Duner Kaye had been a Metropolis taxicab driver for forty-five years and was proud of the fact that he had never been to blame for any traffic accident during all those years. Those were the thoughts that went through the old man’s mind as a handsome young man in tennis whites staggered out in front of his taxi one afternoon. He bit down on his cigar in surprise and slammed on the brakes while leaning on the horn, but he was too late. There was no way the old man could stop the cab in time to prevent an accident. The other guy had literally walked right in front of the battered cab.
A pretty woman managed to save the day. She had seen the whole thing with the keen eye of a seasoned reporter and acted with the speed and courage of a heroine. She tackled the black-haired man and rolled him out of the path of the cab as screeching brakes echoed in their ears.
Duner halted his cab and jumped out to confront the odd pair. “What are ya, stupid?” cried Duner as he wiped his brow with a handkerchief. “You gotta be some kinda idiot! Don’t you know better than to go daydreaming in the middle of the street? Sheesh! Lady, if you’re this guy’s keeper, you need a tighter leash!”
The attractive, dark-haired woman smiled and led the man she had saved away as she offered placating words to Duner. “Don’t worry, sir, I’ll be sure to do just that,” she said.
The near-accident victim had high cheekbones and slightly fluffy dark hair. He gazed at her with a mixture of appreciation and concern. “You saved my life!” he said slowly. “I looked both ways for aeromobiles but never thought to look for people driving on the ground!”
She frowned and led him into a large building nearby. “Aeromobiles? I knew you were confused when I spotted you as I left the office, but from the way you’re talking, I think there’s a lot more wrong with you than mere confusion. You’re not just an overwhelmed tourist dazzled by the big city, are you?” she asked.
He shook his head and said, “No. I grew up in Megalapolis. I’m used to cities, but this place is not like my home or any place I’ve ever seen outside of a holo flick!”
She stared at the handsome man and said, “Wait a minute! This is no put-on, is it? What year do you think it is?”
He smiled and said, “I may be a bit confused by the quaint scenery, clothing, and vehicles of this place, since I had no idea I had wandered into a theme park, but I know it is the year 2021,” he said.
She led him through a crowded room and into a private office, and then she closed the door firmly. “I’m Lois Lane, and I work here at the Daily Planet as a reporter,” she said. “The city is Metropolis, and the year is 1987. Everything about you makes it all too clear that you come from the future — or think you do!”
He frowned and said, “I don’t know how this happened, but somehow I’ve journeyed through time! This is incredible!”
“OK, we’ll figure this out,” said Lois. “Tell me more about yourself. You look like you are dressed for a game of tennis. Does that ring a bell?”
“Tennis? Yes! I play tennis. In fact, the last thing I remember was a match for the Oceanic Cup. I won the match and then I just found myself in the middle of your street,” he said, gazing around the cluttered office and staring at Lois with a look of wonder. “Something about you makes me feel like I can trust you. I guess you think I’m crazy, but I’m telling you the truth. My name is Lew Parker, by the way.”
Lois took his hand and smiled warmly. “Lew, you can trust me. I have had some experience with time travel. Call it a natural consequence of the company I’ve been known to keep! I think I can get you home with a little help from my friends.”
Lew smiled and said, “Don’t tell me you know the Beatles? This is their era.”
Lois laughed and said, “I see rock music has survived into the future.”
“Right,” said Lew. “Journalism has survived as well, although we get our news from regularly updated stories on the Dome from the Universal News System.”
Lois stepped closer and said, “Please, tell me more. I’m fascinated by your time.” She hesitated for a moment as she gazed in his dark eyes, then she leaned closer and kissed him.
They both stepped away in a sudden reaction and stared at each other with looks of dismay. Lew’s hand knocked over the flowers on her desk, and glass shattered as water spilled to the carpet.
Lois bent down to wipe away the mess and said, “I’m sorry. I’m never that impulsive. I’m not that kind of girl! Something about you just attracts me, but now I feel like I was wrong to act like that,” she sputtered.
Lew nodded intently as he held his own hand. “I feel the same way. I feel like you are someone I can rely upon, but that kind of kiss was just wrong! Maybe any attraction between us would mess up history. That could explain why we both responded to the kiss in such a drastic way.”
Lois noticed that he had cut himself on the broken vase, and she handed him her handkerchief. “You’re right. I think the best thing to do is to get you back to the future as soon as possible.” She frowned as she noticed how Lew stared at the tiny cut in abject horror. “What’s wrong? You act like you’ve never been cut before. It’s just a small cut, and I can fix it.”
Before she could explain just how she intended to accomplish that feat, a crash echoed from outside in the main city room of the busy newspaper. Lois looked out to see a group of costumed men racing toward her door. They all wore matching black jumpsuits, and their leader was a somber, bearded man.
