Richard quickly found the file that held all of Lois’ personal information. He’d told her it was a bad idea to keep it all in one place, but she’d retorted that she needed all those endless codes and passwords accessible somewhere, and it was quite secure enough. Guess she was right about that … we’d have never gotten her password if not for
It took him only a moment to dial Lois’ cell phone number, hit the pound key, and punch in her code. He’d put her office phone on speaker so the others could hear it, but at the first syllable of Luthor’s voice rasping across his nerves, he regretted it.
Everyone listened in silence, up until the moment when Luthor’s ‘musical interlude’ began.
Lana’s hand went to her mouth, and in those lovely green eyes the first glimmer of steely anger began to show. How dare Luthor… Lana could empathize now with Lois’ desire to kill the man.
Ella stared at the phone, horrified. Her grandchildren … that monster Luthor was in for a surprise when her daughter got hold of him. Her whole expression spoke of caged fury, and anyone who looked at her face would know where Lois got her iron will and fierce maternal drive.
And then, the kids’ voices faded, and Luthor returned to the phone. “It will be in your best interest to come quickly,
The end of the message occasioned a flurry of activity in Lois’ office. Richard bolted to his feet, heading for the door. “C’mon, he’s on the ship. I can call the port authority from my cell phone and find out if it’s still in the repair bay. If not, we’ll track it through the air.”
Lana was at his side immediately, as determined as he was to track down Lois and the twins. Any potential rivalry was forgotten – living in the city hadn’t knocked the Smallville out of her yet, and she couldn’t do anything but try her utmost to rescue them from Luthor.
For a moment, Ella considered going with them. But then she held back – this was a task for the young and the strong. “Go on,” she said in a low voice. “Find them and bring them back.”
“Yeah … why?”
“Give them to me. I’ll move Lois’ car and try to get in touch with Superman. Hopefully if he sees her car being driven, he’ll drop by, and I can pass the information on to him. You might need his help dealing with Luthor.”
“Good idea,” Richard said, pulling the car key off his key ring and tossing it to
Most men, even strong men, would’ve faltered. Lex did so only for a second, but prison had sharpened his reflexes and his resistance to pain. The hand holding the Ladysmith was now free, and he swung it sharply against the side of Lois’ head.
The barrel of her own gun smacked against her temple, and Lois felt her legs weaken, her vision graying out. Lex pistol-whipped her again, but because she was falling to her knees the blow only glanced off her shoulder. It still hurt, and against her will she cried out. Then she was trying to break her fall, and Lex’s weight came down on her, the gun spinning away from both of them.
Lois fought, but Lex had his knee in the middle of her back and was holding one elbow. The harder she struggled, the farther up he twisted her arm. With strength born of desperation, Lois managed to get her other arm under her and push both of them off the floor.
Lex gave her arm another savage yank, and socked her in the jaw. He pulled the punch, but it was enough to let her know she was beaten – for now. Lois lay still, panting.
“Bitch,” Lex muttered, his voice slipping into the dialect of Suicide Slum, where he’d been born. “You broke my fucking rib! Lucky for you I like your face the way it is, or I’d break your goddamn jaw.”
Lois concentrated on breathing, her shoulder afire, all of his weight pressing down against her spine. Lex had to fight to regain control, and when he spoke again, his voice was once more the unaccented tones of an educated man. “Riley! Come here.”
He’d called out loudly enough for the other man to hear even several rooms away, and Lois heard him approach warily. “Boss?”
“Give me a couple of those cable ties,” Lex said coolly, his breathing shallow because of the cracked rib.
“I don’t know what you’re…”
“The cable ties you always carry with you, Riley,” Lex elaborated, his low tone indicating that he’d almost run out of patience. “Just in case you meet a future movie star. Give me two of them. Now.”
Lois ground her teeth as Lex wrenched her arms behind her back and slipped the cable ties over her wrists. Looped into each other and zipped tight against her skin, the tough plastic was more secure than handcuffs, which at least had a lock she could pick.
Lex finally got off of her, hissing in pain as he stood up. “You okay, boss?” Riley asked.
“Fine,” Lex said shortly, pressing his hand against his side. “Cracked rib, that’s all. Get me that gun.” Without warning, Lex leaned down and grabbed a handful of Lois’ hair at the nape of her neck, hauling her to her feet.
Biting her lip to stifle a whimper, Lois scrambled up with difficulty, her scalp burning. Lex tightened his grip on Lois’ hair and forced her to face him. “Not very smart, Lois. Brave, but not bright.”
Hatred glittered in hazel eyes, but Lois refused to answer. Riley handed Lex the gun silently, and the reporter glared even more savagely at the easy way he gripped her revolver.
