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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1009308-Warships-weapons-and-cold-water
Rated: E · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #1009308
Jamie gets in trouble for making an unauthorized landing on the deck of the USS Nimitz.
None of the motorists stopped at the traffic light at the busy intersection just outside Melbourne, Australia, were aware that they had a very unusual visitor in their town that day.

Thomas and Mathew were watching TV with their guest, an alien from another world! Tom and Matt had first met their friend online. But until he dropped out of the sky for a face-to-face visit, they’d had no idea that they were in fact corresponding with a young boy who had come to earth from another world, over ten years ago. Matt and Tom knew Jamie only by his screen nickname, “Starkid.” Like everyone on earth, they’d known of Superman. Although no one knew for sure that Superman had a “secret identity,” it was generally assumed that he sometimes walks among us as an ordinary man. Once Jamie had revealed that, like Superman, he too was a super being, Matt and Tom were only too aware of Jamie’s need to protect his identity from the world. At one point during Jamie’s visit, Matt suspected that Jamie was on the verge of blurting out his real name. Quickly, Matt raised his index vertically before his lips to shush him. Matt winked at Jamie as he did this. Protecting his secret was proving much harder for Jamie than it had been for the young Clark Kent. Jamie was so open and guileless and so “what you see is what you get” that hiding anything about himself just didn’t come naturally to him at all.

The three boys were seated on the carpet in the living room, sharing a bag of pretzels.

“Hey Star, wanna duel one more time?” asked Tom.

Jamie was wearing only beach shorts and flip-flops. He was bare-chested, his short, spiked hair, unkempt and wind blown. He was tanned and incongruously muscled for a 10-year-old boy. He flashed the Australian boy a sunny, wide mouth grin as both his cheeks dimpled.

“Sure…” Jamie replied, as he reached into the bag for another pretzel. “But what time is it?”

“It’s almost six o’clock here…” Matthew replied. Jamie’s face fell.

“Guys,” Jamie whispered to them. “I have to get going.”

“Oh Star…” Mathew complained, as he popped another pretzel into his mouth. “Can’t you stay a little longer? Please?”

“I’m sorry…” the muscular boy replied, as he slowly got up from sitting on the carpet. “I promised Superman I would be home early tonight.”

Jamie stooped down and gathered all his game cards together. Then he slid the deck of cards into a small, plastic bag, wrapping the bag with a rubber band he’d had on his wrist. He stuffed the bag of cards into his hip pocket.

“Well, try counting the number of dolphins you see swimming tonight, and then tell me on Yahoo when you get home tonight, okay?” Tom chuckled, as he walked out the door with Jamie. “I’d be curious to know how many you spot this time. Last week you only saw four…”

“And make sure you keep on going north” Matthew told the super boy. “If you head too far west, then you’ll end up in China or in Russia. If you’re flying too far east, you’ll end up in Peru…”

“Don’t worry,” Jamie smiled at the two brothers, as he tapped his index finger against his right temple. “I got a natural ‘compass’ right here. With my super senses, I can ‘follow’ the flux lines in the earth’s magnetic field. I’ll find my way home. S’easy!”

Matthew and Tom were wide eyed. Matt exclaimed, “Wow, mate! That is sooo kewl!” Tom agreed. “Bit of awright, that!”

“Well, guys…” Jamie said, somewhat dejectedly as he stood out on the front porch of the house. “I’d better take off now… I’ll send you a message when I get home, okay?”

“Hey, Star…” Thomas said to Jamie, as the super boy slowly started to rise off the ground and began to hover over them. “When will you be back?”

“I’m not sure,” the boy said, while hovering about ten feet off the ground. “I’ll send you a message, okay? I might be back next Saturday or so, if Superman lets me come.”

“Alright…” Matthew replied sadly. “Please hurry back soon!”

“Bye…” Jamie said, as he turned around and extended his arms before him. He accelerated as he continued to ascend into the sky. It was always hard for Jamie to say goodbye to his friends. He loved visiting his online buddies in person. Leaving was always tough, but certainly appreciated his unique ability to meet them in person, thanks to his super powers.

Sensing that he was slightly off course, Jamie banked into a shallow right turn as he adjusted his heading, correcting to a more northerly course. The flight to Superman’s Fortress on a remote uninhabited Canadian Island well to the north of the Arctic Circle was a long one, but one Jamie could’ve made it in a fraction of a second. In a blinding flash, he could attain trans-light velocity and he could stop on a dime. But Jamie wanted to please Matt and Tom. He’d fly at a more leisurely pace and count the dolphins on the way home.

After some several minutes of low altitude flight, with his keen eyesight, Jamie spotted something moving just underwater, occasionally breaking the surface. He’d finally spotted a dolphin! With a big grin, Jamie dove down and, notwithstanding his planet-breaking power, oh so gently grasped the dolphin’s dorsal fin. He straddled the sea mammal and rode for a few minutes. Jamie loved animals and often took advantage of opportunities to cavort with wild life, a privilege other boys could only dream of. Most creatures sensed instinctively from Jamie’s tender touch that here was a gentle soul. Not since St. Francis of Assisi had anyone in this world been so sublimely gifted in his communication with the beasts of the field, sea and sky. Jamie was that rare young soul who had a smile and a kind gesture for every living creature he met. Reverence for life, all life, was a characteristic of his race, ingrained deep in his very genes. Those were the same genes that were the source of his awesome, terrifying power. Jamie and those of his world were sublime examples of nature’s magnificent balance. Almost unlimited power, leavened with super-human gentleness.

Jamie lifted off the dolphin’s back, resuming his flight home, flying low over the vast ocean at a leisurely pace. He relished the sea breeze. He especially loved the wind blowing in his face and against his mighty pectorals.

Wesley was with Superman at the fortress, honing his psychic powers under Superman’s tutelage. Superman’s powers were neither as strong as Jamie’s, nor were his psychic powers as great as Wesley’s. But, while Superman had both physical and psychic powers Jamie had no psychic abilities. And Wesley lacked Superman’s and Jamie’s awesome physical gifts.

Superman often took Jamie off to tutor him in the honing and control of his powers. Likewise, he occasionally took Wesley off to help him hone his psychic gifts. Wesley was with Superman at the Fortress right now. Jamie told himself he wasn’t jealous that Superman and Wesley were together and that he had been left out. Then he smiled to himself. “Who’m I kidding? I’m jealous as all get out of both of them. I hate being apart from either one of them. I love those two lugs to pieces and I hate it when I’m apart from either one of them.”

“Aw heck,” Jamie thought, “I just wanna be with Wesley and Superman and Tom and Matt all the time!” And then he laughed at himself, realizing that made no sense at all.

Jamie had mentioned Wesley to Matt and Tom. He wanted to bring him along next time. They’d readily agreed. He couldn’t wait for his next Australian visit. Wesley would be with him. Jamie’s powerful young body shuddered at the thrill of anticipation.

The super boy increased his speed slightly, but only slightly, since he still wanted to keep a sharp lookout for more dolphins.

He would occasionally dive closer to the surface of the ocean and open his mouth, inhaling deeply each time. Jamie was just a naturally happy boy. If he’d been just a normal kid, he’d have found joy in that just as he was doing as a super boy with the whole world as his playground. He loved these trans-oceanic flights and he wanted to savor every moment of this one. But with the powerful air stream blowing into his face, down his throat and into his lungs, the boy was quickly dehydrated. “Man,” he thought, “I am really thirsty all of a sudden!” He spotted a ship steaming directly across his flight path, just on the horizon.

He quickly gained altitude to get a better viewing angle and focused on the ship with his phenomenally acute distance vision. It was a US Navy aircraft carrier! He quickly descended, completing the parabola, now barely skimming the surface as he rapidly closed on the giant warship.

Overhead, the radar officer in the crew compartment of a Martin-Grumman E-2C Hawkeye radar surveillance aircraft detected Jamie’s approach to the carrier on his scope. A computer generated alert had attracted the young officer’s attention to Jamie’s radar return. Unbeknownst to the super boy, his flight profile closely resembled that of an anti-ship cruise missile. And Jamie’s radar cross section almost perfectly matched that of one of these deadly weapons because, although he was only a boy, even if somewhat larger and more muscular than most 10 year olds, Jamie’s extreme molecular density substantially enhanced his “radar cross section.” The “target” was closing fast. There was little time for threat analysis or “target” reconfirmation. The airborne radar officer’s fingers danced manically over his keyboard as he transmitted target information directly to the carrier’s close in (point) defense system. This weapon is comprised of a tracking and targeting radar and fire control computer, linked to a Vulcan-Phalanx 20 millimeter rapid fire gatling gun. This weapon fires uranium tipped rounds at a rate of more than three thousand rounds per minute.

The ship’s automated point defense computers took over. There was no time for human interaction. The tactical control computer flashed alert notices to every console in the carrier’s combat direction center (CDC). An alarm and pre-recorded announcement was piped over the ship’s “1MC circuit,” the general PA system. “Now all hands, man your battle stations! Now all hands man your battle stations. Now set “material condition x-ray” (the strictest water-tight hatch closure condition) in all spaces about the ship… Now all hands man your battle stations. The ship’s battle alarm sounded as sailors and marines dashed to their combat posts. The carrier’s escort ships, arrayed about the carrier in routine steaming formation immediately commenced their shift to defensive anti-air screening stations.

As Jamie continued skimming the surface, closing rapidly on USS Nimitz, he was blissfully unaware of the reaction his approach had triggered in the Nimitz battle group. Within a few seconds, over ten thousand men, their ships, aircraft and weapons had begun shifting to combat footing. All because of the perfectly innocent airborne approach of a 10 year-old boy!

Nimitz’ Vulcan-Phalanx targeting radar continued to follow it’s lone “hostile contact.” The fire control computer constantly updating and refining target position, course and speed. The weapons in the phalanx battery pivoted on their gun mounts into aiming position… “Weapons free! Locked on target. Commence firing!”

Without warning, a solid stream of uranium tipped projectiles slammed into Jamie’s indestructible chest. The boy was momentarily startled by the suddenness and sheer ferocity of the Nimitz battle group’s reaction to his arrival in their midst. The uranium tipped rounds rapidly but harmlessly “thumped” Jamie’s chest like a staccato of tiny marshmallows. But the angry growl of the vulcan-phalanx gatling gun battery was terrifying.

“Why are they shooting at me? What’d I do?” Although absolutely indestructible, the boy was, nevertheless, momentarily frightened. By now, his trajectory had taken him directly over the massive five-acre flight deck of the USS Nimitz. Jamie saw that his best chance of evading another hail of bullets from the ship’s gatling gun battery was landing on the flight deck. He really couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. All he’d wanted was to ask for a drink of water! Why were these men so afraid of him?

As Jamie descended, his jaw dropped wide open. The flight deck was humongous! There was a large superstructure offset to starboard, and there were several jets spotted on deck, just forward of the superstructure. Jamie could hardly believe that this huge “place” was actually a ship at sea!

Just as Jamie touched down, a squad of heavily armed Marines in full combat gear emerged from a hatch in the superstructure, M-16’s at the ready. In a commanding voice, their leader barked at Jamie “Hold it right there, you! Raise you hands… Do it now!”

