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TheYesterYearFan Fiction Group acknowledges that Clark Kent and ALL related characters are the property of DC Comics and that Doc Savage and ALL related concepts are the property of Conde Nast, Inc. and they retain complete rights to said characters. These concepts are used WITHOUT permission for NO PROFIT, but rather a strong desire to peer into the potential these characters have in a combined setting. This also acknowledges that original concepts presented here are the intellectual property of the author.

YesterYear FanFiction Presents
"One Day In April"

written by Tommy Hancock
edited by Erik Burnham

"Clark. Clark, it's time to go, son."

He raised his head slowly at the pleading tone in his father's normally strong voice. His usually crackling blue eyes were now somber with heavy tears. His chest heaved with a massive breath, air whispering from his tightly clenched jaw. He looked around him, the sky gray with grief and storm clouds, the trees bearing the beginnings of spring on their branches, but still dead somehow, and the landscape barren except for trees and the stones planted there by man. No one was there, all of them long gone to the dinner on the ground at the Methodist Church. No one but him and his father.

Standing beside his mother's gravestone.
"Pa, it's not right." His muscular body quivered with mourning, his hands rolling into fists. "She lay in that bed for almost two years, never losing that smile she wore for whatever happened. Two years and I couldn't do anything for her." His right fist snapped into the air, slamming into the gnarled oak tree to his left. The tree groaned, its wizened trunk splintering into shards, the top of the tree timbering toward them. He pivoted on his heel, his left fist following around, punching the falling tree. It rocketed up, a rain of slivers and chips falling around them as it spiraled through the air, crashing into a tombstone on the other side of the cemetery. Angry and guilty, he seethed, "All this power she said I was blessed with and I let her die!!"
"Clark." Eben Kent put his large, callused hand on his son's shoulder, a soothing voice, a firm grip. "You know that ain't so. Your ma wouldn't want you talking like that and I won't have it. You did all you could, son." Eben pulled on Clark's shoulder, turning him to face him. Looking into his son's stern face and tear soaked eyes, he said, "Powers or not, son, your ma was dying. That's all."

Clark's shoulders shook with one silent sob as he buried his face in his father's shoulder. A moment later, he raised his head and cleared his throat, saying, "Now what. What will we do, Pa?"

Eben replied, "I'll keep on with the farm. She loved that hunk of dirt, especially when it was all green with life. And you," he managed a smile through all his agony, "You remember when you got out of high school? When we showed you….. what we found you in. You remember that, Clark?"

Clark nodded, thinking of the rocket buried beneath the barn.
"Then you do what your Ma asked you to that day. What she said each time you were home from College in the south. You use all that learning you got with those eight years and that whole wall full of degrees you have. You use it how she wanted to."

Clark nodded, not in agreement, only remembrance. "She told me that no matter where I came from or who my real parents were, that you were my family and that I had a gift for helping people." He turned away from his father, his eyes falling on the stone that read SARAH MARTHA CLARK KENT/MOTHER AND WIFE/ANGEL GONE HOME/1878-1938. "But Pa, I've been here over two years now, helping you with Ma and the farm. I don't know that I know how to help anyone out in the world. It's all so crazy now in the papers and on the radio. And all I've known has been here in Kansas."
"But all you can be is out there, Clark, outside of this town, outside of Kansas." Eben walked around in front of Clark. "I'm not one to tell you how to do it, Clark, you have to find your place in the world on your own. But your Ma is gone…and I'm a grown man, an old man, but a grown man. You have the heart and the abilities to help so many, Clark. And you can't do it living on a dirt farm."
"All right, Pa." It wasn't all right, he knew that. He wasn't sure of anything at all, not his strange powers, not his future, not even of himself. "I'll think on it." Reaching into his coat pocket, he pulled out the pocket watch his father had passed onto him when he graduated college with his first two degrees.

Eben said, "You need to go, don't you? You go on, I'll drive back to the house in a while."

Clark nodded. "I won't be long, Pa. Just have to go into town to meet that lady reporter, the one who wanted to ask me about that man we saw around the farm. Shouldn't take too much time." He looked into his father's eyes. "But that can wait if it needs to."
"Don't worry about me, Clark." Eben turned and start walking to his truck. "If this peculiar colored man is as bad as that reporter told you he was, then you have to go. This may be where your helping starts, son."

Clark reached inside his coat again, this time retrieving a pair of glasses. Something his Pa always had him do, just in case he ever decided he didn't want people knowing him if he used his powers. Of course, Clark never really understood how a simple set of glasses could have disguise anyone, but Clark didn't ever argue. "I don't know, Pa. But I won't be long."

Eben started climbing into the truck. "Take your time. You enjoy visiting with… What's that reporter's name again, son?"
"Lane, Pa," Clark replied. "Lois Lane."

"I really don't know what to make of you, farmboy."

Clark smiled at the impetuous words of Lois Lane. She was the epitome of the 'modern woman,' that archetype that so many matronly sorts in his small home town looked down their noses at, secretly envying to have her drive to succeed. Her playfully sarcastic words rolled beautifully out of her lovely thin mouth, her green eyes sparkling with beauty and little girl mischievousness. She sat across the tiny table from him, her cup of coffee cradled in her ivory hands. Clark felt like he did the first time he met her three days ago. Like every word from her was an invitation, a challenge.
"What is there to make, Miss Lane?" He finished his coffee and turned his attention to the apple pie in front of him. Even though today was one of the worst in his life, hunger would not stay away and Harris' was a good place to be when one was hungry.

