Two and a half centuries earlier…
Jor-El's family was overjoyed at the news. His mother said she thought the baby looked like him, but that "the child should outgrow it eventually, thank Rao!" She couldn't help but smile with pleasure when she met little Kal-El... and Jor couldn't help but smile at the thought that his mother - his mother - had actually made a joke. Zor couldn't be there because of his responsibilities with his experiment, but Jor phoned him with the news.
"Congratulations, Mister straight and narrow," said Zor-El on hearing the news. "I knew you'd get that girl in trouble the minute I saw your eyes meet hers back in college. Is the little fellow close enough that you could show him to his uncle?"
Jor pointed the lens in the base of the phone at his young progeny. "There he is, Uncle Zor! What do you think? Does he favor his father's side of the family or the mother's?"
"Definitely the father's. But I have it on good authority that they grow out of it, thank Rao!"
"That's funny! That's exactly what Mother said." Jor brought the camera lens back toward him. "I hear you have a quite a 'baby' of your own about to be born."
"Ah, yes. My biosphere experiment! Argo City is about to begin a new age, Jor. The basic construction of the dome is now complete. All that remains now is to detect and seal all the micro breeches that may exist, and to get rid of any surplus material that we won't need or want. By the way, you have a use for about 20,000 tons of lead?"
"Lead? That element is next to impossible to find on this planet. How did you end up with so much?"
"A couple of my colleagues were concerned about radiation leakage for some reason. They managed to get hold of what I guess is just about all the refined lead available on this continent. I finally convinced them it was unnecessary. It's not like radiation is coming up from the ground or anything."
"I could probably use some of it, but not that much." Jor thought lead might be useful in containing the effects of element 349.
"I'll see if I can cut you off a slice or two. What kind of projects are you getting into these days?"
"I... am busy with the Science Council's bidding. I've been investigating the tremors our world has been experiencing lately. And of course the Kandor disappearance is still an open case... officially."
"Yes, you've told me they weren't too receptive of your theory."
"I know the explanation sounds implausible, but after reviewing the evidence, I'm sure it is the truth. I have finished the thought transfer crystal, also. I am currently programming as much history and scientific information as I can into one that I plan to give to my new son when he is older."
"Everything you ever wanted to know about Krypton in less than a minute!"
"That's pretty much the size of it. And finally, I have been working to learn as much about space travel and propulsion as I can."
"You should call Ken-Dal. I've seen a lot of his work and it is brilliant."
"Exactly what I've done. In fact, we're putting together a couple of models to experiment with. The first one is set for a launch next month. We may even include a living payload; a small animal, perhaps."
"You may want to keep current on the biosphere project, too. What we learn from this could just be very beneficial to a long term voyage in space. I am very excited about it... and I'm very excited about your 'Star-Child'. Congratulations again, brother. I hope to see my nephew in person soon. Stay in touch."
"I will, Zor, but..."
"What is it, brother?"
"I will soon be speaking to the Science Council about... about the quakes that have been happening. I want you to know it will be... controversial. No matter what you hear about it, Zor, know that everything I reveal on that occasion will be based on fact, and that, above all, the good of all Kryptonians is uppermost on my mind. I have the feeling that I will need all the support that I can get when this all comes to light and if my theories prove to be correct. And know something else, brother."
Zor suddenly felt concerned and a bit fearful at his brother's dire tone. "What would that be, Jor?"
"That no matter what happens, I love you."
When the call ended, Zor-El recognized in himself an emotion that he was unused to. He had always been the more optimistic brother, but he was worried now. He was worried about Jor's findings. He was worried about what could happen to his brother after his appearance in the Science Council meeting. And he worried about the sound of Jor's voice. He sounded, thought Zor, as if he would never see me again… as if the world were about to explode!
One thing he was not worried about, however, was his own experiment, the Argo City Biosphere Project. Almost everything was in readiness – only a few loose ends to take care of and the ambitious trial would begin.
A lengthy experiment of magnificent proportions with results sure to impact all of Krypton and its people, the Argo City project would eventually pave the way for Kryptonian colonization on distant planets – no matter how hostile the conditions. The idea was to enclose the city (actually more of a small town) in a practically indestructible transparent dome within which all aspects of life support – i.e. food, water, breathable atmosphere, etc. – would be grown, manufactured or recycled within the confines of the biosphere. Zor-El had consulted with the top men and women of practically every science in order to assure success in this great endeavor. If the men and women of the Argo project could manage to sustain themselves for the full five year duration, the next step would be to attempt to build such an encampment on another world for a similar length of time. No small commitment, every man, every woman, every family that would reside in Argo City had given their consent for the sake of science.
It would be gratifying to see his grand idea become a reality, and whether it was the excitement of this or the grim manner of his brother, or a combination of the two, Zor-El had trouble sleeping at the outset of that night. A strange dream, probably brought on by his brother's unusual conversation, invaded his mind. When he uneasily awoke, he was in a cold sweat. He couldn't remember the entire dream, and it was already becoming but a blur, but he seemed to recall chaos, life, and death. And something else that was rapidly fading... What was it? He couldn't put his finger on it, but he felt an overpowering urge to learn as much about spacecraft propulsion as possible. In the morning, he would contact Jor and Ken-Dal and ask them to upload copies of their work to his computer.
"And another thing," he said to himself as he covered himself with his blankets, "I'm not waiting any longer. I'm going to ask Allura to marry me… tomorrow, if she'll have me!" He spoke with a sense of urgency that seemed to put him back in control, and he turned over, closed his eyes, and slept peacefully through the remainder of the night.