She slammed the door and locked it as she yelled instructions to Lew Parker. “Hurry! Go out through the fire escape! Move it!” she said.
Lew hesitated and was then starting to comply when the door swung open with a crash, and the intruders charged inside. “That is the target! We’ve found our prey!” cried one of the man.
The bearded man nodded and said, “Get them before they can escape! If we eliminate the target, our victory is assured!”
Lew stepped forward to block their path. He stood bravely in the way and said, “You warpos aren’t going to eliminate anybody!” The gang attacked him with ruthless efficiency and left the overpowered man stunned on the floor.
“Did the paper boy leave the Sunday edition in your flowers or something?” Lois quipped. “Complaints Department is two floors down!” She jumped over her desk and brought both heels down on one man’s chest. He fell backward into his allies, and Lois dived forward to strike another thug with a spinning blow to the neck.
“She is using some weird martial art! No doubt the alien spawn taught it to her!” cried one of the men in black.
Lois kicked a third man in the face and tried to wake Lew up, but he was out cold. I can’t leave the poor guy. These thugs must be from his era! I wonder if he fled his time because it is ruled by Nazi types like these lugs? Then again, perhaps he’s a criminal, and they are overly zealous time cops! she thought as she used the Kryptonian martial art called klurkor to battle the men.
The man with the salt-and-pepper-colored beard scowled and pressed a pronged device against her neck. She fell into a faint in his arms, and he tossed her over his shoulder. “We didn’t risk our very lives traveling through time to lose her. Lois Lane must die if we are to validate our noble crusade!”
They nodded in agreement and carried the stunned reporter away as sirens echoed and police approached the Planet. The police entered the office as various staff followed them. “Ms. Lane is gone,” said an officer as he bent over the groaning Lew Parker. “The gang you described in your call must have taken her away out the window. Looks like the man she came in with is still here, though.”
Lew sat up slowly as the uniformed police helped him to his feet.
“What’s your name?” asked another policeman. “Can you tell us who the men were that took Lois Lane?”
Lew shook his head grimly. “My name is not important. I’ve got to find her. Nothing else matters to me. I have to help her!” he said.
“Look, son, you’re coming with us,” Officer Shapiro said. “We’ll do our best to find her. You just cooperate.”
“No!” said Lew. “I have to find her. Somehow I know that if I don’t rescue her, my whole world will be lost!” He twisted away from the police and dived out of the window. He raced down the fire escape, ignoring both the warnings to stop and the pursuit of the police.
He managed to dodge them as he raced through the busy streets. He didn’t know his way around, but he did have an athlete’s speed and agility at his command. Lew entered a shabby back street and ducked behind an old fence. He caught his breath and fought to calm his racing thoughts. Those uniforms belonged to the Purists! he thought. I’ve seen them on the UNS news. They are a radical group dedicated to eliminating aliens from the planet. They kill without remorse. I have to get Lois out of their clutches. She saved me, and I feel like her life may be the key to my own safety.
Lew shook his head and thought, How can I find them? They could even be back in our era by now. What do I know about this time period? It was the age of heroes! Superman, Batman, Starman, and Supergirl were all active around this time. Maybe I can contact one of them. Still, if I go to the police here, they will arrest me and cost me precious time.
He rammed his hands into his pockets and pulled out a key card and a small holo projector. “Wait a minute! Maybe I can use the holo-projector to summon heroic help. I feel like the super-heroes of the era might be more willing to believe my story than ordinary cops would do. The projector is normally used for recreation like the portable TV sets and radios of this era. I could adjust the device a bit and rig up something that might just be my last chance to save Lois!” He hurried off and began to work on his plan with eager anticipation.
Meanwhile, around the same time the Purists were invading the offices of the Daily Planet in Metropolis, equally disturbing events were occurring at stately Wayne Manor outside Gotham City. Bruce Wayne was enjoying a rare period of peace and quiet when a crash from above drew his attention away from his newspaper. He frowned and hurried up the stairs until he reached the room normally used by his former ward Dick Grayson when he was in the city. Bruce noticed smoke pouring out of the room, and he dropped his robe and slacks to reveal a gray costume with a blue cape and cowl.
That smoke makes me think this is something Batman should look into instead of his friend Bruce Wayne, he thought. Placing a small breathing device across his nose and mouth, he plunged into the room, where he spotted five men in black jumpsuits.
They had entered through a hole in the wall, and the smoke came from the fading fires that had gained their entrance from without. One of the men cursed and said, “There! Grayson is here after all! Take him!” They charged toward Batman, but he dodged them by jumping skyward and grasping the upper edge of the opened door. He kicked out and down and knocked two of them flat. Before the others could react, he rolled through the air and came out of his acrobatic move to tackle two other intruders.
