TAC Table of Contents
Ten days into the new 1965 year, second semester at Smallville Junior College began with the usual activity and calamity of students trying to get their class courses and schedules ironed out to their satisfactions. Only some were successful.
But a considerable number of female students had made sure they were class-free during the time the daytime soap opera As The World Turns aired. They had to keep up with the Hughes family, especially that rascally Lisa.
Every weekday a mob of girls swarmed around the black and white television set in the social area of the student union building. Each sat wherever she could...chairs, sofas, tables, even the floor. A few boys would be around as well but would deny they watched the program. Guys didn't watch soap operas, so they claimed. Not cool.
Not watching the sudser but passing through the area were two freshmen roommates, Lana Lang and Lisa Landon. They were comparing notes about their class schedules when they, and everyone, heard...
"We interrupt this program for a special CBS news report. Live from Cape Kennedy (recently renamed to honor the country's fallen President) is Walter Cronkite."
The respected journalist reported that a NASA-launched rocket had successfully lifted-off its pad moments earlier but was now veering from its intended trajectory. This failure would be a tremendous set-back to the U.S. space program, etc.
Lisa begged off from her friend, "Lana, I left one of my books up in our room. You go on, and I'll see you later."
"Oh, O.K.," Lana Lang answered. "I'm gonna watch the rest of this rocket thing."
Lisa walked as quickly as possible, without drawing attention, out the side door of the dorm. Once concealed behind shrubbery, she removed her brown wig revealing blonde hair and her outer garments exposing a red and blue uniform similar to Superboy's.
"I decided that I would keep my existence on Earth a secret until I learn how to expertly use all of my super powers. Luckily the rocket is high enough in the air that no one will see me. I should be able to fly to it and get it settled into its right course of flight."
Moments later, this mysterious female whose existence was still masked from the world, had caught up with the miguided missle. Flying unharmed right through the fiery exhaust, she placed both hands on the vessel. "I'll swing the rocket upward again. It will finish its scheduled flight and place a new satellite in orbit."
A few hours later, on her way to dinner at the college cafeteria as Lisa Landon, she overheard a radio news report of the rocket she had saved..."The space rocket seemed a failure when it started falling. But it righted itself and went on into space, by some miracle."
She chuckled to herself, "The scientists will never know how the 'miracle' happened."
i·ro·ny [ahy-ruh-nee] noun -- an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.
The still secreted "flying girl," who disguised herself as Lisa Landon, knew all about Superboy, the champion of justice. In fact, she idolized him and wanted to stand by his side in defending good from evil. But she was hesitant to reveal her existence to him.
Superboy, who disguised himself as Clark Kent, was told in the dying words of his college friend Bob Morgan, that such a super girl existed, but yet, had been unable to locate her.
And yet, both Lisa Landon and Clark Kent, freshmen and good friends at Smallville Junior College, were unaware of each other's secret identities.
As they walked to the cafeteria for the evening meal, Kent and childhood friend, now roommate, Pete Ross, who knew that his friend was the Boy of Steel, chatted about the new semester which had just begun.
"Oh, did you hear about today's NASA rocket launch?" Pete asked.
"No, I didn't," Kent responded. "Everything go all right?"
"Gosh no, that's just it," Ross continued. "Something went really wrong a few minutes after it launched. The radio said that they were getting ready to explode it, but it suddenly got back on course, and everything was cool. When I heard that, I thought that maybe Superboy had something to do with it."
"Nope," Clark answered. He whispered, "Superboy was stuck in a science lab most of the afternoon and didn't know a thing about it."
"Well, I heard part of a press conference NASA gave afterwards, and it seemed to me that those scientists were dancing around many of the reporters' questions. That's why I thought of Superboy."
A light bulb clicked on in Clark's head, "Maybe that super girl was involved." He tried to hide his frustration of not being able to find this mysterious person. "Why doesn't she come forward and let everyone know about her?"
Reaching their regular table in the dining hall, Pete and Clark joined Lana, Lisa, Phyllis Coates and Chester Sartania.
"How did everyone's day go?" Pete asked.
He received a round of "goods" and "all rights."
"What about that NASA rocket thing?" Chester announced.
Lisa added, "I heard on the radio that it was some kind of a miracle that it all turned out the way it did."
"Yeah, Pete was telling me all about it on the way over," Clark responded. "I was in chemistry lab and missed the whole thing."
Lana chimed in, "Clark and his chemistry. Pete, remember the day in high school when you spilled the beaker of acid all over Clark's clothes, and it ate up his shirt, and he had to run out of the classroom? It wasn't funny then but kinda is now."
(Kent had to evacuate the class to prevent his friends from seeing his Superboy outfit through the acid holes in his shirt.)
"No, Lana, it's still not funny," Ross snapped, "But, at least, I'm not taking chemistry now, so Clark...you should be safe."
Kent grinned. He was still thinking of the "flying girl."
Lana Lang casually leaned over to Pete, "Why don't you ask Lisa to the campus movie tonight? I think she would probably go with you."
Pete replied, "Ya think she would? I mean, the thing with Bob and all, she may not be ready to date anyone yet."
"That's been over four months ago. She needs to get back out there. She told me she didn't do anything over the Christmas break."
"What's the movie?" Pete asked.
"Pete, it doesn't matter. Just ask her. You like Lisa, don't you?"
"Oh, heck yes. I was going to ask her out when school started last fall, but Bob beat me to it," Ross answered.
Phyllis butted in, "Say, what's going on, you two?"
"Uh, nothing," Lana responded. "Everyone finished?"
All heads nodded.
The table was soon vacated.
Walking hand-in-hand out of the building, Clark told Lana he would pick her up for the movie in about an hour. "That will give me time to make my evening patrol as Superboy," he thought.
Pete Ross, lady killer, took the red-headed Lang's advice and asked Lisa to go with him to movie night. To his delight, she accepted his invitation.
"That will give me time to make my evening patrol," she thought.
Clark and Lana walked about fifty feet ahead of Pete and Lisa on their way towards the girls' dormitory, all unaware of the presence of a shadowy person observing them from a distance.
Due to time constraints, the two couples decided to split at the halfway point between the two dormitories.
"See you in about an hour," all four stated simultaneously.
Lana kissed Clark.
Lisa smiled at Pete.
As they headed to the girls' dorm, Lana asked Lisa, "Did you just hear anything?"
"Sorry no, " Landon answered. "I really wasn't paying attention. Why?"
"I could have sworn I heard footsteps behind us on the sidewalk, but (turning and looking) there's no one there. Hmmm," the red head stated. "Thinking about Pete, maybe?"
"A little, and other things," her roommate answered.
When the two girls reached the bottom of the stairs, Lisa begged off once again, "Be up in a minute. Forgot about something."
Lana scoffed, "O.K. Don't forget, Pete will be here in an hour."
"I won't," she responded. Just as she had done earlier in the afternoon, Lisa Landon slipped away and was soon flying, this time towards Smallville.
Across the way, the guys climbed the stairs to their third-floor dorm room.
"I should be used to these steps by now," Pete complained.
As they reached their door, Clark told his roomie that he would be back soon, then continued up the stairs to the roof, where he made a quick change to his super alter ego and was quickly airborne.
Nearly thirty minutes had passed when Superboy landed back on the dormitory roof and then entered his room as Kent. Pete was getting himself "gussied up" for his first date with Lisa.
"Anything happening in old Smallville tonight?"
Kent reported that all seemed quiet in their little hometown.
"Hey Pete, any idea what tonight's movie is?"
"Yeah. I asked Howard down the hall. 'From Russia With Love.' Some kind of spy movie."
Clark noticed a slight shaking of Pete's hand as he finished combing his hair.
"Me, not at all. You mean about Lisa? Not lady killer Ross."
"O.K., Lady Killer. Let's head on over and pick them up."
Lana was ready for the movie but wondering what had happened to her roommate, who hadn't yet returned to the room from dinner.
"Well, I can't wait all night for her."
She bounded down to the lobby and plopped on a sofa to wait for her boyfriend of four years.
Descending from the night sky, Smallville's "flying girl" scanned her dorm room via x-ray vision to confirm it was safe to enter.
"Just a few minutes to get ready for the movie."
She went to her closet and picked out her dress of choice.
"Two girls in one small room makes living difficult, especially when one has a dual identity."
When she reached the lobby, forty-five seconds later, Lana Lang was surprised to see her coming down the steps.
"Where have you been? How did you get upstairs? I was in the room until a few minutes ago, and I didn't pass you going up?"
"Oh, that. Well, I was...oh, here are the guys."
The two couples left the dormitory and made their way back towards the student union building for the weekly campus movie.