Lois laughed, just a slight chuckle. "I come up here following a lead for the Daily Planet and hear about some farmer who may have some information for me. I go to his house, find out his mother has passed away…" Lois paused, searching Clark's face for some flicker of emotion. She found it, a slight wince of his left eye. "Again," she said, quieter this time, "I am sorry about your loss."
"Thank you." He hesitated, not wanting to go into all of this again. Not yet. "You were saying?"

Caught off guard a bit, she continued, "Well, it's just that you insisted on telling me your story that night. And then I learn that you hold more degrees than a thermometer, yet you choose to be a farmer."
"Obligations, Miss Lane. I had obligations."

Feeling a barb thrown at her with that statement, Lois ignored it. "And to top it off, I ask to see you again and you choose today, after your mother's funeral."
"My father's idea." Clark pushed the half eaten pie away. "He and my Ma seemed to think that talking to you was the right thing to do."

Lois cocked her head to the left, her eyes narrowing. "And what do you think?"
"I think that your editor at the Daily Planet is probably waiting on this story." He also thought that he could easily stare at her for days, even weeks without ever turning away. That he wouldn't tell her. "So," he said, "what do you want to hear?"

Uncomfortable that command of the conversation had been snatched from her, Lois sighed and flipped open her pad. Her pencil already on the table, she picked it up and said, "Just tell me again what you saw last week. Don't leave anything out."
"Not much to leave in or out," Clark said. "I was….walking the fence line on the far end of our property." He didn't think she needed to know that he was taking down the fence line with his bare hands and putting it back up by himself in a matter of minutes. "Our land is bordered on that end by a county road, one I could see from where I was. In the middle of it, on one knee, was a man, a large man. He was hunched over, like he was hurt. As I got closer, I saw that his skin was an odd…color. It was…bronze. He had bronze skin."
"I was only a few yards from him, when he looked up. The look in his eyes was either of fear or pure insanity. Either way, he jumped up, his right arm clinging to his left arm. He was wounded in the shoulder at least, looked like maybe other places, too. He saw me…and started shooting. I avoided most of the bullets." Avoided them by catching them in his hands. He wouldn't tell her that, either. "By the time everything settled down, he was gone, crossed the road into the trees."

Lois, writing furiously, asked, "And that's all? You didn't see anyone with him? He didn't have anything in his hand? A map? A stone?"
"Only a gun, Miss Lane." A gun that fired rubber like bullets. He found that strange, too. "And I will say that he looked like a hurt man fighting for his life, not the evil criminal 'Bronze Man' you painted him as the other night."

Lois nodded. "I may have misled you. I'm here because I'm not so sure anymore that the Bronze Man is as vile as the FBI and other reporters believe. I don't have much in the way of proof, but I believe that this man…" she looked down at her notepad, ten back up at him, "…whoever he is, is being framed by someone else. But, the evidence against him is very, very damning."

Clark leaned across the table, his curiosity burning. "What sort of evidence?"
"Confessions of murderers, bombers, burglars all over the country who claim they worked for him, only knowing him as 'The Bronze Man.' Eyewitnesses of several crimes, including the massacre of fourteen Texas Rangers in Dallas and the horrible fire on the Harvard campus last year, who saw a 'Bronze colored' or 'Bronze skinned' man at each scene.."

Clark nodded. "I heard about both of those things. And you seem to think, with all this, that the Bronze Man is innocent."
"Yes," her voice was very firm, definite, yet compassionate, "I do.

I can almost guarantee it."
"And you followed him here?"
"Yes, I thought it was strange, too. But the whole story seems to revolve around this little Kansas town." She closed her pad, putting the pencil back on the table. "And that's why I am here."
"And we are all very glad to have her here, aren't we, Clark?"

They both looked up at a rather slender man to have such a resonant voice. He was all grin, his bony hands out wide to both of them. Neither Lois nor Clark shook them, but it didn't bother the man at all. He just kept them out and went on smiling.
"Yes, Mayor Fredericks," Clark said, somewhat embarrassed by the sudden appearance of the one man Vaudeville show that was Mayor Dailey Fredericks, "We are."

Lois started to say something, but Mayor Fredericks cut her off, blustering, "I knew you'd like her, my boy. Knew it when she called and told me not to tell anyone but you that she was comin'! The great Lois Lane of the Daily Planet, here in our town."
"And the honor is all mine, Mayor." Lois glared at Clark as he stifled a chuckle at her comment dripping wet with cynicism. "Won't you join us?"
"No, no." Frederick's left hand dropped as his right hand went up, waved to someone outside, probably a passer by on the sidewalk that hoped he didn't see them. "I have to, important doings for the mayor." His last words grew louder as he scurried out the door just behind Clark.
"He is a strange little man," Lois said.

Clark smiled. "You noticed that, did you?" Lois laughed, making Clark's grin grow even wider. She had a pretty smile, he thought, goes well with the rest of her.
"So," Lois said, "Have you ever considered doing something beside farming? With all those diplomas you could have your pick in any city. Have you ever thought about being a reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper?"

Clark heard the faint sizzling, smelled the strong burning scent, but did not move quickly enough to do anything. The window beside them shoos as a tiny hole appeared in it and a searing white light ripped through it, striking Lois hard in the chest. Clark, a split second late, rushed to her, putting himself between her now limp, smoking body and the hardly visible light still aimed at her. Elsie Rodney, the waitress behind the counter, screamed and Doe Harris, the owner and cook, ran out to see what was happening to his only two customers all day.
"GET OUT OF HERE!!" Clark yelled, now cradling Lois' head in his arms. He felt the beam hitting his back with a heat that had burned a hole in Lois' chest, but was barely warming his back. Harris, unsure of what he saw, grabbed Elise, still screaming, by the shoulders and forced her out the front door and into the street.

