"AAAT-CHOOOOO!""Bless you.""Eeugh, thanks,"
mutters Jimmy as he grabs a spare napkin from the Chinese takeout on his desk to wipe his nose. "Sinuses have been killing me all day. Anyway, Perry's got me covering the dockside strike with Ron after getting that cease-and-desist from the FAA about my camera drone-- which is BS, by the way; I mean, you're seriously going to get hung up over 'airspace violations' in Metropolis?-- but anyway, we're there covering the story, and getting all these great sound bytes about labor and unfair wages and corrupt management and all that, and then BOOM! A freighter coming out of the harbor gets a hole blown in its side like it was hit by a torpedo!""Is that what that was? I thought I'd heard something about an explosion this morning,"
I say with concern.
I was helping Lombard with stats for this year's national high school varsity wrestling tournament when I heard it. In a city as busy as Metropolis, it's easy for noise to all sort of blend together. Voices, car engines, radio chatter, it all becomes a dizzying haze of sensory input that can get overwhelming if you don't focus. But the sound of explosives, the sudden punch of changing air pressure, the smell of smoke and chemicals in the air, that's unmistakable. After blaming too much coffee for a sudden bathroom break, I excused myself from the sportswriter's company, and was out over the bay seconds later, to find a large container ship had been bombed and was quickly taking on water."Crazy, right?"
Jimmy continues. "Anyway, I'm arguing with Ron because I want to get my drone out to take some pictures of the ship and Ron's all 'no, you can't do that, the FAA will be mad,' and I'm all 'but I can't get a good picture from here, the ship's too far out,' and he's all 'meh, a real photographer shouldn't have to rely on toys to do his work for him,' like he has any idea how hard it is to fly one of those things into dangerous airspace and get an angle for a great shot. And we go back and forth like that for a bit, and then, hey, the problem solves itself!""A sinking ship solved itself?""Well, I mean, technically Superman solved it,"
he corrects himself. "But I get my regular camera out, and when the Big Guy gets close enough, I'm able to shut Mr. A-Real-Photographer-Doesn't-Need-A-Drone up with a real winner."
Grabbing his camera from the desk, he scrolls through his saved photos until he finds the one he's looking for, and shows it to me."Boooom, baybay.""Oh, wow,"
I say with widened eyes. "That's....pretty nuts.""I know, right?!"
That ship had to been carrying somewhere in the ballpark of a 150,000, maybe 200,000 tons of cargo. That's around the same weight as the Willis Tower in Chicago, and I really felt it trying to get that thing out of the water. The real killer is that since there was no ground underneath me to push off of, I had to rely purely on my tactile kinesis rather than my muscles with the lifting. Frankly, my lower back is killing me.
But seeing it from the perspective of someone on the ground, well....I hate to come off as arrogant, but I make it look easy
. If people picture me in action doing things like that, then it's no wonder I can walk around with nothing covering my face but a pair of glasses-- no one's going to suspect some guy from the office of being able to hoist a skyscraper overhead."Anyway, I'm betting this pic gets me back in Perry's good graces, then it's drone o'clock all day every day,"
Jimmy says, leaning back in his chair with as much swagger as he can muster, before he catches sight of the new intern and leaps up like an excited puppy. "Hey Linda! I got an awesome picture of Superman this morning, saving that cargo ship? Wanna see it?""Hm? Oh! That's, erm, that's really cool,"
Linda says, a sheepish smile on her face as Jimmy scrolls through his photos.
Linda Lee Danvers started working at the Planet
about a month ago, taking Jimmy's old spot as the newsroom's general purpose gofer. She's not very talkative, a little nervous at all times, but she seems nice enough. Jimmy took an instant liking to her, mostly because she's the only person at the office roughly his age, and has started going out of his way to impress her at every opportunity. Reminds me a bit of how I used to act around--
There's a tap on my left shoulder, and I glance over to see nobody as Lois sneaks up on my right side. I go along with it and act surprised when I turn and see her, and we share a playful grin."Afternoon, Smallville,"
she says as she gestures over to Jimmy and the intern, "Is Don Juan Olsen showing off his latest magnum opus that's sure to get him out of the doghouse with Perry this time?""It's a pretty good one,"
I admit, "from the cargo ship this morning. Still don't know why someone would try to blow up a--""I'm working on that,"
she says. "I was just on the phone with the harbormaster, and he says the ship in question, the LCS Milton, was supposed to disembark the day before. The Milton's captain says they were late due to the strike, that he had to get a replacement crew. This morning, a whole crew of scabs show up, ready to march past the picket lines and get that ship on the water. Nobody's saying where this crew came from, though.""So, maybe this replacement crew had something to do with the bomb?"
I ask."Don't know yet,"
she answers, "But something's definitely-- AT-CHOOO!""Bless you.""Thanks,"
Lois says, pulling a tissue from her purse. "Some kind of crud must be going around. Perry could barely get through tearing me a new one over the serial-head-explosion story without hacking up a lung."
Lois has been following a string of fairly gruesome unsolved murders over the past month-- each one, the victim is seemingly killed through some unseen explosion from within, leaving no traces of the cause, but a very grisly crime scene in the aftermath. Thus far all of the victims have been somehow connected to what's left of the city's criminal underworld, but the pieces haven't quite fit together get."Speaking of that case, what's--""Hang on, babe, I'm getting a notification,"
she cuts me off, pulling out her phone and pulling up her newsfeed. "Nationalist rebels in Sokovia have taken hostages in a school in the capital city. Hmmm, I think international news sounds like it's something more your speed, doesn't it?"
Lois's thinly-veiled hint is about as close as she can get to saying "this sounds like a job for Superman" in public without giving it away."I'll look into it,"
I nod, before heading towards the elevators. "In the meantime, you take it easy. We're not gonna get anything done if everyone at the Planet gets sick."
"Yes, I'm aware the crew was a day late. There are some rather unfortunate realities of my trade in the current climate that make operations more difficult than they used to be. My apologies.""Oh yes, everyone's sorry about something, everyone's got their reasons for falling short of expectations. Everyone's a day late and a dollar short, but they've got a story that makes it all okay.""You still got the attention you wanted, didn't you? That was the whole point of this, right?""Oh, I got what I wanted. And fortunately, thanks to my successes, by this time next week, no one's going to catch onto your little blunder because they'll all be too busy chokin-- ohhh, but I shouldn't give away spoilers.""Excuse me?""You're excused. Anyway, I didn't call to express my displeasure-- I called to see how you're enjoying the new toys I gave you.""They work like a dream. All I have to do is think about the person I want to remove, and your gizmos do the rest. It's beautiful.""And yet, you haven't made a real bid to reclaim control of Metropolis. Even with the power to destroy anyone you can think of?""Well.....almost anyone. They don't work on....him.""On it, not him. They don't work on it.""Fine, fine. It was one of the first things I did, trying to use them to get rid of....it. I don't think it even noticed. I could wipe out everyone else in this whole damn city if I wanted, but it wouldn't mean a thing if I don't have a way to deal with it first.""Oh, but you do have a way to deal with it. You just have to think outside the box. That's what I want from you, my friend: some real, genuine, honest-to-goodness creativity. That's the only way you're going to come out of this on top.""Well, if you've got any bright ideas--""I've got nothing but bright ideas; I want to see some from you. Do something other than turn snitches and rivals into chunky salsa. Give me a reason to keep investing in you.""....right. I'll let you know what I come up with.""Looking forward to it, Bruno."