Again, the figure of a person in the shadows watched their every step.
Mid-morning the next day, Clark, Pete and Chester were standing in front of the student union building passing the time before their next class.
"Hey, here comes Lana," Chester observed.
Clark's red-headed girl friend was running at full gallop towards the trio. Everyone she passed turned to see what was happening. When she met them, she was panting like crazy and had a wild look on her face.
"Whoa. Take it easy. What's the matter?"
"Let me catch my breath," she requested. "O.K. I don't want you to think I've gone bonkers," she was able to get out between gasps of air, "but I swear I just saw Larry Leyton."
"WHAT!" the three lads said in unison.
"That's impossible," Pete declared, "He's locked up in a reformatory."
"Well, if it wasn't him, he's got a twin."
Clark inquired, "Where did you see him?"
Lang replied, "Standing in front of the administrative building talking to some man."
Clark continued, "Well, how close were you to him?"
"Well, not very close. But I swear it was Larry Leyton.
"Did he see you?"
"I don't believe so."
Curiosity got the best of Kent who told the group he was going to walk down that way to check out what Lana had said.
"Everyone stay here."
The boy walked further than he really needed, as he could use his x-ray vision from any point. He surveyed the area around the ad building but saw no sign of the former nemesis or any adult man. He then reported back to his friends and stated he didn't see either person.
"You don't believe me," she stated.
Clark answered, "I didn't say that. I just didn't see him. But you let me know if you see him again. Pete, Chester, same goes for you.
Kent decided that this required a visit to Inspector Henderson (as Superboy) right after his next class.
An hour and a half passed. Henderson was in his office neck-deep in paper work when he heard a knock on his door.
"Come in," the cop mumbled.
In walked the Boy of Steel.
"Superboy, it's been a while," he exclaimed while extending his hand.
"Yes it has. But fortunately, things around here have been rather quiet that we didn't need to get together."
"Mostly thanks to you, Superboy."
"Oh no, Smallville should be proud of its police department. You all do a wonderful job."
Henderson inquired, "Well, what brings you to my office today?"
"I was curious to know if you had heard anything recently about our old acquaintance Larry Leyton."
"Ah, Laurence Leyton Jr.," he groaned, "Well, actually I have. Why do you ask?"
Superboy replied, "Someone claimed to see him on the SJC campus this morning."
"Well, that would make sense," the Inspector replied, "He enrolled there this semester."
"How? What about the reformatory?"
"Superboy, here's what I know...his lawyer got him out about a month ago."
"The boy turned eighteen. He is, under the law, no longer a juvenile. He's of legal age."
The super lad continued, "So, what exactly does that mean?"
"It means that he can start fresh. His juvenile records are sealed. Our society is a forgiving one, Superboy. The things Leyton did as a youth were not capital crimes. They were serious, but the law says he has paid back his debt to society and is entitled to a new beginning. So, in essence, he's a free man."
"And enrolled in Smallville Junior College?"
"That's my understanding and as a generous benefactor as well. He earned his high school diploma while at the reformatory. Model student, I'm told. Applied at SJC. They weren't thrilled with the idea, but he pledged to them enough money to build a brand-new gymnasium to replace the current one, so he's a bit of a celebrity with the administration right now."
"Where'd he get the money to do that?" the lad asked.
"His old man left it to him. The money we confiscated from the Leyton house last year, thanks to you, was all tied to illegal activities. But there was other money that neither we nor the F.B.I. could attach. Then his lawyer located a Swiss account in the boy's name. Rumor has it that it was worth about ten million bucks. Young Leyton is not only wealthy, but he's the richest person in Smallville."
Superboy informed Henderson of his concern that Larry might try to get back at Clark, Lana and their friends for what all happened previously.
"I can appreciate your concern, but legally, there is nothing the law can do until he does something. I know that isn't much comfort, but that's the law."
"Yes, I understand."
"I believe he's moved back into the Leyton mansion where he and his old man lived. Junior inherited the house as well. I'll try to keep an eye on him from a distance, Superboy, but as I said, under the law, his slate is clean. And I hope it stays that way."
"Yeah, me too. Well, thanks Inspector. Always nice seeing you."
"Oh, one more thing. Laurence Leyton Jr. isn't his name anymore. He had it legally changed."
The Boy of Steel inquired, "And how should I address the gentleman now...if I should run into him."
"Lex Luthor," answered the cop.
"Hmmm...Lex Luthor. How nice. Well, thanks again, Inspector."
He took a few steps and sprung out the window.
Another evening meal at the dining hall was underway but with only four occupants...Pete, Lisa, Lana and Clark. The other regulars were absent, and their whereabouts unaccounted for.
Back in their dorm room, Clark had told Pete about his meeting with Inspector Henderson and had just finished bringing Lana up to speed at the dinner table. She was very upset and concerned to hear that Larry Leyton, now Lex Luthor, was a "free man."
"How did you find out about all of this, Clark?"
Pete jumped the gun, "Superboy told us!" Clark looked at his friend quickly.
"Oh, are you telling me Pete, that you were with both Clark and Superboy at the same time. That must have been a first."
"Uh...yeah. When Superboy was talking about what Inspector Henderson had told him, Clark was there. Absolutely."
The red head thought to herself, "All this time, I've suspected Clark was Superboy. Maybe I've been wrong. I don't believe Pete would lie to me."
"This guy sounds like a real creep," Lisa added.
Kent interjected, "Not just a creep, Lisa, but very dangerous. You'd do well to stay away from him."
"I will," she answered.
Incredibly, at that very moment, a voice spoke, "Well, good evening. If it isn't my old friends from Smallville High...Lana Lang, Pete Ross and Clark Kent. And who's the pretty young lady with the pig tails?"
Lang jumped up, "You stay away from us, Larry Leyton, you hear me!"
"I don't know any Larry Leyton," he snapped back. "My name is Lex Luthor. And if you hadn't heard, I'm a newly-enrolled freshman at this fine institution of higher learning."
"Ha! You can change your name, but that doesn't change the type of person you are," Pete answered.
Lex glared back at him for those words.
Standing behind Luthor were four menacing guys, dressed alike in black t-shirts, black jeans and black leather jackets.
"And who are you friends?" Clark inquired.
"Oh, these fellas? Let's just say they're my entourage." He leaned over closer to Kent and whispered, "Actually, they're my bodyguards. A man of my wealth has to have protection."
"Entourage? They look more like goons to me," Lana answered.
Luthor suggested, "Watch it, Miss Lang, they're sensitive. We'll leave you now. I just wanted to pay my respects. Be seeing you around."
One of his group stated, "I'll go get the car, Mr. Luthor. You mentioned you needed to be home by 7:30. There's the matter of an English report to write."
"Thank you, Rock. But you'll be writing the paper for me. Get the car."
"Yes, Mr. Luthor."
Lex told the table occupants. "See how dedicated they are. They would probably do anything I asked them to do. Of course, they are all well compensated for their dedication. Good evening."
As soon as the "entourage" was gone, Pete said, "Clark, did you recognize that four apes he had with him?"
"No, I don't think so. Should I?"
"Those are the same four guys on the first floor of our dorm last semester who were kicked out of school for running that gambling ring and for selling beer out of their dorm rooms. They were on the football team."
"Good eye, Pete. I didn't recognize them in those silly Marlon Brando outfits, but you're right. How "wonderful" they've found something to do with their free time. If they were trouble here at school, I can only imagine what Larry, er, Lex will have them be doing."
Lana added, "Something tells me we're going to be seeing a good deal more of Lex Luthor."
Clark's and Lana's eyes met, with concern. "Sometimes tells me you're right, Lana."
The semester reached its halfway mark with the coming of another spring.
There was a feeling of normalcy in some regards. Both Clark Kent and Lisa Landon continued their duties in their respective super identities, although the two had still to meet in those capacities. The reborn Lex Luther was seen from time to time, but nothing more than going about his business as a student. As far as Superboy and the Smallville Police Department knew, the returned resident was keeping his nose clean. His entourage was always at his side, except when their employer was in a classroom. During those times, the four waited outside, mostly inhaling Camel cigarettes and admiring the female scenery, but they caused no commotion. Apparently the Luthor financial donation to the school permitted the quad of expelled students to be on campus property.
Studies were going well for Pete, Clark and Lisa. Lana Lang, however, was struggling in class for the first time in her life. Her English instructor, Professor Lamont, was giving her a hard time, even though she was making the grade on her exams. Homework assignments were another matter. The teacher constantly berated her on papers she wrote and gave her lower grades. He was rude to her in class.