Jamie knew full well that these Marines’ “pea shooters” couldn’t harm him. He’d just taken a volley of fire from the ship’s gatling guns with not the slightest ill effect. But this man was a grownup. Although bemused by the young Marine non-comm.’s gruff and unfriendly tone of voice and show of force, he was, after all, an adult! Jamie had been reared to respect and to mind his elders. It never occurred to him to disobey. Without hesitation, he complied, raising his marvelously muscled arms skyward.

In the ship’s combat direction center (CDC), the tactical command center, the Captain saw everything on the flight deck “plat,” (the closed circuit TV monitoring system that video tapes everything on the flight deck 24/7 as long as the ship is under way). The Tactical Action Officer (TAO), the senior officer of the tactical watch in CDC, exclaimed, “Why, he’s only a boy! But he flies like Superman and he’s just taken a full volley of ‘hits’ from the “sea-wiz!” (“Sea-wiz”- CIWS “close-in weapon system, the Vulcan-Phalanx point defense gatling guns).

The captain, all too aware of Superman’s powers and correctly surmising that this young boy’s abilities were similar in at least some respects, was determined to defuse this potentially dicey situation. Provocation of this super-being could prove fatal for everyone entrusted to his command. He would intervene personally to try to make sure no one got hurt. He ordered his TAO to contact the ship’s air boss, in the control tower atop the super structure, to hail the marine detachment and order them to back off immediately and await further orders. The Captain muttered, “All I need now is for some trigger happy, half scared young Marine to start something all of us together couldn’t finish.”

“But, Sir” the TAO countered, “He’s just a little boy! Look at him, Sir. He’s not done anything to threaten us. Look! He’s got his hands up. He’s not resisting those Marines. He’s obviously cooperating.

“Jennings,” the captain snapped. “I just hope you’re right, but, really, we have NO idea what that kid is up to. He is a walking, talking lethal weapon! He’s flown here under his own power and penetrated our defenses. If his intentions were so peaceful, why didn’t he turn away when “sea-wiz” started shooting at him? But DID he turn away? No! He kept right on coming! He took a volley from our phalanx battery with out a scratch on him as far as I can tell from the plat. Look at the screen man! There’s not a scratch on that freekin’ kid! And, if he’s anything like Superman, which it sure looks to me like he is, he could wad us up with his bare hand and toss us away like a crumpled ball of tin foil!

“I’m going up to the flight deck to meet with the little boy,” the Captain said.

As he dashed out of CDC on his way to the fight deck, the Captain, a seasoned veteran combat pilot, reflected, “I’ve never been this scared in my entire life.” He wasn’t nearly as afraid for himself as for his crew. He dispatched a quick prayer heavenward, asking for the grace to keep a cool head in this unforeseen crisis that, in his mind, threatened the lives of everyone in his command.

On the flight deck, the senior marine had handed his weapon off to another member of his squad and executed a body search of the Superboy. There wasn’t much to search besides the hip pockets in Jamie’s shorts. “What is this?” the marine asked of the boy, while holding up Jamie’s plastic wrapped deck of game cards.

“Those are my game cards, sir! I just came from visiting some friends in Australia, and we were playing a card game at his house…” Jamie explained.

“We’ll just see about that," the young Marine growled. Jamie could see that young man, barely out of his teens, was very nervous and apprehensive. For the life of him, the super boy could not figure out why these men were so afraid.

Presently, the ship’s 1MC PA system boomed from the ship’s control tower at the top level of the island super structure. “Marines, this order is from the Captain! Back off 10 paces, port your weapons (that is, stop pointing them at Jamie) maintain station and await further orders. Captain is on his way to the fight deck.”

The Marines immediately complied. But the young squad leader was overcome with curiosity. “You just came from Australia?” the marine asked him. Jamie just nodded as reply.

“Who are you?” the marine asked him out of curiosity.

“Well, my dad is Superman.”

“Superman has a kid? I didn’t even know he was married.”

Jamie explained. “I’m originally from planet Zyrton. But I’ve grown up in America. Now I spend a lot of my time with Superman. He adopted me as his son.”

The marine regarded Jamie skeptically.

“How did you get here?” the marine wondered out loud.

“I flew! I can fly just like Superman” Jamie shrugged. “How else would I get here from Australia in just a few minutes?”

The Captain emerged from a hatch in the super structure and stepped out onto the deck to confront Jamie. He nodded reassuringly to the young Marine and the youth relaxed visibly as his Commanding Officer took over. The Captain smiled at Jamie.

The captain certainly didn’t FEEL like smiling, but he wanted desperately to mollify any anger this young super lad might harbor because of his ship’s violent reaction to his sudden arrival. He had an 11 year old son of his own at home in San Diego and knew all too well how volatile the temper of a boy that age could be. The captain had a fairly accurate sense of Jamie’s power, but he had no idea that this boy was perhaps one of the gentles creatures on earth.

“That was quite a scare you gave us, young fellah. But are you alright?”

Jamie nodded. “I’m sorry sir. I didn’t mean to scare you. All I wanted was to ask you for a glass of water.”

For a moment the Captain just stared at the boy. He felt a little foolish for having thought that this bright eyed young super boy had approached his ship with hostile intent, and all the while the only thing he’d wanted was a simple glass of water. But, in the Captain’s defense, it should be remembered that, from the moment Jamie first popped up on that radar officer’s screen in the E-2C Hawkeye radar surveillance aircraft until he had arrived on deck, given his approach profile, everyone in the Nimitz battle group had assumed the super boy was an anti-ship cruise missile!

“I just came from Australia and I started to get thirsty from my flying. That’s all I wanted, is a glass of water…” the boy repeated, contritely. “I hope I’m not in trouble or anything…”

The Captain had been accompanied to the flight deck by a big beefy marine guard. Without taking his eyes off Jamie, he snapped his fingers once at the guard. The guard nodded and left to fetch a glass of water for the young boy. The captain said to Jamie. “We’ll have a glass of cold water for you momentarily.”

The Captain introduced himself. “I’m Captain Byron Jellicoe. I’m the Commanding Officer. I’d like to take you to sickbay and have one of our doctors look you over. You seem to be OK but you’ve taken a volley of rounds from a very lethal weapon. We’d just like to make sure that there aren’t any internal injuries.”

Jamie replied with a smile on his face. “Oh sir, that’s OK. I’m all right. Honest. Besides, your doctors’ x-ray machines won’t work on me anyway. It’s just the way I am. But I’ll go with you, if that’s what you want.”

“And just who are you, Son?” the captain asked.

Jamie replied, “It’s like I told this ‘soldier’ here, I’m a friend of Superman’s. Actually, Superman’s just adopted me as his son, so you can call me ‘Superboy!’ I come from another world originally, but I’ve grown up in America. Now I spend most of my time with Superman.”

“May I please have my game cards back?” Jamie asked the captain politely.

The captain gave Jamie a quizzical look as the Marine handed Jamie’s deck of plastic wrapped cards to the captain.

“We found these on him, Sir.”

“Very well”, the captain replied, taking the cards and returning them to Jamie, who took them, thanking the captain, and returning them to his hip pocket.

The captain was stuck by extreme deference, almost courtliness, of this muscular young phenomenon with an almost angelically innocent face.

The marine finally came back and joined the group on the flight deck. He was holding a glass of ice water. He paused before stepping up to the boy, looking to the Captain, who just nodded, reassuring him that it was all right to give the glass to the boy.

The marine stepped up to Jamie and handed the water glass to him.

“Thank you, Sir…” Jamie smiled, as he accepted the glass from the marine.

“You’re welcome…” the marine replied, as he stepped back.

Jamie raised the edge of the glass to his lips and closed his eyes. He then drank all the water in one big gulp, that’s how thirsty he was! Then he extended his arm, and gently handed the glass back to the marine, while he was licking his lips with his tongue.

“All that flying just made me really thirsty…” the boy giggled.

Then he covered his mouth with his palm, as he burped softly, much to the amusement of the captain and the marine guards.

“Excuse me…” Jamie said to the captain, as his face started to turned deep scarlet. He was embarrassed that he’d just burped in front of the captain of this giant aircraft carrier.

Just then, a seagull flew overhead, circling above the flight deck. The bird released a dropping, which fell right onto the Captain’s shoulder!

“Hey!” Jamie shouted at the bird. “Shoo! Shoo! Go away, you pesky bird!”

Then the super boy leaped straight up into the air, rising over fifty feet above the flight deck! He drew alongside the seagull and took a deep breath, huffing a gust of air at the flying pest. The bird tumbled end over end in mid air, finally recovering over a mile away!

Jamie just watched the bird for a little while, before slowly descending back down to the flight deck of the USS Nimitz.

When the boy landed on the deck, every single sailor and marine on the flight deck was staring at him, their jaws open wide in amazement. Jamie grinned at the captain, “That bird’s ok. I made sure not to hurt him, but I don’t think he’ll bother you anymore.”

“Oh my God…” one of the marines whispered. “The kid can fly! He really is just like Superman!”

Jamie glanced down at the deck a little self-consciously when he noticed that every single man on deck was staring at him.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered to the captain, who was equally amazed as the rest of the crew.

The captain grinned, at this young demi-god who in spite of his awesome powers was still just a sweet little boy. This kid clearly had no hostile intentions. From the way he’d dealt with that seagull, it was obvious Jamie was constitutionally incapable of harming a fly.

“Superboy, please…” the captain said to the boy. “Please come with me to sickbay.”

“Yes, Sir!” the little boy responded. The captain then turned around, as Jamie walked beside him. The Captain patted the boy’s muscular back, assuring him that everything was all right.

The captain led Jamie to sickbay, where he was handed over to one of the ship’s doctors. The physician asked Jamie to sit on the edge of the examination table. He looked the muscle kid over and noted how strong and how healthy he appeared to be.

The doctor ran through a cursory initial exam. As he worked, the doctor noted, the boy’s muscle felt so strange, alien. It was impossibly hard, like cold steel. But it was NOT cold. Jamie’s muscle was steel hard, yet, with the warmth and suppleness of life! With every breath, warm super boy muscle surged and churned with unimaginable power, raw energy, seething under paper-thin flesh; indestructible yet pliable and elastic flesh.

The doctor led Jamie to the x-ray compartment. Jamie repeated for the doctor what he’d said to the Captain earlier, up on the flight deck. “Uh, Doctor, Sir, your x-rays won’t work on me. Not even Superman’s x-rays work on me. We know cuz he tried.”

The physician replied, “I’m not surprised. But would you mind if we tried, anyway? It’s Captain’s orders. He wants us to at least try.”

Jamie readily agreed. Here was another grownup. His mother’s upbringing, that he must mind his elders, had a firm hold on Jamie. She’d made sure that this maxim was ingrained deep in his psyche. “Jamie,” she’d told him, “as long as you know what a grownup asks you to do isn’t wrong, just go ahead and obey. If you don’t understand, it’s OK to ask, but when all is said and done, mind your elders. Then, if you have any questions, you can bring it up with me later. But, of course, if you know it’s wrong or think it might be wrong say so and say why. Maybe they need to explain it better for you. But whatever you do, Jamie, never hurt anybody, no matter what. It’s something you can so easily do. But then you’ll spend the rest of your life being sorry. But that won’t do any good because then it’ll be too late.”

