The speakerphone speaks.
“We have the alien in custody, Mr. Luthor.”
Luthor steeples his hands. “He’s helpless?”
“You were right, Mr. Luthor. We tempted him with the kingdoms of the world and he lost all his power.”
“What should we do now?”
Luthor pushes away from his desk. He stands. He goes to the window.
“Analysis, Shannon,” he says, to his secretary.
Shannon tilts her head.
“The alien is able to convert matter, to energy, to matter again,” Luthor says.
“Like the Squire of Gothos, sir.”
“Yes. Very apt. He could convert water into wine. He could convert wheat into marijuana.”
“Presumptively. And sugar into cocaine. He walked on the water. He healed the blind.”
“Technology greater than our own, sir.”
“I nuked him. And he came back from the dead, only now he was radioactive.”
“And he was . . . how shall I put it . . .”
Luthor is silent for a moment. “What could power such a being? And why should he be tempted to come and challenge my hegemony here on Earth?”
Luthor snorts. “Ridiculous.”
Shannon tilts her head to the other side. “I will lay you a wager, sir. One year’s salary.”
“Yours or mine?”
Shannon looks wry. “I must eat, sir, even if I lose.”
Luthor picks up the phone. He calls his team. “What have you found inside the alien?”
He listens. His face grows very still. Then he puts the phone down.
“Yes, sir?” Shannon asks.
“You had advance information,” Luthor says. “Shannon.”
“I keep my ear to the ground, sir.”
“Subcutaneous love tanks,” Luthor says.
“We’ll be able to revolutionize the world,” Luthor says, after a moment. “Once people understand that love can fuel the technology of infinite abundance, it’ll mean an end to war.”
“I will lay you a wager, sir, that it is not so,” Shannon says, quietly.
Luthor is lost in his vision. “A world hegemony of love, ruled by LuthorTech’s velvet glove, enforced by human recognition of their own self-interest. And I, their benevolent king!”
There is a pause.
“Hm?” Luthor says.