The red-headed student felt that Lamont was getting back at her father, also on the college faculty, through her. She knew of "political" and "policy" differences her father had with him in the past. They had butted heads more than once on faculty advisory committees and were not on the best of terms. She thought it totally unprofessional that an adult instructor would use a third party as a means of revenge against an adversary.
The group's friend Noel had distanced herself from them. She stopped eating with them and even moved out of the dormitory, yet continued as a student. She would barely speak to them when their paths crossed on campus. Lana and Lisa eventually learned that she had actually moved her belongings to the Luthor mansion and was living there. They could only imagine what else might be going on. And Noel was often seen in Luthor's company on campus. Lana felt badly that she had lost a long-time friend, and feared what might happen to her in the grips of Lex.
Pete Ross and Lisa Landon were now, very much, a couple. Clark was happy for his friend and joyful that he had found in Lisa what he himself had found in Lana. The four double-dated frequently but also enjoyed the times when the couples went their separate ways.
The first Friday night of spring ended up being a milestone in the relationship of Pete Ross and Lisa Landon.
The two had decided to remain on campus while Clark and Lana had gone to the bowling alley. After watching a little television in the student union lobby, Pete suggested they head downstairs to the recreation room and play ping-pong. But when approaching the table, they saw it was occupied by his friend Roy and his date.
"Hey, Pete, we'll be finished in just a few minutes."
"No problem, Roy, take your time."
While they waited Lisa suggested they try their hands at the bows and arrows.
"Sure, you go first," he offered.
Lisa aimed her arrow at the target and, of course, scored a bullseye.
She removed her arrow from the target and stepped to the side.
"O.K., Mr. Ross, let's see you beat that."
Pete took aim, "You'd better move, Lisa. I've never been very good at this. No telling where my shot might go."
"Go ahead. I'm three feet from the target. Besides, the arrows are rubber-tipped. You're not going to hurt anyone."
Ross retorted, "All right. But I warned you."
He cut loose with the projectile. He was bad at this game. His arrow went left towards Lisa. The rubber tip caught right under the front of Lisa's wig disguise and completely removed the false head covering to the floor, exposing her bright blonde hair.
Pete nearly fainted.
Thinking quickly, Lisa used her heat vision to pop both of the ceiling lights. The noise of the bulbs exploding made scarce the couple playing table tennis.
Pete managed to find the wig on the floor. As he handed it in the direction he assumed Lisa was standing, "Here. I don't understand, Lisa. You're really a blonde? Why would you wear a wig to hide beautiful blonde hair?"
She took it and put it back on the best she could in the dark. "Pete, we need to go somewhere that's private and talk."
Finding a place of privacy at night, other than dorm rooms, on a college campus can be difficult. And since opposite genders weren't permitted in dormitories, other than the lobby, that was not a possibility.
But, finally, Pete Ross and Lisa Landon agreed that the history room of the library might be suitable. It was a private room for doing research, and since it was a Friday night, no student would be caught dead using the room at eight o'clock in the evening. Even the librarian at the desk was stunned when the couple signed in for its use. But they were told the library closed in an hour, so they didn't have much time.
The room had no windows and no lock on the door, so Lisa used a desk chair under the knob to prevent anyone from barging in on them.
"O.K., I'm all ears," Pete started off. "Why hide your blonde hair under a brown wig? You're beautiful either way, but I don't understand. Lots of girls who aren't blonde peroxide their hair so they will be, and you are, but hide it. I don't get it."
"Pete, there's a lot about me you don't know. Nobody knows, for that matter. But since we've become very close over the past several months, I feel I can trust you with a very, I repeat, very important secret."
"You can trust me, Lisa, I promise I am very good at keeping a secret."
"Then watch," she instructed. Pete was in amazement as he soon saw his girlfriend wearing an outfit similar to his friend Superboy.
"Uh, I'm still not sure I understand, Lisa. Is this some kind of a joke? A costume for a party...what?"
"No, Pete, it's no joke. I'm telling you that I have the same special abilities as Superboy. I'll admit I haven't perfected all of them yet, but I'm working on it."
"Come here, you," Pete said as he pulled Lisa to him and kissed her. "You don't have to do stuff like this to impress me. I love you just as you are."
"Pete, I'm telling you the truth. I came to Earth from another planet and have the same powers Superboy has."
"OK...OK...uh, would you be upset if I asked for a little proof? Please understand, this is a lot for me to take in," Ross muttered.
"I understand. She waded up a sheet of paper and placed it on a desk. Watch," she answered, searing it with her heat vision.
"Wow!" Pete jumped. "So you're really like Superboy."
"Yes," came the answer.
"And you can fly?"
"Sure can." She encircled the room several times just under the ceiling. "Satisfied?"
"Am I ever! You mean I've fallen for a super girl?"
"Well, not exactly, Pete. You fell for Lisa Landon, and now you know that she is a super girl."
"Oh, I get it. Complicated though, isn't it?"
Lisa responded, "It doesn't have to be, Pete. If we can go on just as before. But no matter what happens to us, I'm begging you not to tell anyone my secret. It could mess up a lot of things. Superboy doesn't even know I exist. I want to tell him eventually, but not until I have mastered all of my abilities. Then I hope he'll let me work with him for all of the principles he fights for, because I feel the same way that he does."
"Wow, that's amazing, Lisa. I give you my word that, on my honor, I will tell no one."
She kissed him again.
"But will you tell me how you got here?"
"Yes, but first..." Quickly, Pete was looking at Lisa again. "I came from the now-extinct planet Septron, which was one of six planets in another solar system. About thirty earth years ago, our red sun, for whatever reason, began drawing the planets of our galaxy closer to it until eventually, each one exploded into probably billions of fragments. My father was a respected scientist, known world-wide on Septron. Over time, he watched helplessly as the three planets closest to our sun disintegrated. Then, from what he told me later when I was a young girl, nothing happened for several years, and my father hoped our danger was over. But suddenly, the fourth planet, Krypton, exploded as well. But by monitoring Krypton, he learned that someone there was able to project a vessel into space before the planet's demise. He tracked the vessel all the way to Earth and noted that it came to rest somewhere in what I now know is the central portion of the United States. That was about eighteen earth years ago."
"This is all incredible!" Pete replied.
"Then, about four or five years ago, using his monitoring instruments, he learned from your radio and television signals, that there was this Superboy who could do all of these amazing things, and my father assumed he had been placed in that Kryptonian vessel. He explained to my mother and me that a living being from a red sun solar system sent to a yellow sun galaxy would undergo physical changes. Their molecular makeup would be much denser under a yellow sun, making them stronger, able to defy gravity, and have enhanced senses such as vision, hearing, smell, all of that. And he was correct. My father was a brilliant man."
"Yes, I would say so," Ross struggled in amazement to speak.
"He had started building a vessel for the three of us to come to Earth, but then the fifth planet, Hetteron, suffered the same fate as the previous four, and indications were that Septron had little time left. So he had to scale back on the size of his vessel. He barely finished it in time before our planet started to crumble. Thus, I was the only one saved when doom finally came. Based on Earth TV signals they had monitored, my mother made me a uniform similar to Superboy's, and my father told me I should gain the same abilities as he when I arrived here. My vessel landed in the Atlantic Ocean about a year ago. I knew right away that he had been correct about the special powers, otherwise I would have been killed when the vessel crashed into the water. I wanted to contact Superboy immediately, but quickly learned that having special powers and being able to control them were two different things. So I made it to Midvale by air, very unimpressively I might add, and "showed up" one night at the orphanage there as a wayfairer. They took me in."
"You mean, in the outfit you mother had made for you?" Pete inquired. "Didn't that raise a few eyebrows?"
"Well, I must confess that I "borrowed" an outfit from a nearby clothesline to disguise myself. Then I stayed there thoughout last summer before starting school here. And you have known me since. That's my story."
"I'm almost speechless. Come here (he wrapped his arms around her). You have been through an incredible ordeal, and don't worry...good old Pete Ross is here to help you anyway that he can."
They kissed...and kissed...and kissed.
"Lisa Landon, you are the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, whether you can bend steel in your bare hands or not."
"Oh, Pete, you are making it very difficult for me to say we should be getting on out of here. I could stay here all night with you, but it's almost nine."
They walked around the campus grounds for several more hours before Pete, always the gentleman, saw her to her dormitory lobby. She planted a good nighter on him, and wiping a tear of happiness from her cheek, started up the stairs.
Young Ross, who was on top of the world, still confronted his situation as he headed for his own dorm facility, "Two super heroes in this world. One is my best friend, the other is my girl friend. I know the secret identities of both of them but can't tell either of them what I know. I can't even tell Clark that a super girl exists. I would be unloyal to both for not telling but disloyal to both if I did. Oh, Pete Ross, what have you gotten yourself in to?"
