Hovering in the night sky high above the city, Clark listened to the world, but his mind was still in his own private fantasy world and Jane was the center of it. But then his cell phone peeped and he wondered who was calling him at this hour. He sighed and picked it up. “Hello, Diana and this had better be the end of the world,” he joked half serious.
“I need to see you right away,” Diana stated firmly.
“Now?” He asked not in the mood.
Clark groaned to himself. “Alright, I’ll be there shortly.” He arrived at Watchtower in minutes hoping against hope it had nothing to do with Jane. “I’m here,” he announced. Kara and J’onn were also there and he wondered if this had anything to do with the power plant investigations. “Has something happened?”
Diana sighed. “No not exactly, but we do have something to tell you and please don’t take this the wrong way. I did it because we care about you.”
Clark stiffened and wondered when they were going to stop all this meddling in his private affairs. “What did you do?”
Diana hesitated and lowered her eyes.
He watched her closely. “It’s about Jane, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is,” Kara finally answered him. “Please just listen to what Diana has to say.”
He crossed his arms as his patience was just about at an end.
“Clark, has she said anything to you about her past or why she came here? I mean, besides her husband and how he had died?” Diana asked hoping he knew something about her.
Clark’s heart began to pound fearing the worst was coming. “No, she hasn’t and why would it matter why she came here? None of it matters to me.”
“It will matter once you know the truth,” J’onn said understanding Jane’s motives, or at least he was familiar with her kind.
“What truth?” Clark asked holding tightly to his temper.
“Jane is … different from a lot of people,” Kara said.
He frowned not liking where this was going. “What do you mean different?”
“She’s a psychic,” Diana stated.
Clark felt relieved. He wasn’t expecting that but at least she wasn’t some criminal mastermind. “So, what else, or is that all of it?”
“Clark, she hid it from you so there must be a reason why,” Kara said trying to get him to see reason.
He turned from them so they couldn’t see how upset he was about Jane keeping this from him. He wondered what her excuse could be, but he refused to judge her until they had a chance to discuss it. He of all people knew how hard it was to trust people, especially with a family secret that could change the way people looked and felt about you. He took a deep breath turned to face his friends then he spoke calmly. “I do appreciate that you came to me with this news about Jane, but please don’t judge her before we know all the facts. I will get to the bottom of this.” He then felt it was necessary to bring up a few points that they may have forgotten. “We’ve lived on this planet a long time, but we’ve all dealt with secrets and how they can hurt the ones we care about. Jane and I, we care for each other and I know she must have had her reasons for not telling me the truth, but knowing this secret about her doesn’t change anything. Jane and I will work this out, now I have some things to do. I’ll talk you all later.” He turned and left them staring after him.
“He’s changing right in front of our eyes and I don’t like it,” Diana said and sighed as they all watched him leave.
“He’s in turmoil, but I think he needs space to come to terms with Jane’s secret and why she kept it from him,” J’onn stated.
“But Jane lied to him, J’onn. How can he trust her after that?” Kara asked worried about her cousin.
“Kara, as Clark said, we all know about secrets and hiding from the world. Jane may not understand about trust and how to deal with everyone knowing the truth about her past. Clark will handle this. We have to trust him and his judgment.”
Kara and Diana stared at him hoping that Clark would be able to see Jane for who she really was, and hoped that there weren’t any more secrets.
Clark slowly closed the door to his private quarters shaking from the news. He sat down at the monitor and pulled up Jane’s video again and had to wonder. Why, why did you lie to me? He shook his head and decided he would confront her about all of it, positive there must be a good reason why she hadn’t told him the truth about herself. He couldn’t come up with any at the moment then he began to have doubts about his feelings and how quickly they had happened, but there was still a shred of hope that she would have an explanation for her actions.
Sighing, he ran his hands though his hair. No way would he get any rest tonight. He needed to keep busy, follow-up on the nuclear power plant investigations because the Nuclear Power Commission had just today sent out alerts to various cities with low energy levels as homes were put on energy conservation, but it may be too little too late.
He punched in a few computer inquiries about aliens or humans that could possibly absorb that much energy and survive it, but the idea was unbelievable, and like Diana had told him earlier, they had both lived long enough to know anything was possible.
Sure enough, the computer came up with an Intergang subsidiary organization that had done massive amounts of research in nuclear energy, but that was years ago. There was no way they were still in business. It had been years, twenty to be exact, and then the computer found what he was looking for, as it spoke to him about his former nemesis:
Nathaniel Tryon was a petty thug who teamed up with two others as the TNT Trio. While on a caper at a nuclear power plant at which he worked as a security guard, Tryon was caught in the meltdown of a nuclear reactor, turning his body into sentient nuclear energy that could only be contained in a special containment suit. After learning how to control his energy, and learning that the accident was allegedly caused and covered up by the U.S. Government, Tryon killed those responsible for the accident and took up a criminal career as ‘Neutron’. Tryon is immensely powerful and invulnerable to all harm; a clear limit to his powers is not known. Tryon does not appear to age, need food, water, or air, and is for all intents and purposes immortal at twenty years old.
And now he was back to his old ways, siphoning nuclear power and getting stronger with each encounter. Clark now remembered Nathaniel from his days in Smallville when he had teamed up with Livewire to locate Doomsday. He thought that Nathaniel had been killed in Smallville, but now he supposed he was wrong about that because apparently Nathaniel kept coming back from the dead. How do you kill pure energy anyway?
