By Superman Fannn
Superman landed gracefully next to the newly built dome at the US Army testing facility. He had been asked to test out the army’s newest state of the art weaponry. He had been asked to do this same task on many other occasions and he felt it was part of his duty as an American citizen to do so. After all, he was invulnerable and the results of these tests would be invaluable to the army. He approached the front door of the dome and it automatically opened. Upon entering, he was greeted by four star general, Matt Barnes. “Welcome, Superman,” Barnes said. “I’m happy to be of service,” replied the man of steel.
As the door closed behind them, Superman saw a large muscular soldier, lower a large locking device on the door. The hero wondered why the Army would do such a thing. With Superman there, there was little fear of intruders and as far as keeping the mighty man of steel contained, a lock, no matter how large, wouldn’t keep him contained. The hulking hero shrugged it off and continued to the center of the enormous dome.
“Superman,” started the General, “you know we have asked you here to help us test out our latest weapons as you have in the past. I just want to let you know before we start that our weapons have come a long way since the last time you were here.” “I understand that, General,” replied Superman, “but there still hasn’t been a weapon made that can hurt me. Understand that your most powerful weapons in the past have caused me some discomfort, but nothing more than that.” He smiled confidently taking a little pride in the fact that he indeed was a super human being. “That is very true,” continued the General, “but I felt it best to give you one more chance to reconsider.” “I appreciate that, General, but I’m quite sure there is nothing to worry about,” said Superman. His keen sense of hearing picked up the sound of a chuckle coming from the soldier who locked the door.
Just then, a knock was heard at the door. It was Jimmy Olsen who was there to provide coverage of the event. The soldier went through a process and unlocked the mechanism on the door and as soon as Jimmy was inside, he locked it again.
Superman smiled and waved to Jimmy who was ready with his reporter’s pad and camera. “Well, now that everyone is here and you are willing to go forward, Superman, we can continue,” stated the General.
“First we’d like to try some of our hand held combat weapons on you if you are up for it.” Superman smiled in agreement. Four soldiers readied themselves on one knee and aimed what looked to be standard issue rifles at the massive hero.
“These may look like regular rifles, Superman, but they have been modified with armor piercing bullets that project at speeds we never thought possible before,” stated the General. “Are you ready, Superman?” “Yes,” smiled the hero. “Fire when ready”.
Once again the large soldier stepped forward and in a deep voice barked, “Ready, Aim…Fire”. Four armor piercing bullets hit Superman square on his chest. As expected, the bullets bounced off of the man of steel and the General looked stunned. “Superman, I am truly impressed,” he said. “A single one of those bullets put one of our tanks out of commission just this morning and you stood there and took four at one time!” Superman smiled and said, “General, I have to admit that I wouldn’t be happy if these weapons got into the hands of criminals. I felt quite a sting from those bullets!” The General appeared to be studying
Superman’s chest and gasped a bit. “Superman, there appears to be a slight tear in your costume from the bullets!” Superman looked down at his pecs and noticed that there was a tear where one of the bullets had bounced off. A look of concern washed over the Man of Steel’s Face. “Superman, I thought that the aura that your super body puts out protects your suit against tears, fire and things of that nature! In fact it is common knowledge that this aura should make your costume just as invulnerable as your super skin!”
`Well, General, that’s what I’ve been told as well. This type of thing has never happened before unless in the presence of Kryptonite and I certainly don’t feel any of the other effects of that here so it can’t be due to that. I guess it is possible that your technology is catching up with me.” He x-rayed through the shirt and noticed that beneath the tear, there was a small but visible scratch. “That will heal in no time,” he thought. “General, we can continue on with the tests if you like,” Superman continued. “Are you sure you want to, Superman,” the General asked. “Certainly! Like I’ve said before, there are some unpleasantness to testing your weapons, but being invulnerable protects me against permanent damage and the pain I might experience is well worth the good that will come out of these tests.” “O.K., Superman, if you are certain, we can continue. Our next weapons to test are intended to knock out communications and technology of our enemies. They are electric in nature. We feel that they hold the same punch as a bolt of lightning.” Superman smiled, “I’ve flown through many electrical storms in my lifetime and been struck by lightning many times so fire when ready!”