Five more days of the semester had passed.
Lana continued having differences of opinion with Professor Lamont, her English instructor. He had berated her in front of the other students in both Monday's and Wednesday's classes.
As she left his classroom earlier in the afternoon, she stopped by his desk and requested a meeting with him the following day during his office hours.
"Be at my office at three o'clock tomorrow," he commanded. "I'll be there from three until four. I can give you thirty minutes."
"But I have a three o'clock class tomorrow," she had informed him.
"I'll see you at three," he informed her.
"So, I guess I'll have to cut my other class just to meet with that monster," Lana told Clark, as they went through the dinner line in the cafeteria.
Clark, Lana, Pete, Lisa, Phyllis and Chester headed for their usual table to eat. They stopped short as they noticed their usual meeting place was occupied...by four leather jacket-wearing goons.
"Hey, this is our table," Pete stated.
"We don't see your name on it," the one known as T-Ball answered.
"Tonight, this table is reserved for Mr. Luthor and company," the Rock informed them.
Clark tried to avoid a confrontation, "He's right Pete. There's no assigned seating. We can sit over there."
"Smart boy," T-Ball replied, laughing.
As the six began eating at their new surroundings, they couldn't help but notice Lex Luthor and their former friend Noel take their seats at the other table. Lex nodded to all six as he passed. Noel wouldn't look their way. The entourage had to stand as their employer ate his meal.
"Well, at least one of us can still eat there," Pete stated.
"I don't see how she can keep her food down being around that bunch," Lana answered.
Clark interjected, "Let's just ignore them and eat."
A bit later, Lana noticed Noel heading for the ladies' room. "I'm going to have a talk with her."
Kent tried to stop her but she was gone. "Oh, dear."
Noel attempted to leave the wash room but the fiesty red head had blocked the door.
"Noel, girl, what has come over you? Moving in with that scumbag!"
"Don't talk about Lex that way to me, Lana. Lex treats me like a queen. He's the nicest guy I have ever known."
"You remember what he did to me? Well, don't you! Has he drugged and brainwashed you too?"
"NO! Like I said, he treats me like a queen. Did you know he bought me a brand-new car? Plus he took me shopping in Metropolis and spent over a thousand dollars on new clothes for me. And I'm living in the nicest house in town. That place is so big that I can get lost in it. Not like that dump I grew up in."
Lana continued, "Noel, your parents did the best they could for you."
"Well, that's not good enough anymore! Now I have everything I want."
"Listen, you're living in a house with five guys. Don't you realize what that's doing to your reputation?"
She countered, "Lex says if you have enough money, you can do without a reputation."
"But what about your parents?"
"We don't speak anymore. They said I was a fool doing what I've done. I don't need them!"
Lang went on, "You are a fool, Noel. Hopefully, you'll come to your senses before it's too late."
The Neill girl shouted, "Get out of my way, Lana. I'm going back to my table."
"Fine. Go. Good luck finding it. You're lost already."
Lana Lang rejoined her friends.
"Judging from both of your expressions, I'd guess it didn't go very well," Clark inquired.
She replied, "Like talking to a mailbox. She's fallen off the cliff."
Lisa added, "It's a real shame, Lana. Pete's told me how close you and Noel used to be."
"We've been good friends since grade school," Phyllis answered.
"Well, she believes she has found a better life for herself," Lana stated. "I guess there's nothing we can do except hope she comes to her senses before it's too late."
Just as she finished her sentence, Lex and Noel got up and left the dining hall. On the way past their table, Luthor stopped and told Lana Lang, "Noel told me that you upset her in the wash room. I'd appreciate it if you would stay away from my fiancee, or I will be forced to obtain a restraining order. She isn't supposed to get excited. She's carrying my baby."
As he exited, Lana and the rest all dropped their jaws at what they had heard.
When they met during lunch, Clark had agreed to walk Lana to her three o'clock appointment with Professor Lamont.
It was 2:55 when they reached their destination.
"You going on in now?" he asked.
"No, it might upset the old coot if I'm early. I'm waiting until exactly three o'clock."
"Well, Lana, I hope you two can come to terms and iron out your differences. But if you can't, what's your next move?"
"I guess I'll have to go to the academic dean. I don't know what other options I have, but this situation has got to be settled," his girlfriend replied. "What time do you have?"
Looking at his wristwatch, which also doubled as a signaling device when the Smallville Police Department needed his help as Superboy, "Three o'clock on the button. Do you want me to go in with you?"
"No, I'm sure he wouldn't permit that. I can handle him."
"All right," he said, giving her a kiss for good luck. "I'll see you at dinner."
"O.K.," she answered. "I love you." She knocked on the office door.
They heard a stern, "Come in, Miss Lang."
The red head entered and closed the door behind her.
Clark paused a second and contemplated using his super hearing to eavesdrop, but decided that wouldn't be right. Instead, "I can use the time until dinner to patrol Smallville as Superboy."
Not wanting to have to walk all the way back to his dorm, he went behind the college building to make his change, and was quickly in the air.
From the air, he could see that, fortunately, all looked calm in the hamlet he called home. Then something caught his attention, not on the ground below, but as much as a mile ahead of him in the air. "Well, after all this time, there she is. The mysterious girl in Bob Morgan's photograph." He turned on the speed.
Lisa Landon had the same idea as Clark Kent. Afternoon patrol time. She was quite startled when the Boy of Steel flew up beside her.
"Don't you believe it's about time we had a talk?" he asked.
Looking quite somber, she shook her head in the affirmative.
"Follow me, I know a quiet place where no one will bother us," came his request.
He banked to the left and headed east. She followed. Decreasing their speed, they set down outside an old smokehouse on the foreclosed Robinson place.
He extended his hand, "Hello. My name is Superboy."
Her hand met his, "Hello. I don't really have a name, but I am both thrilled and embarrassed to meet you. I've wanted to meet you for some time, but to be honest, I've been frightened of how you might react."
"Well, why don't you start by telling me a few things about yourself. Naturally, I'm very curious. Where did you come from? How long have you been here? Things like that."
She spent the next ten minutes repeating to Superboy the exact story she had explained to Pete Ross earlier.
Superboy sat thinking, then asked, "So you're from a planet called Septron and you believe I came from the planet Krypton?"
"Krypton, yes. That was my father's theory. The time element works out. We're both about nineteen in Earth years, and I landed here eighteen years after the Kryptonian vessel was launched."
"All my life, I have wondered about my background and why I have the abilities that I, well, we have. What you just told me explains a lot...thank you. I'm grateful. You know, it's nice to know that I'm not the only survivor of an entire solar system. And what you had to do since your arrival, you had to do on your own is admirable. I didn't have to do it alone."
"Then you're not angry that I am here?" she inquired carefully.
"No. I welcome you with open arms." They embraced. "But you do raise an interesting point concerning having total control of your super abilities. It took me my entire childhood to master them, because I developed all of them one at a time as I grew up. Acquiring all at once, like you did upon arriving on Earth, well, I can imagine, would be overwhelming. I like to suggest, for now, that you trust me that I believe it would be best that we not reveal your existence yet, until you are completely ready."
"It's the different degrees of vision that are the toughest, now that I have the flying down pat. I tried to look through a tree recently and set it on fire."
He reassured, "You'll get the hang of it. It's just different degrees of concentration. And might I say, that your mother did a wonderful job making your outfit. The person who made mine for me would be flattered. Since no one knows about your being here, where have you been staying? Because I have a suggestion for you. It's important getting oriented to your new home by living among the people and learning the way they live."
"Well, I'm already doing that. I disguise myself as an Earthling."
"O.K. great. So do I," he answered. "What identity did you choose?
"Well, if you don't mind, I'd like to keep that to myself, at least for the time being. And I won't ask you yours. Deal?" she responded.
"If that's what you want, sure," was his response.
"As for keeping my existence secret for now, that's fine, as long as I can continue doing what I've been doing. It's been almost a year, and I've helped a lot of people already. That NASA rocket that would have crashed a few months ago...that was me. I pushed it back into orbit."
"That's great!" the Boy of Steel responded.
"I'm so glad we finally got all of this out into the open. I'm sorry it took so long. I meant no disrespect or anything."
"No, I understand," the super lad said. "I'm glad, too. I need to get back to...well, where I'm going."
"Me, too. See you later, Superboy."
She gave a huge smile.
