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by Chip Caroon

He flew over the city. Everywhere he went, people looked up at pointed.

"Look, up in the sky!"

"It's a bird!"

"It's a plane!"

"No, it's Superman!"

Superman slowed down, turned his body, smiled and waved, before rushing back up into the Metropolis sky.

'Such a beautiful day,' he thought. 'Nothing to have to worry about. I'm just able to fly around and enjoy the fresh Metropolis air.'

Superman neared the Lexcom building and saw a familiar figure standing on the roof.

"Lois!" he said. "Taking a break?"

Lois Lane smiled. "I was going to ask you the same question. Want to take a break together?"

Superman came over, grabbed Lois, and began flying around the city, carrying her. "Your husband won't mind, will he?" Superman asked, with a smile.

Lois thought for a moment. "No . . . I don't think so. I haven't seen him for, oh, fifteen minutes?"

Superman kissed Lois.

"I wonder what Clark will say about that?" Lois asked.

"Oh. He probably wouldn't mind. But I think your boss will be a little upset that you're not there."

"Ehh . . . "

Superman flew a bit farther, and then all of a sudden, his head felt like it was about to explode.

"Superman!" Lois exclaimed. "What's wrong?"

Superman looked ahead. He had nearly gone in a circle, and was returning to the Lexcom building. Three seconds later, he dropped Lois off, and then flew upward, screaming.

"SUPERMAN!" Lois shouted. However, the Man of Steel could not hear her, for he had blacked out.

Superman felt himself floating. He opened his eyes. All he could see was white. And then . . .

"Superman," a deep voice boomed all around him.

The Man of Steel stood up. The only visible object to him was his own red and blue outfit. However, that voice did sound familiar.

"Show yourself!" Superman shouted. In his mind, he was thinking, 'Who's voice is that? I know I've heard it before.'

Laughter filled Superman's ears. "Don't you know who I am yet, Superman?"

Superman looked around, in as many directions as he could.

The laughter resumed. "You are clueless, Man of Steel."

Suddenly, a figure materialized in front of Superman. It had a grey head, and it wore a black cloak. However, the head didn't seem to be attached to the body, and neither did the arms. In fact, except for the metal gloves and shoulder pads, as well as the cloak and the head, it seemed as if the person was invisible.

Superman gritted his teeth when he recognized his foe. "Dominus," he said. "But didn't I condemn you to the Phantom Zone?"*

*(Superman: King of the World)

Dominus smiled. "And you thought that I wouldn't learn a few tricks to get you here as well? Guess what, Superman! Your little plan didn't exactly work. I'm back."

Superman leapt forward. "NOOOOO!" he shouted. However, just as he was about to make contact, he didn't. Superman opened his eyes. He was somewhere else. It wasn't Earth . . . it wasn't space . . . it wasn't even the Phantom Zone.

Then he recognized the greenish tint of the ground.

The Last Son of Krypton had come home.

Back on Earth, Lois Lane ran back to her cubicle. When she reached her desk, she began searching on the computer database for any sightings of Superman. She knew she could get up-to-the-second reports with the state of the art technology.

Jimmy Olsen came up behind her.

"Lois," he said. "What's the big rush?"

"It's Superman, Jimmy," Lois replied. "I just saw him outside. He was fine one minute, and then the next, he was screaming in pain. I need to find him."

"But, Mr. Luthor --"

"Screw him," Lois said.

Lois pulled up a satellite image of the Earth. She knew that it would be easy to locate Superman, ever since S.T.A.R. Labs had put a special satellite in orbit a few weeks ago. Even if Lexcom didn't like Superman, they still hadn't found a way to block that portion of the S.T.A.R. Labs site.

"I don't see anything," Jimmy said.

"I know," Lois said. "That means he's gone!"

A man came up to Superman. He wore a green outfit with a red sun on his chest. A yellow headband encircled his head.

"Hey, there!" he shouted.

Superman lifted his hand. "Hey to you, too."

"Mighty strange clothing you're . . . wearing . . . there . . . " The man's voice trailed off as he came closer.

