Frustrating Happenings

The door to Watchtower suddenly swung open, and Tess, Emil, and Lois all found themselves watching the threshold in anticipation. When they saw that it was just Bart, alone, everyone became anxious, and they all began shooting questions at Bart at the same time.

"Why aren't you using your super-speed? Couldn't you have just vibrated through the door?" Tess asked.

"Where the hell's Clark?" Lois erupted.

"Why'd you leave without hearing me out? You can't just run off without thinking!" Emil sighed.

"Clark wasn't there! I went to the Two of Diamonds, and he wasn't there! It was abandoned; looked like it had been for years! There was no one there and no sign of anyone ever having been there. Well, except for maybe many, many years ago…" Bart deemed Lois's question the most urgent, and answered it first. His eyebrows were knotted in frustration, and he was being uncharacteristically serious, which brought to light the severity of the whole situation. Tess and Emil immediately dismissed their questions as trivial, now focused on the matter at hand.

"Okay. Everyone, here's how this is going to work—I'll use Watchtower's tech to search for Clark, Impulse can search for clues to Clark's whereabouts at his abduction sight, and Emil can watch over Lois while I use the computers." Tess was eyeing Lois suspiciously, still unsure of Lois's sanity and allegiance.

"No! I'm Clark's fiancée! I'm not just going to sit here while he's somewhere out there, missing!" She gestured to Watchtower's large window, and began gazing outside, ruefully.

"You were the one that arranged his kidnapping. You obviously did not plan it out very well. Now tell us everything that has happened up to this point. Leave nothing out!"

Lois recounted everything that had happened ever since Clark's fateful training session with Conner, up to the moment she had felt the needle prick on her neck. Tess listened intently to the explanation, her eyebrow cocked in an expression of bewilderment. Dr. Hamilton was studying Lois closely, an odd expression on his face.

"Wasn't that a bit of an overreaction?" Tess questioned, one eyebrow still raised.

"It seems as if all of your emotions were magnified. Have you been having intense mood swings lately?" Concern was evident in Emil's face as he looked at Lois.

"I don't know, but Tess is right—I overreacted big time, and now Clark could be hurt because of it." Lois's eyes were downcast, and she was on the verge of tears.

Tess turned towards Emil. "Do you think she's bipolar? Maybe we should medicate her."

Lois opened her mouth to speak, but Emil silenced her with a wave of his hand. "I have this suspicion that her emotions were somehow artificially magnified."

"You've got to be kidding me!" Tess frowned. "She should just take responsibility for her actions!"

"I've seen enough weird things by now to know that this isn't out of the question. In fact I'm sure of it. Lois is old enough that she should have shown signs of any mental illness if has one."

Lois could not control herself. "Hey! Who are you calling old?"

Sighing, Tess rubbed her forehead. "It's best that we act fast. Impulse I need you to—" Tess did a double take; Bart was nowhere to be seen.

"It seems as though he was way ahead of you as far as it comes to acting fast." Emil smirked as he studied Tess's frustrated expression.

"Stop fooling around! With Impulse long gone, the plan is already in motion. Excuse me, but I need to get in contact with the aptly named Impulse!" Tess stormed over to her computer and began typing away.

"It looks like Lois isn't the only short-tempered woman here today," Emil muttered under his breath.

"I heard that!" Lois shouted.

"Great! Why am I even here? I'm just a lowly doctor!"

A gust of wind signaled Bart's return. His face was full of frustration and anger, and this time, he bypassed the door. "I didn't find any clues to Clark's whereabouts. Any evidence that might've been there is long burned away." He gripped his hair tightly and began pacing. "I can't just stand around doing nothing while Clark is missing! There's gotta be something I can do! Anything! Tess, is there anything I can do?"

"I was going to send you to Kent Farm to look for anything that could be causing Lois's erratic behavior, but since we have no idea where Clark is, I think your time would be better spent elsewhere—like combing the streets randomly until you see anything even remotely suspicious!"

"Okay—"

"Wait! I was being sarcastic. We're at a dead end, and it's all Lois's fault!"

"Hey!" Lois shouted, but Tess cut her off.

"Shut up! There's no time for this!"

"Um…should I just, I dunno, check Lionel Luthor's place for Clark, or something?" Bart's superspeed pacing was wearing a hole in the floor, but he had no intentions of stopping any time soon. Only superspeeding around could help him relieve all of his pent up tension.

"That's it!" Tess's eyes were bright. "Of course! Roulette would have brought Clark to the highest bidder, and who would pay more for Clark than Lionel Luthor?" With the mention of her father's name, her eyes grew dark in anger.

"I doubt he would bring Clark back to his house," said Emil, ever the voice of reason.

Tess began rapidly clicking the keyboard. "I'll try pin point Lionel's location, but he's probably been doing a damn fine job of covering his tracks." She printed out a sheet of paper and handed it to Bart. "This is a list of the addresses of all of the known hideouts of Lionel Luthor. Knowing him, he will have found a new one, but we might as well be certain."

With those words, Bart was off again, and Lois felt relieved that they had at least an idea of where Clark could be.

Tess's eyes widened suddenly as though she had an epiphany, and then she was back at her keyboard, clicking away. "Emil! You may actually have been on to something! I just remembered about this artifact I heard about. Rumors were circulating through the underworld a couple months back, but that was it, just rumors. But it's true what they say—there's definitely some truth in rumors."

Emil moved over until he was standing directly behind her. "What is it?"

"The Medusa Mask." Tess brought up a picture on the large screen, and Emil and Lois stared at it, wide-eyed. It was a shiny golden color and looked like the comedy or tragedy mask without the mouth. "The rumors say that the wearer gains the ability to amplify or control emotions. I suppose that could be what happened to Lois. That is, if this whole business about the Medusa Mask is true."

"Are you saying that Roulette or Lionel Luthor has a partner who has this mask and has been controlling me this whole time?"

"Well, not controlling you, per se. More like influencing you through your emotions."

"I believe it," Emil supplied.

Meanwhile, elsewhere-

The young man stared at his reflection in the mirror. A glinting, golden mask stared back at him, and he felt its cold smoothness with his fingertips.

"Why am I taking orders from him?" He asked his reflection, "I'm way more powerful than him. I could make Luthor crawl into a corner and cry if I wanted to. Do I?"

He stared at his reflection for a few moments, as if waiting for a voice to respond. "Am I a psycho if I want my reflection to tell me what to do? Ughhhh. All I need is a cool supervillain name, and then I could take over the world, or do whatever it is supervillains do these days—control the president's emotions from behind the scenes." He smirked inside the golden mask, and a smile formed on the outside, which just made him feel even happier as he stared at it.

"I've got it—since I'm a psycho anyway, I'll go by Psycho-Pirate because I feed off of others emotions! Why am I explaining myself to you anyway?" He turned his back on his reflection and gazed through the darkness in the other direction.

"Oh, Lionel," he called out into the darkness, "come here! There's something I want to show you!" He made his mask into a scared and cowering face, in preparation for Lionel's arrival. Once the Psycho-Pirate gained control of the Blur's emotions, he would be unstoppable!