A soldier holding a gun that looked like it stepped out of a Star Wars movie, aimed it at Superman. Once again, the hulking soldier barked, “Ready, Aim, Fire….” A bolt of what could only be described as intense lighting shot from the barrel of the weapon and hit Superman right in the abs. Superman’s eye’s rolled back in his head. He tensed every muscle in his body to fight off the pain he was feeling. His knees began to bend and he tried as hard as he could to stay standing. It was becoming harder and harder to stay on his feet and he soon dropped to his knees, clenching his fists in front of him and attempting to block the ray from doing any more damage. The General called for the soldier to stop but the soldier looked to the soldier who barked the order to fire for his cue to stop. They large soldier nodded and the firing soldier took his finger from the trigger. When the bolt stopped, Superman fell flat forward on his face but immediately began to slowly get to his feet.
Superman, looking exhausted, tried to shake the cobwebs out of his head, “Superman, are you OK???” The General asked. “I’ll be fine in a moment, General. That is one powerful weapon you have there.” He glanced over and noticed that Jimmy was reviewing the pictures he took of the episode. “Jimmy, I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t print those pictures in the Daily Planet. If criminals knew of this weapon, and acquired it, they could put me out of commission long enough to pull of their heists,” Superman explained. Jimmy nodded in agreement and deleted the pictures.
“That’s enough testing for the day,” the General stated. Superman replied, “General, I am fine so please continue.” “But Superman, the small tear in your uniform has started to unravel more and it’s apparent that that last test has taken quite a bit out of you.” “It certainly was more painful than any electrical storm I’ve ever flown through, but the earth’s sun revives my energy source quickly and this dome with its clear ceiling is certainly letting enough sun through.” Superman peeled off the shirt of his costume looking at the hole that was created with concern and quite honestly a little fear. His hand moved to his enormous pec and felt the soreness of the bruise and the scratch the bullet put on him. Is it possible that weapons that are being produced today may hinder the man of steel’s mission to fight for truth and justice? Is it possible that as the technology increases these weapons could eventually destroy him? He tried to push these thoughts from his mind as he prepared for the next test.
“The next and final weapon to test for today is a hand launched missile. These missiles are filled with exploding titanium shrapnel and a toxic gas. The titanium shrapnel is designed to break free on impact and embed itself on the target,” explained the General. “Shrapnel of any type has never been an issue and the toxic gas has absolutely no effect on me so please go ahead,” urged Superman.
As before, the large soldier gave the command, “Ready, Aim, Fire…” The missile shot towards Superman. The thoughts of the last two tests were still running through his mind. Perhaps out of fear or desperation, he used his x-ray vision to first find the detonating fuse and then a quick blast of heat vision to disable it. He, himself wasn’t quite sure why he did this as it couldn’t possibly hurt him but he wasn’t taking any chances as he was not quite feeling like himself. The missile harmlessly bounced off his chest and fell to the floor. “Must have been a defective device, he said to the General.” As Superman was bending over to pick it up, he heard “Ready, Aim, Fire” and before he knew what hit him, the missile found its mark in the small of his back. The pain alone of the missile strike there was enough to cause a groan from the invulnerable hunk. Upon impact the titanium shrapnel exploded and shockingly some pieces managed to embed themselves in the man of steel’s impenetrable skin.
Superman cried out in pain as he reached behind him to pull the shrapnel from his buttocks and lower back region. He couldn’t help notice that the large soldier was smiling ear to ear, seemingly enjoying seeing the hero hurt.
Superman tried to tough through the pain as he yanked the last piece of shrapnel from his back. The gas was time released and just then it began to escape.
