacher asks as he opens the second one.
"It's not here." Clark takes out a piece of paper and reads the message. "Superman, if you're reading this I assume you got my message. Here's the location of the real bomb, it's on this micro-CD. Unfortunately you have to assemble the player in time to play it. Good luck." Angry, he crumples the note.
Sarah comes down the steps from the museum. "Superman, what's going on?" she asks.
"A very dangerous riddle. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to concentrate," he says politely as he turns his attention on the CD player. His first super-speed attempt to assemble the components is less than successful.
"Can we help?" the girl asks. "I can do my four times tables." She proceeds to recite her tables, getting them wrong, and the boy corrects her, and they argue about who's right. "Kids!" Clark implores, needing to concentrate. His second attempt is definitely not right.
"That's stupid," the boy says.
"Shh. Stupid's not a nice word," says the teacher.
Third try's a charm - Clark assembles the CD player and slips the disc in. Ching's voice comes from it."Congratulations, but the bomb's still ticking. Here's another puzzle. Twice the square root of Holtz is where you start. Cary Grant knew the direction. Patrick Henry."
"That's it?" Clark asks desperately. "Okay. The only Holtz that I know is Gustav Holtz the composer. He wrote a symphony called The Planets, there are nine planets, so the square root of nine is three."
The little boy offers to recite his three times tables.
"Not now, Sammy, not now," the teacher tells him.
"Twice three is six," Clark continues, trying to concentrate.
"I knew that!" the smart-alecky boy says.
"But six of what, or the sixth what?" Clark asks aloud.
"It could be anything," Sarah says.
"But if it's based on the symphony The Planets, then the sixth planet is Saturn."
"Is that anything like the moon?" the girls asks.
"No, Saturn has rings around it... Just like the Daily Planet logo!" Clark realizes as he sees the logo on a newspaper dispenser on the sidewalk. With a whoosh he's gone.
* * *
Lois's Jeep is just pulling away from the Daily Planet building when Jimmy runs out the front, waving and hollering, "Clark! Lois!" Just then Superman lands beside him. "Superman, there's a bomb at the Museum of -"
"No, it's somewhere around here," Clark tells him.
"Lois just went to -"
"No, I'll explain later," Clark interrupts. "Cary Grant was in a movie called North By Northwest, right?"
"Was he in any other movie with a compass or other directional heading in the title?"
"Gee, I'm not a big Cary Grant fan," Jimmy confesses, "I'm more of a Jim Carrey kind of guy."
"No, not that I know of," Jimmy answers.
"Okay, we start here under the globe. North is this way, right?" He sticks his arm out to show the direction. "And Patrick Henry... a revolutionary war patriot..." he thinks out loud.
Jimmy cries out, "'Give me liberty or give me death!'"
"Right, and death is what's going to happen if we don't find that bomb, but what is liberty?"
"Freedom? Escape? A get out of jail free card?" Jimmy offers.
Clark, looking frantically around, spots the manhole cover near his feet, on which is engraved Liberty Mfg. "Liberty!" he murmurs, pulling it off. On the underside is a shiny metallic object with spikes sticking out. He detaches it and throws it in the air, and a second later it explodes in the sky.
"Oh, I just remembered!" Jimmy says. "Cary Grant was also in a movie called Destination Tokyo."
"Thanks, Jimmy," Clark says, relieved that he got the bomb in time. "Nice hat," he adds teasingly. Jimmy's wearing a really ugly fishing hat.
"Perry's idea," Jimmy assures him sheepishly.
In the alley nearby, Ching has been watching. "He found it just in time," he says to Sarah, and he doesn't sound pleased.
"We have to talk," she tells him soberly, not looking at all pleased.
"Man, what kind of a sick person does something like that?" Jimmy comments. Just then Clark sees the real estate agent watching from the alley. He rushes over, but the alley is empty now, although it's a dead end and he didn't see anyone leave.
"What'd you see?" Jimmy asks as he catches up.
"Dave Miller. Uh, he's a guy Clark told me about," he adds quickly.
"The real estate guy? Where'd he go?"
"I don't know," Clark says heavily.