After she and Superboy parted, newly-named Supergirl flew directly back to the SJC campus. Using her x-ray vision, she saw that she couldn't go directly into her dorm room as roommate Lana Lang was stretched across her bed, so instead set down on the roof (unaware that Superboy used the same approach), and changed to her identity of freshman Lisa Landon.
Waiting until the area was vacant, she quickly entered the third floor hall via the door to the roof and then into her room.
"Lana, you've been crying."
"Yeah, I've been having a real crying jag."
"What's wrong?" she asked the red head.
"My meeting with that old Professor Lamont was a bust. We got into a shouting match, and he practically threw me out of his office."
Lisa tried to comfort her friend, "Oh honey, I'm so sorry."
Across campus, Clark repeated the exact steps that Lisa had just completed. Upon entering his room, a very excited Pete jumped up, "Holy cow, buddy? Where have you been? Chester and I looked all over campus for you!"
"Inspector Henderson has been looking for you. He wants to talk to you. He's probably still down in the lobby waiting."
"O.K. Thanks, Pete." Clark hurridly walked down the hall to the stairs leading to the dorm lobby.
Pete then realized he hadn't told his friend why Henderson was on campus. He flung open the door and yelled, "Clark, there's been..." Seeing Kent had already disappeared, he stopped in mid-sentence, closed his door and fell onto his bed.
Indeed, Henderson was downstairs speaking with several male students. When he saw Clark approaching, he thanked the students for their time and met Kent half-way."
"Hello, Inspector Henderson. Pete said you were looking for me."
"That's right. I need to ask you some questions."
"Sure. What about?"
The detective continued, "When's the last time you saw Lana Lang?"
"Three o'clock this afternoon, why?"
"Son, just answer my questions, please. Where did you see her?"
"It was outside one of her professor's office. She had an appointment with him at three."
"Professor Lamont, by any chance?"
"Please, Clark. Let me ask the questions. "Do you know why she had an appointment?"
"She wanted to straighten out some things. They hadn't been seeing eye-to-eye on the class Lana was taking under him."
"Did you go in with her to the appointment?"
"No. Lana said she could handle him. Why are you asking me all these questions?"
"Because Professor Lamont was murdered in his office this afternoon between three and three-thirty."
Inspector Henderson made a beeline towards the Smallville Junior College girls' dormitory. Clark Kent was right on his heels.
When he reached the front door, he instructed Officer Kelley to follow him into the lobby. Kent followed them both.
About a dozen residents were spread across the lobby when Henderson requested, "Would one of you check to see if Lana Lang is in her room, and if she is, ask her to come downstairs, please."
Friend Phyllis Coates was one of those present and answered, "I'll go." She rushed up the stairs.
Knocking and entering the room of Lisa Landon and Lana Lang, she found the two roommates quietly talking.
"Lana, Inspector Henderson is downstairs and wants to see you."
"What about, Phyllis?"
"He didn't say."
"O.K. Tell him I'll be right down," the red head stated. Going to the mirror, she combed her hair and dabbed her eyes, red from tears.
When she reached the lobby area, she greeted Clark and the officer. "You wanted to see me, Inspector?"
"Yes. I'm very sorry to have to do this, but Lana Lang, I am arresting you for the murder of Curtis Lamont."
"WHAT!" she screamed.
Clark stepped between his girl friend and the policeman. Henderson immediately instructed, "Back away Clark. Do not interfere. Don't make matters worse by obstructing."
He wisely moved out of the way.
As he handcuffed the shocked girl, he stated, "Lana, you have the right to remain silent as anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand what I have just told you?"
"O.K. Kelley, take her to the station."
Lana Lang was led out of the building amidst all the rumblings of her dormitory peers.
"Inspector Henderson, this is crazy! Lana wouldn't kill anyone. You've made a terrible mistake."
"Listen, Kent, I don't like this any more than you, but I have to do my job. I tried to reach Professor Lang, but haven't been able to find him. Maybe you should try. Tell him he should come down to the station."
The police officer left Clark standing alone, as rigid as a statue.
Twenty-five minutes after arresting Lana Lang for the murder of college professor Curtis Lamont, the weary detective entered his office at the Smallville Police Department.
He was shocked upon seeing the Boy of Steel, with his arms crossed, standing in the middle of the room.
"Hello, Inspector. I hope you don't mind my waiting for you in here, but we need to talk."
He tossed his keys on his desk and turned to face his visitor, "I guess you want to talk about the murder at the college."
"That, and the arrest of Lana Lang. Really, Inspector, do you honestly believe that she is capable of such a thing?"
"Have a seat, Superboy, let me explain something to you. I've been a cop for a long, long time, coming up on twenty-seven years. Professor Lang, his deceased wife and I actually moved to this town all in the same year. We became good friends. I've known Lana since the day she was born. Five days after her birth, I was a pall bearer at Lenore Lang's funeral (Lana's mother died during childbirth). Do you think for a minute I enjoyed putting this young lady in handcuffs and hauling her down here? Do you?"
"No sir, I don't, but..."
"Please let me finish," Henderson went on. "But, I can't let my personal emotions interfere with doing my job. I have to follow the evidence, no matter where it might lead."
"What evidence, if I might ask?" the super hero inquired.
"Lana had an appointment with Lamont at three o'clock. His appointment book on his desk said so. Lana's own boyfriend, Clark Kent, confirmed this to me. Lana and the instructor were having some kind of problem...again, Kent's own words. He left her at Lamont's office door at three o'clock. He heard Lamont tell Lana to enter his office. Kent stated she entered the office at that time."
"O.K., go on, please."
The cop continued, "around fifteen minutes after three, several students heard loud voices, one male, one female. There was an argument going on inside the office. At three-twenty-two, several students witnessed Lana's opening and slamming the door and running down the hall away from the office. They have all given statements."
There was a knock on Henderson's door. "Yes."
A man in a lab technician coat entered, "Here's the report you wanted, Inspector."
"Thanks, Tucker. Oh, Superboy, this is Frank Tucker, our top lab man."
Tucker and Superboy exchanged greetings. Then Tucker left the room."
"Where was I, oh yeah, three-twenty-two, Lana ran from the office. Five minutes later, three-twenty seven, female student Betty Nelson arrived for her three-thirty appointment with Lamont. She knocked on the door, but there was no answer. After knocking again, she opened the door slightly, looked into the room and saw Lamont on the floor beside his desk, face up with a letter opener stuck into his chest. She panicked, slammed the door closed and ran for help. By three-twenty-nine, the hall was full of students and / or curiosity seekers."
Superboy said nothing.
"And, according to the report that Tucker just handed me, Lana Lang's fingerprints are on the handle of Lamont's letter opener, which is the murder weapon. So, I have Lana at the scene at the time the murder was perpetrated, she had an arguement with the victim about a long-term situation, she was seen running from the crime scene and her prints are on the murder weapon. I'm sorry, Superboy, I wish it were different, but like I said, I have to follow the evidence, and it all points to Lana."
"May I see her?"
"Not now, she's being processed and booked. Maybe tomorrow."
There was a buzzing on the Inspector's intercom. "Yes."
"Professor Lang is here."
"O.K. Thank you. I'll be right out." He turned back to Superboy, "We will continue investigating this case, but tomorrow morning I'll turn over what I have at that point to the District Attorney and what happens beyond that, is up to him. But I should tell you, I've convicted people on less evidence than what we have on Lana."
"Very well, Inspector, I'll stay in touch with you."
As the Boy of Steel exited via the window, the beaten-down investigator went out to face his long-time friend.
Naturally, the campus murder and arrest of Lana Lang were the talk of, not only Smallville Junior College, but of the entire county. Murder rarely happens there.
Many citizens expressed outrage over the girl's arrest. They knew Lana well and that she couldn't be guilty of killing anyone. A minority took the other view. Such is the way of small town gossip. Nevertheless, the party lines were red hot that spring morning.
Clark, thanks to Inspector Henderson, was permitted to visit his girlfriend in her cell. After they hugged and held each other for a moment, she burst into tears, "Clark, this can't be happening! How can Inspector Henderson think I killed Professor Lamont?"
"Try to calm down, shhhh," he tried to comfort her. "I don't believe he really thinks you did, but the evidence is difficult for him to ignore. He explained everything to Superboy yesterday afternoon, and..."
"How do you know this?"
"Superboy told me last night." Kent asked, "Have you had any visitors besides me and your father?"
"No, not yet, except that the Academic Dean, mind you, the same person I was going to talk to about Professor Lamont, sent word last night that I was expelled and am no longer a student at Smallville Junior College."
"What! He did that. You haven't even been bound over for trial."
