Chapter 1: Man of Steel

Smallville Kansas

A lone bus pulled through the quiet streets of the quaint little town, engine puffing as it moved along. It stopped at a bus stop with faded paint before opening up, allowing a single passenger to get off. The passenger was a woman with long black hair, currently pulled back in a ponytail. She had blue eyes and fair skin, and carried herself like a woman on a mission. She carried a single satchel bag, which held her laptop, a notepad, and a few bare essentials. Hanging off the strap was a press badge with her picture and the name "Lois Lane" written on it.

"Thanks for the lift." she said to the bus driver as she gave a wave.

The driver waved back before driving off, leaving Lois alone in the middle of Smallville Kansas. Double checking her back, Lois made her way away from the stop, headed for one building in particular: the Smallville public library.

Once inside, Lois made her way over to the newspaper archives. She turned on one of the microfilm readers, then fished into her bag for a small notebook. She pulled it out, flipping through it until she reached a single page with three dates on it. Taking the notebook, she walked over to the film storage vault and began hunting down her desires dates. Finding what she needed, she took them over to her microfilm reader.

She threaded the first film into the machine, looking it over carefully. After going through several articles, she came across one she was looking for. The headline read "Kansas Twister Tears Up Town!". She scrolled through the article, seeing that despite the damage caused by the twister, there had not been a single fatality. In fact, there had only been a few minor injuries and serious property damage. One story of note was of a local farmer who had gotten stuck in his truck, and yet had managed to free himself at the last second, despite having been knocked senseless in the winds.

"So… you are real." Lois let out.

She made some notes, rewound the film, then inserted the next one. Her next article was easy to spot, as it was on the front page. It read "Elementary Bus Crash Averted. Good Samaritan Remains Anonymous." The story told of a bus that lost control and nearly sank into a river. However, someone or something pulled it to safety, but refused to come forward. Lois noted the school, as well as the date, doing some calculations in her head.

"If you were on that bus, then you had to have been a kid at the time." she mused. "Meaning you'd be in your mid-twenties by now. But where are you?"

She finally brought up the final reel, this one leading her to an article about a meteor shower. While most of it had passed right over the town, one meteor had touched down on a small farm on the edge of town. Lois zoomed in on the name of the farm, reading it to be the Kent Farm.

"Kent..." she repeated, looking back at her notes.

She looked at the name of the old man who had freed himself from the car, finding his name to be Jonathan Kent. Glancing at the report before her, she saw the names of the farm owners to be Jonathan and Martha Kent.

"Gotcha." she declared.

Lois walked to the Kent Family farm, looking out over the well tended fields. A scarecrow that had clearly been built by a kid was erected in the center, towering over the fields like a terrifying sentinel. She continued towards the house before suddenly stopping, sensing someone approaching behind her. She turned around quickly, catching sight of her pursuer.

It was a young man in his mid twenties with black hair hidden under a ball cap. An old flannel shirt was pulled over a faded t-shirt and jeans, large, muddy work boots poking out underneath. The cap hid the man's eyes from view, no doubt on purpose.

"Can I help you with something?" He asked.

Lois looked at him, doing some calculations in her head.

"You're him, aren't you?" She asked. "The faceless superhero."

"And if I am?" He replied.

"I'd like to talk to you." she told him. "I want to know the truth about you and… and what you can do."

"I'm not sure that's a good idea Ms…"

"Lane." she introduced. "Lois Lane."

"Ms. Lane." He replied. "I don't know if my story is one to be told."

"It's going to come out eventually." Lois insisted. "I found you, and I'm certain there will be others who may not be as nice as me. They'll learn the truth, or figure out where you live-"

"I could just disappear." He reasoned.

"The only way you could disappear would be to stop helping people altogether." Lois rebutted. "Something I don't think your capable of. Otherwise, you wouldn't have stopped that plane crash in China. Or saved that ship caught in Hurricane Harvey. There will always be people to save, and deep down you feel like you have to be the one to save them."