Commercial break here.
"Are you sure you saw him?" Jimmy asks.
"Absolutely. Look, beep Lois and Clark and tell them to meet me at the house that they went to this morning. I want to see if there's any clues that they or the people from STAR Labs might have overlooked."
"You got it," Jimmy assures him, and Clark flies off. "I'll never get used to that," Jimmy adds, watching him.
* * *
Sarah and Ching are in the same empty chamber where Ching was assembling the bomb earlier. "The bomb almost exploded," Sarah says tightly, pacing while Ching eats.
"Correction: It did explode. But your able-bodied friend managed to toss it into the ionosphere in another modest display of strength."
"He's not my friend."
"No, you're right, maybe 'friend' is too mild a word. Perhaps your feelings are stronger. How else can you explain that when he tempts you with a donut you give in?"
"You had a cappuccino," she points out.
"Yes, but I didn't enjoy it!"
Zara sits down. "Ching, you're being ridiculous. You know where my feelings lie."
"Really?" he asks, rising to his feet. "Then how do you explain these, these ear adornments... and these clothes, and you're wearing chemical compounds!"
"Everyone does, it's harmless, it means nothing," she says calmly, beginning to eat.
"Yeah? What's next, liposuction? It must mean something, otherwise you wouldn't take the time out to go shopping and use it! I suppose he likes it!"
Zara stands regally. "You forget yourself," she says coldly.
"On the contrary," he says quietly. "You've forgotten who you are, and why we're here. While you've been indulging yourself, I've been pushing ahead with our plan."
"And you are pushing too hard!" she cries out, losing her composure at last.
"Life is hard!" he shouts back. "Our life is hard! Yes, people may die, but remember our goal!"
"I remember," she says quietly, controlled again.
"Good. Then I suggest we proceed," he suggests, and she nods. "We know his strength, and his intelligence. Now we'll see where his heart really lies." He hands her a glass of light blue liquid and raises his own. "Let vim comma mig," he toasts, or words to that effect. ;-)
"Leo zummi com, ozimo," she replies, clinking her glass against his.
[Carol's Note: From the script:
CHING (in a foreign language) L'ete ve'me com emmeg. Ozemo ta'me com, l'ete. Leo ze'me com ozemo.
SUBTITLED ON SCREEN: "The Code before nation. Nation before family. Family before self."
Sarah raises her glass.
SARAH (same foreign language) Leo ze'me com ozemo.
SUBTITLED ON SCREEN: "Family before self."
* * *
Lois joins Clark at the satellite dish in the back yard of the house for sale. "Okay, I'll bite," she says. "Why would Dave Miller be lurking around an alley?"
"You got me! But if he is connected to the space station and the bombing, he's either crazy or he's really smart."
"Or worse, he's a really smart crazy person. So what're we looking for?" she asks.
"Anything unusual, no matter how unimportant it seems," Clark replies.
She begins looking around on the ground. "Okay, let's assume the worst-case scenario, that he's a really smart madman. It's gotta be something big. I mean, he was able to out-think the space program."
"And he's willing to risk hundreds of lives."
"Why would he do all this?" Lois asks. "I mean, the space station was a bluff!"
"Yeah, but that bomb under the manhole cover was not a bluff." Clark uses his X-ray vision to scan the satellite dish. "El Zippo. This is definitely strange. You know, I was thinking for a minute that these things were just diversions to get me out of the way so that some other crimes could be committed, but so far... nothing has happened."
"It's almost like you're being tested," Lois says thoughtfully.
"Or set up for something bigger," Clark adds grimly. "Yeah, definitely, something bigger."
"Well, there's something big," Lois says. "A quarter. We can use it on a down-payment," she jokes.
"Speaking of money," Clark begins, obviously changing the subject. "I was thinking that maybe we ought to make an offer on this house."
Lois laughs. "Very funny."
"What?" She stares at him.
"That's your happy look, right? Surprised, but happy?" he asks hopefully.
"Clark, are you out of your mind?"
"Well you're the one who's always telling me to take a chance, be spontaneous, 'carpe diem', seize the day!"
