"I wonder what the world might have been like if that small craft had landed elsewhere. I wonder what my life would have been like if it had landed in Africa, or China, or Italy, or India, or some small town in Kansas, or maybe a city like Gotham. I might still have turned out alright. But things would certainly be very different. I'd probably be Father's greatest enemy, rather than his staunchest supporter... and his savior.
I can only imagine what a terrible man he might have been if I had landed anwhere else... but Metropolis."
"Holy-- stop the car, driver!!"
"Yes, Mr. Luthor." Lex Luthor got out of his car. He walked cautiously towards the fallen object he saw flashing towards the ground a moment ago.
"It looks like some sort of space craft...very small...very advanced. Farther advanced than anything NASA has. Farther even than anything LexCorp has. Much farther. I should take this to the labs. Study it. It could well mean a fortune. ...That is, a larger fortune than I already have."
He picked it up and went back to the limo. Back at LexCorp Labs, he dismissed everyone for the evening so he could examine it for himself. When he opened it---
"A baby?! What on Earth is a baby doing in there?" He took the baby out and set him aside, while examining the other contents of the vessel. He found a small orb.
"This panel looks like an activator... these would seem to be fingerprint and retinal scanners.... Well, I guess it's meant for the baby, perhaps. Hmmm..."
He set up a videocamera, and placed the baby's fingers on the scanners. He held the orb up to the baby's eyes. A panel opened, and a hologram emerged.
"Hello, son. I am your father. If you are hearing and seeing this, it means we have succeeded. You are the last of our race. The last son of the planet Krypton. Our world has been destroyed and all of us along with it. Your mother and I wanted you to live, and our race through you. I hope you have a long and happy life. May you never forget where you came from, and may you never look back. Farewell... we love you."
The hologram disappeared, the panel reclosed. "Well, I have myself an orphaned alien. And he has stopped crying. Good."
The only other things he found were the baby's blankets and a strange green crystal. "Well, baby, what do you think of this rock?" he asked, bringing it closer to the baby.
"Okay, okay, I'll get it away from you, so shut up!" He moved the crystal away, and the baby stopped crying. He tried moving the crystal closer and farther from the baby a few times, to make sure it wasn't a fluke, with the same results. "I'll have to study this more closely... well away from the baby."
After studying the thing for some time with all the equipment at his disposal... "Well, it's not like anything on Earth. A little piece of Krypton. Well then, Kryptonite." He sealed the Kryptonite in a lead-lined container and stored the craft in his locker. He took the baby and the container home with him and went to bed.
In the morning, he called a nanny service to have someone look after the baby. Then he went to the Labs and assigned his top scientists to work on learning all they could about the space craft.
A month later, he officially adopted Lex Luthor II.
"Well, Mr. Luthor," said LexCorp Lab's chief scientist, "it's taken us five long years of study, but we've finally unlocked most of the secrets of Project J's technology. That's the good news."
"I suppose that means there's bad news, as well."
"Yes. Most of that technology won't be achievable for ...well, anywhere from a few decades to a hundred years from now."
"We're beginning to understand how it all works, but the materials and machines necessary to reproduce any of it will not be available..."
"Oh, never mind. Thousands of man-hours, millions of dollars, wasted! I can't believe-"
"If you'll excuse me, sir, it may not have been entirely wasted."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, the technology level of the craft is for the most part unaccessible at this time, but it still gives us valuable clues as to directions we should be heading with technology currently available to us. What we have learned from our studies can help us to achieve things that will be much more advanced than what is now possible... much sooner than any of the competition."
"Well... good. Get to work."
A young reporter at the Daily Planet got his first by-line. A young reporter named Perry White. The story- LexCorp's launching of its first manned space shuttle, the K-1. He does a series of articles on LexCorp's new space program. The story ends with LexCorp Labs getting several contracts from various governments. Within a few years, Lex Luthor goes from being a multi-millionaire to being a multi-billionaire.
"Dad, tell me about myself. Where am I from? Who are my real parents? I think I'm old enough to know."
"Maybe in a few years. Not yet."
"I want to know now. I want to know... if I'm human or not."
"What? What are you talking about?"
"I've noticed a few peculiar things about myself."
"Like how I can fly and how I can see through walls and how I can lift really heavy stuff and how I can move really fast and how I can look heat at things and, and stuff like that."
"You can do all that, can you?"
"I'd like to see that." And Lex Jr. showed him.
"Hmmm. Remarkable. *sigh* Well then, I suppose I'll have to tell you the truth. Or rather, I'll let your father tell you. Come with me."
"My father?" Lex Jr. followed Lex Sr. upstairs and to his father's bedroom. He waited while his father went to his safe and opened it. He took out the orb, which he handed to his son.
"Those scanners there are for your fingerprints and eyes." Lex Jr. easily figured out how to activate it, and watched the hologram in amazement.
"Wow. So I'm an alien. I don't know what to think. This is so..."
"Don't worry about it, Son. To me, you've always been human. I love you as if you were my own son. So you'll never have to worry about anything, okay?"
"I... oh...okay, Dad. I love you too. But what about my...powers?"
"You'll learn to use them, and control them. That's all I can think to tell you right now. This isn't exactly a standard question a parent has to answer for his kids, you know?" Lex Sr. grinned. "It almost makes the birds and the bees seem simple."
For the first time in his life, an opportunity presented itself which he didn't want to take advantage of. He didn't want to use the only person-other than himself- that he had ever truly loved.