Clark didn't move as his coat caught fire. "Lois," he said quietly, but urgently, "Lois, hold on. You'll be all right."

Blood trickling out of the left side of her mouth, Lois coughed, her eyes barely opening. "You're…you're on fire, Clark." His coat and shirt were now consumed in flames. He carefully lowered her head to the floor, then ripped the burning clothes off his back with one savage motion. Lois coughed again, choking on her blood and her stilted words. " you don't…even sweat. And…smart and handsome…too…You're one..super man…farmboy." She gasped, then her head fell back, her eyes still half open.

Later, when Sheriff Boden questioned him about what happened, Doe Harris nervously recounted how he had to practically drag Elsie out the door as young Kent, flames eating away at him, knelt over the dying lady reporter. They had just barely crossed the street, almost over to Hogie's Barber Shop, when they heard Kent scream, Harris said it sounded like a wounded bull, and the tiny restaurant erupted into a geyser of splinters, shards, and nails. Whatever blew up the building was so powerful that it swept Harris and Elsie out of the street and threw them into the barber shop. Elsie swore that she felt someone grab her, but everyone knew she'd always been a little off anyway. That was how what happened immediately after Lois died would be reported and remembered. That a big city reporter lady and Clark Kent, a native born son, died in an unexplained explosion in the heart of town.

Clark cradled Lois Lane in one arm, closing her eyes with his free hand. Setting her down gently, he shouted out a thunderous rage. Death everywhere. Confusion dragging him down. Senselessness ripping the world, his world to shreds. Then he turned, looking over his shoulder out the window, the tiny hole seared in it still smoking. And he saw him. On top of Hogie's Barber Shop. Kneeling, a long silver rifle out of some Saturday afternoon space serial on his shoulder. A man, average build and height, angry, gleefully evil face. And fiery red hair dancing wildly in the April breeze.

He didn't even stand up, only pivoted around on the balls of his feet and sprang forward, his fists out ready to wrap around the distance between him and that murderous bastard's neck. With the force of a summer cyclone, he burst through the wall of the restaurant, shaking the ramshackle building into ruin. His eyes only wavered from the red haired man an instant, long enough to carry Harris and Elsie out of harm's way, out of his way.

With one stomp on the street, he jumped in the air, leaping high with the speed of an out of control locomotive. One hand on the ledge of the shop's roof, he swung over, landing on the rooftop as if he weighed nothing. The red haired man knew he was coming and was already making his getaway. He was at the far side of the roof, the back of the shop that bordered Farnum's Woods on the outskirts of town. His rifle was slung over his back now, a leather strap crossing the gray shirt on his chest from right to left. He had one leg over the side, already wrapped around a rope he had climbed up. Both of them hesitated, Clark out of the sheer weight of frenzy, the assassin because he clearly relished the futility of the moment.

A tiny bound, again with a delicate landing, and Clark had his massive hand around the man's throat. His features were rugged, scarred with hard living and age. The wretched smile of perverted pleasure from his actions remained, even under Clark's crushing grasp.
"Why did you kill her? WHY??"
"Because……the…Bronze Man…….made her….need……to die."

The thick Russian accent combined with his struggling for air made the killer sound demonically ominous as he rasped, "Walk with… Sunlight… Stray… from… the… dark… to Sunlight… or… die… like… all… others."

Clark felt something slap onto his chest, something heavy. The red haired man laughed as Clark looked down and saw a small black box, about three by six inches, stuck just over his heart. And ticking.

The maniac's laughing grew louder as Clark let him go and tried to pull the box off. It would not move. With both hands, he grabbed it, turned, wrestled, twisted it, as the killer cackled on and scurried down the rope and into the woods. Clark shouted as he fought with the tiny box, still unable to tear it from his body. Knowing what the ticking meant, Clark jumped from the roof, his arms out at his side, shooting straight up, then turning himself, aiming his body into the midst of Farnum's Woods. He somersaulted through branches and limbs, mangling three trees before the box exploded. And the world collapsed into black around him.

"So," the voice was a gentle rumble carved from a terrible thunderclap…and enough to wake Clark from his troubled unconsciousness….along with the high pitched trilling ricocheting inside his head, "You are what all of this has been about."

Shaking off burnt and broken limbs and bark, Clark raised up slowly, his eyes blurry, but quickly focusing on the immense figure towering above him. The one that the trilling was coming from.

Clark fumed, "IT'S YOU!!"

Three feet away from Clark, standing over him, casting a long shadow, was a man. A perfect physical specimen. Muscles rippling like water over his chest. A stern, strong face. An impressive, daunting man. A man of bronze.

Clark lowered his head, adrenaline and rage making it ache as if it weighed a ton on his shoulders. His eyes narrowed, his hand flat on the ground supporting him flexing only slightly, his other one rolling itself into an extended fist. As if fired from the ground itself, Clark shot up, his only intent to knock the Bronze Man's head clean from his shoulders with one bone shattering punch. No morals, no ethics, just a man tired of grief, of anger, of feeling beaten so much in one day.

The grip of sinewy bronze fingers on his wrist was slight, almost like feathers tickling his sweaty skin, but there nonetheless, somehow snatching him from the split second he traveled in. Gasping for breath to yell, Clark felt himself slung high into the air, landing on a massive flat rock behind the Bronze Man. The rock groaned, cracking under Clark's crash.
"It never fails," sighed the Bronze Man, turning slowly to face Clark once more standing up. "Even the mighty and the blessed can be stupid sometimes."
"You had her killed!" Clark wiped mud from his chin with the ferocity of a bull stomping packed dirt. "You had that red headed Russian kill Lois!"

