The sky above Metropolis was crowded as six news helicopters hovered over midtown along with five army helicopters. Eight buildings were brought completely brought down, while dozens of others had been seriously damage. The estimate of dead had reached six thousand so far with another eight thousand injured. The hospitals were teeming over with injured and some of those injured were not expected to live. Ten streets were completely unusable due to damage done to the pavement and asphalt. One hundred or so cars and trucks were now derelict taking up space and nothing more. In many respects it looked as if the city had been bombed.
So many of the first responders and survivors already had that thousand yard stare, the unfocused stare of someone who had witnessed too much death and destruction to be able to deal with anymore. There was a pall cast over the city of Metropolis. One of the icons of the city, Superman, had once again saved them, but the cost this time was just too much to comprehend. The people of the city weren't sure they were willing to pay for his bravery and heroism this time.
Many members of the Justice League were involved in search and rescue for citizens, as well as cleanup, which was a massive undertaking. Both the National Guard and military had also been called in for the search and rescue and cleanup. Non Justice League members also joined in with the work that needed to be done. J'onn J'onzz, the Red Robin, Batgirl, Starfire, Arsenal, Red Hood, and Madame Xanadu were among those who assisted the injured and the trapped. Zatanna attempted to entertain some of the first responders and now homeless of the city, as well as give comfort and aid.
As the day progressed the media appeared to fall into the same story line in which they praised the Justice League and other heroes for their actions, while it condemned Superman for not finding a way to take the battle outside of Metropolis and save the city and its people. Internationally Superman was being condemned for destroying so much pristine forest and animal life in Canada. He was being called an environmental terrorist by some and a murderer by others. There were some groups who wanted him tried as a war criminal in the Hague for his actions. It was all so much white noise in the end. Too busy with the search and rescue and cleanup the Justice League did not counter any of these criticisms of one of its most famous members. And the drumbeat of opinion, agenda, and babel continued without a response.
Bruce was on one of the medical beds in the infirmary of the Fortress of Solitude. Kelex worked on his broken leg with Kryptonian medical instruments. With his cowl and cape and body armor off, Bruce lay there amazed at the advanced technology Clark had at his disposal. He understood why Clark didn't share it. As a people, they weren't ready to use Kryptonian technology. It was beyond humanity. In the hands of Lex Luther the instruments that now mended his broken leg could be turned into a weapon. Clark was right to keep it out of humanity's hands, though he considered asking for their use now and again to help heal his battered body.
Bruce was always impressed by the space of the Kryptonian starship that had become Clark's Fortress of Solitude. Filled with Kryptonian technology and style, Bruce thought he felt more comfortable in this ship than Clark did. Clark could be aloof at times when he was acting Kryptonian, but he was still in essence a farm boy, who loved nature and working the land. This ship was calculating, logical, and remote. It lacked the homespun warmth and comfort of the Smallville farm. Of course when Clark became Superman, he became more Kryptonian on some level, more his father's son, even though he still cared for and protected earth and its inhabitants.
"Your leg is mended Master Wayne," said Kelex, as it finished working on his leg with some kind of medical device that appeared to quicken the healing process of the bone.
"How is Master Kal-El doing, Kelex?" he asked the robot butler, as he liked to think of Kelex.
"Master Kal-El is in a deep coma. It is too early to know how long his current status will last," said Kelex.
Bruce got off the medical bed and redressed himself, except for the cape and cowl. After stretching out his now healed leg, he started off to find Diana. It was going to take the world's greatest detective to find where she was. Before he could leave Kelex stopped him.
"Master Wayne," said Kelex.
"After scanning your body, the medical computer noticed a developing problem for you. Even though your age is twenty-eight, you are already developing early signs of arthritis in the knees and your fingers. It has synthesized an ointment in order to deal with this problem," said Kelex.
A door opened in his chest and a small green jar was exposed. Kelex grabbed it with one of its mechanical hands and offered it to Bruce.
"Rub the ointment into your knees and hands for the next eight days and your problem should be solved," said Kelex.
Bruce took the ointment and a small smile cracked his lips. Without super powers, his body took a beating that was aging and handicapping his body earlier than normal. It seemed that many of his ills could be cured by Kryptonian medicine.