"His message stated that it was necessary to expell me 'to maintain the integrity of the school'. Dad was here when the message was delivered. He was so mad he stormed over to the Dean's house, woke him up and resigned from the faculty, effective the end of the semester. I wish he hadn't done that, but he said he couldn't continue teaching at a school that convicted people of crimes before they were even tried."
"That's unbelieveable!" Clark responded.
"I need to ask if you and the guys can move my stuff from the dorm back to my Dad's house. Lisa can help you. The Dean wants my possessions off school property as soon as possible."
"My gosh, they don't waste any time."
The accused continued, "Dad is getting me a lawyer, someone he knows in Metropolis. Inspector Henderson told me a bit ago that the D.A. is presenting his evidence to the Grand Jury this afternoon to see if I will be bound over for trial. All of this is so new to me. I wish I had taken some law courses."
"Don't worry about all of that. Your lawyer will deal with it. So, tell me what happened at the meeting with Lamont."
"Well, he acted like he was barely listening to me. I asked him if he was trying to get back at my dad through me for their differences. He said I was ridiculous to say that but offered no explanation as to why he was treating me the way he was. Then, when I continued to press the same issue, he became very angry and told me to get out of his office, so I left."
"Were you shouting at each other?"
"Oh yeah, both of us lost our tempers."
Kent pressed on, "And you saw no one else around when you were there?"
"Henderson told me that there were some other kids in the hall when I ran out of the office, but I didn't pay them any attention. I just wanted to get away from there. So I ran almost all of the way back to my room, crying like a baby. Lisa showed up, and she calmed me down and we talked until Phyllis told me to go downstairs. Oh, Clark...what's going to happen to me?"
"Honey, try to stay positive. I know that isn't easy, but you've always been a fighter. Don't give up now. Maybe there will be a break in the case."
"I hope so," she began crying again.
The situation worsened when the four o'clock news on WSML, Smallville's radio station, reported that the Grand Jury found probable cause and bound Lana Lang over to Superior Court on a charge of second degree murder.
"Honey, do you have any idea how I can get in touch with Superboy?" Lisa Landon asked her boyfriend Pete Ross.
The lad, caught in the middle of the bizarre situation in which he knew the secret identities of both Superboy and Supergirl but had promised not to reveal either's secret, responded, "What?"
"I need to contact Superboy, it's important," she emphasized.
Lisa had told Pete about finally revealing her existence to the Boy of Steel and the agreements made between the two super heroes, but they had failed to determine how to communicate with one another. Of course Pete could contact Superboy. He shared a room with him, but he was mired in a catch-22 mess. He couldn't straight out tell Lisa "Sure, I know where he is," as that would raise suspicion with her. And he couldn't go to Superboy and say, "Supergirl wants to see you." Clark would then been curious how Pete knew there even was a Supergirl.
"I can ask around," was the best answer young Ross could give his sweetheart. "Why do you want to see him?"
"Well, I was thinking that between the two of us, we could maybe come up with something that would help Lana."
"Like what? The evidence against her is overwhelming, even though I know she's innocent."
Landon added, "I don't know what exactly. But there has to be something we can do."
"And if I found him, what should I tell him?"
"To meet me at noon tomorrow at the place we met last time."
"But that would be telling him I knew Supergirl existed, and no one is supposed to know that, ya see what I mean? And what if I couldn't get a hold of him by noon tomorrow?"
"Oh gosh, yeah, you're right," she answered. "Well, I guess the only other option is for me to take to the clouds this afternoon and hope I see him doing the same."
"Whenever the two of you do see each other again, you need to figure out something so there won't be this problem."
"Yes, you're right," she answered. "I guess there's no time like the present. I'm going back to the dorm and change to Supergirl and hope I get lucky. I'll see you later," she said as she kissed him.
"O.K. Good luck."
Lisa made quick time getting to her room, and her room alone. She had lost her roommate with Lana's expulsion from school, but it, at least, made her transformations much easier. Quickly, the wig and outer garments were removed revealing the Girl of Steel, who shot through the third floor window at a fast rate of speed so she wouldn't be seen, and soon she was soaring in the afternoon sky out of sight.
Good luck was slow coming her way, but after several hours of roaming the skies, Superboy was in her view. Shortly, they were both zooming down to the Robinson farm smokehouse.
The two caped wonders discussed the Lang situation, then Superboy asked, "Do you know Lana Lang?"
"I've heard enough about her to believe the police have arrested the wrong person for this crime."
"I'm sure she would appreciate your saying that. I've had the fortune of getting her out of quite a few scrapes the last several years. She has a knack of getting herself into trouble. But this time, I don't know how to help her. She'll have to put herself in the hands of her attorney and hope he can pull that rabbit out of the hat."
"Superboy, I need to have a way to contact you so I don't have to do what I did today."
"Let me think a minute," the super lad responded. "Got it. Did you have a Septronian name?"
"Anytime you need me, call the Smallville Police Department. It does not matter who answers. Just say the following: 'This is Kara. K-A-R-A.' I will instruct them that anytime a female voice calls and says that, they are to contact me. Say nothing else. Just 'This is Kara. K-A-R-A.' Understand?"
"Yes, I understand," Supergirl responded.
As their meeting broke up, Lana's problems compounded with an unexpected visitor...her now former friend Noel Neill.
"Noel, what in heaven's name are you doing here?"
"I had to come and see you, Lana. I'm so sorry for what you're going through, but as it turns out, we're both in prison, so to speak."
Lang inquired, "I don't follow you."
"It's Lex. He's become very possessive. He won't let me leave the house without him. I'm going to be in trouble when he finds out I came to see you."
"Has he hurt you, Noel?"
"Not physically, but emotionally, he's, well, just not the same as he was. He was very nice and affectionate at first and..."
The red head interrupted, "Yes, I assumed that when I found out you were expecting a baby. Are you married yet?"
"No, and he says we never will be. He just tells people that we're getting married when we're out together. But he told me that he'd never marry a, well, someone like me. He just wants my baby. What can I do?"
"Go to your parents."
"They won't speak to me anymore. They say I humiliated them in the community and want nothing to do with me," the expectant mother answered.
"Noel, they would if they knew you might be in danger."
"I'm too ashamed to approach them."
"Well, you're at the Police Station. Tell Inspector Henderson," Lana suggested.
"I'm afraid to involve the police. I'm scared of what Lex or his four apes might due to me. Oh, Lana, I'm sorry I came here. "JAILER! Let me out."
"I know Noel. Tell Superboy. He can handle Lex and his goons."
"Superboy, yeah, that might work, if I can find him."
"Noel, the next time he comes to see me or Inspector Henderson, I'll tell him you need his help."
"Thanks Lana. I'm so sorry for what I've done. I know I've let all my family and friends down. Can you please forgive me?"
"Of course. You've always been a good friend Noel. We've had many good times together and we'll have more. You'll see."
Once she was alone in her cell yet again, Lana couldn't help but think about what her friend was dealing with, living with that monster Lex Luthor."
At least it got her mind off her own problems...for a bit."
The following morning, just as Pete and Clark, were entering the math class which they shared, Kent felt the vibration of his signal watch.
He whispered in Pete's ear, "I have to go. The police are calling Superboy."
"O.K., buddy. I'll make an excuse for you if the teacher asks."
Clark went out the hall door and ducked into the nearby bushes. "Maybe something's happened with Lana's case." Talking into the receiver in his watch, "Yes, this is Superboy."
The officer informed him that Inspector Henderson wanted to meet with him at the Laurence Leyton house on Pear Tree Lane.
"Tell him I'm leaving right away," Kent answered, "Over."
Shedding his outer wardrobe, the Boy of Steel shot upward and set a direct course to the Leyton house, now the residence of Lex Luthor, formerly Laurence Leyton Jr.
As he descended to land near the front porch, he saw an ambulance pulling out of the drive, siren blaring and lights flashing.
Entering the house, Superboy found Inspector Henderson standing at the bottom of the staircase.
"What's happened, Inspector?"
"There's been an accident, perhaps an accident, I should say."
"What do you mean?" the lad asked.
"The girl who was living here with Lex Luthor fell down the stairs, or that's what Luthor is saying."
"That would be Noel Neill, correct?"
"Oh, you knew she was living here?"
"Yes, I heard about it after she left the SJC dormitory."
The detective inquired, "Did you also know she was pregnant?"
"Yes, that's what I had heard, Inspector. How is she?"
"Well, not good. The rescue squad driver said her back and maybe her neck was broken. They're on the way to Smallville General to see if they can save her and her baby."
"I'm so sorry. Noel's a good friend of Lana Lang and Phyllis Coates. I believe they all went to junior high and high school together."
"They did," Henderson responded. "I've known the Neill girl since she was little."