"Well I'm talking about little things, like wearing brown shoes with a gray suit or putting the coleslaw actually on the pastrami sandwich, not this, this is huge, this is colossal! I mean, this is a life-altering decision that could have repercussions for decades!"
"Whoa! Okay, we haven't done anything yet," he says soothingly.
"How do you know I even want a house?"
"Well, this morning you said that you really liked this place," he says, confused.
"I really like the Grand Canyon, but I don't want to buy it! Clark, it's just a really big step!"
"I just thought that after we got married we'd want to get a place, you know, put down some roots," he says almost wistfully. She looks a bit panicky. "Lois?"
"Well I just don't know if I'm going to be any good at that. Anyway, we should get back to work," she says quickly," because all my search has turned up so far is this one..." She picks up the quarter, and stop in confusion. "Clark, look at this. This isn't a quarter."
"It's a micro-transmitter," he says.
"This must be what Dr. Klein homed in on," Lois says. "The satellite was a decoy."
"Well he did say plus or minus six feet. Let me see," he says, and Lois gives him the tiny transmitter. He puts it on his palm, and suddenly a yellowish light emits from it, and a holographic image of Ching - Dave Miller - the real estate guy appears.
"Finally! It's about time you found this, Superman. Or should I say, Super-Slow-Man? Wait, don't answer that. I just wanted to say hello, and you'll be seeing a lot more of me soon. The best, and the worst, is yet to come." The hologram vanishes.
* * *
Perry is demonstrating baits to Jimmy, and the proper way to throw a line out, at a remote cabin by a lake. "Easy as pie."
"And fish actually eat these?" Jimmy asks dubiously.
"Quicker than you can say trout almondine," Perry chortles in pleasure.
Just then a man approaches. "Mr. White?" he asks pleasantly. It's Ching. "Mr. Olsen? I'm Dave Miller."
"Well hey, how're you doing?" asks Perry in a friendly fashion.
* * *
Dr. Klein is examining the transmitter that Lois and Clark found. "I've gotta tell you, this is like nothing I've ever seen. Whoever built this is a genius! I'm almost down to the atomic level, and there's still circuitry. Hold it, there seems to be some lettering here." He zooms in on it.
"Ching Ltd.," Clark reads.
Lois whips out her cellular phone to call the newsroom to get an address for the company.
* * *
Lois and Clark pull up in front of the brownstone that houses Ching Ltd and go inside. When they knock on the door a man calls, "It's open." They come inside to find 'Dave Miller' sitting in front of a desk that has two monitors and a controller. "Good, you're here," he says with a smile. "Now the real fun begins."
"Listen Miller," Lois says, "or whoever you are, if we don't get some answers, Superman's going to come through that door in two seconds!"
"Really?" he asks with a wicked grin. "One... two... Whoops! Did I miss him? Perhaps you were exaggerating a bit. I guess we'll have to go on without him, then." He swivels to show them the monitors and presses a button to turn them on. The first one shows a bomb on Clark's balcony. "Bomb A." He moves to show them the second monitor.
"No!" Clark cries softly.
"Bomb B." This one sits right next to Perry and Jimmy, who are bound and gagged. "Now here's an interesting problem. The two bombs are electronically linked. Stop one, the other goes off. Separate them, say by throwing the one at your apartment into space, and the other goes off. So... do you save Metropolis? Or White and Olsen? What do you say, Clark? Or should I say Superman?"
Lois and Clark exchange worried glances, then Clark grabs Ching by the shirt and lifts him off the ground. "Why are you doing this?" he demands.
"Because we need to know," comes a woman's voice from the doorway. Sarah enters the room.
"Sarah!" Lois says. "What're you doing here? What do you need to know?"
"This is really not the time to dawdle," Ching tells Clark, who puts him down. "Do you save two people you really care about, or a million strangers?"
"That's not fair, you can't make him choose," Lois protests.
"People have to make choices all the time," Ching says flippantly. "Low fat or regular? Calvin Klein or Versace? Life or death? What'll it be?"
"Stop the bombs," Clark commands angrily.
"Did you just think of that?" Ching asks sarcastically. "That's good, but... I can't."