He charged, the bull's eyes full of red. The Bronze Man tensed, his feet firmly planted. Clark lowered his head, knowing he could knock a new road through Farnum's Woods with this man with the butt of his head. What he learned was just how prepared his opponent was. Clark hesitated, shocked when arms seemingly cast of bronze itself took hold of his head.
"Listen to me, Clark." The Bronze Man felt Clark's body go rigid, then relax slightly at a new realization. "You have to know. I did not have Lois killed."
"You know who I am." Caught off guard only a moment, Clark snapped, "The killer named you! He said that you made her need to die!"

The muscular man winced, his own emotions starting to cloud what had to happen here. "That is because…..I once loved her. And Luthor knew it."

Clark roared suddenly, no explanation in his mind, no reason in his heart. Pure from-the-depths-of-the-soul fury. He threw his head up, his arms flailing trying to snatch the Bronze Man, now in the air still holding Clark's head.

Tossed around as if in a storm, the Bronze Man concentrated, focusing his strength and weight backward, causing Clark to tumble back. Before Clark could react, the Bronze Man had rolled out from under him and sat upon his chest. He did not try to grapple him again, only stared at him. With haunted, but sincere eyes.
"You have many gifts, Clark, but experience in the field of fighting is not one. Not yet."

His body still tender with passionate, furious grief, Clark did not fight back. He could not, not when he saw what was in the eyes of the man who had bested him. Honesty. Truth. And mourning for a woman he loved.
"She…she.." Clark inhaled deeply, breathless not from physical exhaustion, but from a week of anguish, "she…said you were some sort of ….criminal..but she didn't believe that."

The Bronze Man nodded, looked at Clark again, studying his features, his breathing, his very being it seemed, then stood up. "She may have at first, but I hoped she would learn differently." He lowered his head, turning away. "Now I wish she hadn't."
"You know my name," Clark said, thinking to himself that this was the third time he had had to stand up in front of this man. "But I don't know yours."

Tugged from his private moment, the man turned back around. "Actually," he said, unrolling the sleeves of his white shirt, "we share a name. Clark." He extended his hand. "I am Doctor Clark Savage, Jr."
"Doctor…Doc Savage." The words collapsed in Clark's throat as he fought to say them. A childlike awe and amazement, as well as a tinge of wary curiosity, replaced the anger he carried moments ago. Then recognition set in. Behind the face that wore more years than it was old, under the sparkling, but shoulder length bronze hair, pulled back and tied into a tail was the man Clark had only read about and heard on the radio. Until he vanished.
"But," Clark started, walking a tight circle around Savage, "You and your team disappeared. Two, almost three years ago."
"Yes." Savage's tone made it plain that this topic would not go far. "It was a mission. One that failed. (See the upcoming YesterYear series THE SAVAGE YEARS for full details). After I…recovered from those terrible days, I found that I had indeed been counted as missing. Due to other circumstances, I chose to stay that way."

Clark cocked an eyebrow. "What kind of circumstances make a man want to stay missing?"
"With the abilities you have, you will find out on your own. But there was one. A quest. A quest undertaken by a man that it has been, it seems, my lot in life to stand against."
"The Russian?" Clark thought a moment. "You called him 'Luthor'."
"No," Doc Savage said, a slight hint of a grin on his face. "Luthor has potential for great evil, but has not yet matched the one he works for. And you have a good ear for accents, though Luthor never admits his nationality. No, Luthor and I have a history-I…assisted in preventing him from plunging Europe into war-, but he is only the hired help, hired for his scientific genius-the concentrated light weapon he..just used, for instance, and his willingness to commit murder in the name of his leader." Savage paused, not for effect, but to contain his own disgust at the name waiting on his tongue. "In the name of John Sunlight."

Clark recalled that name, too, whispers of rumors of a lunatic genius who believed it was his destiny to be monarch of the world, a destiny he sought to attain at all costs. "Sunlight. The only one of your enemies you ever faced twice. A man many said was nearly your equal."

Doc nodded once, a glint of admiration crossing his face. It seemed that each of them knew the other quite well despite only meeting moments before. "In my absence, Sunlight has decided that he is more than a man and more than anyone's equal. He spent quite a bit of time in Europe in the last year, wondering through the depravity and devastations of poverty and power hungry men. There he found so many imperfections, so many flaws in the people and the very world they lived in. Priding himself on his ultimate perfection, he began to act as a god, a messiah to these people." Savage paused, remembering the first time he saw Sunlight in Germany after he appointed himself to godhood. "The poor masses devoured the tripe Sunlight threw out. Even many leading minds, many intelligent people, including Luthor, took what Sunlight said to heart. So much so that John Sunlight has become truly deluded, convinced he is Sunlight the Savior."

As Savage talked, Clark noted certain things he had heard on the radio, read in papers, even picked up on at the gossip at the barber shop, about a man who walked the barren wasteland that so many Americans thought Europe was fast becoming and had started up a church, a church intent on taking back what its members felt had been taken from them and on placing their leader, The Savior, in control of all existence. Clark remembered how truly insane and heartless someone had to be to take advantage of a people plagued by so much. Now that he knew The Savior's true identity, he was sure of the extent of his evil.

Savage went on, "When Sunlight learned I was alive and intended, of course, to stop him, he perpetrated an elaborate hoax to incriminate me as a criminal. He hired a man that many believed resembled me and had him commit crimes all over the country. That made it impossible for me to surface publicly. I have been following Sunlight around the world, piecing together his grand plan and hoping to stop it." Doc Savage took a breath, closing his eyes, and said, "Lois learned much of this just before coming here. I tried to warn her, but was captured by Luthor and other Sunlight worshippers just outside her newspaper building. Luthor used a gas of some sort that left me immobile. I awoke in a broken down shack chained to an iron post."