Superman looked at the man, noticing something about his face. It reminded him of his own.

"Jor-El?" Superman asked. "Father?"

The man stopped walking. "Kal-El? Is it you?"

Superman walked the few remaining steps and embraced his father. "Yes. Yes, it's me."

Superman walked back to his father's home -- what would have been his home if he hadn't been sent away. However, the entire walk back, something was bothering him, as if something wasn't right. This Krypton was too . . . alive. The Krypton that he had come to know was cold and sterile.

But then, he remembered his parents coming to visit him. It was during Zero Hour.* He thought that it was just an alternate reality. But now, he figured it must be the true reality.

*(Superman #93)

"Enter, my son," Jor-El said, holding the door open. "There is much to do."

"Is Lara . . . mother . . . here?" Superman asked.

Jor-El shook his head. "No. She is out for the afternoon. But she will be pleasantly surprised when she finds that you have returned."

Suddenly, Superman remembered his actual life. "Earth! I must . . . "

"Earth can wait," Jor-El said. "It is not important."

Superman lowered his head. "I guess you're right. Earth can wait."

"Great," Jor-El said. "Now, go into that back room, and change. We can't have you walking around in those odd clothes."

Superman came out of his room, dressed in the all black outfit that he had found lying on the bed in his room. He even wore the black headband. He found the outfit strangely comfortable, even more so than any other garment he had ever worn.

"Kal-El, you look splendid!" Jor-El exclaimed when he saw his son.

"Yes, I feel great, too," Kal-El said.

Just then, a woman walked in. She looked at Kal-El and gasped. "It can't be . . . " She walked over cautiously, and put her hand out. She placed it on Kal's shoulder.

"Mother?" Kal asked.

"Kal-El!" Lara exclaimed, embracing her son. "I thought I would never see you again!"

Kal hugged his mother. He could tell that she was crying.

"Don't cry, mother," he said.

Jor-El cleared his throat. "I hate to have to break up this little reunion, but I'm afraid that Kal and I must go to the meeting of the Elders."

"Now?" Lara asked.

Kal-El ended the embrace. "Don't worry. I'm sure everything will be all right. I'm coming back here afterward. Right, father?"

Jor-El nodded. "Let's go, son."

The first part of the walk to the meeting was rather uneventful. Both men were slightly uncomfortable around each other still. Finally, Kal-El decided to make the trip a little more interesting. He jumped up in the air, ready to fly, and . . .

. . . He fell right back down to the ground.

"Don't you remember, son?" Jor-El asked.

"Remember what?"

"Why you have your powers."

"Solar --"

"It's because Earth is different than Krypton," Jor-El interrupted. "If any of us went to Earth, we'd all be Supermen. But here, we're just ordinary people."

"Why am I going to this meeting?" Kal-El asked.

"Son, we have waited a long time for you to return," Jor-El began. "Not just because we realized that it was a mistake, but because Krypton needs you."


"We sent you away because Krypton was threatening to explode. Like I told you when I visited you on Earth,* that disaster was averted."

*(Superman #93)

"Wait a minute! I remember now!" Kal-El exclaimed. "But you weren't real. Not for me. You were there because of the craziness that was Zero Hour."

"Kal, it can't be. You are my son. I am your father."

"Really?" Kal-El demanded. "Or am I your son from another reality?"

"Son, even I can't fully comprehend this mess."

Kal-El quieted. He wanted Krypton to be alive so bad. "Maybe," he said quietly. "Maybe Zero Hour changed things. Maybe it put me in the correct reality."

Jor-El looked up. "Here we are son. This is the meeting hall."

Lois Lane had created quite a crowd behind her as she frantically pressed buttons on the keyboard, trying to find out any information.

"Lois!" Simone DeNeige exclaimed. "Lois, dear. You must stop. Monsieur Luthor will not like this."

"Go to hell," Lois said.

"What?" Simone asked.

"You heard me."

"Cherie, I think you are making a mistake."

Lois stood up, turned around violently, and slapped Simone as hard as she could. Simone fell to the floor.