"Nobody can be in two places at once," Lois says angrily, "he'd have to split himself in two!"
Clark has a brainwave and whooshes off. On the monitor they see Clark land on his balcony.
"Why're you doing this, it's insane," Lois says to Ching.
"No, it's a test," he tells her, "and one I'm deadly serious about."
"And now we know the answer," Sarah says. "He's going to try to save Metropolis. We can stop." She picks up a small controller (like the one with which Ching sent a transmission to the space station).
"No," Ching says, grabbing it from her hand. "We need to see it through!" He crushes the controller in his fist. "We have to know absolutely."
Sarah looks shocked.
* * *
Dr. Klein is working on his plasma wake experiment at STAR Labs when a sudden whoosh of wind goes through, and his experiment is gone. Confused, he picks up a yellow stick-it note. "Sorry, I need to borrow this. Superman. P.S. Thank you."
* * *
Clark hovers high above the ground holding the device from Klein's experiment that split the laser into two beams. He works out the angle, then uses his heat vision, split into two beams by the device, to short out both the bombs simultaneously, just before they would explode.
* * *
"Yes!" Lois cries, seeing it on the monitor.
"He did it!" Sarah says happily.
Ching doesn't look pleased.
* * *
Clark lands by the fishing cabin. "Jimmy? Mr. White? You guys okay?"
"Yeah," Perry assures him as he releases the ropes that bind them. "We are now! Boy, I gotta tell you something, that's a lot more excitement than I'm used to on a fishing trip!"
"Well don't worry, you're not the only ones in for some excitement. Jimmy, can you hold this for a moment?" he asks, giving him Klein's device. "I gotta fly." Without further ado, he soars off.
"Well Chief, I guess we'd better cancel, huh?" Jimmy says, not sounding at all upset by that.
"Huh? Aw come on, Jimmy! There's a trout out there with your name written all over it! Come on, son!" Perry cajoles, heading towards the lake with his fishing gear. Jimmy looks around helplessly with a puppy dog expression, as though wishing Superman could have saved him from fishing, too, then resignedly follows Perry.
* * *
"You," Ching says, turning on Lois. "You gave him the idea! He would've failed if you hadn't been here." He turns to Zara. "Come on, we've got to leave, now."
"Wait a minute," Lois says angrily, taking his arm. He moves his arm as though to shrug her off, and she goes flying across the room to hit the wall. Ching looks down at his arm, a bit surprised and rather pleased. "As another block of muscle once said, hasta la vista, baby," he tells the unconscious Lois, and he and Sarah leave.
Commercial break here, while we all wonder whether that bump on the head will turn Lois into Wanda again. Oy!
Clark returns to the brownstone to find Lois slumped on the floor by the wall. "Lois?" He rushes to her side. "Lois? Can you hear me?" She awakens, and he helps her to sit up. "Are you okay?"
"He knew you were Superman," she says fuzzily.
"I know, but don't ask me how! And what does Sarah have to do with all this? What happened after I left?"
"He threw me away, like he was flinging a piece of spaghetti against the wall to see if it would stick," she says.
"Well if he's that strong he's even more dangerous than we thought."
"I had the weirdest dream. I dreamed I was in this house in the back yard, and I had this chef's hat on. I was barbecuing burgers, and my legs were turning into roots, and they were growing into the ground, and I was screaming, 'I am not an oak! I am free!'."
"Lois, honey, maybe you'd better lie back down," Clark says in concern, and she curls up against him.
* * *
Ching and Sarah have returned to their empty chamber. "Now are you happy?" she demands.
"Well, he would have failed without Lane's help," Ching shoots back. "No doubt he'd put that ridiculous suit of his on backwards if she weren't around!"
"Why do you keep denying what we've both seen?"
"Look, you find him worthy, I find him wanting. He has ability, but look at him! Skulking around, wearing glasses -- when I know for a fact they're completely unnecessary! And why pretend at all? He could rule the world if he wanted to, and enforce what he knows to be a better way, and yet he refuses."