Clark continued to make inroads into his investigation and decided to make one more trip to the plant here in Metropolis which hadn’t been hit so far. He sent a message to the monitoring center telling them where he was going and left the Watchtower. Arriving at the plant alone and at this hour of the night was not a good idea but it may give him some clues so he hovered above the plant and x-rayed the site, but didn’t see anything right away. He thought he saw something, but suddenly he felt weak as if his life force was being drained from his body; the feeling totally different from his exposure to green kryptonite. This felt utterly and totally debilitating then he fell from the sky and hit the ground with a hard thump, and lost consciousness.
He awakened moments or maybe minutes later surrounded by his friends. Kara had picked him up immediately after falling; amazingly she had not been affected, but Clark’s powers were gone.
Clark had barely survived the incident with Neutron only because Diana, J’onn, Kara and the Legion arrived in the nick of time to get him away from him. Nuclear energy had never been a problem for him but this guy must have been pumped to the max with it.
He awakened shortly thereafter in his private quarters. Kara, J’onn and Diana were there about to let him have it, if their faces were any indication.
Kara was first. “I can’t believe you did that Clark,” she stated absolutely furious with him.
“He learned his lesson,” Diana said hoping that were true.
“Yes, I learned my lesson,” Clark said as he sat up. “Did you catch the guy?”
“What guy? We didn’t see anyone around. All we saw was you falling from the sky,” J’onn added.
“Great, he got away,” Clark rubbed his eyes still very weak.
“Who got away?” Kara asked.
“Just pull up my last research on the computer. It will tell you all you need to know about this … Neutron character.”
Kara did as he asked and the computer told them who they were up against. “His name is Neutron?”
“Yes and he’s very powerful and invisible, if losing my powers without even laying my eyes on the guy was any indication.”
They all glanced at each other wondering how to protect him.
Clark caught their looks. “I’ll be alright guys. I just need a few hours of rest.”
“Why don’t you do that? We’ll be in monitoring center,” Kara said as they all left him alone to rest.
The Legion arrived shortly thereafter after checking out the plant and their investigation at the scene of Superman’s attack.
“Did you find anyone? Clark said there was someone there who caused him to fall from the sky,” Kara asked.
“We didn’t find anything,” Rokk replied. “We searched the entire plant without setting off any alarms of course.”
“How is Clark?” Garth asked.
“He’s resting right now,” Kara replied.
Diana began to pace deep in thought. “We have nothing to go on but a blurb from the computer on this guy. His invulnerability and invisibility could be serious issues, along with his powerful energy surges,” Diana wondered aloud. She was starting to really worry about her friend as well as the rest of the League.
“What should we do now?” Irma wanted to know.
“We wait. He could be anywhere by now,” Diana replied.
Kara returned to her private quarters and thought about J’onn’s words. It appeared as if her cousin was falling in love again and after so long. It was an unbelievable thought one that she had resigned herself never to hear again. After witnessing the ‘legendary love’ he had shared with Lois, but that was so long ago and Clark was a different person now, she was still very worried for him. He needed to be clear in mind if they were going to defeat this new and very powerful enemy.
Kara’s mind suddenly went back in time and then the memories of her former lover, Jed Rikane or Power Boy, flooded her mind. She shook her head refusing to go there. It was all this talk about love and feelings that had her thinking about the past. Jed was a very powerful empath. He had the ability to scan another’s psyche for thoughts and feelings or for past, present, and future life occurrences. Jed sensed the truth behind the cover and would act compassionately to help that person express themselves, thus making them feel at ease and not so desperately alone. Unfortunately, his abilities caused many instances of paranoia and his controlling instincts toward her caused a riff between them.
Suddenly, there was a knock at her door. It was Rokk. “Come in,” she answered.
“I’m sorry to bother you Kara, but the Legion has encountered some disturbances recently and I thought I should bring the information to you because ...” He hesitated.
“What disturbances, Rokk?”
“Power Boy is back in business.”
Kara stiffened at this news. “Are you sure? When did you hear this?” I was just thinking about him. I wonder if this is a coincidence, but I thought he was dead.
“The FAA just made an announcement about the possible cause of the recent airline crashes as well as the one Superman saved the other day.”
“And you think that Power Boy was behind it?” Kara asked shocked by this news, but inwardly she hoped it wasn’t true.
“Yes, the FAA was sure the planes lost power because of an energy blast from an unknown source.” He paused. “He’s definitely not dead, Kara,” Rokk said as if reading her mind.
She frowned at him. “Show me what you’ve found.” They both turned to her computer monitor and pulled up everything about Power Boy, his recent whereabouts, his supposed death and his apparent recent activities. Could he still be alive or was this some imposter mirroring his powers and his name or was it the other one, Neutron, that had caused the plane to lose power? She wondered if she could confront her former lover again and not feel that pull she always felt while around him. They had both been so young at the time they had met on Apokolips under dire circumstances, but they had formed a bond of friendship which quickly became more.
Clark and the other members of the League had rescued her from Apokolips and Darkseid’s influence, but a year later, Jed had come to Earth to be with her. She found it romantic and they had fallen into a relationship, but of course, it couldn’t last. They were both so young, and he had tried to become a ‘good’ superhero, but combined with the events of his upbringing along with his paranoia, everything seemed to work against those efforts and their relationship.
They had parted ways on bad terms and she had not seen him or heard from him in a very long time, centuries even. Their time together had been so brief, but Jed was damaged and the last she had heard was that he had been killed by an unknown assailant during training exercises with a new superhero team, but maybe he hadn’t and maybe he was still alive. But why was he back now and at this particular time? Was Power Boy connected to the nuclear energy thefts?
Maybe or maybe not, but Kara had to bring this news to the League as soon as possible.