Everyone turned to see Lex Luthor walking into the main part of the offices. "Ms. Lane, why is Ms. DeNeige on the floor?"

"I slapped her. She fell."

"Why did you slap her?"

"Because I was irritated because I have to work here and can't do anything, and she was just annoying me!" Lois exclaimed. "I quit!" She picked up her purse and stormed out of the building.

"You won't get out of it that easy!" Luthor said.

"Tell her, Lex," Simone chimed in.

Luthor turned to Simone, who had now stood up. "Ms. DeNeige," he said, "you're fired."

Jor-El and Kal-El stood in the midst of the Elders in the meeting room. Jor-El had already announced himself and his son, as well as inform the gathered of his son's return.

"And now, we must tell him why we are glad he is back," Jor-El concluded.

The room was silent. Then, the Highest Elder, sitting far above everyone else in the room, spoke. "Kal-El," he said. "Everything you know is a lie. You were not sent away from Krypton so many years ago because the planet was about to explode. No, you were sent away to Earth as a scout. We embedded false memories in you, so you would believe that you truly were the 'Last Son of Krypton.'"

"But . . . but what about when I came here before?" Kal-El exclaimed. "Hawkman brought me, and all we saw was a ball of green gas. And what about when my parents were destroyed by the chronal waves during the Zero Hour crisis?"

"Kal-El," the Elder continued. "We disguised our planet from you, and those who were anywhere near you. We needed you to believe that it had perished. As for your parents, all was fixed, thanks to you."

"Me . . .?"

"Yes, Kal-El. You led your Earthly colleagues to victory, and thus saved time."

"But . . . "

"You don't remember much, because time is tricky. However, we have been in contact with those that you call the Linear Men. They have confirmed our story."

Kal-El looked down. "So, why am I here?"

"You were a scout. You were sent ahead, to prepare Earth."

"Prepare Earth for what?"


Shortly after Lois Lane returned home, someone knocked at her door. She opened it up.

"Simone!" she exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm here to tell you that I am pressing charges against you."

"Just for slapping you?"

"Deformation of character --"

"Don't give me that crap!"

"Very well, then. You can talk to my lawyers."

Lois slammed the door.

"No!" Kal-El exclaimed. "There's no way . . . I . . . will . . . invade . . . Ear- . . . Earth . . . " His speech slowed down as he fell to the floor.

"I'm sorry, son," Jor-El said. "But it's the only way."

Suddenly, Kal-El was back up on his feet. "Invasion of Earth?" he asked, in a much gruffer voice than before. "When do we start?"

"Attaboy," Jor-El whispered.

Kal-El returned to his home, where he spent the night with his parents, and later, his younger brother, Zan-El. He was brought up to date on all things Krypton, and was given all of the details of his birth, and mission.

The next morning, after he awoke, he found a new costume waiting for him. It looked similar to the costume he had worn shortly after coming back to life.* It was black, with a metal 'S'-shield. It had silver boots and gloves, with a silver-colored cape.

*(During all of the comics between Action Comics #689 and Superman #82)

Kal-El put the outfit on and walked out into the main living quarters.

"Son, you look great in that," Lara said.

"After breakfast, we'll go to prepare the invasion fleet," Jor-El said.

Kal-El nodded. "Earth won't stand a chance."

Lois picked up the phone after it had rang five times.

"Lois?" the man on the other end asked.

"Perry," Lois said. "What do you want?"

"I'm wondering what is wrong with you," Perry replied. "I heard about your incident at Lexcom yesterday. What on earth caused you to slap Simone?"

"Many reasons," Lois responded. "First, Luthor is manipulating things, so I stay there, regurgitating news. Second, Simone keeps bugging me all the time for no apparent reason. Third, I was busy, and she wouldn't leave me alone."

"And now she's pressing charges."

"How'd you know?"

"Just a guess. After a while, some things in this world just become too predictable."

Kal-El stood by Jor-El's side, watching the army as it was assembled.

"These soldiers are well trained," Kal-El observed. "I don't think I've ever seen an army get into position as quick as this."

"They are Kryptonians!" Jor-El replied. "They are born to be ready."

