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Opinionated nerd for hire.

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I'm kicking myself for this, but I'm out. Just tried to file my taxes, and the wonderful results of going from a regular w-2 employee to a 1099 means I now have to go get a second job in order to afford to keep working at my first job. Which means my spare time just dropped to less than zero. Sorry guys.
Well we're almost a week into the IC and already on our third page so out of curiosity, what are the driving factors and influences in your story?


Well, Kingdom Come is the most obvious influence-- despite my utter loathing of present-day Mark Waid and everything he stands for, his book is still one of my absolute favorite stories. Apart from that, I've wanted to do an "Old Man Logan" sort of take on Clark for a while now, and frankly over the last couple of years I've become pretty bitter and disillusioned toward the state of the cape-and-tights industry and fandom, so I figured I'd take a shot at it while I'm in this particular state of mind. Some of the grumpy-old-man Clint Eastwood movies definitely have some influence on what I've got in mind, especially Gran Torino. And probably the biggest influence once the arc actually gets moving is Grant Morrison's Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery.

The parallel-universe angle also means I can do that without overriding what Gowi wants to do with Kara, so I can tell this sort of self-contained story, an ending while everyone else's stories are beginning. I have ideas for if I want Old Clark to stick around past one season, but I'm going into it with the mentality that this'll be a one-shot.



"This is wrong," I say to myself, pacing back and forth across the dusty concrete floor of the storm cellar underneath the farmhouse. "This is all wrong."

It's not the first time I've said something along those lines since I woke up in the bed upstairs, in a house I'd apparently just purchased, in a world somewhat familiar but definitely not my own. I'd say to myself watching the news, seeing people I'd known for nearly a century only just starting out, or the successor to a heroic legacy being the originator instead. I'd say it looking at the state of the people who populate this world, the crippled and dying culture that could have made them great now spun into the pursuit of cheap distractions and easy outrage.

Now I'm saying it as I look down on the old metal work bench and the form laid across it....at the bleached, dried bones of another version of myself, left unceremoniously in front of my house while I was out on my morning patrol.

"How could anyone know about me, here?" I ask, staring at the grinning skull, a pair of darkened sockets which used to hold eyes that could see to the farthest ends of the universe, observe quantum-level events, or spew heat that could slice through a planet like a knife through hot butter. "Superman never existed on this world. Kara came to Earth instead of Kal-El. Diana was the first public super-hero, showing up years before even I did in the rea--...in my timeline. Jonathan Kent was killed by a tornado in the late 90s, Martha Clark remarried and moved away to Missouri. The name Clark Kent shouldn't mean anything to anyone on this world, let alone Superman. So for someone to have found me out, to kill one of me and leave it at my door, it's imp--"

Impossible? HAH! Imagine you, of all people, calling something 'impossible.' Ridiculous.

"Be quiet; you're not real," I dismiss that annoying brassy voice. "I'm imagining things, hearing voices to keep myself company, that's all."

Oh, you wound me! And why exactly is the thought that you're cracking up your first guess?

"Because I watched you die, Mxyzptlk!" I shout, my hands curling into fists that could punch through the fabric of reality in my younger days. "Because....because I killed you."

Awww, and so I'm some manifestation of your guilty conscious then, is that it? The ghosts of your pasts, your biggest failures come back to haunt you? Maybe you're right. Maybe after all this time, you've finally gotten a screw loose. Or maybe, juuuuuust maybe, it has something to do with what's under that tarp behind--

"Enough," I cut him off, gripping the edge of the workbench, steel squishing like clay between my fingers. "That's something to deal with later. Right now I've got a murder to solve."

Oh? And since when were you the detective type?

"I was an investigative journalist," I answer. "Now then. I picked the site clean before moving the corpse. No tracks, no fingerprints, no residue from a Boom Tube or trace elements of magic in the air. The bones don't show any signs of damage, no cellular decay or leftover radiation, which rules out Kryptonite."

And what about the big question, eh?

"What question would that be?"

The one you're afraid to ask yourself. The one that's literally staring you right in the face right now! Who is the victim?

"That's obvious. It's a Su--"

Of course it's a Superman, you ninny! But whichSuperman is it?"

That stops me in my tracks.

This world doesn't have a Superman, does it? And why would that be? Did Super-gal just swap places with lil' baby Kal at the last second? Or did something else happen to him?

"If that's the case, then--"

Or maybe, it's some rando from another universe, the first in a trail of breadcrumbs to lead you on a merry chase against a multiversal Super-Serial-Killer. After all, it's not like you're a stranger to this kind of thing. Maybe Darkseid or Mandrakk ain't quite as defeated as you thought, an' they're targeting anyone an' everyone with an S on their chest.

"I'm not afraid of Darkseid, or--"

Or maybe, that stiff on the slab isn't just from another set of space, but a different stretch of time. Maybe someone's drawing you out by sending you, well.....you.