“I don’t know what you men want here, but you’re going to get bruises!” he said. Batman had discarded the breathing device after seeing that the smoke had begun to dissipate. He connected with two deftly delivered blows that dropped the men to the floor.
As he whirled to hurl a bat-shaped projectile at the remaining man, his foe activated a glowing sphere that illuminated the room in a lurid light before a blurry figure of red and blue swooped down and hurled the bomb into space.
Batman knocked the startled bomber cold and smiled slightly as the flying figure in red and blue returned to join him. “Superman!” he said. “Nice timing, pal. I take it you know these crumbs?” As Superman drew closer, Batman frowned and said, “Wait a minute! You’re not Superman. You’re too young. Superboy, what brings you out of the past?”
Superman shook his head. “I’m sorry, but you’re wrong, for once. I’m not from the past but the future. I’m not the Superman you know. I’m his grandson from the year 2021!”
Batman nodded appraisingly as the young man explained more about his origin. “Superman is my grandfather. My father and I both try to carry on his tradition of selfless service in the year 2021. In spite of our best efforts, the future is not exactly a crime-free utopia. In fact, one radical group called the Purists exist because of us, in a manner of speaking. They use violence to promote genetic purity. They abhor alien-human hybrids and, naturally, they see Superman’s heirs as the most visible living embodiments of all they fear.”
Batman nodded even as his mind raced, and he accessed the validity of the young Superman’s story. Obviously, any future is only a possible one at best. This Superman III’s era may never occur as events unfold in my era or later that preclude his history from ever developing. Still, if he needs my help, I’ll do all I can for him. He is my best friend’s heir.
“The Purists have tried to kill me many times,” said Superman III. “We were battling aboard one of their crafts when two things happened that made this last battle unlike any before it.”
“The craft was a time machine, and it brought you all here, correct?” surmised Batman.
Superman III nodded and said, “Exactly. They also used a weapon on me that knocked me out. When I woke up, I managed to trail them here. I’m don’t know why they came here. If I was a criminal, the last thing I’d do is seek out the legendary Batman!”
Batman smiled and said, “I think they wanted to find me — or my successor. They called me Grayson. I assume in your era or earlier, Dick Grayson became Batman?”
“Yes,” said Superman III. “He took on the role of Batman when you retired.”
Batman frowned. “He also married an alien, didn’t he? That’s why the Purists came here and tried to kill me. They assumed I was Dick, and that in killing me now, they could prevent a line of alien-human hybrids from being born.”
“You’re right!” said Superman III. “I thought the time displacement was just a way to avoid me. Now I wonder if they always sought to journey through time to stop any alien-human children from being born. As you deduced, Dick Grayson married an alien in what I know as history. He married my Great-Aunt Kara.”
“Kara Zor-El?” said Batman, surprised at this bit of information. “That explains why these Purists wanted to kill him now. A family that came from the union of Supergirl and Dick would be a real blow to their ideals. Superman also married an Earth woman, didn’t he? Your grandmother will also be a target.”
Superman III gasped and said, “Of course! I followed a group of them here when I recovered from the kryptonite that knocked me cold. I was able to detect the infrared trail of their hovercraft. I never imagined that everything they did was calculating and deliberate. We have to save my grandmother!”
Batman quickly bound the stunned Purists and then turned to face the future Superman. “Take me with you to Metropolis. I expect she’ll be at the Daily Planet or her apartment.”
Superman III scooped him up, and the heroic pair flew off. “You deduced my grandmother’s identity before I even revealed it. You truly are the World’s Greatest Detective.”
“No,” said Batman. “I merely calculated that Lois Lane would be the most likely candidate for Superman’s bride in your timeline. Based on the identity of Dick’s wife, I can assume that your timeline followed certain patterns that were nascent in my own at one time.”
Superman III frowned as they flew away from the manor. “You speak as if you know something that makes my future improbable. Isn’t Superman romantically involved with Lois in this time?”
“Obviously, in your era’s history, he and Lois were closer than they are at this point in the world I know,” said Batman. “I know better than to speculate about the vagaries of possible futures. Let’s just say that Superman cares for someone else at this time, and circumstances make it seem unlikely that Dick will ever marry an alien.”
Batman kept silent as he pondered the stark reality of the situation. Dick recently broke up with Starfire. (*) If not for that fact, I could have envisioned the two of them marrying and producing the exact type of alien-human hybrid that would so upset fanatics like the Purists. Supergirl died in the Crisis, so that alone makes this young man’s future impossible. I won’t tell him more than I have to. Clark is also very happy with Kristin Wells, so I doubt he’ll ever return to Lois unless something changes drastically.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The New Titans: Transitionary Dependence, Chapter 9: Saying Goodbye.]