"Thank you, Kelex," said Bruce.
"Also, the medical computer noticed some damaged to your spine that should be dealt with before it becomes a debilitating problem," said Kelex.
"Can you take care of it for me, Kelex?" he asked.
"Yes. It would take a twenty minute procedure," said Kelex.
"Maybe we can do something about it on my next visit," said Bruce.
"I live to serve," said Kelex.
Bruce exited the infirmary. He knew that Diana would be close by Clark. Either, she'd be in the solar room with him, or outside the room staring in at him. Even though Diana was dating Steve Trevor, Bruce had witnessed enough furtive glances and long stares to know that Diana was in love with Clark and that the feeling was reciprocated. For two people who profess to be best of friends, they didn't communicate their feelings to each other. Then again, he couldn't lecture them on hiding emotions. He was expert at it.
Heading down a corridor towards the solar room, Bruce saw Diana, still in her Wonder Woman armor, with her arms across her chest standing in front of the window staring at Clark. Bruce continued forward until he was standing beside her. He looked through the observation glass. Clark was lying on a bed naked with only a light sheet on him.
"Where is his armor?" asked Bruce.
"I took it off him, so it could self-repair. I placed the sigil of his house in his room," Diana told him.
"Diana, I should have done that. Clark isn't one to show off his body," said Bruce.
"I'm an Amazon, Bruce, so I am used to nudity. It doesn't bother me," she said as she kept staring at him.
"I bet," mumbled Bruce.
"What did you say?" Diana asked sounding slightly annoyed.
"Nothing," Bruce growled.
Bruce allowed for a few moments of silence to allow Diana to calm down. In his experience an annoyed Diana led to an angry Diana, which led to broken bones. Finally, he spoke up again.
"I should be getting back to check up on Gotham City," he said. "He'll probably be in there for days, Diana."
"I'm staying until he wakes up. Someone should be here when he wakes up," she stated.
"Kelex placed Doomsday in the Phantom Zone. He's gone and he won't be coming back. Clark will want to know that when he wakes up," said Bruce.
"I'll tell, Kal."
"I'll be back in a few days," Bruce told her.
"You don't have to return, Bruce. I can let you know when he wakes up. I am staying here until he is awake and feeling better."
"Kelex is going to do a procedure on my back to fix my constant back pain, so I need to come back, Diana," said Bruce. "I couldn't say no to the offer."
Diana turned and stared at Bruce. He offered her a charming smile.
"Should I bring you something?" he asked.
"No. There is food here and I believe there are some clothes around that I can wear once I take off my armor," said Diana.
Bruce smiled again.
Daily Planet, TV Cable News Department
Once upon time Lois Lane was the best investigative reporter at the Daily Planet then Morgan Edge bought the planet and expanded its reach to cable news. Lois was now the VP of Media for Edge Communication, but mainly she ran his cable news enterprise. With her violet eyes, dark hair, and penchant for pencil skirts, she cut an attractive figure. She walked through the news room towards her office, when Jimmy Olsen came out of nowhere.
"Hey, Lois," he greeted her.
Stride for stride he kept up with her as she entered her large office. In her office, Lois dropped her purse beside her desk, took her jacket and tossed it on her chair behind her desk, and then turned on the eight TVs that took up one wall of her office. She muted them all and watched the images of destruction and cleanup.
"I heard from Cat this morning. She hasn't seen or heard from Clark," Jimmy said. "She's worried about him."
Lois looked over at him. An expression of worry swept over her face.
"Jimmy, start checking the hospitals," she said.
"But he doesn't work here anymore," Jimmy said.
"Clark and Cat may not work here any longer, but that doesn't mean we can't help them. He's our friend, my friend," she replied.
Jimmy smiled, "I'll start checking the hospitals in person. I have a picture of CK on my phone from when we were roommates."
He started to leave when Lois called to him.
"Jimmy," she stopped him, "call me first if you find him."
"I will, Lois," he said then he exited.
With Jimmy gone, Lois walked over and sat down at her desk. She knew Cat enough to call her, though she had to admit that she found the queen of infotainment more than a little annoying. It was always a strange pairing Clark and Cat working together starting a blog. They were opposite, but the old saying was that opposite attracts. A chill ran down Lois' spine at the thought of Cat and Clark together. No she wasn't going to allow herself to go there. It was time to change the topic.