Jamie’s mom needn’t have worried. Strong as her child rearing was in Jamie’s soul, Jamie’s genetic constraints were even stronger. Harming any living creature was so genetically repugnant to Jamie’s race that they were incapable of mounting even an effective self defense. The Zyrtonians’ phenomenal muscle power and invulnerability was nature’s elegant way of providing for their defense. A Zyrtonian would sooner die him or herself than harm another creature, even in self-defense. The ONLY way a Zyrtonian could bring himself to harm another would be in defense of someone else. No Zyrtonian would stand idly by and allow an innocent victim to be harmed. But then, invariably, having harmed another creature, even with total justification, they invariably go mad.

The x-ray image was nothing but a solid white boy-shaped outline, because of Jamie’s impenetrable skin. The doctor reported to the captain. “But he seems perfectly healthy to me…”

“Good, at least now it doesn’t look like we’ve caused any injuries to our young guest…” the captain said, as he led the boy back up to the flight deck.

“Sir, thank you so much for the water and for taking care of me…” Jamie said to the captain. “But I really need to get going. My dad is expecting me now and I’m running late.”

“No problem, my boy…” the captain responded. “Please visit us again some time…”

“Thank you!” Jamie said, as he started to slowly rise up in the air, hovering about ten feet over the flight deck. “And thank you again for the water! Bye…”

Jamie waved at the captain before ascending to height of about fifty feet above the flight deck. Then he paused momentarily as he hovered overhead, looking down at the captain and the crew. He waved one more time, before he turned facing north, extending his arms before him. Then he flashed across the sky, dragging a sonic boom in his wake, vanishing from view in a matter of seconds.

“Amazing…” the captain whispered to him self as he noted the little super boy’s sudden disappearance over the visible horizon. I’ll never see speed and maneuverability like that in any tactical jet I could expect would be built in my lifetime. And even if we COULD build something that fast and agile, where would we find someone to fly it? The g-forces alone would turn the pilot into a blob of raspberry jelly!

He then he returned to his quarters, where he drafted a top secret flash “operational report” (OPREP) message, for immediate release, to the national military command center in the Pentagon.

Seconds later, the figure of the little boy appeared over the glacier concealing the entrance to the Fortress well to the north of the Arctic Circle.

Jamie had known he was running late; no more time for his leisurely pace, allowing him to count dolphins for Tom and Matt. Maybe he could try again next week. Besides, he knew Tom and Matt wouldn’t be disappointed. Not when he e-mailed them an account of his visit to USS Nimitz. That alone would make up for not being able to count the dolphins for them. And, besides, he’d had that way-cool ride on a dolphins back before he’s stumbled across the Nimitz in mid-ocean. He couldn’t wait to send that e-mail to Matt and Tom!

Jamie opened the door to the Fortress of Solitude and flew inside. He could “sense” Superman’s presence nearby. He followed his sense, flying to the chamber that housed the fortress’ powerful super computer. He found the man of steel seated at the computer console. Superman had sensed Jamie’s return even before he’d entered the fortress complex. He looked up and greeted the boy with a smile. “Well, hello, son. Welcome home!”

“Hey, Dad…” (Briefly, Jamie savored that word, “Dad.” It tasted so sweet on his lips. Oh to have a man in his life who loved him as a son. Oh the joy to say that word! “Dad!” This was a joy Jamie had been obliged to live without for most of young life. He would never EVER take his adopted Dad for granted.) “Sorry I’m late…Dad. I got held up.” Jamie said to the man of Steel, who was typing an email into his computer.

“I noticed! Is everything alright?” Superman asked.

“Yeah…” the boy replied. “I just got a little side tracked, that’s all…”

Superman’s tone and demeanor changed. He assumed a more serious tone and asked, “Side tracked? Like your little unauthorized landing aboard the USS Nimitz?”

Jamie gasped. He was stunned that his dad already knew what had happened.

“Come have a seat, Jamie… Come sit next to me.”

Jamie complied and looked up at his adopted dad.

“Is there… Is there something wrong?” the boy stuttered, a little apprehensive.

“Jamie, normally you don’t ever want to land on an aircraft carrier! That… is a big ‘no-no!’” Superman instructed the boy.

“But, Dad…” Jamie replied. “All I did was ask for a glass of water!”

“I know that…” Superman replied. “I just got an email from the Pentagon, telling me about your visit to the USS Nimitz. They asked me to explain to you how dangerous it is to just drop out of the sky unannounced and land on an aircraft carrier…”

“Oh…” the boy responded, chastened by Superman’s gentle rebuke. “I’m sorry… I won’t do it again…”

“Jamie…” the Man of Steel explained. “You’re no ordinary boy! You have fantastic powers, greater than mine, even. You’re still only a little boy, Jamie. And I know you could never hurt anybody, not even if your life depended on it. But they DON’T know that. They don’t know you the way your mom and Wesley and I do. To every military establishment on earth, Jamie, you and I are a potential threat. Military men all over the world will always regard you and me with some suspicion! These men regard you body as a living weapon, Jamie…

“Not only that, I’m told that, because of the approach profile you flew into the Nimitz carrier battle group’s steaming formation, their radars and battle computers had you pegged as a very lethal threat! On their radar screens, Jamie, you closely resembled an anti-ship cruise missile!” You had those men scared half spitless even before they first clapped eyes on you!”

By the time you landed on Nimitz’ deck, everybody was so keyed up, anything could’ve happened. Those marines on the Nimitz could’ve fired their weapons at you. Their bullets couldn’t hurt you, of course. But they could’ve ricocheted and killed or wounded an innocent marine just trying to do his job… And you wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?”

“I… I didn’t think about that…” Jamie whispered to himself.

“Well, I should’ve known that something like this would happen sooner or later. So, I’ve come up with something to help you stay out of trouble.”

Superman got up and flew to one of the bedrooms in the dormitory section of the giant complex. Seconds later, he returned flying in formation with Wesley. Wesley was flying completely independently. Superman answered Jamie’s astounded gaze.

“A flying belt, Jamie. It’s adapted from Kryptonian technology. I made it for Wesley. Now he can fly around the fortress on his own, just like us. This place belongs to him every bit as much as it belongs to you and me. And I needed to come up with a way for him to move around in here without always having to depend on you or me.”

“Wesley!” Jamie shouted out of joy. “Kewl! Man, I’m so glad you’re still here! And, wow, now you can get around this place on your own! Awesome!”

“I’ve been helping Wesley out and training him in the use of his psychic abilities…” Superman explained, as he sat down.

Jamie ran up to Wesley and embraced his best friend, before the two boys sat down on the chairs alongside Superman.

Superman held a small box in his right hand.

“The Pentagon has asked me to provide you with some form of identification for when you’re flying around the earth. That way, they’ll know it’s you and they’ll understand that you’re an ally and not an enemy…” Superman explained, as he took the lid off the box.

He then pulled out a bright red cape, with the Superman logo emblazoned on it. He handed the cape to Jamie. Jamie accepted the cape from the man of steel handling it reverently.

“You’re my adopted son now, so you have every right to wear it.” Superman said with a smile, as he looked at the little boy. Jamie was like a little kid on Christmas day, as he looked at his red cape in awe.

“This is so cool!” Jamie cheered. “I get to wear my own cape?”

Superman smiled as he nodded to Jamie.

“There is a pocket sewn into the cape, Jamie. Inside the pocket is a special transponder. The transponder code has been distributed to every nation in the world. Wherever you fly, if you show up on military radar, they’ll know it’s you and not some kind of threat. You won’t be mistaken for a cruise missile again. And, even though every military establishment has the transponder code, there is no way it can be faked. Computer scientists in the tiny bottled Kryptonian city of Kandor wrote the algorithm for the code. They built the microchip in your transponder. All of the combined super computing power on earth couldn’t crack the code in, literally, a thousand years. Of course, these computer engineers here on earth are a clever lot. They’ll probably find some way to crack the code within a few years if I know them. But, by then, you’ll be grown up and well enough known that, by then, you won’t need a transponder any more than I do. You’ll know how to approach military units in a non-threatening way to allay the suspicions of the even the most paranoid and trigger-happy military commanders.

Here, Jamie, here’s something else that you’ll wear with your new cape, son. It’s an “S” medallion suspended from this choker chain. It hangs over your upper chest. The top of the cape attaches to the chain and the cape drapes over your back. Whenever you approach any radar-equipped military formations, you’ll be recognized by the transponder code, from the device sown into your cape. You’ll be wearing it next week!” Superman said with a smile.

“Next week?” Jamie wondered. “What happens on next week?”

“Well, even though your landing on the USS Nimitz was unauthorized, the captain and crew have take quite a shine to you, little man. They’ve invited you back to visit the ship when it returns to homeport in San Diego. Nimitz is returning home from overseas deployment, and they’re having an “Open House” on board for family members of the crew. You’ve been invited to attend. As a matter of fact, the captain has invited you to spend up to one week on board. They’ll assign you a bunk in one of the Marines’ sleeping compartments. I know you don’t need any more sleep than I do, Jamie, no more than 30 minutes or so a night unless you’ve really exerted yourself. But play along and spend a good 7 or 8 hours on your bunk. Letting a kid go around the clock with almost no sleep at all just goes against their instincts, so please just go along and go to sleep whenever they feel you’re supposed to. A full night’s sleep is at least an option for you and, while you’re a guest aboard the Nimitz, I want you to take the option, just like you would if you were sleeping over at Wesley’s house.

“What? That’s awesome!” Jamie cheered, as he raised his hands up in the air. He was so excited, that he started to hover above his chair!

“Now, Jamie…” Superman instructed. “I need to tell you more of what I expect from you, while a guest on board of the ship.”

“Anything, dad!” Jamie smiled back. “I’ll do whatever you say!”

“First of all, I want you to be completely obedient and to do whatever the marines or ship’s officers tell you; is that understood?” Superman said.

“Yes, I understand…” Superboy replied.

“Second, you’ll wear your new cape and Superboy costume, and you’re to introduce yourself as ‘Superboy,’ NOT ‘Jamie.’ That way, you can keep your real name a secret. Nobody needs to know your real name or where you’re from. You don’t want to say anything that could put the life of your mother or Wesley or his mom in danger, do you understand that?” he asked.

“You mean…” Jamie asked him. “My name is Superboy from now on?”

“Yes, as long as you wear your cape and costume!”

“Alright… I can do that…” Jamie said quietly.

“I can help you out!” Wesley said to him. “Anytime you need to slip away and do something with your powers, I’ll cover for you so you can just do a quick “switcharoo” in the boy’s bathroom at school! I’ll make sure I find a way to cover for you.”

“Yeah, I guess I just need to get used to doing that… And thanks Wes, thanks bro, for always bein’ there for me.”

“And there is one more thing I want you to remember, Jamie. You must be humble and respectful to everyone at all times. You don’t need to put down other people to make yourself look good. People who do that only wind up making themselves look bad. You’ve been blessed with such marvelous gifts, Jamie. And I know you’ll wanna make them count for something good. I know you wanna make your mom and me… and Wesley… You wanna make all three of us really proud of you…”

“Just remember, this, Jamie, you’re to serve and to help those who are weaker than you. Remember that you’re living on Earth now. This is their world, not yours. You’re a guest on earth. You must never look down on normal earthlings because of your strength and your powers.”

Jamie nodded to his adopted father, fully appreciating the importance of this lesson he was learning.