Lex tapped the barrel of the Ladysmith against Lois’ cheek. “Behave, or I’ll have to hit you again. And I don’t want you unconscious for what comes next.”
Lois didn’t trust herself to reply. She kept telling herself to stay calm, to wait for an opportunity to get her hands free. That anything she said at this point might be taken out on the twins, who had been through so much already. Lex had apparently had enough of taunting her for the moment, and he kept the gun pressed against her side as well a tight grip on her hair as he forced her out of the room and down the corridor.
Going up the stairs wasn’t easy with her hands behind her, and Lois nearly stumbled once. Lex kept pushing her onward until they arrived at a narrow door with one of the ubiquitous portholes in it. It had a view straight out onto the helipad, and Lois’ keen eyes landed on the helicopter. If she could get loose, she’d be able to call for help on its radio…
Lex nodded to Riley, and he opened the door, revealing a small pantry with steel cabinets. “Like your new accommodations, Lois?” Lex asked, pulling her head back sharply so that she felt his breath on her neck. “I picked this room for you because it happens to be the exact dimensions of the solitary confinement cells on Stryker’s
With that he shoved her forward roughly, and though Lois caught her balance in seconds, she wasn’t quick enough to stop Lex from slamming the door on her. Kicking the door and demanding release was futile, so she cursed Lex and his ancestry until she felt a little more in control of herself.
And then, left alone at last, Lois set about trying to find a way out of her predicament.
There, already powering away from land, was the Gertrude. Superman scowled as he caught sight of it, and flew toward it well below his swiftest pace. To the growing anger that demanded he catch Luthor, now, he thought resolutely, I can’t fly right into a trap – Luthor has to know I’m coming. I won’t be able to save Lois and the twins if I just go bursting in. I have to be wary…
A low rumbling noise caught his attention, and he slowed still further to listen. That sounded suspiciously familiar, but he’d never heard it on the East Coast…
The rumbling grew louder, and he halted, peering down through the water. What he saw there chilled him: a widening crack in the sea floor, gradually heading toward Metropolis…
Damn! The city is not prepared for an earthquake. He looked once more at the yacht, and saw that although it was moving quickly by the standards of a large ship, he would be able to catch up with it easily. Of greater concern was the speck on the horizon. Kal-El had a bad feeling that he knew what that was – some outgrowth of the crystals, pressing outward on a crack in the sea floor and causing the seismic waves.
Cursing fate and duty, he reversed his direction and sped back toward Metropolis.
Lex went to lie down briefly after binding his chest. Unbelievable that Lois had broken a rib … he’d known she was dangerous, but he hadn’t realized she had the skill in hand-to-hand fighting to do something like that. He lay looking up at the ceiling and wondered, Maybe I need to rethink my plans for her?
After a few moments of deep thought, Lex closed his eyes. No. A few particulars may need to be revised – a little more emphasis on the hypnotics, perhaps the use of stronger sedatives in the beginning – but the plan as a whole should still be workable. There is a certain amount of risk, but that has always existed. No one could hope to keep
With those pleasant thoughts, he began to drift into sleep. The caped hero should be busier than ever soon, and he would have ample time to set up both distractions. Lex relaxed as much as he ever did…
The door to his stateroom eased open, and a silhouette appeared in the doorway. After watching him carefully, the dark-haired woman slipped inside and closed the door softly behind her. She was shivering in fear and loathing, but her cheeks bloomed with bright roses of anger.
Creeping closer to Lex’s bed, she kept her right hand close to her side. Only when she was right beside him did she raise it, wrapping both hands around the hilt of the large chef’s knife she’d stolen from the galley. Taking a deep breath, Kitty rose up on her toes in order to give herself more distance to swing the blade down and build speed for the impact with Lex’s chest…
Lois bit her lip at the searing pain in her shoulders. Just a little bit more… She strained to stretch her arms as far as she could, the cable ties biting into her wrists cruelly. This will only work because most of my height is leg, Lois thought as she struggled to get her bound hands underneath her rump. This particular escape skill was one she’d practiced before, just in case she was taken hostage while investigating a story. It required flexibility, and it hurt like mad at the moment, but if it worked… I have to get us out of here, most especially Kala and Jason. If I can just keep us all in one piece until Kal-El gets here… Come on, dammit! Stupid ties…
There! Lois sighed with relief, blowing a stray strand of hair out of her eyes. She was now sitting on her bound hands, which were quickly going numb from the pressure of the cable ties. All she had to do now was work them forward to her knees and then get her feet out of the loop formed by her arms. Piece of cake, really. Now all I have to do is find out what’s in those cabinets and MacGyver my way out that door.
Just as she managed to stand up, however, a monstrous wave lifted the ship, and Lois slipped to the floor again as the yacht crested the wave and rode down its trough. What the hell?!