"Perhaps there's a higher lesson there," Sarah says quietly. She stands and moves close to him, her voice and expression softening. "Ching," she appeals to him. He strokes her arm momentarily.
"No! No! Don't you understand?" He walks over to a chair and sits down, frustrated. "This kaleidoscope of virtues, this 'Superman'... He doesn't deserve what's been handed to him. And I'll prove it," he finishes with a gleam in his eyes.
* * *
Lois and Clark are back at Clark's apartment, and she's watching him examine the remains of the object that Ching crushed.
"Obviously I have ambivalent feelings about owning a house, and all that that means," Lois says.
"Obviously," Clark agrees distractedly. "If I can just reassemble this, maybe we'll have a way of locating Ching and Sarah."
"I mean, I move from place to place, and I take assignments all over the world. It's like I deliberately run from putting down roots, like that's a bad thing," Lois reflects.
"That piece fits."
"Clark, I'm talking about something important here."
"Oh, I'm sorry honey, I'm just..." Clark is torn between the conversation with Lois and the need to find Ching and Sarah.
"When I saw that house today, it suddenly became really clear to me what you want, and I just don't know if I can give you that."
Clark forgets all about the device and sits beside her. "Lois, you've already given me everything that I want. You! I don't care if we live in a house, or a boxcar, or a yurt! Just as long as we're together."
"What's a yurt?" she asks in a small voice.
"It's a circular portable..."
She touches his cheek to stop him. "Clark, I know a house is important to you."
"When I was growing up," he explains, "my home meant permanence. A place to be safe. My life is so chaotic now, going from disaster to disaster. I just always dreamed of having my own real home."
"When I was a kid," Lois tells him softly, "home was where mom was in the lounge chair getting drunk, and daddy was in the back yard burning steaks, trying to explain what he was doing kissing Mrs. Belconto in the church parking lot. Permanence wasn't so permanent at my house."
"Lois, you and I are going to be as permanent as permanent can be." He strokes her cheek.
"So I guess I should stop running?"
"I won't burn the steaks, I promise," he says sincerely.
She smiles. "Forget the steaks, just don't be kissing Mrs. Belconto." They kiss each other. Naturally, they get interrupted, this time by Ching's voice in Clark's head.
"What?" Lois asks, seeing Clark stand up and look up, listening to something she can't hear.
Ching says, "Yes, it's me, I'm here at your apartment. Don't keep me waiting."
"What do you hear?" Lois asks him, as the communication ends.
"A voice, in my head," Clark says in confusion. "He's at my apartment."
"Then we'd better go," she says matter-of-factly, pushing his tie aside and ripping his shirt open (ooh la la!) to reveal the suit underneath (darn!).
* * *
Clark flies to his place, carrying Lois in his arms and setting her down gently on her feet when they land on the balcony. Sarah and Ching are there waiting. "I'm going to put you away for the rest of your life," he tells Ching.
"How much are you willing to sacrifice to personally put me away?" Ching challenges as Zara moves away from him to stand closer to Lois.
"That's good, that's the attitude, then by all means come and get me," Ching invites. Clark begins to lunge for him, but Ching slaps a wristband, and a green force field is created. He flinches as it passes through him to create a barrier on all sides, and Clark draws away from it, wincing in pain. "Two guesses as to what this is... It rhymes with kryptonite. Lois, no helping," he adds sardonically.
"Turn it off," she tells him.
"Okay, it's... kryptonite," he says mockingly. "Actually, a kryptonite force field. What's the matter, Superman? Don't you still want me?"
"I'll take a piece of you!" Lois says, starting towards him, but Sarah grabs her arm and she can't pull away. "Let go!"
"He has to do this alone," Sarah tells her firmly.
Clark approaches the force field, but the pain is too much, and he backs away.
"That's good, that's good," Ching taunts. "Better yet, why don't you just run away!" He turns to Sarah. "See? I told you!"
"You can't hide in there forever," Clark says.
"I don't intend to." He taps the wristband and says, "Expand!" A weapon - a gun of some sort - materializes in the air near his hand, and he grabs it.
"Ching, what're you doing?" Sarah asks in amazement.