“Don’t ever look down on them or act in an arrogant way towards them. Because of your strength and your powers, consider yourself a servant of all human beings, as long as you can help them in any way that is not illegal or violent or criminal. You must be conscious of your strength and your power and your need to control it all times. I know you, Jamie. You’re my son now. You’d never intentionally harm anyone. But you could easily hurt someone without meaning to if you’re not careful. Please remember that, Jamie. It’s SO important.

“Yes, I understand that…” the boy replied gravely.

“Use every opportunity to help, assist or to serve, alright? You must serve them because of your powers, and I want you to use your powers with confidence, sincerity, and responsibility. Don’t take your powers lightly, and always treat people with gentleness, care, great humility and the utmost respect.”

Solemnly, momentarily looking older than his years, the young super boy looked up at the man of steel. “Dad, I promise you, I will never do anything with my powers that you and mom and Wesley could not be proud of.”

Superman reached out to his son and hugged him. He held on tight as he savored the love of this boy. Until Jamie and Wesley had come into his life, He’d never dreamed that fatherhood could bring him such unmitigated joy. (Superman had not formally adopted Wesley, but, especially over the last week of bonding with him, he’d come to regard Wesley as much his son as Jamie!) Just then, he felt a whole new kind of “kinship” with his own adopted parents… Kinship at a whole new level… Briefly, a sharp stab of regret pierced his heart. How he missed Jonathan and Martha Kent, both now dead and gone from his life forever. How he longed to tell them of Jamie and Wesley. He lifted his eyes heavenward and whispered, “Ma, Pa, now I understand. Now I know. Now I know what it means to have children to love and to raise. I’m so glad you didn’t miss out on that. I’m so glad I’m not missing out on that. I’m so grateful that you took me in and made me your son. And I promise you, Mom and Dad, I won’t disappoint you with the way I raise those two boys. I’ll make you proud of me. I promise you that on my life!” He couldn’t have told you how, but somehow, Superman felt his mom and dad could hear the promise he’d just made to them in his heart.

Superman broke his reverie and said to Jamie, “Now, here’s the good news…” He grinned, as he read a printout of the email from the Pentagon. “The captain of USS Nimitz has invited you to land on their flight deck when the ship returns to home port in San Diego next week. There will be a section near the edge of the flight deck, portside aft, where your name will be stenciled. They’ve requested that you touch down at exactly zero nine hundred hours, local, Saturday morning. That’s nine a.m. their time. You’re really gonna like the Superboy costume I’ve made for you, Jamie.”

You’ll be eating and sleeping with men in Nimitz’ marine detachment. Your time there is officially billed as a morale visit. You’ll be there to inspire, motivate and encourage the marines and the sailors in ship’s company. You’re gonna love being there… You’ll do great!”

“Thanks Dad! Thank you so much!” the boy cheered out loud, as he leaped at Superman and embraced him. “I can’t believe that they actually invited me back! That is so cool!”

“Oh Jamie, you haven’t heard MY good news yet!” Wesley chuckled, as the Superboy flew back to his chair.

Superman smiled as he addressed Wesley. “Yes, Wesley, I don’t think Jamie is aware of the fact that he can share his powers with other people, as long as he is in direct contact with them…” Superman explained.

“Huh?” Jamie said, showing a confused look on his face. “What do you mean?”

“All Kryptonians and Zyrtonians have this in common, Jamie. You can share your powers with Wesley or just about anybody else, as long as they maintain physical contact with you. So Wesley is capable of flying, even without his Kryptonian flying belt, as long as he’s holding onto your hand. He’s also invulnerable and he also has super strength, as long as he’s holding on to you…”

“Are you serious? No way!” Jamie said in disbelief.

“Sure! Let me show you!” Superman chuckled, as he and Wesley stood up.

“Now, Jamie, take hold of Wesley’s arm, and don’t let go of him!” the Man of Steel instructed.

Jamie grasped Wesley’s arm, even though he was feeling a little apprehensive about what Superman was about to do. At first, Superman stepped over to a large panel of tempered steel, four inches thick. The steel panel was leaning against the reinforced wall. It was obvious that the steel panel had been placed there just for this demonstration. Superman doubled his fist and rammed it clear through the sheet of solid steel!

Then Superman stepped in front of Wesley, who was standing right next to Jamie.

“Hey, wait a minute… What are you doing, Dad? What are you going to do to Wesley?” Jamie asked his voice quavering in anguish.

Superman looked into Jamie’s eyes. “Do you trust me, Jamie? Do you think I could ever do anything to hurt Wesley?”

Jamie looked back at Superman. “I trust you, Dad. I’m sorry. It’s just that, well… It’s not me… It’s just that it’s Wesley.”

Superman nodded. I know, Jamie. But I really need you to know I would never do anything to hurt Wesley. I love Wesley every bit as much as you do. And I need you to trust me in this as much as Wesley does.

Wesley looked into Jamie’s eyes. “C’mon, Jamie… Trust us. This is gonna be OK.”

Jamie heaved a sigh, nodded at Wesley and then at Superman. “I trust you dad.”

Superman smiled at Jamie and spoke to him like a dad, reassuring his apprehensive son. “Now, son, hold onto Wesley. Get a real good grip and make sure you don’t let go. OK?”

“OK,” Jamie replied as he grasped Wesley’s elbow. “I gotcha, Wesley.”

Wesley nodded to Superman.

Superman slammed his iron fist into Wesley’s abdominals, punching the boy with everything he had! Wesley was pushed back half a step but he was completely unharmed and there was not the slightest hint of pain.

“There, Jamie. See? Wesley is as invulnerable as you are, as long as you’re holding onto him! You see, Jamie, as I explained to Wesley while we were waiting for you to get home; you, Wesley and I are all human. We’re all related. Kryptonians and Zyrtonians are all distantly related, as you already know. You know your people are descended from a band of Kryptonians who colonized your home world many centuries ago. But both we Kryptonians and you Zyrtonians are distant relatives of the people of Earth. We’re all very genetically interrelated. We’re 'family' in a very real sense. Which is just one more reason why wars and violence among men is such a tragedy. When this happens, men really are killing their brothers. One of the ramifications of our genetic kinship is that the humans of earth are ideal receptors of our powers. As long as one of us is in direct physical contact with Wesley, some of our power flows into him. So, as long as the two of you are in direct physical contact, Wesley can fly with you. But both of you need to be conscious of who is watching. Neither of you want to be spotted and identified. Jamie, it is vital that you and Wesley guard your secret. And, while we’re on this subject, Wesley, remember, you don’t want anyone to know about your powers either.

Both Jamie and Wesley had been listening attentively and now they both nodded gravely. Then Jamie turned to his friend.

“Wesley! Are sure you’re alright?” Jamie asked, as he held onto Wesley by his shoulders. Wes just smiled back, giggling merrily as he reassured Jamie, “Oh yeah… That didn’t hurt a bit!”

“What a relief… I was getting kinda worried there for a sec…” Jamie said, as he dragged the back of his hand across his forehead. “I’m just glad you’re OK!”

“Wesley is learning how to use and control his psychic powers more effectively,” Superman explained to Jamie. “And we’ve made a lot of progress. Wesley is now at a point that he can initiate a conversation with you using his telepathic powers. Now you two can communicate with your minds just like you were talking to each other over a radio or by phone! And, Jamie, I can do that, too. My range and power are not as great as Wesley’s, but I do have the capability.”

“You mean… You guys can read my mind?” Jamie asked him.

“Exactly…” Wesley replied. “I can also see and hear everything you’re seeing or hearing. And when our minds are joined, Jamie, I can show you everything I’m seeing or hearing. I can pass all of that along to you… That might turn out to be real handy for you sometime.”

Superman continued, “I will continue to work with Wesley next week, so that you can spend a few days on board of the USS Nimitz and you can have a great time serving, encouraging, and inspiring the marines while we continue our training, alright?”

“Aw yeah, dad, that’s awesome!” Jamie whooped for joy! To him, Wesley and Superman were the two coolest people on earth, and he was so happy to be a part of their lives and to have them as a part of his.

Jamie was so looking forward to his second visit to USS Nimitz. He knew things would be different this time. The first time was more of an accident and a mistake as he’d stumbled across the super carrier in mid-ocean. But he’d learned from his coltish miscue and he was extremely grateful that Superman had taken the time to explain these things in a patient manner, just as any loving parent would do.

Jamie dashed to his room, donning his new cape and costume. He clipped the ends of the cape to the choker chain around his neck. From the front of the chain hung a large pentagon medallion emblazoned with Superman’s familiar “S” symbol. The base of the S-pentagon pointed downward into the deep cleft between his beautifully sculpted pectoral muscles. The cape draped over Jamie’s broad, muscular shoulders and then down his back. There was a pair of skin-tight bright red mid cut trunks, their crimson color perfectly matched to the cape, the trunks accentuating his superbly muscled quads and hamstrings. Completing the ensemble were a pair of red knee boots just like Superman’s. Unlike Superman’s costume, Jamie’s left him bare-chested and left his legs exposed from mid quad to just below the knees. Standing before his full-length mirror, Jamie struck Superman’s familiar pose, chest out, back straight, hands on hips. To be sure, he cut a “bella figura!” In his haste, Jamie had left his door wide open. Wesley and Superman entered Jamie’s room and caught him in his heroic pose. Laughing hilariously, they burst into a spontaneous “golf-clap” applause. Jamie, suddenly very embarrassed and self-conscious, blushed bright red, not only in his face, but also all over his magnificently muscled body. Then, he started to giggle, laughing at himself as heartily as Wesley and Superman.

Superman marveled that, for all his awesome power, Jamie didn’t take himself too seriously. He was such a happy and joy-filled boy, not at all afraid to laugh at himself. He thanked heaven that Jamie was not one of those sullen, brooding young males with no sense of humor.

Jamie was so happy that, now, he could finally go out and use his powers for doing good, and he would be recognized as a younger version of the mighty Superman, who was his hero, his role model, his example, but most important of all, his adopted father.

“Four more days to go…” the boy would say to himself, as he posed before the mirror while wearing his bright, red cape and costume. “Then Superboy will land on the deck of the super carrier USS Nimitz… I can’t wait!”

Jamie would stay at his mother’s house in Miami during the week. He would fly himself and Wesley to school while wearing his Superboy costume. Then he would dash into the boy’s restroom where, at blinding speed, he would quickly don his street clothes, consisting of a t-shirt, jeans and basketball sneakers. He carried a pen, his wallet and a deck of cards in his backpack. His Superboy costume, constructed of special hi-tech, Kryptonian blended synthetic wrinkle-free fabric, was secreted in a special hidden compartment in his backpack.

Jamie would study together with Wesley, who was more intelligent than he. Jamie was by no means a dummy. But Wesley grasped concepts and theories much more easily than Jamie, and he always helped Jamie to get up to speed with the class material.

Jamie was obliged to hide his identity most of the time. He was eagerly waiting for the big day, when he could don his new Superboy costume and fly to the aircraft carrier off San Diego and just BE Superboy for a few days.

On the afternoon before the big day, Jamie flew to the Fortress of Solitude immediately after leaving school to say “hi” to his dad and receive final instructions from him, before flying south to Australia. He had chatted online with Tom and Matt as “Starkid.” He was determined to make good on his promise to return to Melbourne just so that the three boys could play another few hands of their favorite card game, just like last week. But this time, Jamie would be wearing his Superboy uniform!

He took off, streaking southward through the outer atmosphere toward Australia. He touched down on the front porch of the familiar house, where two the two young Australian boys were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their super-powered chat buddy.