The man paused for a moment, mulling over everything Lois had said.

Later, the man took Lois to a local diner so he could share his story.

"So, as far as I've been able to piece together, I'm the last survivor of a planet called Krypton." He told her.

"You're an alien?" She questioned, jotting this down. "But you look… well, human."

"Yeah, I don't get it myself." He admitted. "Guess Krypton and Earth had a lot in common."

"How old were you when you came here?" Lois asked. "Do you remember Krypton at all?"

"No." He answered. "I was just a baby when I came here."

Lara held her newborn son in her arms, trying to comfort him as he cried in fear. Though she did her best to soothe him, she herself was beset with fear, feeling the ground beneath her feet beginning to shake.

"Our time is running out, Jor-El." She told her husband. "Please tell me it's ready."

"Yes." Jor-El confirmed. "The coordinates are set. The world I found for Kal-El is far from this galaxy, and orbits a yellow sun."

"A yellow sun?" Lara questioned. "Is that wise? The sun's power… he will not be like other children. He will be a freak."

"Perhaps… but there, no one can ever hurt him." Jor-El reasoned.

The cockpit to the ship opened up, allowing Lara to set baby Kal-El inside.

"Will he ever know of his true home?" She asked. "Of us? Of our fate?"

"When he's ready." Jor-El answered, placing a small crystal in the pod with the baby.

With that, the pod closed and the launching sequence initiated.

"Goodbye Kal-El…" Jor-El let out, just as the ship took off.

The rocket broke through Krypton's atmosphere seconds before a chain of explosions went off on its surface. The planet broke apart, exploding into massive shards and destroying all life on it.

"That's… that's awful…" Lois let out. "The last of your kind..."

"Yeah." He responded. "When I learned the truth, it hit me really hard. Still, I ended up with a family that loved me and supported me."

"The Kents." Lois noted. "I take it the meteor that landed on their farm..."

"Was me." He confirmed.

It was a clear night at the Kent farmhouse. Martha was washing the dishes from dinner in the sink as Jonathan slipped out onto the back porch to watch the meteor shower. He pulled a pipe out of his pocket, but before he could do anything with it, a voice called out from the kitchen window.

"You even think about smoking that pipe of yours, and you'll be sleeping in the barn tonight." Martha threatened.

"Martha!" Jonathan let out. "I was just…"

"Just nothing." Martha snapped. "You know your doctor said to quit that nasty habit, so you better quit or else."

"You're right." Jonathan relented. "I-"

Before he could finish his statement, one of the meteors from the shower above began to grow bigger and bigger. Suddenly, it smashed into the cornfield with a mighty crash, shaking the house and causing the power to flicker momentarily.

"What in tarnation?" Jonathan let out, getting to his feet. "Martha! Something fell in the cornfield!"

Martha came running out, already carrying two flashlights. She handed one to Jonathan and the two made their way towards the cornfield. When the two finally found what they were looking for, they were shocked to find a strange, alien pod half buried in the dirt. It was still smoking from re-entry, and several small fires had sprung up along the crops. Jonathan quickly took off his jacket, using it to extinguish the flames before they could spread, allowing him and Martha to focus their attention on the pod.

"What is it?" Martha questioned.

"I… I'm not sure." Jonathan admitted, slowly moving his hand towards the pod.

The second his hand touched the pod, it began to spark, giving him a jolt. He fell back, clutching his hand in pain as the top of the pod opened with a loud hiss. The elderly couple looked inside and saw a baby boy resting inside. His eyes fluttered opened and he cooed, reaching out for the two.

"A...a baby?" Martha realized. "Who would put a baby in a spaceship?"

"No clue." Jonathan admitted.

Motherly instinct overtook Martha and she picked up the baby. Swaddling him in her arms, she rocked him as he smiled at her. Jonathan came over, gently carressing his face.

"What do we do?" Jonathan wondered.

Martha looked down at the smiling baby, coming to a decision.

"We keep him." she decided.

"And they did." the man went on. "Raised me as if I was their own, even when my… otherworldliness began to show."