"Simple. Testing the Man Of Steel. I intend to shoot myself. Now, of course you can try to stop me," he says to Clark, "but to do that you'll have to pass through the force field, which, as you can tell, is lethal."
"Ching, I order you to stop now!" Sarah says in distress.
"I'm beyond orders!" he tells her. "So, you can either let me die, the man who tried to kill Olsen and White, plus a million other people, or... you can kill yourself trying to save me."
"He's bluffing," Lois says hopefully.
"I wasn't bluffing about the bombs, was I? Five."
"Ching, don't do it!" Sarah pleads.
"It's the only way to prove to you that I'm right. Four."
"I believe you!" Sarah says desperately.
"No you don't! Three."
"What's killing yourself going to prove?" Lois asks.
"That I'm right and he's not. Two."
"Whatever it is, Ching," Clark says, "it's not worth dying for."
Ching looks him in the eye, suddenly sad. "Yes, it is," he says simply. "One."
Ching raises the weapon to his temple as Sarah screams, "No!" in despair and desperation, and Clark knows at last that he means it. He hurls himself through the kryptonite barrier and knocks the weapon from Ching's hand just as it emits a red beam.
Both men go sprawling to the ground, each brushing against the barrier. Ching doubles over in pain, and Clark falls unconscious. With effort, Ching slaps his wristband and deactivates the force field.
Lois rushes to Clark's side, and Sarah to Ching's. Lois turns to him. "Why did you do this?"
"I..." Ching looks at Clark's unconscious form, and then up at Sarah with sorrow and regret. "What have I done? He is the one."
Sarah goes over to Clark, laying a hand over his chest. "He's going to be all right," she says after a moment. "Let's tell the others." Ching gets up slowly and they move to the edge of the balcony. Then, to Lois's amazement, they rise a few feet off the ground, hovering for a moment, and then fly away, just like Clark does!
Clark becomes conscious just after they leave. "Did I save him?" he asks straight away, his voice slightly slurred. He looks around, only to find that they are alone. "Lois? Where'd they go?"
Lois mutely looks upwards, at the sky, and he follows the direction of her gaze without understanding.
* * *
Clark, now wearing comfortable clothes, is sitting on the sofa. Lois brings him a cup of tea. "Are you feeling any better?" she asks, concerned.
"Yeah. Thank you. I'll tell you, that kryptonite... it's a humbling experience." He still looks weak.
"Clark, Sarah and this Ching person... First they nearly try to kill you, and then in the end they say, 'He's the one'. The one what?"
"I don't know."
"And then they flew! How could they fly?"
"I don't know!" Clark repeats in astonishment.
"Who do you think they are?" she asks.
"Lois, I have no idea. I was the unconscious one on the floor, remember?"
"Nobody on Earth's ever had your powers," Lois says, clearly not liking the direction her thoughts are going.
"No, not unless they were somehow transferred directly from me."
"Do you think that there's any possibility that... they aren't from Earth?" she asks. "No, oh no, that's a dumb idea," she dismisses it immediately, but her gaze turns up to the sky worriedly.
* * *
Ching and Sarah are back in their chamber. "It's going to be more of a problem than I thought," she says. "He's lived too many years on Earth as Clark Kent. He's going to take some convincing."
"What do you mean, convincing?" Ching asks uncomprehendingly. "It's the law. He passed our tests, the law demands that he return! Just tell him, it's the law."
"Kryptonian law," she points out.
"Yes, and he is Kryptonian. I'm in no mood to coddle him, Zara."
She lays her hand on his arm. "Ching, he's our future, and our children's future. I think that we can find the proper way to tell Kal-El that he must leave the Earth forever." Ching touches his hand to her cheek momentarily.
They're interrupted by a disembodied voice. "Well, well, well! I've found you. I traced your transmissions before you disguised them."
"Ching," Zara says as they both stand up, alarmed.
"And I'm given to understand you've found him, as well! Unfortunately, by finding Kal-El, you've just signed his death warrant."
Ching and Zara exchange uneasy expressions.
To Be Continued in the next episode, Big Girls Don't Fly.
World of Lois & Clark Home
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