When Jamie landed on the front porch, he greeted the two boys. They saw Jamie’s new costume. They were wide eyed. They felt honored to know this incredible boy personally, and it was a thrill to have him as a guest in their home. But, strange at it might’ve seemed to Tom and Matt, Jamie felt equally honored to know them and to be so welcome in their home. At one level, Jamie understood that he was special… He understood that he had special responsibilities. But he honestly never felt that he was any better than anyone else. So, he was free to just let himself go and enjoy his friendships with his young Aussie “mates.”

The boys played their card games until late that night. Jamie had been invited to stay overnight. Tom and Matt’s parents cooked a hearty meal for the boys, which they all devoured hungrily. Jamie slept on a guest mattress in the bedroom with the two boys.

When the sun came up early that Saturday morning, Jamie got up and showered. He was excited that this would be his big chance to set things right on board the USS Nimitz. He was determined to have a great time serving and encouraging every sailor and marine he met.

Jamie had promised Thomas and Matthew that he would do his best to count the dolphins he saw enroute. But he wouldn’t be flying all the way home this time. He was excited to share with them his destination, the flight deck of the USS Nimitz, off San Diego in Southern California, not the Fortress of Solitude. Jamie was eagerly looking forward to his arrival. This time, he had a pre-arranged rendezvous time. He would depart Melbourne early enough to allow himself plenty of time to touch down on the deck of USS Nimitz at the exact time the ship’s captain had set for the young Superboy’s arrival.

This time, Jamie wore his bright, red cape, with the yellow Superman logo emblazoned on the back, his choker chain with Pentagon S-medallion, his red mid cuts with yellow belt and red knee boots. With his mini-transponder, transmitting its special IFF (identification friend or foe) code, Nimitz would recognize Jamie as an “inbound friendly,” and not as an “incoming” tactical threat.

Enroute to the carrier, Jamie paused to straddle a dolphin’s back. As he rode, Jamie, sporting his new Superboy costume, looked for all the world like the quintessential “boy on a dolphin.” As the wind ruffled through his hair and his cape fluttered proudly behind him, Jamie was the picture of sublime, innocent young masculine beauty, exuding a powerful aura of health, well-being and joy of life. Presently, Jamie gave the dolphin an affectionate pat on the back. Then he lifted into the sky to make his way to his rendezvous with the giant super carrier. He was scheduled to land on deck at exactly zero nine hundred hours (9:00 a.m.). He was determined to make his arrival punctual.

With the hour close at hand, he streaked low over the ocean, scanning the horizon for the warship, as he approached the California coast, just north of the great city of San Diego. He smiled as he spied the giant haze gray warship. He flew a circling approach, before landing on the edge of the flight deck. His name was stenciled near the edge of the flight deck in large white letters. Jamie grinned as he glanced down. Only moments before, the flight deck had been a beehive of activity. But now, everyone had stopped to look heavenward to witness Superboy’s final approach.

This time, there was no gatling gun fire. There were no missiles or bullets, and the captain was patiently waiting at the spot on deck where Jamie’s public name was stenciled. “Superboy,” it read, in bold white letters. It was exactly 9:00 a.m., as the soles of Jamie’s bright red knee boots touched down on the flight deck. The young men in Nimitz’ US Marine detachment were beside themselves with anticipation.

It was a historic sight for captain and crew as they’d witnessed Superboy’s arrival on deck. As Jamie’s red cape billowed in the fresh sea breeze, Captain Jellicoe noted the time. Exactly zero nine hundred. The boy was right on time. This was history in the making. This was Superboy’s public debut. Jamie, self-effacing as usual, was blithely unaware of the singular honor he was bestowing on USS Nimitz and her crew. From that day forward, Superboy’s name would be stenciled on their flight deck. A commemorative brass plaque had already been ordered. It would be flush mounted into the deck; the official “wheels” having already set in motion to have the spot on deck declared an official US national monument.

Captain Byron Jellicoe couldn’t help but smile as he regarded the caped young figure standing before him. He recalled momentarily how apprehensive he’d felt initially during first encounter this muscular, alien man-child.

As soon as Jamie touched down on the flight deck, the boy straightened and gave a kids’ version of a military salute to the Captain. The captain saluted back, before stepping up to the boy, extending his right hand for a welcoming handshake.

“Welcome back, Superboy” the captain said, smiling. “I’m honored to have you back aboard USS Nimitz. We’ve all been looking forward to this. We have a grill fired up over there.” The captain pointed. “We’re serving hotdogs and hamburgers to the crew and their families. I’m glad you could join us…”

“Thanks so much for inviting me back, Captain!” the boy cheered. “I was really surprised when Superman told me that you’d invited me to come back today.”

The captain smiled. “Well, frankly, son, after our not so warm ‘welcome’ last time, I was half-way surprised you’d accepted our invitation!”

Jamie smiled back at Captain Jellicoe. “Well, none of that was your fault. And, honest, I didn’t know any better. But my dad, Superman, well, he’s explained it all to me and now I’ve got this special transmitter so your radar guys can tell it’s me and not something else.”

The captain nodded and said, “Superboy, I’d like to introduce you to Nimitz’ executive officer. This is Captain Rosen. He’s my “second in command.”

Jamie and Captain Rosen shook hands. “Nice to meet you, sir!”

“Same here, son. Welcome aboard.”

And I’d like to introduce you to our public affairs officer, Lieutenant Commander Wong. He’ll show you around and get you situated with your berthing. Let him know if there’s anything you need.”

Jamie smiled and shook hands with Lieutenant Commander Wong. Then he answered the captain. “I sure will, sir. Thanks so much for everything.”

The captain smiled back at Jamie. “Sure thing, son.” Then the captain and executive officer moved on to visit with some of the other guests.

Lieutenant Commander Wong and Jamie strolled about the flight deck. There were kids all over the place. They’d been running and playing and clowning around, just being kids. But with Jamie’s arrival, a mood of unsettled awe mixed with intense curiosity came over the gaggle of youngsters. They eyed him with a mixture of curiosity, timidity and a vague suspicion. They were way too intimidated by his fantastic arrival, flying there under his own power, just like Superman to come closer. But Jamie had no inhibitions. As he approached the crowd of children they parted, making way for him and keeping their distance. Jamie sensed their unease and smiled reassuringly. He laughed and said, “Aw, c’mon you guys. It’s OK. I don’t bite. Promise! His lilting voice totally disarmed the youngsters in an instant. Their initial reservations collapsed as they crowded around Jamie, realizing that, notwithstanding his alien origins and super powers, as one of the young boys loudly exclaimed, “Hey! He’s one of US!”

Lieutenant Commander Wong realized Jamie didn’t need him around anymore. He smiled and called to Jamie in the crowd of laughing kids, “Superboy, when you’re ready to get settled in, just tell any crewmember. They’ll have me paged and I’ll be right along.”

Jamie grinned and replied, “Thank you, sir. I’ll be OK.”

Wong laughed and said, “Yeah, I can see that.” as he walked off.

After hanging out awhile with the crowd of kids, Jamie recalled the lessons that Superman had taught him during the past week, and he decided to put his words into practice. He stepped up to a long serving table, the kind with a Formica top and folding steel legs like the ones in most school cafeterias. The table stood alongside a large barbeque grill. Several sailors from ship’s company were serving hot dogs and hamburgers.

Jamie stepped up to the head server and asked if he could help. The young sailor smiled back. “Well, Superboy, you’re supposed to be our guest. We’re supposed to be serving you today. This is just your day to relax and have fun. So, what’ll it be? Hotdog? Hamburger or both?”

The boy persisted, “Well it sure would be fun if you’d let ME be one of your servers. Several of Jamie’s new young friends who’d followed him chimed in, “yeah, let us help too!”

The senior mess man smiled and said, “Yeah, sure! It can’t hurt. C’mon you kids. We’re glad for the help!” There were extra aprons stashed in a carton under the table. Enough for all the kids who’d volunteered. Superboy donned his apron and the other kids followed suit. At first it was a little awkward but all the kids soon got the hang of it. The kids laughed and joked with the mess men, the guests and crewmembers as they served. Not only had Superboy followed his dad’s instructions to serve and encourage, but also a number of the other children, had followed his lead. It wasn’t long before they’d almost forgotten that Jamie was different from them.

It was early afternoon. Most of the crew and guests had been served. Only stragglers from the off going duty section remained. The mess men shooed the kids from behind the serving table, bidding them to “go have yourselves some fun!”

The kids left their stations behind the serving table moving aft. They gathered around Jamie. One of the kids, boy about Jamie’s age asked, “Superboy, can you show us some of your powers? We’ve all heard of Superman, but most of us have never met him in person or seen any of that super stuff he can do except on TV.”

Jamie smiled at the boy. “Yeah, dude. I gotcha covered. You guys hang on. I’ll be right back!”

Jamie leapt into the air and in a flash he was gone. Momentarily, he was back on deck, hefting a derelict auto he’d copped from a salvage yard in nearby San Diego. Gently, Jamie set the car down on the flight deck. He turned to the kids and said. “OK. You guys hang back just a little bit. I don’t wanna have any junk flyin’ off this ole’ crate and hitting any of you.” The kids turned and moved away a few paces.

Then Jamie proceeded to crush the ancient, rusted auto hulk. He started with the engine compartment. Although the block was made of solid, cast steel, it offered Jamie’s powerful muscles no more resistance than a Styrofoam coffee cup. His forearms ballooned as he applied his inexorable, irresistible boy strength to his task. The protesting steel creaked and groaned and screeched as Jamie methodically crumpled and crushed and squeezed. Safety glass from the windshield shattered into tiny glass marbles, chrome and steel fragments dropped from the wreck, littering the deck with debris. Jamie continued to bend; crush, and fold until the derelict auto had been compressed into a steel cube no more than three feet on a side. Then, in a blinding burst of speed, Jamie “policed” the debris off the flight deck and mashed it into the steel cube as though it were no more than a block of clay or play dough. Then, using his distance vision and his marvelous sense of spatial orientation, with flawless aim, and unfathomable muscle power, Jamie cocked his super muscled right arm anad hurled the steel cube into the air, following its straight and true trajectory with his distance vision as it soared into the air, arcing down and slamming into a remote area of the junk yard where he’d first found the wreck.

Superboy’s power demo had drawn a huge crowd. One young aircraft mechanics called, “Superboy! Strong as you are, I’ll bet you could lift one of our jets!”

Jamie was only too happy to oblige. “Yes sir.” He answered. “I’m pretty sure I could manage that.”

One of the aircraft maintenance Chief Petty Officers intervened. “No, I don’t think so.” These jets cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. We don’t go playing around with them just for grins.”

Superboy responded. “But, sir. I’d be really careful. Honest. I know I could handle one of your jets easy.”

The maintenance chief relented. “Well, OK. I know Superman could do this and I reckon you can too. But we’re gonna do this right. We do this MY way. OK?”

Superboy nodded and the crowd cheered.

The chief grinned and said to the crowd. “OK people, follow me. As they walked, Superboy asked the maintenance Chief. “What’s your name, Sir?” The Chief answered, Senior Chief Olaf Gustafson. I’m from a little farming community about 100 miles north of Minneapolis. Been in the navy twenty-two years. This here’s my “twilight sea tour.” I rotate to shore duty here in San Diego in about another ninety days for three more years. Then I retire.”