"Well, it looks like we have everything ready," Kal-El said. "Let's go."

Somewhere else, Dominus was watching Kal-El, his father, and the Kryptonian army.

"It is time," he said. With a mere flick of his wrist, he was able to transport the Kryptonian army to Metropolis.

"What the--?? How the--?" Kal-El was slightly disoriented. First, he hadn't expected such a brief journey. Second, it took him a while to get used to his powers, which had returned.

Looking around, he saw he was in Metropolis. He needed a place to make his statement -- to let them know the Krypton was dominant. Finally, he saw it: LexCorp.

Kal-El flew over to the large, L-shaped building, right up to Lex Luthor's own office. He tapped on the window.

Lex Luthor was shocked. "Superman!" he shouted. "What the hell do you want this time?"

"You, Lex. Your life. Your power. I'm sick of it," Kal-El replied. He turned to his father, who was hovering beside him. "Order them to fire at this building." Kal-El flew up, out of the line of fire.

Lex heard the word fire, and ran. On his way out, he pulled the fire alarm, starting a mass evacuation.

"Damn Kryptonian found an army," he muttered, running out. "And a new tailor."

Just then, the Kryptonian army let loose, blowing a gaping hole in the side of the building, and weakening its foundation.

Kal-El flew up. He was handed a device which would amplify his voice. "People of Earth!" he said. "Life as you know it is now over! From now on, you are all under the authority of the planet KRYPTON!!!"

Jor-El smiled.

Fire trucks and police cars were driving up to the LexCorp building as fast as they could. They all knew that there was no way for the entire building to be cleared before the Kryptonian army would level it. The sounds of sirens just threw the people into more of a panic.

Lex Luthor had stopped by the nursery on his way out and was carrying his daughter Lena as he came out. Dan Turpin of the SCU came up.

"Luthor! What the hell is going on?"

Luthor was angry. "Superman comes out of nowhere and starts harassing me. Next thing I know, he's blowing my building up!"

Lois Lane watched the destruction from her apartment. Perry White was standing behind her.

"Great Caesar's Ghost," Perry sighed. "What's gotten into Superman?"

"I don't know," Lois replied. "But I intend to find out."

She grabbed her jacket and ran out of her apartment.

"Lois, wait!" Perry exclaimed, chasing after her.

Kal-El stood in the sky, watching the people rushing out of the LexCorp tower. He smiled. Serves him right, he thought. Now, to just take care a few loose ends. He swooped down, and came up on the leader of one of the Kryptonian battalions.

"Rel-Ex," he said. "Command your troops to swing down and lift the building from its foundation. Throw it far into space."

"What of the people inside?" Rel-Ex asked.

Kal-El thought for a moment. "I'll get them first."

He flew at superspeed through the entire building, and was able to safely evacuate it. These employees of Luthor's were not at fault -- Just Luthor himself.

Within minutes, the Kryptonian army had lifted the building, and was flying it into outer space. Lex Luthor watched from the ground, having long since allowing his assistant to take care of Lena.

What does he think he's doing? he thought. No one takes away my building without paying for it! And he knows it!

Kal-El flew down. He stood in front of Luthor.

"So, Luthor, how's it feel to lose everything?" Kal asked.

"You haven't beaten me yet," Luthor replied.

Kal-El grabbed Luthor by the throat, and began levitating. "Wanna bet?" he asked.

"Superman!" Maggie Sawyer shouted. "What are you doing? You are pure EVIL!"

Kal-El dropped Luthor and floated to the head of the SCU. "No. Earth is evil. I'm just fulfilling its destiny."

With that, he flew back up in the air.

Lois knocked on Emil Hamilton's door with fury. "Professor Hamilton!" she shouted. "Open up, please! It's Lois Lane!"

Hamilton opened the door.

"Have you heard about Superman?" she asked.

Hamilton shook his head. "I'm creating a device which should take care of him now."

"Lois? Lois, you up here?" Perry White asked from the hall, entering the lab.

"Perry!" Lois exclaimed. "You followed me? Why?"