Clark smiled. "The old hunter's shack on Pa's property."

Doc nodded. "Not far from where you saw me. I was still very confused, under the influence of the gas and whatever else Luthor had given me. I apologize for firing at you. I assume they didn't believe me much of a threat after the attack. They left my weapons and equipment on me. I fired at you, then wondered dazed into the trees. It took a few days, but I finally found myself again." His fists balled up, his arms quaking with mournful anger, an anger Clark clearly identified with. Savage said, "But it was too late for Lois."

Clark didn't know what to say. He felt sorrow for Savage, regret for him, but words of that kind did not come easy to him. Not when he felt so much of the same for himself.

He said, "All of that I understand. But why would he come to Kansas? What part could this town play in his plans of domination by religion?"
"I wasn't completely sure of that at first." Savage waited, his eyes looking Clark over again. "But after today, I know exactly what he is looking for. You."

Clark started to say that Savage had to be wrong, but then he thought. His abilities. His 'birth.' His personal mystery. "Explain," he said.
"Almost exactly twenty years ago," Savage said, "there was a mysterious object that streaked across American skies and crashed somewhere in the Midwest. This is known because many people saw it, some reporting it as a falling star, others saying that it was a large cigar shaped metallic object, still others sure it was an angel falling from grace. These and other reports were documented across the country in newspaper gossip sections and records of reports taken by various law enforcement officers."
"Although most people simply forgot this event, still others, as people who have very little else to do will, decided that this object or phenomenon from the sky must bear some value, some worth. Those beliefs spread and so did the stories and rumors surrounding the incident. Wild, fantastic tales of some sort of craft from beyond the earth, a ship that carried an all powerful man. Artifacts from another world that promised power, strength, and wealth to who possessed them. A cavern of multicolored stones, precious gems caused by whatever fell from the sky. And a little known rumor, the story that Sunlight has been following, hoping it was true and he could recruit a general for his army of zealots." Savage looked intently at Clark. "The story that the ship crashed somewhere in the United States and that it was carrying a child with tremendous powers. A child that Sunlight has told his followers is his own son come from on high to lead his ranks, bringing with him glorious weapons."

Clark took a moment, thinking over all he had just heard. He then said, "My parents found me in the wreckage of some sort of ship. They never tried to find out what it was. They, I think, didn't want to know. I've only seen it once, when I was thirteen. It's buried in an old well under Pa's barn."

Savage nodded. "Sunlight has spent the last several years following these stories, but only recently did he figure out where the crash may have been. He acquired a map, apparently drawn by a witness other than your parents. He's here looking for the baby, now a man, if he survived. He wants you, Clark. If he can't have you, he'll try to destroy you and take whatever weapons he believes fell to Earth that night."
"Well," Clark said, a determined grimace shading his face, "He can want and try all day long. I'll deal with him."
"Will you?" Savage put his hand on Clark's shoulder. "The way you meant to deal with me?"
"That was different," Clark said. "Sunlight is evil, you as much as said that. And he killed Lois."
"Yes, he did. But I have done my homework as well, Clark. I know who your parents were. I know how you were raised. With a sense of responsibility, of honor, of honesty. You have been taught that your special powers are a blessing to be used only to help people."
"Sometimes," Clark spat through gritted teeth, "There's only way to help someone who is as deprived as Sunlight."
"Eben and Sarah Kent never taught you that."

Hearing his mother's given name surprised Clark, he'd not heard her called by it often. "Mary. My father called her Mary. From her middle name being Martha, he always said."

Savage tightened his grip on Clark's arm, not a gesture of restraint, but one of support. "You have great gifts, Clark, due to your abilities as well as to the people who raised you. You have to decide the best way to use them."
"But, first," Clark said, "I have to stop Sunlight. If he is here looking for me, then my Pa and all my friends may be in danger." Clark studied Savage a moment, then asked, "What are you going to do?"
"My part to help you," he replied. "As much as I can. I have a life to resume, to take back." He breathed deeply. "And a murderer to catch."
"I still don't understand," Clark said, more to himself than to Doc Savage. "No one knew Lois was coming. I guess she could have been followed, but no one here besides me, Pa, Ma, and Mayor Fredericks knew she was coming. Mayor Fredericks commented on that just before Luthor killed-"

If the light that had just dawned on Clark had been literal, then he and Savage would have been forever blinded. Like pieces of a puzzle thrown into the air and falling back into their original places, everything was coming together.

Doc Savage felt a ripple of frenzied wrath up his own back, but moreso in the quivering of Clark's arm. Clark jerked away from him, bounding back into town in two large leaps, before Savage could shout, "Clark! Not like this!"

Dailey Fredericks cursed as he slinked out of his coat, the door to his house still standing half open. Ever since Mabel left him three weeks before, he had told everyone she was visiting a fictional sick sister in Des Moines, he had come home every day to a dark, empty house, not a place for a Mayor of anywhere to come home to. Kicking the door shut with the toe of his shoe, he slung his coat across the room and began his daily ritual of fumbling for a light or to pull the damned curtains open to let the fading sun shine in.
"Leave it dark, Fredericks. Rats like it dark. So it suits you fine."

Fredericks screamed like a violated woman at the ominous deep voice that seemed to come from all around him. Frantically, he threw open the curtains, the last rays of the day casting a pale light on a muscular man in the shadows of the far corner. He wore a white shirt, the first button undone, and black pants. And a black mask.