Superboy answered, “Wow, sir! I bet you’ve seen lot of really neat stuff in the navy, didn’t yah!” The chief laughed and tousled young Jamie’s hair. Yeah, kid. I really did. When I get back home, I think I’m’ gonna write me a book. Prolly won’t ever get published, but at least I’ll leave something behind for my grandkids. And don’t call me ‘sir.’ I’m a Chief. Call me ‘Chief.’ Only the officers are ‘sir.’”

Jamie answered, “Uh, yes sir… um, sorry, I meant ‘Chief.’” Chief Gustafson laughed. He was really starting to like this kid. Presently the crowd reached the aft deck edge aircraft elevator, situated on the starboard side, aft of the island super structure. Everyone stepped aboard and rode the elevator down to hangar deck. The crowd stepped off the giant elevator platform onto hangar deck and followed Chief Gustafson as he strode up to an FA-18 Super Hornet tactical jet, firmly secured to the hangar deck by tie-down chains fastened to the aircraft nose, tail and under each wing. Two aircraft bosn’s mates removed the tie down chains. Members of the ground crew quickly rigged an aircraft-lifting sling to hard points atop the wings and fuselage. This hi-test nylon sling is normally rigged to a large crane, used for lifting disabled aircraft off the flight deck and down onto the pier once the ship arrives in port.

Once the sling had been attached and was firmly secure, the senior ground crewman nodded to Chief Gustafson. “OK Chief, she’s good to go. Let `er rip”

The Chief turned to the boy and said, “OK kid. Now you can do yer stuff. Just take her by the O-Ring on the top and she’s all yours. Only, be careful. That harness has a tendency to twist and turn, so watch it when you pull `er clear of the deck.”

Jamie smiled reassuringly to the Chief. “Don’t worry Chief. I’ll make sure not to break the jet. Promise!”

Chief Gustafson grinned back. “I sure hope not, kid. Cuz if you do, it’ll be a one-way ticket to court martial for me. My career and my retirement pension are in your hands, boy.”

Jamie smiled again as he stood on deck. He spit into both palms and grinned at the crowd. Jamie was in most respects a humble and self-effacing kid. But, just now, he was turning out to be a shameless ham.

He flew to a point above the FA-18 and hovered overhead, orienting his body into a position nearly parallel to the deck. He reached down and grasped the O-ring at the apex of the aircraft lifting harness and strong-armed the aircraft off the deck. He slowly ascended about five meters and then proceeded to do one-armed curls with the jet, his mighty bicep exploding to epic proportions. After about ten reps, the crowd took up the count. Jamie went up to 100, but he could have” hung there” and curled the jet all day and all night with no strain at all. He shifted to the other hand, did another hundred and then lowered the aircraft back down to the deck. The ground crew quickly remounted the aircraft, removing the lifting sling and then re-secured the plane to the deck. The crowd burst into spontaneous applause and cheered as Jamie landed on deck and bowed with an exaggerated flourish. He was in his glory. Basking in the attention and adulation of the assembled sailors, marines and their civilian guests. Chief Gustafson grinned at the boy. “Thanks for NOT breaking my jet! My career is safe after all.” Jamie grinned back. No way I was gonna letcha down, Chief. Thanks for trusting me.”

“Yeah, sure thing, kid.”

One of the young marines in the crowd said, “Yeah, that was really great, Superboy. But I wanna see you FLY!”

Jamie smiled at the young Marine and said, “I think I can go you one better than that. How about YOU come and fly WITH me?”

The marine, a young Hispanic replied, “You mean you’d really gimme a ride?”

Jamie grinned. (He was really enjoying this.) “Not exactly. You can fly just like me!”

“Yeah, right…” the marine chuckled in disbelief. “You’re Superboy, not me! I can’t do the things you do!”

“Oh yes you can. As long as I’m holding on to your arm, you will also be able to fly just like me! S’easy. You’ll see. But maybe we can take this back up to the flight deck.

Chief Gustafson nodded and led the crowd back to the deck edge elevator and they rode back up to the flight deck.

Jamie spoke to the marine. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Lance Corporal Jaime Francisco Gutierres y Hernandez.”

Jamie laughed. “’Jaime?’ Really?”

The marine said, “Yeah, ‘Jaime.’ What’s so funny?”

Jamie answered, aw, nothin’. It’s just that someone I know really well has the same name as yours. Well, almost. But HIS name is in English, not Spanish. So, hey, Jaime, you ready to go flyin’ with me now?”

Jaime was still skeptical but Jamie smiled reassuringly. “Trust me. Just take my hand. We’ll fly together. You’ll see. I really wanna do this with you. Just take my hand. Raise your other hand like this…” (Jamie demonstrated) “ And we’ll fly wherever you want us to go.”

Jaime took Jamie’s hand, lifted his other arm and asked, “You mean all I do is raise my hand like this… Whoa!” the marine exclaimed, as he started to rise off the deck with the caped super boy.

“Madre de Dios! I’m flying!” the young marine cheered, as the two figures continued to fly in the direction his arms were pointing.

“If you point up, then you’ll climb to a higher altitude!” Jamie said, as the young man was getting his first taste of his super powers.

“This is cool!” the marine said, while he continued to gain altitude.

Jamie said, “Now Jaime, I’m just gonna take hold of your shoulder. You’ll have your arms free and you can still fly because I’ll be holding onto you. I promise. I won’t let go. Now point your hands that way,” Jamie instructed, while pointing at the sky before them. “That way, you’ll take us over the ship!”

The marine and the caped boy passed directly over the flight deck, flying just high enough to clear the giant radar antenna atop the super structure.

“Whoohoo! This is amazing!” the marine cheered, as Jamie, gently but firmly held onto the young man’s right shoulder with his left hand. Jaime exclaimed, “I can’t believe I’m actually flying!”

The two figures then made a wide circle over the ship, before setting down on the flight. Jamie helped with the landing, hovering briefly in mid-air, before slowly descending onto the deck. When both of them touched down on the deck, Jamie let go of Jaime’s right shoulder.

“Thank you!” the marine said to the super boy. “That was awesome!”

“I will never forget you, Superboy…” Jaime said thanking the young muscle boy. “This has been one of the greatest thrills of my whole life. I really wish we could stay in touch with each other.”

Jamie smiled. “Yeah! Me too. You got an email addy, Jaime?”

Jaime pulled a pen and a slip of paper from the shirt pocket of his utility uniform, noted his email address and handed the slip of paper to the super boy.

Later, as Jamie stood near the edge of the flight deck, looking out over the ocean with his hair and his red cape blowing in the wind, Jaime trotted back to the young super boy.

“Wow, Superboy!” You’ve been assigned a berth in the same compartment as me! We’re going to be roommates for the night!”

“Wow!” Jamie replied to the marine. “That’s awesome!”

“I’ll say,” Jaime replied. “Of all the sleeping quarters you could’ve been assigned to, you get billeted with me! This is so awesome!”

Jamie murmured, “Jaime, you make me feel so special. Really, though, I’m still just a kid. Yeah, I can do some really neat stuff, I guess. But I’ve never done very much with it. Not like my dad.”

Jaime knelt down before the boy, while gently taking hold of Jamie’s cape, which had been blowing in the wind.

“You ARE special, Superboy!” he said to him. “Don’t every let anybody tell you any different. And don’t underestimate who you are and what you are capable of. You have incredible powers and you are able to do things that the rest of us can only dream of! You’ve given me a little taste of that today. You are unique in every way, and I would be honored to be able to spend some time getting to know a little better!”

Jamie looked at Jaime with his big blue eyes. “Well, I’m honored to know you, Jaime. Thank you so much for being my friend.”

“I can’t wait to tell my little boy about you, do you know that?” Jaime said to the young super hero. “Some day, every kid will know who you are, and they will all look up to you. And what I like the most about you isn’t your strength or your super powers…”

“It’s not?” Superboy asked with a quizzical expression.

“No, Superboy…” the marine replied. “The one thing that truly sets you apart is your heart…” Jaime then tapped his finger against Superboy’s mighty chest.

Superboy just smiled at him.

“How about we go to the mess deck and snug us each a sandwich for dinner, huh?” Jaime suggested, as he got back on his feet, while he looked down at the caped little boy. “I don’t know about you, but I’m starving!”

“Sure!” Jamie replied cheerfully. “You lead the way…”

Jaime and Superboy strolled to the mess deck together, where they stood in the chow line and ordered their sandwiches at the counter. Once they’d been served, they sat down at a table in a corner, where several other marines joined them.

Within a few moments, a large, tall marine sat down opposite Jamie. The big, muscular man looked across the table at Jamie as he ate his sandwich. After a couple of minutes he spoke.

“Hey there boy, my name is Brockheart. Paul Brockheart. What’s your name?” the large man asked Superboy, in a deep, baritone voice.

“You can call me Superboy, Sir!” Jamie replied politely.

“They say you’re pretty strong.”

Jamie just shrugged as he sucked on his soda straw.

“How about you and me arm wrestle each other, huh?” the big man said, while displaying an evil grin on his face.

“No sir. That just wouldn’t be fair,” Jamie replied earnestly.

“Give it your best shot, Superboy!” the large man said, as he placed his big arm on the table, letting it stand in a vertical position with his elbow on the table.

“I can’t arm wrestle you!” Jamie repeated, innocently. “It wouldn’t be fair…”

“Try me…” Paul responded.

Against his better judgment, Jamie agreed.

Jamie placed his elbow on the table alongside Paul’s. They clasped hands, interlacing their fingers and wrapped their forearms around each other. Paul started to apply pressure to Jamie’s arm.

Jamie was unsure what to do. This was no real contest, of course; at least not for him. Should he just let this man win?

Paul increased the power slightly, and but Jamie held his ground. It was obvious the boy wasn’t even straining. Both arms were still in the vertical position. Paul began to realize that this little kid was stronger than he appeared, a LOT stronger!

“You think you’re pretty strong, huh?” the big mail snarled, as he increased the pressure.

Jamie explained. “It’s because I’m Zyrtonian, sir. That’s why I’m so strong, like Superman.” (The fact is, Jamie is stronger than Superman, by a substantial margin, but the boy saw no need to mention that in order to make his point to Paul.)

Paul couldn’t budge Jamie’s arm. It was unmovable.

Paul continued to strain. His face turned deep scarlet and he’d started to sweat a little, as he continued to apply ever more pressure into the super boy’s arm. Jamie felt very conflicted. Part of him didn’t want to back down from this brute. But, on the other hand, Jamie understood with discernment beyond his tender years, that this man WAS very strong for an earth born man. And this man’s strength was his pride.

The rest of the marines were starting to get into the contest. Many of them had arm wrestled Paul and all who did had lost. Some of these men had seen Jamie’s lift of the FA-18 jet up on the hangar deck. They knew very well that this cocky, over-confident marine had finally met his match in the form of this super kid. They couldn’t wait to seeing the big man go down in defeat.

As one, the on looking sailors and marines took up a the chat, “Sooooo Peerr BOY, Sooooo Peerr BOY, Sooooo Peerr BOY!”

Paul applied full power to Jamie’s upright arm, giving it every last ounce of strength he had, pulling out all the stops. He had become angry and frustrated. All the other guys were cheering for Superboy. Paul knew now that he could never muster the strength to beat this little “brat.” He’d never lost in front of these men before. Now he was desperate to defend what he saw as his “honor,” as he struggled to force Jamie’s arm to move.