A few people who read the blog told her that Cat handle all the infotainment material and Clark was the hard news and investigation. They said it was oddly entertaining. Maybe she should call her and check on her. She was probably worried about Clark. Yeah, she'll do it right after she made a call to her father to see if he knew what happened to Superman and the creature and then Steve Trevor to see what he knew. Once she nailed down the story she call Cat.
The cafeteria was moderately filled with tired, overworked league members. A sense of exhaustion and melancholy plagued the heroes. They were into their second day of around the clock search and rescue and cleanup. Shazam entered the cafeteria. He had been released from the infirmary and told to rest for at least another day. Noticing the Flash he walked over to his table and sat down.
"How is Kara doing?" Shazam asked since Barry usually had the most up-to-date news and gossip.
"Mr. Terrific and Dr. Mid-nite are taking care of those who are still injured. She should be fine," said Flash. "I'm sorry I missed things, but Hawkman and Hawkwoman just got back from Thanagar."
"How did that go?" asked Nightwing, as he sat down with a coffee and a ham and cheese on rye bread.
"Katar and Shayera are most definitely banished," he said.
"It has definitely been one of those weeks," said Nightwing.
"Anybody heard from Superman?" asked Shazam.
"I talked to Bruce a couple of hours ago. He's still comatose," said Nightwing.
"Yeah, this has most definitely been a bad week," said Shazam.
He stood up to leave.
"I'm going to the infirmary to check on Kara," he said.
Nightwing took a bit from his sandwich then he pushed it aside and stood up.
"Wait for me," Nigthwing said. "I'll walk a bit of the way with you. I'm transporting down to Gotham. Bruce is taking care of the city by himself since he sent everyone from Tim to Barbara and Helena to Metropolis. Events like Metropolis tend to bring the crazies out. He shouldn't be left alone."
"Let's walk," said Shazam.
As Nightwing walked away, the Flash picked up his sandwich and called, "Can I have this?"
Nightwing waved his consent and kept walking. The Flash started eating the sandwich. As he finished off his sandwich, he looked up to see Zatanna, who was dress in black leather pants, a white bodice, and black leather jacket. She smiled at him.
"Can I sit?" she asked.
"Sure, sit down," he said.
"I heard that Superman is in a coma," said Zatanna.
"Yeah, that what I heard," said Flash.
"Where is he?" she asked.
"Why do you want to know?" countered Flash.
"Curious," she said.
"Well, Big Blue is at his Fortress of Solitude and the only two who know where it is hidden are Wonder Woman and Batman," said Flash. "Now, that sandwich was nice, but I'm still peckish, if not a little puckish."
Flash stood and zip over to the buffet leaving Zatanna. She sat thinking of Superman. One of the reasons she joined the Justice League was to meet Superman. She knew that Bruce was friends with him, but he wouldn't introduce her to him. Now he was in a coma. If he lived then she made a promise to herself to not be shy and introduce herself to him.
Bruce stood next to a stone gargoyle on roof of a building. The Penguin had acted as a go between to sell weapons to street gangs who were now causing havoc. The police were dealing with gangs in some of the better neighborhoods, but Bruce had intel that several of these shootings were staged to draw the police away from the First National Bank of Gotham, which kept two million dollars in its vault. He stood on the roof of the building across from the bank in the Business District waiting for the West Enders Gang to steal the money.
With his grappling gun in his right hand and his Batmobile on auto waiting for commands, Bruce waited patiently. Two vans pulled up in front of the bank, just as Bruce heard an explosion what sounded like it was ten blocks away. Five guys got out of the first van and four guts got out of the second van. They headed up the steps to the front of the bank. Bruce wasn't in the mood to wait until the broke into the van and then into the vault. Lifting his right arm he fired the grappling gun then he placed the gun on his utility belt. Attaching a hand guard he started across to deal the people.
Once he was above the nine gang members he dropped down in the middle of them. A shockwave of pain from his back washed through his body, but he ignored it and immediately started to dismantle the West End Gang. A kick to someone's gut, grabbing a submachine gun, dismantling it, and hitting the owner with the butt; Bruce knocked one say after another. One of the gang got a shot off. His armor stopped the bullet, but he could feel the crack of a rib. Before a second bullet was fired, he threw a mini-flash bang grenade at the shooter. It went off and caused the man to fall to his knees.
