Fugitive Endeavor, part 5

by Darklady

Disclaimers in "part 0"

Lex Luthor and two other men watched in growing horror as the forty-two screens of the presidential media center flickered over forty-two angles of the same impossible story. Wayne frame-up. Assassin caught at Wayne Manor. Vesper Fairchild in hospital. JLA leader prevents political murder.

"Damn!" Luthor cursed. If looks could kill - and there was every reason to believe that in this case they just might - the man in the black suit had just become an extremely poor insurance risk. "You assured me your men wouldn't talk."

"They don't have to." The man managed to convey a shrug by staying totally immobile. "Given that there was a telepath?" The conclusion was obvious enough to go unstated.

"Telepath?" The word hissed out from clenched jaws.

Another non-shrug. The agency was deep cover - but no cover was that deep. A few rather dangerous mind-wipe drugs might conceal a motive after an event, but for the agent caught in the act? Well, even the most disciplined had to think about what they were doing while they were doing it.

President Luthor's senior Press Secretary held out a file. It was thin - unusually so for Washington - but given that the first sheet was a photograph of Police Commissioner Akins standing beside an unmistakable blue-caped green figure?

Luthor's face turned as red as his long-lost hair.

"How did..?"

The Press Secretary fell back. "That's not... entirely clear, sir."

The black suited man pulled out a second page. "The official statement was that the Martian was visiting Mr. Wayne... 'to review WayneTech participation in the Mars Rover Mapping Project.'"

He passed the paper to Luthor - who let it fall to the floor.

"You believe that?"

Another non-shrug. "Does it matter what I believe?"

No. Not at all. Lex Luthor had never cared what his employees believed. Except, of course, to assure that they all - without exception - believed that the slightest slacking or malfeasance would be... regretted deeply. But beyond a laudable fear?

An industrialist didn't need to bother with anything as intangible as belief so long as he kept a firm grip on the more material reigns of money and power. Unfortunately?

Unfortunately a politician - even a President - did not have that privilege.

Head down, Luthor paced like a lion before the monitor wall.

This was a disaster.

Luthor had faced disaster before.

He had been arrested, abducted, imprisoned - even killed - and he had always found a way out.

He just needed to think!

"He's ... an alien." Luthor pronounced slowly. "We can say he misunderstood..."

"But...Sir!" The Press Secretary looked up from he floor, where he was regathering his papers. "The lady?"

Luthor smiled. The blue light of the screens created a false halo behind his bald head. "Vesper? She's a reporterette. Lying to grab headlines. A little nutty, a little slutty..."

"And.." The Press Secretary pushed himself to his feet. "Olson?"


"James 'Jimmy' Olson." The black-suited man pulled out still another photograph. "He co-hosts a talk show called Good Morning Metropolis."

Seeing an edge of comprehension pass over his boss's face, the Press man joined in more confidently. "The red-head on screen fourteen?"

All eyes went up. On screen fourteen a freckle faced young man with a cereal-box All-American charm was sharing some unheard confidence with the more famous late-night guru Witty Banter.

The black suited agent nodded. "Olson was also staying at the Manor. Supposedly to interview the Martian."

"Olson?" Luthor asked sharply. "Not... Kent?"

"Umm. No sir." The Press Secretary stumbled back again. "Did you expect...?"

Not that it would have surprised the man. Clark Kent and his editorials had been a thorn in the side of administration spin control since before the inauguration. Beyond that? Kent might write against Luthor's diplomatic actions or his economic policy, but murder? Hardly. The man was a foreign affairs geek - not some dashing 'Scud Stud' type.

Still, if Luthor wanted to blame some newspaper Joe? Why argue? Safer to have The President's wrath focused there then closer to home.

"Sanctimonious alien bastard." If Lex Luthor had suddenly been gifted with telescopic vision, his glare would have been aimed directly at the spinning globe of the Daily Planet. "I've been set up."

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