“Finish him off, Superboy!” several marines shouted. The crowd was becoming impatient, as they all wanted to see the red caped boy win.

Jamie was still conflicted. He didn’t want to disappoint the crowd. These man were all rooting for him. And he didn’t want to humiliate this big man, even though even gentle Jamie would’ve readily conceded he might’ve deserved it. Jamie thought, “If only Dad were here. He’d know what to do.” Then Jamie thought ruefully, “Dad would never have been dumb enough to let himself get snookered into a situation like this.”

“ONE…” the guys shouted.

Paul pushed even harder, but Jamie’s arm just wouldn’t budge.

“TWO…” they shouted.

Paul grabbed hold of Jamie’s hand with both hands in one last desperate gambit to bring the boy’s arm down.

“THREE!!!” the men shouted out loud.

“AAAAARHHGGGGHH!!” Paul grunted, as Jamie easily muscled the big man’s arms down against the cold surface of the table. He pushed Paul’s arm over gently but firmly. The fact that he could bring this off so easily and so gently was even more of an impressive show of super strength than if Jamie had been obliged to slam the back of Paul’s hand down onto the table with greater force.

He immediately released Paul’s arm. The big man was humiliated. He stood to his feet, momentarily glaring at the young lad with unconcealed but clearly impotent, emasculated rage.

Jamie was mortified that would he’d done could be the cause of such unbridled hate.

Deeply ashamed, the boy broke his eyes free from Paul’s hostile gaze. He could not bring himself to acknowledge the congratulations and the cheers of the sailors and other marines and they whooped and hollered in celebration of Jamie’s victory. Paul turned on his heel and left, profoundly humiliated. He ignored the boos and catcalls of his shipmates.

Jamie immediately got up, got up and ran after Paul, overtaking him, tugging on his sleeve.

“What do you want?” Paul snarled at the muscle boy.

Jamie was beside himself with remorse. He was agitated and close to tears.

“Paul, I’m so sorry for what I did. I’m nothing but a jerk! Please, please, forgive me.

Paul was speechless for a moment, before a smile returned to the big man’s face. He then ran his hands through Jamie’s hair, as he surveyed the little muscle boy from head to toe.

“You’re alright, kid…” Paul said with a smile. “Yeah, you’re forgiven.

“Friends?” Jamie whispered, as he extended his right hand to the big, muscular man.

“Super Friends…” Paul grinned, as he shook Jamie’s hand.

The big man turned around left the mess deck. Jamie’s conscience was somewhat mollified, but he made a mental note to talk to his dad about this incident. He never wanted to be ensnared by a challenge like this ever again. He resolved that his super strength would never again be about over powering ordinary men. He could see that to accept such challenges was nothing but an admission of weakness in his character. And to Jamie, his strength of character meant a great deal more than did the strength of his arm.

When Jamie returned to the table where Jaime was seated, several other marines were lining up to arm-wrestle him.

Jamie sat down, and five marines were standing in line, waiting for their chance to arm-wrestle Superboy!

At first, Jamie refused. “Naw, guys, I’ve had all the fun I can stand with that for one night.”

Then he spied a skinny young jarhead standing at the rear of the crowd standing around the table.

Jamie grinned and said, “Oh, hey you, I got an idea. Whose the strongest guy in here?”

The marines all answered, “You!”

Jamie blushed, slapped his forehead and murmured. “Duuuhhhh.” The guys all laughed and so did Jamie. “Naw, I meant BESIDES me.” Which one of you has got the most muscle?

A short but superbly muscled young marine stepped up. He sported a close-cropped blond high’n tight and he was obviously strong as a young bull. He was confident but not cocky. He had piercing steel gray eyes and even Jamie was impressed with the bearing of this formidable young warrior. Jamie stood up and pulled him aside. He whispered, “I wanna do something here but I need your help to demonstrate. Are you game?”

The young marine nodded. “Sure Superboy. If can.”

Jamie persisted. But would you mind it if the tables got turned on you?”

The young marine laughed. Well, hey, you’ve already beaten Staff Sergeant Brockhart. So I don’t guess I’ll mind you beating me too. So, yeah, sure, I’ll arm wrestle with yah if that’s whatcha want.” The young marine grinned, “Only, make sure yah go easy on me.”

“No,” Jamie whispered back, “I want you to arm wrestle that guy over there.”

The marine snickered. “Oh, you mean Bolding? No way man, I’d break his puny arm. And I ain’t havin’ none a that on my conscience.”

Jamie answered. “Trust me. He’ll pin your arm to the table and it’ll be easy for him. I’ll hafta coach him first to make sure he won’t break YOUR arm. But trust me. I wouldn’t let him hurt you.”

The young marine wasn’t sure what Jamie’s angle was but he was shrewd enough to understand that Jamie did indeed have an “angle.” He answered. “OK, kid. I don’t know what you’ve got up your sleeve, but I’ll play along.”

Jamie grinned. “Thanks man! Yer a really good sport. By the way, what’s your name?”

“I’m Randy Jamison.”

Jamie caught his breath. “Wow!” He thought to himself! “First Jaime and now Randy JAMISON? Wait’ll Dad and Wesley hear about this!”

Then Jamie pointed at the skinny young marine still standing at the rear of the crowd. “You.” Would you come up here, please?

Bolding answered, “Me? Against you? Aw, come on. Even Staff Brockheart couldn’t budge you, not even with both hands! I wouldn’t stand a chance!”

“Come on, Bolding! Don’t be such a wimp!” someone shouted.

“Go for it, Chris!” another marine yelled at him.

The skinny young marine was very skeptical.

Jamie said, “No guys! I want Chris here to arm wrestle Randy.”

Chris objected. “No way, Superboy! I might as well try arm wrestling YOU. He’d have the back of my hand on the table in nuthin’ flat.”

Randy answered, “Aw c’mon Chris. C’mon and give it yer best shot. Chris could see that Randy seemed sincere but, still, he was very suspicious. He’d been teased by the other marines nearly the whole cruise, but never once by Randy. And Randy had stood up for him a couple of times during deployment. The two marines had never been close, but during their few encounters, Randy had never been anything but kind to Chris.

Reluctantly, Chris agreed. “Oh alright. I guess I’ll be the ‘sacrificial lamb’.”

As the two boys sat down and faced off, Randy whispered to Chris. “I’m kinda thinkin’ I’m gonna be the ‘sacrificial lamb’ here. Superboy’s got somethin’ up his sleeve. I dunno exactly what it is, but he said he’s gonna turn the tables on us somehow.

The contest had ended in nothing flat. Chris had Randy’s hand pinned to the table in less than a second. Jamie had warned Chris in no uncertain terms to ‘go easy’ on Randy and he’d persuaded Chris that he was deadly serious and meant every word of his warning. Then, as both boys went at it, Jamie had gently placed his hand on Chris’ shoulder. Some of his power flowed into Chris who then beat Randy handily. Then Jamie explained the trick to all the marines. Then he challenged a half dozen marines to try to pull Randy’s arm down to the tabletop. This time, Superboy placed his hand on Randy’s shoulder and Randy’s arm became the quintessential “immovable object.” That is, until Randy WANTED it to move. Then he muscled the half dozen strapping young marines’ arms down to the tabletop as easily as he might’ve done to the arm of a toddler.

Jamie was wide eyed. He exclaimed to Randy, “Dude! I could feel it as I held onto you! You didn’t need nearly us much of my help as I thought. I can’t believe how strong you really are!”

Randy responded with one of those “aw shucks” kinda looks. He looked down at the deck and mumbled self-consciously, “I lift in the weight room almost every day and I do lots of cardio to stay in shape. So, yeah I guess I do OK, for a normal.. But I ain’t nuthin’ compared with the likes of you, little man.”

Jamie didn’t let it go at that. “Randy, what I got, I was BORN with. But you’ve EARNED your strength and kept it up the hard way.” And there’s something else you got. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Hey, I’m still just a little kid. But there’s something you got, Randy. Don’t ask me how cuz I don’t even know myself. But Ii can FEEL it..” Jamie tapped Randy’s chest, just over his heart. “Something in there. There’something you got in there. Well, somehow or another, it REALLY makes me think of my dad.”

As the young marine looked down and blushed at this super boy’s heartfelt praise, Jamie thought to himself, “I don’t really understand it. But I got this feelin’ like, someday, this guy is gonna wind up bein’ someone real important. Like maybe, somehow, he’s gonna wind up bein’ some kinda super hero or something, or even the President, maybe.”

Jamie did not yet understand this aspect of his super power. Like Superman’s, this was a small foretaste of Jamie’s “super prescience” just beginning to develop. That day, neither Randy nor Jamie could’ve known that, one day, this young marine would be elected to lead the first permanent human colony on Mars. That, one day, Randy would lead this off world colony’s successful bid to become an independent nation. Under Randy’s visionary leadership, the future “Republic of Mars” was destined to become the first UN member state whose national territory was situated on another world. The reason for Randy’s slight “blip” on the “radar screen” of Jamie’s newly blossoming super prescience was that their destinies were tightly intertwined.

Jaime and Superboy (Jamie) decided to go for a stroll on the flight deck. It was well past sunset and the flight deck was nearly deserted. The clear night sky was adorned with millions of stars, seeming to hang so low overhead, you could almost reach out and touch them.

Jaime marveled. “Amigo, there is nothing quite like a night out at sea. Only here, away from the beach (“the beach” is what navy men and marines call the shore) can you see the stars so clearly.”

Superboy’s cape fluttered in the fresh ocean breeze. Man and boy strolled along the edge of the deck, as they surveyed the starry sky.

“My home world is out there, somewhere…” Superboy said quietly to the marine. “I’m from planet Zyrton. It’s few million miles from where Krypton used to be…”

“Wow…” Jaime said to the caped boy. “You’re actually an alien being!”

“Yeah, I guess so. Do I look like an alien to you?”

“Not really,” the marine replied. “You just look to me like a normal healthy kid! But maybe a little stronger than the rest of us.”

“Do you think you’ll ever go back?” Jaime wondered, as he looked at the caped boy. “Would you like to go back to your home world some day?”

“ Well, Jaime, Earth is my home now. I’ve never known any other life but my life here on Earth. I don’t remember anything about Zyrton. I don’t even know why they sent me here. Maybe I will go back there someday. I would like to know why they sent me here.”

“Well, Jamie, you’ve got plenty of time to decide a thing like that.” the marine said. “Let’s get back to quarters. It’s getting late and we’ve got early reveille (the military “wakeup” bugle call) tomorrow.”

Jaime sat down on the lower rack, next to Superboy. He’d taken a small photo album out of his locker. He showed it to his young friend. He proudly flipped through the pages, pointing out the photos of his wife and his young son. He truly enjoyed the young super boy’s company. In so many ways, Jamie reminded Jaime of his own son, Alberto.

After about an hour or so, Jaime left to use the restroom. When he came back, the young lad had fallen asleep on the lower rack. Most of the rest of his muscular body had been partially cocooned in the red cape.

Jaime just chuckled as he looked down at the little boy. It occurred to him that the greatest force on earth was bundled up inside the body of this youngster, who had just dozed off on the rack below his.