Clark moved slowly closer to Fredericks, paralyzed and silenced by panic. He fought the urge to reach up and adjust what had been his coat, but was now a quickly fashioned hood, tied around his head and most of his face, crude eyeholes torn in it, much like he had seen Zorro portrayed in some book or serial. As he neared Fredericks, he realized that even though he had little to fear from a weak man like the mayor, his father still had to live in this town. Taking only a moment, Clark tore his coat into shreds, using the largest as an improvised mask.
"What…who…" Fredericks choked out as Clark moved closer to him, now nearly standing chest to chest with him.
"You got a woman killed today, Fredericks." Clark growled his words, not as much to disguise his voice as to keep some sort of control of the pure mad fury he felt. "A reporter."

Too scared to even deny it, Dailey Fredericks screamed, "He didn't tell me he was going to kill her! I swear! He just paid me money to find out when she would be here and make sure she didn't get too far from town before he-" The terror in his eyes revealed that he knew had just said too much.
"You knew what you were doing." Clark wrapped one hand around Frederick's throat, lifting him only an inch from the floor. Fredericks screamed out loud, only gasps and grunts leaving his mouth. Clark pushed him against the wall. "You were selling a human life to a murderer. Now, tell me. Tell me all you know." He squeezed one finger a little tighter, making Fredericks squeal. "And don't say you don't know anything else."

Fredericks scratched at the hand around his neck until it finally loosened enough to let his words escape. "Wanted..her stopped. Then wanted…to know…about anyone…….who had a child…around twenty seven, twenty eight years old nearby. I told them…there was only one. They my money…not an hour ago…then left my office…for there."

Clark pressed Fredericks harder, wanting so badly to push him deep Into the wall of his house. "They left for WHERE?"
"Kent…" Fredericks whispered painfully, nearly unconscious, "Eben…Kent's farm…..for his…son…Clark…..Going to take Clark…..kill anyone who…stands….in..their way…going to..kill…Eben…Kent."

Fredericks was unconscious before he ever hit the ground, his body sprawled out under the gaping hole Clark left in his roof as he sprang through it.

Animal rage. He felt it roar through his veins as he pounded the ground harder and harder with each jump, springing higher, farther through the air out of sheer will. Bitter panic. He tasted it on his tongue as it rolled down his face in furious beads of sweat. Frightening confusion. He trembled with it as he moved faster, his feet nearly knocking the tops from the trees along his family's back 40 as he grazed them passing overhead. A handful of days, he thought, his mind racing faster than his body would go. A few days and his entire reality had gone to Hell in a big city handshake, as his Pa would say. Clark did not understand it, could not even begin to conceive why this was happening. Why now? Why would he lose his mother now? Why would the secret that his parents kept from him until he was an adult suddenly be a great American myth? Why was he rushing from the death of a young lady he barely knew to save his own father from being murdered by her killers? Tears bit at his eyes, tears of grief still falling from the funeral, tears of fury welling up. Clark cursed himself under his breath, wishing he could do more than leap like a damned toad, wishing he were faster than the 319, the old train that still thundered through town every Thursday. Wishing he could fly. Then suddenly, he realized that he was. Flying.

"And what are we to do with the old man?" The red headed assassin, Luthor, kicked Eben Kent hard in the gut as the elderly man lay on the dirt floor of the barn, his body still in the awkward fetal position it collapsed into after the last time Luthor hit him. "You are not to beat him any further, Alexei." The resonating, almost regal voice matched very well with the man to whom it belonged. He walked a wide circle around the now motionless tableau that had moments before been a scene of physical struggle. He looked upon it with no particular emotion, simply the bemusement of one removed from such trivial activities. The hem of the flowing ivory robe he wore brushed Eben's aged, bloody face as he walked past him. He paused, glaring down at the pulp of a man, a man not worthy of him, not worthy to touch him or his trappings, then continued to pace. "He is, however, a hypocrite. A blasphemer who supposed he, a simple peasant, could raise, could mold the son of a god into anything other than the avenging angel he was born to be." As he talked, the stately looking man with flowing ebony hair slowly worked himself into a seething rage, his handsome face contorting into a maniacal image of fury.

His muscles tensed, the passionate anger wanting to erupt from them, to punish the mortal for his indiscretions, but he did not. "No, Luthor," he said, obviously struggling to dull the edge in his voice, "His quick death will be suitable enough. As it will be for all who dare to believe they can keep Sunlight the Savior from his only begotten son." Eben Kent gurgled, blood filling his throat, as he fought to stand. "My….boy…is…no kin of yours."

Sunlight pivoted on his heel viciously, his hands high in the air, his long fingers bent into claws as he ranted, "He is not yours! He is Power from on High, the great bow to be wielded by the archer who can draw him back, who can fire his arrow of strength and destruction at all those who stand against him!" Sunlight clenched his fists, shaking them at the barn roof. "And I am the one who can wield him! I am the Savior! I am Sunlight! I am-" "-a loud fool."

The voice was a deep baritone, an even-tempered rumble, and all of them heard it, even above the great rush of wind tearing through the open barn door. Sunlight had no chance to bellow a response, only enough time to catch a glimpse of the blur barreling toward him before it crashed into him. Sunlight shrieked, his body doubled over, thrown across the barn. Luthor, caught off guard at first, shouted something in Russian, then dropped to the ground, trying to roll out of the way of any other oncoming bolts from outside. Eben Kent raised his head only slightly, a thin smile crossing his cracked lips.