But that didn't much affect his business actions. He was, as he had always been, a basically evil man. He lied, stole, cheated, murdered, and committed uncountable other crimes. But most of that he didn't do directly. He only ordered it done. He never let himself get dirty. As much for his son's sake as for his own. He never wanted his crimes to touch his son. He never wanted his son to know what kind of man he was. But this wish was one of the few things in life he was not to get.
"We have to talk. Now."
"What is it, Son?"
"Please don't call me 'son.' I'm glad I'm not really your son."
"Listen, for years now, I've been hearing stories about you. Bad things, very bad things indeed. But I never believed any of them before. I always defended you. But now I've finally discovered who you really are. I've found out that all those stories were true. You're nothing but a criminal who should be sent to prison for life, if not executed."
"How could you do this to me? I loved you. I believed in you. And now I find you're the worst person on the face of the Earth! Why did you have to be the one to find me? How am I going to go on? What am I going to do? Everything I've ever known is changed, forever! I hate you!"
"I...I, but... I... I'm sorry, Son. I never meant to hurt you. I never meant for ...any of that to affect you. I want you to know, not all of my money is tainted. I always used perfectly clean, legitimate money on you- including your trust fund. I hope you believe me, and choose to keep it. I understand if you don't... and if you never want to see me again. I hope someday you can forgive me. I do love you. I'm sorry."
Lex Jr. moved out, got a job, and put himself through college. He never again touched any of his father's money. He had absolutely nothing to do with Lex Sr.
A young reporter at the Daily Planet got his first by-line. A young reporter named Lex Luthor II. At first, most people there, including his partner, Lois Lane, and his Editor-in-Chief, Perry White, didn't trust him much, his being the son of Lex Luthor. But over time, they came to see that he hated his father at least as much as they did. His stories always painted a dark picture of Lex Sr., and he was the only reporter there who could say anything about him without getting sued for libel. Eventually, Lois and Lex Jr. began dating.
One night, Lex Jr. was sitting home alone, talking to himself. "I fight him all the time in the paper. But it's just not enough. Nothing hurts him. He goes on doing these horrible things. I have to stop him. But what can I do?"
Suddenly, he realizes. He knows what he was meant to do all along. He knows he must become- "What? What'll I call myself? I have to think of... I don't know, some kind of... comic book superhero type name and all that... a name... like... Superman, I guess. And a costume...made out of strong enough materials... like my baby blankets, I suppose... it is a good thing, I guess, that at least when I left I took the things Luthor found with me as a baby... and a good thing I took home-ec in high school..." He permitted himself a slight grin.
Lex Jr. went on to become Superman, the hero of Metropolis. He and Lois had virtually exclusive coverage of Superman, of course. He fought his father's activities as much as he could, but most of his time was spent fighting other villains.
One day, Superman confronted Luthor after a major battle.
"So you know."
"Of course. Who else could it be?"
"Listen, I'm going to stop you once and for all. I'm generally against killing, but I'm getting tired of this. It can't go on any longer."
"You would actually kill me? I can't believe it."
"I... I'm not proud of it. I'm terribly ashamed. But I just can't take you down legally, you're too slick."
"You'd be like me. If you... But no. No, you're right. I'm sorry."
"I'm sure you're sorry to have to die."
"Not that. I'm sorry you feel you have to do this. I'm sorry to be responsible. I'm sorry... you won't be able to do it."
"I'm perfectly capable of-"
"I don't want to hurt you, Son..."
"What? You hurt me? No, you can't possibly..." He moved toward Lex Sr. He stopped, winced in pain, fell to his knees. "What? What's...?"
Lex pulled a green cross on a chain from under his vest.
"It's made of Kryptonite. From a crystal I found in the rocket. I never told you about it. It seemed to cause you pain on that first night, so I've kept it away from you ever since. Now please, don't make me use it further. Go."
"No. I must do what I came to do."
"In that case, one of us will die. I so wish it didn't have to be you. Perhaps we might both live. Please let's talk. Please."
"Before you, I was purely evil. After you came into my life, I should have changed. I wanted to change, but... but I just couldn't. Or I didn't try hard enough. I don't know. After you left, I tried harder. Still... You were always the one good thing in my life. Without you, I just got worse. I went to being as bad as I was before. But... perhaps if you could come back to me, forgive me, you could help me change this time. I once took joy in my... crimes. I have not enjoyed anything in my life for years. Not since you left. What can I do to make you forgive me, Son?"
"I don't know if I can ever forgive you."
Lex removed his necklace and threw it away. Superman slowly rose to his feet and stared at his father. "If you can never forgive me, then I suppose I really have nothing to live for. Do what you came to do."
"I... can't. I don't know how much this means, but I can't kill you. I... I have to go. I have to think."
A young reporter at the Daily Planet gets his first by-line. A young reporter named Jimmy Olsen. The story- Lex Luthor gives away most of his personal fortune of billions of dollars to various charities. He still retains several million dollars for himself... and an overdue billion for someone else. Jimmy does a series of articles on Luthor. He seems to be turning over a new leaf. People have a theory that the money he gave away was dirty, and that which he kept was clean. Suddenly, no one could find any new crimes to pin on him or his corporation. The story ends with Lex Luthor I as the best man at the wedding of his son, Lex Luthor II, to Lois Lane.
"I wonder if I would have become Superman if I had landed anywhere else but Metropolis. I wonder if I would have met Lois. I wonder if I would have become a reporter. I have to suppose that all these things are possible, perhaps even probable. But I wonder what kind of relationship, if any at all, I might have had with Lex Luthor. Surely, we would have been the greatest of enemies. Surely he would have been an unrepentantly evil man. Luckily, I can call him my father. I guess things always turn out for the best. As they were meant to."