The boy’s body radiated with power, visible as a faintly glowing pale blue aura. Jaime marveled at his powerful young boy, who could crush this mighty aircraft carrier in his powerful fists, but with a spirit so gentle that he could never bring himself to do harm to anyone.

Jaime reached down to take hold of Superboy’s cape to adjust it, more fully covering the boy. As he did so, he was almost overwhelmed by an overpowering PHYSICAL sense of total peace and well-being. The effect was almost narcotic but without being in any way intoxicating. Jaime remained entirely lucid throughout this experience. The young marine reflected that no one under the influence of this aura could possibly will himself to raise a hand against the sleeping boy.

“Amazing…” Jaime whispered to himself. “Not only is his body invulnerable, this kid has a force field of power that protects him when he sleeps. And, yet this self-defense measure is so gentle, like the boy himself.

Jaime reckoned that nothing on earth could touch or harm the boy as he slept. Quietly, he climbed onto his rack. When he gazed down at the sleeping boy on the rack immediately below, he thought momentarily of his own son. Then he lay down, closed his eyes, dropping off into a profoundly deep, restful sleep. As they slept, unbeknownst either to Jaime or the boy, the protective aura expanded from the boy’s body completely enveloping them both.

The morning began with Superboy and Jaime having breakfast on the mess deck. Afterward, they went up to the flight deck, where the captain joined the marine and the red caped boy.

The captain spoke. “Superboy! I hear you’ve got a birthday coming up! You’re going to be eleven next week!”

(Actually, this date was Jamie’s “Earth day,” the anniversary of his landing on earth. His precise “birthday” and age would’ve been nearly impossible to pinpoint. He was born on another world and, shortly thereafter, transported to Earth in a conveyance traveling many times trans-light velocity. Time dilates in a super light velocity frame of reference. While theoretically possible to pinpoint the precise moment of Jamie’s birth on Zyrton in terms of time here on Earth, provision for such would need to have been made in advance. But the people on Zyrton responsible for sending Jamie to earth had made no such provision. Aparently, birthdays in Zyrtonian society are not as important as they are to us.)

Jaime asked Superboy to close his eyes and keep them closed, without using his x-ray vision.

A giant birthday cake had been baked for Jamie. Two mess men rolled it out on a stainless steel serving trolley maneuvering it into position before the boy of steel.

Jaime told Jamie to open his eyes. The cake was beautifully decorated with a drawing, done in icing, of an overhead view of USS Nimitz, the flight deck emblazoned with Superman’s familiar “S-Pentagon” symbol.

There were 11 candles spotted about the perimeter of the cake icing flight deck. Jamie flashed an all boy grin. He glanced downward. A little self consciously, Jamie traced a little circle on the deck with the toe of his right foot. “Aww, you guys…” A group of sailors and marines gathered around and sang “Happy Birthday.” Jaime drew a small gift-wrapped box out of the hip pocket of his utility uniform and handed it to Jamie. “Happy birthday, Superboy!”

Jamie accepted the box and opened it. Inside was a US Marine Corps patch, the famous “crow, ball and hook.” (“Crow, ball and hook” is the Marine Corp’s affection name for its emblem, a globe, backed by a fowled anchor, topped by a bald eagle). Jaime smiled. “Superboy, the guys in ship’s marine detachment have voted you in as an honorary marine!”

The boy smiled from ear to ear. “Oh wow, Jaime! Awesome! May I sew the patch on my cape?”

Jaime was skeptical. “Are you sure?”

Jamie exclaimed, “Sure? I’m positive. I really wanna sport this marine corps patch on my cape!”

On of the sailors in the crowd, who’d sung “Happy Birthday” spoke up. Well, Superboy, I’m a parachute rigger. I could take your cape down to our shop and have that patch sewn on in a jiff!”

“Aw man, awesome! Thanks!”

Jamie removed his cape from his choker chain and handed it to the sailor. The sailor asked, “Any place special on your cape where you want this patch, Superboy?”

Jamie smiled. “Could you put it right at the top just above the “S?”

“Yea, sure, kid. I’ll be back in about 15.”

As everyone stood around on the flight deck, laughing and joking and eating birthday cake, a messenger brought a printout to the captain.

The captain read it. It was for Superboy. The captain handed the printout to Jamie.

It was an email from Superman, passed along to USS Nimitz via the navy wide fleet broadcast digital teletype message system.

Jamie was due back in school the next morning and Superman wanted him to pass by the Fortress to meet him there to pick up Wesley before returning them both to Florida. Jamie would be leaving his Nimitz friends with some regret but he was looking forward to seeing his dad and Wesley again.

Presently, the navy para-rigger returned the red cape to Jamie, now emblazoned with the US Marine Corps “crow ball and hook” patch centered on the back just above the yellow “S-Pentagon” symbol. Jamie’s cape had been an exact duplicate of Superman’s. But now it had assumed a character all it’s own. Now, not only was this cape a symbol of Superman’s bond with his adopted son. Soon it would bear souvenir patches from all over the world. Thus becoming a symbol of the admiration and esteem for this boy of friends from all over the world. Jamie was profuse in his thanks to Nimitz’ marines and to the para-rigger who’d sewn the patch onto the cape for him.

“Well, I guess it’s time for me to say goodbye pretty soon…” Jamie said with some reluctance. Then the muscle boy turned towards the captain and made another request.

“Captain, Sir…” Superboy asked, “May I please have a glass of water?”

“Sure” the Commanding Officer chuckled. “I’ll ask someone to get it for you right away!”

“And, before I go, Captain, could I try landing on your ship like one of your jets?”

The captain grinned, positively delighted at the boy of steel’s request. He nodded and replied. “You sure can, son. As long as you give me a few minutes to get everyone on the flight deck who might wanna take pictures of this. And I definitely want the PAO (Public Affairs Office “bubba” up here taking vids and pix! You OK with that, Superboy?”

Jamie grinned! He was only too happy to oblige. It was the “ham” coming out in him again.

The captain rubbed his palms together with relish. Assuming a faux, didactic, George C. Scott gravelly baritone, he intoned, “You wanna land on deck like our pilots do? OK, boy. Here’s the drill. Take off over the bow. Climb to 5,000 feet. Circle left out about two miles to port. Maintain altitude until you intercept your heading to lineup with the centerline of the angle deck (the landing zone on the flight deck) for final approach. You’ll see an amber light just forward of the fantail on the port side. That’s the “meatball.” There’s a horizontal row of green lights on either side of the meatball. The “meatball” is you. The green lights are your glide slope. If you’re too high above glide slope, the meatball drifts up above the green lights. Too low and the meatball drops below the green lights. If you’re WAY too low, the green lights turn red. Pull up!” Keep your eye on the ball, boy. Do NOT “spot the deck!” You eyeball the deck, you’ll bolter (miss the arresting wire and wave off). Just remember, boy, keep your eye on the ball, not on the deck!

“Extend your arms to your sides, not straight ahead. Those will be your “wings.” I’ll take position on the landing signal officer (LSO) platform. I’ll be your LSO. I’ll be holding ping-pong paddles in each hand. Pretend my paddles are mirror images of your “wings.” If I drop my left paddle, you drop your right wing. If I drop my right paddle, you drop your left wing. Just follow my paddles. I’ll keep you “wings level.” And, remember, keep your eye on the meatball…”

Jamie chimed in completing the captain’s sentence, “… Not on the deck.”

The captain laughed. “Bingo!”

He continued. “When you cross the fantail (the stern), you’ll spot four heavy wire cables strong across the flight deck. These are our “cross deck pendants.” They’re the “aircraft arresting wires” we use to “trap” our jets as they land on deck. Don’t forget to drop your “hook. Superboy. For you, make that your left foot. Just drop your left foot. Your target is the third wire. You wanna snag that third wire. That’ll be a perfect landing, son.” The captain chuckled, “But any landing you can walk away from is a good one.”

Jamie grinned broadly and answered, “I hear THAT, Sir!”

But, Superboy, just make sure that as you drag the arresting wire forward, you don’t snap the cable, which we both know you could easily do. Wouldn’t hurt you, but a snapped arresting wire could slice an ordinary man in two in the bat of an eyelash.” (Jamie winced!) “And I know you don’t need me to tell you, son, I don’t want anything like that happening on MY deck.”

“Sir! Yes Sir!” Jamie said as he snapped the captain a textbook perfect parade ground salute. (Jaime had taught Jamie the proper form of military hand salute, right elbow parallel to the deck and straight out to your side. Thumb in, fingers together, your hand straight. Right index finger touching the outside of your brow.)

Jamie lifted off, flew over the bow and out over the water. His flight path described a wide, lazy arc as he circled into a perfect lineup for landing. He followed the captain’s paddle signals and the meatball down to the deck, howling like a screaming fighter jet as he flashed over the fantail, snagging the number three wire with his left foot for a perfect landing. “Vultures row,” the platform on the port side (the flight deck side) of the super structure was jammed with onlookers from the crew and embarked air wing. As Jamie came to a stop

Cheering crewmembers on the flight deck mobbed the boy. They had been waiting just over the foul line to watch his approach. (Crewmembers do not step across the foul line during aircraft recoveries.) The captain extended his hand to congratulate Jamie. “Well done, Superboy. That landing was picture perfect!”

Jamie grinned back at the captain. “Yessir, since I’m walkin’ away from it in one piece, I guess it was!”

“Touché’!” The captain smiled as he answered back.

“Thank you, Captain. And thank you, Jaime! I had a total blast while staying here on the ship…” Superboy said to them.

“Thank you, Superboy. We’re gonna remember your visit onboard Nimitz. We’ve had a great time having you on board with us. And, on behalf of ship’s company, the marine detachment and the air wing, I’d like to present to you these navy wings of gold. I hereby declare you an honorary US naval aviator. The captain removed the gold aviator wings from his uniform. These wings are mine, son, but I’d be honored if you’d accept them as a token of esteem from all of us.”

For a moment, Jamie was overcome. The adulation of these brave warriors, and the friendships he’d made while on board had meant so much to the young super lad. He looked up at Captain Jellico. “Captain, Sir, may I wear these on my cape?”

The Captain smiled. “You sure can, son. Let me pin ‘em on for you.” And the captain did. He pinned his gold naval aviators wings to Jamie’s cape, just above the clip to Jamie’s left. (Jamie has never removed them from his cape. He still wears them proudly to this day.)

Jaime stepped through the hatch with a glass of water. Jamie took the glass and drank all of it in one gulp, just like he’d done the first time he visited the ship.

When he finished, he handed the glass to the captain with thanks. Then Superboy turned to Jaime. For a moment he looked affectionately at the young marine who’d extended his hand to the boy. Jamie shook his head. “No way, Jaime. Yer not getting’ off THAT easy. The boy leaped up into Jaime’s arms with a powerful embrace. The two hugged each other for a moment, before pulling away.

“I will never forget you, Superboy,” Jaime whispered.

“I won’t forget you either, Jaime. I got your email address, and I promise. I’ll write you.

Then, Superboy saluted Jaime and then the captain.

As he saluted, he spoke, “Sir! Request permission to leave the ship!”

Captain Jellico replied, “Very well!”

Jamie extended his arm skyward, as he slowly allowed his body to ascend. After a few moments, he circled the aircraft carrier, waving goodbye to the crew.

Then, he turned north and rocketed across the sky and over the visible horizon in less than a second, dragging a sonic boom in his wake.
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