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Panic In The Sky — Epilogue
by Tom Nichol

Based on the episode of the same name
in the Adventures of Superman, 1953.

Ten days had elapsed since the destruction of the huge asteroid which had come so frighteningly close to destroying both Superman and Earth itself. After numerous discussions with Professor Roberts at the Metropolis Observatory, the Last Son of Krypton and the Professor had finally agreed upon a full explanation as to what had happened and why.

In his secret identity of Clark Kent, the Man of Steel was finally ready to submit that explanation to Perry White, owner/publisher of the Metropolis Daily Planet. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen joined the two in Perry’s private office to discuss the matter before Perry submitted Clark’s manuscript to the Planet’s composing room, where it would finally be turned into the story that the Planet’s readers would see on the newspaper’s front page the following day.

So the asteroid was actually a fragment of Krypton itself, Mr. Kent?” Jimmy asked.  Being an amateur scientist himself, Jimmy was naturally interested in the more technical aspects of the story.

That’s right, Jimmy,” Clark confirmed. “From what Superman and Professor Roberts have been able to determine, the asteroid must have followed directly behind the rocket ship which actually brought Superman from Krypton to Earth.”

But how could that be, Clark?” Lois inquired. “Some sort of magnetic attraction?”

Not quite, Lois,” Clark replied. “You see, from what Superman has told me, that rocket ship was equipped with two different propulsion systems. The first was basically a chemically-fueled rocket engine very similar to those now being used and further developed on Earth. That engine was designed to take the rocket ship beyond the outer limits of Krypton’s atmosphere and gravity field.”

What about the other engine, Clark?” Perry White asked.

Yeah—and why the need for two different propulsion systems?” Jimmy added.

Well, we may never know all of the technical details,” Clark answered, “especially since the ship destroyed itself not long after its arrival on Earth. However, it appears to have been some sort of faster-than-light design. As to the reason, Professor Roberts has determined that the Kryptonian solar system was located some 80 light years away from Earth. This made some sort of faster-than-light travel essential if the ship was going to reach our solar system in anywhere near a reasonable length of time!”

As his three colleagues gasped in astonishment, Clark went on, “There is a distinct possibility that some sort of space warp was developed as a part of the journey from Krypton to Earth. It seems likely that, for whatever reason, the asteroid was sucked along in the rocket’s exhaust trail during the trip. Also, at some point along the way, the asteroid was somehow knocked out of the ship’s trail before it arrived in our solar system. Since it was no longer able to take advantage of the rocket’s faster-than-light attributes, the asteroid must have completed the journey at a considerably slower rate.”

But, Clark,” Lois put in, “if the asteroid was of Kryptonian origin, shouldn’t it have been all Kryptonite?”

Not necessarily, Lois,” Perry interjected. “Given the circumstances that Clark here has described, it’s quite conceivable that, once the asteroid was no longer actually following the rocket directly from Krypton, it might very well have collided with one or more other astral bodies made from other materials. Also, there is a chance that this particular fragment of Krypton might have broken away from the mother planet just prior to the explosion of the main body of the planet itself, and therefore did not become completely radioactive. As Clark has said, however, we may never know all the details for sure. The important thing, however, is that our atomic scientists were able to devise a way to safely destroy the asteroid once and for all!”

As the others nodded their agreement, a thought occurred to Jimmy. While it wasn’t a pleasant one, he felt it had to be explored. “Do you think there might be other Kryptonite fragments out in space, Mr. Kent?” he reluctantly asked.

Clark’s face turned grim as he replied, “Unfortunately, Jimmy, I’m afraid that the answer is unavoidably yes. How many such fragments there are, and what directions each one is traveling in, remains to be seen. Hopefully, though, it’ll be a long, long time before another radioactive fragment of Krypton comes anywhere near our solar system, let alone Earth itself!”

Perry nodded, then commented with a smile, “Well, let’s all remember that happiness in life largely consists of refusing to worry about matters we have little or no control over. Let’s just all be thankful that this incident turned out the way it did. And now,” he concluded, checking his wrist watch, “let’s get this article down to the composing room, and then head home for the day!” With smiles of their own, Perry’s colleagues did just that.

Posted: April 30, 2018

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