Another gang member was about to fire from the submachine gun when a whip curled around his neck and pulled him down hard on his back. Catwoman moved in quickly and kicked the gang member down the stairs. Bruce finished off the last few men then he turned and looked at Catwoman, as the two vans drove quickly away.
"What do you want?" he growled.
"A thank you would be a good start," Catwoman.
"Why did you help me?" he asked.
"You mean I'm allowed to have sex with you but not save your life," she said.
"You could get hurt," he growled.
"Didn't," she replied then walked up to Bruce and touched him where he was shot, "but you got hurt. We should get naked somewhere and I can give you aid and comfort."
"No time," he said then he pulled zip cuffs out of his utility belt and started to handcuff the gang members.
In the distance there was the sound of police sirens. Catwoman gently kissed Bruce on the lips then she stepped back.
"Well, since you don't want to play, I'm going," said Catwoman.
With those words he watched as she headed down the street and then took a left and disappeared. The police were on the way, so he used his grappling gun again and returned to the rooftop across the street. It was going to be a long night.
Fortress of Solitude
Diana used the shower facilities in the master bedroom. The hot water from the shower steamed up the glass. She needed this shower, just as she needed the short sleep she took. Soaping herself up, she let the hot water cleanse her body. Once she was clean, she turned off the water and stepped out of the shower where Kelex was waiting for her. Diana stepped back startled to see him.
"What are you doing here, Kelex?" she demanded.
"Master Kal-El has awakened. I wanted to tell you but he commanded me to let you sleep. Now that you are awake I am informing you," Kelex said.
"Kal is awake," she repeated.
Diana grabbed a towel and dried herself quickly then she put on a large robe that belonged to Clark. Once she had it tied and secured to turn to Kelex.
"Show me where he is," she said.
"Yes. Mistress Diana."
She followed Kelex out of the master bedroom and down a long corridor stopping outside the door that Clark called his monitoring room.
"Thank you, Kelex," she said. "You can leave."
Kelex headed back down the corridor, while Diana opened the door and entered the monitor room. Sitting in front of a large crystal screen that showed eight different cable channels, Clark watched coverage of the aftermath of his battle with Doomsday. He didn't mute the sound, so he was actually listening to all eight cable news channels at once.
Diana could tell just by looking at his back, as he sat in the chair wearing a robe that he was depressed. His shoulders were slumped and head hung.
"Mute the sound," she ordered.
The sound was muted but the images remained. She moved towards him.
"Kal, are you okay?" she asked.
"Okay? No, Diana, I'm not okay," he said.
He turned in his chair and faced her. His cerulean blue eyes were filled with tears. She stopped and found that all she could do was stare at him.
"Thousands dead and thousands more injured. I did this," he said.
"Kal, that creature is more responsible than you," she said.
"No, Diana, this belongs to me. It's my fault," he said then the tears began to flow. He was still in pain from the battle and exhausted. Clark didn't want to cry, but he did.
"You are being weak," growled Diana feeling her temper rise. "You had to fight him and it was that creature that chose the spot where you fought. You did what you had to do, Kal. You did what you had to do. Stop acting like a weakling and act like the great warrior you are."
Suddenly, Clark's face became cold and hard. He stood up and looked Diana in the eyes.
"Thank you for your help. It's time you leave, Princess Diana," he stated then he walked past her and exited the room leaving her standing there.
"Damn it," Diana said to herself.
She closed her eyes and wondered why she had been so angry at him just then.
"This is going to be hard to fix," she said then turned to see Kelex standing there.
"Kelex, where is Master Kal-El?" she asked.
"He has put on his armor and left, Mistress Diana. He wished me to thank you again and offer any assistance before you leave," Kelex stated.
"Where did he go?" she asked.
"He said he was going to fix what he broke," answered Kelex.
"I need my armor then I'm leaving, Kelex," said Diana.
"As you wish, Mistress."
Diana took a deep breath and exhaled. She would give him space, but she needed to explain herself to him. Kal was too important to her to let this fester for long.