I hadn't really considered the possibility, but the thought of it......the thought that someone could be sending me my own bones as some kind of sick message, well......I can't imagine that would sit well with anyone. You stare down death as many times as I have, and the thought of your own mortality starts to lose its meaning. I've survived catastrophes that sundered entire galaxies, been exposed to enough Kryptonite and magical attacks to wipe out my home planet all over again a hundred times over. I lived through my entire universe collapsing. The idea that I could die at all, just doesn't seem possible.

Then again, like he said, the idea of Superman calling something impossible is ridiculous in and of itself.

"All right, then," I say, squaring my shoulders and putting on a brave face. "I may not have access to the Fortress in this universe. I don't have the technology from the Watchtower at my disposal. I don't even have the password to use the Bat-Computer here. But I can think of one way to get an idea of who this Superman is."

I snap my fingers. Then again. And a third time. Each time, I listen to the sound, the sharp click of my fingertip slapping against the meat of my thumb. I focus my hearing, closer and closer, beyond the immediate sound....and I start to hear the deep vibrations.

All matter in the universe is composed of atoms. These atoms are in turn composed of smaller subatomic particles, which are then composed of quarks, gluons, gravitons, et cetera. These break down further and further, until finally reaching one-dimensional 'strings' that vibrate on certain frequencies. At the core level, everything in every potential universe is composed of vibrations, entire timelines and universes separated only by the frequencies at which they vibrate. Barry used to take advantage of that fact to hop between universes. As did Ultraman and the Crime Syndicate. And the Anti-Monitor, who killed Kara....

I tune out the noise of reality around me, and I focus on that sub-quantum, nigh-imperceptible frequency, the starting tone of my old universe. Literally nothing in this world should make that same sound.

I rap my knuckles against the edge of the work bench, and sure enough, the deep vibration of this universe's matter is ever-so-slightly different, just a hair's breadth higher in pitch.

Now for the moment of truth, pal.....

I hold my hand over the skull of the Superman laid out before me......

*KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK*

I flinch, so focused on my test that I'm genuinely caught off-guard by the knocking from upstairs. Krypto is barking again. Someone's at my front door.

"Erm, one second!" I call out, frantically searching for something to cover the dead Superman's bones before using the tarp draped over an object in the corner. I'm nearly blinded by the opalescent light the object lets out, but I figure that will be easier to explain than the skeleton on the table.

Draping the tarp over the bones, I head up the stairs, closing the door to the cellar behind me. I undo the dead bolt to the front door and open it, to find.....

"Hi, I'm sorry to bother you," she says, a warm smile brightened by glittering green eyes. "I wasn't sure if there was anyone here, but I'd heard in town that someone had bought the old Kent farm, and since I live in the next one over, I thought, well, I ought to say hello to my new neighbor."

She's older than the one I knew, probably in her early to mid fifties. Her striking red hair has faded to a strawberry blonde, her eyes lined with crow's feet, skin starting to wrinkle and sag. Her smile, though, is every bit as infectious as the one I'd spent all those days and nights with so long ago.

"I, erm.....well, hello," I stammer for a moment. "Sorry, I was in the middle of--"

"Oh! Well, I can just come back later if you--"

"No no, it's not a problem," I say, "I just...haven't had a visitor since I came here."

What are you doing, Clark? This isn't your world. This isn't your timeline. She isn't--

"Well, I'm glad I could be the first to welcome you to Smallville, Mister...."

For a moment, I juggle all of the different aliases I've used through the years-- Smith, White, Clayton, Ellis--

"Kent," I blurt out the truth. "Clark Kent."

She smiles and extends her hand.

"Lana Lang," she introduces herself. "Nice to meet you, Clark Kent."


--AND WHO, DISGUISED AS MILD-MANNERED REPORTER CLARK KENT, FIGHTS A NEVER-ENDING--


"--ill has been unclear about whether he will resume the role, or if rumors of the studio recasting and replacing him are--"


"--right and there is wrong in the universe, and the distinction between the two is not hard to--"

"--show will be concluding after its tenth season, citing low ratings for the network to finally--"


"--little guy needs a name. How about Jonath--"

"--suffered a massive spinal injury, leaving the actor paralyzed from the neck d--"


"--could have changed the world. Now look at us. I'm a political liability. And you....you're a--"

"--restarting their line of comic books from the ground up, streamlining the company's infamously complicated--"


--CAME TO EARTH WITH POWERS AND ABILITIES FAR BEYOND THOSE OF MORTAL--


"--hope this experience hasn't put you off flying. Statistically speaking, it's still--"

"--upstart company, with their own hip and off-beat brand of amazing and uncanny superheroes, has replaced the stodgy old super-friends of yesterday from--"


"--a girl, flying, dressed in a super-costume! It must be--"

"--actor's death has been deemed a suicide, though many still suspect foul--"


--THAN A SPEEDING BULLET, MORE POWERFUL THAN--


"--blames the violent content of 'super-hero' adventure comic books for delinquent beha--"


"--see how I destroy the mighty Man of Steel! No one can stand in Luthor's--"

"--went from a simple children's comic strip character to a genuine cultural--"


LOOK! UP IN THE SKY!

IT'S A BIRD!

IT'S A PLANE!