"You mean your powers?" Lois asked.

"Yes." He confirmed. "When they first manifested… it was hard to cope with."

The young Kent boy locked himself in his closet, covering his ears as he tried to drown everything out. He was sobbing, the voices and noises too much for him to handle. His eyes burned like they were on fire, and when he opened them, he saw more of the world than he wanted to.

His cries drew the attention of Martha, who approached the door.

"Honey?" Martha called out. "Is everything alright?"

"No!" he cried out. "The world's too big!"

"Then make it smaller." Martha told him. "Like we practiced. Focus on one thing, and one thing only."

He did as his mom instructed, focusing on her voice. Ever so slowly, all the other noises began to gently go away. His cries subsided and he began to breathe normally again, especially when the fire in his eyes cooled down. Once he felt he was in control, he got to his feet and opened the door, where his mother was waiting for him. She pulled him into a hug, gently running her fingers through his hair.

"Feel better?" she asked.

"Yes…" He answered.

"Wow." Lois replied. "Your mom was… is amazing."

"Yeah, she is." He confirmed.

"So, what is it that you can do exactly?" Lois asked. "I gather you have increased strength, speed, and senses. What else is there?"

"Heat vision," He began. "Arctic breath, and X-Ray vision."

"X-Ray vision?" Lois repeated. "So you can see through… anything?"

"Just not lead." he answered. "It's how my parents kept me from peeking at my presents on christmas or my birthday."

"I see." Lois replied. "So, if you can see through pretty much anything… what color underwear am I wearing?"

"I never peak at a woman's undergarments." He insisted. "My mother would skin me alive."

"A true gentleman." Lois remarked. "Well, back to your story. I've found multiple instances of a Good Samaritan performing feats of strength impossible for a normal human, like the elementary school bus crash, or the tornado where there were no casualties. That was you, yes?"

The man nodded.

"Why did you never come forward?" She wondered. "Why not tell them you saved them?"

"I never did this for the recognition." He answered. "I just try to help whenever possible."

"But that's not the only reason, is it?" Lois figured.

The man shook his head.

"No." He admitted. "I had one more."

The boy sat in the bed of a truck, sulking slightly as his father loaded up the last of a load of hay. Jonathan took a moment to rest, turning to his son and sighing.

"Penny for your thoughts?" He offered.

"Nothing." the boy replied.

"Y'know, your mother and I were proud of you when you saved that bus." Jonathan reassured. "I know we fussed at you for being reckless, but we know you did it for the right reason."

"It's just… I have these powers." the boy insisted. "Why can't I use them?"

"Because, son, the world just isn't ready for you yet." Jonathan insisted. "Mankind fears what is different. If they learned what you could do… they would find a way to hurt you, or take you away from us."

The boy looked scared.

"You really think so?" He asked.

Realizing he'd scared the boy, Jonathan sat down next to him.

"Listen, I'm not saying don't use your powers." He insisted. "I'm also not saying don't save people. All I'm asking is that you be careful and don't let people know it's you. That's all I want, okay?"

"Ok…" the boy agreed. "I just… how is it I can do these things?"

Jonathan paused for a moment, then let out a breath before hopping up from the trunk.

"Follow me, son." He requested. "There's something you need to see."

Jonathan lead his son into the barn, sweeping away dirt and hay to reveal a carefully hidden latch in the floor.

"I didn't know we had a trap door." the boy remarked.

"Kept it hidden until we felt we knew how to tell you about this." Jonathan answered. "Though to be honest… I still don't think we know."

He opened the trap door, revealing something large covered by an old tarp. He pulled it off, revealing the pod that had fallen into the cornfield all those years ago. The boy gasped at the sight.

"We… found you in this." Jonathan told him. "You fell during a meteor shower. Your mother and I were terrified the government was going to come and take you away, but they never did."

The boy was speechless by all this, falling to the ground and just staring at the pod.

