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 SUPERMAN: THE LIVING LEGEND: LAST SON OF KRYPTON: CHAPTER 19

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Chapter 19
OLD-TIMER


Clark Kent closed the office door behind himself and his visitor, leaned back in his chair, and allowed himself to smile Superman's smile.  If anyone barged in at that moment, the glasses and blue suit would be no disguise.

"First question," Superman's smile asked, "are you really here or are you some kind of astral projection? I thought you fellows didn't leave Oa."

"I am very real, Kal-El.  You may notice that my skin is nearly as peach-colored as yours, a bit browner like the humanoids of Malthus, the world of the Guardians' birth."

"I assumed that was part of your disguise."

"Regrettably not.  You see I am no longer immortal.  If you observe you may notice that I have skin pores, also, and look." The ancient pressed his palm on Clark's desk, "I leave fingerprints, as well.

"You're the Old-Timer.  The Guardian fallen from grace."

"I am."

"All right.  The obvious question is, where's the real Fellman Gordon?"

"Asleep in his home.  I have already caused his mind to experience the events which I live today in his identity.  He will awaken this evening after what he felt to be an afternoon nap, and he will be most pleased tomorrow when he watches the broadcast of Miss Lane's interview of him."

"Don't tell me the answer to my next question.  I'll tell you.  The reason you came here designed as Fellman Gordon was that the sociologist has stumbled upon some Universal Truth and you wanted to emphasize it to me and the television audience so that the message comes across properly."

"He approached a new idea, at least new for the civilization of Earth.  I should like to point it out for you—that for every social force there is an equal and opposite social force, that we each live in vibratory patterns, and that the only reason we do not discern these patterns we live in as readily as we see radio waves or the ripples left by a pebble in water is that the frequencies we travel are too large to measure in one human lifetime."

Clark lost his Superman smile quite unconsciously.  He tried very hard, every time he encountered one of these aged beings, not to be as impressed as he was the last time.  Clark had no idea how the contention that his presence interfered with Earth's social growth evolved into the concept of vibratory patterns and frequencies and immortality and the role of humankind in a complex and confusing Universe.  He didn't pursue the question.

"These are merely tertiary matters," the Old-Timer said, as if taking Clark's faded smile as a cue to get to business.  "You have been concerned recently with an epistle left by your eminent Professor Einstein."

Clark was startled again.  "What was in the document?  What do you know about Einstein?"

"A bit more, I suspect, than you do.  We took quite an active interest in his career."

"Where can I find the document?"

"In the custody of the Master of Oric."

"Oric.  Fourth planet of the Vega system.  I've never been there, it's a blue star sun.  Isn't that the home planet of Towbee the space minstrel?"

"That is by an accounts the place of his birth."

"Was he the thief?"

"That would be a logical suspicion."

"What do you suggest I do?"

"You have reduced powers, Kal-El, on a planet whose star sun is blue.  Your optical abilities are restricted and your invulnerability to physical assault is not as apparently limitless.  You have no familiarity with the planet, whose technology and consequent dangers to you draw on contributions from nearly a thousand independent cultures from hundreds of light-years away.  Your unknown adversary, the Master, is apparently particularly interested in some supposed discovery of Einstein's.  It would be advisable, therefore, for you to go to Oric with an assistant who qualifies as a creative technician of the first magnitude as well as an expert on Einsteinian physics."

Predictably, Clark/Superman could not dispute the Old-Timer's logic.

The night of the full moon, Superman quietly incapacitated a hired hit-man who was on his way to Lois Lane's apartment.  He had the assassin charged with major offenses unrelated to Lois, for which he guaranteed proof within the week.  Superman also raced midnight over half the globe, foiling a jewelry robbery in Marseilles and destroying a footbridge in Rhodesia before a group of armed civilian raiders could cross to a racially segregated area in order to incite a disturbance.  He rescued a child falling from a third-floor window in Liberia.  He anonymously whipped up an easterly wind to help a seventeen-year-old boy trying to sail across a becalmed Atlantic Ocean on the last leg of a solo voyage around the world.  He located the twin daughters of an Argentinian government official in the apartment of a kidnapper and spirited them home minutes before police arrived on the scene, so that the kidnapper could not negotiate an escape using his hostages.  In Baja California he dragged two cars, stranded in the same desolate mudhole, back to a major artery and then compacted the mudhole to the consistency of asphalt.  On the southeastern outskirts of San Francisco he dived underground to ease the pressure on a certain section of the San Andreas Fault and delay the inevitable earthquake for another month or so.  In Alaska he fused shut a growing leak in the central portion of the oil pipeline and burned up the black mess that had leaked over the wilderness before anyone saw it.  When he was 130 miles south of the North Pole, he wrote an entry in his journal.  Then Superman leaped seventeen hundred miles into the Aurora Borealis and saw the day's first hint of sunlight on the eastern horizon.  He dived like a missile at Washington, D.C.

Superman landed noiselessly on the Truman Balcony of the White House.  There, unnoticed, he slept for nearly an hour, until he was awakened before dawn by the sound of the President of the United States brushing his remarkable collection of teeth.

 

 

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