IT'S--


*BBBRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNGGGGG--

The first great test of self-control every morning, being able to tap the alarm clock next to my bed without smashing it to pieces. I sit up and yawn, eyes bleary, my back and neck stiff, then climb out of bed and stretch out the dozen little aches and pains up and down my body.

I rub the sleep out of my eyes and look out the window, the sky still a deep black, only tinged at the horizon line with a barely perceptible glow of red. Dawn is still an hour away, but the first rays of sunlight have begun their work of brightening the day ahead. I should start doing the same.

Walk over to the bathroom and do my business. A mouthful of minty foam and sharp-tasting tonic as I brush my teeth and gargle some mouthwash. A whiff of burnt hair as reflected lasers clear my neck and chin of stubble. I pause for a moment at the upper lip, pondering the possibility of letting it grow out, then decide against it-- somehow I don't think me with a moustache would quite work. A cold splash of water from the sink across my face. I throw on a T-shirt, button up a worn red flannel over that, followed by some overalls, work boots, and finally, my glasses.

They say it's important to establish a morning routine. It builds discipline, and gives you a measure of control.

And control is something you haven't had in quite some time, ain't that right?

I ignore that remark.

Down to the kitchen for breakfast. Flour, baking powder, salt and sugar, milk, butter, eggs. Mix it all together, pour the batter onto the skillet. Allow to heat for two minutes, until it becomes golden brown on one side.

That gives me time to check on a few things. Leaving the batter to warm up, I unlock the back door to the farmhouse and step outside. Krypto stirs, but quickly goes back to sleep once he sees it's just me, and I head out into the pre-dawn sky, reaching high orbit in a few fractions of a second.

"Let's see....." I say to myself as I look and listen to the swirling blue planet below. "I think we'll start by heading east today...."

A highway overpass in South Carolina is dangerously neglected, ready to collapse and endanger hundreds of lives. This early hour, wthout a driver in sight, gives me ample time to work. Crushing concrete into dust, melting down steel supports and rebar, reforging the metal and mixing the concrete all over again, rebuilding the bridge from the ground up, all of that isn't the hard part. The hard part is painting and weathering it so it doesn't look like it was suddenly and suspiciously rebuilt from the ground up. Some men in their old age take up building complex and realistic train sets or model airplanes. I guess this could be seen as the same, only the models I build are to replace crumbling infrastructure.

Next is a quick trip across the Atlantic to the island of La Palma, off the coast of Morocco. The Cumbre Vieja volcano has been building pressure, threatening an eruption that could cause a massive landslide into the ocean. The resulting wave will cause an enormous wall of water to travel across the Atlantic, a mega-tsunami that will devastate the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Or at least, it would. I've been drilling channels through the volcano, pressure release tunnels that will keep the worst-case scenario from happening. Many scientists have already discredited the mega-tsunami theory as completely farfetched, not realizing how accurate their first predictions may have been.

It's best to take care of things like this while they're still little problems, before they get the chance to become big ones. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, they say. On top of that, it's the best way for me to save lives and do some good while keeping a low profile.

I make a few more quick stops-- filling potentially lethal pot-holes in roads, triggering small landslides and avalanches while no one's around to be endangered by them, and using wide but low-intensity blasts of Heat Vision to equalize air pressure in a storm system to prevent a tornado from forming-- before heading back to the farmhouse to flip my pancakes.

As I approach, I hear Krypto barking. He's normally not up and about for another two or three hours, let alone making a racket. Slowing down to a manageable speed, I swoop down to the old oak tree about fifty paces from the front of the house, where my dog is growling at a shape on the ground.

"What's the matter, boy?" I say, scratching him behind the ears to calm him down. He looks up at me and whimpers, confused. "It's okay, buddy, I'm here. Now what's--"

That's when I see what Krypto was barking at. A form left in the dirt, a thin coat of dust dulling the colors of a bright red cape and blue suit.

"Great Scott...."

This isn't any sort of coincidence. This is deliberate. A message. Maybe a warning, maybe a threat. But a message nonetheless.

Someone knows.

But how? This isn't my world. Kara switched places with Kal-El in this world, arriving on Earth first. There's no recorded precedent of interaction with parallel universes, alternate timelines, or any other form of other-Earths in this reality.....myself excluded. I've made absolutely certain that none of my actions have shown up on satellite photos, and that any written accounts have either been discredited or purged from the internet. As far as this world is concerned, there is no Superman, and there never was. Nobody could possibly know who or what I am, let alone that I'm here.

And yet, someone knows.

Lying in the dirt in front of me is a pile of bones, dressed in an unmistakable uniform.

Someone has sent me a dead man.....

Worse than that, actually......



......a dead Superman.
<Snipped quote by AndyC>
Something tells me that your Superman is going to have a hard time trusting my Wonder Woman.


Clark's gonna have a pretty hard time getting along with just about everybody.
Sample post has been added to the Superman CS.
I have a feeling that I'm not ever going to really get away from this sort of game, and that I'll be playing characters like this from now...

EDIT: Wrong thread
<Snipped quote by HenryJonesJr>


.....*sigh*.......(starts working on a Superman CS to set things straight)
All right, well, it only took entirely too damn long, but Superman's finally back in action.
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