"I know this must be a lot." Jonathan consoled. "But just know that it doesn't matter where you come from or what you can do. To your mother and me, you'll always be our son."

"Knowing you're an alien changes your perspective on a lot of things." the man told Lois. "I wanted to know more about who I was and where I came from. The only thing I had was the pod, and a lone crystal that had been left for me."

"Do you still have the crystal?" Lois asked.

The man chuckled a bit.

"Yes and no." he answered.

Lois looked confused, so the man clarified.

"About a year ago, I heard about a strange ship that crashed in the arctic." he told her. "It was the first lead on my life before Earth, so I managed to get myself on the excavation crew. When the crew finally got a line on where the ship was under the ice, I decided to… steal it."

Lois, who had been taking a drink of a soda, choked on her beverage and struggled to breathe. After regaining control of her air pathways, and swallowing her mouthful of soda, she looked at the man in shock.

"You… stole an alien ship?" she asked.

"The official report states that the ice gave way underneath it and it sank beneath the icy waters." the man told her. "However, the real story is I smashed through the ice and made off with the ship, taking it deeper into the arctic, far deeper than any normal human being can traverse safely."

"Wow." Lois remarked. "So where is the ship now?"

The man chuckled again, turning red under his cap.

"In my… Fortress of Solitude." he admitted.

Lois snorted hard, laughing hard at that. The man smiled a bit at her merriment, waiting for her to regain control.

"I'm sorry." she apologized, still snickering. "In your what?"

"Once I got the ship far enough away, I placed it in a desolate part of the arctic." The man explained. "Once I knew it was out of possible human contact, I set it down and went inside."

"What did you find?" Lois wondered.

The man looked her in the eye.

"Answers."

The man walked inside the ship, using his heat vision to melt away the caked on ice. As he walked through the corridors of the ship, he saw what looked like a small hole in a panel by one of the doors. Seeing the shape of the hole, he pulled out the crystal from around his neck and walked towards the hole. He then placed the crystal into the hole, which seemed to grab onto it and pull it in until it formed what looked like a button. The man looked surprised for a moment, but decided to press it regardless."

Suddenly, the ship began to light up. Old machinery powered on, and something began to flicker in to corner of his vision. The man turned in time to see a hologram projector turning on, taking on the form of a lone man. The man had semi-long hair with grey streaks in it, a full beard gathered around his mouth. He wore a green robe with a strange S symbol in the center of his chest, and when the hologram laid eyes on the man, he seemed shocked.

"Kal-El?" the hologram said softly. "Can it be? Is it… is it really you?"

"Who are you?" the man asked.

"I suppose you were too young to remember." the hologram conceded. "My name is Jor-El. I am your father."

The man went wide-eyed.

"I am certain you have many questions." Jor-El told him.

"A few… yeah." the man answered. "Kal-El… That's my name isn't it? The one you gave me?"

"Yes, it is." Jor-El replied. "The only gift we were able to give you before we were forced to send you away."

"Send me away?" Kal-El asked.

"Our world, Krypton, was dying." Jor-El explained.

"Why?" Kal-El asked.

"We were once a proud and powerful civilization." Jor-El shared. "In our arrogance, we created something… devastating. An Artificial Intelligence with the purpose of gathering and accumulating knowledge. We called it, Brainiac."

"An AI?" The man asked. "I can list several movies made here that explain why AIs are never a good idea."

"I can imagine so." Jor-El admitted. "It wasn't long before we lost control of Brainiac. It became self aware, its thirst for knowledge growing… deadly.

Kal paused for a moment.

"Did he… destroy Krypton?" He asked.

"... yes." Jor-El answered. "He used one of our world engines to drill into the planet's core, setting off a chain reaction that threatened our world. I tried to warn the council, but they had grown dependant on Brainiac. They would not listen. So I did the only thing I could do, save my son from our worlds folly. Give you the chance to live."

The man took this in, running his fingers through his hair as he tried to process what he had learned.

"Wow…" Kal let out.

"I know this must be a lot for you." Jor-El told him.