Perry smiled. "I didn't want you having all the fun."

Lois turned back to the professor. "What exactly is this device you are working on?"

The professor walked to his workbench, where a lot of metal parts were shattered around.

"This," he said, picking up a handheld device. "It should be able to unscramble his brainwaves."

"Are you sure that is the problem?" Perry asked.

"Can you think of any other reason for his odd behavior?" Hamilton replied.

"Good enough," Lois said. "When will it be ready?"

"About ten minutes . . . "

Back on Krypton . . .

Lara stood in her tenement, looking out at her home planet when her son Zan-El walked up.

"You really think this invasion will work?" he asked.

Lara turned around. Her eyes were puffy. "I don't know, son. We were given a second chance at life. Part of me hopes that it succeeds, just for our sakes, but the other part of me wants my son to live a happy life."

"But I am your son, too," Zan replied.

"You are not my first son. I have seen you your entire life. Kal hasn't been around. He found his happiness elsewhere, and it was meant to be."

"I see. Isn't there anyway for both of our worlds to live?"

"It is not for us to decide, or even ponder, Zan . . . "

High in the sky of Metropolis, Kal-El floated beside his father.

"Have we done well?" he asked.

Jor-El nodded. "Yes . . . but . . . something is not right . . . "

"What, father? What is wrong?"

"I . . . don't know . . . "

Elsewhere in Metropolis . . .

Sharon Vance felt strange. She sat down on her bed. Suddenly, she fainted. As she lost consciousness, she could feel something leaving her.

The figure of Kismet stood in front of her. "I must help Superman," she said. "No matter what the risk!"

At that moment, in the Phantom Zone, Dominus felt a familiar feeling.

"She back!" he exclaimed. "Kismet! I can feel her! I must find the Kryptonian, and let the final pieces of my plan fall into place!"

Lois, Perry, and Professor Hamilton stood as close as they could get to the commotion downtown.

"I hope you built that to be long range, Professor," Perry said, looking up at the man he knew as Superman.

"Of course I did," Hamilton replied.

Above them, Kal-El looked down. "Lois . . . " he whispered. "I must . . . go down there," he told his father.

Jor-El nodded.

Kal-El flew down and landed in front of his three friends. Hamilton pressed the button.

"Superman?" Lois asked.

"I no longer use that name," Kal replied. "I am Kal-El, once known as the Last Son of Krypton, but no longer."

Suddenly, the sky darkened, and lightning crashed all around them. Dominus appeared beside Kal-El. He was holding a staff.

"You're behind this!" Lois shouted. Dominus ignored her, for he had shifted Superman to a different plane of reality. Lois turned to the professor. "Why isn't that device working?"

"I don't know, Ms. Lane, I don't know . . . "

"Dominus, what are you doing here?" Kal-El asked.

Dominus gave him the staff. "You may restore one thing that you wish. Your mission here is over. I suggest that you restore the city to the way it was before the Kryptonians attacked."

"What's in it for you?"

Dominus smiled. "Absolutely nothing."

Kal-El was phased back into reality. He saw Lois standing on one side, and his father on the other.

Meanwhile, Dominus was pleased. As soon as Kal-El used the staff, Kismet would be found, and would be his.

However, his joy was intensified as he saw Kismet standing before him.

"Kismet!" he exclaimed.

Kismet decked Dominus in the jaw.

Suddenly, Kal-El was confused.

"What is going on?" he asked.

"Your device is working!" Lois exclaimed to the professor.

"I must use this staff," Kal said. "It can fix something . . . but why would Dominus want me to fix . . . " He snapped his head up quickly.

"Kismet," he whispered. "He wants Kismet. If I use this, I give her to him . . . "

Kal flew up into the sky, still confused. His father came up behind him. "Son, what is wrong?"

"I can use this staff to restore anything I please. To change it."

"Change, eh?" Jor-El stroked his chin. "Then why don't you change the history of this planet to where you never came. Then, you shall be able to live on Krypton forever."

"That would be . . . nice, I think," Kal-El said. "But . . . planet? Why not . . . Daily Planet?"