Superman was infuriated by the response of the soldier. In order to show him his superiority, rather than just withstand the toxic gas, he decided to inhale it with his super lungs as he had done so many other times to save Jimmy and Lois from certain peril. He began sucking the toxic gas into his lungs which typically filter the toxins making his exhale purified. Something was different this time, though. His throat and lungs began to burn from the toxic gas. He continued to inhale it although the pain was getting worse. The General and soldiers watched in amazement. The large soldier’s smile seemed to disappear as the Man of Steel finished this herculean feat. Superman held the toxins in but could feel them trying to escape. Was it possible this new gas was resistant to the filtering power of his lungs? His eyes widened as he felt himself losing the ability to hold his breath. The man who could normally hold his breath almost indefinitely began expelling the toxic fumes back into the room. A squadron of soldiers in the wings for a “just in case” moment hurried next to the failed superhero and sucked the toxic gas up with a device. Superman, breathing heavily, stood. But rather than his heroic stance, his shoulders were down. He had been defeated and he knew it. “I’m sorry I failed you, General.”
“You didn’t fail us Superman. I’m amazed at the technology of our department. They seem to have been able to come up with weapons that rival even those powers of you! Your secret is safe with us, Superman” Superman looked even more dejected hearing this from the General.
The large soldier said, “General, aren’t you going to ask our guest to try to break out of our locked facility?” “I think we’ve tested Superman, enough today, Private,” answered the General. Superman responded, “General, your weapons may have given me a run for my money, but there has never been a jail strong enough to hold me and there will never be one.” Superman went over to the door mechanism and began to assess the situation. “That metal mechanism was designed by a scientist who is no longer with us. It is a three feet thick section of that metal secured with locking devices made of the same material.
Superman appeared to be x-raying the door. He continued, paused, looking at the floor rubbing his eyes and then once again. “What’s the matter Superman,” asked the General, “can’t you see through it?” “No I can’t General, it must be lead lined.” “I assure you, Superman, a door of that strength couldn’t possibly contain lead.” “I don’t understand it,” Superman said, “but I’m sorry to say that the money you spent on that mechanism will be lost in a moment.” He stepped back and craning his neck forward he fired an intense beam of heat vision at the mechanism of the door. For 6 full minutes he focused as intense a stream as he could at the mechanism. It wouldn’t budge. He had NEVER had to continually use his heat vision for that amount of time before as a quick blast was usually all that was necessary. He went over to examine the door only to find that there wasn’t even a nick in it. The large soldier exclaimed, “Imagine that, developing a metal that can even resist Superman!!!” “We’ll just see about that,” said Superman as he ran at super speed toward the door. He hit the door with super speed and bounced backwards landing on the floor on the total opposite side of the room.
At this point, the hero was completely exhausted, embarrassed and quite honestly was feeling weak. “General, I have to say that this has been quite a day for me.” I appreciate you keeping this our little secret. Fortunately for me, the door is the only part of this building made of that metal so I could escape if I wanted to.” “Yes, Superman, we know we couldn’t hold you if we wanted to,” answered the General. “It will take a few minutes to deactivate the lock so we will slide a skylight panel open for you!” Superman smiled and looked to the open panel. He took to the sky and turned back to wave goodbye to the soldiers.
Unbenownsed to him, the large soldier was closing the sky light and just as he turned back to exit, he hit and bounced off of the unbreakable glass. He tumbled back to earth and hit the floor with a thud. “Guess it just hasn’t been my day,” he said with a half smile. “I’m not sure what happened there Superman, but shouldn’t you have been able to just smash through?” asked the General.
Superman agreed with a not and a confused look. The large soldier said, “The unlocking mechanism still has a two minutes to go.” Perhaps while he’s waiting, Superman could demonstrate breaking out of our new restraints.” “Superman, you have every right to decline after the day you’ve had,” said the General. “General, I know you realize you could never make me do anything I didn’t want to but I’ll be more than happy to break out of your restraints.” His response was a result of feeling inadequate and a failure.
The large soldier took Superman’s right arm and put it into a titanium looking cuff. He led Superman to his left and put his left arm in a similar cuff. He closed the cuffs tightly giving them one more push. A sick feeling washed over Superman. What if these cuffs were made of the same material as the door? He began to pull on the cuffs with no success. He turned his head and shot a beam of heat vision at the chain and again no luck. He tried to take flight to get out of them and was pulled right back to earth. The chains were mounted in a wall that looked like the same material as the door. “I guess you got me again,” Superman conceded. Please release me so I can get back to protecting Metropolis.