Sunlight coughed, his breath sputtering in and out of his lungs. Shaking his head, he looked up, ready to strike down whoever was impudent enough to attack him so brazenly with a hateful glare. Standing over him was a muscular young man, his black hair wet with sweat, his blue eyes firing shards of vengeance, his jaw clenched tightly, his chest heaving. A veritable engine of rage, powered solely by emotion and wrath. And out for no one's blood except Jonathan Sunlight's. Sunlight smiled widely, holding both hands out. "You!" His voice was a frenzied melody of excitement and anxiety. "You have come! You heard the call, felt the presence, and you came!" When the man offered him no help, Sunlight stood on his own. He reached out for the younger man, his arms wide as if he were welcoming a friend, but the man slapped his arms away. Sunlight winced, feeling the bones in his arms nearly break from the slap.

This made his smile grow even more maniacal. "You have come, my son. You have come for your father!"
"Yes," Clark Kent said matter-of-factly. "I have come for my father."

Clark turned, swinging his thick arms wide, knocking Sunlight to the ground again. Clark, his body quaking with grief and fear, knelt beside Eben Kent. Scooping up the man he worshipped in his arms like an old scarecrow broken by a storm, Clark quietly said, "You'll be all right now, Pa. You're going to be all right now."

Eben Kent's eyelids fluttered slowly, his bloodied mouth trying to slowly bend into words of encouragement for his son. Clark leaned his face closer, trying to tell his father not to speak, when the old man's eyes suddenly came alive, wide and horribly raging.

Clark spun around, trying to push his father out of his arms, but Eben Kent had other plans. Luthor stood not five feet from them, a strange gun with a short, shiny barrel, an emerald energy dancing in it, aimed at Clark's chest.
"You will not serve Sunlight," Luthor shouted, sounding almost like he was reciting a mantra, "then you shall not walk in the Path of Sunlight any longer!" As Luthor pressed the button on the side of the gun, Sunlight shouted for him to stop. Eben Kent, with every drop of blood, dust, and strength in his body, shoved his way clear of Clark and dove for Luthor. Clark screamed at him, trying to yank him back, but the gun fired. A wide, bright green blast of energy.
Clark and Sunlight both threw their arms up to shield their eyes. Eben Kent was caught in mid jump by the blast, suspended in a weird flashing green tableau, his screams ripping out of his throat before ever leaving his mouth.

Clark caught the shattered, burnt body of the only father he had ever known as the green energy faded. Tears poured from his eyes, covering the charred face of the strongest man Clark thought there was in the world. In his last moments, Eben Kent would prove that, struggling to speak to his son one last time.
"Don't…..follow……Clark….Go…find..yourself….go find you."

Clark buried his head in his father's chest, wailing and sobbing. Sunlight stood silently, watching, knowing that this would be His Son's last tie to his mortal life and all would be made right shortly. Luthor, still bent on killing the younger man, charged him, one of his adhesive bombs in each hand. Before he took three steps, Luthor felt an iron clamp wrap around his throat, yanking him off the ground. Dropping both bombs, Luthor pounded his attacker with his fists, writhing to scream, but only able to wheeze and choke.

The voice rose like a low tremor in a volcano fighting its own eruption. "You know all I have to do is twitch my finger like I'm scratching an itch and your head comes off like a Sunday dinner chicken."
"Not that way, Clark. Don't end this that way."
"Savage!" Sunlight shouted indignantly. He made no moves to attack him or to run. His indignation was simply from the fact that Savage had escaped his imprisonment at Sunlight's own hands. "I told you not to interfere with this."

Doc Savage took two large steps into the barn. "And as always, John, I listened to every word." Savage turned sharply, moving toward Clark and a nearly unconscious Luthor. "Clark."
"He killed him." Clark's tone was steady, even, a resounding death knell. "No way to logic my way out of it or to justify it or anything. He killed my Pa."
"I'm not trying to do any of that, Clark," Savage replied calmly. "Just look at him, Clark. Look at the face of the man you are killing."

Clark lowered Luthor's limp body enough to see his face. Even unconscious, Luthor's face was lined deeply with fear, with a feeling of violation, with the shadow of near death at another's hand…the shadow of murder.

Feeling sick suddenly, Clark opened his hand, letting Luthor fall to the ground into a groaning heap. He bent over, staggering from a sudden wave of confusion, almost nausea. Doc Savage stepped back to give him room, never taking his eyes from Sunlight. Sunlight put his hands out, aching to go to the boy and place hands upon him, to act as a father to the son he knew was sent to insure the Savior's victory. He hesitated, however, when his gaze fell on Savage. "Pangs of conscience from death at your hand will pass, my son. It is your destiny; to lead, to dominate, to kill to get my message to the masses. You and all that fell from the heavens with you are my army, my lineage."

Clark reared up suddenly, his eyes blazing with fury.
"Do you want to see what you think your lineage is, Sunlight? Do you want to see what grand weapons your army fell from the sky with?"

