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Kneel Before Tess

Next we go to the old Luthor mansion for another abrupt shift in plot. Tess and her wee minion Stuart are walking together through the hall. He looks to be a full head shorter than her. She's got on an awesome cocktail dress that looks like brushed metal. Stuart's explaining to her that someone is trying to hack into their system. "They're pretty good," he warns her. She warns him right back, "Then be better." He stops in his tracks. She tells him if he doesn't fix the situation, she'll have him "terminated." He looks scared and asks if she means she'll fire him. She just quirks an eyebrow at him and heads for the office/study/whatever that big all-purpose room in the mansion is called. Stuart follows after her, looking for reassurance that she's not going to kill him, but he's stopped at the door by a bald security guard. He has a sort of Billy Zane quality to him. Inside the office, things have been set up for a party: Tables with green linens, flower arrangements, champagne flutes, and two dozen people in their cocktail wear. Tess approaches a lighted podium thingie and thanks everyone for coming. She launches into a speech about wanting to steer LuthorCorp towards more environmentally conscious projects. "I just had to prove that going green meant going up... on the stock exchange." She announces that they've acquired "cutting edge technology" from their new partner, RAO Incorporated. Tess confidently says their new project will put the planet back on course. She touches the podium and a holographic image appears, showing the glowing outline of two buildings that resemble the Petronas towers. An image of the sun appears over the towers. She calls it the "world's first completely self-sustaining solar tower" and says it will generate enough energy to power Metropolis. Everyone starts clapping, none more loudly than Major Zod, who is now making his way through the crowd toward Tess. He's got a snazzy black suit over a dark red shirt and looks all freshly scrubbed and shaved. Woof. Tess's look of confidence freezes and then falls away, showing her shock. He raises a champagne flute and says, "Bravo, Tess." He congratulates her on the project. Quickly recovering from the surprise, she calls him "Mr. Zod" and says she never expected to see him there. He tells her -- and the assembled crowd -- that he's now chairman and CEO of RAO. (If you're not a comics geek, click on that link to see how apt the company's name is.) The crowd applauds him, as do I. Zod feigns modesty and asks them to save it for their "stunning hostess." He goes on: "By taking on this project, she is making my simple project of harnessing the powers of the sun a reality." Zod has mastered the skills of Earth finance and double meanings in the few short weeks since his arrival. Awesome. He raises his glass again and calls Tess their savior. Tess looks rightfully nervous, but manages a small smile for the crowd. "This tower will change the world," Zod swears. Everyone but Tess smiles like happy, unknowing sheep on the way to slaughter.

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