“Can you believe the crap that they call news these days!” , snorted the man at the bar, as the television reporter droned on about the mysterious encounter that had downed three navy jets.
“Ah, if you believe aliens did it, I’ve got a bridge in the desert I’d like to sell to you,” chortled a half drunken man.
“Clark!,” exclaimed the bartender . “Get out here, and clean up the corner booth. I’ve got people waiting, you moron.”
The young man sighed as he came out of the back, dragging a mop and bucket.
“What?,” the bartender asked the guy at the end of the bar, who was sipping black coffee.
“Sorry. It’s just….my name is Clark, too,” he smiled faintly.
“Whatever,” the balding man grumbled, as he switched off the news, and brought cheers from several men as a ballgame was turned on.
The coffee-drinking Clark focused back on his cold coffee, using his heat vision to warm it. Apparently, the Navy was claiming that a series of malfunctions brought the planes down. This world had its own conspiracy theorists here, though. There were those that claimed aliens had been testing their own secret weapons. Aliens were apparently unknown here, and while theories and claims abounded, there were yet to be any concrete evidence of extraterrestrial visits on this Earth.
“You gonna order anything else,” the man behind the bar growled again as he studied his cup after draining it for the second time. “Or you planning on drinking all my coffee?”
“I think I’ve had enough,” Clark smiled wryly as he rose from the bar stool, and headed for the door. He had been investigating this world through the usual resources, and having found that its history closely mirrored his own made things easier.
The major difference was the lack of any metas, and the absence of a certain bald megalomaniac (Luthor) in the White House. Otherwise, the planet could have easily been his own world. He had yet to find any reason, or explanation for his presence here, though. He investigated the site where he had woken up, but it was just a field. An empty, rural lot.
He dropped a dollar on the bar he had earned panhandling of all things. Still, snatching some old clothes from a charity drop had been demeaning enough. He was not yet ready to steal money when he didn’t necessarily have to eat, and that would have been the only thing he really needed to buy just now.
He was almost to the door when it suddenly burst open, and three young men in ski masks stormed the bar with shotguns. “Everyone freeze,” one of them shouted as the second one jabbed his gun into his chest.
“Back up, ass-wipe, or you’ll be road kill.”
He saw everyone looking at the first thug, so felt safe as his right hand flashed, and on the way up, squeezed both barrels closed. He smiled wryly as he looked right into the teenager’s eyes, and asked, ” Do you always hold people up with a broken gun?”
“Broken gun? What the devil are you….? What the hell,” the thug gasped, his eyes wide as he stared at him in genuine horror.
Well, darn, he must have seen him ‘fix’ the barrel.
“Give me the cash, old man. The cash, or I’ll fucking kill you!,” the thug behind him shouted at the bartender.
Clark sighed, and decided to act before someone got hurt.
“Time for you to go to sleep,” he told him, and tapped the kid on the head with a forefinger so fast he was out cold. Clark then turned to the second gunman, who was forcing patrons to the back of the room so he could hold them, and rob them.
In a blur of speed, he put himself between the thug and the patrons, in case he had an itchy trigger finger. He crushed the barrel of his weapon, and tapped him, too, sending him into unconsciousness even as he turned to the first gunman who was only then realizing something was going on behind his back.
“All right, hero,” he swore, pulling both triggers before even he could reach him.
The pellets struck him full in the chest, shredding his sweatshirt, and leaving him once more in need of another shirt. He sighed even as he glanced around, using his heat vision to ensure the ricochets didn’t hurt anyone. Then he grabbed the trigger-happy gunman’s shotgun, squeezing its barrel flat before he tapped him with a forefinger, leaving him out cold beside his friends.
“Someone call the police,” he suggested as everyone stood gaping at him.
“You’re….not human,” the bartender gasped as he stared at the hole in Clark’s sweatshirt, and the untouched flesh beneath.
“You’re half right,” he said, and was out the door, and in the sky, flying as fast as he could before anyone could think of tracking him. He wasn’t doing any good in that city anyway.
“It’s the same man,” Flex, AKA Captain James Oliver told Captain Saunders as he looked at the stills, which taken from the bar’s surveillance camera, and forwarded through Homeland Security.
“So,” the dark-suited agent who closed the folder of pictures he had brought into the room where he and the pilot’s superior officer had been brought after the carrier had docked at Norfolk.
“This is the ‘guy’ that downed three jets, and apparently flew off into space?”
“Now he’s in a coastal city, and saving locals from a bunch of bangers? Something doesn’t add up here.”
“How can we be sure it is the same, ah, person,” James asked. “I mean, what if it’s a robot, or something? Couldn’t there be more than one of them?”
“Listen, captain,” the agent smiled sardonically. “Whatever the UFO nuts, and other sci-fi types claim, we are light years from creating the kind of technology that would let anyone build something like that. And I’m speaking for any other government on the planet as well.”
“Then how do you explain this…..being,” Ian Saunders asked him bluntly.
“Frankly, sir, we’re still at a loss here. If it hadn’t been for the bar full of witnesses that all saw this guy disappear by flying off into the night sky, we wouldn’t even have realized the connection.”
“An bar full of drunkards,” Captain Saunders stated sardonically. “They’re your witnesses?”
“Touché, captain. However, I doubt your people were drunk when you say you encountered him.”
“Yeah,” the bald officer nodded wearily. “Still, there has to be a logical explanation….”
“I don’t suppose you’re going to let this report go public either?”
“We’re suppressing all news of this being for the time being. We don’t want to cause hysteria, or panic when we’re supposed to be controlling those very things in the first place,” the agent told him. “We appreciate your cooperation, Captain Oliver, and thank you for your time.”
“That’s it? Look at a picture, and go home?”
“What did you expect, captain,” the man asked.
“How about what you intend to do about this? People need to know to look out for him?”
“And do what,” the man in the dark suit asked. “He ripped your jets apart, survived multiple rocket attacks, and shrugged off shotgun blasts as easily as he did your cannon fire.
“Tell me what I should tell the average citizen to do if they see someone like that, sir,” the man demanded of him.
“Tell them to run,” Ian Saunders told him grimly.
“So far, it seems this guy is trying to stay low, and off our radar. That gives us hope he’s not an overt threat o the nation. Of course, he could be hiding his real intentions by purposely staying low. We don’t know. The truth is, gentleman, you know as much as we do. We haven’t even seen him yet. Not firsthand. But I can assure you, we’re handling this as carefully as we can. And that means we keep it low-key, and out of the press. The last thing we need is public hysteria, or worse, a bunch of conspiracy nuts, or bounty hunters all trying to track him down before we can find him.”
“I understand,” the pilot sighed. “It’s just…..I don’t know. I was scared as hell up there when he tore into my jet. But in the end, he did save me. He pulled me out of that bird before it blew, and he could have just left me.”
“So?,” the agent asked as he turned for the door.
“So, I started thinking. What if this guy is really trying to help people?”
“People that want to help come to us. They fill out applications. They don’t drop out of the sky, or whatever,” the man said in disdain as he left the room.
Flex glanced at his captain, and shook his head. “Nice guy.”
“He’s got a point.”
“Yeah, I suppose,” James nodded as he climbed to his feet. “Let’s get out of here.”
“What’s the rush?”
“I still have that psych review before the docs clear me to fly again,” he grimaced. “I’d just as soon not look too reluctant by being late for the appointment.”
“Right,” Ian nodded. “Let’s go. I don’t care for these meetings either.”