Before Sunlight could answer, Clark jumped into the air, somersaulting high over Savage, and pointed himself back to the ground, his right fist out in front of him. He crashed into the ground, ripping through several old boards long ago covered by dirt. Sunlight moved cautiously closer to the gaping hole in the ground. He stumbled back when a rather large, twisted thing of crimson metal shot from the hole, Clark pushing it up from the empty well with one of his magnificent leaps. Clark grunted, shuffling the object off his hands onto the ground close to Sunlight. With a closer look, Sunlight realized that the piece of tangled metal was not all that large, only about two by five feet, and that it was the wreckage of some sort of small ship. "Here it is," he said in a wild whisper. "The very hand from the heavens that I will smite the world with." He leaned over, carefully putting his hands on the red metal. Clark and Savage simply watched as Sunlight caressed the ship, running his fingers over the dusty shattered cockpit bubble as if it was the finest silk to touch. He reached between two twists in the wreckage, into the cockpit, trying to touch the panel dotted with only a few colored buttons.
"This…" he said in a voice bordering on arousal and disappointment, " I understand."
"It's very simple actually," Clark said. "The best my parents could figure was that wherever I came from, I was put in this ship here to get safely somewhere else. That was its only purpose. To carry a baby to a new home. Nothing else."
"That cannot be." Sunlight leaned even farther over, pounding the button he could reach with his outstretched fingers. "It is supposed to be more than this. It is my deliverance, my staff of power to spread the word of Sunlight the Savior!"
"No, John," Clark Savage said, almost a bit of sadness in his voice for the pitiful picture Sunlight had become, a fallen deity turned disillusioned man in a matter of seconds. "It is just another object, from the stars or from some secluded place on this planet, that fools and dreamers have crafted into another in a long line of Holy Grails to hunt. And you happened to willingly step into line, bringing all those poor people who followed you on the same pointless goose chase." Savage knew he was twisting a knife deep into Sunlight's pride. Driving it even further, he said, "And all that for nothing more than a glorified baby carriage."
"I…am no…man's….. fool!" All three men turned at the gravelly, growling voice of Alexei Luthor. He was standing, not too steadily, a belt of his adhesive bombs in his left hand. His insanely dancing eyes went from Sunlight to the ship, then back to Sunlight. Clark and Savage were not even in the barn any longer as far as Luthor was concerned. "I listened to you because you promised me the power I craved. I never cared if you were a god or a crazy derelict. You promised me power and I saw you gain it for yourself! And all the time, your whole aim has been this dirty little place, this American legend." Luthor moved quickly, now standing beside the ship and Sunlight. "You would march from this hole in the heart of America and take over all that you touched! All with this 'son' of yours and the glorious 'weapons' he brought with him!" He waved his empty hand at Clark and nudged the ship with his foot. Standing in Sunlight's face, Luthor screamed, "The son you wanted belongs to no one! The weapon is nothing more than scrap metal! You have played me for an idiot! Alexei Luthor is no man's idiot! No man's!!!!!" Sunlight recoiled in disgust as Luthor nearly brushed his body. "You cannot be so near me, you filthy mortal!" He slapped Luthor across the face. "I damn your soul to the darkness!"

Luthor laughed out loud. "No, Sunlight, I damn yours. To Hell."

Doc Savage started for Luthor, as did Clark, but both were too late, not expecting what happened. Luthor slapped the belt of bombs across Sunlight's chest, the special adhesive coating everyone them bonding immediately to his white robe. Sunlight, realizing his own mortality in a terrifying instant, wrapped his arms around Luthor. Both men toppled over, falling onto the wreckage of the ship. Doc Savage bounded backward out of the barn, Clark a few steps behind, retrieving his father's body first.
"Far away." Doc shouted as they ran. "Have to get far away."

Clark nodded, pausing for only a moment. He gently placed his father's body on the ground near the house he built for Clark's mother. Saying a quick silent prayer, Clark wrapped his arms around Doc. He jumped into the air, trying to fly like he did before, but only leaping across the road running in front of the farm. Cursing under his breath, he jumped again. With three leaps, Clark and Doc were nearly three miles away when a brilliant orange glow scarred the sky behind them, rolling thunder following it by mere moments.

"It was just a day ago." Clark and Doc Savage stood on the edge of what had been the Kent farm, the sky heavy with twilight behind them. "Yesterday." "I'm sorry, Clark." Doc Savage put a hand on Clark's shoulder, the comforting hand of a friend who had seen his share of tragedies. "I am sorry."

Clark shook his head. "No need. This is not the way I wanted things to be, of course, but it has…left me with something I needed. A reason to go away. To go on."
"Will you go on letting people in town think you died yesterday in the attack on Lois?" Doc had gone into town earlier that day and learned that people believed Clark to have died and then the Kent farm to have exploded when poor Eben somehow set a spark near a natural gas vent.
"Yes, I need to start fresh, with no past." He hesitated, then said, "My Pa said something as he died. Told me to go find myself. That's what I have to do. Explore me, these powers, why I could fly suddenly yesterday and now I can't, where I come from, where I can go. All of it."
"And you intend to find this where?"

Clark turned his back on the charred remnants of the farm. "Out there," he said with a wave of his right hand at the field before them, "the only place I have to look. The only place I'm sure I come from. This land that my parents both loved so much."

Both men stood silent for awhile. The sun finally surrendered its hold and the night marched in before Clark finally said, "And you? What will you do now with Sunlight dead?"
"Remember what I said about that," Savage answered.

He and Clark searched the crater that had been Clark's family farm earlier that day and found no traces of either Luthor's or Sunlight's remains. Clark believed the explosion had been so massive that they were simply disintegrated. Doc still held the more cynical view. "I already know who I am. I just have to find that man again. And I will not find him here. I have to go back…back to where I lost my team. My life."

Clark wanted to say something encouraging, but came up with nothing. He turned to face Doc and extended his hand. "Thank you…Clark."

Doc smiled and took the offered hand. "You're welcome..Clark."

Clark smiled, hint of sadness on his face, knowing he would not hear anyone call him that ever again.

"And you say he just ran into that forest fire, Jeb, and yanked those four kids out?"
"Yessir, Sheriff McCloskey, that's exactly what he did. He told us all to stay back and charged right in there as if the fire was going to back out of the way for him. And it damned near did, too."
"And who was this hero, Jeb?"
"Just a man, Sheriff?"
"Just a man?"
"Yessir, a man named Kent."

End of A MAN NAMED KENT-"One Day In April" send any and all comments to

Doc Savage is © Conde Nast, Inc.
All other characters are ™ DC Comics
This story is © 1998 by Tommy Hancock.