"Truth be told, I always knew I was… different from everyone else." Kal replied.

"There is a reason for that." Jor-El informed. "Krypton orbited a Red Sun, much smaller and weaker than the Yellow Sun Earth orbits. Because of this, the sun's rays give you powers far beyond any being on the planet. You are stronger, faster, and possess numerous abilities. Nothing can harm you, nor kill you. You are a god among men.

"A god… I don't know if I can…"

"I am not asking you to become one." Jor-El clarified. "You are a young man now, free to make your own decisions. I can only hope you will live up to the legacy of the House of El."

Jor-El then gestured to the S symbol on his chest.

"This is the coat of arms for the House of El." Jor-El explained. "It means hope. That is all I ask you do for this world. Bring it hope when it needs it the most."

Just then, a door on the wall opened up, revealing a solid blue suit with a red cape, a red belt with yellow lines on the top and bottom, and a red and yellow S on the chest. Kal looked at the suit with surprise and fascination.

A few minutes later, Kal put on the suit and stepped outside. The suit made him feel a sense of importance, or purpose for the first time in a long time. This feeling coursed through him, making him feel as though he could reach the sky itself. Crouching down on the ground, he mustered as much strength as he could before finally leaping into the air. As he went up higher and higher, a feeling of exhilaration filled him. He thrusted forward, flying faster and all around the arctic. A smile broke out on his face as he let out a cry of excitement.

"Even now, I can't even begin to describe what it felt like." The man went on. "I didn't feel the cold, or if I did, I didn't realize it. It was as if everything around me just faded away, until it was just me and the sky."

"Amazing." Lois marveled. "So… what are gonna do now?"

"Probably what I've done before." the man replied. "Help out whoever whenever I can."

"Well, you'll need a name." Lois insisted. "Kal-El is nice and all, but you need a new one. Especially if you're going the superhero route."

"I suppose so." The man agreed. "Any suggestions?"

Lois flipped through her notebook, bringing up a rough sketch of the S symbol.

"This is your family crest, right?" she asked. "A badge-shaped S?"

"Yes." He confirmed. "On Krypton it means hope."

"Well here, it's an S." Lois retorted. "How about... Superman?"

"Superman?" the man repeated.

"Why not?" Lois replied. "You're strong, you can fly, you're pretty much the american power fantasy all wrapped up in a red cape. I think Superman sells it well."

The man thought it over, then gave a nod.

"Is that the name you'll use in your article?" He asked.

"That and Kal-El." Lois answered. "I don't intend on publishing everything. After all, everyone deserves to keep some secrets."

"Thank you." He told her. "Thank you very much."

Lois packed up her stuff, reaching into her wallet and pulling out some money for the drinks.

"For the record, if you ever find yourself in Metropolis, look me up at the Daily Planet." She offered. "Maybe we can get coffee sometime, Kal."

"I'll keep that in mind." Kal told her.

With that, Lois made her way out of the diner.

Lois' story was published in the next issue of the Daily Planet. The story was titled "SUPERMAN: The Man of Steel", telling his story while leaving out details about his life as a Kent. Lois read over the article, happy with how it turned out. She was so wrapped up in her reading that she was caught off guard when he boss approached her.

"Lois!" He called out.

Lois jolted, dropping the paper and turning towards her boss.

"Yes Perry?" she asked.

"I'm taking on a new guy on the city desk." He told her. "I want you to show him the ropes until he gets the hang of things."

"Just how green is this guy that you're assigning him a babysitter?" Lois wondered.

"He's new to Metropolis." Perry explained. "Moved here from some hick town called Smallville."

Lois jolted, suspicion planting its seeds as she went to approach the new guy.

"Lois Lane, meet Clark Kent." Perry introduced.

Standing before her was the man from the diner, cleaned up and in a suit. He wore a pair of glasses and walked like someone with two left feet, but Lois recognized him instantly. Without hesitation and with a smile, Lois stuck out her hand.

"Hello Clark." she greeted. "Welcome to the Planet."