Jor-El's heart began to sink.

Professor Hamilton put his device down and turned to the two former reporters behind him. "There's nothing more I can do. We must wait and hope for the best."

"Well, we tried, at least," Lois said. "Thank you."

The sky remained dark. The clouds began to gather, and the air began to fill with a charge. Suddenly, something broke loose, and lightning began to flash all around. However, it was unlike any normal thunderstorm any on Earth had ever seen.

"No!" Jor-El shouted. "The gods are angry! This is the hour of reckoning!"

"Hour of reckoning?" Kal-El asked. "What are you talking about?"

Jor-El looked down and placed his hand on his son's shoulder. "I guess it's about time you were told. You've probably figured out by now that something is wrong."

"Well, that much is pretty evident."

"It all started a few weeks ago. Kal, Krypton really was dead, but the gods found a way to bring us back. They gave us a condition. We must find the Last Son of Krypton, and allow him to fulfill his destiny if we were to survive."

"Destiny? What does that mean?"

Jor-El looked up and right into Kal's eyes. "Kal, you were born to conquer Earth."

Kal-El looked at his father, and the anger built up inside him. Finally, he pulled his arm back, and punched Jor-El fully in the face. He then flew down to the ground below to where Lois was.

"Kal-El?" Lois asked.

"No, Lois. I'm Superman."

Lois smiled. Lightning flashed, and thunder crashed.

And then the skies opened . . .

To reveal Dominus fighting Kismet on another plane of reality.

"How can this be?" Superman exclaimed. "I have yet to use this staff!"

In the fight above, Kismet turned her head, and looked right at Superman. "Use the staff!" she said. "It's the only way I can contain Dominus forever!"

Superman looked around. "What shall I use it for?"

Lois tapped him on the shoulder. "There's only one thing you can restore. By restoring that, you save everyone from this hell."

"You mean . . . ?"

"The Daily Planet."

Superman flew up in the air and pointed the staff at the original location of the Daily Planet.

"This is for the gang," he said as the staff activated.

Slowly, reality began to ripple. The fluxuations became bigger, and spread out farther.

Jor-El regained consciousness following the punch from his son. As he sat up, he felt odd. We've failed . . . Krypton is doomed again.

In the Phantom Zone, Kismet held her hand out, and her power came forth, amplified by Superman's use of the staff.

"Dominus, you are done. Never to bother us again!"

Dominus fell back, overcome by the awesome power. He couldn't even make a sound. His body began shrinking, as it was transformed into other-dimensional energy.

"Dominus, you shall be staying in the Phantom Zone, trapped in a worse prison that Superman put you in."

The Kryptonian army began to disappear. One by one they vanished. The sky began to turn lighter. The LexCorp building began to repair itself. But the largest surprise was watching the Daily Planet rise out of the ground from no where.

Perry and Lois watched in awe as it rose, and finally reached it's maximum height. Then, the globe returned. Tears filled Perry's eyes.

And then, everything went white.

Superman opened his eyes, and found himself looking at Kismet. He also noticed he was back in his regular costume.

"So," he said. "It's over?"

"Yes. Everything has been restored."

"What will we remember?"

"You will not remember most of what happened, except for a few random bits. Everything else will run together."

"But what about the Planet? I mean, it's suddenly back?"

"You'll see how that's been handled," Kismet said, with a smile. "Now, I have some place to be . . . But first, I have a gift for you."

She stepped aside, and Jor-El stepped forward. Superman hugged his father. "Now we have a chance to say goodbye . . . "

Kismet allowed the two Kryptonians a few moments, and then she said, "Superman . . . it's time . . . "

Everything faded back to white.

Clark Kent opened his eyes. He was standing in front of the Daily Planet once more. He never expected this moment to come. Lois was beside him, and he had his arm around her. They were in the front of the crowd watching as Lex Luthor presented Perry with a large pair of scissors which he would use to cut the giant ribbon on the front door.

The Daily Planet was back, and Clark Kent couldn't be happier. He gave Lois a quick squeeze.

Yes, he thought. Life is good.