"You said 'perhaps an accident.' You're not certain?"
"I'm about to talk with Luthor about it. I thought you might want to join me. That's why I sent for you."
"Yes, I would."
"This way, he's in the study. Remember the last time we were in this study?"
"Absolutely," the Boy of Steel remarked.
They entered the large, ornate room and found Luthor sitting on a sofa, his head lowered. He actually looked distraught.
"I need you to tell me what happened, Lex," requested the detective.
Raising his head, he saw Superboy.
"Why the hell is he here?"
"I asked him to join me, Lex. I didn't think you'd mind," Henderson informed.
"Well, I do! How does it feel, Superboy, being back in the same room where you killed my father?"
"I didn't kill your father, Lex, and you know it. Your dad's associate fired the bullet that killed your father."
"But it ricocheted off your chest and struck him."
"If your father's henchman hadn't fired the weapon, it wouldn't have happened. I told the man to drop the gun, but he didn't."
"Hold on, you two. Let's talk about what has happened here today," Inspector Henderson ordered. "What can you tell me, Luthor?"
He responded, "I was in this room getting my things together for today's classes. I heard Noel scream, then a rumbling sound, then silence. I opened the door and saw her lying at the bottom of the stairs. I ran to her, but she was unconscious. I could tell by the position she was in that she was hurt real bad. So I called the police for an ambulance. That's all I know. And that's the truth."
"Where are your four, uh, bodyguards?"
"They were supposed to have the car ready out front for me at eight-thirty. I heard Noel fall about eight-twenty or a minute or two after. I haven't even thought about them since the fall. At this moment, I don't know where they are."
"Inspector, may I see you for a minute?" requested an Officer Simonson.
Henderson went with his fellow officer. Simonson showed Henderson a piece of loose carpet at the very top of the stairs. Then demonstrated how easily someone could catch the toe of a shoe in it, resulting in a fall."
"It could have been an accident, Inspector, just as Luthor is claiming."
"Yeah, Simonson, it could have happened that way. I don't know. Get a photo of that loose carpet."
As Henderson reached the bottom of the stairs, another officer entered the house and whispered something to him. "Thanks."
The over-worked law enforcer re-entered the study. "I'm sorry, Lex, but I just got word that the medical team couldn't save Noel or the baby. I am sorry."
Luthor broke out into tears.
Superboy and Henderson exchanged glances. Could it be possible this person, who had caused so much trouble in Smallville a year earlier, had real emotions, or was this another of his "performances?"
As I said, "I'm so sorry. I'm sure you cared a great deal for her," the cop consoled.
"You talking about Noel? You don't understand, Henderson, I could get a dozen tramps like her anyday, but my baby...my heir...someone who would carry on the Luthor dynasty one day. I wanted that baby more than anything in this world. Leave me alone! You get out of my house and take all of your crummy cops with you!" Then, looking at Superboy, "and especially HIM!"
He ran past eveyone in his way as he climbed the stairs. They all heard a door slam.
"What now, Inspector?" the caped hero asked.
"Nothing for now. I want to read the coroner's report and talk to those four bodyguards before I make any decisions." He asked Simonson, "Si, you all through here?"
"Yes sir, we have everything we need."
"All right. Let's clear out and leave Mr. Luthor to himself. Thanks, Superboy for coming out. Oh, by the way, did you know that Noel Neill visited Lana Lang yesterday afternoon."
"No, I didn't."
"Well, that is, I believe, the first thing I asked you today that you didn't know." He chuckled. "Well, she did. Might be interesting to hear what Lana has to say about that visit. I'll let you know, Superboy. See ya."
"So long, Inspector."
The boy in the red and blue outfit walked out onto the porch, thought to himself for a moment, then jumped into the air.
"A quick flight back to campus, Clark Kent has classes today."
Throughout the day, as she sat in her confinement awaiting trial, murder suspect Lana Lang picked up enough inormation here and there to learn that her long-time friend Noel Neill was dead, less than twenty-four hours after the troubled girl had visited her.
Lang attempted to get information from anyone in the precinct, but being an open case, no one complied, that is, until Henderson came to see her in the mid-afternoon, and asked about the conversation she had with Noel the previous day.
The red head repeated that Noel told her Lex had been treating her badly emotionally but had not harmed her physically. "He's responsible for her death, Inspector. It was no accident. He pushed her down the steps. I'm sure of it."
The cop responded, "Well, I'm not sure of that. Maybe he did. But there's not enough evidence to arrest him for anything."
"I tell you he did it. You know what he's like. Remember what he did to me! He nearly killed me. If it hadn't been for Superboy...well, I wouldn't be sitting here on a trumped-up murder charge."
"I guess I had that one coming," Henderson lamented. "Lana, Noel could have died just as Lex said. The coroner found no evidence during the autopsy this morning to indicate anything but accidental death."
"Well, he's cunning and clever, you know that. He did it," she maintained.
"He told Superboy and me he cared little for her, other than she was pregnant with his child. But he seemed genuinely heartbroken over losing the baby. His heir to the Luthor dynasty, he called it. If he was telling the truth about the baby, he wouldn't push Noel down a flight of stairs."
"The truth...Lex Luthor...right. And what about those four gorillas he hangs around with?"
"I finally got up with them a few hours ago. They claimed they made a quick run to a gas station for cigarettes before driving Lex to campus. I checked with the clerk at the station, and they were where they said they were, and around the time Noel went down the stairs. They weren't on the Luthor property."
"So that leaves just Lex, of course," Lana insisted. "I'm being tried for a murder I didn't commit, and Lex is going to get away with a murder he did commit. What a justice system."
The Smallville college campus was mostly dark and serene around midnight when Clark's signal watch woke him from slumber.
"This is Superboy."
"You're needed at a fire at Harry Gerstad's woodworking building on Maxwell Street," came the request from police headquarters.
"On my way," he answered as he jumped from his bed, donned the proper attire and left via his dorm room window without waking roommate Pete Ross.
He was quickly joined in flight by Supergirl.
"I heard the sirens. What is it?" the flying female inquired.
"Commercial fire on Maxwell Street. How's your super breath?"
"I have it under control. This won't be my first fire."
The Boy of Steel directed, "Good, you work from above, I'll handle ground duty."
As they approached the flames, it crossed his mind that Supergirl had come from the same direction as he. Was it possible that she, too, was an SJC student? Yes or no, he gave his word that he would not pry into her secret identity.
As instructed, Supergirl worked from the air, concentrating on extinguishing the flames coming through the building's burned roof. Superboy flew past the firemen right into the inferno. The fire fighters watched as the flames become smaller and smaller until there was nothing but residue smoke.
"Hello, Chief," he stated as he walked out of the damaged business. "The fire is out, Chief. And just to make sure no hot spots flare back up, I used my super breath to coat the entire interior with a film of ice. It should be melted by morning so you can go inside safely to do your investigation."
"Thank you so much, Superboy."
"Happy to help. Good night," as he disappeared into the dark night.
Joining his new partner in flight, he told her she had done a great job.
"You said that this wasn't your first fire?"
"No, I put out a house fire in town last fall."
"The Coleman house?"
"I believe that was the name," she responded.
"Did you, by any chance, prevent a train from falling off a trestle and stop a tractor trailer truck from going through a bridge railing?"
Modestly, she answered, "Yes, I did those too. Why?"
"Just curious. Good work. See you later," he said, diverting his course slightly to appear not to be returning to the dormitory.
On his way, he was relieved knowing now that he had not had memory lapses from exposure to the green meteorite back in the fall. Supergirl was responsible for those rescues.
Mid-afternoon the following day found Clark Kent stretched across the bed in his room. His last class had been canceled due to the instructor attending a meeting. The reason didn't really matter as far as Kent was concerned. It gave him some time to take a much-wanted afternoon nap before making his afternoon patrol of Smallville.
The nap went the way of all flesh when Pete and Chester barged into the room, "Clark, did you hear? She free! She's free!"
A bit groggy, he replied, "What? Who?"
"Lana. She's free!" Chester answered.
"It was just on the radio, Clark, Lana's attorney asked for a dismissal of all charges, the D.A. agreed, and the Judge ruled. It's all over! She should be home by dinner time," Pete finished.
"What, what happened?" inquired the jubilant boy friend.
"It didn't say. Just said all charges were dropped," answered Pete.
"I've got to find out what happened," Kent exclaimed. He gave Pete a nod that Chester was in the way.
"Come on, Chester, let's go downstairs and see if there's anything more on the radio about it."
"Sure," he stated. "Coming, Clark?"
"I'll catch up with you."
As soon as they cleared the stairs at the other end of the hall, Clark dashed up the steps to the roof, made a quick change and made a fast path to police headquarters."
The Boy of Steel sat in a chair across the desk from Inspector Henderson as the detective filled him in on the details surrounding the release of Lana Lang.
"I wish I could take credit for the apprehension of Professor Lamont's murderer, but the fact is the resolution walked right into this office and sat in the very chair you occupy."
"What? Who?" the lad inquired.
"Lex Luthor killed Professor Lamont?"
"No. Lex Luthor actually delivered the killer to us. One Charles William Stevenson, a.k.a. T-Ball. One of the four "gentlemen" in his employ," answered the cop.
"Please explain," Superboy requested.
"Well, the four fellows who hang around with Luthor were students at the college, until they were caught running a gambling operation on campus last semester."
"Yes, I remember."
"The four were kicked out of school and charged. It was a misdemeanor, so they all got probation. Apparently, three of the four learned their lesson, at least that's what Lex said, and we have nothing to prove him wrong. But this T-Ball didn't take his being charged seriously, and he continued to make book on his own."
"But how did Lamont fit into this?"
"Turns out that the good professor liked to bet on college and pro football games. And it seems he wasn't very good at it. Lamont was into T-Ball for around ten grand. T-Ball figured if he could collect from the professor, he could break away from Lex and the other three and go his own way. So he went to see Lamont the same afternoon Lana had her appointment. He was already in Lamont's office trying to shake down the professor when Lana and Clark Kent arrived. When she knocked on the door, Stevenson hid in the closet. They had already argued. Lamont told T-Ball he was going to bring extortion charges against him and personally see that he went to prison if he didn't let the debt wash. The kid wasn't willing to do that. T-Ball witnessed the argument between Lamont and Lana from the closet. When she ran out of the office, T-Ball gave the professor one last chance to pay up, but it ended with T-Ball grabbing the letter opener and killing him. Just as he was about to leave the office is when Betty Nelson came for her appointment. T-Ball jumped behind the door when Betty opened it. After she screamed and ran, T-Ball stepped into the hall and blended in with the students who soon formed around the door, then slowly walked away."
"Didn't any of the students notice him, I mean, dressed all in black?" the super hero asked.
"That was the one smart thing the kid did the whole afternoon. He wore regular clothes so he wouldn't draw attention to himself."
"But how did he end up here at the station?"
The detective continued, "Mr. Stevenson has a bad temple and loves to brag. He told his three comrades this morning what he had done. Thought it would make him a big man in their eyes. But Mr. Templeton, a.k.a. Rock, went straight to Luthor and ratted him out. There's something else, Superboy. T-Ball also was responsible for the Neill girl's death. He pushed her down the stairs."
"He came on to her the other morning when Luthor was downstairs getting ready for school. She spurned him and tried to get to Lex to tell him what T-Ball had just done. He caught her at the top of the stairs and pushed her. He ran outside the house where the other three were, waiting by the car. He made up some story about needing smokes, so he talked the others into running to the store. He thought that would be his alibi. That's when Lex found Noel at the bottom of the stairs. But he couldn't keep his mouth shut and bragged about what he did to her. 'No woman refuses me' he told them."
"When Rock told Lex about all of this, the three guys had to pull Lex off T-Ball. Instead, Luthor threw him into the car, and they all brought T-Ball in. That was this morning. What Lex told me is hearsay, but the sworn statements the other three dictated are admissible as they are first person. And T-Ball's confession is more than enough to put him down. Actually, he cracked pretty easily. Maybe he was scared more of what would happen to him if he went back to the Luthor house."
"Incredible, Inspector," Superboy added. "I guess this makes Lex Luthor some kind of a hero, doesn't it?"
"Yes, I guess so. An innocent girl has her freedom, and a guilty man will take her place in the exact cell until his trial. Luthor said he was a new man, and it looks as if he is."
The super lad could now think of nothing else but to get to Lana Lang (as Clark Kent, of course), so he again thanked Henderson and left the officer to his bottomless pile of paper work.
The next afternoon, Lex Luthor sat at his desk in what was once his father's crime center, reading the afternoon's Smallville Sentinel. The headline delighted him. LUTHOR DELIVERS KILLER TO POLICE.
"Sometimes," he thought to himself, "things you weren't counting on go your way. T-Ball's misfortune only solidifies the image I want everyone to have of me...Lex Luthor, model citizen. As soon as all this quiets down, I'll be able to set my master plan into motion. And no one will ever see it coming."
Rock and his buddies, now reduced to two, were sitting on the front porch and jumped when they heard a hysterical laugh.
Two more days of class and final exams were all that remained of the spring semester at SJC. Clark, Pete, Chester, Lisa and Phyllis were nearly finished with their first year of college. Lana had finished the day of her arrest.
When Clark reached his room after his afternoon Superboy patrol of Smallville, Pete informed him that Lana had called and wanted to talk with him.
He returned her call from the third floor telephone at the other end of the hall. Saying she needed to speak with him somewhere that they wouldn't be disturbed, he suggested her house. No, Professor Lang was there. How about the Kent home? Martha and Aunt Edith had gone to Midvale for the day to do volunteer work at the orphanage. That would work. So she told Clark she would pick him up at the school.
After turning off the road into the Kent drive, Lana, as she had done many times in the past, slammed on the brakes of her red '61 Impala, skidding to a stop.
"Whew! Some things never change," Clark remarked.
"Are you sure your mom and aunt aren't home?" she asked.
"Yes, the truck isn't here. They're in Midvale, I told you."
Inside the Kent home, Clark asked Lana if she wanted anything to drink?"
"No thanks. Let's sit down."
"All right. So what's so important that we needed to come out here to talk?"
"Clark, outside you said that some things never change. Well, I'm afraid you're wrong. Things are going to change."
"I don't follow," he replied.
"This is very difficult for me, so please hear me out."
"Sure. Go ahead."
The red head began, "I've been sitting at home for the last month or so with very little to do, so I've had a lot of time to do some serious thinking."
"Please, let me continue. Clark...I've decided to leave Smallville."
"You're what! Leaving?... for where?" he questioned.
"Santa Barbara, California. And I'd like you to go with me. We could even get married if you want."
"California? Why California?"
"I've been accepted at Santa Barbara City College. My first semester credits will transfer."
"I don't understand. Why do you want to leave Smallville?" he inquired.
"Clark, Smallville and I have been struggling with each other for quite a while. I've been abducted more than once. I was drugged and brainwashed. I've lost two good friends in less than a year...first Bob Morgan, then Noel. (She began to cry.) And I couldn't even attend my friend's funeral because I was locked in a jail cell charged with murder. All of these terrible things, and I'm still a teenager. I have to get out of this place before it kills me or I go completely crazy. But you can go with me, like I said."
Poor Clark grasped for words, "Lana, I can't. I can't leave Smallville. I have obligations here."
"You mean your mother?"
"Well, that's part of it. But other things, too."
"Such as...?" she pressed.
"Uh, school for one. And...I like it here."
"Like I said, we could get married in California. It's the swinging sixties, Clark, and no where swings better than California."
"Lana, I'm not ready to get married. I promised myself that I would get college behind me before marriage."
"Oh, I see."
"Sweetheart, take some more time to think about this. You can start back at SJC this fall and..."
She cut him off, "Are you kidding? Do you think I would ever set foot on that campus again? After they dropped me like a bad habit when I was arrested. Guilty before proven innocent is their motto. A person has some pride, ya know. Not a chance."
"Well, Metropolis University then."
"Interesting you mention MU. My father is joining the faculty there this fall. He's putting our house up for sale during the summer and moving there. No, Clark, my mind's made up. I've got to get away from here, and Metropolis is not far enough. I was hoping you would go with me, but if not, I understand, I'll go by myself."
"But, Lana, all the great times we've had together and..."
"Clark Kent, I love you. I loved you since we were little kids, and I'll always hold you dearly in my heart. I don't know how I'll survive without you, but if you can't go, I'll have to manage."
"At least I'll have the summer to change your mind."
"Actually, you won't. I'm accepted for summer semester at Santa Barbara. I need to make up for the time I lost this semester for being, well, you know. Classes start in ten days. I'm leaving the day after tomorrow, just the '61 Chevy and me, I guess."
She stood up from the sofa and started for the door.
"Please tell Martha and your aunt goodbye for me."
"Well, O.K.," Clark managed to say.
He opened the door for her.
With tears running down both of their cheeks, Lana leaned in and kissed him.
i·ro·ny [ahy-ruh-nee] noun -- an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.
Superboy will return...
"Like The Only Real Magic -- The Magic Of Knowledge"